Monthly Archives: January 2021

Frabill’s Top 5 Ice Fishing Tips

Ice Fishing Tips from Frabill

The cold temperatures are settling in, and the visions of open water fishing are coming to a close. Ice anglers all over the upper Midwest have already taken to the early ice in pursuit of that first and quite often a very good early ice bite. Here are a few tips from Freshwater Hall of Fame Angler and guide Dale Stroschein, as well as some of the best Ice fishing experts around to help you put more fish on the ice this season.

1. Safety is the number priority for Dale Stroschein. Dale never takes ice conditions for granted, with over 37 years of guiding on the ice under his belt.

“Just because you see someone way out on the ice doesn’t mean it’s ok to venture out there yourself,” say’s Dale. The ice conditions will vary from spot to spot, and not everyone has the same sense of security on the ice as others. Dale never steps onto the ice without a good set of ice picks (which are included on every Frabill Ice Suit) around his neck. He also recommends you carry a rope and keep your cell phone in a plastic bag just in case you are unfortunate enough to test out your float suits capabilities. “You can never be over-prepared when venturing onto the ice, especially early ice,” concludes Dale.

2. Mobility is crucial as you need to be able to get up and move at any moment. A flip-over shelter is perfect for the run-and-gun angler as these will allow you to cover ice fast and efficiently. As the weather and the light conditions change throughout the day, anglers need to make adjustments and make them fast, as the bite window in ice fishing may only last an hour on many occasions. Being able to stash your rods away quickly and secure in Frabill’s new XL Ice Combo Casewhile stored in the new Ice Hunter Series Flip-Over Shelteris a sure-fire way to keep you organized and on the move.Pictured above: Frabill’s new Ice Hunter Series Flip-Over Shelter

3. Rod and Line for the right situation make all the difference. Many anglers tend to use too heavy of gear for targeting panfish and too light of gear for targeting tanker walleyes. Matching your rod and line to the technique of fishing and species you are targeting will significantly improve your odds. When fishing for panfish in deep water, using a heavy or even a medium-heavy rod with a monofilament line will greatly reduce the number of bites you may feel. While using a light or ultralight rod such as the Ice Hunter Finesse Spinning combo from Frabill and a small diameter super line with a fluorocarbon leader, you are sure to feel almost every bite no matter how light. “Having the right equipment is key but knowing when to use it is even more important” says Dale.Pictured above: Frabill’s new Ice Hunter Finesse Spinning Combo

4. Details and paying attention to them are what Dale and many others have claimed will help you land the big fish this ice season. With over 37 years of experience chasing big walleyes, Dale has learned a thing or two about increasing his and his client’s odds of a true trophy walleye through the ice. I’m a firm believer that our graphs put out noise as they ping the bottom for obstructions such as fish or structure,” says Dale. This slight noise may be all it takes to keep a big walleye from visiting your location. Technology has given us an entirely new view of what’s under the ice these days, but it’s not always the key to putting more fish on ice. Try fishing without a graph on occasion and see what bites your line; you may be surprised.Pictured above: XL Ice Combo Case5. 

Playing the Odds is a tip all the pros spoke about in one way or another. This also coincides with the mobility tip. Typically anglers will start in shallow water in the morning and move deeper throughout the day. This is a reliable method but can have its disadvantages as well. When every ice angler in the area is drilling holes up shallow where the fish have already staged, the odds of spooking them to deeper water is increased. And vice versa, as the day extends and anglers are chasing the fish to deeper water they may also be moving them back to shallow water where there is less pressure.

“A key to this thought is to stay stealthy, don’t move when they move. Stay a step ahead of them and be patient as they will come to you,” say’s Dale. “Be strategic when picking your locations and plan for the entire day of fishing. I may start my day in 10′-15′ foot of water in the morning, but I like to have deeper water (30′) close by. I’m staying mobile, but it will only take me a few minutes to get back to my other spots for when the conditions are right.” stated Dale. Ice fishing is rapidly growing due to the relatively low cost of entry and the ability to involve the entire family for a great day spent outdoors this winter. Frabill has you and your family covered from head to toe with all the gear needed, such as safety, fishing rods and reels, bait management systems, and shelters needed to enjoy an amazing season on the ice.

To learn more about ice fishing, check out Frabill’s College of Ice Series on YouTube– College of Ice .

Captain Mack’ Lake Lanier Fishing Report

From Captain Mack Farr

Nice Lanier striper

Winter fishing has been good on Lanier, with typical patterns and the typical weather changes
associated with January. Many of the fish are very deep, and I do not think the big fronts have
had the expected negative effect on the bite as may be expected. So, if your only day to fish
falls behind a front, bundle up and go fishing!

Speaking of fronts, another nice one arriving just
in time for the weekend, right? Oh well, take heart, spring will be here before you know it.

water level as of Friday was 1070.20, .80 feet below full pool and down .30 feet from last week.
The surface temp is trending down, but still a couple of degrees above average Friday at 49

Striper Fishing

Striper fishing has been good and the patterns have been very consistent over the last few
weeks. The deep bite continues to produce well, although you find that some groups of fish are
getting very picky as opposed to past weeks. The intensity of the bite varies from day to day,
and even from different times of day, so if they seem lock jawed just keep fishing and the fish
will either start biting or you will find a school that is hungry.

The Primary pattern is to set up a bait spread over deep bait, 35 to 60 feet. Live Herring, Shad,
Trout and Shiners are all effective. Down lines are accounting for most of the bites, but there are
some fish responding to shallow baits so a pitch line in the spread is a plus. If you are moving,
say .5 to 1.5 mph with the live bait spread, as opposed to spot locked, keeping a Mini in the
spread is definitely a plus. Fish it like a down line, or behind a planer and it will often keep pace
with, or out fish the live bait.

