Monthly Archives: April 2021

If Its Got Tires…

There is a saying that goes something like “if it has tires you will have trouble with it.”  That is especially true if you dunk the tires under water often. Boat trailer tires are notorious for causing problems.

    For many years maintenance was fairly simple. You checked and repacked your bearings every year and kept a watch on them during trips. Even with that care you could have problems.  Before he passed away, Jack “
Zero” Ridgeway took care of me and my boat trailer.  It is hard to find a good reliable place to work on boat trailer tires.

    One time when I was leaving for Lake Martin, a 125 mile trip each way, I noticed one of my tires wobbled a little. I stopped at Zero’s shop and he changed the bearings and got me on the way in a few minutes.

    Twice I have had to replace one of the axles on my EZLoader Skeeter Trailers.  One time I hit a curb trying to get out on a busy highway and bent the spindle on one tire.  I was wearing out a tire every 400 miles on that spindle, so it was very cost effective to replace it.

    Another time I was backing in at Lake Lanier and someone hollered at me that I was losing a tire. I got out and one tire was at an angle.  It fell off with a little tug. I had to get a flatbed wrecker to bring my boat home to Zero to fix. Somehow that tire hung on all the way up the 5 different interstate highways at 70 plus MPH and waited until I was on the ramp to fall off!

    My newer trailer has oil bath bearings, not the old kind you kept grease in. These hold oil and are supposed to be long lasting.  I never noticed a problem with that tire before it fell off, but it was bad enough to ruin that spindle.

    Last week I noticed one of my tires and rims had oil all over it, not a good sign.  I really did not know what to do, just that something had to be done. Luckily, I was referred to Mike’s Trailer Hitches and Accessories at 3418 North Expressway.  I took my boat to him and he checked, the cap was leaking a little and he filled it back up with oil and ordered me a new cap.

Service was friendly and helpful and its nice finding someone to work on wheel bearings on boat trailers.  I hope I don’t go there much, but when I need work done I know where to go!

Drum Up Some Spring Angling Excitement

By Chuck Long
 Arkansas GFC Northeast Regional Educator
from The Fishing Wire

Many spring anglers turn their thoughts to a wonderful silver-hued fish, the crappie. Another silver fish readily available to anglers throughout The Natural State and much of the South also provides a great angling opportunity, but freshwater drum are often overlooked by anglers, despite their hard fight, potential to reach large sizes and fine table quality.

Drum are found throughout Arkansas and other states in most flowing waters and larger lakes. They primarily feed on the bottom, looking for crayfish, macroinvertebrates and small fish. They are not very selective feeders, which makes them an ideal target for anglers.

Any rod and reel can be effective for drum fishing. A basic spincasting rig will handle most drum, while a spinning rod or baitcasting setup can also be very effective. Monofilament line in the 15- to 20-pound range will be effective, but a better choice might be braided line in the 20- to 30-pound range. Drum are often found in deeper water with current and the thinner diameter of the braid lessens drag of the current while waiting on a bite.

Terminal tackle for drum fishing is simple. Begin the rigging with an egg sinker about ½-ounce or larger, depending on the current flow. Slide the main line through the egg sinker and then tie on a barrel swivel, which will allow the sinker to slide freely up and down the main line. Attach a monofilament leader of about 12 inches to the swivel and tie on a hook. Drum have a relatively small mouth so a small hook is typically better. Baitholder-style hooks in the no. 2 or 4 size are very effective. Drum are very prone to light bites and swallowing the bait so a circle hook can also be a great tool. Circle hooks in a light wire no. 1 with a wide bend are very effective. When using a circle hook, there is no need for a sharp hook set, just tighten up the slack and pressure will allow the circle hook to penetrate into the corner of the fish’s mouth.

Drum can be caught on a variety of baits, but there have probably been more caught on worms than any other. Crawdad tails and pieces of cooked shrimp can also be very effective. Drum often are incidental catches by bass or crappie anglers, as they also will strike artificial baits like small grubs, swimbaits and jigs that are fished near the bottom.

