Monthly Archives: July 2019

West Point Tournament and Guntersville Plans

Saturday, Jully 13, 24 Potato Creek Bassmasters members fished West Point from 5:30 AM to 2:00 PM in our July tournament. We started out wrong, arriving at Pyne
Park to find the boat ramp blocked for Dragon Boat races that afternoon. We quickly moved everyone to another nearby ramp.

In 8.5 hours of fishing, we landed 24 keeper bass weighing about 47 pounds. There were two five-bass limits, but 14 people did not have keeper.

Michael Cox won with four weighing 10.82 pounds and his 5.91 pound largemouth was big fish. It was very skinny and would have weighed over seven pounds in the spring, based on its head size.

Mitchell Cardell had four weighing 9.31 pounds for second, Lee Hancock placed third with five at 7.19 pounds and my five weighing 5.46 pounds was fourth. Trent Grainger had one weighing 4.62 pounds for fifth. It was another big headed skinny largemouth.

Again, I had a feeling I could catch some fish early in a certain place, but after fishing two places where I though they would feed shallow before the sun came up I had not gotten a bite. So, I started fishing deep brush, changing patterns completely.

I was on a 20-foot-deep brush pile at 9:00 and quickly caught three keeper spotted bass. I had fished it with a big crankbait and big worm, hoping for a good size largemouth since I had heard that was a good pattern, but got no bites.

My first cast to the brush with a smaller bait, a shaky head worm, produced a short spot then my next cast got my biggest of the day, a spot weighing a little over a pound. I landed several more short spots there, too, so I went to more deep brush.

At 11:00 I had not gotten another keeper, although I stuck with a shaky head and drop shot worm, small baits spots like. Then while looking for an old brush pile I saw a new one nearby on my depthfinder and caught my fourth keeper from it.

I kept trying deep brush without a bite. On some of them I could see fish suspended over them, the perfect set-up for a drop shot but could not get a bite on it. Then, with less that 30 minutes to fish, I caught my fifth keeper on the dropshot, my first bite on it all day.

Persistence pays off sometimes.

The Sportsman Club is fishing legendary Lake Guntersville this weekend. Although you hear about the fantastic catches there, based on the Alabama Bass Information Trail creel census reports from bass clubs, it is the most difficult lake in Alabama to catch a keeper bass in a club tournament.

Fishing at Guntersville is “combat fishing” in my experience. It seems folks go there based on its reputation, get frustrated by not catching fish, and lose all respect for others.

If you catch a bass there you can expect several more boats, anyone seeing you catch the fish, join you immediately. There is no consideration for others. A couple years ago I saw 17 boats fishing a small area. They were so close together some boats were bumping each other, and every one of them could have cast into every other boat.

I do not enjoy fishing like that and will be looking for a secluded area to fish. It may not produce a good catch, but I will enjoy it a lot more.

What Are Estuaries?

Estuaries — Working for Anglers and All Americans
For Habitat Month 2019, NOAA is celebrating estuary habitat and how we work for you, from the Chesapeake Bay to the Oregon Coast.
from The Fishing Wire

Chesapeake Bay estuary

Chesapeake Bay estuary

Estuaries, where rivers meet the sea, provide valuable habitat to an array of important plant and animal species. These transitional areas that straddle land and sea contain habitats needed by fish, shellfish, wildlife, and people. For humans, they provide homes, jobs, and value: estuaries generate an estimated $12 billion in revenue each year from tourism and local economies. Most fish and shellfish eaten in the United States, including salmon, herring, and oysters, spend at least part of their life in estuaries. NOAA works within several U.S. estuaries including, but not limited to, the following:

Puget Sound, Washington

Columbia River, Oregon

Kachemak Bay, Alaska

Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island

Delaware Bay Estuary, Delaware

Chesapeake Bay (DE, MD, NY, PA, VW, WV and DC)

Albemarle-Pamlico Sound, North Carolina

Tampa Bay, Florida

Galveston Bay, Texas

For Habitat Month, NOAA is celebrating estuary habitat and how we work for you, from the Chesapeake Bay to the Oregon Coast. Learn more about how NOAA is restoring and protecting some estuary habitat below.

Estuary Highlights

Oregon Coastal Habitat Project Restores Coho and Reduces Flooding
The Southern Flow Corridor project, which restored salmon habitat in Tillamook, Oregon, also provides flood protection for surrounding communities. Learn more about NOAA’s work with community partners restoring estuary habitat in Tillamook Bay

Juvenile coho salmon use estuaries to eat and grow before migrating to the ocean. Photo: USFWS/Roger Tabor
Skokomish River Estuary Restoration Helps Salmon and Steelhead Return Home
In the Puget Sound region, reopening abandoned agricultural land back to nature will allow young salmon, steelhead, and other fish species room to access their historical habitats. Learn more about the Skokomish River Estuary restoration project

NOAA works with our federal and state partners to recommend pollution control and cleanup strategies and develop and implement restoration projects, such as marsh creation and dam removals, to benefit fisheries, wildlife and the public.Learn more about the Hudson-Raritan Estuary

NOAA and the Chesapeake Bay Program

To identify and implement solutions for the Chesapeake Bay, the Chesapeake Bay Program was formed in 1983. The dozens of partners in the Chesapeake Bay Program include federal and state agencies, local governments, nonprofit organizations, and academic institutions. Each organization brings unique knowledge, capabilities, and perspectives to this tremendous partnership. NOAA is represented in the Chesapeake Bay Program by the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office, a division of NOAA’s Office of Habitat Conservation. Learn more about the Chesapeake Bay Program

The Chesapeake Bay Program has set a goal to restore native oysters to 10 Chesapeake Bay tributaries by 2025.

Habitat Focus Areas

Between 2013 to 2015, NOAA selected 10 Habitat Focus Areas. These are places where multiple NOAA offices can effectively focus their resources to prioritize long-term habitat science and conservation efforts. In each of these areas, our science, service, and stewardship come together to improve habitat conditions for fisheries, coastal communities, and marine life, and to provide other economic, cultural, and environmental benefits our society needs and enjoys. Explore NOAA’s Habitat Focus Areas

Lake Sinclair July Tournament Details

Summer’s hot days are tough times to catch big bass, or any other size many times. The hot water makes bass metabolism high, but it also makes then feed less and confines them to smaller areas of water. And they feed mostly at night, especially during a full moon.

Bass are skinny, too. Their high metabolism makes them burn energy fast and they don’t feed enough to regain body weight lost during the stress of the spawn.
A bass that might weigh seven pounds pre spawn in April might weigh only 5.5 pounds in July, with a big head but thin body.

But some can be caught, as the West Point results below show. But both it and Sinclair results show how tough fishing can be for club fishermen. Not only is it hot, boat traffic keeps you rocking from waves, and getting bites is a slow process.

At Sinclair weekend before last eight Flint River
Bass Club members faced all those things at our July tournament. In eight hours of fishing, we landed 15 keeper bass weighing about 20 pounds. There was one limit and three people did not have a fish.

Chuck Croft won with three weighing 5.50 pounds and had big fish with a 3.60 pound largemouth. Don Gober had the limit and placed second with 5.40 pounds, Doug Acree was third with three at 3.75 pounds and my two at 3.0 was fourth. Alex Gober had two weighing 2.0 pounds for fifth.

