Monthly Archives: October 2019

St. Croix’s Avid Surf Rod Series

Versatile New Surf Sticks Deliver Serious Power, Performance and Value
St. Croix’s new Avid® Surf provides custom-level performance without compromise
Press Release: Park Falls, WI (October 25, 2019) – Fishing should always be fun, even when it’s serious business. Booming the perfect cast is fun, hooking up is fun, and winning the battle is fun – as long as that battle is with the fish, not your equipment.Whether casting to bluegills in a farm pond, stripers in the surf or anything – or anywhere – in between, St. Croix Rod owns the mission of building the Best Rods on Earth®. That means making rods that perform dutifully and beautifully so anglers can focus on the joys and rewards of fishing.

Fresh from its debut at ICAST 2019, St. Croix’s new Avid Surf series includes ten, powerful, American-made spinning and casting rods designed for serious surfcasters looking to beach serious fish. Whether heaving heavy baits from the beaches of Cape Hatteras, casting 3-ounce bottle plugs for Montauk stripers, or trying to steer a crazed tarpon away from bridge pilings in the Florida Keys, these super strong, extremely versatile sticks can handle any challenge surf fishing presents.
Avid Surf rods combine St. Croix’s Integrated Poly Curve® (IPC®) mandrel technology with premium, high-modulus SCIII carbon for exceptional strength, smooth power and increased sensitivity. They also sport Fuji® K-Series KW tangle-free guides with Alconite® rings and Corrosion Control™ frame treatment for superior casting distance and improved corrosion protection. The Fuji® DPS Deluxe reel seat with Back Stop™ lock nut and matte grey hoods ensures a rock-solid connection between rod and reel, while a custom cork tape handle with machined trim pieces provides a sure, comfortable and resilient grip.

When St. Croix engineers set out to design the new Avid Surf series, they polled elite surfcasters to see what they valued most. One such surf fishing expert was St. Croix pro-staff member, “Crazy Alberto” Knie. “The new charcoal gray color instantly marks these rods as stealthy and serious,” he says. “When I’m out in the surf – often on the graveyard shift – I want to disappear, not stand out. And I want a rod that will put up with the elements as well as I do. These new Avids pass the test in every way, shape and form. The two lightest spinning rods are one-piece construction. The rest are two-piece rods that give one-piece performance – and they all have a 15-year transferrable warranty. That’s crazy for a rod which will see nothing but abuse!”
Knie is especially impressed by the combination of smooth casting ability and outright power these rods possess. “In a lot of places, you need to deliver heavy payloads far off the beach, and after testing these rods for over a year, there’s no doubt they’re up to task,” he states. “They have the length, strength and leverage to overpower a cow striper, ‘snookzilla’ or even the silver king itself when these trophies plow for structure or make a last-ditch run right in the wash. These new Avids have the look, feel and ability of a high-end custom-designed rod at a great price for surf rats looking to jump to the next level,” he says.

Gavin Falk, Engineering Supervisor at St. Croix’s Park Falls, WI factory, notes that new Avid surf rods are built with corrosion-control guide frames and a new and improved ART (advanced reinforcing technology) that yields increased tensile strength, allows the use of slim profile rod ferrules, and gives added strength to the entire butt section of the rod.
“That’s a real advantage when it comes to hauling back on a trophy fish in need of a direction change,” says Falk. “These rods have impressive power from butt to tip. With their combination of strength, versatility and casting ability, these new Avid Surf models are going to become unique and valuable commodities all surf anglers will want to explore.”Designed and handcrafted at the St. Croix Rod factory in Park Falls, U.S.A., Avid Surf series rods are available in seven spinning and three casting models to handle any surf fishing duty. Spinning rods range in length from 7’ to 12’, while casting choices run 10’ to 12’. Each rod carries a 15-year transferable warranty backed by St. Croix Superstar Service. 
ST. CROIX AVID SURF SPINNING MODELS7’ one-piece, medium power, fast action (VSS70MF)8’ one-piece, medium power, moderate-fast action (VSS80MMF)9’ two-piece, medium power, moderate-fast action (VSS90MMF2)9’6” two-piece, medium-heavy power, fast action (VSS96MHF2)10’ two-piece, medium power, fast action (VSS10MF2)11’ two-piece, medium-heavy power, fast action (VSS110MHF2)12’ two-piece, heavy power, moderate-fast action (VSS12HMF2)ST. CROIX AVID SURF CASTING MODELS10’ two-piece, medium power, fast action (VSC100MF2)11’ two-piece, medium-heavy power, fast action (VSC110MHF2)12’ two-piece, heavy power, moderate-fast action (VSC120HMF2)From bass and blues in the Northeast to big drum in the Mid-Atlantic and the outright bruisers of the Southern Coast, St. Croix’s new Avid Surf rods offer hard-fishing surf rats the unique opportunity to step up to custom-level performance at a reasonable price that comes without compromise. Available now, new Avid Surf rods retail from $250 to $420.

Where and Hot to Catch June Bass at Neely Henry

with Karen Rae Elkins

    There is something special about Coosa River lakes in June.  The bass, both spots and largemouth, are stacking up in predictable places and feeding.  Neely Henry is one of the best on the chain for a trip this month.

    The Alabama DNR calls Neely Henry one of the best-kept fishing secrets in Alabama.” Running 77 miles from its dam to the Weiss Dam, it covers 11,235 acres that vary from a river run on its upper end to shallow flats and creeks on the lower end.

    Built in the late 1950s, many of the creeks and ditches are silted in and the shallows are full of grass. It can be a dangerous lake to run since there are few markers and many creeks have stump fields and shallows that will eat lower units.  Be very careful when running this lake.

    Largemouth are in the lake in good numbers in the 15 to 18 inch range according to the Alabama DNR. The DNR also calls the spot population “exceptional” for large fish and the numbers of spots in the 14 to 20 inch range is one of the best in the state.

    Karen Rae Elkins was born in Huntsville but moved closer to Neely Henry Lake when ten years old.  She grew up fishing and loves it. The farm she lived on had five ponds and she would fish for anything that would bite, but one day she got her fathers’ bass fishing equipment, caught some bass and was hooked herself.

    Her father owned The Fishing Hole bait and tackle store in Anniston so she was exposed to a lot of fishing talk. When her father retired he asked her to fish tournaments with him and they competed on the Guys and Dolls and Cartersville Couples Trails, as well as in many local tournaments.

    When the Women’s Bass Tour was started Karen saw how many lakes in her area were on the schedule so she signed up.  She really likes the camaraderie and fun from this trail and says it has made her a better fisherman.  

    This spring Karen agreed to run the Team Trails tournament trail on the Coosa River and is also starting a Youth Tournament Trail in this organization. She fishes the tournaments as well as running them.

