Monthly Archives: December 2022

St. Croix Avid Rod Review

UPDATE – St Croix has discontinued the Avid series – my favorite – but they have a great closeout sale on them – two I ordered arrived today!!  They are at a $90 discount right now if any are left

Fishermen have their favorite rods; it is largely a matter of personal preferences. My favorites are St. Croix Rods. They have a model for any fishing need, and I have several in different models, weights and actions.

I won a St. Croix rod at a tournament in Wisconsin back in the early 1990s and fell in love with it. The Avid model seven-foot, medium weight, fast action is the best all-around rod I use. It works well for topwater baits, crankbaits and spinnerbaits. I also use it successfully for small swim baits and underspins.

The next year I bought two more Avids but didn’t pay careful attention and ordered the medium heavy weigh, a lucky accident. I used them for throwing the shaky head and small jig and pig and they were perfect. I seldom lost a fish on any of my three rods.

I broke the first rod and St. Croix replaced it under warranty for $50. They did not even ask how I broke a two-year old rod, but I am sure I hit it on the side of the boat working a topwater plug based on where it broke, cracking it.

I managed to lose one of the second two I bought, a whole nother story of my stupidity, and ordered two more of the medium action. Since I was mostly fishing shaky heads and small jigs, one of them was dedicated to the small jigs.

After losing several fish on the jig, I quit throwing it for a time. I finally realized all the fish I lost were on the medium action and had not lost fish on the medium heavy rod fishing a shaky head, I ordered another medium heavy action a few months ago. Since then I have not lost a fish on the jig, including a 4 pounder at Guntersville and many other keeper fish.

Rod weight makes a difference! The slightly heavier weight helps set the hook on the jig and shaky head where the lighter weight is fine for other baits. I fish both shaky head and small jigs on those two rods every tournament now and use the medium weight for most of my other baits.

I also have a Mojo Crankbait rod and it is perfect for casting big crankbaits, and small ones for that matter. Jamie Koza, owner of The Dugout Tackle shop in Atlanta and well-known tournament fisherman, told me it is the best crankbait rod he has ever used.

St Croix rods are not cheap but are all quality rods with a great warranty. But they make a series for most any budget, from their Bass X at about $100 to the very top end Legend Family, made for the deadly serious bass fisherman, at around $420. The Avid Family model I love is about $180 – second only to the Legend, and their Mojo Family is about $130. Their Premier series is about $120.

St Croix makes quality spinning and casting in all the above models and have models for saltwater, salmon, fly and even ice fishing. I have a St Croix Premier spinning rod and five Avid casting rods and the Mojo now and have ordered a Legend jig rod – just gotta try it out.

Disclaimer – I get a discount from St. Croix but would never use so many of them – at any price – if they did not work for me. I would recommend any fisherman try the St Croix rods in the model and action that they like.

St Croix Rods Are My Favorite

UPDATE – St Croix has discontinued the Avid series – my favorite – but they have a great closeout sale on them – two I ordered arrived today!!  They are at a $90 discount right now if any are left

St. Croix Builds the Right Rod for the Job
from The Fishing Wire

Using a St. Croix rod for spybait fishing

Image by Kyle Wood, courtesy of FLW
Chad Grigsby calls on St. Croix Legend Xtreme and spybait combo for FLW Majors Win

Park Falls, WI – There are players on the bench that wait their entire careers to get called into the game. Often those players have a very specific skillset that only requires being tapped every once in a while. And when it’s their time to lace up, they better perform. Chad Grigsby has one of those players in his boat.

There’s that moment when a professional bass pro simply changes up. It doesn’t matter if they are engaged in a catching streak—they just know it’s the right time. It’s those on-the-fly decisions, along with being prepared for those change-ups, that separate the pros from the amateurs. For Grigsby, a St. Croix Rod pro, it was what led to his 2nd FLW Tour career win and a $125,000 check.

A big part of being prepared is having the right equipment in your boat. Grigsby only fishes St. Croix rods. “I’m spending the holiday with my family at our cabin in Wisconsin. St. Croix is made here – not just in the USA – but in Wisconsin. And they are a family-owned company. That means a lot to me; I can visit the factory in Park Falls and see the people making the rods I rely on every day,” he said.

Grigsby’s boat is filled with rods. He’s had people come up to his boat and ask why he carries so many rods. “Golf is the analogy I use to explain it. You don’t use a driver on the putting surface and vice-versa. Every rod I own has a purpose; it’s why I have so many rods. St. Croix designs rods with different actions, powers and lengths for each situation. On tour we go to so many different lakes with varying conditions that require the use of multiple lures and techniques. We need rods rigged and ready if the conditions change.”

The Lake St. Clair tournament was a perfect example of this. To win the tournament, Grigsby had to be ready for every change. On the final morning, it was calm before sunup. “I started out fishing a 4-inch green pumpkin and gold-colored Venom Lures Tube on a ¾ ounce jig head with a 7’6” Legend Elite (EC76MHMF) medium-heavy power moderate-fast action casting rod. I was catching fish,” said Grigsby.

During an active bite, the sun popped out. It was at that moment that Grigsby’s instincts made him switch-up. “My photographer gave me a strange look when I set the rod down and picked up a Legend Xtreme (LXS76MLXF) 7’6” medium-light power extra fast-action spinning rod rigged with a spybait. Call me crazy but the change in conditions told me to switch,” he said. On his second cast, Grigsby’s premonition was validated when he caught a six-pounder and sealed the deal for the tournament.

“The smallmouth on that lake are old and smart. You need to throw the bait a long way to get them to bite. When the conditions are sunny and calm, the spybait is the best choice. Because you’re casting a long distance, you’re in for a long fight and you’ve got to keep the fish hooked.

I picked this rod because of the bait. The Legend Xtreme helped me 1000%. This rod has a really soft tip that allows me to throw a 4” bait into the wind a long way. The rod tip is so soft that they can’t pull the hooks out. Also, this rod is super sensitive, making bite detection easier. It’s the key to landing these fish. If people miss fish throwing spybaits, they are using the wrong rod,” added Grigsby.

“I fish Legend Elite and Legend Xtreme in every tournament but this was the only time I used that specific rod this year. Every tournament is different and it’s hard to know exactly when you’ll need a certain rod. That’s why I always carry it– it’s why I have it in my arsenal.”

Only time and conditions will determine if Grigsby calls on that combo again. Regardless, it will always find a home in his rod locker, hoping to be called into the game.


About St. Croix Rod

Now in its 70th year, Park Falls, Wisconsin based St. Croix Rod remains a family-owned and managed manufacturer of high-performance fishing rods with a heritage of USA manufacturing. Utilizing proprietary technologies, St. Croix controls every step of the rod-making process, from conception and design to manufacturing and inspection, in two company-owned facilities. The company offers a complete line of premium, American-made fly, spinning and casting rods under their Legend Elite®, Legend® Xtreme, Legend Tournament®, Avid Series®, Premier®, Wild River®, Tidemaster®, Imperial® and other trademarks through a global distribution network of full-service fishing tackle dealers. The company’s mid-priced Triumph®, Mojo Bass/Musky/Inshore/Surf, Eyecon® and Rio Santo series rods are designed and engineered in Park Falls, Wisconsin and built in a new, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Fresnillo, Mexico. Founded in 1948 to manufacture jointed bamboo fishing poles for a Minneapolis hardware store chain, St. Croix has grown to become the largest manufacturer of fishing rods in North America.


from The Fishing Wire

Tips to Decrease Impacts to Fish When Catch-and-Release Ice Fishing

SALT LAKE CITY — Winter weather has descended on Utah, and if you are planning to go ice fishing this winter and want to release the fish you catch, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is offering some tips to help decrease stress and increase survival for the fish.

