Monthly Archives: May 2022

Spalding County Sportsman Club May Tournament at West Point Lake 

Last Sunday 11 members of the Spalding County Sportsman Club fished our May tournament at West Point Lake.  We fished nine hours, from 6:00 AM to 3:00 PM, to land 43 bass weighing about 74 pounds.  There were six five bass limits and one person did not weigh in a keeper.

    Raymond English blew us all away with a great catch of five bass weighing 17.01 pounds and had a 5.33 pound largemouth for big fish.  Glenn Anderson came in second with five at 12.58 pounds and had a 5.12 pound largemouth for second biggest bass.  Doug Acree had a five bass limit weighing 7.87 pounds for third, Lee Hancock had five weighing 7.60 pounds for fourth and my five at 6.88 pounds was fifth.

    I had a very frustrating start.  On a rocky bank that usually has some feeding fish at daylight, I hooked four bass that looked like keepers, and lost all four.  Two jumped and threw my buzzbait although had a trailer hook on it. And two jumped and threw my popping plug.

At 7:30 I finally hooked and landed a keeper spot on a shaky head worm, then at 9:00 I landed another keeper spot on a Carolina rigged worm.  I had tried a variety of places and baits without much luck and that continued until 11:30.

I decided to try something different so I went to one of the few docks in the area and skipped a whacky rigged Senko under it.  I saw a fish swim over and go down after it and hit it, and I landed a very skinny 16 inch largemouth.

The next three docks I fished produced two more keepers, one spot and another skinny largemouth, giving me my limit by noon.  Then it got tough again. I kept looking for docks to fish and caught another largemouth that culled one of my small spots at 2:00.

While Zane backed my trailer in for me I skipped the Senko to the dock at the ramp, saying this is my last cast today. I landed my seventh keeper, a small spot that did not cull, before I had to load my boat.  

Wild Trout Flourish in Southwestern Virginia

Wild trout flourish in Southwestern Virginia, a unique fact considering it is one of the lowest elevations and eastern-most points on the continent where this occurs. That fact, and the pristine Blue Ridge Mountains that define the area geologically, combine to create a fisherman’s paradise.

The clean, cold Dan River welcomes fly fishing. Part of the Roanoke River system, it flows over 200 miles and crosses the Virginia and North Carolina border in eight places. The headwaters of the Dan are in Meadows of Dan, a mountain valley about 45 miles north of Winston-Salem, N.C.

The Dan begins north of U.S. Highway 58 and slightly northeast of the Meadows of Dan in mountainous Patrick County, at an elevation of over 3,000 feet. In this section of the river anglers will find fishing for native brook trout in waters classified as wild trout waters by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Brookies require clean, cold water to survive, far more so than rainbows and browns, and their presence here is indicative of the quality of the flow.

Just above and below U. S. Highway 58 the river is a put-and-take trout stream – Category B, in Virginia’s classification system. Traveling farther east, the river flows through a deep gorge within the Pinnacles Hydroelectric Project owned by the City of Danville.

This area has been dubbed the Grand Canyon of Virginia, rugged and spectacular country that appeals to the hardy. Trout fishing becomes first class for rainbow and brown trout in the six-mile section between Talbott Dam and Townes Reservoir. The stream from Townes Dam to the Pinnacles Powerhouse has been designated as catch-and-release trout water, and it holds some big fish. From the powerhouse several miles downstream (Kibler Valley) is a popular Category A put-and-take trout stream.

A 6-mile stretch of the Dan runs through Primland, a boutique resort covering some 12,000 acres of wooded mountains. The property is rugged, remote, and beautiful. Two impoundments are adjacent and provide hydroelectric power for the city of Danville. Below the dam is designated as a Special Regulations Trout Water, meaning there is a reproducing population of wild born fish throughout that section. Brown, brook and rainbow trout are found here. A small section of the Smith River below Philpott Dam also has a thriving population of wild fish.

Fisherman can expect year-round action with the best fishing occurring in spring and fall. Hatches of mayfly, caddis and stonefly happen every month and anglers can expect dry fly or surface action any time of year. It never hurts to carry some bead head nymphs and all-around fish catchers like the San Juan worm in sizes 12 to 16. A 5-weight rod 8 to 9 feet long works fine. A pair of waders will be welcomed. Even though you’re in the South here, the water is cold year around.

Primland is a massive mountain resort property larger than many wildlife management areas (and probably has more deer and turkey than many–guided hunts are offered in season.) It’s located about 40 miles north-northwest of Winston Salem, N.C.  The resort, recently re-opened after the COVID-19 shutdown, also offers guided fly fishing on a catch-and-release basis, golf, paddle-sports, mountain biking–all the good stuff.

For fly casters seeking less challenging Blue Ridge Mountain fishing, the broader and more forgiving Kibler Valley section of the Dan River is located nearby. Guided fishing with local Orvis pro’s is available April through November depending on weather and stream conditions–as everywhere in trout country, too much rain or runoff makes for tough going.