The biggest question is how deep to fish the Mini? Here is a rough
guide line to address that issue. Drop the Mini to whatever depth you are marking fish. If you are
moving at .75 MPH, you will lose approximately 15 to 20% of the depth of the Mini. So if you
drop the Mini to 25 feet, it will be fishing about 20 to 21 feet down. Keep in mind that line size
will effect the depth. This same general rule will apply if you elect to put the Mini Behind a
planer, which is a very good technique as well. If you are pulling the Mini with the outboard, you
may want to use the lead core. The total weight of the rigged, bladed Mini Mack is just over 2
oz. so treat it like a 2 oz Chipmunk Jig (it runs about 4 feet of depth per color) and you will have
a good idea of how deep the rig is fishing.

Trolling the full size umbrella rigs is also a strong pattern, and can be a real plus if wind makes
bait fishing difficult. The depth is really across the board on the rigs, and you may need to drop
the rigs back as far as 150 to 160 feet, especially if you are trolling around the deep bait
schools. Target the bait concentrations, and flats or points adjacent to the creeks. Contour
trolling, over a 25 to 35 foot bottom will also produce some fish, this is mainly a singles pattern
but it is high saturation and if are diligent this can be a pretty strong pattern, Clip points, pull
over the humps or down a bank in one of the creeks. The buck tail or shad body rigs are both
producing on this technique.

Bass Fishing

This part of the report is really starting to sound like a broken record, but if you are on the fish I
guess that is a good! We still have several patterns that will produce, but the deep water
ditches, bluff banks, and timber lines are offering good numbers and consistency. What is deep
you ask? 35 to 50 seems to be a good place to look for fish, and while they may be adhering to
structure, if the bait is there the bite present the bite will probably be better. Like the Stripers the
Bass can be picky on some days, but overall the bite is good.

Downsizing tackle and bait size
can be a real plus if the fish are stubborn.
If you are fishing ledges/ditches, remember that you may not see fish until you drop the baits, if
they are really tight to the ledge they may be difficult to see. The activity of the baits will get
them up and moving around. Worms and Jigs are probably the primary baits for this pattern, but
Blade baits and Spoons are also very relevant.

The “reel and kill” technique that I have
mentioned in past weeks is still a plus with the spoons and the blade baits and should be worth
a few extra bites.

Fish are still on the rocks, perhaps not as consistently as in past weeks but the pattern is still
viable. Crankbaits, jigs and worms will be good baits to try on the rocks, Sun may help this
pattern making it stronger in the afternoon. The docks are also producing well, target 20 to 30
foot docks with some will type of secondary structure underneath. Worms and jigs will be the
best producers on the docks!

Good Fishing!
Capt. Mack

Lake Guntersville Weekly Fishing Report from Captain Mike Gerry

Big Guntersville Bass caught with Captain Mike Gerry

Fishing Report, Lake Guntersville 1/16/21

The fishing is picking up, we are moving into longer days, the daylight is moving the fish
around and gathering them up in groups and when you get a bite there is generally a group of
fish in the same location.

Its no secret on Guntersville that its rattle trap time but there are
other baits that are also working.

As always is the case on Guntersville you have days when the floating grass is heavy and
making it exceedingly difficult to work a rattle bait. The options for me have been Picasso
Chatter baits, Tight-Line swim jigs or just slowly working a Tight-Line football jig off the edges
of the grass lines.

We spent most of the week in 7 to 9 ft. of water looking for groups of fish.

Come fish with me I have guides and days available to fish with you, we are booking for the
spring now, lets get together and get you ready for your spring fishing. Looking for a way to
fish a group of your business partners call me we do corporate trips and would love to take
your group out this spring. We fish with great sponsor products, Ranger Boats, Mercury
Motors, Duckett Fishing, SPRO Fishing, Vicious Fishing, Lews Fishing, T&H marine products,
Power Pole, Boat Logix mounts and more.

Fish Lake Guntersville Guide Service
Call: 256 759 2270
Capt. Mike Gerry

Learn Saltwater Fishing in Florida with Virtual Clinics

from The Fishing Wire

Want to learn how to saltwater fish in Florida? Join the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) for a series of free Virtual Saltwater Fishing Clinics for beginner anglers age 16 and older to learn how to saltwater fish and help conserve our marine resources for the future.

Discover the importance of fisheries conservation and stewardship through the fun and exciting sport of fishing! You’ll be taught basic fishing skills and knowledge that can be used, shared and built upon for a lifetime of catching Florida memories with those you love.

Fishing clinic sessions will prepare you for a day out on the water to enjoy the amazing variety of saltwater fishing opportunities Florida has to offer. Sessions will include topics on conservation, rods and reels, tackle, baits, rigs, knot tying, habitats, fish handling, best practices and additional resources.

Registration is required and must be completed two days prior to the session date. Participation is limited to 50 anglers per course; anglers who register after the 50-person limit has been reached will be put on a waiting list. Anglers must use Microsoft Teams to participate.

Ready to dive into a course on saltwater fishing? Virtual Saltwater Fishing Clinics are offered as a course that includes seven separate 1-hour sessions held every Tuesday evening from 6:30-7:30 p.m. ET for seven consecutive weeks. Anglers must be able to attend all seven sessions. Each course has the same content, so anglers only need to register for one course. Those who attend a course will receive a free starter tackle box.