Minimize the air exposure time for the fish

Just like hot temperatures and warm water can have impacts on certain fish species, freezing weather can also be tough on fish.

Anglers have to remember that even though they are ice fishing, the fish they are catching are living in water that is not frozen — which means that the water temperature that the fish are experiencing is often warmer than the temperatures they are exposed to coming out of the water.

“If an angler is fishing on a particularly cold day, pulling a fish up through a hole and exposing them to freezing conditions can be stressful to a fish,” DWR Sportfish Coordinator Randy Oplinger said. “The water that remains on sensitive areas — such as the gills or eyes — can begin to freeze and this can cause damage to a fish. So, it is best to minimize exposure time and to release the fish as quickly as possible after catching it.”

One way to eliminate the air exposure time is to make sure you have quick access to all the tools you will need to easily and quickly release the fish.

“A unique aspect of ice fishing is that anglers tend to dress in layers to keep warm, which is definitely recommended,” Oplinger said. “However, they often bury key equipment, such as pliers and cameras, under those layers. Another key aspect of ice fishing is that anglers often fish with two holes that are somewhat separated from each other. This makes it easy to forget key equipment for releasing the fish when you head to another hole in response to a strike. What you don’t want to do is increase air exposure time for the fish because you are scrambling to find equipment. Anglers should carry the equipment that they need to release their fish in an easily accessible location.”

One idea for doing that is to keep your pliers on a lanyard around your neck to make them easy to find and access. Another idea is to keep all your equipment in a bucket or sled so that it’s easy to find and doesn’t get buried in the snow on top of the ice.

Eliminate contact with dry surfaces

Wearing gloves while ice fishing is typically recommended to protect an angler’s hands from freezing conditions. Those gloves, however, are often made of absorptive fabric. Fish have a protective slime coat on their skin, and wearing gloves while handling the fish can remove the slime coat.

“That can leave fish more susceptible to various skin issues, such as fungal diseases,” Oplinger said. “I know that it is tough to take gloves off while ice fishing because it’s cold, but handling fish with your bare hands is best. Once the fish have been safely released, then you can put your gloves back on.”

Safety tips for anglers

While it is important to decrease stress on the fish while ice fishing, it is also very important to keep yourself safe as well. It’s important to dress in layers and have all the needed equipment to stay warm.

A general safety recommendation is to not step on the ice unless it is at least 4 inches thick. Keep in mind, though, that ice thickness can vary across a lake. If you see the ice is 4 inches thick in one spot, don’t assume it’s 4 inches thick across the entire lake. Be sure to drill test holes into the ice as you venture onto it. You should also avoid putting large groups of people and equipment in a small area — spread the weight out.

“As an extra precaution, you can also purchase ice safety picks, which can help you get out of a lake if you fall through the ice,” Oplinger said. “I’d also recommend taking a rope with you. It’s always a good idea to have someone else with you when ice fishing.”

Find more ice safety tips on the Utah State Parks website.

You can find more information about where to go ice fishing in Utah on the DWR Fish Utah map. Also, be sure to rate the waterbodies that you fish this winter on the website. The ratings allow DWR fisheries managers to gauge angler satisfaction at a specific waterbody. That information helps the DWR improve fishing across the state.


from The Fishing Wire

Veteran Guide Shares Ice Crappie Intel

BEMIDJI, Minn. – We’re making ice across the upper Ice Belt, and with colder temperatures in the forecast, ice fishing conditions should improve considerably in coming days.

While lots of anglers are pursuing early-ice walleyes at destinations like Minnesota’s Red Lake and to the north, lots of smaller lakes have locked up, too, providing easy access for some great crappie action.

We talked with Northland pro and veteran guide, Tom Neustrom—a master crappie angler on all fronts—and he shared his insights for more and bigger early-ice crappies. Take it from us, Tom’s got the 411 and is worth listening to.

Tom Talks Crappies

“Early crappies, honestly, are probably not as far in the basin as a lot of anglers think,” shares Neustrom. “They have a tendency, but it depends on the body of water, to roam around a little bit more during early-ice. They haven’t set up yet. But when you get into late-December and January, they’re on wintering spots in the basins and are not going to move much.”

Instead, Neustrom says during early-ice, crappies tend to establish by the first break in correlation with deeper water. The key is soft bottom. And sometimes, they’re in the deep weeds, and hang out as long as the weeds are still a little green, because there are all kinds of bugs and forage available.

“Get into mid- to late-December, and crappies start moving to the basins. The key is to find those basin-areas with a soft bottom. That’s where the critters are emerging out of the mud. Bloodworms (midge larvae) are critical; crappies chow down on them during early- to mid-ice. They’ll stay in close contact with that food source,” shares Neustrom.

Neustrom says that a lot of early-ice crappie anglers make the mistake of starting too deep during early-ice, concentrating their efforts in 25- to 40-feet—but quite often the crappies aren’t set up there yet.

“In Minnesota, I’m starting to work the basins in late-December and early-January. Before that, I’m working the first break and available green weeds just inside the basins,” shares Neustrom.

Basin crappies will tend to hold to the bottom, especially in the morning; then, as the day progresses, they’ll move up in the water column.

“If you look at your electronics in the morning—I use a Humminbird Helix 7 Ice Bundle—crappies will show up like a blanket or lumps laying on the bottom. They don’t really appear as suspended fish until it gets a little lighter outside. Critters start emerging out of the soft bottom and the crappies follow them up in the water column,” notes Neustrom.

Neustrom adds that LakeMaster mapping is critical to finding—and catching—hardwater crappies. “The new VX Premium LakeMaster card adds aerial mapping imagery, improved depth contour shading to find those spots-on-the-spot, bottom hardness, and SmartStrike, which is like having your own digital fishing guide.”

Winning Presentations

Neustrom says a 1/28-ounce Northland Tungsten Gill Getter has long been a winning bait of choice for early- to mid-winter crappies.

“I use glow patterns. If there’s water stain, I lean on orange and chartreuse patterns; if the water’s clear, I like white glow with a little chartreuse,” says Neustrom.

He adds that a bait that’s forgotten about is the Northland Forage Minnow Fry jig.

“I fish both the 3/32- and 1/16-ounce, depending on depth. It rocks sideways and drops quick and cuts the slush if you’re fishing outside. It has a thinner body and an excellent hook. I’ll put three or four waxies or Eurolarvae on it, and if I can’t catch ‘em that way, I’ll fish a really small crappie minnow on it. I hook the minnow through the tail—that’s key.”

Neustrom’s also a fan of spoon-style baits for early- to mid-ice crappies like the 1/16th-ounce Northland Forage Minnow in Super Glo finishes.

Neustrom adds: “The 1/8-ounce version is also a great walleye bait on deadsticks, rattle reels, and even jigging when the fish don’t want a rattle spoon. I’ve caught an awful lot of big crappies on this bait. Funny thing is, when they’re really going, I don’t put anything on it—no bait, no nothing. When they’re really fired up you can catch ‘em meatless.”

“The Northland Impulse Rigged Bloodworm has also been a great crappie bait—and always in purple. It’s a confidence bait. It’s also available in a tungsten version for faster drops, but I typically use the standard, lead version. I also like the Rigged Tungsten Mini-Smelt, and always in pink and gold.”

Lastly, when the crappies are really going, Neustrom will hole-hop a series of 10- to 15 different spots with a 1/8-ounce Northland Puppet Minnow for getting to active fish fast.

Rods, Reels, and Line

I terms of line, Neustrom uses 4-pound Sufix Elite mono on a spinning reel or in-line style reel.

“I like Daiwa 750-size spinning reels, which I helped design for ice, a nice medium between 500 and 1000 size reels. All of the models, QZ 750QG 750 and QC 750, are great and have a little larger spool than most ice reels,” remarks Neustrom.

