I try to not think about Christmas until after Thanksgiving, so I guess its time. I have my two front teeth, so my next choices are fishing equipment. Fishermen are easy to buy gifts for, since we never have enough fishing stuff.
Prices range from a couple dollars to ridiculous amounts. I think any fisherman would be happy with any of the following. I know I would since I use all of them and depend on them. I have everything on this list, but, like any other fanatical bass fisherman, I could always use duplicates!
Garmin Panoptix Livescope – If you like knowing what is underwater, the Panoptix system can’t be beat. It shows structure and cover, but more importantly, fish as they move, their depth, distance from the boat and direction from the boat, much like shining a spotlight underwater. You can make every cast count and see how the fish react to your bait in real time. Its almost cheating! The first time I was in the boat with one and saw how it worked, I ordered one for my boat as soon as I got home.
This system is expensive, costing a little under $3000.00 for transducer and sonar unit with a ten inch screen for it.
St.Croix Avid Rod – The Avid line of rods are good quality for the cost and have a great warranty. The seven-foot medium fast is good for topwater, crankbaits, spinnerbaits and swimbaits and the medium-heavy fast is perfect for small jigs, Texas rigs and shaky heads. I use those two actions for almost all my fishing.
The Avid series of rods are about $180.00. each.
American Hero Speed Stick rod – I bought a rod from Berry’s Sporting Goods to replace my heavy jig and worm rod I broke. When I tested it in the store, 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 American Hero Rod I got at Berry’s SportingGoods was a little under $100.00.
Bass Pro Shop Reels – I get a nice discount from Bass Pro Shops on their branded stuff, so I use their reels. They are less expensive than many of the same quality and have had good service with them. The three I use are the Pro Qualifer, Carbonlight and Signature Series. The higher priced reels are a little smoother and cast a little better, but for most of my fishing the cheaper models serve all my needs. I use the Signature Series for pitching and skipping baits under docks when the higher price makes it worth it. For everything else, the lower priced reels are fine, and I can pitch and skip with them if needed, I just get a few more backlashes.
The Pro Qualifer is $80.00, the Carbonlight is $125.00 and the Signature Series is $160.00
Guidewear – I fish year-round and this time of year it can be miserable on the water if you don’t have proper clothes. A few years ago I bought a Guidewear suit from Cabellas. The bib pants and jacket have both zipper and Velcro flap closings on all openings. They are lined and have Goretex for waterproofing. When suited up with hood up and closed, nothing shows but my eyes, nose and hands. It is warm and completely waterproof. I have fished in rain, sleet, wind and temperature in the teens and have been comfortable, except for my hands, even in the worst conditions. Rubber insulated boots complete the outfit when it rains.
This outfit is not cheap, at about $275.00 each for bibs and jacket, but worth it if you are out in bad weather.
Sunline Shooter fluorocarbon – Fluorocarbon line is important in clear water but works well in stained water, too. The lighter line is limp enough for spinning reels but 12-pound test and up is best on baitcasters. It is some of the toughest line I have ever used, strong and abrasion resistant. If my reel is spooled with fluorocarbon, its Sunline Shooter. It has never failed me.
A 200-yard spool of this line is about $25.00.
Trilene monofilament line – Some baits like topwater require monofilament line, and I like Trilene XT Extra Tough line in 12 to 14-pound test. It is very strong, abrasion resistant and cast well on both bait casters and spinning reels.
At 1000-yard spool of this line, plenty to last a few years, is about $25.00.
Rapala DT 6 – The DT series of crankbaits come in a wide range of colors and depth they work. They run true out of the box with no tuning. The DT 6 is good from fall through Spring for bass feeding in relatively shallow water. They have no rattles and that helps for spooky, heavily pressured bass. I have one tied on every trip and have caught some of my best limits on them.
Rapala DT 6 crankbaits cost about $8.00 each.
JJs Magic – JJs dip and dye quickly colors plastic baits and gives them a strong garlic scent. It comes in several colors to “match the hatch“ and bass love it. I never throw a plastic bait without dipping the tails in chartreuse JJs.
A bottle of JJs Magic cost about $6.00.
All these things work well for me and I would not want to be without them on a fishing trip.
It was once again a great fall week on Guntersville, the bass are as active as they have been since the fall fishing set in. The only thing we had to do to stay on fish this week was move a lot if we weren’t getting bit early in a stop; the fish weren’t everywhere but they were grouped up when we found them.
We stayed in less than 10 ft. of water, found grass and bait activity and we found fish. We stuck to reaction baits most of the week with SPRO Aruka shad rattle baits being our best producer. We also caught fish on Picasso Spinner baits, Tight-Line swim jigs, SPRO Little John square bills. Reaction was the key; find movement and find some feeding and you will have a blast.
Come fish with me I have guides and days available to fish with you; it’s a great time to set up 2020 fishing were taking reservations now. We fish with great sponsor products Lowrance Electronics, Ranger Boats, Boat Logix Mounts, Mercury Motors, Vicious Fishing, Duckett Fishing, Power Pole, Navionics mapping and more.