Register for a Virtual Saltwater Fishing Clinic seven-week course:Jan. 19 (includes seven sessions)March 9 (includes seven sessions)April 27 (includes seven sessions)

Don’t have enough time to commit to a seven-week course? Participate in our Mini Virtual Saltwater Fishing Clinics instead and you’ll learn about saltwater fishing and conservation in a bite-size format to fit your busy schedule. These 90-minute virtual events will be held once a month on a Thursday evening from 6-7:30 p.m. ET. Each session has the same content, so anglers only need to register for one single session.

Register for a Mini Virtual Saltwater Fishing Clinic session:Jan. 28 (single session)Feb. 25 (single session)March 25 (single session)April 22 (single session)May 13 (single session)June 10 (single session)Can’t carve out time to participate in either format right now? Don’t worry, later this year we’ll post videos of these virtual clinics on our webpage so you can take the course sessions at a time and pace that works best for you.

Have questions? Visit and click “Virtual Saltwater Fishing Clinics” under Get Involved or contact to learn more.

Read more

Where and How To Catch January Lay Lake Bass, with Matt Herren – Includes GPS Coordinates


Its cold outside, the rut is making it a good time to go deer hunting and you might not be thinking much about fishing. But the big spotted bass at Lay Lake are on a very predictable pattern and you can catch some of the biggest spots of the year right now.

Lay Lake on the Coosa River east of Birmingham is known for its big spotted bass.  The Alabama Power Lake dammed in 1914 produces three and four pounds spots consistently and bigger fish are caught each year. There is also a good population of largemouth but in the winter the spotted bass fishing is more consistent.

Matt Herren grew up fishing Lay Lake and other Coosa River lakes in the area. His father took him fishing in ponds and on Lay Lake as a kid and they watched some tournament weigh-ins and got interested in tournament fishing.  They started fishing wildcat tournaments on Lay Lake in 1988.

From his success there he entered the Redman tournaments in 1989 and came in second in the points standings in the BAMA Division that first year.  By 2003 he was fishing the FLW Tour and now fishes the BASS Elite trail. 

Since turning pro, Matt has qualified for six BASSMaster Classics, including the 2016 tournament, and six FLW Championships.  This past year he tied for 10th place in the Angler of the Year point’s standings in BASS. In his career he has won over 1.2 million dollars in tournaments.

“In January the shad are moving up the river an into the creeks and the big spots are following them and feeding,” Matt said.  He prefers to go after quality spots up the river if possible rather than fishing further down the lake.  He said you can catch fish any day in January further down the lake but for the big ones he wants to fish up the river from the Locust Creek area to the Neely Henry Dam.

The day we went in early December the river was not fishable. We checked the Neely Henry Dam and all floodgates were open and all generators running. The river was three or four feet high and the current extremely strong.  When it is like that the fish hunker down and are very hard to catch since you can’t even control your boat very well. So we made lemonade, fishing from the Highway 280 Bridge downstream, and Matt caught some fish under very tough conditions.

No matter which way he goes Matt will have the same baits rigged.  His prime bait is a three eights to one half ounce Santone Lures Texas Finesse Jig tipped with a Reaction Innovations Petite Twerk or Smallie Beaver trailer. He goes with browns and greens if the water is clear or darker colors like black and blue if the water is stained.

A Santone three eights to one and one half ounce white or chartreuse and white spinnerbait is good for covering water faster, and he uses heavier baits the deeper he is fishing. A DT 6 or DT 10 crankbait in shad colors is also good for covering water and finding fish.

A Megabass 110 jerkbait and a Santone Piglet Shaky Head round out his arsenal of lures. The shaky head will have a Reactions Innovations Pocket Rocket worm on it.  With those lures fished on a Kistler Rod with the action for that lure, teamed with Gamma fluorocarbon line, covers all the types of cover and structure he wants to fish in January.

The following places give you a variety of kinds of spots to fish, no matter what the conditions. If the river is high and fast fish the first six and similar places downstream. If it is normal, with some current but not so fast you can’t fish effectively, fish upstream from the Highway 280 Bridge.

1.  N 33 17.626 – W 86 21.462 – We put in at Pop’s Landing in Tallaseehatchee Creek in Childersburg and started fishing at the mouth of it.  When the current is strong the fish will often hold in the mouths of sloughs and creeks like this and feed in the eddies there.  Start by casting a spinnerbait right to the rocks on the riprap bank on the downstream point since the fish will often be right on the bank. 

As you get out into the river work downstream on the same side and fish all the way to the Highway 280 Bridge.  If the current is strong point your boat upstream and let it drift downstream holding it as slow as you can with your trolling motor. Cast at an angle upstream, letting your bait work back to the boat with the current. Fish a crankbait and spinnerbait here, then follow up with a jig and pig.

Cast the jig right to the bank and use a heavy enough jig to keep it on the bottom in the current. If the water is high try to get your bait down to the rocks along the edge of the normal full pool channel. Bass will often hunker down behind those rocks and feed on baitfish and crawfish washed to them.

When you get to the bridges work the eddies behind the pilings on both the railroad and highway bridge. Matt got a keeper spot on his jig behind one of these pilings when we fished.

2. N 33 16.711 – W 86 23.289 – Running down the river the houses and docks stop and you will go a good ways down to the mouth of Bailey Creek opening on your left without seeing any docks.  There is a picnic pavilion on the point and a dock just inside the upstream point, with riprap around it.

Stop on the upstream side of the slough and work the point as you go downstream. Cast into the slough and work a spinnerbait, crankbait and jig and pig back out to the eddy of the current. Also fish the downstream point of the slough.

If the current is real strong you can position your boat inside the mouth of the slough and cast your bait out, working it into the eddies on both points like a baitfish coming from the river into the slough.