When it comes to in-line reels, Neustrom likes trigger-style models for one-handed operation and quick, vertical fishing. In shallow waters, he will turn to fly-reel-style in-line reels that often require the angler to manually strip out the line.

When it comes to rods, Neustrom fishes the St. Croix Custom Ice (CCI) 32” Perch Seeker, a great medium-light power, extra-fast action rod with a soft tip. He’s also using the economical St. Croix Tundra SCT30LF, a great option for fishing smaller jigs.

“I don’t use spring bobbers for crappies, although I’ll use them occasionally for finesse-bite bluegills. Crappies are a little more aggressive than ‘gills. The bluegill bite is kind of a ‘twitch’; a crappie bite is more of a ‘thunk’,” observes Neustrom.

Typically, crappies feed upwards at a 45-degree angle, flare out their gill plates, and suck in water to inhale the bait. So, you’ve gotta watch the tip of your rod because all of a sudden, the bend will disappear and your line will go slack. Then it’s time to quickly reel up a little bit and lightly sweep the hook into place.

“For my second rod, I run a plain-Jane deadstick, typically a glow hook or a 1/16-ounce Forage Minnow Jig, split-shot, and a crappie minnow. I’m old school; I just set the rod on a 5-gallon bucket top. I also like the St. Croix Custom Ice (CCI) 32” Perch Seeker for my deadsticking,” shares Neustrom.

Bait Choices

“A good crappie angler fishes everything—waxies, Eurolarvae, crappie minnows, and soft plastics. You’ve gotta have some maggots in a little container for insurance. Crappies sometimes want that scent over soft-plastics. To go out with one thing is a huge mistake,” concludes Neustrom.

ABOUT Northland® Fishing Tackle

In 1975, a young Northwoods fishing guide named John Peterson started pouring jigs and tying tackle for his clients in a small remote cabin in northern Minnesota. The lures were innovative, made with high quality components, and most importantly, were catching fish when no other baits were working! Word spread like wildfire, the phone started ringing… and the Northland Fishing Tackle® brand was in hot demand! For 40 years now, John and the Northland® team have been designing, testing and perfecting an exclusive line of products that catch fish like no other brand on the market today. Manufactured in the heart of Minnesota’s finest fishing waters, Northland® is one of the country’s leading producers of premium quality jigs, live bait rigs, spinnerbaits and spoons for crappies, bluegills, perch, walleyes, bass, trout, northern pike and muskies.

Where and How To Catch June Lay Lake Bass with GPS Coordinates for Ten Spots

with Ryan Branch

Big largemouth feeding in the grass.  Coosa spots gorging on points in current.  Both species are easy to pattern and catch this month on Lay Lake.

    Lay is a 12,000-acre Alabama Power reservoir on the Coosa River south of I-20, running from its dam to the Logan Martin Dam.  Its shoreline is lined with a variety of grass and lily pads, and docks are on most banks.  Many creeks and sloughs enter it on both sides.

    Ryan Branch grew up near Birmingham in Destadia Hills where he fished on the local high school team and now fishes with the West Alabama College team.  Although his parents didn’t fish, local angler Bill Bonner took him under his wing, acting as boat captain and getting him into tournament fishing in the Anglers for Kids group.

    Ryan credits much of his skills to reading magazines and the internet.  He said he would pick a lure, watch and read all he could about fishing it, then go to local ponds to hone what he had learned.  He took it step by step to reach his current skill level.

    Lay is Ryan’s favorite lake and he fishes it often.  He has learned to catch both largemouth and spots on the lake, and June is a great month to catch both. 

    “I like to cover water all day, looking for feeding fish on a couple different pattern,” Ryan said.  His favorite way of catching them is flipping grass but he catches fish on a variety of patterns and baits.

    For June, Ryan ties on a frog, swim jig, and flipping bait for the grass.  He also rigs a shaky head, swim bait and drop shot for fishing current for spots. He has a few other baits to cast in specific situations, too.  Largemouth win most tournaments but it is easier to catch numbers of spots.

    We fished Lay in early May and caught fish on most of the following ten spots.  Although Ryan said the bass were in a post spawn “funk’” not feeding much for about a week, we still caught fish all day and had some quality fish.  These spots will be much better now and for the rest of the month.

    1. N 33 10.631 – W 86 31.629 – If you put in at Beeswax Ramp, go under the bridge. The creek splits and a big grass bed is in the mouth of the right fork.  Bass released at the ramp constantly restock this area, so it has a high concentration of fish.

    There is a channel running down the right bank as you face up the right channel, and another channel runs down the middle. There are points with grass on them on both sides of the channels.

    Ryan starts on the point on the right closest to the bank and fish a bluegill colored Spro Popping Frog early in the morning, and other low light conditions. He switches to a black frog when the sun is up, working the frog through the grass and across the points in it.

    Watch and listen for activity in the grass. If you see any movement, grass moving, swirls or splashes, cast to it. Also hit any openings back in the grass. If you hear bream “popping,” indicating they are feeding in the grass, the bass are likely to be feeding on them.

    When the sun is bright on the grass, drop a punch bait through the grass. Be sure to hit the thickest spots and any isolated clumps out from the main grass bed, too.

    2.  N 33 11.680 – W 86 30.238 – Run up the river and go into Bulley Creek. There is a small island about half way back and the channel runs between it and the right bank.  Stop at the house with the cut yard running down to the water and start fishing upstream along the right bank.

    Fish your frog in the water willow grass here. This bank stays shady for a while in the morning so it can be better for the frog later than places that get early sun.  After fishing up the right bank to across from the upper end of the island, go across to the island and fish it, too. Work the channel side around the downstream point and up the opposite side until it gets very shallow.

    Try a swim jig in this grass and all other grass.  Ryan casts a white Super Cotton three eights ounce jig with a matching Zoom Z Craw when the bass are eating shad but switches to a March Madness black and blue jig and trailer with the main food is bluegill. Also punch the thicker mats.

    3.  N 33 11.410 – W 86 29.932 – Back out at the mouth of Bulley Creek, the downstream point is flat and shallow but slopes out and drops into the river channel.  The creek channel swings in by the point, too.  Spots group up on the point and feed, especially when current is moving.

    Stop out on the river side of the point with your boat in about seven feet of water and fan cast the point, toward the bank as well as toward both channels.  Ryan fishes both a shaky head worm and drop shot here. He rigs a morning dawn color Reaction Innovation Flirt worm 10 to 12 inches above a one quarter to three eights ounce sinker, using the heavier weight in stronger current.

    Work around the whole point and check the upstream point at the green channel marker 43.  Drag the drops shot slowly, twitching the rod tip to make the worm wiggle.  Bump the bottom with a shaky head worm the same way. Ryan caught a good keeper spot here when we fished.

    4. N 33 14.567 – W 86 27.455 – Up the river the discharges from the power plant produces current that attracts spots and largemouth.  Its on the outside bend of the river and the water is 25 feet deep just off the bank.  The current is so strong it can be hard to fish, but worth it.

    Ryan stops about 20 yards off the bank about 50 yards downstream of the lower discharge and casts a green pumpkin three quarters ounce Buckeye Ballin Out jig with a matching Zoom Z Craw trailer close to the bank.  Cast upstream and work it back to the boat with the current, keeping it on the rocks, working down them to 20 feet deep.  He says you will get hung but can catch some good fish doing this. Work your jig all the way up past the upstream discharge.

    Also throw a Tennessee Shad Kitech 4.3 swim bait on a half-ounce Dirty Jigs jig head.  Cast it to the seams and eddies in the current and swim it back with the current in a natural movement.  Be ready to set the hook fast, the current pulling your line lets the fish know to spit it out fast. I lost a 3.5-pound spot that hit my swim bait and jumped and threw it because I didn’t get a good hookset.