Lots of spots and the occasional
largemouth feeding on gravel flats and bluff banks. Tournament limits consistently weighing 13 pounds, with some taking
18 pounds to win. Don’t call Allatoona
“The Dead Sea.”
Allatoona is a 12,000-acre Corps of
Engineer lake just north of Atlanta on the Etowah River. It is a small lake with a big drainage area,
so the water level is well known for big changes, especially from winter and
It can be tough to fish, but the
spots there have increased in numbers and size over the past few years. For a long time it was hard to catch a keeper
there, but three pound spots are common now, and most tournaments have multiple
limits weighed in. At a January 6 Allatoona Team Trail tournament, it took
18.50 pounds for first. Their big fish was a 4.63 pound largemouth, so all
their limit was quality fish.
Carter Koza is a sophomore at Mt.
Parran Christian School in Kennesaw and on the fishing team. He grew up fishing with his dad, Jamie, owner
of The Dugout and has learned well. He started
fishing high school tournaments in the eighth grade and won the BASS Nation
High School tournament at Eufaula in 2017. He has five top five finishes on
In 2017 he was Angler of the Year
in the points standings on that trail and was runner up last year. He teams with his sister, Lee Rose Koza and
they qualified for the FLW High School National Championship. Fishing is in his
“In February bass at Allatoona are
setting up in early pre-spawn, feeding on gravel flats and bluff banks leading
into spawning areas,” Carter said. He
covers those areas looking for active feeding fish. Stained water helps the bite a lot, and it is
usually stained this time of year.
Carter’s goto bait is a crankbait,
but he will also have a Rat-L-Trap, a jig and pig ready to try. Although he covers water, he does not do a
lot of running around, spending time on each area to fish all the good cover
We fished the following spots in
mid-January on the worst possible weather conditions, the first day of a hard
cold front after several days of warm rain. But Carter caught nine keepers,
including two three-pound spots and one largemouth, in half a day on the water.
1. N 34 08.053 – W 84 39.200 – Across
the cove from the Galts Ferry ramp a big flat point has a danger marker way our
on it. This point is between two good
spawning creeks and typical of the type flat Carter likes to fish in February.
Start at the pole, there is a lot
of brush around it. Stop a long cast
from it and fish a crankbait all around it.
With the water low you will see the tops of many brush piles and they will
hold fish even in very shallow water, so always cast to them.
Carter’s favorite crankbait is a
Spro RKCrawler and he especially likes the new model 50 in the mudbug
color. It has some chartreuse in it to
help the fish see it in stained water.
He cast it on 12 to 15-pound Segar High VizX fluorocarbon line and uses
a St. Croix LGC61 medium heavy crankbait rod.
Fish around the pole then into the
downstream side of it into the creek, past the Atlanta Yacht Club dock and boat
ramp. Make long casts, keeping your boat
in about ten feet of water, and bump the bottom from two to eight feet deep.
Fish all the way into the creek
until you are across from the danger marker about half way back on the other
side. Then jump over to that side and fish around that marker, the private ramp
on that bank and out about 50 yards.
Carter caught a couple of keeper spots on both sides of this creek and
lost two or three more that pulled off.
If the weather has been warm and
sunny for a few days, warming the water, fish further back on both sides. Pay attention to the area you get bites in
places like this, are the fish hitting out on the points or back in the creek
and concentrate on those areas. Warming water will make the fish go further
back into the creeks.
2. N 34 07.751 – W 84 37.752 – Run
up to the mouth of Kellogg Creek and stop on the right just inside the creek
past the first two small coves and the sign.
This bluff bank is a good example of the kinds of bluff banks that hold
Kellogg Creek is the best creek for
finding big schools of baitfish this time of year, a critical factor in
catching bass. And it has many good
spawning areas in it. Fish along this
bluff, keeping your boat in close and making angled casts ahead of you to bump
the bottom from right on the bank out to eight feet deep or so.
Watch for any change in the rocks,
bass like transition areas. A change in
the kind of rock, a small point or a change from big rocks to smaller ones all
should be targets of your casts.
N 34 07.749 – W 84 36.579 – A little farther back the creek splits into
two arms. The point between them is another good bluff bank with big rocks
dropping fast into deep water. Stop just inside this point on the main creek
arm that goes to the right and work out and around it.
Carter says you can fish this one
point and catch fish all day. Angle your
casts to keep your bait in water where it is bumping bottom most of the cast.
Carter says it is critical to be bumping the bottom with your bait to catch
When you go over an area and catch
some fish, go back over it. Try slowing
down with a jig and pig the next pass to catch less active bass. Carter likes a
black and blue Chattahoochee Jig in dirty water but goes to a green jig in
clearer water. Match your jig color with a Zoom Chunk or Rage Craw.
4. N 34 07.398 – W 84 36.896 – Go
to the Kellogg Creek Road bridge back in the main creek. Bridges are always
good this time of year, they are choke points for bass moving back and offer a
good feeding area. Carter caught a
largemouth and one of his two biggest spots here, both on the RKCrawler, the
day we fished.
