Monthly Archives: April 2022

April Flint River Bass Club Lake Oconee Tournament

At Oconee last Sunday six members and guests fished the Flint River April tournament. After casting from 7:00 AM to 3:00 PM, we brought 13 largemouth meeting the 14-inch length requirement to the scales. The total weight was about 26 pounds.  One person had a limit and there were two zeros.

     Niles Murray won with the limit weighing 9.61 pounds and my four weighing 6.32 pounds was second. Brent Drake placed third with two at 5.52 pounds and his 3.55 pounder was big fish. Don Gober had two weighing 3.75 pounds for fourth.

    Niles had fished a bigger tournament at Oconee on Saturday, the region 72 American Bass Anglers trail, with more than 40 boats in it. It took 18 pounds to win it and about 13 to get a check. Niles had 11 pounds.

    That trail is extremely tough, fishing Oconee and Sinclair for their tournaments. And several of the fishermen are really good on both lakes and some of them are able to fish them almost every day.  Its hard to compete against folks like that.

    A young man named Grant Kelly won that tournament. I did a magazine article with Grant when he was a college student in Milledgeville and followed up a few years later as he started his professional career. He is an excellent young fisherman, winning many local tournaments. I expect to see his name in the tournament results for many years as he works up the professional ladder of bass tournaments.

    In our tournament I started out good, catching a decent keeper on a spinnerbait the first place I stopped. Then I landed two more casting a shaky head worm to docks before 11:00.

I thought with three in the livewell half-way through the tournament I could land a five-bass limit, but at 2:00 I landed my fourth one. It was a two-pound bass that was feeding in the shade from a tree that was on the water between docks. It was in only about a foot of water. I never got the fifth one. I did catch six or seven fish under the 14-inch limit.

    Fishing should get better and better for the next few weeks.

How and Where to Catch Midwest Walleyes

The walleye may be the Midwest’s  most popular, albeit often hard-to-catch, game fish. It is known for not only having great-tasting fillets, but also for growing big and providing anglers a fishing challenge.

Despite its reputation for being hard to catch, at certain times of the year walleyes can be taken by both boat and bank anglers with average skills.

Joe Rydell, a fisheries biologist for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s northwest district, said we are in the midst of one time to target walleyes. In April, Nebraska’s walleyes are spawning, or getting ready to, so the population becomes concentrated in shallow water.If you do not have success now, however, try it a little later.

“The best month to catch them in is probably going to be toward the end of May and into June, when these fish are coming off of spawning. They’ve had ample time to rest and, at that time of year, they’re really concentrating on feeding,” Rydell said.Especially for anglers seeking big walleyes, fall also can be good fishing for the species.As with most fish and game, knowing what those toothy walleyes want lends clues to when and where you will find them.

“They’re a predator fish. So, first of all, before you figure out what kind of habitat you’re going to search, you’ve got to figure out what they’re going to be eating in that water body,” Rydell said. “They’ll be hanging around that food source. In some lakes, that may entail a good rock bottom, or rock structures. In other lakes that are more vegetated, they may be along the weedline. In lakes that have a combination of both, it could be some woody debris or rock structures that are intermixed among those weed beds. At certain times of the year, even though they’re big fish, they may be concentrating on a bug hatch.

”Daryl Bauer, Game and Parks fisheries outreach manager, said a variety of artificial and live baits are effective.“Casting jigs and crankbaits, still-fishing or drifting live bait rigs, and trolling crankbaits or live-bait rigs can all be successful techniques for catching walleyes from Nebraska waters,” Bauer said. “However, I would tell you that more walleyes have been caught from Nebraska waters drifting or trolling a bottom-bouncer and live-bait rig of some type, usually a spinner and nightcrawler, than any other presentation.

”Anglers should consider the species’ name when choosing a time of day to fish. The walleye is so named for its pearlescent eye that features a reflective layer of pigment to seek prey in low light or murky water conditions.“Fishing more of the crepuscular period, your sunrise and sunset, are better times to catch them,” Rydell said. “Maybe even fishing in the dark a little bit.”Bauer said the time of day should dictate your approach.