    5.  N 33 14.617 – W 86 26.820 – On up the river, Yellowleaf Creek enters the river on your left.  The
downstream point is another good place to find spots and the occasional largemouth schooled up feeding in the current.

    Stop out on the point in about 20 feet of water and idle over it, looking for brush and fish.  Wood washes in and hangs on the point but it changes often with the current changes, so you need to find it. When you locate either, back off and cast drop shot, shaky head and jig and pig to it, working all around the area holding fish.

    Ryan rigs a green pumpkin or Junebug Trick worm on a one quarter to one half ounce Davis head.  Use the heavier head in current but the lighter head will get hung less if the current allows you to work it. Current does help the bite here and similar places.

    Ryan says he catches about 95 percent spots here, but some largemouth do user the area.  He added you can catch 30 fish here on a June day with current moving, and he landed a couple nice spots the day we fish, although it was early for them to be on this pattern.

    6.  N 33 12.037 – W 86 28.994 – Going back down the lake Dry Branch is on your right. Across from it and a little downstream, a small pocket has a downstream grassy point running out across the mouth of it. It is very shallow but creates a good ledge where it runs out and drops into the river channel.

    Keep your boat in the channel in 20 feet of water and cast your drop shot, jig and pig and shaky head toward the grassy point. Work those baits from three to 15 feet deep, keeping in contact with the bottom.  Angle your casts upstream to move your bait in a natural motion with the current. 

    Fish from the dock on the river just down the from the point up to the middle of the cove where the grass on the point ends.  Work slowly and probe for any wood cove hung on the bottom.  When you hit it make several casts to it with different baits.

    7.  N 33 08.560 – W 86 28.980 – Going down the river past Beeswax Creek, Kelly Creek enters on your right where the river makes a bend to the left. The point turns into a bluff bank going downstream.  There are rocks and brush on the point, and current is concentrated by the outside bend.

    Stop out even with the point in about 20 feet of water and cast to the point, working shaky head, drop shot and jig and pig down the slope.  Fish from the end of the point in the mouth of the creek about 200 yards down the bluff bank.  This place holds mostly spots with the rock and current.

    When fishing a drop shot, Ryan keeps his sinker on the bottom and slides it along slowly, shaking his rod tip constantly to make the worm dance. With the shaky head, he starts with aggressive shakes and moves it fast, but he will slow down dragging it along with little action if he does not get bit. Try different actions until the bass show him the action they want.

    8.  N 33 09.237 – W 86 26.803 – The Cedar Creek Road Bridge is a good concentration area for bass this month. Late spawners are joining earlier ones that stopped to feed on the bridge, and shad have been spawning here in May, so many bass are still holding around the riprap, especially early in the month.

    Ryan fishes the long, left side riprap and says the downstream side is best.  Some current coming under the bridge will concentrate them on the corners, but they feed all along the rocks.

    Try your shaky head worm, but Ryan will also fish a white and chartreuse chatterbait and shad colored squarebill here.  Try to bump the rocks with both those baits then follow up with your shaky head in any area you get bites on the faster moving baits.

    9.  N 33 16.634 – W 86 29.553 – Down the river around the bend to right, as the channel turns left, a small double creek with Okomo Marina in the back enters on your right.  It is lined with docks and has some grass in it.

    Start at the downstream point and work the docks inside the cove.  Ryan fishes them with a green pumpkin three eights ounce Ballin Jig with matching trailer and a Texas rigged green pumpkin Baby Brush Hog behind a three eights ounce sinker.  In muddy water, go to black and blue on both baits.

    Also skip your baits into shady areas along the seawall here. Pay attention to where you get bites and look for a pattern on the docks and in the shade. Bass tend to set up in the same places on docks all down the bank, so concentrate your pitches to those places when you get the pattern.

    When you get to the back, punch the mats with your punch bait. Ryan rigs a black and blue Sweet Beaver behind a one-ounce tungsten bait to punch them. He caught our best bass of the day here, a largemouth pushing five pounds.  It hit in a small mat out from the main bed.

    10.  N 33 04.974 – W 86 30.874 – A little further downstream, a big island sits in the mouth of Spring Creek.  The river side of it drops off fast with a clay bank back off the water. It has a good grass bed running from the point where there is a danger marker for stumps down the outside bank. 

    Ryan says there is usually a lot of baitfish in this area, concentrating the bass. Fish your frog and swim jig in this grass.  If you see a thick patch, punch it.  Work this area slowly and carefully if you get bit since schools of bass often hold over deep water and run in to the grass to feed.

    Try these places with Ryan’s bait choices or yours, find the pattern and use it on other places for Lay bass this month.

Ryan is on Facebook at


from The Fishing Wire


Women Who Fish Have Greater Grit and Self-Esteem According to New Research

ALEXANDRIA, VA – The Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) today announced new research that shows fishing provides positive psychological benefits for women. Conducted in partnership with global market-research firm, Ipsos, the research reveals female anglers were more likely to have a positive outlook on life, higher levels of perseverance and a greater self-worth. These insights come after the 2022 Special Report on Fishing revealed women now compose 37% of all anglers, the largest share on record.

“While we’ve known being near the water provides mental health benefits, this study demonstrated the significant, rewarding effects of fishing specifically for women,” said RBFF Senior Director of Marketing, Rachel Piacenza. “Their experiences on the water foster confidence, patience and determination that they can rely on in other areas of life.”

The research shows active female anglers demonstrate greater perseverance and grit, meaning they’re better able to face setbacks and handle adversity. It also reveals women continue to face adversity and under-representation in the fishing community. Almost half of female anglers do not feel respected by the angling community, and 77% do not feel represented in advertising for fishing gear and apparel.

“Understanding both the advantages and problems for women who fish can help the industry better recruit and retain female anglers,” explained Stephanie Vatalaro, RBFF’s Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications. “As we fight to plug ‘the leaky bucket’ of participation loss, these insights are the first step to creating a more appealing and supportive environment for women who represent a significant opportunity for increasing participation overall.”

Additional results from the study will be released January 11 during an industry-wide webinar where RBFF and partners will dive deeper into these insights and provide recommendations on how the fishing and boating community can continue to recruit, retain, and reactivate female anglers of all ages. The webinar will cover:

  • Why women start, continue, and stop fishing
  • How fishing contributes to female anglers’ mental wellness and quality of life
  • What hurdles female anglers face on the water and in stores
  • How the industry can improve women’s fishing and boating experiences and foster a sense of community

Reserve your spot for the webinar here.

For further information: Bruna Carincotte,, 202-743-9894.

How and Where To Catch April Alabama River Bass with GPS Coordinates

with Sean Murphy

Alabama River spots spawning on main river sandbars and rocks.  Largemouth spawning in sloughs and creeks.  This is a great time to catch both during prespawn, post spawn and bedding.

The Alabama River runs from the junction of the Coosa and Tallapoosa Rivers near Montgomery 105 miles southeast in twisting, turning loops.  It is well known for big spots but has a good population of quality largemouth, too.

Sean Murphy is a senior at Auburn on the fishing team.  He grew up in Lutz, Florida near Tampa and got started fishing at a very young age, but the first bass he caught in a pond near home hooked him on bass.  He chose Auburn mainly for its Aviation program but the bass fishing team there helped him make his decision.

“Team members took me under their wing and taught me a lot about catching bass,” Sean said.  Fishing Alabama lakes and rivers is very different from Florida waters and he had to learn to adapt to new methods to catch bass.  He has learned well.