I had one of those good feelings that if I started on a certain seawall with topwater I would catch some fish. Sometimes those feelings work, but at after an hour and a half, I had not had a bite on anything.

Then I caught a keeper by a dock on a shaky head worm. It was about two feet deep. Going between docks a few minutes later I made what I thought was a useless cast right against a seawall with a weightless Senko. I could see the bottom and I just made the cast to be doing something, but my line moved to the side and I landed my second keeper.

That was it. I missed one more bite from a bass that hit on top in the shade and caught some warmouth on the Senko on other seawalls, but no more bass.

August Bass at Lake Juliette

August Bass at Lake Juliette

Ready for an August bass fishing trip where you can fish, not bounce around from wakes of off-shore ski boats and yachts? Where the sound of skidoos never irritate your ears? Want to fish a lake full of big bass, where five pounders are brought in regularly and ten pounders are not unusual? Then plan a trip to Lake Juliette.

Located about 15 miles east of I-75 near Forsyth, Juliette is a 3000 acre Georgia Power lake. It is on Rum Creek but that creek is so small water is pumped in from the nearby Ocmulgee River to keep the lake full. Since there is almost no run-off, the lake is extremely clear for middle Georgia.

Clear water means lots of underwater plant growth. Grass grows thick in most parts of Juliette and breaks the surface from ten feet down in many places. In early July there was a distinct grass line 21 feet deep in most of the lake, with a 2 to 3 foot line of grass growing that deep. Bass love that grass.

You are restricted to a maximum 25 horsepower motor on your boat, so you will need a smaller boat to get around. In August a depthfinder is invaluable and you need one that will clearly show the grass. You can put in your bass boat and use the trolling motor but Juliette is big enough that you can not fish much of it that way.

Two ramps give good access to Juliette. Dames Ferry near the dam has a double paved ramp, picnic area and campground. Holly Grove on the upper end of the lake does not have any camping. The upper end of the lake if full of standing timber at and just under the surface, and you must follow the channel to avoid stumps and trees. Since you are restricted in the size of your motor, choose the ramp closest to where you want to fish.

Kevin Whidby grew up fishing Lake Juliette. He lives in nearby Gray and started fishing the lake with his father and uncle as soon as it was opened. He has been fishing the monthly tournament there most months for the past 15 years, first with his father and uncle, then out of his own boat a few years ago.

Over the years Kevin has done well in the tournaments. His biggest bass ever out of Juliette is a 10 pound 11 ounce monster, and he caught a 10 pound 6 ounce hog in a tournament there. It was not big fish that day, another fisherman had one a few ounces heavier.

In the June tournament Kevin came in second place with four bass weighing 9 pounds 12 ounces and had one bass weighing right at 5 pounds. There were two other 5 pounders brought in that day by 21 teams. A few days later when he and I fished the lake for a few hours after work, he landed a 4.25 pound bass on a spinnerbait and I landed one around 3.5 pounds on a Texas rigged Mag 2 worm. Bass that size are caught on most trips.

Kevin keys on the grass in August. He looks for a shallow hump or long point near deep water where the grass on top comes to the surface. Early in the morning and on cloudy days he says the bass move up in this shallow grass to feed. He will throw a topwater plug, Trick worm and Fluke, and a spinnerbait to these shallow feeding fish.

As the sun gets up the bass back out into the deeper grass. Then is when Kevin rides with his depthfinder looking for bass holding along the grass edge. He is also looking for baitfish since the bass will not be far from them. When he finds bass holding near the bottom he will cast a Carolina rigged Finesse worm, Trick worm or lizard to them.

Since the bigger bass tend to suspend off the bottom, Kevin likes to use a light 1/4 ounce lead on his Carolina rig and a two foot leader. The lighter lead allows the bait to fall more slowly and give suspended bass a chance to hit it. It also comes through the grass better.

Since the bass tend to hold right on the edge of the grass, Kevin will start by getting his boat over the shallow part of the structure and casting out into deeper water. Bringing the bait to the grass edge works best if the bass are concentrated. If they are scattered, he tries to hold his boat right on the grass edge and make parallel casts to it, covering as much of it as possible on each cast.

When the bass are suspended off the bottom and won’t hit the falling Carolina rig, Kevin will make a long cast with a spinnerbait and allow it to fall to them before making a slow retrieve, keeping it at their level as long as possible.

Bass will position on different parts of the structure and may move every day. Some days they will be on the steep drop side, others they seem to favor the more sloping side of the structure. There is so much grass on all the bottom that they can find the edge on whatever kind of bottom they want.

The following ten spots are all good in August and Kevin fishes them. They will give you an idea of the kinds of structure you should fish at Juliette this time of year. There are lots more similar places on the lake to discover, too.

1. N 33 02.908 – W 83 46.199 – If you put in at Dames Ferry Ramp, come out of the cove to the main lake and head upstream toward the power plant. The first long point on your right runs way out and continues underwater. The upstream side drops off fast and the downstream side slopes into a flat on the cove side, offering bass different kinds of bottom contour. Both sides have lots of grass on them.

Start by keeping your boat out in deeper water and casting topwater, soft jerkbaits or a spinnerbait across the shallow grass. Work all the way around the point with these baits, covering all the grass from different angles. When your spinnerbait hits a clump of grass, jerk it free and continue the retrieve. Bass will often hit when the bait jumps forward after being pulled free.

Watch your depthfinder as you fish around this point, and then ride it after casting to it. Go over the edge of the grass looking for bass near the bottom. If you find a concentration, move up on top of the point and cast out past them to the clean bottom. Work your Carolina rig up to them and then into the edge of the grass for any holding there.

If the bass are scattered, get out and cast parallel to the drop in the grass, keeping your bait as close to the grass as possible. Also cast a spinnerbait and let it sink almost to the bottom, then slow roll it back for suspended bass.

2. N 32 02.377 – W 83 46.016 – The big cove upstream of you has a point in the middle with a visible roadbed running off it. The point is marked “Quail Head” on some maps. The road bed comes out into the cove and turns toward the downstream point you just fished. There is a shallow spot out in the middle of the cove on the roadbed, too.

Keep your boat off the road and cast to the grass on top of it. Watch for visible grass sticking out of the water, sometimes it is just visible, depending on the water level. Fish it all the way across then come back with your boat shallow, casting out to the edge of the grass and fishing it from shallow to deep.

On this spot as others you can find a 3 to 4 foot tall wall of grass down around 21 feet deep. This wall is where the bass hold. Keep your depthfinder on and learn how the grass grows to help you find the bass.

3. N 33 02.047 – N 83 46.254 – Run across to the opposite side of the lake, the left side running upstream away from the dam. You will see some big rocks on a island near the dam, Taylor’s Island on some maps, and you want to fish the second main lake point upstream of it. There is a small pole out on the point on the downstream side that will help you identify it.

Idle in toward this point slowly since it runs way out in a big flat. On the downstream side of the point there is a good drop on the channel side and a good grass line on the drop to fish. Fish it like the other spots, fishing shallow first then working out to the deeper fish.

4. N 32 02.373 – W 83 46.346 – Back across the lake just off the upstream point of Quail’s Head, a hump comes up shallow about 100 yards off the bank. The point on the bank is clay and white rock and the hump comes up to about 8 feet deep when the lake is full. Grass grows on it and bass hold there all summer long.