The Orvis-trained guides not only provide guided fishing trips they also offer fly casting and fly-fishing lessons. There’s an Orvis Dealer Pro Shop on the property, stocked with a large selection of flies and all the other goodies fly fishers love. They also rent Orvis rods and sell fishing licenses at the shop.

For other fishing options, there are three ponds at Primland stocked with trout, bass and channel catfish and open year-round. Fish cleaning is available for the put and take fish in these ponds, so anglers can cook their catch at their Mountain Homes, one of several lodging options at the resort. For details, visit

National Fishing and Boating Week

National Fishing and Boating Week is June 4 through June 9 this year.  This week, set aside to recognize the millions of people that love fishing and boating, was started in 1979 a National Fishing Week and Boating was added later to include others.

    Georgia celebrates this event by offering ”Free Fishing Days” from June 4 – 11th.  During this week you can fish on public waters without first buying a fishing license.  You also can fish on WMAs without a Land Pass and do not need a trout stamp to fish for them.

    Based in those relaxed rules, this would be a good week to check out Big Lazer PFA south of Thomaston.  It offers great shore or boat fishing and has good facilities for fishermen and their families.  Although gas is ridiculously expensive to get there, there are no other costs once you arrive with your tackle and bait.

    Also consider trips to High Falls, the Flint River (a public access boat ramp is at the Highway 18 bridge,) Still Branch Reservoir and Jackson Lake.  All are less than an hour from Griffin and give you the chance to enjoy the water and catch some good eating fish for dinner.

    I’m glad this all takes place after Memorial Day weekend. There are already many jokes on social media about the kinds of clueless boat owners that visit the lake on holiday weekends.

Some are just funny, like the pictures of boat ramps with truck underwater with boat trailer still in parking lot, or boat floating in the water with trailer still firmly attached under it. 

But what is scary to me are the folks out there that don’t have a clue on driving a boat safely.  They are apt to cut across in front of you illegally as well as not obeying other laws. They hqave no clue about boating “rules of the road.”

I will be home this weekend.

Fish Small Waters For Success Using These Three Tips


Three Tips for Small Water Success

Opportunity abounds as anglers pull boats storage, spool reels with fresh line, and hatch plans for their first bass trips of the new season. Many anglers will flock to supersized southern reservoirs to chase trophy largemouth, while others will head to the Great Lakes to land eye-popping smallmouth. However, smaller bodies of water – places where the big boats simply can’t go – are often the ideal places to build incredible fishing memories. This trifecta of tips will help you meet with early-season bass success on your favorite pond or small lake.

Simplify your tackle

When heading to your favorite small water, the last thing you need is a comprehensive library of rods and reels, complemented by overflowing bags of tackle and accessories. Kayaks, canoes, and smaller boats have limited storage space, and you don’t want to break one – or more – of your favorite rods or drop a case full of baits in the drink. Keep things simple across the board, from rods and reels to tackle and tools.

With bass on the agenda, consider two general approaches – power and finesse – and the basic equipment needed to succeed with each. Power fishing may equate to different lures as spring flows into summer and fall. However, during the early part of the fishing season, square-billed crankbaits are exceptionally productive. Shimano’s family of Macbeth crankbaits are excellent choices, providing finely-tuned wobbling actions that bass find irresistible. Present these lures using a well-balanced casting combo built around a 7’2”, Medium power, Moderate action Shimano Curado casting rod equipped with a low-profile Shimano Curado DC reel and spooled with 12 pound-test fluorocarbon or 30 pound-test PowerPro Super8Slick V2. That same combo will support bass power fishing with hard baits throughout the season, especially deep-diving cranks or jerkbaits as the water warms into early summer.

Finesse bass fishing is particularly productive in cold water or when stormy spring weather forces fish into neutral or negative moods. Few subtle bass techniques are more effective than presenting a Ned Rig. A 4” Z-Man Hula StickZ ElaZtech bait rigged on a 1/10 oz Z-Man Finesse ShroomZ jig is responsible for heart-stopping bass catches throughout the entire season – especially while the water remains cool. Spinning tackle is best suited for presenting Ned Rigs. Select a long, lightweight, sensitive rod, like the 6’8”, Medium-light power, Extra-fast action Shimano Curado spinning rod, paired with a 2500-series Shimano Vanford reel spooled with 10 pound-test PowerPro Super8Slick V2. A high-visibility line color, like PowerPro’s Hi-Vis Yellow option, will help you to visually detect light bites from finicky bass.

A small collection of essential fishing tools will help make every fishing trip on small waters successful. A small pair of line scissors will save your teeth when tying knots. Don’t forget a sturdy set of corrosion-resistant pliers to help remove lures from deeply hooked fish. Smith’s Consumer Products pairs both of those implements with a handy tool holder in their Lawaia Pliers and Scissors Combo. A Smith’s Hook and Knife Sharpener will keep your hooks honed to perfection and ensure that your fillet knife is ready for action should a fish fry be in your future. Add those three tools and your collection of essential lures to a small tackle bag, and your adventure is ready to begin.