    Karen’s best five fish limit came a few years ago on Neely Henry when she brought in 18.18 pounds. And she won a tournament on April 4 this year with five weighing 14.4 there. She likes fishing and likes competition so tournaments are a good fit for her.

    Sponsors mean Karen is able to fish more than she would be able to without them and her sponsors include: Mojo Weights, Reel Grip, Bo’s Jigs, Team Trail Tournaments and JJs Magic.  She also supports the Magic Foundation and Second Chance, to organizations that are very important to her.

    “The bass are feeding in the grass in June and are fun to catch,” Karen told me.  The spawn is over and the bass are hungry.  She likes to start out shallow in the mornings catching these bass, then moves to points, humps and ledges later in they day when water is moving.  And a third good pattern is fishing docks.

    For fishing the grass Karen likes the Mojo rig and says it gives her a slight edge over the more common Texas or Carolina rigs most fishermen use. The Mojo rig gives the bait a little different look.  It is a thin cylindrical weight with a rubber band you insert so you can “peg” it on your line.

    “Start with your weight six inches from the        bait then move it closer if you aren’t getting bites” Karen said. A variety of plastics will work in June and she tries different ones until the fish tell her what she wants.  A Sweet Beaver is always a good choice but she also catches bass on Zoom Finesse Worms and Brush Hogs and Strike King Lizards.

    A few basic colors work well on Neely Henry. Watermelon Red, Junebug and Green Pumpkin are all standard colors.  And Karen always dips her baits in JJ’s Magic, saying that attracts the bass and makes them hold the bait longer.  She will often dip the tails in either red or chartreuse but if she does not want this flicker of color she uses the clear to add scent.

    Around docks Karen flips a Bo’s Jig and really likes the color named for her. The “Karen’s Jig” color has green pumpkin, black and root beer strands in it.  She tips it with a Sweet Beaver or a Zoom Chunk and works the jig under the docks, around all pilings and in any brush around the docks. This works well when the sun is bright.

    If current is moving bass will stack up on points, humps and ledges to feed. Karen likes a crankbait that runs seven to ten feet deep for fishing those areas and her favorites include Lucky Craft CB Square and Jackall Muscle baits.

    Karen showed me around Neely Henry a few weeks ago and the bass were just starting to move onto their June holes.  We put in down the lake and fished early, then took out and went up to Gadsden and fished the river some.  The lake is varied and the patterns can differ.

    The following spots all hold bass this month:

    1.  N 33 53.547 – W 86 06.603 – Back in Canoe Creek just downstream of Canoe Creek Marina you will see some brush tops out in the middle. This brush is on a hump where the channel swings across the creek and grass grows on it in June, too. It is a good place to find bass, especially if there is any current moving down the creek.

    Going up the creek watch for a nice house on your right with a gray dock with a “For Sale” sign on it. Stay on that side of the creek since the shallow hump is out in the middle. When you get near the gray dock look to your left and you should see the brush on the hump. If you get to the marina you have gone too far.

    Karen will start on the channel side and fish all around the hump, pitching her Mojo rigged Sweet Beaver of Brush Hog into holes in the grass and moving it through the thinner areas of grass.  For some reason Junebug with a chartreuse tail seems to work especially well here.

    Drag your bait through the grass and work it slowly and carefully. Be ready to set the hook when you feel any weight or your line moves at all. If there is current try to throw your bait so you work it with the current in a natural movement.

    2. N 33 51.375 – W 86 03.217 – Running down the main river from Canoe Creek you will see the opening to Greens Creek on your left.  Off the upstream point are two small islands.  Idle in to the point but do not go between the islands. There are lots of snags here. 

    When you get to the point you will see an older dock to the left of two cement boat ramps that are side by side. Start at that dock and work around the point, fishing around to the inside of the point.  Fish the grass here with a Mojo rig, work a crankbait over the shallows and pitch a jig and pig to the docks.

    The jig and pig is especially effective if the water is clear and the sun is bright, driving the bass to the shade.  Fish all the cover carefully. Karen says she has caught several five-pound-plus bass on this point.

    3. N 33 50.619 – W 86 04.472 – Beaver Creek is a good big-bass creek and Karen has several types of cover and structure she fishes in it.  As you go into the mouth you will see Greenport Marina on your right.  There is a seawall in front of the store and storage area then a long point runs upstream. There are picnic tables on the point. Off the end of this point is a hump or island, depending on the water level. When we were there it was slightly under water.

    Start near the store and fish the seawall toward the point.  Fish the Mojo rig and crankbaits along here. This is the only place Karen will rig an Old Monster worm on her Mojo rig. The extra big worm attracts quality bites on this spot.  Work from right on the seawall out to several feet deep. There are patches of grass to fish and some other cover.

    When you get out near the end of the point fish the hump and around it into the cove behind it.  Work the whole area carefully but Karen says the best area is the seawall at the store, so pay extra attention to any cover here.

    4.  N 33 50.175 – W 86 05.807 – You can run into Beaver Creek on plane until you see the silo ahead on your right. Stay to the left side going in.  When the silo comes into view it is a good idea to slow down and idle the rest of the way due to stumps and shallows. 

    When you get back about even with the silo on your right you will see a grass point on your left.  There are cattails, rocks, grass and stumps starting at this point working upstream and the channel swings on this side making it even better.  Shallow grass near deeper water is usually better, but keep in mind deeper water here might mean seven feet deep.

    Fish along the left bank working your Mojo rig through the grass.  Try to hit any stumps you can see and also probe for hidden stumps with your weight.  Fish on up this bank and there will be a grass island on your right and some big rocks on your left. There is a spring in the rocks that keeps the water cooler and moving some here.  Fish around the rocks and the island, too. This is one of Karen’s best tournament holes.

    5.  N 33 50.054 – W 86 06.448 – Idle on back into the creek until it narrows down. The bottom back here is sandy and there is lots of grass and stumps to fish. And overhanging trees in some areas provide shade. Work all the cover in the water, including the fence rows running off the bank, with a Mojo Rig and a crankbait. 

    Fish slowly and carefully. Some big bass hold up back here in June.  When you catch one bass work the area hitting every bit of cover, there is often more than one in a spot.  You should go as far back as you can get your boat if you are catching fish.

    Karen says two or three kinds of cover together makes for a hot spot to catch a bass. Look for wood in the grass, combining two kinds of cover.  If there are also rocks or a drop it makes it even better. Fish any combinations of cover carefully.

    6.  N 33 44.973 – W 86 03.559 – Run downstream and watch for a big round point on your right. On the upstream side is a boat ramp and there is a dock on the downstream side. The house has a “For Sale” sign. 