Fish all the riprap on both sides,
keeping your boat in close for angled casts.
The points on both sides, all four corners of them, are key points. Also
make a few casts to the pilings when you go under it, running your bait right
beside the concrete.
A trap allows you to vary the depth
you fish on them and in other places.
Carter casts a limon one in stained water and chrome in clearer
water. The loud buzz often triggers a bite
as you reel it along.
On the upstream side of the bridge
fish the boat ramp at Payne Day use area and the state brush pile around the
pole in the middle of the creek arm. It gets very shallow fast around this
brush with the water down but the brush will hold fish.
N 34 11.353 – W 84 35.286 – Up the river Sweetwater Creek is on the left
just upstream of Little River. It is
another good spawning creek and has good bluff banks on both sides. Fish both with all your baits, working the
inside and outside area of the point and around it. Carter caught his biggest
spot of the day on the upstream point when we fished.
Wind blowing across and along these
bluff banks, as well as well as the gravel flats, helps the bite. Carter likes
to work with the wind since it makes it easier to cast and lets him cover the
water faster, as long as it does not move the boat too fast.
You can go back into Sweetwater
Creek and others and fish rocks and blowdowns for largemouth, but you won’t get
a lot of bites. For a kicker largemouth, pick apart a blowdown with a jig and
pig and bump rocks with it and your crankbait.
N 34 10.440 – W 84 35.731 – The downstream point of Little River is
another good bluff bank in February. There
is a good channel swing here where the Little River channel hits the bank. Bass winter on it since they can move vertically
and start feeding more as the days get longer, moving into the river to
Start on the small rock and clay
point on the downstream end of the bluff where it opens up into the main Etowah
River. Fish into Little River, casting
all three of your baits along the wall.
Bump the bottom with the RKCrawler and run a trap right along the rocks.
When fishing a jig, work it slowly
to follow the rocks as they drop. Carter sometimes dips the tails of his
trailer in chartreuse JJs Magic for more flash, and spots seem to love
chartreuse. Calm days may make the fish
less likely to chase a moving bait so windless days are a good time to try a
N 34 09.814 – W 84 34.958 – Go up Little River to the no wake zone at
the bridge. Stop on the bluff on the
right with 2L channel marker on it and fish up that rock wall to the bridge,
then fish the bridge riprap.
Sun hitting the riprap here and in
Kellogg Creek, and the natural rocks in other places, warms the rocks and
raises the water temperature a little, something bass like. But they may be holding on the shady side,
too, so fish both shade and sun on these spots.
N 34 09.107 – W 84 34.347 – On up Little River, Rose Creek enters on the
right. When you get to it, slow down if
you don’t know the area well. Mud flats and wood are dangers here and you must
follow the channel.
There is a big warning sign on the
bank on the right. Just upstream of it, an outside bend of the river makes a
good bluff wall. It is not as deep at the ones on the main lake but as the
water drops bass move down the river to the deeper water on places like this
and concentrates the fish.
Start on the downstream end of this
bend and fish up it until it flattens out.
Big rocks are on the bank and under the water that offer the bass
feeding and holding cover. Fish it like
the deeper bluff walls, working all three of your baits. Carter caught a keeper spot here on his
crankbait the day we fished.
There are other outside bends like
this up the river. All will hold fish but be extremely careful if you go
further up, especially if the water is seven feet low like it was when we
fished. If you try to run it and don’t
know it, you will run aground.
9. N 34 10.436 – W 84 35.324 – Back
out at the mouth of Little River the upstream point is flat with small pockets
along it. Inside the point is a bulkhead
wall on the bank. Just downstream of that small wall is a point that has gravel
and stumps on it. Other wood cover also washes in and sticks on it. Bass get
more active in February on flats like this in the afternoon from the sun.
Start at the wall, keeping your
boat in ten feet of water, and work out toward the end of the big point between
Little and Etowah Rivers. This big flat
holds lots of pre-spawn bass roaming it feeding. Make long casts toward the bank and bump the
bottom with your crankbait. Work out to the orange sign near the point. When
you catch a fish, go back over that area since the bass tend to roam in
N 34 10.064 – W 84 36.785 – Back down on the main lake channel marker
30E is on your left at the Boy Scout Camp.
There is a small ramp on the gravel point the marker is on and it is
good one for pre-spawn bass.
Stay out in 10 top 12 feet of water
and bump the bottom with your baits. Be
sure to make several casts to the ramp, they hold fish. Carter got bites on almost every ramp we
fished, landing several keepers and losing several more that pulled off.
Fish around this point and the next
one, too. Both hold bass that are getting ready to spawn in the pockets between
them. Both are typical of gravel flats that are good this time of year, the
boat ramp makes it even better.
These places and similar ones all
over the lake are holding feeding fish right now and will get better all during
the month as the water warms.