Fish in all the right places

Locating bass on typical small waters is far easier than the challenges facing anglers on larger lakes or reservoirs. Let water temperature be your guide. When the shallows warm into the upper 50s to 60s, bass will be actively engaged in the spawning process. Largemouth bass prefer relatively firm substrate, like gravel, sand, or hard-packed mud for building nests, generally along the shoreline. Smallmouth bass will typically bed in shallow areas of rock or gravel, with nests often built adjacent to a larger rock or a fallen tree. Smallmouth will also bed on offshore rock reefs, as long as suitable substrate or cover is available. With reasonable water clarity, it is often possible for anglers to see the beds – and the bass guarding them – from above the surface, and to target individual fish they spot from afar. A quality pair of 100% polarized sunglasses, like those from Ocean Waves, are important for anglers sight fishing for bedding bass.

Choose a frame with a wrap-around design that prevents light from sneaking in the sides, like the Ocean Waves Jax Beach frame, and a set of backwater green mirror/glass amber lenses for optimized visibility and outstanding color contrast. As the spawn completes, bass will either move to deep weedlines or into the slop. A shallow bay with a thick surface canopy of lily pads, duckweed, and matted vegetation is a great place to throw a hollow-bodied topwater for summer largemouth. Deep weedlines will hold bass most of the summer months, as they graze on a buffet of small panfish and other baitfish. Here, a deep-diving crankbait or jerkbait, like the Shimano World Diver 99SP jerkbait, reigns supreme.

Control your boat the way you want to

Many of the best small waters to fish for bass prohibit the use of gasoline-powered motors. Here, electric trolling motors rule the roost. In this setting, however, anglers ask their electric motors to do two very different things: transport them to the hot spots as quickly as possible with propulsion from the transom, and then provide subtle boat positioning from the bow as soon as the casting begins.

The new Revolution trolling motors from Pro Controll are uniquely positioned to perform both tasks, easily transitioning from pushing the boat at the stern, to pulling the boat from the bow – and back again as often as needed. The control head of Revolution trolling motors easily rotates by 180 degrees. This allows the tiller handle to be opposite the propeller to power the boat from the transom, or to be aligned over the propeller to facilitate precise positioning and small, boat movements while fishing from the bow. Revolution trolling motors feature a unique mounting bracket that securely attaches to the boat’s gunwale at nearly any position – the transom, bow, or even along the sides – making it easy to move the motor to where it’s needed. A custom Pro Controll Trolling Motor Battery Harness allows anglers to move the Revolution from one mounting location to another without moving a heavy 12-volt battery. With help from the Pro Controll Revolution trolling motor, anglers finally have the freedom to control their boat the way they want to.

Now you’re all set to land your biggest bass of the year from your favorite small water. Load up the cooler, don’t forget the sunscreen, and enjoy early season success on a pond or small lake near you!

Post Spawn Bass On Herring Lakes

For years at Clarks Hill after the spawn bass hung around back in coves and pockets feeding where they had bedded.  I remember daddy and two other men going around the back of a creek with Hula Popper and hooking big bass one morning.

    They would not let us kids back there with them, we were too noisy!  Four of us were in a bigger ski boat that we had pulled their jon boat to the creek from the boat ramp.  We were near the mouth of the cove, trying to paddle it and fish.

    I tried to make a long cast to a button bush in the water with my Devil’s Horse topwater plug but it went way off target. As I reeled it in as fast as I could turn the handle on my Mitchell 300 spinning reel, a huge bass attacked the plug.

    Somehow we managed to land that seven pound largemouth. It was by far the biggest bass I had ever caught when I was 15 years old.  For days we talked about that bass being crazy chasing down that lure skipping across the top of the water. Everybody knew you fished slowly for bass!

    Now we know you can not reel a lure faster than a bass can chase it down, and often very fast moving lures will attract bites when nothing else will.  Buzzbaits were invented for that kind of fishing. I just wish I had been smart enough to figure that out back then and invent them!

    I caught many bass at Clarks Hill in the 1970s and early 1980s fishing back in coves and creeks in April. Then the blueback herring population exploded in the lake and changed everything.

    Bass love the herring.  They are big with an average size of about seven inches so they are a big meal to fill a bass fast. And they are very rich in oils and protein, perfect for bass recovering from the spawn.

    Herring are an open water fish, living on the main lake where it is deep.  When the herring spawn they go to shallow gravel and rock areas on the main lake and are easy for bass to catch and eat.

    It seems all the bass have learned that and almost[RG1]  all of them will head to open water as soon as they spawn in April to eat herring.  It has changed the way I fish on herring lakes like Clarks Hill. 