“Walleye anglers spend so much time trying to finesse walleyes, often small walleyes, into nibbling on some live-bait presentation because they are fishing for relatively inactive fish during bright midday conditions,” he said. “If you fish during low-light periods, early and late in the day, after dark, cloudy, gloomy days, or when the wind blows, you will find an entirely different fish — a fish that is the apex, top-of-the-food-chain predator that they really are. They have a mouth full of sharp teeth for a reason, and during prime times they are mobile, agile and hostile.”In Nebraska, serious walleye anglers often look to the west and central parts of the state.

“The best habitats for walleyes are large bodies of water, large rivers, large natural lakes and large reservoirs,” Bauer said. “In Nebraska, that means our large reservoirs, primarily irrigation reservoirs in the central and western parts of the state, are our best walleye habitats. Walleyes are a cool-water fish, a predator, primarily an open-water predator. They thrive in those larger water bodies that have an abundance of open-water baitfish.”

Rydell said surveys show Winters Creek Lake on the North Platte National Wildlife Refuge near Scottsbluff to have the highest density of walleyes in Game and Parks’ northwestern district with a substantial population of fish between 17-19 inches. Nearby Lake Minatare is down a little from previous years, but still has a sizable population of 17- to 20-inch fish.Those seeking big walleyes in the west, Rydell said, should look to Whitney Reservoir in Dawes County and Merritt Reservoir near Valentine.Box Butte Reservoir, another Dawes County destination, is also on Rydell’s list of solid opportunities.“Box Butte is kind of coming on with a nice walleye population,” he said. “We have a year-class that, last year, was about 13½ inches that should be about 15 this year. With pike numbers down in that lake, and that year class coming on, it will be one that should produce some nice walleye fishing in the future.

”Nebraska’s walleye population gets considerable help from the Game and Parks’ fisheries staff, who collect eggs and milt from walleyes early in the year at Merritt Reservoir, Sherman Reservoir and sometimes Lake McConaughy. Fertilized eggs are taken to Nebraska State Fish Hatcheries, usually Calamus and North Platte, for hatching and rearing. It’s a much more effective approach to growing walleye populations than what happens naturally.

How long the fish stay in the hatchery depends on the habitat and other factors of their destination. They can be released as 4-day-old fry, fingerlings, or sometimes 8-inch advanced fingerlings.“Depending on the water body, all of those walleye stocking strategies have proven successful in Nebraska waters,” Bauer said. “In some waters fry stocking is successful and very inexpensive. In other waters fingerling stockings are most successful. The advanced fingerling stockings are most intensive and most expensive but have been relatively successful in smaller water bodies that are too small to be ideal walleye habitats. In those smaller water bodies the advanced fingerling stockings offer anglers an opportunity to catch a walleye or two from those waters once in a while.

The minimum requirement for walleyes in Nebraska’s lakes is 15 inches and only one over 22 may be kept. Special regulations exist at Merritt, Sherman, Calamus, Elwood, Harlan County and Branched Oak.A walleye of 28 inches or 8 pounds qualifies for a Nebraska Master Angler award. The state’s walleye record is a 16-pound, 2-ounce specimen caught at Lake McConaughy by Herbert Cutshall of Ogallala in 1971. Records indicate he caught it on a Storm ThinFin crankbait.Whatever the approach, as long as anglers are mindful of regulations and recommendations regarding the coronavirus issue, it may be time to target Nebraska’s big tasty, toothy predator fish of the dark.

From the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

Biden’s Ridiculous Hype On Ghost Guns and Other Lies

Mail order guns. Zip guns. Saturday night specials.  Automatic (semiautomatic) weapons.  Assault weapons.  Those are just a few of the buzzwords used by gun banners to scare folks over my lifetime, demanding they be banned to stop crime. Now the buzzword is “ghost gun.”

    I watched Biden talk about guns and his planned bans last week with disgust but not surprise.  From the stupid claim that the 2nd Amendment has something to do with deer hunting to the flat out lie that gun manufacturers are the only ones protected from libility lawsuits, he was either totally ill-informed or intentionally making “stuff” up.
    A few years ago gun banners started suing gun manufacturers and businesses selling guns when a gun was used in a crime, trying to sue them out of business. If you believe in that tactic you believe if someone buys a gallon of gasoline and burns their house down, the gas station selling it and the corporation producing it should be sued.