    This point has deep water just off it where the old channel swings by but it comes up quickly with a shallow ledge on the downstream side.   Current coming down the river hits this point and moves across it, creating an eddy on the downstream side.     Fish a deep diving crankbait here, casting up near the bank and working it across the shallow water, making it dig bottom, and then over the drop into deeper water. Fish with the current, moving water makes the fish bite much better here and other spots. Fish all around this point, covering both the upstream and downstream sides.

    7.  N 33 48.742 – W 86 04.032 – At the mouth of Shoal Creek the downstream point is good and all three kinds of cover you want to fish is one it. Current hits this point, too, and there is deep water just off shallow water. There is a wood house with a tin roof and three dormers on it.  AS you go into the cove on the upstream side there is a gray boathouse with turquoise doors on it.

    Start at the dock and flip a jig to it, especially if it is sunny.  Work a crankbait all around the point and the upstream cove. Then fish a Mojo rig in the grass.  Work each as you come to them to cover the area completely.

    Current hitting this area makes it better but wind blowing in helps, too. Wind will create a chop on the water, breaking up the light and making it more likely a bass will hit an artificial bait, and it also moves water, creating a current. Wind is your friend as long as it is not too strong to control your boat.

    8.  N 33 48.634 – W 86 03.764 – Across the river is a big bluff rock wall and a small rock island off it.  The bluff wall is on the upstream side of the opening to a big cove and the water is very deep off it.  Three was an old trotline hanging on the rocks with some dried fish on it the day we fished. It looked like some kind of voodoo charm!  This is a great spotted bass hole and Karen works all around it.

    This is a good spot to rig a Finesse worm on your Mojo Rig and throw it right on the bank.  Move it slowly and let if fall down the face of the rocks. Don’t move it much or it will fall too far, dropping past fish too quickly.

    There is a stump row on the downstream side of this point, too, another combination of types of cover. Fish them with the Mojo Rig but also flip a jig and pig right against the rocks and work it out, trying to hit stump.

    9.  N 33 48.891 – W 86 05.325 – Run back into Shoal Creek and watch on your left for a yellow house with a brown roof and a boathouse with two doors in front of it.  All the way across the creek is a big flat and hump with stumps on it. On the bank on that side you will see a mobile home on the bank. Idle straight toward the mobile home and watch your depthfinder.

    You will be in about 10 feet of water on the flat then it will come up to about five feet deep. You will still be a long way off the bank, in front and upstream of a red door dock in front of the trailer.  There is a stump rod on this shallow hump and a small ditch runs out near it.

    Karen will work back and forth along this drop fishing crankbaits and a Mojo Rig. She will work it a long time because she says you never know when bass will move up on this spot and feed. And it constantly replenishes itself from the deeper water nearby.

    10. N 34 00.816 – W 85 57.072 – It is a long run upstream of the bridges in Gadsden so it is a good idea to trailer up here if you can. Going upstream from Gadsden watch for a rock bluff wall on your left just as you see the trailers at Tillison Bend Park. You will be upstream and the same side of the mouth of a fairly big creek that has a blowdown across it.

    Start at the beginning of the rock wall and fish it all the way past the first three docks, a very long way upstream. Karen says it takes a long time to work this spot correctly and you can spend most of a day on it. It is worth it, this is where she caught the 18 pound limit in a June tournament.

    Karen keeps her boat in close to the wall in about 11 to 12 feet of water and makes three casts before moving up the wall. On cast will be in toward the wall as a slight angle with the Mojo Rig. She then makes a long cast to the wall ahead of the boat and works it back at an angle to the boat The third cast will be straight ahead of the boat and is worked back to the boat.

    Fishing like this covers all the water from the face of the wall out to 12 feet deep or so. To do it right can take hours working along here. When she gets to the docks Karen fishes a jig and pig around them.  Current always makes this spot better. Karen says she does not even fish it if the water is not moving.

    11. N 34 01.170 – W 85 58.766 – Run back downstream and you will see a golf course on your left and more holes across the river on your right.  You are close enough to see the sharp bend back to your left going to the bridges and the water station in the bend.

    Watch for a creek opening on your right that goes back to the golf course. You will see some big PVC pipe going into the water and some smaller pipe running out above the water and dropping down on the river side. As you idle into the creek there is another set of pipes and they are for the pump house you see on the bank that waters the golf course.

    When you get back a ways from the river the creek splits and straight ahead it will go around and under a wooden golf cart bridge.  Go back to the bridge area and fish all the grass and stumps in the back of this creek. Karen will pitch a jig to wood cover in the grass and also run a shallow diving crankbait over the grass that is under the water.

    Another trick Karen uses in this and similar spots is to Mojo Rig a big lizard like the Zoom Magmum or the Strike King 3X lizard. These big baits draw strikes from big bass. Work them through the grass back in this creek in June.

    12. N 33 59.205 – W 85 59.855 – Run downstream past the bridges and watch for a big three story yellow house with white roof and trim on your right. The house sits on the beginning of the upstream point of Big Willis Creek on that side and looks like it is in a park.

    Across the river from the house is a small ditch that is not real noticeable as you run by. You will see the bank flatten out and go back a little. This old ditch has filled in but it creates a shelf in front of it that holds good fish.

    Keep your boat out from the bank and cast a crankbait to the bank. Dig the bottom coming out the shelf to the edge of the drop. This is a good spot that does not get a lot of pressure since it is not real noticeable.

    13. N 33 58.493 – W 85 59.664 – Run down the river past the old closed park on your left and watch for a small creek opening on that side. There are to white PVC poles on either side of the opening and a pasture or field on the downstream side of it. The poles mark two big stumps.

    Karen fishes the mouth of this creek and works the stumps with her baits. She fishes on down the bank a hundred feet or so, fishing the grass and wood cover. Bass often stack up here and current helps.

    Also work into the small creek. There are stumps, fence rows and grass beds to fish in it.

    14.  N 33 57.190 – W 85 57.768 – Run down the river until you see a long narrow island well off the left bank. This small island sits in front of a river ledge with trees on it that separates the river from a big slough behind it.  There are houses and docks in the slough and a bunch of wood duck nests, especially on the downstream end around the docks there.

    There is a small opening on the upstream end of this slough and Karen often starts there in the morning, fishing into the shallows, working grass and stumps. When you get to the other end where it opens back up there are two PVC poles, one with green paint on one side, that mark the channel going it.

    Karen will fish the edges of this cut and the area around it, probing for stumps and trash. She will also work up the river side of the ledge, it drops off pretty quickly and is hard clay. Bass hold all along it.

    These 14 spots offer a wide variety of kinds of places to fish, with some on the main lake and more up the river. There are many more similar spots. Check these out to see Karen’s patterns then explore to find more, just be careful.

    Karen guides on Neely Henry and you can contact her to get her to show you first hand how she fishes here.  Call her at 256-454-3804 or her web site at You can also get information about her Team Trails tournaments.