That is the pattern I was on last weekend, I often saw six to seven inch herring or gizzard shad following my lure back to the boat.

Some Tips for Catching Early Summer Smallmouth

Tips for Early-Summer Smallmouth Success
Experts share techniques for big brown bass bites
from St Croix Rods

Smallmouth caught on St. Croix rod

PARK FALLS, Wisc. (May 16, 2022) – Increasingly, today’s bass anglers love to tell you which species they prefer, brown or green. But it’s the former that continues to spawn a cult-like following. Even a self-described largemouth nut or honest walleye angler will admit to enjoying a smallmouth outing now and again. And for good reason; smallmouth bass fight hard and are widely distributed. But don’t be fooled by the big bags of brown bass from famous fisheries that continuously fill our media screens and social media feeds; smallies aren’t always such an easy target – especially the larger individuals over four pounds.

Just in time for some of the best smallmouth fishing of the year, allow us to put forth some serious smallmouth strategy, elicited from a couple of the best brown-bass anglers from throughout the bronze belt. Their home waters and tournament experiences have taught them to look for and recognize changing smallmouth patterns, quickly adapt to current conditions, and develop repeatable, winning techniques that work in a variety of settings – not just unpressured northern waters.

Bob’s Bites

Bassmaster Elite Series angler, Bob Downey, is no stranger to the podium and has some serious tournament finishes to prove it. Hailing from Hudson, Wisconsin, the St. Croix pro is part river guy, part lake guy, and 100% smallmouth guy at heart. He lists the Mississippi River as his favorite place to fish but has more “home water” in both Minnesota and Wisconsin than most could imagine.

When targeting smallies in natural lakes, Downey says he looks for large, shallow flats with a good mix of cover and a varied bottom composition. Cover specifically meaning boulders or patches of grass, and bottom composition variety in the form of sand-to-gravel or sand-to-rock transitions. “It’s usually a shallow-water game,” says Downey, who supplies prowess to the power-fishing game while focusing on water less than ten feet deep. “I’d rather fish a flat that has lots of bottom transitions with contour changes, patches, and clumps of scattered cover versus a plain sand flat with not much going on. I’m looking for variety. Fish spend time here post-spawn, and I feel I can power-fish my way to finding them, even if I need to slow down a little to get them to eat.”

Of course, that can be the challenge given weather patterns and fish that don’t always cooperate, which is why Downey keeps it simple for post-spawn smallies. “I’ll throw a black marabou hair jig first and foremost, and always keep a ned rig handy too,” he says. “In early summer, smallies tend to be concentrated. They won’t be everywhere, but when you find them you’ll generally find a good bunch. Covering lots of water until you locate them is key, and my favorite way to do that is with a black marabou hair jig.”
Search with a hair jig? Downey dives deeper. “I put the trolling motor on a medium to high speed and start covering shallower flats with deep water nearby. If you catch a smallmouth or start to see them with your eyes or side-imaging, put on the breaks and start picking that area apart,” he advises. “During post-spawn they’ll roam those same spawning flats before migrating to their summer areas.” Downey offers simple advice on working a hair jig to perfection, which may surprise some anglers who preach complex retrieves and subtle jigging strokes with this bait that seems to “breathe” underwater. “Don’t overthink the hair jig,” he says. “Simply cast it out and reel it back in at a steady pace. Much like you’d fish a spinnerbait or small swimbait. The bait should just glide through the middle of the water column. You don’t need to impart any action yourself, although you certainly can… or fish it on the bottom… but I find more success with just a straight retrieve.” Downey describes the hair jig as a deadly little bait that excels in all phases of early summer on those hot, calm days where the fish are post-spawn. “There have been days where that’s the only bait I need in the spring or early summer,” he reports. “It couldn’t be any easier or more effective.”
Downey offers a few tips to help cast hair jigs farther. “Add a small chunk of an old plastic worm to the shank of the hook up under the hair. These jigs are generally 1/16-to-1/8 ounce, so a little added plastic will help with casting distance,” says Downey. “Use thin, six-to-eight-pound braided line on your spinning reel with a shorter three-foot fluorocarbon leader so the leader knot doesn’t have to pass through as many – or any – guides during casting.” Downey is a fan of the FG knot for connecting braid to fluoro, noting, “I know it can be a difficult knot to learn, but it’s superior to any other when throwing a hair jig.”

Downey selects the 7’6” MLXF (ES76MLXF) Legend Elite or 7’10” MLXF Legend Tournament Bass (LBTS710MLXF) rods from St. Croix to do damage marabou-style, and the 7’0’MF Legend Elite (ES70MF) for ned rigging.