Press Release – Marietta Bassmasters high school anglers, Carter Koza and Paul Marks, recently bested a field of 95 teams to win the 2019 Bass Pro Shops FLW High School Fishing Lake Hartwell Open. The no-entry fee tournament was held November 2nd and was hosted by the Hart County Chamber of Commerce. The win qualified the duo of for the 2020 High School National Championship being held next summer on the Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Qualifying for the event is a significant accomplishment, as only the top ten percent of anglers at state qualifiers make the big show.
Photo courtesy FLW “We only got to practice one day, but we fish Lanier a lot, which is a herring lake a lot like Hartwell, so we stuck with what we knew,” says Koza, who found success with his partner fishing Chattahoochee jigs in deep brush piles with 7’, heavy power, fast action St. Croix Legend Tournament rods. “We caught a lot of fish; they were mostly 13 inchers, but we were patient and managed enough bigger bites to win with 13-10.
”Meanwhile – the same day on the same lake – Carter Koza’s sister and previous high school fishing partner, Lee Rose Koza, placed second in the Yeti FLW College Fishing Tournament at Lake Hartwell Presented by Costa with her partner Maddex Walters. The finish qualified the Carson-Newman University fishing pair for the 2020 FLW College Fishing National Championship, scheduled for Feb. 26-28 on the Harris Chain of Lakes in Leesburg, Florida.
Lee Rose and Walters didn’t get to pre-fish Hartwell at all. “Maddex is from Georgia and he had been there (Hartwell) in high school, so we just had to go with what we knew from the past,” says Koza, who admits they received a bit of help from their draw. “We drew Boat #2, so we got out early and were able to get to the spots we wanted,” she says.
Generally, those spots were the deep ends of main lake humps, where the duo fished Z-Man Shaky HeadZ jigs with Z-man Giant TRD and FattyZ Elaztech plastics on St. Croix Legend Tournament medium power fast and extra-fast action rods. “We had a limit by 8:45, so we started throwing bigger worms and got some upgrades,” she says. “Green pumpkin was the key color.” The Future of Bass Fishing Both outdoor enthusiasts, Carter and Lee Rose come from a fishing family. Their father, Jamie Koza, is a former Chattahoochee River fishing guide, an avid tournament angler and tackle shop owner who passed on the joys of fishing to both kids when they were young. He also taught them a reliable set of techniques.
“Dad has always thrown a lot of crankbaits and it has always been one of our favorite ways to fish,” Carter says, “so, it’s not surprising that St. Croix’s Legend Glass and the new Mojo Bass Glass rods are the rods we prefer to use.”
The Koza’s insist that the St. Croix Legend Glass casting series offers the lightest crankbait rods in the industry; a testament to the linear S-Glass blank each is built around. The new 7’2” heavy power medium action Rip-N-Chatter model in St. Croix’s Legend Glass and Mojo Bass Glass lineups is one of Lee Rose’s favorites. “I’ve yet to find a better rod for cranking chatterbaits or rattlebaits,” she says. “I’m steadily converting my team members to glass! They can’t believe how light and sensitive these rods are, while possessing that sweet, moderate action you need to keep bass buttoned up.
”Carter, currently a high school junior, fished competitively with Lee Rose last season, which was her senior year at Mt. Paran Christian School in Kennesaw, Georgia. They locked in a National invite by placing sixth at the Georgia State Finals on West Point Lake last February and went on to compete together in the High School Fishing National Championship.
“I’m still new to fishing and to the industry,” says Lee Rose, now a freshman at Carson-Newman University. “I grew up watching my dad and brother fish and decided as a junior in high school to join my school’s fishing team. I fished with a different partner that first year and fished with Carter my senior year. It was a blast. Everything flowed, because we had the same kind of style. Dad was our boat captain. It was a cool family deal,” Lee Rose recalls.
“I hope we can fish as a team again in the future.”Carter would like that, too. He has a great deal of respect for Carson-Newman’s coach, Hunter Sales, but says he is keeping his options open.“My sister and I will always be close,” says Carter, who talks to Lee Rose almost every day. “It’d be great to fish with her again in the future, because I know we could go far, but there’s a lot of great teams out there and I’m not sure where I’ll end up. In addition to their great coach, Carson-Newman’s team and program are fully funded by the school, which is a major benefit and makes a big difference for student competitors.”
What’s Next? Carter and his partner, Paul Marks head to Lake Chatuge in Georgia the weekend of Thanksgiving for the next stop on the Georgia Bass Nation tour. “It’s a points tournament and a qualifier for the Kentucky Lake National Bass Championship,” says Carter, who plans to stay in a camper and commute to and from school during the event. “If it stays cold, it will be a good deep brush pile bite,” he predicts. “It’ll Probably take 15 or 16 pounds of spots to win there.
”As for the 2020 High School National Championship next summer on the Mississippi River in La Crosse? “We have never been on the Mississippi,” says Carter, “so it will be a learning experience. But we’ll definitely spend some time up there and figure it out.