“Both species of bass on the River are in the spawning mood in April,” Sean said.  The spots don’t like to move far from the river current to spawn, but largemouth will go back shallow in sloughs and creeks.  Spots will bed on sandbars and rocks near the river, but largemouth look for hard bottoms a long way from the current.

For the two different methods of fishing Sean will have two groups of baits ready.  For largemouth, a bladed jig, jig and pig, Carolina rig and spinnerbait cover the bedding areas around grass and pads. When trying for spots he uses a rattlebait and medium diving crankbait. The jig and pig and Carolina rig work for them, too.

We got on the river in early March when it was running eight feet high and the current was so strong it was almost impossible to fish on the river.  If those conditions persist, fishing for largemouth will probably be your best bet but you can catch spots even under those conditions if you work at it.

1. N 33 26.346 – W 86 23.445 – Cooters Pond near Prattsville is a good central ramp for these spots. It is near the mouth of a big slough and a creek enters in the back at the golf cart bridge.  There is standing timber and stumps all through it where largemouth stage, then move to the shallows to feed.

Idle toward the bridge, it is very shallow and dangerous if you don’t know it.  From the timber patch on the left facing the bridge to it and down the other side is a big lily pad field.  Lily pads indicate a hard bottom where bass like to spawn.

Cast a bladed jig and jig and pig around the timber for both pre and post spawn largemouth.  If a cold front pushes the fish back from the bedding areas, they will move to the trees until conditions get better, too.  Sean likes a three eights ounce black and blue bait in stained water and a green pumpkin jig in clearer water, with a matching three-inch swim bait trailer.  He will also pitch a jig to a visible tree, let it sink beside it then work it back to the boat, hitting hidden wood.

Run your bladed jig through lily pad fields, too. Early in the month stems may be all you see, but they indicate places to cast just like the pads do.  Fish all around the bridge on both sides and watch for the small channel coming under it.

2.  N 32 25.838 – W 86 23.914 – The canal going out to the river from the Cooter Pond ramp offers a highway for largemouth moving in and out to feed.  Across from the downstream end of the old docks there is a hole near the opposite bank where the channel runs right by it. It was 20 feet deep the day we fished, so at normal pool it is about 12 feet deep.

Bass stack up in this hole and it, like hole 1, is constantly restocked with released bass.  Sean gets in close to the wood on this bank and flips a jig and pig to all the cover. There are limbs right on top and many deeper ones you can’t see. Work them all.

Sean flips a custom made Spotsticker  green pumpkin and blue three eights to three quarter ounce jig, depending on current, and puts a three-inch swim bait trailer on it. If the water is heavily stained, he goes with black and blue.  He wants to get his jig right in the bass’s face, so he covers the water thoroughly and carefully.

3.   N 32 25.759 – W 86 23.496 – Go out to the river and go upstream past the island where the canal comes out.  Cooters Pond opens up here and there is a good sandbar off the upstream point.  Spots bed on the sandbar and sandy bottom along it to the point of the island back in the slough a short distance. 

Idle in even with the upstream point and fish from it to the end of the island.  Spots stage here both pre and post spawn, and bed on the sand, so it is good all month.  There are scattered stumps on it, too, that are key places for them.

This is a good place to bump the bottom with a crankbait and drag a Carolina rig all over it. Sean rigs a dark colored lizard about six inches above a three quarters ounce sinker and covers the whole area with it. Fish from two feet deep back to the boat.

4.  N 32 24.675 – W 86 24.094 – Run down the river until you see the highway 31 bridge.  On your left a small creek enters the river and is a holding and spawning area for both spots and largemouth.  Spots will be on the upstream point largemouth will be there, too, as they move in and out. 

Fish both crankbait and Carolina rig on the point, bumping bottom from all angles.  Sean fishes a shad or chartreuse with black back colored bait that runs six feet deep. Drag a lizard all over it, too.

For bedding largemouth, work into the creek as far as you can go, depending on water level. Pitch your jig and pig to all the wood cover on both sides. Try to get it right on the bank under overhanging limbs and drag it along the bottom.  Run a bladed bait through any grass.  Here and other places you may see fish on the bed if the water is clear, and you can sight fish for them.

5.  N 32 24.684 – W 86 24.261 – Spots love to hold on offshore rocks and there is a good ledge just downstream of hole 4.  If you idle downstream toward the bridge about 50 feet off the left bank and watch a side scan sonar, you can see the rocks as they come off the bank and drop down.  There is a wooden structure that looks like a box deer stand and the rocks are just upstream of it.

When you find them, sit downstream of them and cast a jig and pig upstream far enough to get it down to the rocks.   If the current is running strong, you need to go to a heavier jig, up to three quarters an ounce.  Fish it slowly, keeping it right on the rocks and it comes down current with a natural action.

6. N 32 24.098 – W 86 26.637 – Go under the highway 31 bridge. There is an open pasture along the right bank. Where it stops at the end of a small bluff bank a small creek enters the river.  The downstream point of this creek runs upstream and has stumps on it.  It is a good holding area for both species and spots bed on it, too.

Stop just downstream of the ditch and cast a crankbait and Carolina rig upstream, working them back with the current.  In places like this Shawn will also fish a rattlebait like a gold with black back Rat-L-Trap over the point for both species.  Probe with your Carolina rig for stumps and stop it when you hit one. Both species will hold on the downstream eddy of them and spots will be there, too.

Then work into the ditch, fishing the wood cover on the upstream side as well as on both sides of it. Sean says he moves more and covers water with bladed bait and spinnerbait when looking for largemouth in most places but sits in one place more and covers specific areas for spots since they tend to stack up more in one place

A spinnerbait works better here and other places with lots of wood cover since you can bump it without getting hung up as easily.  Sean chooses a three eights ounce white Spotsticker spinnerbait with silver willowleaf blades around all wood cover as well as pads and other grass.

7.  N 32 24.923 – W 86 22.071 – Go back up the river past Cooters Pond. In the long straight section past the bend, power lines cross the river. On the right side the base of the tower is in the water near the bank.  There is gravel and rocks around the bottom of it and wood is usually hung up on it from the top of the water down to the bottom.

Spots hold here and will spawn around it, too, and Sean says he can almost always catch a fish on it.  The key area is the outside corner. He will position his boat downstream of it and cast rattlebait or crankbait up past the wood and concrete pilings and work them with the current along them.  Fish both baits through the eddies formed by wood and pilings, too.

8.  N 32 24.495 – W 86 22.028 – A little further upstream the river opens up a little as it swings to the left.  There is a round point on the right where it opens up that drops fast and has rocks on it. Spots hold on this deep point, they like a place where they can change depth quickly. Work your jig and pig from the edge of the water down ten feet or deeper.

As you round the point going upstream, the water is shallower near the bank.  Largemouth hold on wood and any grass all along this bank and Sean will fish upstream all the way to the house several hundred yards away. Cast spinnerbait, bladed jig and jig and pig to all the wood cover and grass along this bank.

9.  N 32 23.904 – W 86 21.278 – A little way upstream the river narrows back down some and a big slough is off to the right behind an island.  The opening to has a smaller island in it.  It is sandy and spots bed here, and both species stage on the point of the small island.  

Fish the point with all your baits, using crankbait, spinnerbait, rattlebait, crankbait and Carolina rig on the sand. Then fish back into the slough with your largemouth baits. Work all the wood cover and watch for bedding fish if the water is clear enough to see them.

If the water is stained but warm enough for them to be bedding, a Carolina rigged lizard or jig and pig dragged slowly along the bottom will get bedding fish you can’t see to hit.  Fish fast if you think they have not gone on the bed yet, but slow down it the water is warm enough for them to be on the beds, especially around the full moon this month.

10.  N 32 23.787 – W 86 21.120 – Going upstream, a golf course runs along the bank. There is a small wooden deck right on the water and the bank on both sides of it is riprap.  There is natural rock along the bank, too.