3.  N 33 16.353 – W 86 24.664 – Running down the river just before it starts a bend to the right you will see some big rocks on the bank on your left. This marks the start of a bluff outside bend of the river and is an excellent place to catch spots in January.

Start at the first visible rocks and fish downstream, keeping your boat in about 25 feet of water and casting to the edge of the water. Work your bait back out to about 15 feet deep.  A jig and pig and a shaky head worm are both good here.

You can fish a long way down this bank since it is a sweeping outside bend and the rocks run all along it. Rocks are the key this time of year, if they have baitfish on them. Watch your depthfinder and if you are not seeing balls of bait don’t spend a lot of time in the area.

It is good to fish your bait with the current no matter how fast the current is moving. Some current is good and will make the fish bite better, even if the water is very cold.  If the current is normal work upstream, casting ahead of the boat at an angle as you work into the current.

4.  N 33 16.976 – W 86 25.636 – Across the river and downstream Deer Lick Creek enters the river as it starts a big horseshoe bend to the left. This big creek has a house trailer on the downstream point well back from the river.  The upstream point of it has a defined underwater point coming off it and bass will feed on it in all current situations.

Stop upstream of the slough and fish the upstream point as you go past it. Then swing around into the slough and fish across it, casting your jig and pig and jig head worm out into the river and bringing it up and across the point.  There are some stumps on the point that hold fish so probe for them with your baits.

5.  N 33 14.547 – W 86 27.443 – Run on down the lake to the power plant on your right.  This coal fired steam plant discharges warm water into the river and that warmer water draws shad and bass to it in January.  Stop just upstream of the discharge and fish downstream.

Cast a spinnerbait or crankbait into the discharge and let the current carry it downstream as you fish it back. The river current and the discharge current will make eddies here that the bass hold in to feed so concentrate on them.

Also, fish a jig and pig or jighead in the discharge and downstream of it, too. The warmer water will say near the bank going downstream, making it better this time of year. 

6. N 33 13.382 – W 86 27.840 – Further down the river the channel splits into three parts with islands separating them. The main marked channel is to the left side going downstream.  Just upstream of the first marker where the channel goes to the left is a bluff bank. There is a house trailer sitting on top of the bluff upstream of the channel marker.

Stop out in front of this trailer and fish downstream, letting the current take your boat downstream backwards. Fish to the shallow gravel point where the bluff runs out and there is a small cove. 

Fish the bluff bank and the big rocks on it with a jig and pig and jig head worm.  Your boat should be in 25 feet of water a short cast off the bank. The current was almost too strong to fish here the day we went, even this far downstream, but Matt got a good keeper spot and we both missed fish in the current.

When you get to the shallow gravel point near the channel marker fish all over it with your jig and pig and jig head worm, too. Fish will run in on this point to feed.

7.  N 33 19.766 – W 86 21.839 – The following places are all upstream of the Highway 280 Bridge and you can fish them for big spots as long as the floodgates are not open. One or two generators running produce enough current to improve the fishing but more than that makes it tough.

Go to the water intake tower on the right going upstream. It is just downstream of the golf course.  This big structure breaks the current and bass will stack up on the downstream side of it as well as in front where pipes or indentions create an eddy.

Keep your boat downstream and cast a spinnerbait and crankbait up past the building and let them come back with the current. If you can hold your boat on the downstream side just downstream of the structure cast a spinnerbait to the wall and let if flutter down it. Also fish your jig head worm and jig and pig down the walls in the eddies.

8.  N 33 20.157 – W 86 22.112 – Across the river and a little upstream is the mouth of Locust Creek. If the current is very strong you can fish it like the ones downstream but if the current is right start at it and work upstream.

Matt likes to slowly work up the river bank, casting at an angle ahead of the boat, all the way to the powerlines. He will work a crankbait or spinnerbait from the edge of the water back to the boat. If the fish are holding deeper along the bank he will go to a heavier spinnerbait to get down to them. He will also work a heavier jig and pig or jig head worm to keep it on the bottom deeper.

9.  N 33 22.176 – W 86 20.567 – Something different that is always good in the winter, no matter what the conditions, is the back end of Flipper Creek where there is a big spring.  The spring keeps the water a steady temperature, must warmer than the river water in the winter, which draws shad and bass, and it will be clearer if the river muddies up.

Go in the mouth of Flipper Creek and to the very back of it. You will be right beside the road and railroad that are in the back end of it just up the bank.  Fish all the way around the area in the back, working all your baits around the wood cover here. Also cast right down the middle of the area to cover the bottom there.

10.  The following spots are between the upstream railroad bridge and the Logan Martin Dam. Most of them are very similar and they are easy to find.  The first is the railroad bridge itself. Matt says to fish all the pilings on it with spinnerbait, crankbait and jigs.  Work the eddies caused by these pilings, just like at the downstream railroad bridge and the Highway 280 bridge.

Rateliffes Island is a big island that splits the river upstream of the railroad bridge. Just upstream of it is the mouth of Kelly Creek on your left and you can fish the mouth of it like the other creek mouths if the current is strong.  If the current will let you, Matt says fish the banks on either side of it for a half mile both ways. Work up the current casting ahead of the boat and fishing all your baits back with the current.

Just across from Kelly Creek and a little upstream the right bank going upstream is an outside bend of the river Matt says fish it for a mile going upstream, as long as the rocks hold up on the outside bend.  This is a typical bank that drops off fast and has rocks that you need to fish. Baitfish in the area makes it much better.

A little further upstream there is a small island not far off left the bank.  Fish the banks on both sides of it and behind it, too.  As in all places, look for current breaks to hold fish.

Matt warns that you should always wear your life jacket when up the river. The current is dangerous and the cold water can make you lose control of your muscles fast. Don’t take chances.