As with most fish, being able to read the water is critical to catch drum. Current breaks, eddies, dropoffs and structure will hold drum. Anchor above a likely area, cast out several rods to cover multiple depths, sit back and wait for the bite. Drum are great for bank anglers as they are very accessible from shore. Read the water, set out a few rods and get ready for a tug on the line. Drum will provide a great fight for any angler and are especially good for young anglers because they can provide lots of action. They often travel in schools, so once a fish is caught concentrate on that area.

Drum are often seen as subpar for the table but this is far from the truth. When caught out of cool water, they are excellent additions to a meal. Ice the fish as soon as possible and fillet them just as you would bass or crappie. There are no intermuscular bones, and the meat is firm. With a little trimming of the dark red meat just under the skin, drum can be prepared in a variety of ways. Drum fillets are good for the traditional fish fry with a covering of seasoned cornmeal and immersion in oil at 350 degrees for about six minutes. Like their saltwater cousins, the redfish, they are also excellent with a blackened recipe. The texture and consistency also lends itself to a unique recipe, poor man’s lobster. There are many variations to this recipe, but the basics are to cube the fillets into bite-sized pieces, boil for 5 to 7 minutes in crab boil seasoning and serve with a butter-based dipping sauce. It makes for a great appetizer or main meal.

Chuck Long is a regional educator based at the AGFC’s Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center. He has taught hunting, fishing and enjoyment of Arkansas’s outdoors for 30 years.



Remember to Clean, Drain and Dry Vessels Used in Other States

SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. (April 20, 2021) – With zebra mussels found on a boat in the Lake Lanier area, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources is urging boat owners to CLEAN, DRAIN and DRY their boats, and be aware of the potential for transferring these invasive mussels from waters in other states.

Owners of a boat taken to Lanier after being used on the Tennessee River near Chattanooga, Tenn., recently spotted zebra mussels on the boat and called DNR.

Staff from the agency’s Wildlife Resources Division removed about 1 gallon of dead mussels from the boat and worked with the owners to ensure the vessel was drained, properly cleaned and thoroughly dried. DNR commended the owners for recognizing the issue and taking the necessary steps to report it.

Zebra mussels, a species native to eastern Europe that has spread to many U.S. waters, including the Tennessee River, pose a significant risk to Georgia. If established here they could spur major ecological and economic damage. Zebra mussels and other aquatic invasive species can cause millions of dollars in damage to boats and water intake pipes, while undermining native mussels and other aquatic species. 

There is no known established population in Georgia. However, in March zebra mussels were found in Georgia pet stores attached to moss ball plants being sold for aquariums.

For more information on these aquatic invaders and how to report them, as well as how to properly CLEAN, DRAIN and DRY vessels, visit

St Croix Victory Rods and the Koza Family

St. Croix Voices of Victory: Lee Rose and Carter Koza

PARK FALLS, Wisc. – Carter Koza is senior at Mount Paran Christian School in Kennesaw, Georgia. His sister, Lee Rose Koza, is a sophomore at Carson-Newman University in Knoxville, Tennessee. Both siblings have fished competitively for the past several years, and credit their father, Jamie, for their love of fishing and drive to compete.

“My dad fished tournaments ever since he was a little kid, so he got us involved early,” says Carter, adding that their dad also runs a tackle shop. “We were surrounded by fishing all the time. We’d go to school, then to the shop, and the rest of the time we were fishing,” adds Lee Rose, who admits that her decision to fish competitively did not come without challenges.