Fall Smallmouth Bass Fishing in Virginia

How to catch Fall Smallmouth Bass Fishing in Virginia
Tactics and Techniques to Target Smallmouth Through the Changing Seasons

Fall is one of the best times of the year to target big smallmouth bass across the state.

By Alex McCrickard, DGIF Aquatic Education Coordinator
from The Fishing Wire

There might not be a finer season to explore our freshwater fisheries across Virginia than in fall.  Maples, tulip poplars, oaks, and sycamores turn red, orange, yellow, and brown as air temperatures cool to a comfortable range in the 60s and 70s.  The cool crisp air during this time of the year is a welcome change to anglers who have fished throughout the hot humid Virginia summer.  The changing of the seasons creates excellent conditions for anglers targeting smallmouth bass across the state.Smallmouth Bass in Virginia.

Smallmouth bass, frequently referred to as smallies or bronzebacks, are a freshwater member of the sunfish family: Centrarchidae.  Their green and brown sides are often marked with vertical black bars.  Some of these fish have war paint like markings extending horizontally and diagonally behind their eyes and across their gill plates.  Smallmouth bass are native to the Great Lakes system and the Mississippi River Basin including the Tennessee and Big Sandy River Drainages of Southwest Virginia.  However, these game fish have been introduced all across the Piedmont of Virginia and are truly a worthy opponent on rod and reel. 

Because of the smallmouth’s widespread range in Virginia, they are readily available to anglers fishing west of the coastal plains above the fall lines of our major river systems.  This allows anglers who reside in cities and large metropolitan areas to fish local as smallmouth opportunities are plentiful.  The James River in Lynchburg and RichmondRappahannock River in Fredericksburg, Rivanna River in Charlottesville, Maury River near Lexington, and the New River in Blacksburg are fine examples of local opportunities.Mid-October fall foliage on the New River in Southwest, Virginia.

The mainstem and larger tributaries of these rivers are full of smallmouth. Anglers in Northern Virginia can focus efforts on the Upper Potomac River as well as the Shenandoah mainstemNorth Fork, and South Fork.  The North Fork of the Holston River and the Clinch River provide excellent smallmouth opportunities in Southwest Virginia.  Floating these larger rivers in a canoe or raft can be a great way to cover water, just remember to wear your life jacket. You can also wade fish these rivers and their tributaries in lower water conditions.Changing River Conditions.

Rivers and streams across Virginia are typically in low flow conditions on average years as summer moves to early fall.  As the days get shorter and air temperatures drop, water temperatures are soon to follow.  As water temperatures cool from the upper 80s down to the mid 70s and eventually upper 60s, smallmouth will become very active.  While the smallmouth’s metabolism might be highest in warmer water temperatures, these conditions can sometimes make the fish a bit sluggish, especially on bright sunny days in the heat of the summer.  Therefore, the cooling trends that occur in early to mid-fall can oftentimes put smallmouth on the feed. 

Also, as water temperatures drop, dissolved oxygen will increase.  During the hottest summer months, smallmouth often congregate at the heads of riffles in broken water where dissolved oxygen levels are highest.  It’s the fall cooling of water temperatures that in turn can spread more smallmouth out evenly throughout various habitats from riffles and pocket water to long runs, pools, and flats.  Smallmouth can also disperse when large rain events occur throughout fall and river levels rise from typical low late summer and early fall flows.

As mid-fall progresses into late fall, water temperatures will drop even further.  As water temperatures drop into the mid to low 50s, smallmouth will stage in transitionary water between their summer habitat and deep overwintering holes.  In Virginia, this oftentimes happens from late October through the middle of November. 

Where They Live
Look for smallmouth to be on the edges of drop-offs as well as congregating around river points and bends.  During this transitionary time smallmouth can also be found in the middle sections and tailouts of deep riffles holding around structure like log jams and big boulders.Early Fall –

Techniques and Approach
Topwater lures and flies will continue to produce good numbers of smallmouth bass throughout the entire month of September and well into the month of October.  Anglers should take advantage of this last opportunity to fish on the surface before winter kicks in.  Popular topwater lures that anglers enjoy to fish in the summer will also prove to be productive in early to mid-Autumn.  Make sure to keep buzzbaits, Whopper Ploppers, Zara Spooks, Heddon Tiny Torpedos, and the Rebel Pop-R in your box of topwater lures.September and October are great months to fish topwater lures and flies for Virginia smallmouth bass.

For fly fishing, make sure to keep your flybox stocked with your favorite poppers.  I always carry Boogle Bugs, Double Barrel poppers, and Walt’s Bass Popper in a variety of sizes and colors in early fall.  It’s best to experiment with your retrieve to figure out if the fish are looking for fast or slow action.  Your retrieve and approach can also depend on the type of water you are fishing and the action of your fly or lure.  Sometimes in choppy riffles a faster retrieve can allow the lure or fly to move more water where as a slower pop and pause retrieve can be very productive in flat water stretches.

Late Fall – Techniques and Approach
As water temperatures continue to drop in late October through November, a subsurface approach is best.  It’s still possible to catch bass on topwater lures and flies but you will find more fish feeding subsurface with water temperatures in the 50s.  Smallmouth will actively ambush smaller forage fish during this time of the year as they attempt to put on weight for the upcoming winter season.  This makes mid to late fall one of the best times of the year to target large smallmouth in our rivers and streams across Virginia.  Use baitfish imitations and target the transitionary water that smallmouth occupy during this time frame.

A variety of subsurface crankbaits, soft plastic swimbaits and flukes, spinnerbaits, and jerkbaits will prove productive.  The Rebel Crawfish, a crayfish crankbait, should also be in your selection of subsurface lures as smallmouth will prowl pools and flats for crayfish in the fall.When fishing some of these subsurface lures, especially soft plastic swimbaits and flukes, its important to apply action to the lure on occasion by quickly jerking your rod to the side and then pausing briefly during your retrieve.  This will give your lure an erratic motion and imitate a stressed and injured baitfish which is exactly what the smallmouth are looking for.  When fishing soft plastics with a jig head, you can adjust the size of your jig head based upon the depth and current that you are focusing on.  Anglers can also fish a variety of different colored jig and pigs for targeting late fall smallmouth that are holding lower in the water column closer to the bottom of the river.

Subsurface lures work well when targeting fall smallmouth.

Late October through November is an excellent time to fish large streamers for big smallmouth bass.  When fly fishing in mid to late fall, consider fishing with a sinktip or a 250 grain full sinking line in the deeper riffles and pools on our larger rivers.  Sometimes it pays off huge when you can get your fly down to the fish during this time of the year, especially in the latter part of the season as winter approaches. I have had great success in the fall fishing Bob Clouser’s Clouser Minnow, Lefty Kreh’s Deceiver, as well as the combination of the two patterns: the Half & Half. Large articulated streamers that were originally developed for trout fishing in western states likes Montana, Colorado, and Wyoming will also be productive on fall smallmouth.