    It got so bad a bipartisan congress passed a law against frivolous lawsuits suing gun manufactures when their product was misused. That makes them equal to and have exactly the same liability as every other manufacturer in the US.

    Liability laws apply to defects in products, not when they work but are misused.  If a gun malfunctions due to a defect and hurts someone, the manufacturer can be sued.  Now the tactic is to sue gun businesses for advertising, saying they are promoting a dangerous item to unstable people.

    That worked, Remington Arms is bankrupt due to this underhanded tactic. Unfortunately, Remington’s insurance companies settled out of court although the suers had no proof and it never got a hearing.

    Supposedly, some ghost guns are guns put together by individuals from parts and do not have a serial number.  It is nothing but a ploy to draw attention from and not face the real problem.  As long as you blame an inanimate object for a problem, you are deflecting and fooling folks, not doing anything to help.

    It is ironic the day after Biden hyped his gun ban agenda, a regular handgun was used in a mass shooting on the subway in New York City. They media did try to hype the pistol as a dangerous either 380 or 9mm handgun and claimed it had an “extended” magazine.” 

No ghost gun used. 

The term “ghost gun” can apparently mean any gun without a serial number.  Guns manufactured since 1968 had been required to have one.  If I want a ghost gun I am going to file the serial number off one of my numerous guns, not go to the trouble of putting together a kit.

Maybe the Biden administration should ban files?

Focusing on a hunk of metal and plastic, rather than the criminal misusing a tool, is idiotic. Currently a felon caught with a gun is often let go, usually within a few days at most, and they are free to steal a gun and file the number off or make their own from a kit. Which do you think they would find easier? 

The criminal shooting homeless in New York and Chicago recently was three-time felon.  Less than two years before his shooting spree, he was arrested for another felony but released after serving only five months of a one-year sentence after his last arrest because a liberal prosecutor would not charge him with a felony but reduced his charge. 

That is the problem, not guns.

Facts Fiction and Fools On Gun Control

It never fails. Laws that restrict law-abiding citizens and that are ignored by criminals are relaxed and the gun banners go wild.  As soon as the Georgia legislature started considering “Constitutional Carry,” allowing us law-abiding citizens to carry our guns without getting permission from the government, the horror stories started.

    I got a special kick out of a Griffin Daily News editorial last week where the writer claimed, “studies show relaxing gun laws increase crime.” He then went on and on with his opinion. When working on my Masters and Doctorate degrees I was repeatedly told if I used the phrase “studies show” without documenting those studies, I would get an “F.”

    I actually looked us some “studies” of making gun laws less strict and making laws follow the US Constitution and the 2nd Amendment more closely.  Gary Kleck is a criminologists and Professor Emeritus of Criminology at Florida State University.  A quick search of his name came up with at least 10 documented, statistically sound studies on how guns reduce crime. (

Gary Kleck | College of Criminology & Criminal JusticeProfessor Kleck’s recent research has found that employing more police officers or increasing police productivity in the form of more arrests per officer has no measurable effect on the public’s level of fear of crime. Other recent research found that support for harsher punishment of criminals is not affected by a person’s exposure to crime as a crime victim, living in a high-crime area …


I also found this surprising comment in the British Journal of Criminology from Marvin Wolfgang, the “most influential criminologists in the English-Speaking World:” I am as strong a gun-control advocate as can be found. The Kleck study impresses me for the caution exercised and the elaborate nuances they examine methodologically.  “I do not like their conclusions that having a gun can be useful, but I can not fault their methodology.”

John R. Lott has a BA, MA and PhD from UCLA in economics.  He has been a professor of law and economics at the Yale Law School, UCLA, Texas A&M, Rice University, and others.  In his two books, “More Guns, Less Crime and “The Bias Against Guns,” he presented research that showed allowing adults to carry concealed weapons significantly reduces crime.

Some with an antigun agenda have nitpicked these studies, trying to find exceptions that prove it wrong, but the ones I read just offered opinions, not proven research. Of course I have a pro-gun bias.

I have owed guns since getting a BB gun when I had my tonsils out at six years old, and two years later got my first real firearm, a dreaded “semiautomatic rifle” with one of those “high capacity magazines” that held 17 rounds of bullets that had aa range of one mile.  That .22 has killed a lot of birds and squirrels but has never been used in a crime.