“I really had to get over my fears of jumping into the sport. Carter was already fishing and having success on our high school team, but I didn’t join until my junior year,” Lee Rose says. “It took a lot for me to make that leap of being one of the only girls in high school bass angling in the State of Georgia. But I’m proud and grateful that I did. Putting myself in that boat and fishing in a male-dominated sport turned out to be a great decision and I consider that my first personal fishing victory. My second was when Carter and I fished together and won Angler of the Year in 2019 – our last year fishing together as a team. When we got handed that Angler of the Year trophy for the whole entire State of Georgia, that moment was victorious; it was indescribable.”

Carter agrees, and dives deeper into what it takes to earn consistent success as a tournament angler. “We fish all over the place. Showing up to a new lake at a certain time of year, you’ve got to figure it out. It’s like a puzzle,” he says. “Being able to not only catch fish, but also have a good finish and cash a check in any tournament… that’s victory.”

Carter and Lee Rose have been partners with St. Croix for almost five years now. “Being able to work with a company that stands behind me, not only providing support but treating me like I’m a member of the family is another great victory,” says Carter. “My tournament career is still relatively young, but I know and appreciate how special St. Croix is as a company and am truly grateful to be a part of their team.”

Both Lee Rose and Carter were among the St, Croix pros who had early access to the new Victory Series rods for beta testing and input. “I’m really excited to see where this series goes,” Lee Rose says. “Being college and high school anglers, we are definitely on a budget. We can’t go spend $500 for a single rod, and a lot of other anglers can’t either. Seeing these American-made technique-specific high-performance rods being offered at such an affordable price with a 15-year warranty is a really big deal. For the weekend angler or someone striving to fish the Bassmaster Classic, these rods are attainable for almost anyone and will definitely help give anglers the upper hand on the water.”

St. Croix’s all-new made-in-the-USA Victory Series rods were conceived and designed to deliver bass anglers more victories on the water – no matter how they’re defined. Featuring technique-specific lengths, powers and actions that yield lightweight performance with extreme sensitivity, durability and balance via an all-new SCIII+ material, eight new Victory rods are available right now at select St. Croix dealers and online retailer. Angler-friendly retail prices for these new, American-crafted Victory rods range from $180 to $200.
#stcroixrods #stcroixvoiceofvictoryLike the rods? You’ll love our lifestyle apparel.

Leave Young Wildlife Alone


SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. (April 5, 2021) – In the spring, it is not unusual to see young wildlife that appear to be alone. Before you attempt to help – remember that it is best to leave wildlife where you find them, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division (WRD).

“When you take wildlife out of their environment and bring them into your home, it often takes away that animal’s ability to then survive in the wild, where they belong,” explains Kaitlin Goode, program manager of the Georgia WRD Urban Wildlife Program.  “In most instances, there is an adult animal a short distance away – even though you may not be able to see it.  Adult animals, such as deer, spend most of the day away from their young to reduce the risk of a predator finding the young animal.”

The best thing people can do when they see a young animal is to leave it exactly as they found it for at least 24 hours. If the animal is still there after this time period, reach out to the local WRD office for guidance (

Young wildlife demand a great deal of care and have specific nutritional requirements. If they are not cared for properly, they will not be releasable or retain the ability to survive on their own. Persons not licensed and trained in wildlife rehabilitation should not attempt to care for wildlife.  In fact, Georgia law prohibits the possession of most wildlife without a permit.

For more information, visit and click on “Living With Wildlife” or contact the local Wildlife Resources Division office (

Fishing the Potato Creek Bassmasters Club Classic at Lake Wedowee

Last Saturday 16 members of the Potato Creek Bassmasters fished our club classic at Lake Wedowee.  To qualify for the classic, a member must either finish in the top 8 in point standings for the previous year or fish at least eight tournaments of the 12 the club holds.

After nine hours and 15 minutes of casting, we brought 64 keeper fish weighing about 98 pounds to the scales.  Catching keepers at Wedowee is complicated.  All largemouth from 13 to 16 inches long must be released immediately so can not be weighed in.  Spots over 12 inches long are legal.  We had two illegal largemouth brough to the scales.  They were thrown out and a three-pound penalty assessed for each illegal fish.  That hurts!