Kelly Galloup’s articulated streamer patterns from Montana work well and most of these flies have large profiles as some of them are tied with wool or spun deer hair heads.  Charlie Craven’s patterns from Colorado are also quite productive on our Virginia smallmouth.  The profile of these large articulated streamers attracts fall smallmouth and these patterns swim really well through the water as they are articulated.  The multi-sectioned Gamechanger tied by Blane Chocklett also works quite well this time of the year.  You should also carry large beadhead or conehead Woolly Buggers.  I like fishing this classic pattern in sizes 2-4 in black, dark brown, and olive. Chuck Kraft’s Clawdad and Harry Murray’s Hellgrammite are also productive patterns to fish lower in the water column this time of year.

Fishing large streamers is a great technique for targeting big smallmouth bass. Consider fishing a sinktip or full sinking line in mid to late fall on our larger Virginia rivers, especially in higher flows. Photo by Meghan Marchetti/DGIF.Autumn can truly be one of the most pleasant times of the year to target smallmouth across the Commonwealth.  Anglers will enjoy cooler temperatures and wearing waders when fishing these rivers during this time of the year. 

As the season progresses from October into November, it’s important to bring a dry bag with a towel and an extra change of clothes for safety precautions due to cooler water and air temperatures.  Make time to get out this fall and take advantage of the prime fishing conditions for smallmouth across the state.

Right To Self Defense In Alabama

You may have seen the alarm company commercial on TV where the woman and her two kids are in the kitchen and a thug shows up at the door.  He breaks out the window with something that looks like a tire tool and the woman and kids head to the bedroom. As the alarm sounds the bad guy runs off. The phone rings, the woman answers and the alarm company sends the cops.

     That is a great ending for alarm companies and Pollyanna’s.  When I see it I have a different vision. The criminal breaks the window, the alarm goes off, the woman and kids head for the bedroom.  The cops get there really fast, arriving in only 15 minutes, to find the woman beat to death with the tire iron and the kids missing.

     Then I have another vision. It’s my house.  The window breaks, my alarm goes off and I run to the bedroom.  When the police arrive 15 minutes later they have to step over the body of the bad guy, laying right where he took the full load of #1 buckshot from the 12 gauge I keep by the bed.

     There are a couple of problems with my vision. First, I never have kids at my house, so I can keep a loaded gun by the bed, something no one with kids should do. Second, I do have an alarm, but it would probably take the sheriff longer than 15 minutes to get to my house since I live in a rural area.

     The biggest problem is what happens next. For me, I would probably be headlined in the paper as a hero for killing a villain.  But in some urban areas in Alabama I would be criticized and in some other states I might be arrested. It would be even worse if I used a pistol.

     According to Gun Owners of America, that is exactly what happened to Ronald Dixon in New York City. Dixon, a Navy veteran working two full-time jobs, confronted a man that broke into his house one night and the criminal ran at him screaming. Dixon shot the thug, who had a 14 page criminal record, seriously wounding him but not killing him.

     What did the local DA do?  He filed charges against Dixon for possession of a handgun, an illegal act according to New York City gun laws.  Dixon faces up to a year in jail for having the gun. He might be facing the top of a coffin without it, but just possessing an unlicensed handgun is against New York City law. And a license is very hard to get there.

     Fortunately here in Alabama it is easier to get a license and you don’t need one to keep a gun in your home for self defense. And you have protection from the government if you have to protect yourself from a criminal. 

In 2006 Governor Riley signed a self defense gun law that allows you to protect yourself. A press release from his office contained the following quote: “With this new law, the decision of crime victims who choose to protect themselves and their families won’t be second-guessed,” said Governor Riley. “When you feel your life or your family is in danger from an intruder, you should be able to practice self-defense and not worry if a judge or court is going to penalize you.”

The legislation passed the Alabama Legislature overwhelmingly by a vote of 82-9 in the House and 30-2 in the Senate.  You gotta wonder about the 11 legislators that voted against this law. Do they represent you?  Are they still in office?

St Croix Musky Mojo Rod

More Manageable Musky Mojo
Upgraded St. Croix Mojo Musky Series casting rods available now! Reinvented and improved lineup includes 14 versatile models, three with all-new telescopic construction.
Muskie on St Croix Muskie Mojo Rod
press release: Park Falls, WI (October 23, 2019) – Musky aficionados are some of the most passionate anglers on the water. Their zeal for the sport extends to their gear, of which they tend to be both critical and demanding. Specific rods are chosen for a targeted presentation or to match current angling conditions… and they’d better deliver.St. Croix – makers of the rods musky fanatics prefer – offers some exciting news: The highly popular Mojo Musky Series has been reinvented and improved for 2020!

The significant upgrades include lighter SCIII carbon blanks; IPC® mandrel technology, which eliminates all transition points in the blank from butt to tip, resulting in rods that are incredibly smooth, strong and sensitive; custom Winn split-grip handles for improved grip; and new upgraded hardware. Musky anglers can now choose from 14 upgraded and unique Mojo Musky casting models. Best of all, these economical, high-performance musky fishing tools are available to purchase right now.
EXTENDED ADVANTAGESLonger rods create extra advantages in a variety of musky fishing situations. But they can be challenging to transport and store. The upgraded Mojo Musky Series delivers an ideal solution to this dilemma via three all-new telescopic models that combine the length anglers demand with the convenience of a clever, collapsible design.
St. Croix is proud to offer two heavy power, fast action telescopic Mojo Musky casting rods (MM86HFT and MM90HFT) and one medium-heavy, fast action telescopic casting model (MJM90MHFT). These rods easily collapse for simplified maneuverability, transport and storage, without sacrifice to their big bait and big fish handling performance. The 8’6” model collapses to a manageable 7’6” and the 9’ models down to 7’10”.8’6” heavy power, fast action, telescopic, collapses to 7’6” (MM86HFT)9’ heavy power, fast action, telescopic, collapses to 7’10” (MM90HFT)9’ medium-heavy power, fast action, telescopic, collapses to 7’10” (MM90MHFT)“

The trend for a number of years has been going longer and longer in musky rods,” says St. Croix Promotion Manager, Rich Belanger. “That’s due to a number of factors. First, longer musky rods are just more efficient tools. They offer better performance, greater casting distance, deeper figure 8s, and better leverage on the hookset.