Criminals ignore laws.  Read the Griffin Daily News crime reports that often included “charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.”  Relaxing the permit requirement to carry a gun affects law-abiding citizens like me, not felons and other criminals.

Expect more “the sky is falling and we all will be shot” whines in response to this law. Just know they are emotions, not facts.

Mississippi Kites and Swallow Tail Kites

At the Sportsman Club meeting last Tuesday Raymond English said he thought I was talking about a Mississippi Kite when I wrote about seeing a Swallow-tailed Kite.  He told me he saw the Mississippi Kite one time and he had to get more information about it.  So I did too!

    I am not sure I have ever seen one, but maybe. Griffin is right on the edge of their territory and they are rare here. They look similar to sparrowhawks that are common here and I may have confused them. Sparrowhawks are actually American Kestrels, a type of falcon rather than a hawk.

The Mississippi Kite is a little bigger, with body length about 14 inches and wingspan of about 30 compared to a sparrowhawk with body 12 inches and wingspan about 24 inches. Sparrowhawks have more brown while Mississippi Kites are more gray, but young kites have more brown with bars so they look very much like sparrowhawks.

    Mississippi kites do not have a forked tail that makes the Swallow-tailed kite stand out. But one interesting fact – Mississippi Kites often build their nests near wasps nest – maybe wasps help protect the young birds!

Right now males of all species are in full mating colors so they really stand out. Male bluebirds in my back yard are very colorful but will fade some in the coming weeks as they mate and nest.

I will be on the lookout for them and other interesting birds this spring, while fishing and other times. It is much easier to look up new bird sightings now we have the internet.  It is fast and easy compared to the old book field guides I used for years.

What Are the Top Five Bass Fishing Lakes In Tennessee?

__ ____ ______________
By David Lowrie
TWRA R3/Outreach Program Manager
from The Fishing Wire

What the top bodies of water are in Tennessee for bass fishing will always be a strong subject of debate among anglers. Interests in what type of bass an angler is searching for as well as overall performance of the lake from year to year will shift opinions.

Nevertheless, with the large numbers of bass fishermen throughout the state, you can always find plenty willing to rank the lakes and give opinions. Recently, I asked student anglers and captains involved with high school fishing in Tennessee what they thought the best lakes were. The top five are lakes many would recognize as successful tournament lakes over the last several years.

#5 Kentucky Lake – Located in Tennessee and Kentucky and part of the Tennessee River system, Kentucky Lake has over 160,000 acres of water with 2,064 miles of shoreline and has seen many great tournaments over the years in bass fishing. It is the only location the Bassmaster High School series has used for its National Championship since B.A.S.S. began its high school program.

Some may be surprised at the ranking due to the issues the lake has had with Asian carp, but tournament results continue to show quality bags can be caught on the lake tournament after tournament.

“Kentucky Lake is an awesome shallow water fishery if you know where to look. There’s great fishing there and plenty of water to fish,” said Jake Beihoffer, boat captain for the Soddy Daisy High School team.Soddy Daisy team member Logan Evans had a different perspective. “You can go deep and stack them up at Kentucky Lake,” said Evans.

#4 Dale Hollow – Completed in 1943 and located in the Tennessee counties of Clay, Pickett and Overton, Dale Hollow covers 27,700 acres of water in Tennessee and Kentucky. Dale Hollow’s biggest claim to fame is that it is still the record holder for the world’s largest smallmouth bass. On July 5, 1955, David Hayes caught an 11-pound, 15-ounce smallmouth that still stands as the world record, today. Anglers from all over the country travel to Dale Hollow, annually, to search for the next record.

“Dale Hollow has some of the most beautiful scenery you can see anywhere, and you’re likely to set the hook into a big smallmouth while you’re there, too,” said Jackson Holbert of the Riverside High School team and son of TWRA Commissioner Kurt Holbert.

Ryan Lehan of Chuckey Doak High School likes Dale Hollow because “it’s challenging, but there’s nothing more rewarding than a bag full of smallmouths.”

#3 Pickwick – We travel back to the Tennessee River for the third place lake of Pickwick. With water in Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi, Pickwick draws anglers from all three states, as well as, from across the country. Pickwick holds tournaments from youth to the major professionals. There are 496 miles of shoreline holding 43,100 acres of water to fish. There are ample largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass to catch on any given day.