”As for Lee Rose’s goals, she wants her Carson-Newman team to finish this season in the top five in the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year. “We ought to easily meet that. We’ve climbed from 66th place and are currently sitting in 11th,” says Koza, who has lofty personal aspirations, too. “My ultimate goal is to be successful working in the fishing industry. In addition to fishing and going to school full time, I work as an intern for the fishing PR firm, Traditions Media, and also help manage St. Croix Rod’s social media presence. I want to work on the media side of the industry after I graduate, so I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to be working with these great companies.”
Committed to the Cause There’s been a buzz behind high school and college fishing since its inception in the mid-1990s. But recent backing from the nation’s largest professional tournament trails has transformed the sport, and sponsors have taken note of the youth movement. Today, many college bass programs have travel budgets for their players, allowances for rods, reels and tackle, and some even provide the use of modern bass boats. Nearly all of these products are donated or deeply discounted by manufacturers in the fishing market.St Croix Rod is on the leading edge of providing support to high school and college bass angling. It sponsors both the Bassmaster and FLW college fishing programs.
“St. Croix representatives are on-hand at collegiate events to specifically determine the needs of college anglers and build long-term relationships that provide the foundation for future sponsorships,” says Lee Rose. “We are grateful to St. Croix and to all the other companies who have stepped up to support high school and college angling. It’s exciting to be a part of, and the opportunities are only going to expand.”
Boaters across much of the country are getting ready to put their boats to bed for a long winter’s nap, but not every boat owner knows all the secrets of winterizing a recreational boat. Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) shares some quick tips to ensure safe storage until next season.
1. Despite mild winters, California, Florida and Texas have the most engine winterizing claims. Boaters in northern climates know to winterize but all it takes is one deep freeze in a normally balmy state to cause major damage to your boat. Unless you’re in an area that never freezes (like Key West or Hawaii) you probably need to winterize.
2. Water expands almost 10% by volume. That expansion means that any water left in your engine, potable water system, or refrigeration system can do some major damage over the winter. Even an engine block can crack open during cold weather. The key is making sure all water gets drained out or replaced by antifreeze.
3. Batteries are happier at home. If you live where you never boat in winter, remove your batteries, bring them to the garage or basement and use a trickle charger to keep them topped off to protect them and extend their life.4. It’s easier to prevent mold than to stop it. Without some air circulation, your boat’s interior can build up condensation, which can lead to a moldy mess next spring. Solar-powered vents and boat covers that lets air circulate can help keep mold at bay.
5. Waxing the hull now makes spring clean-up much easier. The grunge of sitting all winter at a boatyard comes off a lot quicker if you apply a coat of wax before you put your boat to bed.
6. There are two types of antifreeze. Ethylene glycol – the kind in your boat’s cooling system works fine for engines, but it’s very toxic. Propylene glycol is safe for potable water systems and is also fine to use for the raw side of engine cooling systems – check the label. Make sure antifreeze is rated to protect down to the lowest possible expected temperatures.
7. Add fuel stabilizer before you fill your tank. That helps mix the stabilizer so it protects all of the gas. Running your engine for a few minutes after mixing it up will get some stabilized gas in the engine’s fuel system, protecting it over the winter.8. If enough water enters your fuel tank, gas with ethanol can phase separate over the long winter storage period. For boats with portable gas tanks, try to use up fuel now. Any remainder can be used (if unmixed with two-stroke oil) in your vehicle. If your boat has a built-in gas tank, fill the tank almost to the top, leaving a little room for expansion. This will minimize condensation on tank walls, stopping phase separation in its tracks. Never plug a fuel tank vent.
9. Write down what you did or had your shop do. That way, next spring you won’t wonder if the lower unit lube was changed or the spark plugs replaced.
10. Take home any removable electronics, small outboards and even alcohol. The dark days of winter are when boats are most frequently broken in to. Not every thief is a professional – some may just want to raid your boat’s liquor cabinet.
11. Remove all food. Not only might it spoil, but it can attract rodents and other pests, leaving you with a nasty spring surprise.
12. Using a heater as alternative to winterizing is a really bad idea. Not only can the power go out during a big winter storm leaving the boat unprotected, the heater, extension cord or connections can (and do) overheat and cause a fire.
13. In addition to snowstorms knocking-out power to heated indoor boat storage facilities, do-it-yourselfers sometimes make mistakes when winterizing. Either way, for boaters who live in northern states, protecting yourself with ice and freeze coverage insurance may be a smart option. It’s often very affordable, but there’s a deadline to purchase, typically by the end of October.
A week ago last Thursday, after two frustrating days of running wires, hooking them up and screwing brackets on my boat, I got my Garmin Panoptix Livescope unit hooked up. Part of the frustration was with the installation instructions with the unit. I kept having to stop and watch videos to try to figure out what to do.
I thought maybe the confusion was just me, but several of the folks showing how to do it in the videos said they agreed, the instructions were terrible.
Even though that Friday was rainy and cold, I just had to go to Jackson and see if I had it hooked up right and how it worked. Although I had watched the system in action on Brent Crow’s boat, he has been using the Panoptix for three years and knows what he is doing. I was afraid the unit set-up would be as confusing as the installation, but it was very user friendly and simple.
