Monthly Archives: February 2020

An Insiders Guide to Lake Guntersville

An Insiders Guide to Lake Guntersville Before the Bassmaster Classic
By J. Scott Butherus
from The Fishing Wire

Lake Guntersville, the site of the action for the 2020 Bassmaster Classic, has a history of producing scale-busting bags during tournaments. It also has a reputation for breaking the wills of otherwise talented anglers with disappointing days.

Oftentimes, there isn’t a whole lot of rhyme or reason separating those two things. So what exactly does it take to catch those famous Lake Guntersville lunkers? How do you get more boom than bust when it comes to bass at this year’s Classic?

We sat down with three Power-Pole pros — Chris Lane, Randall Tharp and Justin Lucas — who happen to know a little something about this year’s venue in Alabama and asked them for their insider tips for how to conquer the Big G.

Lucas, originally a California native, moved to Lake Guntersville nearly a decade ago to help further his pro fishing career. Lucas was the 2018 Bassmaster Angler of the Year when he gained a reputation for working vegetation to find the really big fish. The amount of vegetation might end up being a hindrance, however, for this year’s event.

“One thing that has been really interesting this year is the amount of eel grass in the lake. There has been two mile stretches of the river that you couldn’t even make a cast because there was so much floating eel grass. You have to keep that in mind because you might have the perfect spot with lots of fish but you aren’t going to be able to fish it effectively.

“If it was me, I’d have plenty of backup plans because you can have a winning hole and never be able to get into it. I’d probably have a couple of creeks where I could get as far away from that eel grass as I can.

”Lane, a former Classic champion, has made his home on Lake Guntersville, so he understands how quickly the fish can move from one part of the lake to the next. For him, finding the schools will depend on the conditions of the lake itself which can change rapidly with the weather.

“Weather plays a massive role when it comes to fishing Lake Guntersville in the early spring because you can have pouring down snow, you can have sleet or you can have a 65-70 degree day. All of that is going to be a big variable.

“We’ve had a tremendous amount of downpour and the lake is as high as it’s ever been. Guntersville will fluctuate normally only two to three feet because of the amount of barge traffic that comes through there. We are right there in the horseshoe and that’s where those big, big bass get in there. They love it in those currents and those eddies. When you have that much current and that much rain coming down, you have to pay attention to that.

”Tharp has plenty of experience fishing the lake in tournament situations. The former Birmingham, Alabama native began his competitive fishing career there with the Bassmaster North Alabama regionals in 2005 and has put that expertise to his advantage ever since, including a fifth place finish in the 2014 Classic.

“For me it was always about winding stuff around with a horizontal presentation. I love fishing a lipless bait, a crank bait or a vibrating jig. Those are the big three lures. A jerk bait does play if there are extreme cold front conditions but I’ve narrowed it down to those three or four techniques because they allow you to cover tons of water with them. You have to cover big grass flats.

“A lot of it is water temperature dependent so the colder the water, the slower you’ll need to fish them. There does come a time, and it looks like we are approaching that time, when the water temperature hits that magical 55-60 degrees and it doesn’t matter how fast you reel. It does look like we are shaping up to where the big ones are going to feed regardless.

”Of course all three of the pros agreed that properly utilizing their Power-Pole Shallow Water Anchors would play a vital role in all of those situations.

“If you are in the main river, you can anchor down and hold your boat in the strong currents while you cast upcurrent and let your bait come down in a natural way,” Lucas said. “Me personally, after I was done doing that, I would troll around to the upside and make those casts in the other direction to show the fish a new angle.”

“There’s no doubt. Even when they are feeding aggressively you’ll need to make multiple presentations. Sometimes you’ll find that grass flat that you feel really good about and that’s when it is time to Power-Pole down and make repeated casts at the same piece of cover,” Tharp said.

“When you can Power-Pole down and not get on that school of fish (by drifting over them), you can sometimes sit there and catch them on every single cast,” Lane said.

Hot Hands Hand Warmers Can Be Worth Their Weight In Gold

Hot Hands Hand Warmers

 When I first joined a bass club I had no idea bass would bite during the winter.  But a January, 1975 tournament at Jackson taught me they would.  Six bass weighing more than six pounds each were weighed in.   

I thought I would freeze that cloudy, windy day with sleet all day long.  I had worn my winter hunting clothes that were fine for deer hunting in the fall or walking winter fields and woods looking for squirrels, rabbits and quail, but they were not fine for sitting in a boat in 32-degree wind and sleet!   

A catalog at home from a new mail order company, Bass Pro Shops, offered snowmobile suits and boots.   I ordered both the next week.  The thick insulated jumpsuit was water resistant and repelled sleet and snow, but I had to get a good rainsuit to go over it.   

The boots were very heavy, with inch thick felt liners inside. I knew if I ever fell out of the boat they would take me to the bottom, so I never tightened up the string at the top, leaving them where they would easily slip off.  Of course, with everything else I wore, getting out of the boots probably would not make much difference.  This was way before the small auto inflatable life jackets I now wear at all times.   

I had some of the old hand warmers, the ones you filled with lighter fluid, lit and put in a case in your pocket.  When they came out I got the ones that used a charcoal stick and put it in a cloth lined case to put in a pocket to keep you warm.    Both kinds were messy and hard to use, and inconsistent staying lit, but they helped.

A few years later I saw a product called “Hot Hands” at Berry’s Sporting Goods that did not make sense.  It was a small cloth pouch with grit in it that, when taken out of a plastic bag, shook up and put in your pocket, it warmed up.  Since I taught science at the time I was able to figure out the iron dust inside rusted really fast when exposed to air, producing heat.

Hot Hands make a huge difference when fishing this time of year.  They are not messy or bulky and are easy to use.  I can put them in my boots before leaving home and they are still warming my toes up nine hours later. One in each jacket pocket lets me put hands in them one at a time when driving the boat or even fishing a slow-moving bait to warm them up.  A few scattered inside my heavy suit keep my body toasty.