You can catch some quality spots right now on Lay Lake. Follow Matt’s suggestions for baits to use and kinds of places to fish and you will soon forget it is winter.

Matt does not guide but he is setting up an on the water electronics school. He will show you how to set up your Hummingbird electronics like his boat is equipped and show you how to use them to find fish. He can do the same for Lowrance units. You can contact him through his Facebook page at

Captain Mack’s Lake Hartwell Fishing Report

Lake Hartwell Fishing Report

Jan 13, 2021

Thanks to Johnny, Derek and the crew at Lake Hartwell Fishing
and Marine for contributing to this report!

Striper fishing has been pretty good, for those who bundled up and braved the elements. The patterns are
basically the same as last week, with live baits, umbrellas and spoons all being good producers. The fish are
scattered out all over the lake, so pick your confidence area and start searching. Finding the deep bait will
probably get you around the fish, and Herring, Shiners, Shad and Trout are all effective baits. On those
medium Shiners, be sure and match the hook size to match the bait, a #6 works will probably be a good choice.

The umbrella bite has been very good, pull the rigs around the deep bait schools, over points adjacent to a
creek or river channel. or over 25-foot humps. Start the rigs out at 2015 to feet deep, adjust if needed based on
what the sonar shows. the full-size Capt. Macks rigs, either with Shad bodies or bucktail have been
effective , with the Shad body rigs being slightly more effective for the Hybrid Bass. Mini Macks are also
producing well, either on the stealth troll on trolled on lead core line at 2.5 mph.

The Bass bite is good, and the ditch bite is possibly the best overall pattern. 25 to 45 foot ditches and offshore
roadbeds are very productive, and finding the ditches with the bait will offer a pretty sure bet to hook up. There
are several baits that will produce on this pattern, heavy football jigs with your favorite twin tail trailer has
been consistently producing, along with the jigs. Shakey heads paired with a Roboworm are also very
effective, any of the morning dawn patterns will get the bite, or if you have a little sunlight to work with the
Chartreuse Magic is a great color choice.

Spoons remain a primary bait, the Berry .60 oz in the GLS pattern
will be the cloudy weather bait, silver flag should be the go when the sun is up.
While the deep ditches are very stable and offer great numbers, there are also some very nice fish being taken
on shallow rocks and depth changes. Crank baits that dive to 6 to 8 feet, Worms on the shakey, and jigs are all
likely choices for this technique. The sun and the wind will probably enhance this pattern, and the afternoon
hours may be the most productive!

Good Fishing!

Capt Mack

Where and How to Catch March Lake Seminole Bass, with GPS Coordinates

March 2018 Seminole Bass

with Jason Smith

        Bass in most of our lakes are moving near spawning areas, but Lake Seminole is so far south that some have already spawned, some are spawning and some are just off bedding areas ready to move in and fan beds.  You can catch them on sandy flats, in pockets and on sandbars on the main lake right now.

    Seminole is a big, shallow lake in the corner of Georgia, Alabama and Florida.  Everywhere you look makes you think you can catch a bass there. Grass and stumps are all over the lake, with lily pads and cattails lining the banks and shallows.  But if you don’t know key areas you can do a lot of casting without a bite.

    For the past year or so bass fishing has been fantastic on Seminole, with many tournaments won with 30 pound plus stringers.  If you fish a local pot tournament against fishermen that know the lake well you better have more than 20 pounds to even hope for a check.  Five and six pounders are common, and it usually takes a seven plus to win the big fish pot.

    Jason Smith lives in Albany, Georgia and has fished Seminole all his life. His mentor, Jackie Hambrick, was a well known Lake Seminole expert.  Fishing with the Albany Bassin Buddies taught him a lot about the keys to catching bass.

    Jason loves fishing so much he started Buddha Baits, selling jigs, spinnerbaits, bladed jigs, soft baits, line and rods and reels to fishermen.  He keeps in touch with local experts and this helps catch big fish when he goes to the lake.

    In a Seminole Winter Trail tournament in mid-January, Jason had 24 pound stringer and did not get a check.  That tournament shows the kind of fish being caught this year on Seminole. 

    “I love Seminole because you can catch so many quality fish,” Jason said.  March is the best month to find the sows in the spawning areas many years, and our cold winter has stacked them up even more this year, delaying the early spawners that sometimes go on the bed on Seminole as early as January.

    Jason will have as variety of his baits rigged on his rods for March fishing.  Since most of the fish will be located around grass or other weed cover, he throws most of them Buddha Braid since you need braid to get big fish out of the weeds. 

    He will have a rattle bait, a Texas rigged lizard or Senko, Swagger Swim worm, an Enlightened Swim Jig, a Carolina rigged lizard or Trick worm, a bladed Swagger Jig and an Inseine Jig and pig all ready to cast. For thick hyacinth beds he will be ready to flip them with a Baby Mama with a 1.5 ounce sinker.

    We fished Seminole the last day of January after a cold front, with bluebird skies and little wind, some of the worst possible weather.  Even under those bad weather conditions we had a decent limit with a 5.5 pounder to anchor it.  The fish were not really in the bedding areas yet but just off them, ready to move in so you can catch them.

    1.  N 30 47.304 – W 84 48.447 – Going up Spring Creek the Grassy Flats cut, marked by poles going off the Spring Creek Channel to the left going upstream, is just downstream of the Big Jim’s Cut.  Where the Grassy Flats cut hits the creek channel on the left, on your right an island is just off the creek channel. A ditch runs in behind the island and forms a good staging area going into the spawning flat behind the island, the ideal area for this time of year.

