Monthly Archives: July 2020

Captain Mack’ Lake Lanier Fishing Report

From Captain Mack Farr

Nice fish, shy fisherman

July has been hot, especially in the afternoon. Fishing has been hot too, especially in the
afternoon! Of course when the rods are bending it’s a whole lot easier to tolerate the heat and
humidity!

If you need to cool off, you can always take a dip in the lake, which fell slightly this
past week, .21 feet over full pool to 1071.21. The surface temp is at 88 degrees. Based on the
extended forecast we have plenty of heat and humidity in store as the ‘Dog Days” of summer
are here!

Looking at the extended forecast indicates we will have a greater chance of afternoon
thunderstorms as we enter into next week.
Striper fishing has been good, and you’ll have several choices of productive patterns to choose
from.

The fish are using the typical July deep water patterns, although we still have some fish
pushing back into the pockets over a 40 to 50 foot bottom. The overall trend is Stripers moving
towards deeper water, creek channels, over the river channel. Fyi, you may find fish at any point
out over the river or major creek channels, but that pattern seems to be best from mid day on.


You may also see fish anywhere from 30 down to 80, so place the baits where the greatest
activity is. Monitor the live baits closely, keeping the bait alive on the hook is difficult in some
areas of the lake, check and change frequently if needed. Supplement the down lines with some
power reeling, Spoons, Chipmunks and Herring are all good choices and power reeling is a
good compliment to the live bait spread. FYI, Power reeling tip number 4 will post on Sunday
afternoon!

Live bait fishing has been producing well, down lines are the dominant producer, with
a few fish still being taken on weighted flat lines.
The trolling bite has also been very good, with fish responding to Minis and Jigs on the Lead
core, full size umbrellas, and spoons. Pull the Minis on lead core, about 275 feet back on the
counter, 30 foot leader included, about eight colors if you are counting off of the line. You can
use the same depth parameters on either a 2 oz Chipmunk jig or the big spoons, there will not
be much variation in depth between those three baits.

Which one is the best option? That
answer varies from day to day, but the 2oz Chipmunk tipped with a Herring or 6” trailer has been
very consistent. As far as spoons go, the Parker spoons are a good choice as are the Hawg
Series Fat Spoons.

Any of the aforementioned baits can be trolled on lead core or with a
downrigger, so keep that in mind when you deploy the spread. If you opt for the full size
umbrella, and they have also been very effective, pull the rig from 120 to150 feet behind the
boat. You can also use the rigs on the lead core or behind a downrigger as well. You may want
to go with a lighter umbrella on the down riggers, just because it is hard to hold the bigger rigs in
the release clips.

The Capt Macks 3 arm rigs create much less drag so they are a good option,
as are the Mini Mack’s. To help determine the depth of the big umbrellas when using with the down riggers, use the amount of line from the downriver ball to the rig and find the depth value
for that amount of line deployed on the chart. Add that number to the depth of the downrigger
ball and you should be spot on!


The Bass Fishing is also typical for July, main lake brush in 20 to 35 feet is holding plenty of
fish. If you want the numbers, the drop shot will be awfully hard to beat, it may catch the bigger
fish, but it will run up the numbers! Don’t forget about casting the drop shot as well. especially
on the windless days when the water really slicks off. This can be a very good technique when
fishing the brush.

Shakey heads and your favorite finesse worms will also be effective in the
brush. You can still entice a few of the bigger fish out of the brush to take a walking bait, and a
sub surface bait like a Steelshad, Spybait or weighted Fluke over the brush are also good
selections.

Massive Goliath Grouper Bites–On Camera

Fishing guide Paul Hartman and stepdaughter Reegan Werner with a record-class goliath grouper, named My Lord.

from The Fishing Wire

Crosslake, MN  – A 29-hour drive to escape the Minneapolis riots had landed fishing guide Paul Hartman and his family in Marco Island, Florida. On May 31, Hartman, his wife Kimberly and stepchildren Reegan and Owen Werner would be 50 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico, wrestling a record-class goliath grouper. Before the battle ensued, they’d watch the mammoth fish bite on the screen of their Aqua-Vu underwater camera. 