I was a press observer at the 2015 Bassmasters Classic on Like Hartwell. On practice day I rode with David Kilgore, watching him figure out patterns for eight hours.  I could not fish, just sit and talk and watch.

The air temperature was eight degrees that morning, but it warmed all the way up to 20 degrees during the day. And the wind blew. I was comfortable all day though, since I had hot hands in the toes of each boot, in each outside coat pocket for my hands, and four in inside pockets against my body.  I even put one under my cap before putting on a stocking cap and pulling my hood over it. 

Two-packs of both hand or toe warmers are about $1.75 at Berrys and bulk packs are cheaper.  They really help and I don‘t leave home without them this time of year.

Tips on Fishing the ChatterBait JackHammer

Chatterbait Bass

Tips on Fishing the ChatterBait JackHammer from Winning Pro Anglers
The Original ChatterBait bladed jig had already made a sizeable splash in the professional bass scene when in 2017, Z-Man and Japanese lure maestros EverGreen International collaborated on what would quickly become the single most coveted tournament bait in America.

Three years later, the Z-Man ChatterBait JackHammer still sits at the top of the game.

With a major collection of tournament wins and dominating performances already to its credit—including the Bassmaster Classic and other elite events— the ChatterBait JackHammer has worked its special blend of magic once more, this time at the January 2020 FLW Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event at Sam Rayburn Reservoir.

On day one, Z-Man pro Grae Buck hoisted the largest bass of the event—a 9-pound 8-ounce heavyweight that engulfed a ½-ounce green-shad-color ChatterBait JackHammer dressed with a Z-Man RaZor ShadZ™ trailer.

Eventual tournament champion John Cox credited a black-and-blue Z-Man ChatterBait for its clutch performance. After fishing the first three days with a crankbait, Cox’s pattern for staging prespawn bass fell apart. Grinding through the final day, he ran to a pair of favorite trees, where three 2-3/4-pound bass ate Cox’s ChatterBait in succession. A cool $102,500 payday rewarded the Florida angler’s choices.

Further proving the JackHammer’s mettle for heavyweight largemouths, third place finisher Darold Gleason relied on a ½-ounce B-Hite Delight-color ChatterBait JackHammer to elicit bites from shallow, prespawn bass. Meanwhile, keying on isolated cypress trees, tenth-place angler Jon Canada called a chartreuse-white JackHammer his primary lure.Z-Man pro Grae Buck lipped the tournament big bass, a bruiser 9-8 largemouth caught on a ChatterBait JackHammer.

At Rayburn, two more elite ChatterBait programs yielded top-20 paychecks. Z-Man pro Miles “Sonar” Burghoff notched a respectable 18th place finish thanks to a JackHammer; Burghoff might have risen much higher in the ranks, had a submerged tree not punctured his hull on day-2.Weighing a total of 41-pounds 3-ounces, fellow Z-Man angler Buck leaned on his big bass and three solid limits to earn a respectable 19th place finish. Buck, a standout collegiate hockey and fishing star during his days at Penn State University, worked a ChatterBait JackHammer around and through mats of submerged vegetation.

“I was keying on massive patches of hydrilla up in 4 and 7 feet of water,” said Buck, who won the 2019 Bassmaster Eastern Open on a Z-Man Finesse TRD™. “The key to triggering bites was to rip the bait free each time it contacted a hydrilla stem. Even when I’m fishing the bait in open water, I’ll pause or give it one rodtip twitch every so often. Seems like every time you make the bait ‘hunt’ a little or change direction, you get bit.

Z-Man DieZel MinnowZ”One amazing thing about the JackHammer is its ability to produce more vibration and thump and a bigger footprint than its physical size might suggest,” Buck noted. “I think when you put a RaZor ShadZ on the back, the whole package looks like a gizzard shad. But when bass move up close to it, the lure isn’t intimidating. So you get both powerful attracting cues and lifelike physical attributes that result in big bite after bite.

The JackHammer has now produced my two heaviest largemouths to date, and a lot of really big smallmouths.

“Burghoff, an exceptional, versatile angler who lives near the shores of Tennessee’s Lake Chickamauga, fished a similar ChatterBait pattern, with a slight variation in retrieve. “At Rayburn, I threw a ½-ounce JackHammer in a neat pattern called ‘Bruised Green Pumpkin,'” he said. “The head is highlighted in blue fleck and the skirt includes a few blue silicone strands added to a green pumpkin base. It’s one of the really unique colors that helps set the JackHammer apart from other bladed jigs.

“Like Buck, Burghoff employed a Z-Man RaZor ShadZ trailer (green pumpkin) and also concentrated on dense stands of submerged hydrilla. The anglers each fished near drains—Texas terminology for the back ends or pockets of feeder creeks.

“I often fish a JackHammer with what I call a yo-yo retrieve,” Burghoff noted. “You’re lifting the ChatterBait and letting it freefall back to the bottom. Each time you do this, you’re presenting fish with an opportunity to react, to bite something that’s vulnerable.”Although Z-Man ChatterBaits have been touted almost exclusively as shallow water tools, Burghoff also likes to ‘yo-yo’ baits like the JackHammer and new ChatterBait Freedom CFL Football on deeper ledges.

“On the Tennessee River lakes, I fish a ChatterBait all summer in those offshore situations,” he adds. “I’ve caught bass in up to 25 feet of water. Where others might fish a crank or a hair jig, I’m throwing a ¾- or 1-1/4-ounce JackHammer, giving fish a different look. The lure’s a lot more versatile than people realize.

“Miles “Sonar” Burghoff says a ChatterBait can also be a great tool when fished yo-yo style on deep structure.

Where and How to Catch October Bass at Lake Oconee, with GPS Coordinates

October 2015 Oconee Bass

With Cody Stahl

Die hard bass fishermen love October.  Pleasure boaters are mostly off the lakes so you don’t rock and roll all day while fishing. And a lot of part time fishermen are in the woods hunting or stuck in front of a TV watching football so there is a lot less pressure on the fish.  A great choice to take advantage of these things for an October trip is Lake Oconee.