    Idle in to the point through the standing timber and start by working it with a Carolina rig and jig and pig out near the channel and ditch junction. There are stumps and grass on it.  Start out deep and work up the ditch to the shallow spawning flat.

    There is a grass edge around the point and on the ditch side. Keep your boat off it and fish a bladed jig through the grass.  Work fairly fast until you get a bite then slow down and make multiple casts with your bladed jig and follow up with a Carolina rig.

    As bass move back they follow the grass edge and feed, then  move into the shallow water behind it to spawn.  Keep a watch for beds behind the grass as you fish. There will usually be several grouped together with empty space between them.  When you spot a bed fish it with a paddle tail Baby Mama, swimming it up to the bed and letting it fall into the bed.

    2.  N 30 44.878 – W 84 50.604 – Out on the Flint River, on the south bank before the turn toward the dam, River Junction ramp is on your right going upstream.  Bass hold out on the grass line in six to eight feet of water then move to the bank in the shallow bay to spawn.

    Start by fishing the outside grass line, especially if the water is still cold.  We caught a couple of keepers out here. Then go back in behind the grass and work the bedding area. Keep your boat in about five feet of water and fan cast a swim worm behind a one quarter to five sixteenths ounce sinker.

    Also drag a Carolina rigged lizard through the shallows, searching for bedding fish. The water is often too stained on the Flint to see the beds, so probe for them with a lizard.  Since beds are usually grouped together, make multiple casts to any area you catch a fish.

    3.  N 30 45.087 – W 84 50.005 – Going up the Flint upstream of the River Junction Ramp another bay swings back, providing a more protected spawning area.  Fish it the same way as hole #2.  You will see cattails on the bank and lily pad steams in the water. Watch for them everywhere you fish since they grow on sandy bottoms where bass spawn.

    For covering water more quickly until you hit a group of bass a bladed jig works well. Jason rigs his black and blue or green pumpkin Swagger Jig with a matching three or four-inch swimbait and fishes it through the grass.  A paddle tail worm also allows you to cover water more quickly to find the key spots.
   4.  N 30 46.014 – W 84 50.517 – The big flats between Spring Creek and the Flint are huge spawning areas.  Straight across from Sealy Point in Spring Creek, a small group islands is just off deeper water that goes in on the flat and is a highway for the bass moving in.   

    The downstream island in this group is a cluster of cypress trees and is closest to the deeper water. Go in to the downstream side of the island and fan cast the whole area, keeping your boat in four or five feet of water and casting all around.  Drag a Carolina rigged lizard or fish a little faster with a bladed jig, working the whole area. 

    Always watch for beds in areas like this.  If you see a lighter spot on the bottom, look at it closely.  There are light spots on the bottom that are not beds but the active beds will be brighter, and there will often be several close together.  When you see them slow down and fish a paddle tail worm all around them and in them. The water is clearer here from Spring Creek and you can usually see them.

    5.  N 30 46.181 – W 84 50.056 – Go around the island in Hole #4 and another smaller island is on the Spring Creek side a little upstream.  It is more shallow around it and you can see clumps of cat tails, pad stems and grass all around it.  Sunny warmer days warm this water quickly and move bass into the area early

    Start on the downstream end of the smaller island and fish on the side away from Spring Creek, working upstream behind it.  The flats all around it have sandbars for the bass to spawn and there are often a lot of beds in the area.   Fish from the bank of the island all the way out to deeper water.  Just remember deeper water here is only three feet deep or so.

    6.  N 30 44.748 – W 84 52.621 – On the Chattahoochee River side of the point between it and the Flint, a group of poles in a circle way off the last island on the point mark the Indian Mounds.  On the Chattahoochee River side of the island, across from the Indian Mounds, a shallow bay forms a good spawning area.

    There are scattered stumps as well as grass in this bay and bass spawn all over it.  Keep your boat in four or five feet of water and fish the water three or four feet deep, fan casting all over the flat.  You may not be able to see the beds in the more stained river water, but they will be here, and grouped together like in other places.

    Fish from near the downstream point of the island up the Chattahoochee River side.  Watch for lily pad stems marking sandy areas. A bladed jig comes through them well and is a good choice for a search bait.  A Carolina rig is good for slowing down and working an area.

7.  N 30 45.542 – W 84 47.298 – Up the Flint River on the right bank going upstream, a wide bay swings in away from the channel markers.  On the upstream end of the bay a wood dock with no top sits out on the downstream side of the point. Downstream of the dock slightly deeper water is closer to the bank.

    Start about 200 yards down the bank from the dock and fish toward it, casting to the bank and the scattered grass.  Sometimes a red rattle bait will attract bites in areas like this when other baits are ignored. A swim jig like Jason’s Enlightened jig or Inseine Jig will also attract bites from more active fish, especially if they are feeding on bluegill.

    Work the rattlebait fast, jerking it from grass when you hit it. With the swim jig keep it near the surface and work it with twitches as you reel it along. Jason likes bluegill or green pumpkin in clearer water and black and blue in stained water and puts a matching swim bait on his jig.

    8.  30 45,.759 – W 84 46.104 – a little further up the river the channel makes a hard swing from the right bank to the left.  In the flat bay just downstream of the last channel marker before the turn a depression runs back to the bank, offering a good path for bass to follow.  It goes in between two groups of two docks.  There is one silver roof dock and one green roof dock on each side.

    Follow this depression in from deeper water, fan casting to both sides of it and down the middle of it. The water is ten to 12 feet deep not far off the bank where it goes in.  This is a good area for rattle baits and bladed jigs. When you get to the bank fish it and down both sides to the docks. A paddle tail swim worm like Jason’s new Swagger Swim Worm in tilapia or black and blue is good, depending on water color.  Keep the worm moving near the bottom, making the flapping tail wiggle to get bites. Jason will often dip the tail of his plastics in chartreuse JJs Magic for added attraction.