After launching the boat I idled to a point, turned on the unit and dropped the trolling motor with the transducer on it in the water. Instantly I watch a school of fish slowly move across the bottom under a school of baitfish. It was amazing.
I eased around with the trolling motor for about three hours, looking at brush piles, rocky points and fish. It took some time to get used to the very different view on the Panoptix than what I usually see on my other units. But it quickly became apparent what I was seeing.
I made a few casts and watched my bait in the water. A crankbait left a line as it wiggled back to the boat. I could tell exactly how deep it was running. A jig arched to the bottom then left lines as I jerked it up and let it fall back.
A couple of times I could see my jig going through groups of fish that I assumed were bass, based on their position. But they would not hit it. In and around brush I could see groups of fish suspended and guessed they were crappie, based on their size and position.
Last Saturday in the Potato Creek Tournament I got to use the system for eight intense hours of hard fishing. The system preformed as advertised and expected. I learned a lot.
The main thing I liked was that I could see fish and know my casts were in the right place. When fishing without the unit, I often wonder if I am casting to empty water or to places with fish but ones that won’t bite. Now I know.
It was very frustrating to see fish, know my bait was in front of them but still not get a bite. It did make me change baits often, trying to offer the bass something they would bite. It also worried me that many fish, as the boat approached within about 30 feet, would sink down into cover and become inactive. That told me the importance or long casts.
I did not do well in the tournament, catching only three small bass and placing ninth out of 17 fishermen. But I am not sure I would have caught those three without the Garmin.
The first two hit in some deep brush that I have fished for years. But normally I would fish there with a couple of different baits then move on if I didn’t get a bite. Seeing fish there made me try different things and stay longer.
I caught one on a jigging spoon and one on a swimbait. Normally I would fish the spoon but not the swimbait since it gets hung in brush so much. But with the Garmin I could cast and watch the bait, keeping it just above the brush, and not get hung.
The first cast I made I saw a fish hit the swimbait as it fell and got excited when I felt a fish on it, but it turned out to be a 1.5 pound crappie, a nice fish but no help in the tournament. A couple of casts later I caught my second keeper on the swimbait.
After trying several places and not seeing fish, I worked down a bank. As I passed a dock I saw a brushpile in front of it that I did not know was there, and it looked like fish were in it. That made me cast to it repeatedly rather than just making one or two cast as I usually do to brush. Several casts to it produced my third keeper at about 10:00 AM.
The rest of the day I watched fish ignore my baits, no matter what I tried. That was very frustrating but based on the tournament results and what folks said, everybody had trouble getting bites.
Maybe if I had just left the Garmin turned off and fished the way I usually fish I would have done better. Or maybe I would not have caught a single fish. Tournament fishing is like that.
I am amazed at the Panoptix and how it works. I think it is the electronics of the future for bass fishing and expect to see more and more of them on bass boats.
By Lee McClellan, Kentucky DFW from The Fishing Wire
Reservoir smallmouth anglers are a weird lot. They dangle tiny little hair jigs under bobbers in air so cold ice forms in the guides of their rods. They think the best late fall fishing days feature leaden, low skies, light rain and highs in the 40s–miserable for them, great for smallmouths.The record heat wave of early October is now a memory. The bracing morning air and cooler, longer nights signal to many bass anglers the fishing season is about done for the year. For reservoir smallmouth anglers, however, the season is just beginning on lakes such as Lake Cumberland, Laurel River Lake and the home of the world record smallmouth bass, Dale Hollow Lake.
Mid-October through late spring is the best time of year to catch large smallmouth bass in these reservoirs. The fish are in great body condition at this time of year and the smallmouth populations in these lakes are robust and stable. The smallmouth bass in Lake Cumberland, in particular, are in spectacular condition right now. They look like footballs, with nearly bursting bellies stuffed with threadfin shad and alewives.Water temperatures at these lakes are in the low 70s and soon will fall into the high 60s, the beginning of perfect temperatures for smallmouth bass.
“You can catch smallmouths right now, no matter what time of day,” said Chad Miles, host of the Kentucky Afield television show. “You have a good chance to catch them on topwaters, as well as jigs. We are still a little ahead of the peak for smallmouths, but it is on the way.”Miles is an expert smallmouth angler who fishes Dale Hollow Lake regularly from late fall through spring.On some early fall days, smallmouths herd baitfish against the surface of the lake and rip through them, a process called the “jumps” by anglers. The churn created by these feeding fish looks like the top of an old school coffee percolator.
A silver casting spoon is one of the best lures for jump fishing because you can cast it into the next county. Blade baits such as the Silver Buddy also work well in this situation. Cast these lures into the jump and let them flutter down. The smallmouths usually hit the lure immediately.
The Ned rig is one of the relatively new lure styles catching many reservoir smallmouth bass on these lakes. It consists of using a 5-inch Senko-style soft plastic stick bait cut in half or one of the 2.75-inch Finesse TRD baits designed specifically for the Ned rig.