Oconee is a Georgia Power lake in the middle of the state. It is lined by golf courses, houses and docks. There are so many pleasure boaters on a summer weekend day it can be tough to fish.  Right now bass are responding to cooler water temperatures and less boating activity by feeding.

Cody Stahl is a senior at CrossPoint Christian Academy in Hollonville, near Griffin, and loves to fish. His father Chad is a well-known tournament fisherman on the Berrys’ trails and won the Berrys’ point standings two years in a row.  He has taught Cody well.

Last Novemer Cody and his partner Tate Van Egmond won the BASS High School state championship at Eufaula.  They came in tenth out of 134 teams in the BASS High School National Championship on Kentucky Lake this past spring.  Cody plans on picking a college with a good fishing team next year to attend.

Cody loves bass tournament fishing so much he changed schools two years ago to attend a school where he could form a team.  His dad took him to night tournaments on Jackson starting when he was seven years old so it is in his blood.  Oconee is one of his favorite lakes, especially in October.

“By the end of September the cooling water is making the shad move into the creeks and the bass follow them,” Cody said. The old adage “find the bait and find the bass” definitely applies on Oconee this month.

“Active creeks are the best,” Cody says.  He likes to find a feeder creek that has a good ditch in it and fish it from the mouth back until he finds where the bass are feeding. Once you find that area is should be consistent in other creeks, too.

A wide variety of baits will catch bass right now on Oconee and Cody will be prepared to throw a lot of different baits.  He has a Texas rigged FishHog Angry Beaver, a Zoom Baby Brush Hog and a  FishHog JigSaw jig and pig ready to pitch to shallow cover.  For faster fishing a #6 Shadrap, Chaqtterbait and RC 1.5 square bill is on his deck. And he always has a Spro Frog to throw to grass and shallow wood.

Both a buzzbait and a spinnerbait are good for fishing faster around any kind of shallow cover.  These baits allow him to fish docks, grass, wood and rocks as he works from the mouths of the creeks all the way to the back.

Cody and Tate took me to Oconee in early September to check out the following places. Shad were just moving into them and fishing was tough, but we caught a lot of throwbacks and Cody landed three good keepers. Bigger fish will be on these spots much better now.

1.  N 33 25.184 – W 83 14.243 – Going down the river past the Old Salem Campground on the left the river makes a turn to the right.  On the left bank, an outside bend, there are a lot of rocks and small pockets that attract shad and bass early in the morning.  There is a gray dock with white post on a block seawall just upstream of a small pocket.

Start in the pocket just downstream of the dock with buzzbait and spinnerbait and fish upstream, working the wood, rocks and docks.  Fish around the point into the small creek upstream of the dock.  Cody likes a white three eights ounce Terminator spinnerbait with two sliver willowleaf blades and a Booyah black or white three eights ounce buzzbait.

Hit any cover you see and also cast right against the seawall.  The curves and changes in the seawall are key spots.  Pitch to the docks, too.  Wind blowing into the docks and seawall makes this and other spots better if it is not too strong.

2.  N 33 25.807 – W 83 14.571 – Back upstream a double creek enters downstream of the campground and the swimming area is on the left going in. Stop on the point between the two arms, across from the swimming area, and fish to the right, into that arm of the double creek.  There are rocks on the point and it is one of the first places the shad and bass move to as the water starts cooling.

Start on the point with your boat in about eight feet of water, a long cast from the bank, and fish a buzzbait and crankbait on it.  Cody likes a crawfish colored Shadrap and a squarebill in shad colors.  When you get past the point to the cuts on that bank and with other cover on it, cast a frog, buzzbait, chatterbait and spinnerbait to it.

There is a big blowdown on the bank past the first small pocket and Cody lost a good three pound bass right at the boat from it.  It hit his chatterbait on the end of the tree. Don’t hesitate to work a chatterbait through the cover like this. Cody likes a three ounce black and blue bait.

Fish all the way around the back of this creek. There is a good ditch in the back and I lost a two pound bass almost right in the back that hit a worm under an overhanging bush. Cody likes overhanging bushes like you find here and bass will often hold right against the bank under them.

3.  N 33 25.648 – W 83 15.290 – Across the lake there are some condos on the upstream point of a creek with an old dam across it.  Go to the corner of the riprap at the condo docks and start fishing.  Cast your Shadrap and spinnerbait on the rocks and try topwater early in the morning, too.

Fish through the gap and work the back side of the riprap, then fish the docks and other shallow cover on the left back in the creek.  Don’t hesitate to fish very shallow cover like the brush pile on the island with the “Traffic Island” sign on it back here.

A shad color frog is good on the thick shallow cover and your jig, Brush Hog and Beaver are all good when pitched very shallow, especially around dock posts.  Cody rigs his Baby Brush Hog in watermelon red or black and red on a quarter ounce sinker and skips it to the cover. He rigs a black and blue or dirty pumpkin beaver the same way.

4.  N 33 25.017 – W 83 14.550 – Going down the river the big inside bend on your right has some good docks to fish on the downstream side. Go around the point and stop at the first dock.  It has a black canvas top.  The house for this dock is way back in the trees.

The bottom at the first couple of docks is soft but turns to hard clay past them.  There are some rocks on the bottom, too.  Fish each dock with jig, Baby Brush Hog and beaver.  Also pitch a chatterbait under them.

Many people fish only the front of docks and Cody says this is a mistake. He always goes in behind them and fishes the back side and walkway, too. He skips his baits under them and works them back, hitting every post.

Cody is very good at skipping or skittering a jig under docks and says the rod action is critical to do this. He prefers to flip docks with an ALX Rods IKOS series Promise 7 foot rod because he says it has the prefect amount of tip on the rod to flip and skip docks,

Between the docks throw your crankbaits, chatterbaits or spinnerbait.  Shad move down this bank in October into the small creek it leads to.  Cody will fish all the way to the back of the creek and then fish back out the other side, hitting the docks and banks between them.

5. N 33 24.817 – W 83 13.495 – Go down the river past the island on the left and around the bend to the second creek on the left. A marina is back in this creek in a cove to the right and the creek goes to the left. Stop on the left bank of the main creek just upstream of a long point with grass down to the seawall.  The creek narrows down at this point.

Just upstream of this point are three small docks. The bank is fairly deep with overhanging bushes. Start fishing at these small docks, hitting each one with jig, Baby Brush Hog and beaver. Also skip a chatterbait or frog under the overhanging bushes and pitch a soft bait under them, too.

Fish down this bank until you stop seeing shad or catching fish, then jump across to the other side and fish those docks to the point of the marina cove.  Try to hit every post of each dock.

6.  N 33 24.531 – W 83 13.914 – Go back up the river to the next creek upstream of the one in hole 5.  It is a smaller creek downstream of the island and has a good ditch and docks to fish, and there are overhanging bushes, too.  Start at the third dock on the left and fish to the back of the creek.

Cody likes docks with five feet of water in front of them but says most of the fish he catches are three feet deep or less, so don’t hesitate to fish very shallow docks.  Fish all the posts. It takes longer to get in behind them to fish the back side but it is worth it.  Also fish the shade on this bank.

7.  N 33 25.228 – W 83 14.608 – Go back up the river to the big point on the left, across from hole 1.  This long point gets a lot of wind blowing in on it and has a hard bottom. There is a lot of brush in the water from bushes that have been cut to clear under the trees to clear the bank.

Stay out and fish a crankbait, spinnerbait and beaver all along the bank.  Run your faster baits between the brush in the water but fish the brush in the water thoroughly with your Baby Brush Hog.   Fish all the way around the small pocket on the upstream side of the point and the upstream side of the pocket has brush, too.

Wind helps on this point and in other places if it is not too strong to make boat control difficult.  Wind stirs up the water, breaks the surface and moves baitfish into the area.  All those things make the fish bite better and makes it more difficult for them to identify your lures as fake.

8.  N 33 25.039 – W 83 14.256 – Across the river from the  point in hole 7, just downstream of hole 1, is a small creek that splits right in the back. There is a blue canvas cover dock on the downstream point of it and one brown shingle boat house on the left bank going into it. There are four docks in this small creek.

Start near the upstream point and fish the left bank to the back, then fish the dock on the point in the middle of the split and the ones on the other bank, too.   Cody says the left bank is usually better in October since it is a little deeper and has overhanging bushes to fish.

9.  N 33 24.339 – W 83 15.597 – Go up Lick Creek until you see the first bridge ahead of you. On the right before the creek turns a little to the left is a small creek with light gray siding house with a black canvas top dock just inside the point.

Start at the dock, fishing it carefully, then work to the back of the creek down the left bank. There is a seawall with rocks in front of it along this bank and it holds fish.  The little points on the seawall are usually best.

There is a pond back in the woods above this creek that feeds it and water flowing into the creek attract bass. Fish all the way to the ditch in the back and fish the cove in the back of it. Also fish the first three docks in the back of the creek on your right going in.

10.  N 33 24.410 – W 83 15.724 – Going up Lick Creek a big creek comes in on the right just upstream of the one in hole 9.  Go into it and stop at the dock on the right with a black canvas top and red Adirondack Chairs on it.

Fish this dock and all the others going into the creek.  Run a spinnerbait on the seawalls between the docks.  In the back on the left side is a small pocket with a blowdown in it. Fish the blowdown with a frog, Cody got a keeper out of it the day we fished. Also work it with Baby Brush Hog, beaver and jig.

All these places are good right now and give you examples of the types of places Cody catches October Oconee bass.  They are in a compact area so you don’t have to burn much gas to fish them but you can run all over the lake and find many similar creeks where you can use this pattern to catch bass.

Puget Sound Blackmouth


“Spinfishing”  for Puget Sound Black
By Captain John Keizer So how do you find Puget Sound winter blackmouth? The answer is don’t look for the blackmouth but rather look for what attracts blackmouth.

Blackmouth are a delayed released hatchery king salmon that don’t migrate to Alaska but instead inhabits the waters of Puget Sound after being released. The name blackmouth comes from the black gumline that identifies it as a resident chinook salmon. Blackmouth range from the legal size of 22 inches up to fish taken in the upper teens.

In the many years I have fished Puget Sound I have found that Puget Sound blackmouth relate to three things, structure, current and food.We have all heard the line, “Find the bait-find the fish.” It sounds so easy but so many anglers ignore this simple advice in locating blackmouth. Blackmouth salmon are voracious feeders and will be looking for sand lance (candlefish) or herring to fill their bellies year around in Puget Sound.

The sand lance, which are also known locally as “candlefish,” because pioneers used to dry them and make candles out of them due to their high oil content are an ecologically important forage fish throughout Puget Sound where they school in many bays, banks and inlets. Sand lance are important food for young salmon who crave the high oil content; 35% of juvenile salmon diets are composed of sand lance and blackmouth salmon depend on sand lance for 60% of their diet.

Sand lance spawning occurs at high tide in shallow water on sand-gravel beaches. Sand lance will also use sandy beaches for spawning. Knowing when and where this food source is will directly reflect on locating winter blackmouth.

Herring can be located at resting spots that are dictated by the current. As in river fishing, bait will be pushed into the lee of a current flow behind points, islands and land masses. The same is true in Puget Sound, knowing the position of the tide will allow you to find the best location to find baitfish and salmon feeding on it.

Trolling a downrigger is in my opinion the best method for consistently hooking blackmouth. I spend much of the winter season employing this method of fishing. I run 3 Hi Performance Scotty 2106 downriggers onboard Salt Patrol my 27ft North River O/S. Being able to cover lots of water with your tackle at a controlled depth is an extremely effective way to fish for winter chinook that like to inhabit the deep waters of Puget Sound.

My rod & reel setup is a Shimano Tekota-A 600 Line counter reel matched with a G. Loomis E6X 1265 moderate action rod. The reels are spooled up with 30-pound test mono main line. Yes, downrigger fishing is the one fishery that I still run mono line for.