Early in the day, on the way to their offshore fishing spot, Hartman and family had tried to catch a few amberjack for grouper and shark bait. Each time they hooked one, however, a barracuda attacked and stole their prospective bait. After boating two of the big ‘cuda, Hartman finally decided to cut the tails off the toothy fish, and rig each on a 12/0 circle hook in hopes of tempting a hungry shark or goliath grouper.

Attached to heavy-duty rods and Penn International reels loaded with 250-pound braided line, the baits plummeted into 50 to 70 feet of water.Hartman and his family watched the grouper eat the bait on the screen of their Aqua-Vu HD10i Pro underwater camera.

Endeavoring to witness and record the actual bite, Hartman and his son attached one of the fishing lines to the “Live Strike” release clip connected to the lens of an Aqua-Vu HD10i Pro camera.

“We had rigged the camera to face at about a 45-degree downward angle, keeping the lens just a few feet above the bait,” said Hartman, a well-known fishing guide specializing in trophy muskellunge back in Minnesota.

“We watched on screen as the big chunk of ‘cuda sank down toward bottom. Almost right away, my son Owen excitedly described the action as he watched a massive grouper charge over and eat the nearly 50-inch bait in one big gulp.”

“When Owen saw the fish coming, he screamed, ‘It just ate the whole thing! The whole entire bait is gone!” recalled Hartman. “I reeled down, got the fish hooked and the fun began.”

Unfortunately, in the heat of the moment, the family forgot to hit the record button and failed to capture the underwater video with an attached recording device. “But watching that giant grouper engulf the entire bait in one powerful snap has given us ample incentive to try again. What an experience!

”Equipped with 125-feet of heavy-duty cable, the Aqua-Vu HD10i Pro high-definition underwater camera houses internal weights and allows the user to attach additional 1-pound weights as well as the XD Live Strike™ accessory, via Aqua-Vu’s Quick Attachment system. In effect, the camera acts as a weight, pulling the bait toward bottom. The Aqua-Vu XD Live Strike accessory lets anglers watch fish react to lures and baits in real time.

The Live Strike accessory slides easily onto the camera lens housing, terminating with a downrigger-style line clip. Anglers can instantly attach their fishing line to the release clip and monitor the lure or bait on the LCD display above. When a fish strikes, the line is effortlessly pulled off the clip for a direct rod-to-fish battle.

The Aqua-Vu XD Live Strike system is the only fishing-ready video device that allows for full HD viewing of lures and striking fish in real time.

“Having just witnessed the sheer size of the animal as it swam over and engulfed the bait, Owen was buzzing with excitement,” recalled Hartman,” “That got us fired up, too. I asked Kimberly to back the boat away from the structure, while I gently towed the unsuspecting fish to smoother bottom, where it would be more difficult to wrap the line around an obstruction and break off.

As Reegan strapped on the fighting belt, I handed her the rod and told her to get ready for a battle.“Once the fish realized it was hooked, it began thrashing and surging. Reegan is an athlete with lots of competitive spirit, but at 115-pounds, she was in for a major challenge versus a fish five times her weight. After just ten minutes, with assistance from her brother Owen, Reegan managed to get the fish up off bottom and into view, so we could get a good idea of its enormous size.

After working the fish hard for another 5 minutes, I was able to grab the 400-pound test cable leader and begin measuring the fish boatside. We got the hook out, took a few photos, and let the fish give us shower as it kicked and swam back to the depths.”

Later, looking at the photos, Hartman realized the goliath grouper was almost certainly the same fish caught by a friend in April of 2019, a specimen named My Lord. Just 14 months later, the fish had grown three inches and gained 50 pounds, now measuring 83-inches long with a 75-inch girth and estimated weight of 583-pounds. According to the International Game Fish Association, Reegan Werner’s fish was the largest grouper ever caught by a female angler.