Nathan Reynolds of the Backwoods Bassin team in Davidson County says Pickwick is his favorite. “I love them all, but Pickwick really strikes me different than all the others. All in one day you can catch largemouth on a big flipping stick or run up and dropshot for big smallmouth. The biodiversity of the lake is what gets me,” said Reynolds.

Jackson Holbert is also fond of the lake. “There’s always a big bag of fish to be caught on Pickwick year-round. You’ve just got to beat some of the best fishermen in the country to them,” said Holbert.

#2 Douglas Lake – Located in Dandridge and part of the French Broad River, Douglas Lake also is a strong draw for bass anglers. There are 28,000 acres of water and with 513 miles of shoreline, there’s plenty of spots, cuts, and coves to fish. The Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce hosts tournaments on the lake weekend after weekend. The Tennessee BASS Nation High School state championship was held there in May 2019 and the directors weighed more fish and more limits of fish than any other state championship in the organization’s history.

Ethan Montgomery of Sullivan East High School likes Douglas because, “There’s a good number of big ones and you can use a variety of fishing styles there.”Ryan Lehan added, “It is one of the easiest lakes to catch a limit. It has a strong population of largemouth and smallmouth and sometimes they’re in the same place.”

#1 Chickamauga – It should come as no surprise that Chickamauga was ranked at the top by anglers. The lake has exploded in popularity over the last 10 years drawing national attention as a top tournament lake full of giant bass. The city of Dayton has become a top stop for tournaments and their Fish Dayton program promotes fishing the lake and visiting the city. During 2019, Fish Dayton recorded 110 bass catches of 10 pounds or more on Chickamauga and that’s just the catches reported to them.

Campbell County High School coach Gabe Keen broke the Tennessee State largemouth record on Chickamauga on Feb. 13, 2015, catching a 15-pound, 3-ounce monster while practicing for a tournament.

Will VanEtten, coach at Anderson County High, points out the popularity of the lake does increase its difficulty. “Chickamauga has always been hit or miss for me through winter and early spring. You have potential for a giant bag, but it is incredibly hard to find water that hasn’t already been fished by 8-10 other boats. However, once summer hits there are spots on the ledges that produce 30-plus fish days if they are pulling water,” said the coach.

A final perspective comes from Jake Davis who is a guide on several Tennessee waters, as well as being the State Conservation Director for Tennessee BASS Nation. Captain Jake says listing the top five lakes is not as simple as it sounds. “Everyone is going to say Chickamauga is the top lake followed by Dale Hollow, Kentucky Lake, Douglas, Old Hickory and so on, but when you really look at the entire state one can name several great fisheries in Tennessee. We just don’t talk about them much,” said Jake.

“I highly encourage anglers to look at the smaller management lakes such as Pin Oak, Williamsport, Browns Lake, Woods Reservoir, Melton Hill, Caney Fork River, South Holston, Reelfoot, Laurel Hill and Parksville Lake. All of those offer fantastic opportunities for anglers and are truly hidden gems,” added Captain Davis.

So, while a top 5 list of bass lakes in the state will always be subject to debate one thing is for sure; Tennessee has a lot of great bass fishing opportunities.

Growing Up On A Farm and Growing A Garden

 I have vague memories of a big barn and animal pens beside the house where I lived from 1950 to 1962.  I have no idea how old the farmhouse was when daddy bought it and the fifteen acres it was on after graduation from college in 1948 for his new family.

When we tore it down in 1962 to build a modern split level brick house on the same site we found hand-hewn timbers supporting it. The ax marks were plainly visible.

The barn was torn down when I was three or four, I think. Most of my memories of it are piles of rubble and finding boards with nails in them with my bare feet.  Then we got it all cleaned up and used the 100×300 foot area for a garden. The soil was extremely rich from years of animal waste and rotting hay debris.

Mama And daddy grew up during the depression and did everything they could to be self-sufficient.  Although daddy taught school and later became principal of Dearing Elementary, he worked long hours on the farm, developing a thriving egg business, eventually including 11,000 laying hens.