New from Yakima Bait is the Spinfish bait-holding lure, representing a new design in combining lure-and-bait to produce more and bigger salmon. The SpinFish features a pull-apart fillable bait chamber with a scent-dispersing design. When trolled behind a downrigger this lure will produce a vibrating, spinning, wounded-baitfish action that salmon can’t resist.

Yakima SpinfishI was lucky to get to test the prototypes for the Spinfish last winter. My first experience with the Spinfish started with targeting winter blackmouth out of Port Townsend located on the northern part of Puget Sound. We ran the Spinfish behind 11” rotating flashers and medium size Fish Flash and had very good success on blackmouth up into the mid-teens. The strike on the Spinfish is not like on light tap on a bait bite. The blackmouth will hit the Spinfish hard, run a bunch of line out of the reel and then race to the surface for the rest of the fight.

Several times the rod tip would be in the water when we went to take the rod out of the holder.

To ready the Spinfish you just pull apart the body and fill with any bait including tuna, herring or sardines. I had the best results using canned Chicken of the Sea Tuna (packed in oil). Pour the canned tuna into a plastic container with the all the oil in the can. At this point I will add scents from Pro-Cure. Mix in some Bloody Tuna or your choice scent and mix and you’re ready to charge the Spinfish body. Pack the Spinfish body with tuna and put the two parts back together.

I rig my Spinfish 25-40 inches behind a Fish Flash or 35-45 inches behind rotating flashers. My setup last year was to tie two 4/0 Mustad octopus hooks close together on 30lb Seaguar fluorocarbon leader and add one glow bead above the top hook to act as a ball bearing. Slide the Spinfish on the leader and tie to swivel and then attach to the Fish Flash or rotating flasher and you’re ready to fish.Yakima Fish FlashThe SpinFish can be rigged to spin clockwise or counterclockwise and unlike other bait holding lures, it needs no rubber bands to keep the lure together. The precisely drilled sent holes in the Spinfish will disperse a sent pattern into the water and salmon will follow the scent trail back to the lure. Just like any lure bring your gear up every 20 minutes and check it for shakers (undersize salmon) and re-charge the Spinfish body with fresh tuna.

I normally have 4-5 Spinfish loaded with different bait scents and ready to swap out each time I check my gear. Blackmouth bites windows are short and you don’t want to waste time during the prime bite times rigging tackle.

The new SpinFish comes in two sizes, a three inch and a four-inch version, that now both come fully rigged and ready to fish. The three-inch size comes in 20 of the hottest colors Yakima Bait producers. The four-inch version comes in 10 proven fish-attracting colors. All the Spinfish colors are coated in UV blackmouth catching finishes.

Blackmouth like to do their feeding where the bait is. They are aggressive feeders and tend to feed when the current is minimal to expend as little energy as possible. That means the best time to catch them is when you’re fishing in the right current flow or lack of current movement. You may have heard that the best fishing for blackmouth is one to two hours before or after a tide change. Really its right before or right after a current change as that’s when the water goes slack and the fish will expend the least energy finding baitfish.

Fishing In Mud at West Point Lake

Last Saturday 28 member of the Potato Creek Bass Masters put mud grips on our boats and fished our February tournament at West Point.  After fishing from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM, we brought 58 bass weighing about 116 pounds.  There were seven five-fish limits and nine people didn’t have a keeper.

Tom Tanner blew us all away with four fish weighing 15.39 pounds and won big fish with a 6.90 pound largemouth.  Mitchell Cardell was second with five weighing 10.81 pounds, my five weighing 10.18 pounds was good for third and Lee Hancock came in fourth with five at 10.16 pounds.

The water was very muddy, I am surprised we did as well as we did.  It did not start very good for me.  At 9:30 I got a bite on a jig and pig and landed a keeper spot on a main lake point.  After another hour of fishing that area I went into Whitewater Creek, where the water was a little less muddy, but never hooked a fish and spent too much time in there.

At 1:30 I ran down the lake near the dam into a creek with a little better water color, and quickly caught a keeper spot on a jig and pig, then a second one on a shaky head worm. Both hit on a rocky point. Another rocky point in that creek is about 100 yards away. I decided to fish to it although I have never caught a fish between the two.  I put the trolling motor on high and picked up a crankbait.

The first cast I made with it a 3.35-pound spot hit it, my biggest fish. I slowed down some then caught my second biggest spot on the crankbait.  Before I got to the next point a keeper largemouth hit my crankbait.

I fished the point without a bite but felt pretty good with a limit.  I wanted to go back over that area since some decent fish were hitting but my cranking battery was dead when I tried to start the motor. No problem, I had jumper cables and three more batteries.

The first two I hooked up would not turn the motor over! When the last one did, I decided to run back to the weigh-in area and not take a chance on being late.

I fished near the ramp for the last two hours and caught one more keeper spot that did not cull anything I had.

Where and How To Catch September Bass at Lake Jackson, with GPS Coordinates

September Jackson Bass

with Keith Dawkins

September can be the most frustrating time of year for bass fishermen.  The water is as hot as it gets and the oxygen content is at its lowest level of the year. The days are still hot and uncomfortable and the bass are sluggish. But some lakes, like Jackson, offer you a chance to catch fish and forget the problems.

Jackson is an old Georgia Power lake at the headwaters of the Ocmulgee River.  It is lined by docks and rocks are plentiful. There are good points that run out to deep water and humps that hold bass.  Shad are the primary forage this time of year and you can find the shad and catch bass.

In the 1970s and 1980s Jackson was known for big largemouth.  Then spots were illegally stocked in the lake by misguided fishermen and they have taken over the lake. Rather than catching a seven pound largemouth now you are going to catch seven one pound spots.

Spots are fun to catch and taste good, so enjoy catching them and eat them.  You can’t hurt the population of bass in the lake by keeping every one you catch. In fact, fisheries biologists say keeping all of them, even those under 12 inches long, may help a little. They have no size limit anywhere in Georgia except Lake Lanier.

Keith Dawkins grew up fishing Jackson.  His parents still have a house there and he spends several days a month on the lake.  For years he fished the Berrys tournaments and bigger trails like the Bulldog BFL but his job now keeps him from fishing tournaments.

 “Early in September bass are out on main lake structure, feeding on shad,” Keith said.  As the month progresses they push up the points and toward the coves. By the end of the month, depending on the shad, they may be way back in them.

A wide variety of baits will catch fish.  Keith always has a Flash Mob Jr. with small swimbaits on the arms and a Fish Head Spin on the middle one.  He also likes a buzz bait, popper and X-Rap five inch bait with props on both ends for top water fishing and a Fluke or Senko rigged weightless for fishing over structure and cover.

For faster fishing a 300 Bandit with white and chartreuse is good as is a #7 Shadrap in black and silver.  When he slows down and probes the bottom he will have a Carolina rigged Trick worm and a Spotsticker jig head with a Trick worm on it.

If you are seeing fish on your depthfinder but can’t get them to hit, get right on top of them and use a drop shot worm. Drop it down to them and jiggle it slowly.  If they are right on the bottom let your lead stay on the bottom but raise it up to the depth the fish are holding if they are suspended.

Keith showed me the following ten places in mid-August.  Small spots were on them during the day. The afternoon before we went he caught some quality spots and largemouth right at dark, an indication the bigger fish were probably feeding at night. Those bigger fish will be feeding on these places during the day in September.

1.  N 33 20.606 – W 83 51.667 – The big point where the river turns downstream across from the mouth of Tussahaw Creek is a good place to start early in the morning or to fish late in the day.  It is a big flat where wood washes in and hangs up and there are a couple of small pockets on it and small points run off it.

Start on the upstream end where the biggest cove on the point starts.  There are rocks on it and it drops fairly fast.  As you fish downstream the bottom flattens out and there is a lot of wood to fish.  Stay way out on the flat in seven to eight feet of water since it is so shallow and cover all the wood with a buzz bait.

Fish all the way around the point where it turns to the left going downstream.  Also try a crankbait around this wood in case the fish don’t want a topwater bait. A weightless Fluke or Senko is also good around the wood.

2.  N 33 20.313 – W 83 51.404 – Go down the river and there is a marked hump way off the left bank. There are two danger markers on it and it tops out about six feet deep at full pool, dropping off to 40 feet deep. Keith warns that boat wakes move the markers and they may not be right on top of it, so idle up toward them slowly.  The hump has rocks, stumps and brush piles on it the bass use for cover, and they will also hold in the saddle between the hump and the bank.

Start with your boat in deeper water and fish all the way around it, casting topwater and crankbaits to the top of the hump and working them back. Also try the Flash Mob Jr. here, fishing it the same way.  Watch your depthfinder as you go around it for fish holding deeper.

Try a Carolina rig and a jig head worm on this hump, too.  Keith likes to drag both baits along slowly, letting the lead stir up the bottom to attract attention.  Keith usually uses a Trick worm on both, preferring watermelon seed or pumpkin seed colors, but if the bass want a smaller bait he will go to a Finesse worm. He will often dip the tails of both size worms in chartreuse JJs Magic for added attraction.

We caught some small spots here on a drop shot when Keith saw fish near the bottom.  If you see them off the sides of the hump try that. Also, especially during the day, you can sit on top of the hump and cast a Carolina rig or jig head worm to the deeper water, working your bait up the drop.

3.  N 33 19.317 – W 83 50.574 – On the right side of the dam going toward it the Georgia Power park and ramp are on a big point right beside the dam.  There are two DNR docks in the pocket formed by the dam and point and there are “Boats Keep Out” buoys in front of them.  There is a public fishing pier on this side of the point.

A lot of wood washes in and sticks in this pocket, and the DNR and residents sometimes pull floating wood to it, so there is a lot of cover to fish. The bottom is also rocky and drops off into deep water.  In the morning or late afternoon start in the pocket, fishing the wood. Try topwater and a weightless bait like a Fluke or Senko around it, too.

When the sun is high sit way out even with the big park point but toward the dam side, and line up with the two tallest towers on the power station on the bank.  A ridge runs out parallel to the park point and flattens out on the end, and bass hold on it.  Fish it with your bottom baits and run a crankbait and the A-Rig over it

4. N 33 19.584 – W 83 50.563 – Go back upstream to the big point on the left where the river turns back to the left.  Downstream of this point, straight out from a cream colored boat house with a metal dock in front of it, a hump rises up to about 14 feet deep. Line up the end of the point with the park side of the dam and idle along this line. You will be in about the middle of the mouth of the creek coming out on the park side.

Keith caught his biggest spot from Jackson on this hump.  Sit out in deep water and drag your bottom bumping baits on it. Try a drop shot, too. Also run a crankbait across it for suspended fish.  Keith does not always bump the bottom with a crankbait but fishes it like a fleeing shad in the water column. He may go to a deeper running bait like the DD22 if the fish won’t come up for a more shallow running bait.

5.  N 33 20.028 – W 83 50.753 – Going upstream on the right bank, on the upstream point of the third big cove upstream of Goat Island, you will see a house and dock with bright silver roofs on the point.  There is a seawall around the point and big rocks are on it. As the bank goes upstream there are huge boulders where it turns into a bluff bank.

Stay way off the bank, the rocks come out a long way, and cast a crankbait or A-Rig to them.  Then try your jig head worm and Carolina rig around them.  Fish all the way around the point.  Way off the point a hump comes up and the saddle leading out to it can be good.

Watch for schooling fish here and other similar places.  There were several schools of small keeper spots chasing shad all around this point when we fished and Keith got one on his XRap.  They will school even better in September and you can chase schooling fish most of the day.

6.  N 33 20.145 – W 83 50.852 – Going up stream along the bluff bank a narrow point comes out at the upper end of it.  There is riprap around the point and a narrow pocket upstream of it.  The point runs way out and Keith says bass hold out on the point early in the month and feed on shad. Later in the month they will push shad up into the bay on the downstream side and into the narrow pocket upstream of it.