“The first time my friend Captain Ben Olsen saw the fish, all he or his crew could say was ‘oh my Lord, look at that!’” said Hartman. “Eventually, the name stuck and when we got back in and looked at our photos, we realized, the fish was indeed the same one.” 

Hartman notes that responding to declining goliath grouper populations, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission prohibited all harvest of the magnificent sportfish from U.S. waters in 1990. Since then, goliath grouper populations have rebounded in certain areas around Florida’s Gulf Coast. “It’s not like these fish are super abundant,” Hartman added. “You can find five to ten fish living on one particular structure. But then you might not find another big grouper for 30 to 50 miles. Releasing these fish safely and carefully is a must. Who knows, next year, we might come back and watch My Lord eat on the camera again. Who knows how much bigger she’ll be.

This time, you can be sure, we’ll hit the record button.”About Aqua-VuThe 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 (iballhitchcam.com).

For more information on Aqua-Vu, visit www.aquavu.com

July 4th At Clarks Hill

 July 4th always revolved around Clarks Hill, skiing, fishing and eating with family and friends.  Daddy joined Raysville Boat Club in 1966 when I was 16, so most things started and ended there much of my young life.   

One year in the 1990s Linda and I went over to spend a few days there with mama and daddy, and of course, I want to fish. But the lake was a madhouse during the day.  Clarks Hill is huge, 72,000 acres of water, so there should be room for everyone, but everywhere I went the water was churned by wake boats, skiers, and skidoos.   

We went down to Rousseau Creek all the way to the back of it. It got narrower but was still about 100 yards wide, but the water was only two to three feet deep.  Not a good place to ski! After getting far enough back to be in water four feet deep or less, one skidoo came whining in, turned and went back out. 

After that we did not see another boat from 11:00 AM until 3:00 PM when we headed back to the boat club.  It was so secluded we could do anything we wanted! But that’s another story!

I cast a four-inch curly tail worm on a one-sixteenths ounce Slider Head on a spinning outfit and six-pound line and caught nine keeper bass and several shorter than 12 inches.  I would cast past a stump, glide it just over the top of it, and watch the bass rush out and grab it. The water was so clear I could see every move the bass made from the strike to the boat.

When we went in, after getting back to deeper water, we had to slam through waves the whole six miles back to the boat club. A usual five-minute trip took 40!

Another trip was a bit scary.   Harold was my best friend and his family always had a big reunion at Winfield Picnic area in the mouth of Rousseau Creek. I often went to join them, taking our 17-foot Larson ski boat with a 120 HP MerCruiser motor.  It was a big, heavy boat that would run about 30 MPH on a good day, but was an amazing ski boat, the best on the water back then. 

More than once I pulled six people on skis at one time behind.  It had a lot of torque and the power to do that. I spend many happy hours behind it on a ski and got pretty good. The boat club was 15 minutes from Thomson High School and the boat stayed in the water under a boat shed, ready to get in and go skiing any time.

A group of us would often plan to head to the lake to ski after school during warm weather.  I think I taught about half my class to ski. In my annual, my senior predictions said I would grow up to be the Presidential Ski Advisor! 

Part of that was teaching so many to ski, the other part was most of my classmates figured I was too lazy to make much of myself!

One July 4th I rode down to Winfield and met Harold and his family about 9:00 AM.  There were probably 40 people there, about a dozen teenagers like me.  For three hours we would put six folks in the boat and go ski.

After a huge lunch we went back out just in time for a big thunderstorm with pouring rain to hit. We quickly put up the top and rode out the storm.  The boat had a top that came back over the cockpit and side and back flaps that enclosed the whole boat. Not a drop of rain got in, but it was hot in there. I think that was about the only time we put it up the whole time we had that boat.

After the storm, we skied until about 5:00 PM then I headed back to the boat club by myself.  Back then a trip to Winfield was an experience, taking about 30 minutes at full speed in the Larson, in mostly unknown waters.

When I came out of Rousseau Creek and hit the main lake, another thunderstorm hit.  I kept the boat at an idle, the waves were so big I would go down in a trough and lose sight of land. 

More scary, I would see stumps in those troughs, the lake is full of them, especially on the old river channel in the deepest water. They had been topped out about five feet below full pool, so the waves exposed them.

It took me more than three hours to get back and it was almost dark.  Now I can make that run in my bass boat in five minutes but would not want to try with waves like those that day.

Have a wonderful July 4th, eat good food, spend time with family, make good memories, but never forget why we celebrate starting out great nation, the best one on earth. 

Measuring Atlantic Bluefin Tuna With a Drone

Drone image of Atlantic bluefin tuna in ‘soldier’ school formation off Provincetown, Massachusetts.
Measuring Bluefin Tuna
This novel use of drones is a promising way to remotely monitor these hard-to-see fish.
From NOAA Fisheries
from The Fishing Wire

Researchers have used an unmanned aerial system (or drone) to gather data on schooling juvenile Atlantic bluefin tuna in the Gulf of Maine. This pilot study tested whether a drone could keep up with the tuna while also taking photographs that captured physical details of this fast-moving fish. The drone was equipped with a high-resolution digital still image camera. Results show that drones can capture images of both individual fish and schools. They may be a useful tool for remotely monitoring behavior and body conditions of the elusive fish.

Individual fish lengths and widths, and the distance between fish near the sea surface, were measured to less than a centimeter of precision. We used an APH-22, a battery-powered, six-rotor drone. The pilot study was conducted in the Atlantic bluefin tuna’s foraging grounds northeast of Cape Cod in the southern Gulf of Maine.Mike Jech about to launch the APH-22 from the bow of the F/V Lily. Photo @2015 Eric Schwartz.“Multi-rotor unmanned aerial systems won’t replace shipboard surveys or the reliance on manned aircraft to cover a large area,” said Mike Jech, an acoustics researcher at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole, Massachusetts and lead author of the study.

“They have a limited flight range due to battery power and can only collect data in bursts. Despite some limitations, they will be invaluable for collecting remote high-resolution images that can provide data at the accuracy and precision needed by managers for growth and ecosystem models of Atlantic bluefin tuna.”Results from the APH-22 study were published in March 2020 in theJournal of Unmanned Vehicle Systems

Researchers conducted their work in 2015. They then compared their study results to values in published data collected in the same general area. They also compared it to recreational landings data collected through NOAA Fisheries’ Marine Recreational Information Program.

Taking up the Bluefin Tuna Sampling ChallengeAtlantic bluefin tuna is a commercially and ecologically important fish. The population size in the western Atlantic Ocean is unknown. Fishery managers need biological data about this population, but it is hard to get. Highly migratory species like Atlantic bluefin tuna often move faster than the vessels trying to sample them. The tuna are distributed across large areas, and can be found from the sea surface to hundreds of feet deep. Sampling with traditional gear — nets and trawls — is ineffective. Acoustical methods are useful but limited to sampling directly below a seagoing vessel with echosounders or within range of horizontal sonar.

It is also difficult to estimate the number of tuna in a school from an airplane. Both fish availability and perception biases introduced by observers can affect results. Estimates of abundance and size of individuals within a school are hard to independently verify.  Taking precision measurements of animals that are in constant motion near the surface proved easier with a drone that is lightweight, portable, and agile in flight. It can carry a high-quality digital still camera, and be deployed quickly from a small fishing boat.

Short flight times limit a drone’s ability to survey large areas. However, they can provide two-dimensional images of the shape of a fish school and data to count specific individuals just below the ocean surface.New Capacity for Bluefin Tuna Monitoring The APH-22 system has been tested and evaluated for measuring other marine animals. It’s been used in a number of environments — from Antarctica to the Pacific Ocean — prior to its use in the northwest Atlantic Ocean. Previous studies estimated the abundance and size of penguins and leopard seals, and the size and identity of individual killer whales. Hexacopter image of a school of Atlantic bluefin tuna taken northeast of Provincetown, Massachusetts in the southern Gulf of Maine.

 “The platform is ideal for accurately measuring fish length, width, and the distance between individuals in a school when you apply calibration settings and performance measures,” Jech said. “We were able to locate the hexacopter in three-dimensional space and monitor its orientation to obtain images with a resolution that allowed us to make measurements of individual fish.”

As new unmanned aerial systems are developed, their use to remotely survey Atlantic bluefin tuna and other animals at the sea surface will evolve. It may minimize the reliance on manned aircraft or supplement shipboard surveys.

The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas governs tuna fishing. It is entrusted to monitor and manage tuna and tuna-like species in the Atlantic Ocean and adjacent seas. NOAA Fisheries manages the Atlantic bluefin tuna fishery in the United States. We set regulations for the U.S. fishery based on conservation and management recommendations from the international commission.

For more information, contact Shelley Dawicki

Waves and Bad Luck At Lanier In June

 Somebody in the Flint River Bass Club thought it would be a good idea to hold our June tournament on Lanier on Sunday, June 7.  In it 14 of us fished for eight hours and caught eight 14-inch keepers.  Ten of us zeroed!   

Lanier gets crazy on any warm day, and Sunday was no exception. Wake boats that cruise slowly and make huge wakes have to go back in creeks to get away from the ocean-going cruisers on the main lake.  Those big boats make waves even wake boats don’t want to face.   

Boat ramps are crowded, not a problem when we launch before daylight but we often sit in line for a long time waiting on folks that back their jet skis or ski boats down on the ramp then block it while they transfer everything from their vehicle to the boat and get the boat ready for launch.   

I have been on double ramps when we loaded eight bass boats on one ramp while an inconsiderate pleasure boater blocked the other one.  And it is often irritatingly entertaining watching some try to back their boat down the ramp as they repeatedly go off to the side and have to pull up and try again.   

On my “Fazebook” page, I posted about ten of us zeroing and got as response “I don’t see how anyone can zero a tournament.”  I said “Its easy, just don’t catch a keeper.”    Not only is it hard to fish from all the waves on the lake when its like Lanier was Sunday, bass definitely react to all the activity.  Trying to cast and work a bait is very hard when you are just trying to stay in the boat, and the bass get very skittish and inactive with all the noise and waves.   

Bass club fishermen fish under all conditions, from freezing cold winter days to miserably hot summer days.   And we go to different lakes every weekend.  Fishing the same waters week after week helps you keep up with what the bass are doing there, but all we have to go on is what they did the last time we fished there, often a year ago. Practice can help, but most of us don’t get to spend time on the water before a tournament due to work or health.   

Bass change their habits and activities daily, sometimes even hourly.  They follow seasonal patterns that we all know, but conditions change their daily activity within their patterns.  Trying to figure out what is going on in eight hours is tough.   

In the tournament, everything went wrong for me and I was one of the zeros.     I had no idea what the bass were doing other than some posts I had read saying they were hitting on windy rocky points. I ran to one of my favorites, a place where I have caught a lot of fish, and four spots over four pounds each, in fall and spring tournaments there.   

For thirty minutes I did not get a bite, then on a cast with a jig and pig, as I tightened up my line to move the jig, the line was slack. That often means a bass has sucked in the jig and is swimming toward the boat. Too often if you set the hook with too much slack line, you do not get a good hook set. 

I kept trying to get my line tight enough to set the hook.  That is an iffy situation. And unfortunately, I tightened it up too much, the fish felt the pressure and I felt it spit out my lure.

Another time I felt a tap and lowered my rod tip to quickly set the hook. Before I could, a big carp jumped and came down on my line, jerking it and making the bass let go of the jig.  That has never happened to me before!

In the tournament, guest Tim Puckett won with three bass weighing 4.87 pounds and had big fish with a 2.21 pounder.  Travis Weatherly came in second with three weighing 4.17 pounds, Chris Lee placed third with one weighing 1.66 pounds and Brent Drake came in fourth with one weighing 1.21 pounds.  That was it, the rest of us did not have a fish to weigh!