“The length and action of a rod may be the most important component of throwing a hair jig,” he says. “It’s difficult to cast a light jig with a short, stiff rod. You need at least a 7’ medium or medium-light power and a fast or extra-fast tip. I prefer a 7’6″ to 7’10” rod in MLXF. It makes a difference. The medium-light power gives me a soft rod that absorbs the strike and the big head shakes during the fight, and ultimately allows me to land big smallmouth on a tiny bait. The extra length and extra-fast tip gives me the sharp ‘whip’ needed to snap that little jig way out away from the boat. There are some techniques in bass fishing where you could use a wide array of rods and get away with it, but the hair jig is not one of them.”
When asked what’s around the corner as early bites give way to mid and late summer, Downey says the fish start to split up, both shallow and deep. “Shallow areas can and will play all summer long depending on the weather conditions; sunny, flat, calm, hot days are best,” says Downey. “Shallow fish are super fun, but they can be less dependable at times. They move around a lot and are here today, gone tomorrow.” While that may make them his preferred fish to take a crack at for fun, it’s harder to cash tournament checks just throwing shallow.

That’s where deep-water strategies come in. “Fish that set up on deep structure tend to be a little more reliable,” advises Downey, who likes to target deep fish with a variety of presentations depending on the conditions. “I’ll chase deep smallies with ned rigs, drop shots, finesse jigs and reaction baits depending on the weather. There’s just so many ways you can catch them when they’re out deeper. Crankbaits, swimbaits, spybaits… that’s what makes summer so much fun when chasing smallmouth. And no matter what I’m doing, St. Croix makes an ideal rod for the presentation.”

Travis’ Take

Travis Manson is a familiar name to smallmouth anglers throughout the US. Both his guide service and popular YouTube channel are named “Smallmouth Crush” for good reason. A native of Northeastern Wisconsin, Manson honed his craft and love of smallmouth in the Northwoods but spread wings out east where he currently fishes more than 200 days a year on Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River, and even the Upper Chesapeake Bay. His experience on such varied smallmouth waters has accelerated his understanding of patterns and behaviors, ultimately helping his clients catch more fish along the way.
Although the smallmouth spawn can extend well into June – even early July – in some Great Lakes fisheries, early summer means post-spawn behavior in most of the areas Manson plies. “I’m generally targeting areas close to spawning bays and grounds, looking shallow but anticipating a deeper summer setup,” he reports. “Not every fish is going to be deep the rest of the year, as there’s always resident shallow-water fish.” Given the choice, he advises fishing a mixture of both, but starting shallow first. “I start in three feet of water down to 15, focusing heavily on that eight-to-12-foot zone, which I find key.”

Like any talented smallmouth angler, Manson makes moves based on the conditions of the day. “On high-sun and calm days I’m looking for cruisers,” says Manson. “I climb to the highest point of the boat, put the trolling motor on high and tend to throw reaction baits to cover water and visually locate them. It’s really about casting to an individual.” That can mean looking for individual boulders or structure too, not just fish. “If a fish isn’t on a good boulder, I’ll mark it and come back during different parts of the year,” he says. “Anything from something the size of a bowling ball all the way up to a truck-sized boulder, I’m marking it ‘rock’ on the graph and visiting it often.”
When he’s throwing at rocks or really any shallow structure, Manson prefers finesse swimbaits and other plastics. “I’m using swim-head designs with a screwlock, which helps me get more use out of my plastics. I can have some good days up shallow, meaning 30 or 40 fish an outing, so keeping those plastics from being thrown can be really useful when guiding,” says Manson. “For the most part I’m using three- and four-inch baits in natural colors to mimic live minnows, like whites, ghost, or smoke colors. On some systems where there’s perch, I’ll mix in those colors and chartreuse as well.”

Other finesse plastics like tubes or creature baits get the nod in systems dominated by gobies. “There, I’ll focus on bottom baits in green pumpkin, straight black, or classic goby colors, paired with a mushroom-head-type jig,” says Manson. “Even a Senko can be deadly here, just pitching visually towards cover or even active fish.” Manson uses swimbaits and finesse plastics in concert, as a one-two punch, often seeing the fish approach or hit the swimbait. “I get some follows at times where fish pull off near the boat and then just hover by bottom. I’ll swing the boat around, get in position, then throw that finesse bait back to them in those cases.”

Manson is a huge fan of St. Croix’s Victory Series in general for smallmouth, specifically, the Victory Crosshair rod (VTS710MLXF) for swimbaits. “It’s a great hair jig rod,” says Manson, “but it’s incredible for long-cast techniques on all light jig heads in general. While it’s nice to have the distance, with the way a fish bites swimbaits, it’s really critical to have that long rod and extra-fast action.” Manson appreciates the extra length on the Victory Crosshair rod for another reason, too. “These fish are so good at getting off,” he says. “A longer rod aids your ability to do battle and keep them buttoned up.”