 There were ten five-fish limits weighed in and two people did not have a limit.  Most folks had a mixture of spots and largemouth in their catch. All fish weighed in were released alive, as required in club rules. Fish not released alive draw a penalty, too, so it pays to take care of your fish.

Mitch Cardell had a great catch of five bass weighing 13.22 pounds for first and a 5.66 pound largemouth for big fish.  Drew Naramore came in second with five weighing 9.67 pounds, Raymond English was third with five at 9.46 pounds, Donnie Willis placed fourth with five weighing 9.33 pounds and Evan Skipper was fifth with five at 8.96 pounds.

I went over on Wednesday and camped at Gold Mine Camp about 15 minutes from the lake.  Gold Mine Camp is an interesting place, you can actually pan for gold and gems there.  The campsites are rustic but there is a bathroom and shower available, a requirement for me.  The lake was off limits for us until Thursday.

I had probably the most frustrating three days fishing in my life.  Thursday I thought I had found a pattern and caught some nice largemouth and spots, but Friday I got only one bite all day.

In the tournament I did not get a bite until 11:00, then caught five small spotted bass weighing just over 5 pounds in the next two hours.  After that I did not get another bite.

I guess I should be thankful. The tornado that did so much damage in Newnan started just a few miles from where I was camped in my slide in pick up camper!

Learning Drop Shot Secrets with James “LJ” Harmon

Nine years ago I met James “LJ” Harmon at Lake Lanier to do a “Map of the Month” article.  Since then I have kept up with him and his fishing at Lanier.  The “LJ” in his name is for “Lanier Jim,” his nickname around the lake.  He lives on the lake in a house back in a cove not far from Browns Bridge.

When I got in his boat for that trip, I was surprised to see he had only two rods out, and both had drop shot rigs on them.  I found out that day how good he is with that rig and his Humminbird electronics.  We caught many big spotted bass that day out of a few of the 1100 brush piles he had marked in his GPS.

LJ not only shares his tips and techniques online, he and his son Cory own Lanier Baits where sells his drop shot “Fruity Worms,“ worms he designed and has special colors just for drop shotting at Lanier. They work!  I use them at Lanier and other lakes. He also sells other tackle there.

One big problem with drop shotting is line twist.  The way the worm hangs on the line almost guarantees line twist each time you reel in.  This past week he showed me a new rig he and his buddy and co-worker “Big Earl” developed.

Rather than tying his hook to the main line as usual, LJ puts a bobber stopper on his line, then the hook followed by a second bobber stopper.  The tiny, clear bobber stoppers he uses does not bother the fish but hold the hook in place. They will slide on the line so you can adjust the length of leader quickly without retying everything. When you set the hook they will slide down to the swivel but LJ says this does not interfere with hooking the fish.

At the end of his main line he ties a tiny, strong swivel, then a short light leader to the other end of it.  The leader is tied to a drop shot sinker with another swivel at the top. The light leader above the lead allows him to break off the sinker when it gets hung without breaking off hook and bait, and the two swivels also help prevent line twist.

He sells the kits with six bobber stoppers, sinker, hook and swivel on his web site.  It seems complicated, but tying a drop shot rig the usual way is just as complicated and this one allows a lot more options without a lot of effort.

LJ showed me this rig before installing a new Humminbird Helix 15 on my boat. As well as selling tackle, he guides on Lanier and installs electronics.  He got me a good deal on this huge new depthfinder and did a very neat install, with all wires covered.

This unit with a 15-inch screen may help show bottom details better to my old eyes. And it may show me fish. LJ tried to show me how to read it, but using the demonstration mode is not like getting on the lake.  He does trips on the water where he will tune up your electronics and teach you how to use them, too. I plan on going with him and doing that soon.

A trip with LJ will keep you entertained, too, if you have a thick skin. The better he knows you the harder he is on you, but he takes as good as he gives so it is in fun!