Fish the point with your Carolina rig, A-Rig and jig head worm.  Stay way out with your boat in at least 15 feet of water to fish the point early in the month. Later fish the cover in the bay and pocket on both sides with Senko or Fluke but try you’re A-Rig in the pockets, too.  Keith likes the light Flash Mob, Jr and does not put heavy jig heads on it so he can fish it shallower without hanging up.

7. N 33 20.840 – W 83 51.985 – Go to the mouth of Tussahaw Creek to the right side going in. A ridge comes up way off this bank and tops out about 14 feet deep. You will see a light brown roof dock in front of a white cabin on the right bank and the ridge starts about even with it and runs into the creek.

Fish up the ridge into the creek until you are even with a dark brown dock.  Try you’re a-Rig and crankbait over the top of it, keeping your boat on the river side in deeper water.  Then fish it with bottom bumping baits probing for the rocks and stumps on it.  Watch here, too, for fish on the bottom and try a drop shot for them.

8. N 33 21 094 – W 83 52.213 – Go on up Tussahaw to upstream side of the first small cove. There is a tall tree stump carved into a bear standing behind a dock on the bank. Start at the dock in front of the bear and fish upstream.  Fish hold on this point and the next one upstream, too, and feed early in the month then push shad into the coves on both sides of the points later.

Fish will often hold on docks so Keith works them carefully. He will fish every dock post with a jig head worm, hitting the post and letting the bait drop straight down it.  He says spots often nose up to the post and if the bait does not fall straight down beside it they won’to hit.  Keith says he will often spend a half hour carefully fishing every post on a dock. A Senko or Fluke will also catch dock bass.

Fish the points and banks going into the pockets with A-Rig and crankbait.   When fishing the crankbait Keith says he likes to crank it a few feet then pause it. Strikes will often come just as he starts the bait moving again. Try different lengths of pause before moving it again.

9. N 33 22.180 – W 83 51.728 – Go up the Alcovy to the mouth of the South River. As you go into the mouth of it, on your right, the second point is narrow and has an old boat ramp on it.  This point comes way out and has a lot of rocks on it and holds a lot of bass. Keith caught several spots here on his crankbait.

Run your crankbait and A-Rig across the point.  If there is any current coming out of the river, which often happens after a rain, Keith says it is important to stay on the downstream side of the point and cast upstream, working your baits with the current.

Also fish a Trick worm or Senko on top of the point early. It is very shallow a good way off the bank.  Then work your bottom baits on the point, all the way out to the end of it in at least 15 feet deep.  You will get hung up in the rocks but that is where the bass live.

10.  N 33 23.028 – W 83 50.590 – Run up the Alcovy River under the powerlines.  Upstream of them a ridge runs parallel to the river channel way off the left bank upstream of the first creek on that side.  Watch on the right bank for a white deck on the bank just off the water with lattice work under it. It is very white.

If you stop in the middle of the lake even with that deck and idle toward the far bank, at a very slight angle upstream, you will cross the ridge. The ridge is on the far side of the river channel and it tops out about 14 feet deep and has stumps and rocks in some spots on it.

Keith likes to keep his boat on the side of the ridge away from the river channel and fish it. He says bass tend to hold on that side and stripers hold on the river side.  Cast you’re a-Rig and crankbait over the top of it and work your Carolina rig and jig head down that side from the top to about 20 feet deep. Also watch for fish under the boat to use your drop shot.

Since the rocks and stumps are in patches, feel for them and concentrate on that area.  The end of the ridge is where Keith catches most of his fish.

Give Keith’s places a try and see the kind of structure and cover he likes this month. There are many similar places you can find and fish on Jackson.

Manners when the B.A.S.S. Classic Comes to Town

Classic Takeoff

Let’s Mind Our Manners when the B.A.S.S. Classic Comes to Town
By Frank Sargeant High-dollar bass tournaments like the Bassmaster Classic, scheduled for Lake Guntersville March 6-8, are a great potential learning experience for local anglers as they get the opportunity to follow the top pro’s around on the lake and see how and where they fish and what tackle and boat they use.

And most of the pro’s actually enjoy the gallery of rooting fans—after all, the more popular they are, the more sponsor money they make.But a large gallery can also affect the outcome of the event. Big names like Kevin Van Dam (who won’t be at this Classic because he moved to the MLF circuit) sometimes have 20 or more boats roaring after them down the lake and gliding up behind them as they drop the trolling motor to fish. While lots of fans are a plus at a football or basketball game, on the water at a bass tournament, not so much. Bass don’t take kindly to the sound of outboard motors, or even of a dozen whirring trolling motors in their neighborhood. Some anglers believe they’re even put off by the “ping” of fish finders.

So while the well-meaning fans are cheering for their favorite, they may actually be reducing his chances of success. This is particularly true when an angler gets on an extended stretch of “hot” shoreline, where bass may be scattered over a hundred yards or so of terrain that the angler may want to work multiple times. As the gallery slides in behind him as he works down the structure, they turn off the bite that might have been active on repeat passes.

The best way to follow the anglers is from a distance, and carry binoculars so that you can see the lures they’re using and how they’re fishing them. This gives everybody a bit of breathing room, and hopefully won’t affect the outcome of the event. There are also some anglers who can’t wait until the tournament is over to try the new holes that the smart pro’s reveal to them. As soon as the pro angler pulls off, they pull on and start casting.

This makes things a lot more difficult in that spot on the next day when the angler returns to the spot again during the three day event. To be sure, the lake is a public asset and all of us have a completely equal right to fish anywhere in it at any time. Paying a tournament entry fee does not give any special rights. On the other hand, when you consider that the pro anglers are fishing an event where one successful cast could change the course of their lives, it seems only common courtesy to maybe save their spots to the GPS for future use but leave them alone for those few days of the competition.

In any case, for those who want to follow their heroes, the daily launches are at Civitan Park just off S.R. 69 on the Brown’s Creek arm of the lake at 7 a.m. B.A.S.S. welcomes spectators with free coffee, and a number of top boat manufacturers are on-site offering test drives of their latest bass boats. (You can’t launch at Civitan during the event, though—choose one of the other ramps around the lake.)