Mama worked the farm but also made cakes to sell, using milk from our cows and eggs from our chickens. She also canned, pickled and froze everything possible to have delicious food year-round.

Our summer garden included tomatoes, potatoes, corn, string beans, field peas, butter beans, okra, cucumbers, squash, peppers (bell and hot) and onions.  Our early spring garden had radishes, lettuce, cabbage, turnips and broccoli. Some of them were replanted in the fall.  Daddy also had a small asparagus bed he kept active.  

Even as a young kid I “got” to help.  I didn’t have the patience to drop two or three butterbean or pea seeds per hill in the trench daddy dug with an old push plow, so I followed mama as she dropped them spaced just right.  My job was to cover them, using my bare feet like plows to push the dirt on top of the seeds then step on top to compress the soil. Mama would look back regularly and and also check the first row as we worked back up the next one, checking to make sure I had not gotten distracted.

We planted tomato plants after raising them from seeds inside.  I hated that process. Mama or daddy would put the small plant into the ground and I had to haul water in small bucket from the house and pour a little beside each plant, being careful to not wash dirt from the roots.  The biggest bucket I could carry was still small so it meant dozens of trip!

We always planted on Good Friday since that was usually a safe timing to avoid a late frost. Is your garden plot ready?  If not you have less than two weeks!

I have many more gardening and canning memories. I wish I could still do things like that. Now I limit myself to about eight tomato and six bell pepper plants each year.


from The Fishing Wire

Record Muskie Landed in West Virginia

On Saturday, March 19, West Virginia angler Luke King landed a 55-plus-inch muskie below the dam at Burnsville Lake that bests the current state-record fish by an incredible 11 pounds. It’s the third time the state-record mark has been topped in the last 5 years.

It’s almost as if the muskies in West Virginia are getting bigger and bigger each year. Last year, muskie fishing guide Chase Gibson caught a monster at Burnsville Lake on his day off from guiding. Aaron Yeager, an assistant district fisheries biologist for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, drove over to verify that catch, and Gibson claimed a new state record at 54 inches long and 39.6 pounds. Joe Wilfong had pulled the previous record from the Little Kanawha River in 2017. That fish was 53.5 inches long and 34.6-pounds, so Gibson had smashed the old record by 5 pounds and 14 percent.

But King has blown that fish out of the water. Weighed on certified scales, his fish went a whopping 51 pounds, more than 11 pounds heavier than the previous record and 16 pounds heavier than the one before it. That’s 29 percent heavier than Gibson’s record haul of last year and 47 percent heavier than Wilfong’s fish in 2017. King stated on his Facebook page that none other than Aaron Yeager, who did the honors the year before with Gibson, made the official measurements.

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Potato Creek Club Classic At Lake Martin

Last Friday and Saturday 20 members of the Potato Creek Bassmasters fished our annual Club Classic at Lake Martin.  Each of us qualified by placing in the top eight in the points standings in 2021 or fishing at least eight of the 12 tournaments that year.  Martin was chosen as the site by a drawing held in December from all the lakes we fished last year.

    After fishing 9.5 hours Friday and seven hours on Saturday, we weighed in 198 bass weighing about 258 pounds.  There were 38 five bass limits weighed in, everybody but one person had five both days. Almost all the fish were spotted bass.

Caleb Delay had a good catch on Friday with 10.45 pounds, the best limit weighed in, and held on to win with ten bass weighing 17.38 pounds.  Jason Turner came in second with ten at 16.02 pounds and my ten at 15.70 pounds was third.  Kwong Yu had ten at 15.30 for fourth and Mike Cox placed fifth with ten at 14.76. He also had a 4.71 pound largemouth for big fish.

I went over Tuesday and camped at Wind Creek State Park. Wednesday, the first day of practice, I rode around checking some of my old favorite places and also looking for bedding bass. A big tournament was won by catching bedding bass the weekend before, but I saw none. I am not very good at spotting them, and even if I do see them I am not very good at catching them, but I just had to try.

I did find a brush pile full of fish and caught a two-pound largemouth on a jig in the back of a cove.  That really didn’t give me much to go on for the tournament.

On Thursday I spent more time watching my electronics and checking new areas.  I rode over a shoal and spotted a small brush pile, then a rock pile near it.  When I cast a Carolina rig to it I caught a 15 inch spot, a little better than the average size, so I had some hope for that area. I also found some brush in front of a dock with more way out from it in about 15 feet of water and marked it.