Watch out when looking for it, there are two big rocks on it that will eat a lower unit if the water is down any at all. You should be able to see the grass sticking out of the water on this hump and the bottom color will show if the sun is out.

5. N 33 02.675 – W 83 46.943 – Head on upstream and you will see a small island on the left with a long point running out across the channel. The island is just downstream of Persons Point and the shallow point runs way out off the bank. There is a small patch of standing timber in the cove upstream of the point and a small pole on the point to help identify it.

Kevin says he likes to start way out on the point out near the channel and work up it toward the bank. Bass will hold on both sides of this point as well as out in the deeper water on the end. Check it all out, and don’t forget to cast across the shallow grass with your spinnerbait and topwater baits.

6. N 33 03.234 – W 83 47.215 – Straight across the lake are two big bays. The one on the left headed in is Buzzards Bay and it has some white box-looking structures in it. You want to go into the cove to the right of it. There is a point running across this cove and you will be almost on top of it when the box structures disappear behind the trees on the point between the two bays.

Wind often blows into this cove and that makes it even better. Wind will make the bass move up more shallow to feed, and position them on the windy side. Stay out from the point and cast across it first, especially it the wind is blowing across the point. Then get up on the point and cast out toward the lake, into the wind, and bring your bait back to the grass edge with the wind.

7. N 33 02.695 – W 83 48.404 – Back across the lake, directly across from the power plant, a rocky point runs out and drops off, then comes back up into a rocky hump a few feet off the bank. The bare rocks are visible off the point, but there are many others underwater. This point and hump are right at the mouth of the first creek with standing timber.

The timber, rocks and two creek channels make this an excellent place to find August bass. Fish all around the point working the rocks and grass on it from all angles. Bass will hold on either side of the point so check it all out.

8. N 33 02.801 – W 83 48.542 – The upstream point on the right going up, the one on the cove for the power plant, holds a lot of bass this time of year. It is deep on both sides but comes up real shallow. The main lake point is excellent and the smaller secondary point going into the power plant cove also holds fish. There is a flat between them with grass on it.

Fish both points and the flat shallow first. Then work around the two points and the outside edge of the flat, fishing the grass line off them. This is right where the timber starts on this side so bass have a variety of places to hold, and can run in and out of the timber to feed.

9. N 33 03.066 – W 83 49.397 – Head up past the Settling Pond Dam but go slow, there is a lot of timber in this area. The point on the upstream side of the cove with the settling pond dam in it runs out to the middle of the cove and there is an old duck blind on it. This point runs way out into the timber and is very shallow.

Fish the point all the way to the end and watch toward the channel. You will see a hump coming up that breaks the surface if the water is down any. You can see the red colored bottom if the lake is up and there is a big stump on it. Work around this hump like you fished the point running out to it.

10 N 33 03.029 – W 83 49.928 – Ease out to the channel and head upstream to the roadbed crossing just upstream of a point. You can see it well defined on the right and can see where it comes out on the left bank, too. Fish the drops on both sides of the roadbed as well as the point where it comes out of the water.

Kevin told me he has caught two bass over eight pounds each off this roadbed. Fish it with a spinnerbait down deep as well as a Carolina rig. You can cast across it, working both sides, or sit on one lip and cast parallel to the drop, working one side then moving to the other.

Kevin catches a lot of bass off these ten spots, and there are many others similar to them. You can discover some by studying a good map, but to really learn the lake you have to do like Kevin, get out there in a boat with a good depthfinder and ride the lake. It will pay off in quality bass this August.

The tournament at Juliette is the last Sunday each month out of Dames Ferry. Their end of year tournament is in October and the trail starts over in November, so now it a great time to learn the lake and start fishing the tournaments in a couple of months.

Entry fee is $50 per team and that includes a $5 big fish pot. Payback is one place if five boats enter up to three places if enough boats enter, and $10 per boat is held back for the year end Classic, which is the top 15 boats from the year, by weight.

They fish from daylight to 3:00 PM and you can show up at the ramp 30 minutes before daylight to enter, or call Greg for more info at 478-471-1254.

Topwater Fishing Tips

Basic Topwater Fishing Tips
from The Fishing Wire

Editor’s Note: Late spring is prime time for topwater bass fishing across much of the nation: Here are a few quick tips from Georgia’s DNR.

Pat Cullen with a 10.2 pound Largemouth Bass.

The late Pat Cullen with a 10.2 pound Largemouth Bass. Photo credit: Bert Deener

Topwater fishing provides anglers a top-notch fishing adventure. With the lure perched on the water’s surface, anglers can watch their fish zero in on its target, lurch out of the water, and snatch the bait. Whether you’re a seasoned topwater pro or a beginner, these tips are sure to help you enjoy a heart pounding adventure and kick off this year’s pursuit of the Georgia Bass Slam. Just make sure to grab your fishing license before heading to your favorite fishing hole.

1. The early morning and late afternoon anglers get the fish.

Bass are more likely to be in the shallow areas of a pond, lake, or river during the first and last few hours of daylight. With fish already near the top of the water, fishing in the early morning or late afternoon increases the chance of getting the fish’s attention. Pro tip: This tip works on both cloudy and sunny days on the water!

2. Check the weather and water temperature before you head out.

Beginning when water temperatures hit the low 60s, topwater fishing starts heating up! Also be sure to check the weekly forecast. If a front is headed your way and the barometer is falling, fish will feed on the surface just ahead of it.

3. Match the hatch.

Make sure your bait matches the prey bass are hunting for. Walking bait and poppers tend to get more bites in early spring. As waters warm, buzz bait becomes the favorite – especially of trophy sized bass. If you’re in an area with shad, use walking bait closely resembling the injured shad that bass are feeding on.

4. Choose the best lure for water conditions.

If fishing murky water, try using a bright, noisy buzz bait to make sure fish can easily see it. With a buzz bait, do not set the hook when the fish hits. Just keep reeling until you feel the fish, then sweep a hookset. As summer approaches and the water becomes clearer, make sure you mix in some clearer colors.

5. Adjust your fishing line to the lure.

Monofilament, 10-12-pound line is great for poppers and walking baits. For buzz baits, a heavier 14-17-pound line works best, and you can even mix in some braided line if fishing heavy vegetation.

6. Have a rod with the correct action.

A 7’ to 7’3” rod is ideal. You’ll want a medium-action rod with some give at the tip to provide more action as you work the lure – especially with walkers and poppers. Many folks actually prefer fiberglass rods for topwater fishing. The lighter tip will also let the fish inhale the lure and keep you from pulling the treble hooks out of the fish’s mouth as it is fighting. For buzz baits, a medium-heavy rod with a flexible tip will allow you to get a big fish out of cover.

Big Laser WMA Profile

Big Laser WMA Profile

Georgia’s public hunting areas include a mixture of National and State land, including Wildlife Management Areas, Natural Areas, National Forest and State Parks open for hunting. The choices are scattered all over the state and include a wide variety of habitat and hunting opportunities.
So how do you choose one if you are looking for a place to hunt on public land?

A little over two years ago Randy White started planning his move to Georgia from Virginia where he had lived and hunted for many years. While looking for a house, he discovered Georgia Outdoor News and started subscribing. He studied the Public Hunting Area information and chose three areas that met his requirement, and applied for quota hunts on them for the 2003 season.