Fish all the rocks with crankbait, spinnerbait and jig.  Watch for a drain pipe on the bank, it is a key place for bass to hold. Work all this bank carefully, spots and some largemouth stack up on it in April.

Just upstream of this bank an island sits not far off it. The area behind the island is shallow and is a good spawning area. Work it for largemouth bedding on the sandy bottom.

All these places are good right now and will be all month long.  Give them a try, look at the kinds of places Sean fishes, and you can find many more on the river.

You can see some of Sean’s catches on his Facebook page at

Where and How To Catch February Millers Ferry Bass with Ten GPS Coordinates

February Millers Ferry Bass with Billy Black

Spots schooling up on creek and slough mouths withh largemouth moving into shallows to feed.  Pre-spawn is a great time to fish Millers Ferry, it is getting started now and is stronger all this month.

Millers Ferry, also known as William B. Dannely Reservoir, is on the Alabama River south of Selma.  It is mostly a river run lake with many acres of shallow sloughs, backouts and creeks.  The shallows are full of wood and grass cover where largemouth live.  Alabama spots prefer to live on or near them main river.

Billy Black lives in Monroeville where he is fire chief.  He fished the river for anything that would bite when younger but got into bass fishing in the late 1980s.  In 1991 he helped form the Monroeville County Bass Anglers and they fish several tournaments each year on the river. 

He fishes the Alabama BASS Federation Tournaments and Fishers of Men trails most years, and has fished the Alabama Bass Trail tournaments as well as area charity and pot tournaments. He knows Millers well.  

“In late January both spots and largemouth start getting the urge to spawn,” Billy said.  Spots set up on river points at the mouths of sloughs and creeks, staying near current and deeper water. Largemouth move further back into the shallows, feeding around wood and grass cover to get ready for bedding.

    Billy is prepared to fish both patterns this time of year. In a tournament he usually tries to catch a limit of spots then go looking for bigger largemouth to cull up.  You can catch more spots but the largemouth, although providing fewer bites, will be bigger.

    “The problem with Millers, like other river lakes, is rain upstream can blow them out and mess up fishing for a few days,” Billy said. That has been a problem since December, when heavy rains made the river rise and get muddy repeatedly.

    For spots, Billy rigs a crankbait, Carolina Rig and jig and pig, for fishing points and deeper water.  For shallow largemouth he likes a squarebill crankbait, bladed jig, swim jig spinnerbait, jig and pig and punch bait for covering the different kinds of cover.

    We fished the day after Christmas.  Billy warned me the river was full and stained, but much more rain was predicted over the next two weeks, making it worse. We put in at Ellis Ferry and the water was at the top of the ramp, but the dock was above water. The next week the dock was covered, and water came half way up in the parking lot.

    The following places are good right now and get better all month for both species.

    1.  N 32 03.308 – W 87 18.710 – The upstream point at the mouth of Gee’s Bend has a marker buoy where the ferry crosses it.  The river channel swings in on the outside and the creek channel is on the back side of this long point, offering good access to deeper water both ways.  Largemouth stop and feed here on their way into the flats and spots hold on it all the time.

    This point has a clay bottom with scattered shell beds, and there is usually some brush that has washed in and hung up on it.  Current coming down the river makes the bite, especially for spots, much better.

    Stop near the buoy and try a crankbait and Carolina rig on it.  Billy uses a chartreuse with black or blue back Strike King 5 or 6 XD or Bomber to bump the bottom.  Start out in deeper water, keeping your boat well off the point and cast across it, bumping the top.  Watch your electronics for brush on the bottom and mark it when you see it.

    Fish all the way around the point, covering both sides and the end.  Then drag your Carolina Rig all over the point, too.  Concentrate on brush and shell beds you find. Also try a jig and pig in the brush here.

    You can spend all day here and catch fish as they move up and feed or hit it several times during the day hoping to be there at the right time.  Billy said a six-pound, four-ounce bass here in his last tournament so it offers the possibility of big fish as well as numbers.

    2.  N 32 02.771 – W 87 15.963 – Upstream around the bend Bridgeport Landing is on your right.  A line of small islands goes across the mouth of the big slough here and the river channel runs right along the outside bank of the downstream one.  The water comes up fast and the point is very shallow out on the point.

    Stop out from the point in the river and fish crankbait and Carolina rig from the shallows down the drop. Billy will rig a Junebug Fluke or Baby Brush Hog on a 12 to 18-inch leader with a one-ounce sinker.  Fish it so it stays on the bottom on the steep drop.

    Work up toward the end of the point with grass on it, then cast upstream parallel to the bank.  There is always wood cover on the bottom and fish hold on it.  Switch to a jig and pig to more effectively fish the brush with fewer hang-ups. Try to bump through all the wood you can hit, moving your bait with the current.

    3.  N 32 03.329 – W 87 15.500 – Across the river a little upstream, Gold Mine Slough is on your left.  The first small entrance to it between two islands is another example of the kind of places bass use, with current hitting it and a ditch dumping into deep water with shallow points and a drop.

    The mouth of the ditch is only about two feet deep, but the channel is about 20 feet deep. Keep your boat in the deep water and cast crankbait and Carolina Rig into the ditch, bumping the bottom down the drop out to 12 feet deep. Cover both points on the ditch.

     After fishing across the drop, move in near the downstream point and cast upstream, running both crankbait and Carolina Rig across the ditch mouth, moving them with the current. There is some key wood here to hit.  Then work on up across the ditch upstream, casting to the wood and grass on the bank with a bladed jig and jig and pig.  Some fish move in to it to feed.

    4.  N 32 03.431 – W 87 15.432 – Across the river upstream there is an entrance to Ladell’s Slough in front of the campground at Roland Cooper Sate Park.  There is a small island in the middle of it and there was a big log jam off the downstream point just inside the slough when we fished. The water drops fast from four to 25 feet deep across the mouth of the entrance.

    Fish across it like the others, working from the downstream point upstream.  Make a few casts to the log jam with a jig and pig but concentrate on the drop.    Fish across it as well as parallel to it with crankbait and Carolina Rig.  Billy says it is important to keep your crankbait bumping the bottom as much as possible.

    5. N. 32 04.954 – W 87 14.221 – At the upstream point water several feet deep runs along the left bank if you go into it but it runs a long way parallel to the river. We went into the slough behind the upstream point and fished the grass and wood along the bank to see if fish were here, then idled through the shallows and stump fields to the highway 43 Bridge back in the slough.  When you get to the bride start in the pocket on the downstream side to the left facing upstream. Work the wood and brush out to the bridge, then fish all around the bridge, hitting riprap and pilings.  

    You will catch mostly largemouth back in here as they move in to spawn.  The bridge is a pinch point that concentrates them and offers them as good feeding place. 

    Billy uses a Strike King 1.5 or 2.5 squarebill and a chatterbait around the rocks, pilings and wood here He likes a Jackhammer chartreuse and white bait with a matching trailer in stained water but switches to a green pumpkin bait with matching trailer in clearer water.

    Hit both sides of the bridge and try upstream of it around the grass and stumps. This slough is full of stumps above the bridge so be careful. 

    6. N 32 04.240 – W 87 14.592 – Go back out to the main mouth of Ladell’s Slough just past the standing timber downstream of the bridge.  It drops deeper in the middle without a ledge across the mouth but the points on both sides are good.  The bottom is sandy with some hard clay spots in it.

    Go back to crankbait and Carolina Rig to bump and drag the mostly clean bottom.  Fish the upstream point from the middle of the ditch, fan casting all over it from the inside to the outside.  Billy drags he rig along the bottom letting the current move his bait.