For those who can’t get out on the lake, the weigh-ins are at BJCC in Birmingham, with arena doors opening at 3:15 p.m. daily for the weigh-ins. The Classic Outdoors Expo, also at BJCC, opens at noon on Friday, 10 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. 

See more here: 

Predicting Muddy Water At West Point

Muddy water makes bass fishing tough.  Bass tend to get very tight to cover and not move much. It is like us in a heavy fog, we like to stay in familiar places and not run around and get lost!

My Garmin Panoptix has confirmed this. In clear water I see bass holding near but not down in brush and just over rocks and stumps. In muddy water they are down in the brush and right against rocks and stumps.   

Bass still have to eat, though. They can be caught, especially if the water has been muddy for a couple of days and they have gotten used to it and have gotten hungry.  

  A bright lure that sends out sounds in the water is usually best. I will be fishing a bright chartreuse spinnerbait with chartreuse blades and skirt. A rattling chartreuse crankbait will also be used as will a black and blue Chatterbait, the bait I caught the three-pounder on at Neely Henry in the mud. Even my jig and pig, a black and blue one with bright blue trailer, will have rattles in it.  And I will fish all of then slowly and tight to cover.   

I home something works for me at West Point!

It did, somewhat. I caught three keeper spots on my chartreuse crankbait, three on the jig and ig and one on a dark Trick worm on a shaky head. My best five weighed 10.18 and gave me third out of 28 fishermen!

Aqua-Vu Underwater Cameras

Look underwater

See What You’re Looking at With Aqua-Vu Underwater Cameras
Three ways underwater study will help you find and catch more fish.

Crosslake, MN – For most anglers, watching the fish is something that happens only in the mind’s eye. You picture what your lure looks like, and how it moves underwater. You visualize what the weedbed or brushpile looks like and you wonder what types of fish might be inhabiting it. You imagine what it looks like when a bass first sees your lure and moves in for the strike.But unless you’re scuba diving or looking through the lens of an underwater camera, you don’t really know what’s happening below the surface.

For anglers truly interested in learning about fish behavior from an underwater perspective, an Aqua-Vu camera provides rare and incredible opportunities to observe, marvel and ultimately, catch more fish. No matter if you’re an ice angler, lure troller or a shallow water bass angler, an underwater camera can revolutionize your subsurface understanding.

Pole-Cam Perspectives Bass and crappie anglers have joined the ranks of underwater scholars, probing into and examining hard-to-reach areas beneath boat docks, inside brushpiles and under matted vegetation with a camera. Reaching out to inaccessible areas with his Aqua-Vu HD10i camera connected to a telescopic push pole, Major League Fishing pro Ott DeFoe likes to peek below boat docks. A special XD Pole Cam Adaptor makes connecting to any telescopic pole an easy five-second process.

“The pole-cam set up lets me look for big bass living in remote locations and under hard-to-reach shallow cover, like docks, without spooking them,” notes DeFoe, a longtime advocate of underwater study.“The Aqua-Vu also allows me to find concentrations of bass during pre-tournament scouting, without having to catch them before competition begins. That’s a huge asset in a tournament, and it works in clear as well as stained water, when all you need to see is the presence of fish a few feet from the lens.”

Visual Ice Fishing Mike Hehner, photographer, angler and producer for Minnesota based Lindner Media Productions has been a longtime fan of real-time underwater viewing with an Aqua-Vu camera. “I’ve spent the last few ice fishing seasons watching how bass and other fish behave in their natural habitat,” says Hehner. “What you learn is that every individual fish exhibits unique behavioral responses to lures or livebait.

“While ice fishing, I like to train the lens of my micro Revolution 5.0 Pro camera on a live minnow. Hit the record button and just start capturing footage. I can watch the video on the screen, live, or view it on my computer later on.

“Most people would be amazed to see what’s really happening down there—even during those periods when you’re not getting strikes. I’ve seen huge schools of bass move past the bait without even stopping to sniff. Other fish stalk and examine the minnow for many minutes at a time. Some bass lightly mouth the bait or nudge it, as if to taste or test it for palatability. Other times, they’ll nip the splitshot but totally ignore the minnow. I’ve also seen days when bass absolutely crush an artificial rattlebait over and over but completely ignore the livebait.

Trolling Goes Interactive A great way to add spice to the otherwise mundane task of trolling lures around the lake, sight trolling allows anglers to watch fish react in real time, right on the Aqua-Vu display. “The XD Live-Strike system connects the camera to your fishing line, letting you watch fish react to and bite lures, live,” says Dr. Jason Halfen, owner of the Technological Angler.

“What makes sight trolling with an Aqua-Vu such an amazing experience is the ability to see fish strike right on the screen, as it happens. With other Go-Pro type cameras, you don’t get to see what unfolds on the water until you’re done fishing.”Halfen and other anglers who’ve tried sight-trolling have seen some remarkable fish behaviors unfold on the screen. “You can’t believe how many fish—trout, salmon or walleyes—might be following your lure at once,” he observes. “Or the fact that a single muskie might follow your lure for 5 minutes or more before biting. You learn that a rapid acceleration in lure speed or a sudden interruption in its forward momentum, perhaps by contacting structure with the lure, can prompt an immediate violent response from fish.”

“After watching the fish for the past few years,” adds Hehner, “I realize how many times underwater study has revealed fish in spots I wouldn’t have otherwise found them. It’s also helped me make key adjustments to my presentation—a different way to hook my bait, lure size or a new color—that resulted in more bites and more fish on the line.“You never get bored watching the underwater show. You see something different, something new and exciting, every time you go out there and drop the Aqua-Vu. You learn and you absolutely catch more fish.”

View Online Version About Aqua-Vu The Original Underwater Viewing System, Aqua-Vu® is manufactured by Outdoors Insight, Inc., and has led the underwater camera category in design, innovation and quality since 1997. The Central Minnesota based company builds other popular outdoors products, such as the iBall Trailer Hitch Camera ( For more information on Aqua-Vu, visit