The three areas he applied for were Big Laser, West Point and B.F. Grant. They were chosen based on being Quality Deer Management areas, having relative high hunter success rates and producing big bucks each year. He was drawn for a gun hunt on Big Laser where he killed a 10 point buck that scored 116 4/8 points on November 12th. On a muzzleloader hunt on West Point he got an 8 point buck.

Randy chose a good area at Big Laser for several reasons. The area is 9 square miles – 5900 acres – of land on the Flint River south of Thomaston. The river valley in that area is steep with high hills dropping to the river, so there is not much river bottom. But there are a lot of hardwood ridges, rolling hills, pine woods and thickets.

Stacey Koonce killed a 14 point buck at Big Laser that scored 102 1/8 points after having a 17 point deduct for sticker points and a spade brow tine. It was killed two days after Randy got his big buck, and Stacey says the buck was hard on a doe. When it walked up on him its tongue was hanging out and he was ignoring everything else.

The fact those two big deer were both killed in mid-November should give you an idea of the best time to hunt Big Laser. Although all the hunts can be good, the mid-November hunt is going to be during the height of the rut.

Stacey killed his deer at about 11:00 AM, close to the same time Randy killed his, and after many hunters have left their stands. That is another factor to keep in mind, stay in your stand as late as you can stand it, then wait longer. Many big deer are killed in the middle of the day on public hunting areas.

Lee Kennemer is the wildlife biologist in charge of Big Laser. He says Big Laser is a beautiful area to hunt with big hardwood groves on ridges around the river and on the hills away from the river. These open oak woods look like perfect deer habitat, and they do produce acorns for the deer in the fall. It is pretty, but it does not produce food for deer year round.

There is a lot of other kinds of habitat that produces food for the deer. The deer are healthy there even though the body weight is down a little due to the drought conditions the past few years. Antler growth has held up, though.

There are 30 permanent food plots on the area that cover 110 acres. Due to budget restrictions, not many new food plots are being put in, and the current ones are being managed for long term food production with Bahia grass and some overseeding of wheat. A few also contain some clover. Most are winter and summer plots with few fall food plots in production.

Although there are not many changes for the past couple of years, DNR personnel are working to keep older food plots from becoming shaded in and expanding existing plots when money is available. The wheat that is overseeded is the major effort for the fall, and the plots with clover in them also produce food in the fall. Last year there were about 30 acres planted in wheat for the fall.

Deer at Big Laser have abundant acorns to feed on most years in the fall, and oak woods are where most folks hunt. But Lee says you are not likely to see a big buck walking in open woods during the day. They may feed on the acorns, and use food plots, too, but they retreat to the thickets during hunting hours.

Lee suggests finding a good thicket near acorns or a food plot where the deer are feeding and set up near it to see a buck moving at daylight dusk. Lee also says that if you walk more than 400 yards from an open road to find a place to hunt you are much more likely to have the hunting to yourself.

Moving just a quarter mile away from a road to be able to hunt alone does not seem like too much trouble, but most hunters are not willing to carry a stand that far, much less try to drag or pack out a deer that distance. But you increase your odds of finding a good buck by hunting away from the roads.

Randy hunted away from the roads and said he did not see another hunter in the woods the three days he was hunting. He camped during the hunt and met a lot of nice folks in the camping area, but he had the woods he hunted to himself.

Linda Guy has managed Big Laser for the past 24 years and says they keep 25 percent of the roads closed during hunting season. This allows hunters to walk away from open roads and find a secluded place to hunt. No traffic, including 4-wheelers, is allowed anywhere except on open roads. You can use a wheeled push cart to get your deer out and Linda says that is a popular method.

The way Randy scouted for deer at Big Laser is an excellent way to find your deer there or on any other hunting land. He had never seen the area before, so he got in the woods before the hunt and walked with a hand-held GPS, marking every scrape and rub he found. By studying the GPS he located a good scrape line and set up his portable stand near the middle of it the afternoon before the hunt.

The next morning at about 10:45 Randy used his rattling horns a little, and spotted movement through the trees. He then used a grunt call to lure the deer in and it came toward him, circling to get downwind or uphill of him. When it got within about 60 yards Randy saw it was a good buck, meeting the QDM requirements, and he grunted with his voice to make it stop.

Randy hunts with a shotgun and slugs, something most Georgia hunters have abandoned for rifles. But at 60 yards the slug from his shotgun did the job and Randy got a buck any hunter would be proud of on any hunting land, public or private.

Stacey also scouted for his deer, but he had an advantage. Last fall was his third hunt on Big Laser. He had hunted several other public hunting areas and liked Big Laser best, because of the habitat and QDM regulations. The habitat is excellent with the rolling hills away from the river his favorite place to hunt. He says you can find ridge after ridge to walk up in hardwoods to pines on top then down the other side through hardwoods to a creek or ditch.

He found one a little different, with thick pines running all the way down to the bottom of the hill. The buck he killed was near a scrape line and was in the thickest part of the area. He and his partner had scouted the area and both set up there, and Stacey says working together they felt one had a good chance of getting the buck they were after.

Another thing Stacey likes about Big Laser is the distance between open roads. He says you can get away from the roads and away from other hunters by walking a little while. He likes to get away from the roads to find bigger deer and fewer hunters.

Lee says what Randy and Stacey did to find their deer is the key. Hunters must scout out the area and find signs of a good buck if that is what they want. Walking a short distance from a road and putting up a stand in open woods or near a food plot probably won’t get you a shot at a quality buck. You need to put in some time in the woods to find one.

Some of the areas at Big Laser are difficult to get to. The ridges and ditches running down to the river valley make hunting right on the river tough, and there is one section of the area where you must wade a creek or come up the river to get to it. Hunting areas difficult to reach are more likely to produce a good deer for you.

There are several hunts this year on Big Laser, starting with sign-in archery hunting September 11 – October 7. It is open for quality bucks and anterless deer. On October 9 and 10 there is a sign-in Adult/Child hunt on the area.

Two quota hunts of 400 hunters each will be held this year at Big Laser. The first is October 27 – 30 and the second is November 10 – 13. Both are check in hunts and are quality buck with anterless deer allowed the last two days of each hunt. There is a Honorary License holder hunt that is sign-in on November 23 and 24 that allows quality bucks or anterless deer.

This year there is also a third gun hunt that is sign-in and open to all, there is no drawing or quota. It is scheduled for December 3 and 4 and is quality buck only. This was done since a lot of folks have stopped hunting by December and the quota hunts were not being filled at that time. Although the rut will be over by them, you might have a good chance to find a big buck if you are willing to work at it.

Randy plans on hunting Big Laser during archery season this year and use that time to scout the area better for another big buck. Lee suggest coming down and hunting for squirrels and scouting at the same time. You can squirrel hunt there starting August 15th and trying to get a tree rat adds to the fun of the scouting trip.

Use Randy’s and Stacey’s system to hunt Big Laser. Play the odds, apply for all the hunts and be prepared to do some scouting before hunting. Locate a thick area near food and try to find rubs and scrapes if it is during the rut. Set up and stay in the tree all day if possible. You just might have a truck buck entry before the hunt is over.

The QDM regulations are popular but Linda says each year she finds 4 or 5 big bucks killed illegally and left when they don’t meet the requirement. She asks hunters to be sure the buck they see meets requirements, don’t “ground check” your deer after shooting it.