    Try that angle on the downstream point, too, but current will set the bass up to be facing upstream.  Work out to the river side of that point and cast to the middle of the ditch, moving it up the slope. 
You will catch both spots and largemouth here since it opens up to vast spawning areas.

    7. N 32 05.590 – W 87 15.607 – Foster Creek is the next creek upstream on the left.  After going through the narrow opening it opens up and the channel is to the right after going around a shallow point on that side.  The bank just past the first little pocket on the right side drops off into ten feet of water, has lots of wood and grass, and the water is usually clearer in here than on the river.

    Billy says the biggest Miller’s Ferry bass ever weighed in his club came from here, an eight pounder. This bank faces south so it warms faster than some other areas, and this draws the largemouth to it.

    Billy keeps his boat in ten feet of water and fishes up the bank, working into the creek.  He starts with a spinnerbait and chatterbait, covering water.  A white War Eagle spinnerbait with silver blades is his choice.  Run both all around wood cover and along grass edges.

    If the bass don’t seem to be chasing a faster bait, Billy slows down with a swim jig, fishing it all through the cover.  If that is too fast, he will go to a punch bait, a Junebug Baby Brush Hog behind a one to one- and one-half ounce sinker, and drops it through the thick mats of grass.  Fish up the bank until the water near it gets shallow near the next pocket on the right.

    8. N 32 08.902 – W 87 15.775 – Chilatchee Creek further up the river on the left has Chilatchee State Park on the left as you go into the creek. Billy was able to follow the channel around to the left but be very careful until you learn it.  The water is very shallow in some areas.

    Go around the big island in on the right side and stop about even with the little one out in the middle of the creek. The channel makes a sharp bend near the right bank here and the is a lot of wood cover and grass along it.  About half way up the point this bank is on, a big tree with root ball and limbs sticking out of the water was lying out off the bank.

     Work the shallow cover here like in Foster Creek, covering water with spinnerbait, chatterbait and swim jig.  There is a lot of hyacinth covering the edge of the bank and is an excellent place to punch your Brush Hog through it.  It gets a lot of afternoon sun and warm fast.

    Fish from one end to the other on the big round point.  The water is deeper along the point and bass hold here rather than moving back into the very shallow pockets on both sides. Billy caught a solid keeper largemouth here on his punch bait.

    9.  N 32 03.145 – W 87 15.103 – Go back down the river to Roland Cooper State Park into the creek between it and Bridgeport Landing.  There is a small campground ramp on the left with rental boats on it, but the main ramp is on back in the creek. Stop downstream of the small ramp where there is a grass yard leading up to the bathrooms.

    A lot of tournaments are held here and restock the area often.  The bank from downstream of the ramp up just past it has six feet of water near it, deep enough to hold fish, and there is a lot of hyacinth along the edge, wood cover and some rocks just upstream of the ramp.

    Fish it like all shallows, covering water with faster moving baits first. If you catch a fish or two on them it is worth going back over it, picking it apart with a punch bait or jig and pig.  Billy fishes a black and blue jig with a matching trailer in the thinner grass and other cover, but the punch bait is needed for the hyacinth.

    10.  N 32 03.363 – W 87 17.857 – Go into Gee’s Bend past the ferry landing on the left.  The bank past it has a line of docks that are good staging areas for largemouth.  Billy says you won’t get a lot of bites, but they are usually quality fish.

    Run a squarebill along the post, bumping them and making it deflect.  Then probe for brush in front of the docks and under them with a jig and pig.  There is about six feet of water on the ends of them. Work the whole line of docks but be careful, dock owners have run a rope along and between the front of most of them.

    Give these places on Millers Ferry a try for both spots and largemouth. You will catch both, and there are many similar places to fish.


from The Fishing Wire

Find Redfish Fun On Shallow Grass Flats With LIVETAREGET and Mustad

Redfish are not a complicated lot; they love to eat, and with seasonal spawning aggregations intensifying their schooling nature, fall presents one of the best times to find these hardy fish in great numbers. Habitat options are many, but from the pristine flats of Florida’s Gulf Coast to the vast expanses of Texas’ Laguna Madre waters, shallow fields of swaying seagrass offer tremendous opportunities. These shallow pastures offer prime grazing opportunities for a fish that’s perfectly designed for nosing through bottom cover to root out meals. During low tide, the fish slip into adjacent depths of channels and cuts, while higher stages find them moving progressively higher onto the flat.

Find the Fish

Singles and small groups of redfish can be surprisingly stealthy, but when you pack several dozen or more reds into a feeding school, it’s hard to miss their rumbling, water-rippling movement. On clear days, over a mottled bottom of sand and grass, the herd will cast an auburn hue in the water, so keep watch for such masses and the waking convoys.

Also, take note of shrimp or baitfish flipping from the water. These forage species are much happier below the surface, so take their acrobatics as a clear sign of predation. Likewise, spotting a glossy sheen on the water’s surface typically indicates a recent feed in which predators left a slick of baitfish oils in their passing. This could be any number of predators, from jacks to mackerel – but on fall grass flats, it’s often redfish.

Mullet Moments

While the sardines, crabs, shrimp and pinfish packing the grass flats won’t go unnoticed by redfish, the vegetarian mullet couldn’t care less? So what’s the connection? It’s pure opportunistic feeding. The less energy a predator expends to intake calories, the more they retain. For redfish, that means mingling with mullet often rewards them with a finfish or crustacean meal that they didn’t have to work for. Mullet schools displace these meals while churning across the shallow grass flats and savvy reds are quick to pick off the freebies. For anglers on the lookout, locating a mullet school, either by spotting their wake or seeing their characteristic leaps, is a great way to connect with opportunistic reds.

Best Baits

Lead head jigs, like the Mustad Inshore Darter in the 1/8- to 3/16-ounce range with paddletails or shrimp bodies are one of the most common redfish baits for targeted casts. For a bottom-hopping look, try the LIVETARGET Fleeing Shrimp. Another highly effective option is a popping or clacking cork with a LIVETARGET Rigged Shrimp below. Chugging the cork creates a commotion that resembles feeding fish, and the vulnerable bait is an easy sell.

For searching, weedless spoons are considered one of the top redfish baits, as they cast like a bullet – even on windy days – and easily traverse a range of shallow habitats from grass to oyster shells. Tip: Spoons are given to spinning on the retrieve, but adding a Mustad Nickel Round Split Ring and a Mustad Barrel Swivel minimizes line twist.

And don’t overlook topwater baits. With their subterminal mouths, reds are definitely built for bottom feeding; however, their inherent feeding aggression won’t allow a surface bait to pass without interception. A little awkward, not always pretty and far less efficient than, say, a speckled trout’s topwater attack, a redfish is a persistent creature and theirs is one of the most aggressive surface assaults you’ll ever see. It’s kind of a surging, crashing bite, but once a red locks onto a topwater target, it’s nearly a guaranteed hook up.

A little tip for greater topwater efficiency over shallow grass: Replace stock treble hooks with Mustad Kaiju Inline Single Hooks. Face the front hook forward and the rear hook backward. You’ll give up the number of hook points, but once a big red gets the bait, that’s a caught fish.

About Mustad

Mustad has led the global hook market since 1877. Mustad’s mission is to create a comprehensive multi-brand company that leads the fishing tackle industry, while focusing on innovation, employee and customer satisfaction, and sustainability. With the addition of TUF-LINE and LIVETARGET, Mustad continues to solidify its position as a complete sports fishing brand family.

Winter Stripers On the Run How To Catch Winter Stripers

Stripers On The Run

Cold weather means good striper fishing and there are a variety of ways to catch them in the winter.  These tips will point you in the right direction where you fish.