”But most anglers experience challenges in transporting and storing long rods; they’re hard to fit in a truck or SUV, most boat rod lockers, and are awkward in other storage situations.“We solved those challenges,” comments Belanger. “With these telescopic Mojo Musky models, anglers can finally get longer rods around without the common headaches or storage issues associated with traditional one-piece rods.”
Musky guide and St. Croix Rod pro angler, Rob Manthei, is enthralled about his early experiences with the new, updated Mojo Musky rods. “I really like the lightweight feel from the new carbon blanks, the Winn grip, and IPC technology makes them super smooth. What they offer for the dollar value – especially with all the new upgrades – is just unreal,” he says. “And with regards to the telescopic design, rod storage is no longer an issue. They fit easily in the boat, in the truck and are really manageable. Big blades, big rubber, they handle it all,”

Manthei continues. “We’ve caught quite a few fish on them, and the performance has been just outstanding. I was never a fan of telescopic rods, but St. Croix really hit the mark with the construction… did it right, like they do everything else. I’d definitely recommend them to anyone.”Indeed, each St. Croix Mojo Musky rod is uniquely designed and engineered to exceed the expectations of the most demanding musky anglers. 
ST. CROIX MOJO MUSKY CASTING ROD FEATURESIntegrated Poly Curve® (IPC®) mandrel technologyPremium, high-modulus SCIII carbonKigan Master Hand 3D guides with slim, strong aluminum-oxide rings and black framesKigan Master Hand 3D top with SiC ringFuji® TCS or PSSLD Deluxe reel seat with black hoodCustom Winn split-grip handleKigan hook-keeperTwo coats of Flex-Coat slow cure finishThree telescopic models collapse down to under eight feet for easy storage and transportSpecialized musky series designed for superior performance
#CROIXGEARLike the rods? You’ll love our lifestyle apparel. Shop now! Save 15% on our Northwoods Musky Tee! through October 31st!

Living In A Small Town

   Traveling around Georgia and Alabama doing research for my Georgia and Alabama Outdoor News Map of the Month articles I visit many small towns that remind me of growing up in Dearing, Georgia.  Small towns have a charm and feeling unique to them, and I often miss them.

    Each season holds special memories.  Halloween was special in the fall each year.  Everything from trick or treating on our bicycles to going to the Halloween Festival at Dearing Elementary School heightened the excitement of the season.

    We prepared our costumes for days, although they were always homemade and simple.  You could not go to the local dollar store and get one store bought and detailed.  I wore everything from mama’s carefully sewed clown costume to an old sheet with holes for eyes.

    My favorite for several years was my hobo costume.  I’m sure it would be politically incorrect now, but people were much saner back then. We did not take offense at everything that might trigger us.

    My hobo costume was old clothes that were ragged and patched, really just some of my oldest daily clothes I wore around the farm.  I wore one of daddy’s old caps and had a corn cob pipe I made with a corn cob and section of creek cane.  Sometimes I stuffed it with rabbit tobacco and even lite it – after getting well away from my house and mama and daddy’s watchful eyes.

    A mustache and beard, made with smut from a fire painted my face. And I had to have a stick with a colorful scarf bag hanging on it to put over my shoulder.

    There was no fear of the goodies we got from neighbors all over town.  Again, folks were sane back then and we all knew each other. There was no worry about foreign objects in the treats we got.

    Home made candy was the norm.  We knew which house would have candied apples, dipped with care and individually wrapped in wax paper. And where to go for fudge squares, some with a pecan half embedded on top.   
    Store bought candy was a special treat and rare. But some houses were known for dropping a Baby Ruth, Snickers or Milky Way into your bag and those houses were sought out every year.

    I do not remember “tricking” anyone on our excursions.  There was no need, each house in town had a welcoming porch light on, and a few even had some decorations, maybe a carved pumpkin or corn stalk bundle, sitting near the door.

    Daddy was principal of Dearing Elementary and teachers and students worked for days getting ready for the festival.  Each classroom was turned into a different game or challenge, but they were simple. 

    One classroom would be the “fishing hole” where the bottom half the door was covered with decorated cardboard to block it. On the floor or a small table were hand carved wooden fish with rings in their backs.  A short cane pole with q wire hook at the end of the line was used to catch a fish.  It was harder than it sounds, but when you landed one you were rewarded with a candy treat supplied by the PTA.

    Another classroom would be the haunted house, with cardboard corridors inside to lead you through gross and scary scenes.  There might be a table with a pig or cow brain in a pan, a turn where you ran into hanging “spider webs” of sewing thread, or a cardboard skeleton that would suddenly swing in front of you, controlled by a laughing teacher.

    And there was always a hidden cubby hole where a teacher dressed in a scary costume would jump out at you, to the screams of the younger kids and the laughs of older kids and the witch or goblin.

    There were skill contest, too.  One vivid memory is of a nail driving contest, where you got a reward based on the number of blows it took to drive a 16-penny nail to its head in a 2X4.  Daddy was beside me the year I wore a bulky clown costume mama had made for me. When I had trouble hitting the nail squarely, daddy said I was good with a hammer, but the costume hindered my swing. 
I hated the disappointment in his voice that I had not done a better job.

    Of course, the best part of fall for me was the opening of squirrel and bird seasons.  Daddy was also the agriculture teacher when Dearing had a high school and taught shop to eighth graders after the high school grades were moved to Thomson.  He visited local farmers to help them with his experience from his work and degree from UGA, doing everything from “cutting” male pigs when they reached the right age to helping with calf births.

    He was invited to dove shoots almost every Saturday and I got to go with him, at first acting as his retriever then being allowed to carry my .410 when he was sure I had learned field safety and etiquette.  And after dove season we spent every Saturday following our pointers, looking for quail

    But squirrels were my first love, from the time I grabbed my .22 and got Gladys, our maid and farm worker, to her great concern, to follow me across Iron Hill Road to shoot my first squirrel.  I was eight years old and had seen it out the window but knew I could not take a gun out without an adult with me, so I somehow talked her into going with me.

    After that I spent thousands of happy hours in the woods, mostly by myself, and killed hundreds of squirrels over the next ten years until I went off to college. And we ate every one of them.

    Every season had special memories. I wish kids today could experience, and be thrilled by, those simpler times.

New Illinois State Record Smallmouth

New Illinois State Record Smallmouth Bass Gobbles Z-Man® Ned Rig 
Downtown Chicago waterfront serves up 7-pound 3-ounce whopper — and it’s still swimming
Press Release:

Ladson, SC (October 23, 2019) – Most of Chicago’s 2.7-million residents were fast asleep. But for avid angler Joe Capilupo, the night of Monday, October 14 provided the perfect opportunity to cast for Lake Michigan smallmouth bass. The payoff, as it turned out, would more than justify a little loss of shut-eye.