Friday morning I started on the brush pile I had found, it was also in front of a dock with a light on it, and caught a keeper on a crankbait.  Then I went to another lighted dock and caught my second keeper on a swimbait.  Two in the boat before daylight.

In the middle of the day I went to the shoal and caught two decent size keepers, culling some smaller fish in the livewell.  I landed about ten keepers that day but the best five weighed just 7.29 pounds, keeping me in the running.

Saturday I tried a couple lighted docks but got no hits.  At sunrise I went to the shoal and caught a 15-inch keeper and several more smaller fish.  Then in the cove with the brush I landed several 15 inch fish, giving me five fairly decent ones out of the 15 or so I caught that day.

With 20 minutes left to fish I headed to weigh-in.  I decided to stop in a place where I have caught some decent largemouth in the past. As I eased to the bank I wanted to fish, I cast my jig and pig to a sandbar, thinking “I have made dozens of casts there and never caught a fish,” but a thump made me set the hook and land my biggest fish of the trip, a 2.7-pound spot.

That fish culled a one pounder and gave me enough to move me into third place!  Never give up!!


In-between crappie

By Bob Jensen of

from The Fishing Wire

There are two in-between fishing seasons in the Midwest. There’s the open water to ice in-between, and then there is the ice to open water in-between. In the southern regions of the Midwest, it has become the open water season; in the northern areas there is still plenty of ice, but in the middle part of the Midwest, we’re definitely in between. An angler can drive an hour and be on open water, or that same angler can drive an hour in a different direction and be on the ice. This is a time of year when some anglers decide to go ice fishing, some hook up the boat and head for open water, but many anglers, me included, are putting the ice fishing gear into storage, and taking the open water equipment out. Following are some ideas on this in-between season.

First and way most important, don’t push the ice fishing too hard. If you’re not absolutely sure that the ice is safe, don’t go out. I’ve had the bad judgement to be on the ice twice late in the ice season when I shouldn’t have been, and both times we truly wondered how this adventure was going to end. When we hit the ice in the morning, it was safe. When we left in the afternoon, it wasn’t. We made it to shore safely, but the bottom of the truck was much wetter than it should have been. Make sure the ice is safe.

If you’re storing your ice gear, make sure there are no scraps of candy bars or sandwiches in your shelter. Mice will find them. Make sure the battery on your sonar unit is charged and that your baits are stored in a dry container to prevent rust.

If you’re preparing to get on open water, start the year with fresh line. So much of the time we neglect the line that we’re using only to remember that we should have changed it right after the big one breaks off.

For many Midwest anglers, our first open water trip will be for either walleyes or panfish, although bass are quickly gaining in popularity in many areas. When walleyes are the target, jigs tipped with plastic are catching more of them every year. That’s because more walleye anglers are using plastic, and that’s because walleye anglers have learned that walleyes will often be very willing to eat a jig that has plastic threaded on it. The traditional action tail grub is a walleye catcher. The Rage Grub comes in a four-inch size and has a good-sized body. In the stained river water that is so common in the spring a bright Rage Grub can be very productive. The big body and flapping tail help walleyes locate it better in the stained water. When clearer water is encountered, try a smaller Rage Swimmer. It has less tail action, and that’s usually better in the clear, cold water of spring.

In some states, panfish, especially crappies, are what most anglers chase early in the year. In some areas walleye season isn’t open yet, but even where it is, getting after crappies is a wonderful way to spend a warming spring afternoon. They’re willing biters, and if you’re interested in a couple of fish for the table, crappies are hard to beat. Find a bay that has warmer water than the surrounding area and some cover. Boat docks, trees laying in the water near deeper water, reeds, they’ll all attract crappies. Try a Mr. Crappie Tube on a sixteenth-ounce jig under a bobber. That will usually get them to bite, but if it doesn’t, replace it with a small minnow. If the bobber doesn’t go down within a few minutes, try a different spot: No one’s home.

A warm sun and birds chirping along the shoreline are enough reasons for many of us to get outside during the first warm days of spring, but the possibility of catching a few fish makes it an even harder temptation to pass up.