Linda also reminds hunters that the campground is primitive at Big Laser and quiet hours are from 10 PM until 7 AM. That means no generators, no radios and not loud noises. You will get a ticket if you violate quiet hours.

Tallapoosa River Float Trip for Redeye Bass

Tallapoosa River Float Trip for Redeye Bass

By David Rainer
Alabama DCNR
from The Fishing Wire

The cast was about 2 inches too long, and the topwater fly plopped down gently on a chunk of flat rock underneath the blooming mountain laurels on the Tallapoosa River north of Lake Martin.

One slight twitch of the fly rod tip and the Ol’ Mr. Wiggly fly slid into the current. The fly didn’t have time to float downstream. It was immediately inhaled by one of the Alabama-specific species, the redeye bass.

I lifted the fly rod to set the hook, and the fish went airborne.

Guides Drew Morgan and Craig Godwin immediately pumped up the volume when they saw the fish.

“That’s a big one,” they both shouted. “Try to keep him out of the current. Keep the rod at about a 45-degree angle.”

After several runs near the three-man inflatable raft, Morgan finally stabbed the net in front of the fish to end its freedom – only momentarily, of course.

The tape measure hit 12 inches, and I was immediately eligible to be entered into the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division angler recognition program as a master angler. It also happened to be the first redeye bass of my long fishing career.

Horseshoe Bend was our origination point, and the river had settled down from recent rains to levels that would make the trip a breeze with no portage involved.

It didn’t take long for these aggressive, beautifully colored bass to make it a float trip that will never be forgotten. Although trips with Morgan, or any of his guides at East Alabama Fly Fishing, often result in hooking a variety of species of fish, including Alabama bass, striped bass, hybrid stripers, carp and numerous sunfish like bluegills and redbreasts, this outing produced a redeye bonanza.

Morgan, a history teacher at Auburn Junior High School, got into the guide business after gaining the necessary tool.

“I fished this river a lot with canoes and kayaks,” Morgan said. “I really enjoyed catching bass on a fly rod, but that’s hard to do out of a kayak or canoe. A guy I knew had this drift boat. He told me, ‘Take this out and start fishing with it.’”

The owner knew Morgan would fall in love with the diversity and comfort the drift boat afforded, and it wasn’t long before ownership of the vessel changed hands.

“I had to have the boat,” Morgan said. “I took the bait – hook, line and sinker. At the same time, I was thinking about starting a guide service. This stretch of river is big enough for guiding. I’m not moving people off their honey holes. It’s beautiful. The fish are predictable, and you can pattern them. I just needed the boat. Once I got the boat that was stable and was comfortable for clients, we opened the guide service.”

The drift boat gives Morgan and his passengers access to the whole river at decent water levels. It can float in 2 inches of water and slides over the slick rocks that crisscross the river in numerous places.

“We can go where other boats can’t,” he said. “And it’s stable so you can make casts to the best spots.”

Five years later, the business has grown to include three other guides – Godwin, John Agricola and Justin Wilson. Agricola and Wilson guide on the nearby Coosa River.

“Justin is really knowledgeable on spotted (Alabama bass), hybrid and striper fishing on a fly,” Morgan said. “And he has a power boat, so he can run all over the lakes. He fishes the tailwaters a lot on the Coosa.

“John has a flats boat, and his specialty is catching carp on a fly in the backwaters of the Coosa. That’s a really cool experience. You’re sight-fishing for carp. You try to drop that fly right in front of them. It’s kind of like fly fishing for tailing redfish or bonefish.”

Morgan limits his guide time to three days a week when school is out to spend time with his young family. During the school year, he’s limited to Saturdays.

“It was kind of a way to make a little extra income during the summer,” he said. “But I limit it to three trips a week. I want to continue to enjoy coming out here.

“Craig and I have been fishing together for a while, and he can guide during the week because he owns his own photography business.”

Our trip covered the middle section of the Tallapoosa from Horseshoe Bend National Military Park to Jaybird Creek boat launch at the north end of Lake Martin.

“That stretch is 6 miles and it’s mostly shoals the whole way,” Morgan said. “I find fish in this river like being in the shoals. The area we floated was Irwin Shoals. It’s very scenic. Even if it’s a tough bite, you get to float down the river and get to see things you normally don’t get to see.”

Morgan said the stretches of the smaller rivers are often overlooked by most recreational users.

“You don’t really feel like you’re in Alabama sometimes, but it is Alabama,” he said. “The lakes are really popular, for good reason. But people don’t realize there are beautiful rivers and streams you can float-fish too.”

Morgan mentioned scenic rivers in the Upper Piedmont area of Alabama that run from Fort Payne to the coastal plain, including Little River, Cahaba, upper Tallapoosa and upper Coosa.

“East and northeast Alabama have a lot of great places to fish, especially the redeye bass,” he said. “Redeye bass are endemic to Alabama, which means they don’t live anywhere else. These fish like current in cool Piedmont streams with a lot of flow. They like clean water. This river is so clean, and it has so much oxygen in the water that these fish live in the shoals on this big river.

“Redeye bass are our own version of trout fishing, but I think it’s cooler than that because the redeyes are native. They are colorful, very aggressive and eager to eat. I think this is something really special for Alabama to have in our waters.”

What fisheries biologists have recently discovered is that each river system may have variations in the black bass population that make them distinct to the rivers they inhabit.

“Presently the redeye bass of the Tallapoosa River are now called Tallapoosa Bass (Micropterus tallapoosae),” said Nick Nichols, Fisheries Chief with the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division. “We are conducting a research project in conjunction with researchers from Auburn University to better determine the status and genetic characteristics of these riverine black bass species in Alabama.”

When Morgan is targeting the Alabama (spotted) bass, he looks for water where the current slows from the upper reaches of the Tallapoosa.

“They can put a big bend on a five-weight rod,” he said. “A 2-pound spot that has lived in this moving water is a good fish on a fly rod. If you mix in bluegills and redbreasted sunfish, they’re a whole lot of fun to catch. It’s a fun day of fishing, especially during the summer when we’re catching everything on top. I don’t guarantee fish, but the fish in the summer are pretty eager to eat.

“What I do like about river fishing is I think it’s easier to find fish. You’re looking for ambush points and hiding places.”

Morgan and his guides will accommodate anglers of all skill levels.

“I have clients that are all over the board,” he said. “I think more people are getting into fly fishing. I hear this story all the time, ‘Yeah, granddaddy fly-fished all the time, but we started fishing the lakes and didn’t fly-fish as much. Now I want to get back into it again.’

“Then we have clients from all over the South who want to come catch a redeye. The word is getting out about this species. Fly anglers, especially, like to notch different species on their belt. And, I’ve got people who see this boat and want to fish in it to let the guide do the work so they can concentrate on fishing. You can’t do that in a kayak or canoe. There’s something for everybody in the Tallapoosa.”

Morgan also has other motivation to put a fishing rod of some kind in people’s hands.

“Mainly, I want to get people into the sport,” he said. “If they want to come with me, that’s fine. But I just want people to get on the water, buy a fishing license to support the state and appreciate what we have.”