    After Santee Cooper Lake was dammed in the 1940s, stripers trapped upstream of the dam became landlocked.  From that, biologists discovered striped bass could survive and even thrive in freshwater.  Since then, they have been stocked in most suitable lakes.

    Stripers grow big and fight hard. They are fun to catch but it takes skills to hook them consistently.  On lakes through-out the nation, fishermen and especially striper guides have developed specific techniques for catching fish.  Winter is a good time to use these methods to catch them.

Planer Boards

    Jim Farmer ( developed a planer board that met his needs and sells it.  He wanted a board that did not interfere with the fight when a fish was hooked, was reversible so it could be changed to either side of the boat and was highly visible.

    “Planer boards allow you to get bait out from the boat in a controlled method,“ Jim said.  You can put up to ten boards trailing baits out to cover an area over 100 feet wide as you troll.  This allows you to cover a lot of water.

    You can troll live bait or artificials.  Jim says he sets the bait to follow the board from three feet behind it to the length behind the board that is almost as deep as the water you are trolling. If the line is longer than the depth of the water, you are more likely to get hung up while trolling.

    Artificials that work best are lures that do not pull a lot on the boat and possibly trip it.  Bucktails and shallow running plugs like jerkbaits work well.  If you need to get your bait down deep, other methods work better.

    When you get a bite the board trips and slides easily on the line, much like a slip bobber. A stopper placed a couple feet above the hook stops the board from interfering with the hook and fish.

    When trolling shorelines of rivers and lakes put a couple of boards on the bank side of the boat. One should be running a bait in just a couple of feet of water, another a little further out.  When you get to the end of a section of bank holding fish you can turn the boat, reverse the boards and go back down the productive area.

    Planer boards also allow you to troll very slowly, important with live bait.  Moving at one mile per hour will keep the boards at their maximum spread and not kill the bait like moving faster will.

Shallow Trolling

Captain Dave Willard ( has guided for stripers for many years.  He says big stripers love cold water and often get right on the bank in a couple feet of water this time of year.  He uses either planer boards or flat lines live bait to reach those fish without spooking them.

    Good electronics are critical for finding stripers year-round. In the winter Dave constantly watches his electronics. If he is finding all the fish deep he fishes for them. But if fish, especially big one, are not showing up deep he goes to points and banks and trolls.

    With his boat in eight to ten feet of water, he flatlines a lively baitfish and maneuvers the boat around points and along banks so the bait trails in the shallows.  A planer board will let you keep your boat further from the bank, especially important on a gently sloping bank, but may spook very shallow fish.

    When in eight to ten feet of water he likes to flatline a live bait behind the boat, too, especially when fish are showing up under the boat.  Nose hooking the bait and trolling it slowly with your trolling motor lets the bait move around and does not kill it.

    The old saying “big baits for big fish” usually applies to striper fishing but there are exceptions. He does have a big baitfish native to the waters he is fishing behind the boat. Big bait like blueback herring, gizzard shad, skipjack herring and others all work. But he will also try a small bait like a live threadfin shad to see if the big fish want a small bite to eat.  He tries to “match the hatch” and offer the fish the size food they are eating.

    Shallow trolling also works when the stripers are suspended over deep water.  This time of year it is not unusual to see the fish suspended down a few feet from the surface even when the bottom is 100 feet deep. Freelining a live bait with no weight or a very small sinker to get it down a few feet deeper works on these fish.

    Captain Dave says you may have to cover a lot of water to find feeding fish, but when you do you can catch several.  When you catch one go back over the same area until you don’t get any bites.

Deep Trolling

    When stripers are deep it can be hard to get a bait down to them and present it in a way to get them to hit.  You can sit on top of them and jig a spoon or drop a live bait to them, but you may spook them, and you don’t cover much water doing this to find stripers that are open water, nomadic fish.

    Captain Mack Farr ( likes deep trolling for them.  Two methods let you get your bait down to the level they are holding and allows you to cover a lot of water.  Leadcore line on your reel requires less equipment and is simpler, but downriggers also work.

    Spool up a heavy saltwater reel with leadcore line. It comes in 15, 18, 27, 36 and 45-pound test.  For striper fishing in lakes and rivers, 27 pound is a good choice.  The line is nylon coated for strength and the lead core makes it go down deep. 

    Leadcore line is color coded, with a change of color every 30 feet, so you can know exactly how much line you have out. Captain Mack ties a 30-foot 15-pound test fluorocarbon leader to the leadcore. A lighter leader will break if you get hung, keeping you from losing the more expensive leadcore, and is less likely to spook the fish.   

    You must find the depth the bait and stripers are holding with your electronics. You need to troll your bait just over the fish since stripers will come up a little to take a bait but seldom go down to it.

    A depth of 30 feet is fairly common this time of year, and balls of baitfish are critical. Watch for loons diving on bait to find the right area then use your electronics to locate the specific area and depth.      You can experiment with different weights of line and baits to find the depth your rig runs.  Captain Mack says a good rule of thumb is letting out 300 feet of line, nine colors plus your leader, with a one-ounce bucktail tipped with a baitfish, will get the bait down about 30 feet when trolled at two miles per hour.

    A big bucktail with a live or dead five to six-inch baitfish is Captain Mack’s choice of baits.  You can troll crankbaits, too, and they will dive a little deeper, or a jerkbait type plug to run a little less deep but with more flash and action.

    Downriggers are heavy weighs that are lowered on a cable. The weight has clip to hold your line and releases when fish hits.  You can troll a variety of baits behind the downrigger ball and it will keep them at an exact depth.

    Electric wenches on downriggers help you get the cable up quickly while fighting a fish but they are more expensive than hand cranked ones. If you have several downriggers out you take a chance on the striper tangling in the cables while fighting it, even with electric wenches.


    Bill Carey ( guides for stripers but uses only artificial baits, and casting them is his preferred method of fishing. His go-to bait is a chartreuse or white one half to one-ounce Road Runner underspin with a nine-inch white worm trailer. He says this is his big fish bait. Bill also casts 5.5-inch Zoom Flukes and four-inch Sassy Shad plastics on one half to one-ounce jig heads.

    He runs structure like ditches, creek channels, humps and main lake points.  The best ones are shallow areas that drop quickly into deep water. Stripers will push baitfish up on these kinds of places and hem them up to feed.

    Find that kind of structure and make long casts across it, keeping your boat out in deep water and casting up to the shallow areas. Reel at different speeds to control the depth your bait is running.  Stripers may want your bait just under the surface all the way down to the bottom, to try all different depths until they show you what they want.

    Bill says big stripers are much like big bucks, they are loners. Big ones might run in a small group of two or three, but they are not usually in big schools. When you catch one big one, make repeated casts to the same area.

    Always watch for birds diving and surface activity.  Even in the winter, keep a big pencil popper tied on and     cast it to any activity you see. Also try it over the structure, even if you don’t see active fish.

    These methods will help you catch stripers this time of year.


When the water warms stripers tend to go deep, holding just above the thermocline under baitfish where there is enough oxygen and the water is cool. You need good electronics to locate the bait and stripers.  Trolling bucktails a few feet above the depth the fish are holding will get them to hit. Trolling faster in warmer water is more likely to get bites.

    Getting a bait down deep and trolling it fast means either leadcore line or downriggers.  Both allow you to troll faster without losing depth control.  The fish are likely to be holding over deep humps and creek channels in hot weather so concentrate on those areas and find bait and stripers on your electronics.

    Line twist is a problem when you troll fast. A good barrel swivel in front of your bait will help prevent it. Also make sure your bait is not twirling in the water by dropping it over the side at the speed you are trolling and watching it.

    Tipping your bucktail with a live or dead baitfish always helps get bites but can cause more trouble with line twist. Nose hook the baitfish and be careful to put it on straight, so it does not twist.