Working their usual Chi-town fishing turf, Capilupo and two friends had cast and moseyed their way from the Shedd Aquarium, south toward Buckingham Fountain without much action. Twenty minutes before 11pm, a police officer strolled by to remind the anglers the Monroe Harbor lakefront park would soon be closing.

At 10:50pm, Capilupo felt something crack his Ned rig. “Soon as I set the hook, the fish started pulling really hard, stripping drag,” recalls Capilupo, a Cook county corrections officer. “Figured I had probably hooked a drum or maybe a bigger bass.” Darkness prevented Capilupo from getting a good look at the fish until he worked it slightly closer to shore.

“When the fish finally flashed in the water, I thought, my gosh, I’ve got a huge smallmouth bass!  But even then, I figured it couldn’t have gone more than 5-pounds, which had been my goal for several years.“I reached for the net and hollered for my buddies Jonny Pitelka and Myles Cooke to come over and help.” 
New Illinois Smallmouth Record
As Capilupo stretched out to maneuver the smallmouth bass into his net, the fish woke up and tail-walked clear of the water. “It was an incredible jump, but it kind of gave me a heart attack,” he laughed. Fortunately for the LeGrange, Illinois angler, the big bass’ head-shake didn’t dislodge the Z-Man jig and Finesse TRD from its jaw.

“When we finally got the fish to shore, I got a better look at her and thought she might go 6 (pounds). The bass was so big my buddies actually had to help me lift it up.”After a handheld scale displayed a weight of 7-pounds 5-ounces, the anglers realized the smallmouth bass might eclipse the state record. Capilupo and friends started dialing friends, outdoor writers, Illinois fisheries officials or anyone who might help register the bass on a certified scale.

“We couldn’t reach anyone at first. Nobody believed us, so I went on social media and someone told us to go to nearby Henry’s Sports and Bait. Meanwhile, another friend had brought big garbage bags which we filled with water. My mom delivered a large cooler and another buddy had returned from Wal-Mart with an aerator. We stayed up all night and made sure the fish stayed in the water and regained its strength.“Eventually, a co-owner and store employee met us at Henry’s,” noted Capilupo. “Their reaction was incredible; they were blown away by the fish, and helped us really take good care of it in one of their special bait tanks.” 
By 1:30pm on Tuesday, the bass had at last been certified by a Department of Natural Resources biologist. Officially, the bass weighed 7-pounds 3-ounces, measuring 22-1/4-inches in length and 16-1/2-inches in girth. The previous Illinois state record smallmouth weighed 6-pounds 7-ounces, caught in 1985.

Recalling some of the misfortunes he faced earlier that Monday, Capilupo said his favorite St. Croix rod had gone overboard while kayak fishing. Somehow, his friend Pitelka managed to snag and save the outfit—a St. Croix Mojo Bass rod and Daiwa Legalis reel. “It just didn’t feel like my day,” recalls Capilupo, who had up until his big bite, landed only a small rock bass. “I’d also lost A 15-incher (bass) and had a good-sized drum break my hook. It was an old, rusty hook and I should have switched out.

”Ultimately, having tied on a fresh 1/5-ounce Z-Man Ned Rig jighead onto which he threaded his favorite bass bait— a California Craw pattern Finesse TRD— Capilupo made the cast that reversed his fortune. “The Z-Man Ned rig is really the only bait we throw for smallmouths,” he said. “It’s our go-to, never-fail bait, for sure.”

Capilupo described the fateful cast, which occurred not far from the Shedd Aquarium. “I had just put on a new California Craw TRD and cast out about 20 feet. That longer 7-foot 1-inch St. Croix is the perfect rod for shorecasting. I let the lure drop to the bottom and gave it a little twitch. I picture the retrieve as a frog hopping. Right after that first hop, I felt a big jarring hit and set the hook.”
More than twenty-four hours later, the trio of anglers huddled in Henry’s back-rooms to discuss the planned release of their prized smallmouth bass. As Henry’s Sports and Bait co-owner Tom Palmisano told Chicago Sun Times outdoor columnist Dale Bowman, “He (Capilupo) is one of the classiest fishermen in the world. His buddy was sitting in the back of my store, tending to the fish like a newborn baby on its way home from the hospital. I can’t think of a happier moment in my years in the business.”

“We knew we wanted to release the bass back into Lake Michigan,” noted Capilupo. “And there’s no question, the bass was in beautiful shape when we did.“Back into Lake Michigan, she goes,” Capilupo recited in a YouTube video documenting the release. “Thanks buddy. Great fight. Great fish. Seven pounds 3 ounces. Smallmouth bass.”

Lake Martin Three Club October Tournament

 Last weekend 30 members of the Flint River Bass Club, Potato Creek Bassmasters and Spalding County Sportsman Club fished our annual three club tournament at Lake Martin.  In 17 hours of casting, we landed 268 12-inch keeper bass weighing 379 pounds. Almost all of them were spotted bass.

    We had 26 limits on Saturday and 25 on Sunday. That is why we love to go to Lake Martin in October; we catch a lot of bass. Many folks reported catching 20 or more keepers each day.  Most are 13 to 14-inch spots weighing about a pound and a half, as the results below show, but they fight hard and are fun.

    For the two days, I barely won with ten bass weighing 19.14 pounds, Tom Tanner placed second with ten bass weighing 19.09 pounds, Lee Hancock was third with ten bass at 17.26 pounds and Doug Acree was fourth with ten bass weighing 16.64 pounds.  Buddy Laster had big fish with a 4.52 pound largemouth, one of the couple dozen of them caught.

    We paid back both days, fishing each day like a one-day tournament. On Saturday, Tom Tanner was first with five bass weighing 10.96 pounds, my five at 10.15 pounds was second, Buddy Laster placed third with five weighing 9.93 pounds and his 4.52 pound largemouth was big fish.  Lee Hancock was fourth with five bass weighing 9.01 pounds.

    On Sunday I won with five at 8.99 pounds, Doug Acree was second with five at 8.49 pounds and Wayne Teal placed third with five weighing 8.43 pounds.  Billy Roberts placed fourth with five at 8.26 pounds and had big fish with a 4.04 pound largemouth.

    I went over on Tuesday to try to find some bigger fish. In research before I left, I got information that most tournaments were being won in Kowaliga Creek. Martin has two long arms from the dam, one going up the Tallapoosa River and the other up Kowaliga Creek. Wind Creek State Park, where we launch, is far up the river from the dam, where Kowaliga Creek starts.

    Wednesday, I drove the few miles by road to a ramp on Kowaliga Creek and spent the day riding points looking for brushpiles and rocks. I marked 20 places with waypoints that looked promising.  I fished some and hooked two decent fish but lost both.

    Thursday, I made the 30-mile trip by boat, laying in GPS trail. There are many islands and short creeks near the dam where it is very easy to get lost, and if I made the run first thing each morning in the near dark, it would be tough. But with a trail to follow it would not be a problem.