How To Catch July Bass at Lake Seminole

July Bass at Lake Seminole
with Daryl Davis

Big bass in shallow grass, even in July. If that sounds like a good pattern to you, plan to head south to Seminole this month. The hydrilla has grown thick on river ledges and the bass move into it to feed. You can catch some bragging size stringers right now fishing the grass at Seminole.

Seminole is an impressive 37,500 acre lake right in the corner of Georgia, Florida and Alabama. This time of year half its surface can be covered with hydrilla, making it look like a fantastic place to catch bass. And it is, but if you go out casting to all the hydrilla you may never get bit. The bass hold in specific areas that you will have to learn.

Although the heat can be oppressive this time of year, and the hydrilla gnats will drive you crazy if there is no breeze, you can catch bass all day long out of the thick cover if you fish it right. Early mornings and late afternoons are still best, but big bass will hit in the middle of the day, too.

Daryl Davis lives in Ochlocknee, near Thomasville, where he runs a family owned grocery store and fishes with the Rose City Bassmasters. He has been with that club for about 12 years and they fish Seminole often. This year Daryl made the state team at the Top Six tournament on Eufaula.

For several years Daryl has fished the BFL trail, the Georgia/Florida Team trail and other local tournaments on Seminole. He has learned its secrets and knows where to go to catch bass every month. He agreed to show me his July patterns and some places where they work. We spent an afternoon on the lake on June 17 and landed several bass, including a 3.5 pounder I caught and a 5 pound fish he caught.

Hydrilla is the key but the bottom structure where it grows controls where the fish will be in it. Bass hold in deeper water this time of year, so hydrilla edges near channels are the best place to find them. They will move up ditches across hydrilla flats to feed, too, but you need some kind of bottom contour to attract them to an area.

First thing in the morning Daryl likes to start off with topwater baits for the early bite. He will throw a black or white skirted buzzbait and run it across the hydrilla edges and around clumps of the grass. A chrome and black Pop-R is also a good bait when the bass want something moving a little more slowly.

About an hour after the sun gets above the trees Daryl will try a 3/16 or 1/4 ounce double willowleaf white spinnerbait with chrome blades. This bait is run above the hydrilla and dropped into cuts and holes in the grass. The bass will often slam it as it flutters down past them.

A Carolina rigged Zoom Mag 2 or Ultravibe in Junebug red or green pumpkin is a good bait for some areas. If the grass is scattered enough to drag it effectively, Daryl will rig up with a half-ounce lead and cover flats around ditches with it. He also likes to cast it to brush piles in deeper water.

A Bandit crankbait works well when the hydrilla is thin enough to work it around clumps of grass or over it. Daryl will fish a crankbait along the edge of the hydrilla and over the flats when he can. That allows him to cover more water and find active fish.

Daryl’s go-to bait is a Texas rigged Baby Brush Hog or Mag 2 worm in Junebug red or green pumpkin. He uses a 3/16 to 5/16 Florida sinker ahead of the bait. These sinkers have a screw eye that will hold them to the worm so you don’t need to peg it. This bait is dropped into holes, cuts and points in the hydrilla to attract bass all day long.

Heavy equipment is needed to drag big bass out of the grass, and Daryl uses 17 to 20 pound clear Sensation or Silver Thread line. A stiff rod helps drag the bass and grass to the boat when the fish burrows down into it, and he often cranks down the drag on his bait casting reels till it won’t slip.

The following ten spots all hold bass and we caught fish on several of them two weeks ago. Check them out and then you will be able to find many more just like them.

1. N 30 47.356 – W 84 40.990 – Up the Flint River above Wingates near Faceville Landing you will go past an island on your right running upstream. It is just downstream of the place the channel goes to the right bank below Faceville. On the upstream end of the island is a red channel marker. A ledge runs from the island out past this channel marker, parallel to the channel.

There are some brush piles on the point around the marker in about 16 feet of water. This is a good place to cast a Carolina rig and probe the point and brush since July bass hold in and around it. Fish all around the marker, casting toward it from a big circle. You can also ride the point with a good depthfinder and mark the brush. When you locate the brush make repeated casts to it. Current running into the brush helps.

2. N 30 47.367 – W 84 42.011 – Downstream of the island Butler Creek enters on your left going downstream. The downstream point of it has a good hydrilla edge to fish. A flat runs out to the channel and you will see a group of 5 stumps and a sixth one a little away from them. Bass hold out on the channel and run in to the grass to feed.

Start fishing the hydrilla edge at the point of Butler Creek and work downstream. Early in the morning try topwater along the edges and give the spinnerbait a try. Then pitch or flip a Baby Brush Hog or Mag 2 worm to the edge of the grass. Concentrate on cuts, holes and points in the hydrilla. Bass will hold on any irregularity.

Try to make the bait enter the water without a ripple first. When the bass are holding shallow sometimes a loud splash will spook them. At other times Daryl says a loud splash seems to attract them, so try that if the quiet entry is not working. In either case, expect a hit on the fall. When your bait hits bottom, twitch it once or twice then pick it up to make another flip.

If the day is cloudy and early in the morning Daryl says the bass are more likely to be roaming the outside edge of the grass. When the sun gets on the water it tends to make them back up into the cover, holding inside the grass. That is when you must make your bait fall right beside the grass and pitching into holes back in the grass is more likely to pay off.

3. N 30 47.307 – W 84 42.831 – Head downstream and the channel will kick back to the left a little. Just before it goes into the sharp right bend, around the last green marker before the bend, start fishing the grass on your right. You will be across the channel from two tall sanding trees out in the water. This grass is just off the channel and the big flat behind it is full of stumps and thick grass.

The bass will hold along this grass edge, moving up out of the nearby channel to feed. Fish all along this edge, working all the way down to where the channel bends. Current moves parallel to the grass so any little point or pocket in the grass is a good holding place for bass to ambush food.

4. N 30 47.407 – W 84 43.169 – Head downstream and the channel makes a sharp sweeping turn all the way across the lake to the right bank. The outside bend of the channel drops off sharply and there is a huge grass flat running all the way past Wingates. Many bass move off this flat in the summer and hold on the outside bend.

Watch for a big stump on your left that sits right on the channel. It will be even with the green channel marker across the channel and about half-way between two red markers. There is a shallow ditch that runs across the flat at an angle, running to your right and downstream if you are facing downstream. You can see it as an opening in the grass and stumps. Start fishing near that stump.

Fish the main channel edge but also fish down the ditch, pitching to grass on both sides of it. The water in the ditch will be 7 to 9 feet deep and each end drops off into the channel. This is a big area to work since you have the outside edge of the river channel all the way around the bend and both sides of the ditch.

It was near the downstream end of this ditch, but back on the main river channel, that I caught a 3.5 pound bass on a green pumpkin Baby Brush Hog two weeks ago. The bass thumped the Brush Hog as it fell then headed straight to the boat with it. When you feel a bite, set the hook fast, the bass often run to deep water as soon as they hit. Daryl also caught a couple of bass in this area.

5. N 30 47.578 – W 84 43.363 – On the right going downstream where the river hits the bank a big cove full of cattails sits off the edge of the water. About 100 yards downstream is the entry to Ten Mile Still Landing. Look at the grass and you will see a point on it. This grass is on a sandbar that runs out toward the channel.

Fish the grass edges all around this point and also work the point with a Carolina rig and a crankbait. Bass will use the sandbar to move out of the channel to the grass to feed, and will feed on the sandbar, especially when there is current flowing across it.