For presenting soft-plastic finesse baits, Manson emphasizes the importance of sensitivity. “I won’t fish anything here but St. Croix Legend Xtreme rods in 6’10” (XFS610MLXF) or 7’3” (XFS73MLXF), both in medium light power and extra fast actions,” he says. “Finesse means feel, and feel is the everything of these rods. I can get the distance on many long rods, but to feel bites versus rocks or baitfish, these are the sticks.” Manson uses his Legend Xtremes specifically for working baits across bottom, where contact is key. “I feel where to throw the bait and prefer medium-light powers to run lighter jigs with so much control. I’ve got all the power I need for hook-setting and fighting, while still maintaining control of a small jig, which is tough for most rods.”

Come mid-summer, Manson shifts his focus to offshore structure like ledges, humps, and especially long points that extend into deep water. “That’s where you find the big schools,” says Manson, who spends a good amount of time watching side-imaging, but more importantly, standard 2D sonar to find these big pods of active, deep-water smallmouth. “These fish show up and stay for weeks at a time, and often do so year after year. Still, smallies are notorious for being here today and gone tomorrow, which is why I confirm everything on sonar before setting up to fish.”
There’s no denying that the late-spring and early-summer timeframes deliver some of the best opportunities of the season to score big smallmouth catches, especially if you follow the recommendations of our experts.

Their advice is as solid as the chunky bronzebacks they’re sticking on a regular basis.

AFTCO Solpro Fishing Gloves Review

AFTCO gloves
Cutouts allow good contact with rod for feel

For years I searched for gloves I could wear while fishing.  I have dozens of pairs on which I spent way too much money and wore once.  None allowed me to feel the bites, cast both bait caster and spinning reel, protect me from sun in summer and stay warm in winter.

    At the Georgia Outdoor Writers Association meeting this past spring our “goody” bag included a pair of AFTCO Solpro fishing gloves. I thought the size was marked wrong, the XXL looked way too small for my hands.  But I struggled and got them on, and they “fit like a glove!”

    They are snug on my hands, but that helps feel the rod and reel while fishing.  The fingertips are cut out as are the palms, giving me good skin contact with line, rod and reel.  And they have protected my hands from sunburn this spring and my hands have not gotten hot while wearing them, either.

    I did not think they would be very warm in the winter and I am not sure they will be. But when I pick up a cold can of Diet Rite Cola I feel the cold on my palm and fingertips but not where the glove material is between my hand and the can.  I hope that means they will be warm.

    The tight gloves are hard to get on and I have to be careful to get my fingers headed in the right direction, but it gets easier each time I put them on.  I put them on each morning when the sun starts to get warm. 

With them and a gaiter, a simple tube of sun block stretchable cloth that goes over my head and covers my ears, neck and most of my face, I am well protected without putting on sunscreen except on the tip of my nose.  The gaiter was given to me when I attended a Bassmasters Classic as a media observer a few years ago.

Just my luck, when I went to the company site apparently the Solpro gloves are no longer available. That is probably why they were given to us, they are discontinued. It looks like they have been replaced with a “Solago” named glove.  It looks the same in pictures.

The Solago sun gloves sell for $29.00.  I am ordering a spare pair, but was disappointed when shipping cost $9.99, over a third of the cost of the gloves!  They did offer a free gaiter with my first order, though. 

And after I got home from my trip, Linda asked if I thought to check Amazon. I had not, they were the same price but shipping was free if you are a Prime member. I could have saved $10 if I had not been in such a hurry!

BASS Founder Ray Scott Dead At 88 Years Old


from The Fishing Wire

Ray Scott Dead at 88

Ray Scott, the man who founded Fishing Tackle Retailer (FTR) and the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (BASS) and forged the modern sportfishing industry died in Montgomery, Alabama, Sunday night of natural causes. He was 88 years old.

Born in Montgomery in 1933, Scott’s legend is well known among bass anglers. He was an insurance salesman who dreamed of taking bass fishing to a wider audience. In 1967, while waiting out some bad weather on a fishing trip, Scott sat in his motel room and had an epiphany. He would create a bass tournament format that would be fair, honest, and compelling. He dreamed of a time when professional bass fishing would appear on television alongside traditional spectator sports.

“It all just came to me,” Scott said. “I knew it would work.”

In June of 1967, he organized and conducted the All-American bass fishing tournament on Beaver Lake in Arkansas — the first modern bass competition and the template for all that have followed. Six months later, he started BASS, one of the largest fishing membership organizations in history. In 1968, he published the first issue of Bassmaster Magazine. In 1984, he launched “The Bassmasters” television program. About that same time, Scott started Fishing Tackle Retailer magazine as a division of BASS. It was his foray into the larger tackle industry and created a platform through which he could speak to retailers and industry professionals across the country and across all angling demographics.

“He created an entire industry,” said FTR co-publisher Brian Thurston. “Ray was probably the most influential individual sportfishing has ever seen and one of the best promoters of all time.”

It would be almost impossible to overstate the importance of Scott in the bass fishing world specifically and in the sportfishing world generally.