    When I got to Kowaliga Creek I again fished some, concentrating on docks, and never got a bite.

    Friday, I fished around the park and in two hours caught a limit of bass that would weigh about eight pounds.  They were in their usual places in that area, around rocks, docks and brush I have fished for more than forty years.  That made me think hard about the long run to where I had not landed a fish in two days.

    I decided to gamble on the long run and took off at 7:00 AM Saturday morning. At 7:30 I made my first cast and got a hit on topwater. I quickly caught two on a Whopper Flopper hand painted lure from Jim Farmer’s Castaway Tackle Company, but they were about 1.5 pounds each, no better than what I caught on the other side of the lake.  The third one I caught hit one of Jim’s hand painted Sebile swimbaits and it was a bigger fish, so I felt better.

    After the sun got up I went back in a cove and cast the Plopper to some shade and got an explosive bite.  I fought the bass to the boat but when I bent down to pick up the net, the fish dove straight down and got me hung up in some brush.  It was stuck solid when I tried to pull it free.

    I did want to lose the expensive lure, so I got out my chain lure retriever. When it hooked the plug and pulled the brush loose, the limb, plug and fish came up and I manage to get all of it in the boat. I was very lucky.  I fished the Plopper on windy banks the rest of the day and caught about 20 more fish.

    Sunday there was no wind, so I switched to a shaky head worm and landed about 20 more bass, but they were smaller. But they were big enough for first place!  The run was worth it, even though I burned about 40 gallons of gas in my boat in the two days.


The Buyout: What it Means for Pro Bass Fishing
Frank Sargeant
from The Fishign Wire

Things continue to happen fast in the world of big league bass fishing, where Major League Fishing (MLF) announced yesterday that they are gobbling up Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) in yet another move that must have the lights burning late at night at B.A.S.S. headquarters in Birmingham.

MLF stunned the tournament industry last year by convincing a majority of the top names in the Bassmaster Elite circuit, arguably the best-known and most financially-successful competitive anglers in freshwater fishing, to jump ship from their long-term relationship with the 50-year old B.A.S.S. and move into a new made-for-television series that so far has pretty much lived up to expectations, delivering very watchable competition where viewers truly get the sense of the moment-by-moment intensity and emotion involved when lots of money is on the line.

To be sure, a few fans (and some in the industry) threw bricks at the pro’s who jumped to the MLF after being made famous (and rich in some cases) by the public relations muscle of B.A.S.S. and the industry connections that brought high-dollar sponsorships. But there were also some on the Elite circuit who felt the tournament organization was making an excessive profit on the backs of those who pay-to-play.

Tournament fishing, unlike other pro sports, depends on the participants to fund themselves,  and it can be very, very expensive, starting with a boat and truck package that will approach $100,000, tens of thousands in entry fees and many more thousands in travel expenses, plus lots of time on the road which makes working a “normal” job impossible and also cuts many off from their families for weeks at a time. A few get rich, but many go broke. It ain’t for sissies, to be sure.

 MLF, co-founded by Boyd Duckett, a highly successful B.A.S.S. Elite pro and businessman in his own right, offered select pros what most viewed as a more equitable and dependable financial package. When a few of the top names agreed to enter the new circuit and abandon B.A.S.S., the rush was suddenly on for those invited in.   MLF also touts a couple of technical advantages over the venerable B.A.S.S. circuit, started by Ray Scott in 1967 and still following basically the same format.

The MLF Bass Pro Tour consists of eight events and a championship streamed live and MOTV. MLF uses the conservation-friendly catch, weigh and immediate-release format where every scorable bass counts, the tally is kept by a marshal in the boat and the winner is the angler with the highest cumulative weight. First, the fact that anglers can score lots of points by getting on a school of relatively small bass in the MLF circuit means there’s a lot more action available on-camera than in the B.A.S.S. format where anglers purposely avoid small fish to catch the 4 to 5 pounders almost always needed to win on quality fisheries.

Anglers routinely catch 50 or more bass per day on camera in MLF events—the action is almost continuous.

Second, since the cameras are in the boats continuously, anglers can’t say they caught their bass on their sponsor’s Hula-Wiggler-Wobbler when in fact they caught it on the lure of a competitor not their sponsor.

And they also can’t fib about where and how they’re fishing—the camera sees it all, and so do the fans. If they’re finesse fishing, we know immediately. Ditto for flippin’, for crankbaiting and for popping the top—and watching them live as they sort through the possibilities that might turn on the $100,000 bite puts the viewer in the boat. It’s a real education for all who love bass angling. 

Last but not least, the immediate release format assures that virtually 100 percent of the bass caught will survive, and since they’re released right back into the same locations from where they were caught, there’s no disruption of the eco-system, as there is sometimes when large numbers of spawners are caught and moved out of a spawning area during the weigh-in process. (B.A.S.S. takes very good care of their fish and loses a tiny percentage of them, but they do have some casualties.) 

All of this said, the buyout is unlikely to have an immediate negative impact on B.A.S.S. A new generation of Elite heroes is being made on the water this season, and with the company’s strong ties in the industry forged over generations, their powerful web presence, increased live streaming and the venerable Bassmaster Magazine reaching their half-million members monthly, the company’s future looks strong.

In fact, we may at some point down the road see a sort of AFC/NFC competition where teams from each league go head to head to determine who, in fact, has bragging rights for the top competitive bass anglers on the planet. It’s an intriguing concept, sure to draw a whole lot of eyeballs to TV and streaming devices should it ever happen. We’ll be watching, and we’ll keep you posted. 

American Hero Speed Stick Rod Review

I won a Fig Rig rod in a Top Six tournament at West Point years ago. That northern company and made muskie rods but decided to get into the bass market.  This six-foot six-inch rod was the most sensitive rod I have ever used for worm and jig fishing.  

    I broke the rod several weeks ago and, unfortunately, the company is no longer in business. So, I went looking for a replacement.  I ordered a St. Croix rod but needed one fast and I went to Berrys Sporting Goods to see what he had.

    After looking at several rods Jim showed me an American Hero Speed Stick rod.  It felt good even though it is a seven-foot rod and I really wanted a shorter rod for skipping baits under docks.  The medium heavy, fast action was right, though, and I got it.

    After using it several times and catching a few fish on it, I am very happy with it.  It cast half ounce jigs and Texas rigs with a three sixteenths ounce sinker well, exactly what I wanted it for.  I can skip ok with it and it has good sensitivity for feeling bites on those baits.  The seven-foot length gives me good leverage when setting the hook.

    The rod weighs more than my St. Croix rods but cost less than $100, about half the cost of my St. Croix rods. Usually the more expensive the rod the less it weighs. 

    It serves my needs well and I am very happy with it.