6. N 30 45.721 – W 84 46.216 – Run down past Wingates to where the channel swings back to the left bank. You will see some docks on the bank and one has a green roof on it. Go in toward that dock and you will be crossing a big grass flat that runs from the channel to the bank. Upstream of this dock is a small creek that enters the lake and there is a lot of sand on the bottom in this area.

Start fishing out in front of the green roofed dock and fish the flat, working upstream. Daryl likes to cast a crankbait here, running it above the grass if it is still deep enough or around the clumps of grass growing here. Daryl got a keeper bass here when we fish together. The bass can be anywhere on this flat so you need to cover all of it. If you catch a bass on the crankbait, stop and fish slower with either a Carolina or Texas rig since there should be more nearby.

7. N 30 45.811 – W 84 50.156 – The next spot Daryl calls “Stinky Island” because of the birds roosting and nesting there. It is the last big island before the channel to Sealey Point. You can run down the marked channel to the Sealey channel then go upstream to the island, or you can cut across and run the right bank if you know how to avoid the stumps.

There is a huge grass bed off the bank of this island on the Flint River side. There is also a ridge of grass off the bank here. Fish both grassbeds, fishing all along the edge on the island and then the one out further that runs parallel to it. If you are here early in the morning try topwater and spinnerbaits. After the sun gets up fish the grass edges with plastic baits.

8. N 30 47.382 – W 84 55.679 – Sometimes the Chattahoochee River is better that the Flint, often because of current moving there. The next three spots are up the “Hooch” and a long run from Wingates, but convenient to Land’s End Marina. If you are coming upstream from the dam, you will enter the channel behind a long ridge of an island between the channel and the huge flat toward the Florida shoreline.

Watch for the first gap to your left running up the river. The downstream point is an excellent place to catch bass. There will be some hydrilla patches near the bank to fish and out on the point is some rock and brush. Daryl likes to fish the shallow grass then set up inside the cut and cast out onto the point if current is moving across it.

Work a Carolina rig on the point and probe for the cover on it. Fish all around the point if there is no current, but fish with the current if any if moving. Current really makes the bass bite better and Daryl says he has hung some big bass here.

9. N 30 47.716 – W 84 55.679 – Run on up almost to the cut to Land’s End and watch for a big opening on your right. The point on the downstream side of this cut runs out as a ledge parallel to the channel and has some stumps on it. Daryl fishes the grass around the point into the cut and then casts across the point with a Carolina rig. He says he lost one of the biggest bass he ever hooked here.

How To Flip from Denny Brauer

Flipping Fundamentals with Denny Brauer
from The Fishing Wire

Flipping with Denny Brauer

Legendary bass pro Denny Brauer shares his knowledge on one of bass fishing’s most deadly techniques

Louisville, KY – There are numerous must-know bass fishing techniques. And what’s at the top of the list? Flipping, which can put fish in the boat when just about everything else fails.

“Almost every lake has heavy cover, and where do the big bass like to live? They like to live in that heavy cover. Conventional casting techniques often cannot get your bait in there and if you can get your bait in there, your odds of getting the fish out are pretty slim. That’s where flipping comes into play,” says legendary bass pro Denny Brauer.

He continues: “If the water is dirty you can get a lot closer to the fish or if the cover is real uniform and heavy, think of how many more drops you can get into the fish’s home because you’re not spending all that time reeling. You’ve got a piece of line that you’re working with, the reel’s engaged, and you’re fishing close to the fish where you can feel the bites better, you can get a better hookset, and have a better chance of landing them. So, flipping can have a real advantage in dirty water and heavy cover.”

How to Flip

As far as the mechanics of flipping. Brauer explains that the first thing you want is to be working with is the right piece of line. Hold your arm straight out and make sure the bait is even with the reel. That way you’ve got a piece of line—about an arm’s length—that‘s very easy to work with. He then recommends that you swing the bait out but when you do, don’t just let go of the line or you’ll splash the bait into the cover, often spooking the fish.

“What you’re trying to do is let the line slide through your hand, bringing your hand back to the reel handle. Now you let your lure fall on just a little bit of slack line, that way the lure will fall straight down into the cover. When it hits bottom shake it a couple of times and now is the time to feel it—if it feels heavy or light you need to set the hook. If not, pull the bait out and flip it into the next good-looking spot and repeat the process. Let it fall straight to the bottom following it with the rod. Give it a couple of shakes, bring it out and flip it into the next spot.”

And that’s all there really is to it—and once you get the hang of it it’ll become second nature, just like making a cast.

Flipping Must-Haves

When it comes to flipping and pitching using the right equipment is incredibly important. A good baitcasting reel is crucial. For Brauer, that’s the Lew’s HyperMag Speed Spool SLS. Incredibly light and compact, it has a really strong 20-pound drag for strong hooksets and pulling fish out of cover. It also has a perforated spool so you can tie direct with braid without slippage issues. Along those lines, with many baitcasting reels, Brauer recommends spooling with a few yards of monofilament or fluorocarbon on first, tying directly to that to keep the braid from slipping on the spool.

“No matter what baitcasting reel you’re using, make sure you tighten that drag down as much as you can so you can get the hookset and get those fish out of heavy cover. It’s very important to have a reel that’s heavy duty because you’re going to be using a heavy rod and heavy line along with it and the reel needs to be able to hold up,” says Brauer.

When it comes to rods, Brauer also uses Lew’s sticks.

“The most popular length is a Team Lew’s Speed Stick 7’6” heavy-power Flipping rod. Plus, it’s got enough tip in it that it makes a great pitching rod. The bottom line is to find a rod that works for you. If you’re smaller in stature you might want to go with a slightly shorter rod but when you’re flipping and pitching to make sure the rod is at least 7 feet long so you can get the leverage and do the techniques correctly and go with heavy power.”

When it comes to flipping and pitching must-haves, Brauer considers line the most important.

“When it comes to flipping, line choice is where a lot of anglers get confused,” says Brauer. “That’s why I went to work with Seaguar to develop these FLIPPIN lines—in both braid and fluorocarbon—so anglers will have the correct line for the technique. Seaguar FLIPPIN braid is available in 50 and 65 pound. I love to fish the braid down through the heavy cover—matted grass, heavy vegetation, etc. because it’ll cut right through it, you get a great hookset, and there’s no stretch to it. So you get a really good hookset and you bury the hook really good.”

He continues: “Now, if the water is a bit more clear or you’re targeting isolated cover and targets I’ll choose Seaguar FLIPPIN fluorocarbon, which is available in 20-, 25- and 30-pound test and those are perfect weights. If it’s really clear water with isolated targets, you can get by with 20 pound. If the cover’s pretty dense, move up to 25—and if the water’s dirty, move up to 30 pound. You’re never going to have to worry about breaking off a fish. And that’s very, very important because the biggest mistakes that happen with flipping and pitching are involved with your line—either using the wrong line for the wrong situation, using too light of line, or not taking the time to re-tie.”

Where to Flip: Pattern Within the Pattern

“When it comes to flipping, you’re always hunting for some kind of cover,” says Brauer.

Of course, depending on the waters you fish, that cover can come in a variety of forms. Brauer’s advice is just to get out on the water, target some cover, and wait for that first bite, after which you can start getting analytical and work toward discovering what he calls the “pattern within the pattern.”