Thread the fat end of these soft plastic lures toward the head of the mushroom-shaped lead heads designed for this technique with the hook exposed. Cast these on points or in the middle of small cuts along the main lake or major creek arm on these lakes. Allow the lure to settle to the bottom and let it sit there for a few seconds, a technique called “deadsticking.” Slowly crawl the lure on the bottom for a few feet and let it deadstick again.
This presentation drives reservoir smallmouth bass crazy and people with limited fishing experience can catch fat smallmouths on the Ned rig. Anglers on Lake Cumberland using the Ned rig have already been catching nice smallmouth and spotted bass for several weeks.
Curly-tailed grubs rigged on plain ball-shaped leadheads still work remarkably well for reservoir smallmouth bass. White, pumpkinseed, green pumpkin and black grubs all produce at this time of year.Jigs with smaller heads and shorter, less dense silicone skirts or 1/4-ounce hair jigs in combinations of green, brown and orange work well for smallmouth bass in these reservoirs. A smallmouth angler would rarely make a mistake by choosing a black jig.
Fish these lures across or along channel drops and down the sides of points in a rhythmic retrieve. Swimming jigs or curly-tailed grubs over submerged humps also fool reservoir smallmouth in fall.Jigs and grubs are good lure choices to fish these areas, but faster moving baits also score.
“I fish a tailspinner often in late October and early November on points,” Miles explained. A tailspinner is an old-school lure with a leadhead trailed by a single spinner blade and a dressed treble hook.Cast the lure beside the point and allow it to flutter down to the smallmouths staging on the point. They usually hit this lure on the fall, so watch the line intently for any unusual movement. If you see a jump in the line or it goes slack, set the hook.
Fluorocarbon lines in 6- to 8-pound test work really well for fall reservoir fishing when fished on medium-power spinning gear. These lakes possess some of the clearest water in Kentucky and the stealth offered by fluorocarbon line produces results. Fluorocarbon lines also stretch less, allowing for better hook sets, and their density increases sensitivity.
“When the water gets colder, I use heavy football jigs fished really slowly,” Miles said. He will use up to a ¾-ounce jig for this style of fishing and employs baitcasting equipment and 12-pound fluorocarbon line.Serenity, especially on weekdays, is an added benefit of fall and winter smallmouth fishing. You rarely see other boats on the water, making the experience all the better.
Author Lee McClellan is a nationally award-winning associate editor for Kentucky Afield magazine, the official publication of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife(This is the fourth installment of a series of articles titled “Fall Fishing Festival,” profiling the productive fishing on Kentucky’s lakes, rivers and streams in fall. Archived articles in this series are on the department’s website at www.fw.ky.gov.)
The cartoon “George of the Jungle” had a theme song that contained the phrase “Look out for that tree.” Drivers had better heed the idea “look out for that deer” right now.
Bucks are in full rut, chasing does with abandon, paying no attention to their safety, or yours. They will run out in front of cars, as will the does they are chasing, without a warning. A friend on Facebook posted about seeing 16 dead deer in 30 miles on a highway not far from here.
Bucks also do no pay as much attention to hunters as normal. A usually wily buck that feeds only at night and hides in thick cover during the day will be out roaming looking for and chasing does all day. The rut is the best time to kill a big buck.
I was out at Jack Ridgeway’s house, getting a tire replaced on my boat trailer last week, when Keith Duncan drove up. He had a massive eight-point rack in his truck from a buck he had killed. The pages and website of Georgia Outdoor Magazine are full of pictures of trophy bucks killed in the past couple of weeks.
So many deer have been killed in the past couple of weeks that every deer cooler in this area was full last weekend. None of them could take any more deer to process until they worked through some of what they had, preparing delicious venison for hunters’ freezers.
The good news for drivers, and bad news for hunters, is the main rut is about over. Activity will decrease rapidly in the next few days and both drivers and deer will be safer. So, if you want a big buck you better get in the woods fast.
If you want to catch a big walleye, fall is the time to do so. There are lots of bodies of water across walleye territory that are home to true trophies. If the walleye-of-a-lifetime is your goal, center your efforts on the bodies of water that have a history of producing big walleyes.
Often the best trophy walleye producers will be large, deep lakes that are home to baitfish that make the walleyes fat. Some types of forage fish make walleyes grow big, so we want to concentrate on lakes that have those types of baitfish: Cisco, tullibee, and the like. One reason that the night bite can be good for walleyes is that these baitfish live in clear water lakes, and walleyes can often be easier to catch at night in clear water lakes.
But there’s another reason why the walleyes go on a night-bite in the fall.
Those baitfish that make the walleyes grow big are fall spawners. They’re in the shallows laying their eggs at a time of year when the walleyes are interested in adding some fat to their bodies to get them through the winter months. Those baitfish are very susceptible to hungry walleyes when they’re in those shallow areas.