While growing BASS — which peaked at about 750,000 members and still boasts over half a million — Scott impacted virtually every other aspect of modern sportfishing, from water quality to safety to catch-and-release. He was a visionary, a trailblazer, an evangelist, an igniter, a showman, a salesman, a marketer, an entrepreneur, a publisher, a conservationist, and a leader. Most of those who work in the bass fishing industry and many in the sportfishing industry owe their careers to him.

Scott sold BASS and FTR to a group of investors in 1986, but he stayed involved as an executive and as the face of BASS. In the 1990s, he created Ray Scott Outdoors, a communications and marketing firm for fishing industry products and companies. Throughout the ’90s, he was a fixture at industry trade and consumer shows.

But fishing was not Scott’s only interest or passion, he also founded the Whitetail Institute of North America, advancing nutrition and habitat efforts for America’s favorite big game animal. And Scott was involved in politics, supporting the presidential bids of George H.W. Bush in 1980, 1988, and 1992. For several decades, Scott dedicated much of his time and resources to supporting his church — Pintlala Baptist Church in Pintlala, Alabama.

He is survived by his wife, Susan, and four children. Funeral services have yet to be announced.

Flint River Bass Club May West Point Bass Tournament

Last Saturday nine members of the Flint River Bass Club fished our May tournament at West Point. We cast from 6:30 AM to 2:30 PM to land 21 keeper bass weighing about 30 pounds.  Three people had five bass limits and two members did not catch a fish.

Niles Murray won with five bass weighing 8.05 pounds and had a 2.99 pound largemouth for big fish.  Lee Hancock came in second with five weighing 6.19 pounds, my five at 5.88 pounds was third and Doug Acree placed fourth with four at 5.46 pounds.

I have a favorite shallow gravel point in the spring at West Point near the dam. Shad spawn on it and I have caught many fish on it in April and May in past tournaments.

In one tournament about ten years ago I got seven hits on my first seven casts with a topwater popper. I landed five, putting my limit in the live well in less than ten minutes.  They were 14-inch spots and I ended up culling all of them later but that was a fast, fun ten minutes!

Shad were spawning there Saturday morning and I caught two keeper spots and two hybrids in the few minutes before the sunlight hit the water.  Then it got tough.  I had only one bite, a small keeper fish that jumped and threw my buzzbait at about 9:00 AM. 

The wind got strong and it was surprisingly cold.   I headed up the lake to fish a protected creek at 11:00 AM and noticed a small secondary point that I like to fish in a cove. And it looked protected from the wind.

I pulled in there and caught three keepers, filling my limit in the next 30 minutes.  Although I fished hard I got only one more bite, a keeper that culled my smallest spot, at 2:00, just 30 minutes before weigh-in.

Two of my bass and both hybrids came on a topwater popper, two on a Carolina rig and one on a shaky head worm.

How To Catch Walleye In the Weeds


from The Fishing Wire

Walleyes in the Weeds

Fishing aquatic vegetation is second nature to bass anglers, but the green stuff is just as crucial for walleye fishing. They use weedlines as travel routes and know that grass holds plenty of forage, making them the perfect place to search for their next meal.

A trio of Wisconsin guides, Josh Teigen, Troy Peterson, and Jeff Evans, search out weeds in the late spring and early summer months. They have different approaches to fishing them, but they all work and help them and their clients catch some of their biggest walleyes of the year.

Slip Bobbers on Weedlines

Iron River, Wisconsin’s, Jeff Evans guides clients on various lakes for walleye from the May opener through the entire fishing season. Many tactics work when targeting grass on inland lakes for Evans, but he says a slip bobber rig with a minnow or leech is hard to beat.

“After the walleye spawn, they recover in deep water and then head to the weeds,” says Evans. “As the new weed beds emerge, the walleye will follow the green, new growth and you can find these areas on your side imaging. They’ll follow the edge as new grass grows and later in the year it might be in 15 to 20-feet of water on clear lakes, but only 8 to 12-feet of water on more stained lakes.”

According to Evans, the bite typically lasts until the 4th of July, when many walleye switch gears to mud basins, reefs and points. “Some years, the bite can go all summer long and into the fall months,” he says. “My theory is that it has to do with water temperatures. If it gets into the 70s too early, they’ll get out deeper quicker, but they stick around if it’s a gradual rise.”

Evans likes to rig up his clients with a 7-foot medium-light spinning rod and a quality reel spooled with 30 lb Seaguar Smackdown Flash Green braid with a leader of 10 lb Gold Label fluorocarbon. On the business end, it’s generally a slip bobber set to the desired depth with a slip knot and a ¼-ounce egg sinker. He then rigs a barrel swivel with an 18-inch leader of Gold Label with either a #1 Octopus hook or 1/16-ounce jighead used to rig the leech or minnow.

“The medium-light rod is helpful because people tend to overset the hook with a slip bobber when they see it go down and you want a little flex,” he said. “I like the bobber set so that it barely floats in the water to detect light bites. Smackdown has been the perfect braided line because it holds the slip knot very well, where with some braids, it will slip. Gold Label has been excellent because it’s limp, strong, and invisible to walleye that are notoriously line shy.”