Often he starts his flipping routine working boat docks, a solid bet for flipping just about everywhere you can find them.

“When it comes to boat docks I’ll fish each pier, the walkway, and if it’s got anything unusual like a ladder or a rope, a boat lift, etc., I’ll fish it all. But when you get the bite, really pay attention: Where exactly did that bite come from? Don’t be in a hurry to get to the next dock. Sit and analyze the one where you just caught the fish. How deep of water are you sitting in? Is it a gravel bank or a mud bank? Is the dock on a point or back in a pocket? Those fish will tell you a lot if you pay attention. Was it on the shallow side of the dock? The deep corner? Was it on the windy side or the calm side? If you’re fishing a river, was it on the up current side or the down current side? The details you can pick up go on. And that’s what I call developing the pattern within the pattern that can be so critical.”

And when he’s flipping bushes, flooded buck brush, willow trees, cypress knees, etc., he’s constantly trying to figure out what side of the target fish are positioning on. Was the fish on the shady side or the sunny side? If he can figure out how they’re positioned he only has to make one flip to the target, a time-saver as a tournament angler, which gives him the opportunity to fish more targets than a competitor who hasn’t figured it out.

“Once I’ve narrowed it down to what side the fish will be on—windy, sunny, shady—I then take it one step further. When you flip it in there and get that bite, ask yourself did the fish hit it on the drop or after it was on the bottom and was I shaking it up and down? Because if a fish hits on the drop the fish is aggressive. Then you know how he’s positioned on the cover and how he’s biting. If he hit it on the drop and your bait hits bottom there’s no need to sit there and jig it up and down. Hit the next piece of cover,” says Brauer.

Conversely, there are times when you may need to flip your bait in and jig it repeatedly up and down, like after cold fronts or on heavily pressured waters. That may also be part of the “pattern within a pattern” that you discover.

“No matter what, spend some time analyzing the cover, use common sense, and number one—listen to the fish. When you get that bite, really analyze everything you can about that piece of cover, exactly how the fish hit the lure, and it will make you a more successful flipper,” says Brauer.

Boat Control

While there are several keys to successful flipping, Brauer cites boat control as one that many anglers could improve. First off, it’s important to operate your boat with your bow into the wind or current when flipping, operating your trolling motor to work targets efficiently.

“That way you can be going the speed you want to rather than the conditions pushing you too fast or slow,” says Brauer. “Also, working into the wind or currently allows your boat to fall back when you catch a fish, giving you a second chance to approach the spot where you caught the fish for another bite.”

Another reason boat control is important is it helps you reduce the presence of your shadow in potential fish-holding areas. “You never want to cast your shadow onto the cover before you flip it, because from the time bass are itty-bitty fry they’re conditioned to water birds and other critters so those shadows can spook them. So make sure when the sun is out that your shadow is not hitting the cover before you have a chance to flip it.”

Also monitor water clarity. Boat control in mind, if the water is a bit more clear you might want to back the boat off a bit and make pitches; if the water’s dirty, you can get closer.

“Be aware, big bass are very spooky so be as stealthy as you can. Don’t have your trolling motor on high; have it on a speed that’s conducive to the density of the cover you’re going through so you can be very thorough without being rammy while you’re moving through and you’re going to catch more big fish,” says Brauer.

Parting words

No matter where you fish bass, flipping can definitely up your odds for more and bigger fish. With fish pushed deep into cover, it can also produce fish when other techniques can’t seem to get the job done. Take a few tips from legendary bass pro and flipping expert Denny Brauer and we promise you’ll become more successful on the water.

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

Right To Keep And Bear Arms

I wrote a “Right To Keep And Bear Arms” column for Georgia Outdoor News for years. The following was my July, 2004 column.

The weeks after 9/11/01 most of the 16 houses on my street had American flags flying from mailboxes. Memorial Day weekend this year mine was the only one. How soon we forget.

And how soon we forget the threats to our gun rights. Just four years ago we seemed to be losing the battle to own guns. We had a president that signed every new gun control bill he could help get passed and did not encourage enforcement of existing gun laws against criminals. Lawsuits, some filed by parts of the federal government, threatened to bankrupt gun manufactures and distributors and make it more difficult and expensive for anyone to get a gun or ammunition.

Then President Bush was elected and things calmed down. When Republicans took the majority in the Senate as well as keeping it in the House two years later, little was mentioned about gun ban bills for a while.

Now the gun banners are back. John Kerry says he would rather represent the NAACP than the NRA. Then he says he supports the 2nd Amendment. But he can’t run from his voting record. He made a special trip back to the Senate from the campaign trail to vote to extend the Clinton ban on guns he called “assault weapons,” a vote that also killed a ban on frivolous lawsuits against gun manufactures.

President Bush says he supports extension of the Clinton ban, but has not worked to support its passage. He does say he will sign it if it is passed. He supports banning frivolous lawsuits that single out guns.

Over the past few years Kerry has received a rating of “F” from both the National Rifle Association and the Gun Owners of America. He voted with the Brady Bunch, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, 100 percent of the time. You can not support law-abiding citizen’s right to keep and bear arms and vote for every law suggested to restrict that right.

Watch what John Kerry says during the next few months, but remember his voting record. If you are a gun owner and want to keep your gun, keep his actions, not his words, in mind when you vote.

Closer to home, Herman Cain, Mac Collins and Johnny Isakson are running in the Republican primary for the U. S. Senate Seat Zell Miller is giving up. Collins and Isakson have voting records as Congressmen to examine and all will be rated by the NRA and GOA in coming months.

On his web site Isakson says “”We need criminal control not gun control. We should not only support gun ownership, shooting sports, and hunting, we should encourage them. One of our most cherished freedoms as Americans is our right to keep and bear arms, and we must never let anyone threaten it.”

That seems to be a big improvement over his past voting record. He voted for the Clinton mandatory background check and waiting period in 1999 and voted three times to back lawsuits against gun manufacturers.

Collins’ web site does not have a formal statement on the 2nd Amendment or gun control, but it points out Isakson’s votes in favor of gun control laws. The inference is that Collins opposes them. Cain’s web site does not mention gun control in any way.

Two Democrats, Denise Majette and Mary Squires are running for the nomination in this race. Majette’s site does not mention gun control but she has supported gun control laws in her two years in the US House of Representatives

Squires site says: “I support legal gun ownership and am a gun owner myself. I believe that we should do all we can to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. Congress should close the loopholes that allow questionable sales at gun shows, permitting easy access to assault weapons that all too often end up on our city streets and in our schools.”

I am not sure what kind of gun she owns and wonder if there are any restrictions she would not support based on that statement. It sounds like something straight from Sara Brady.

Your vote in the primaries on July 20 are critically important. We must send a senator to Washington to replace Zell Miller that will continue to support gun owners. The next few years will be full of bills to restrict your right to own guns. If we don’t send a strong gun rights supporter to the Senate we will lose some of our rights.

I will be voting for Mac Collins in the primary and hopefully in the election. He was my state representative and has been my U.S. Congressman. I can not remember him ever voting for a bill to restrict my right to own a gun. He has earned my vote.

This July 4th I hope every house is flying an American Flag – and I hope every gun owner is ready to fight for the right to own a gun.