    9.  N 30 46.215 – W 84 46.989 – Across the river channel Fort Scott Islands are a Waterfowl Management Area.  A small island sits just off the bank where the channel comes across and hits the north bank.  Just downstream of this island is a big flat just off a slough that goes back and is a good bedding area, full of lily pad steams and cattails.

    Keep your boat off the bank in water about 20 feet deep. This is a good place to cast your jig and pig, Texas rigged worm or Carolina rig up onto the sand bar that runs along the bank and has grass on it.  Keep your bait in contact with the bottom as it comes out of the grass and follow the bottom down the drop.
Bass will often stack up just outside the grass and move into it to feed.

    10.  N 30 46.334 – W 84 48.949 – Going down the bank the “Fire Break” goes in just downstream of the island with the waterfowl management area signs out in the water.  Follow the slightly deeper water in behind the island, keeping the signs to your right. 

    Bass spawn all back in here in the shallow sandy flats.  Watch for keys like lily pad stems and cattails and fan cast the whole area.  Try a variety of baits and speeds to find fish then slow down and fish that area.

    All these places hold bedding bass right now, and others post and pre-spawn. Try them with Jason’s baits to catch quality bass all month long.

Do you find these Map of the Month articles helpful?  If so visit – you can get an eBook or CD with an article for each month of the year on Clarks Hill and Lanier.

Angling–A Safe Haven During the Pandemic

from The Fishing Wire
Randy Zellers

LITTLE ROCK — In the face of a global pandemic, Arkansans rediscovered their bond with nature and enjoyed angling more than they have in the last few years. Thanks to a recently completed study by Louisiana State University, scientists may have a few more answers into how to keep the momentum going.

The study, led by Stephen Midway, Ph.D. at LSU’s College of the Coast and Environment, evaluated the effect of the pandemic on fishing license holders.

Jessica Feltz, a human dimensions biologist who works for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Fisheries Division, coordinated the Arkansas portion of the survey, gathering contact information for Arkansas anglers who purchased a license between March and May of this year.

“That was the period the research is focused on, because it was during that initial COVID response when schools and businesses closed or went to virtual options,” Feltz said.

“That was when we noticed much more activity on lakes and rivers in Arkansas, but this research is important to verify what we saw.”Nearly 1,600 participants who were randomly selected from the AGFC’s fishing license database completed surveys.“

Dr. Midway set a goal of 1,000 survey responses for each state, so we do feel confident in our results,” Feltz said.Not only did more anglers purchase licenses, but those who historically purchased fishing licenses went more often. A review of license sales indicates an increase of 19.6 percent in purchases from March to May 2020 as compared to the same period in 2019, and survey responses show that 32 percent of anglers said they fished more than they would in a typical year. The average number of fishing trips taken during the initial COVID-19 response was 10.9 trips per angler.

This time period also falls during one of the peaks of fishing activity in Arkansas.

While many states saw massive shutdowns of boating accesses, boat ramps in The Natural State remained largely open. The only boating access points closed during the initial COVID-19 response were those on the Buffalo National River and any smaller ramps that were part of a local park that had been closed in response to the virus. Army Corps of Engineers boat ramps remained open as well as state park ramps and AGFC-owned ramps. Campgrounds in many areas were closed, which may have curtailed some plans for extended fishing trips. Three-quarters of respondents said they saw no change in their ability to go fishing as a result of any access closures, but some did indicate the initial closure of some public parks, campgrounds and boat ramps as an obstacle they needed to overcome during their fishing excursions.

The increase in fishing activity may have been the result of the perception that fishing, by and large, presents a low-risk to catching the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

“This perception was confirmed by the survey, which indicated that 98 percent of the respondents said they felt fishing was at least a somewhat safe activity during the pandemic,” Feltz said. “It’s nice to know people felt fishing was something they could still enjoy during this time.”Feltz says it’s too early to tell if the same increase will occur in hunting this fall, but she says the information gained through the survey will help the agency plan outreach and goals for next year.

“We are just moving forward with discussions on how we can retain these new anglers and anglers who have rediscovered fishing,” Feltz said.

“In addition to notices and reminders on how to renew their license, we are hoping to encourage them to expand their outdoor experiences. Maybe take up trout fishing or travel to a new fishing destination in Arkansas for a fresh adventure. We historically have spent a lot of effort getting people to make that first step to becoming lifelong anglers, now we need to switch gears to keep them on that path.”

Randy Zellers Assistant Chief of Communications, Arkansas GFD

Fishing and Birds

 The laughing, haunting sound of a loon floating across the water at dusk was a sound I read about but did not think I would ever hear.  Then, years ago at Christmas, I heard something I had never heard before while fishing at Clarks Hill and guessed it was a loon.

    I tracked the sound down to a gray and black bird swimming low in the water. I watched as it dived, looking for dinner.  I could not believe how long it could stay down and how far it would go on one dive.

    Loons are common on area lakes in the winter now. As their populations increased, they migrated farther south looking for ice free water where they could feed. I still love hearing them while fishing, and often use them to locate schools of baitfish and bass.

    Gulls and terns are also common on our lakes in the winter and can help find schools of fish.  I have caught many bass, stripers and hybrids by running to an area where gulls and terns were diving from the air, feeding on injured herring and shad from fish feeding under the water.

    Gulls and terns come to our lakes to escape rough weather on the coast.  There are many more of them during the winter.  Gulls are bigger and watching them is more consistent for finding fish since they usually don’t soar along watching for bait near the surface like terns will do. 