Teigen’s Ripping Approach

Josh Tiegen fishes many of the same waters as Evans, from inland lakes on the Eau Claire and Pike Lake chains to Chequamegon Bay on Lake Superior to the Hayward area lakes. He uses the same approach everywhere he goes for walleye in the weeds: rip the bait free from grass.

“I always tell my clients that if you are not getting grass on your bait once in a while, you are fishing it too fast or not around enough grass,” he says. “If you are getting grass on your bait every time, it’s moving too slowly. Ideally, it should be one out of every five casts that you come back with grass, the key is just to be ticking it and if you rip it free when you feel the grass, that’s where many of the bites occur.”

Teigen chooses hard jerkbaits, soft jerkbaits, and a spoon as his top weapons for walleye around vegetation.

“A 5-inch Kalin’s Jerk Minnow on a ¼-ounce darter head jig is great for fishing the weeds and the darter head does a good job coming through it,” says Teigen. “I also like a 3/8-ounce gold Acme Kastmaster spoon for fishing the edges and a Livingston Jerkmaster jerkbait for fishing along the edge or over top of the grass.”

For the Jerk Minnow and Kastmaster, he opts for a 7-foot medium-light spinning reel with a fast speed spinning reel, and for the jerkbait, he goes up to a medium-action rod. For all three, he fishes them with 20 lb Seaguar Smackdown Flash Green braid with a leader of 12 lb Gold Label.

“The high visibility green color is the way to go because we are ripping these baits free from the grass and you’ll see your line jump even when you don’t feel the bite with your rod,” he says. “Using braid is important because you need to make hard pops with the rod to free the bait from grass and you need the zero stretch. I’ll use a 3 to 4-foot leader of Gold Label and as spooky as these walleye can be, the invisibility of the line makes a big difference in getting more bites.”

Fishing for walleye this way is one of Teigen’s favorites, starting at the end of May and into the summer months; plus, it’s a way to fool some of the biggest walleye in the lake.

“Many walleye guys troll and it’s too hard for them to fish around grass effectively because you are always hanging up, so not as many people are fishing for them this way,” he says. “Plus, it seems like my biggest walleyes of the year always come from the weeds. I’ve seen that the bigger ones gravitate there instead of the rock and mud.”

Dippin’ for Walleye

Early in the year, guide and tournament angler, Troy Peterson, breaks out specialized gear for a unique way to target walleye, dipping emerging grass with leeches and nightcrawlers on a 1/16 or 3/32-ounce jighead. He likes the leeches for the movement they create on the jighead and nightcrawlers for the added scent, but they are both solid choices.

“It’s all about finding the greenest weeds you can find, whether they are cane beds or rice paddies that have been brown all winter and are just starting to turn green as they grow again,” says Peterson. “The new sprouts have fresh oxygen and gather minnows and the walleye are there for them in really shallow water, mostly 3 to 5-feet of water. It starts in mid-May and usually goes until the first week of June. Then when the carp start spawning and causing a commotion and stirring bottom in June, it’s the same bite in the same places as the walleye are there to feed on stirred up crustaceans.”

Stealth is key with this approach and Peterson uses his bow-mount trolling motor to slowly move along the grass line, dipping his bait into the holes and edges of the new grass. The rod of choice used by “dippers” is generally over 10-feet long, with custom 12 and 14-foot medium-light spinning rods a common choice.

“Some even use cane poles because there is no casting; you simply drop the bait in and let it fall to the bottom before moving to the next one,” he says. “It’s a highly visual technique and you wait until your line starts to move when one gets it. We use 10 lb Seaguar Smackdown Flash Green braid with a leader of 6 or 8 lb Gold Label fluorocarbon because they both have tiny diameters and the bright green braid helps you detect bites.”

Peterson uses this approach throughout the Winnebago Chain of Lakes and says it’s usually the way to win all of the early season walleye derbies there. “It’s a big fish technique, but the trick is to stay stealthy,” he says. “That’s why we use the long rods to stay away from the fish. It’s better than using a slip bobber because that can spook fish this shallow.”

You can fish for walleyes in vegetation with many approaches, but it’s apparent that it’s the place to be early in the year as new growth is just starting after a long cold winter. These three methods for targeting them have all proven to be excellent for early season walleye in the weeds.

Seaguar Smackdown braid is available in high visibility Flash Green and low visibility Stealth Gray. It is available in 150-yards spools in sizes ranging from 10 to 65 lb test.

Coming Soon — 300 yard spools of Smackdown braid

Seaguar Gold Label fluorocarbon leader is available in twenty five-yard spools in 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 & 12 lb test for fresh water use, complementing the 15, 20, 25, 30, 40 , 50 , 60 and 80 lb. test leaders available for saltwater. Coming Soon — 50 yard spools of Gold Label