To take advantage of this night-time opportunity, you need to do a couple of things. First, you need to identify a potential hot-spot. The fall-spawning baitfish will usually spawn in shallow water that is close to deep water. Shorelines or off-shore shallow sand or rock areas will be good starting points.In lakes that don’t have fall spawning baitfish, a night-bite can still occur. Look for areas with current. Go out during the day to current areas and see if baitfish are present. If they are, walleyes will visit at night.
If you’ll be fishing from a boat, take along only essential equipment and have it in a specific place so you know where it is.If you’ll be wading, check out the area for rocks or logs under the water that you could trip on.Get to your spot before the sun goes down and get set up. Keep quiet. When fish are shallow, they’re oftentimes spooky.
Jigs and plastic will catch walleyes at night, but night in and night out, many of the best night-time walleye catchers are throwing hard minnow-imitating baits. For deeper water go with a Lucky Shad: They run down 6 or 8 feet and that’s usually deep enough. If you want to get deeper, tie on a KVD 300 Deep Jerkbait. It runs to about 11 feet. Experiment with color. Try baits that look like the local baitfish, and try baits that look like nothing the walleyes have ever seen.
When fishing shallow we’ll usually be casting. Go with a KVD 300 Jerkbait. Try a straight retrieve, but also work it with sweeps of the rod. I like a Lew’s Custom Speed Stick in the Walleye Special action because it casts these lighter baits well. I also like 15 pound test XTCB Braid 8 line. This line is super-sensitive and super-strong for its diameter.
I have many fond memories of catching walleyes at night from mid-fall until it was too cold to enjoy being out there. I prefer full moon nights, and I also like some wind. The best nights seem to be when the wind is blowing into the area that you’re fishing. Find out for yourself in the next few weeks how productive night-fishing for walleyes can be.Outstanding night-time walleye baits include the shorter Lucky Shad and the longer, thinner KVD Jerkbaits.
To see new and old episodes of Fishing the Midwest television, fishing articles and fishing video tips, go to fishingthemidwest.com
Last Sunday seven members of the Flint River Bass Club fished our November tournament at Lake Lanier. We landed 18 14-inch keepers weighing about 34 pounds total. There was one five-fish limit and no one zeroed. There was only one largemouth weighed in.
I won with five at 8.42 pounds, Chuck Croft placed second with four weighing 7.73 pounds and Don Gober was third with three weighing 6.77 pounds, including a chunky 3.09 pounds for big fish. Niles Murray placed fourth with three weighing 5.37 pounds.
Niles fished with me and our day started wrong. After driving 70 miles per hour on I-75, I-675, I-285, I-85 and I-985 with no problems just getting to the ramp, I started backing down the ramp. A guy walking in the parking lot yelled that I was losing a tire on my trailer.
When I got out and looked one of my trailer tires was leaning at an angle. I told Niles to continue backing up and before the trailer got to the water the tire fell off. The bearings were completely gone, even though there was no warning and I check them often.
I threw the tire in the truck and we go the boat launched. Thank goodness for dual axle trailers! But I knew I could not get home with all the weight on that side on one tire. I tried to forget it and fish.
The first place we stopped after taking off, a rocky point, Niles quickly caught a keeper spot on a cramkbait. A few minutes later I landed one on a jig and pig then Niles caught his second fish. We worked that area hard, thinking there should be more feeding fish, but didn’t get another bite.
At the next place we tried, an old roadbed that runs out on a point, I caught my second keeper ona crankbait. We had four in the boat the first hour of the tournament, so I felt pretty good, but then it got slow.
We tried another rocky point and I got my third keeper on the jig and pig. By now the sun was up and it was bright, so we tried some deep brush and some more deep rock points. I caught three short bass on a shaky head worm but no keepers.
At about 11:00 we decided to try a different pattern and ran up Flat Creek to more shallow water. As we worked a series of rocky points, I caught my fourth keeper on the jig and pig, then got my fifth one on a shaky head on another point.
Niles had a good keeper pull off his worm hook near the boat down about six feet deep. We could see it fighting in the clear water and I had the net ready, but it just came unhooked. He then got his third keeper on another nearby point.
We came in and weighed the fish, then I called the toll-free number for BoatsUS. Membership costs $36 a year and that level includes free towing up to 100 miles. I called them at 3:30 and they started looking for a tow service that could handle my boat.
About 15 minutes later the dispatcher called me back and said no one wanted to tow my boat on Sunday afternoon but one local service would pick it up, store it in their secure lot overnight and bring it to Griffin Monday morning. I told them that was fine.
At 4:00 the flatbed wrecker arrived. By 4:15 my boat was loaded and I headed home, glad I didn’t have to fight the ridiculous traffic with boat in tow, much less one missing a tire.
Monday morning a little before noon they delivered my boat to Jack and, luckily, he still had an old spindle from the last axle I broke. By 2:00 my boat was home in my garage, ready for my next trip. All my worries were pointless.
BoatsUS is well worth the price of membership just for the towing service. They also offer on-the-water freshwater towing for $85 a year. I have used the road towing twice and on water towing once. Since I did not have the higher membership, water towing cost me $300! But it was well worth it at the time.