    I call terns “Judas terns” since following them is often frustrating.  Unless they circle and concentrate on one spot, you can follow them a long way without finding any fish.  But a circling group of either of the white and gray terns and gulls is a good sign to go fish there.

    A few years ago in a January tournament at Oconee I saw a couple of big white birds diving to the water surface. I was surprised and had to get closer to confirm they were pelicans.  I had never seen those birds on a lake. I guess they came inland to escape a storm. I have seen many pelicans, from one up close on a dock at Islamorada, Florida to watching them dive on schools of baitfish in the Sea of Cortez. 

    Travel has exposed me to many birds this country Georgia boy never expected to see.  I have pictures of me squatting on the ice in Antarctica with penguins waddling by close enough to touch and have watched wild parrots in trees along the Amazon River in the rain forest. Watching an albatross soar behind a ship without flapping its wings for many minutes is amazing.

    But local birds are my favorites.  One year while driving home from Jekyll Island I saw a bird soaring over the surrounding pines that made me stop and pull to the side of the road. I watched it for several minutes, trying to figure out what it was. 

I got out my bird book and found out it was a scissor tail swallow.  Its long, forked tail feathers were very distinctive.  They are native to the Southeast but rare. Their contrasting black and white markings on the bird makes them stand out, and they are a little bigger than a crow. They soar low over trees looking for food in the branches.

Canada geese don’t really migrate through Georgia and I had never seen wild ones here until the Georgia DNR started a stocking program.  They brought in adult Canadas and clipped their wings so they could not fly. 
Some big wire enclosures were built on coves on Clarks Hill and they were kept there.

As they raised young and increased in numbers, they were allowed to leave the pens.  Nests were built on stilts to protect eggs from predators and numbers increased a lot.    Since the young had not been taught to migrate, they stayed here year-round.

One night sitting on my deck at Clarks Hill on a moonlit night I heard the haunting honking of geese as they flew by.  It gave me chill bumps since I associated that sound with northern wilderness areas.  I had heard domestic geese honk but this was very different, hearing it out on the lake at night.

Geese have become so common now it is unusual when you don’t hear and see them. I now call them “pigs with wings” since their droppings leave a mess where they feed and I have seen some docks where they roost at night so covered with droppings you could not step on it without stepping in it.

Kildeers fascinated me when I was growing up.  They were common in our big field but I could never get close enough to them to get a good look at them. Then one day I was able to sneak up on one and shoot it as it flew off the ground.

It was a beautiful bird with brown and white markings with gold highlights.  I satisfied my curiosity and never tried to shoot another one.

Birds are amazing, especially when you learn amore about them.    I used to carry several bird identification guides with me everywhere I went, but not all that information is available with a few taps on your phone!

Tips to Catch More Trout This Winter

Dedicated fly-anglers don’t stop fishing in the winter. Instead they adjust their tactics to the colder conditions.

Popular trout rivers take on a different character in winter. The barren landscape reveals a different sort of beauty, the crowds diminish and the fishing becomes more challenging.

For some, it may be enough “to just be there.” But if your plans include actually catching a fish, here are seven tips that may help improve your chances.

1. Go small and light. Clear, slow water, smaller insects and wary fish call for smaller flies and lighter tippet than you might use the rest of the year.Downsize your flies. A dominate food source for trout in the winter are teeny, tiny midges that are best mimicked by teeny, tiny flies – like size 16 and smaller.Lighten your tippet. If you normally fish 4X, switch to 5X. This will let the smaller flies move more naturally, and avoid spooking fish hanging out in slower waters – where they have more time to scrutinize your fly.

2. Hope for dry fly action but plan to nymph. Winter fly-fishing is a nymphing show. Consider a double-nymph rig with a smaller midge pattern on top and a weighted stonefly below, to help keep your flies near the bottom of the river.

But also be prepared for the occasional hatch with a selection of Griffith’s gnats and small blue wing olives.

3. Look for trout in slower waters. Trout metabolism slows in the winter. They’re eating less and looking for ways to conserve energy, like getting out of the heavier currents into quieter waters.

Back eddies, off-channel areas, and the inside of current seams can all be places to look for winter trout.

4. Cover the water thoroughly. A fish won’t move far to take a fly (slower metabolism and all that), so you’ll want to put your fly right in front of its nose. Cover the water methodically to increase your changes of hitting a fish. 

5. Sleep in. There’s no need to hit the water at daylight when it comes to winter trout fishing. The best fishing will be during the warmest parts of the day – late morning to mid-afternoon. So follow your Mother’s advice and take time to eat a good breakfast before you go.

6. Follow these safety precautions:
Travel safely. Travel in the winter can by dicey so be prepared for bad weather and bad roads. Let someone know where you’re going and when you’ll be back. And remember to check in when you get home.
Consider using a wading staff. Snow and/or ice can make wading even trickier. And winter is not the time of year you want to be falling in the water.
Beware of hypothermia. If you do fall in the water, and it happens, you’ll need to get warm and dry as quickly as possible. Carry a change of dry clothes and hot beverages, or a way to make them.
7. Lower….er, adjust your expectations. Winter trout fishing is about being outside, enjoying the solitude and challenging your fishing skills. It’s not about catching a lot of trout. You’ve got just a few good hours to chase finicky fish – learn to appreciate one- or two-fish days for what they are. Plenty of time to catch loads of fish later in the year.

Some of your best bets for catching native redband trout this winter in Oregon include the lower Deschutes, Crooked, Metolius, Fall, Klamath, Blitzen and Owyhee rivers. For the latest fishing updates for these rivers, check out the weekly Recreation Report.

From Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife