Monthly Archives: January 2023

Where and How To Catch April Bass at Aliceville with GPS Coordinates

with Steven Fikes

     If you like fishing for shallow bass you love April.  All over the state bass are in the shallows either spawning or feeding after the spawn.  If you really like fishing for shallow fish around grass and lily pads you should head to Aliceville on the Tombigbee River.  Its backwaters are full of bass feeding around shallow cover right now.

     Aliceville, also called Pickensville by some, is an 8300 acre impoundment formed by a lock and dam on the Tombigbee River west of Tuscaloosa right on the state line.  The dam was closed in 1980 and water from the river filled many sloughs and shallows on both sides.  There a couple of good ramps and some lakeside campgrounds for visiting anglers.

     Many bass fishermen from both Alabama and Mississippi fish Aliceville and it hosts a good many club and pot tournaments. In the 2007 BAIT Program it ranked in first place for the bass per angler day and pounds per angler day categories.  Combine that with a third place ranking in percent success, fourth in average bass weight and second in hours per bass over five pounds and Aliceville got the top ranking of the 27 lakes in the survey.

     Steven Fikes has lived all his live around Tuscaloosa and loves bass fishing.  He grew up fishing and got serious about tournament fishing about four years ago. Up to that time he had fished with the Tuscaloosa County Bass Club and some other tournaments with buddies and as a no boater in some BFLs.  When he started fishing the BFLs as a boater he did well, qualifying for the All American in 2007 and qualifying for the BFL Regional again last year.  He is on the Grammer Marine fishing team and also fishes their tournament trail as well as other local pot tournaments.

     Steven fishes Aliceville often and knows what the bass are doing there.  He says many bass will spawn on the full moon around March 11 and another smaller wave will spawn on the April 9th full moon.  That means right now there are post spawn bass in the shallows guarding fry and feeding as well as pre spawn bass looking at bedding areas.  By mid April there will be some post spawn fish guarding fry but most of the bass will be feeding in the shallows through the end of the month.

     In an April Aliceville tournament Steven weighed in his best five bass limit in a tournament at 16.25 pounds and had a personal limit while “fun” fishing weighing 21.5 pounds.  His best bass from Aliceville is just under seven pounds but he has seen many bigger bass caught there.

     Aliceville is full of sloughs and shallow flooded flats covered with hydrilla, milfoil, lily pads and several other types of grass.  Some sloughs have cypress trees standing in water six to ten feet deep.  All this cover offers bass great places to hold and feed and makes the lake look “fishy” everywhere you turn.

     Steven is on the Castaway Rods fishing team and uses their casting rods in a variety of actions to cover the baits he likes to fish in Aliceville right now.  He will have a couple of heavy rods and reels spooled with Power Pro braid for flipping creature baits, lizards and jigs into grass and around trees.  He will always have a rod and reel rigged with a Zara Spook for fishing open water and a buzzbait tied on for heavier grass cover.

     A Strike King spinnerbait is ready to run around grass and cypress trees and he will also use a Bandit Footloose shallow running crankbait to fish over grass that is still under the surface.  A floating worm is also a good bait to have ready.  He uses Bass Pro Shops Excel monofilament line for baits where it works best and will go to Segar Fluorocarbon if the he needs an invisible line in clear water.

     Steven and I fished Aliceville the last day of February – the day after the flooding rains. It was cold and cloudy and the river was running as fast as he had ever seen it and rising all day, pushing water back into the woods. Muddy water was also pushing into the shallows but we were still able to find some clear water to fish, which is important and you can almost always find it even when the river is muddy. 

     Even under the bad conditions we landed 14 or 15 bass up to three pounds. Most looked like bucks moving in to check out spawning areas so by now many will have spawned and the bucks will be guarding fry and the females will be feeding to recover from the spawn in the following areas.

     1. N 33 16.264 – W 88 18.814 – If you put in at Raleigh Ryan Access ramp run up the river to the second opening to your right. It is not the opening at the red channel marker; it is past it and is one of the entrances to Coal Fire Creek.  Be careful since it is shallow and there are stumps here. You will go back and turn to your left as you follow the bank. There will be standing trees on your left and you want to go around to the back side of them.

     When you get behind the timber there are two good pockets on your left across the timber field. There are lots of stumps under water as well as visible ones and standing trees. Go in carefully to the cove on the left and start fishing near the blown down tree with the big root ball sticking up on the bank. Work to your right, fishing around this pocket, across the point between them and around the next cove, too. 

     Steven likes to start fishing early moving fast with a spinnerbait or topwater in areas like this. There will be lots of grass to fish and the bass can be anywhere in it. When you catch one, especially if it is a good one, slow down and probe the area carefully with a plastic bait or a jig and pig. Pitch them into holes in the grass and also rig one on a heavy tungsten sinker that will punch through the mats to bass holding under it. Work a floating worm over and through the grass, too.

     2. N 33 15.757 – W 88 17.587 – Coming back out the way you went in watch for an opening to your left. There is a big island to the left side and a very small island to the right of it.  Start fishing on the point of the big island and fish back into the slough to your left. There is a lot of grass and pads in here and it will get very thick toward the end of April.

     Out on the point the water comes up from 11 to six feet deep pretty quickly and the bass will hold along this drop in the grass.  It gives them access to deep water so this is a very good place later in April.  They can feed all the way back into the slough so work your spinnerbait, shallow running crankbait and topwater all around this slough.  We caught four bass and Steven caught one of our biggest bass here when we fished. The water was a good color although many other areas were muddy.

     Watch for open areas between grass mats and work your Spook through them. If that does not draw a strike try punching through the mats with a creature bait like a Little Chigger Craw or a lizard.  Be ready for a hit as soon as it falls through the mat and set the hook hard. You will need braid and a heavy rod for this kind of fishing.

     3.  N 33 14.825 – W 88 88.954 – You can go all the way back out the point of the main river where you came in or start working the bank to your left a couple of hundred yards before you get to the river.  A ledge with grass growing on it runs out from this bank then drops off fast and is a good area for post spawn fish.  Overhanging brush offers some shade, too.

     Run a buzzbait over the grass then work your plastics through it.  Keep your boat out in deeper water and fish the edges of the grass then work back into it. Here and in all other spots pick apart the cover if you catch a good bass, there are likely more nearby.  Watch for patterns, too. If you catch a couple of bass from milfoil but not other grass, concentrate on the milfoil.

     4.  N 33 15.122 – W 88 18.286 – For something a little different run up to the big grain bins up the river from the campground on your left. Start working the left bank, fishing the docks and riprap along this bank all the way to the barge landing. Fish around the barge if one is there.

     A spinnerbait or crankbait is good here and you can also fish a floating worm or jig around the docks. 
Fishing upstream gives you more control of the boat and also allows you to fish slower.  Work your bait with the current as you work upstream, presenting the bait naturally like a baitfish moving with the current.

     5. N 33 15.580 – W 88 18.985 – Run upstream and you will pass some houses on your left.  Just above the green channel marker 310.7 in front of one of the houses is the opening to a big creek. Run back in it to the small island on your right. It is across from a big house with a screen porch that runs all the way around it, the fifth house from the end.

     There is deeper water around this island and grassbeds fill the shallows near it.  Bass hold here both post and pre spawn because of this deeper water refuge and feed in the grass. Fish all the way around the island covering it with all your baits.  Steven says grass will often grow to within six inches of the surface out away from the island and you can work a topwater bait like a Spook or buzzbait over it to pull bass up out of the grass.

     6. N 33 14.385 – W 88 18.467 – Head back down the river and go into the creek at the upstream end of the campground. Stay near the left bank, there are two more sloughs to your right.  Steven runs back to where there are permanent trailers and docks on your left going in.  Many of the docks have white PVC post on them. The day we fished the docks were under water and the posts looked like they were just standing in the water.

     Fish up this bank, pitching a plastic bait under the docks and to the poles on them. Work the scattered grassbeds around them, too.  Steven will fish all the way into the cove where the road runs near the water and there is a private boat ramp. If any bass are still bedding some will be back in this cove then they will move out to the docks and feed post spawn. You can look for beds and sight fish back in here around the full moon in April.

     7. N 33 15.014 – W 88 18.660 – Come out of the left pocket and run into the middle arm. Go back until you get to the trailers but watch for stumps in that area. You will be back behind the grain bins out on the river. 

     Many of the stumps back here have PVC pipe in them to mark them.  There is a bed of a half-dozen or so stumps out from the trailers and Steven likes to work the grass all around them. Try to drop your bait down by the stump, too.  It will be covered with grass but offers a good holding spot in the grass. Fish all around the back of this slough, working the grass here.

     8.  N 33 15.308 – W 88 16.677 – Run down the river and go into the cut just upstream of the red channel marker 309.3. This is actually the old river channel and it runs to the far bank with houses on it.  Run almost to this bank then swing left, following the bank. You will run past some standing trees on your right. When the open water narrows down to a small channel ahead and to the right there is a big slough full of cypress trees to your left. Steven still calls this the Eagle’s Nest although the nest is gone.

     Steven stops out from these trees and works in, casting a Spook around them then flipping a jig and pig or plastic bait to the.  The trees are in six to ten feet of water and run a long way up this slough.  You could probably stay in here all day fishing trees.

     Also try your baits around the grass on the banks of the slough. Steven says you will often catch males guarding fry around the grass but the bigger females are likely to be holding deeper around the base of the trees, recovering from the spawn. Steven said if he had to catch a five pounder he would concentrate on cypress trees here.

     Fish trees slowly and carefully and try to find a pattern. Are they holding on the shady side of the tree? Do they want a splash when your bait hits the water or do you need to hit the trunk and let your bait slide into the water? Paying attention to details like those can make the difference between fishing and catching.

     9. N 33 14.708 – W 88 16.025 – Go back out the way you came in and when the trees on your left end you will see a big point on your right.  It is the right side point of a big cove when facing it.  Start on the point and work the grass beds going into this side of the cove.

     This is a very big flat and the grass will be all over it. Work all of the right side, looking for keys like where two kinds of grass come together or where there is an isolated patch on top.  Keep fishing the area until you find the fish then concentrate on the smaller area and pattern where they are holding. The other end of the slough full of cypress in hole 8 opens here and you can fish all the way through it and come out here, or go in here too.

     10. N 33 14.748 – W 88 17.319 – In the back of the big cove above you will see a small island toward the left bank going in and there is a opening to its left. This goes back then opens up. Another cut to the left goes into another pond that is called Clear Hole.  The water almost always stays clear in here. Steven says many people go in here looking for bedding bass but they get hammered and are hard to catch.

     Check out the ponds and cuts in this area. Steven says he often starts out at the small island at the first cut and is catching bass as other boats go by him further back to look for spawners.  Fish all the grass in the cuts and ponds in this area.

     Check out these ten spots.  There are many others near them that hold bass, these are just some of Steven’s favorites.  Once you find the patterns the bass are on and which baits they want you can catch them in other similar areas.

     Steven did not fish as hard as he wanted to last year. After some numbness in his left hand he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.  Fortunately, medication has stopped the progress of the MS and he is able to fish now. Please keep Steven in your thoughts and prayers.

How To Catch March Bass at Lake Harding aka Bartletts Ferry with GPS Coordinates

with Nick Roberson

     March is a great month to go fishing just about anywhere in Alabama and Georgia .  Warming waters turn fish on and they move shallow and feed.  It is hard to pick one place to go but Lake Harding aka Bartletts Ferry on the Chattahoochee River just south of Lanette offers a variety of kinds of fishing for both spots and largemouth that is hard to beat right now.

     Lake Harding is a 5,850 acre Georgia Power Lake not far downstream from West Point Lake.  It was filled in 1926 and the waters near the dam are deep and rocky.  Up the river above the Hawalakee Creek junction it is mostly river channel with some big creeks and a good many old oxbow lakes off the channel. Both Alabama and Georgia fishing licenses are good on all the waters.

     Harding has been known as a good producer of both spots and largemouth for many years.  Last year there were large numbers of keeper size 12 to 14 inch bass and this year those fish will be in the two pound range. In the 2007 BAIT report Harding ranked 5th in Percent Angler Success and there are more keeper bass now than there were two years ago.

     Nick Roberson lives near Opelika and fishes Harding often.  He started going fishing with his father when he was old enough to walk.  About 14 years ago he got into bass tournament fishing when a group at his work place started having tournaments.  For the past few years he has fished with the West Georgia Bass Club, a team tournament trail that fishes a variety of west Georgia and east Alabama lakes and is Triton Gold certified, and other tournament on area lakes.

      Last year Nick and his partner won the West Georgia Bass Club tournament on Harding with 14 pounds and ended up 5th overall in the point standings for the year out of 170 teams.  Nick has also won both the Diehard and Lazy Days tournaments on Harding and had done well in other tournaments there.  His best Harding bass was an 8 pound, 8 ounce hawg caught in a tournament and his best five fish in a tournament weighted just over 22 pounds.

     “Last year I found fish on the beds in February here,” Nick told me. After a warm winter bass were spawning up the river in oxbow lakes in February and Nick expects to find them there every year from late February to early March.  He says bass in the river spawn a lot earlier than most folks realize.       Nick says bass on the main lake spawn a little later but he normally finds bedding fish there by mid to late March. 

     Nick plans his fishing on Harding around the spawning bass.  He will start in the mornings on the main lake, hitting points and banks near spawning pockets for the prespawners and will always watch for spawners, too.  Then after lunch when the sun has been warming the water all morning he will head up the lake to fish there. In the river he goes into spawning areas and fishes for the bass on the beds and any cruising the spawning areas, too.

     A variety of baits work well on the lake and Nick will have a Jawbreaker jig and pig, a jig head worm, a spinnerbait and a crankbait tied on. He will also throw a topwater bait much earlier than most folks and a jerk bait rounds out his lake arsenal.

     Up the river Nick relies on Senkos and spinnerbaits.  Most of the oxbow lakes are very shallow and full of grass so the Senko works best most of the time. He will pitch and cast his bait to visible beds but will also work the grass, dropping it into holes where a bass might be bedding.  That works best when the water is murky and you can’t see the beds as well. 

     Nick fishes all his baits on baitcasting outfits and his reels are spooled with Suffix line.  He fishes with Tommy Gunn, maker of Jawbreaker jigs, a lot and he likes Tommy’s jigs and jig heads.  For the jig and pig he will use black and blue combinations with a black or green trailer.  His favorite worm for the jig head is a Zoom scuppernong Trick worm.

     Colors for crankbaits and jerk baits depend on water color, with natural colors best in clear water and bright colors used when the water is stained.  Nick uses a pink spinnerbait a lot and says it is his best color.  He likes two gold willowleaf blades on it.

     A Boy Howdy, an old topwater lure with spinners on both ends, is Nick’s favorite. He surprised me by throwing it in early February in water temperatures at 50 degrees, and caught a bass on it the day we fished.  He says bass will hit on top even in the winter if you fish the right bait the right way.

     The following ten holes will produce bass from now through the end of March on Harding.  We fished the lower lake spots the second week of February on a cold, rainy day and fish were already on them and will be on them even better now. We landed about 20 bass that day and our best five would have weighed between 11 and 12 pounds. That shows Harding has a lot of bass in the two pound range for us to catch that many on such a bad day.  The bass had not moved into the spawning areas up the river in early February but they will be there now.

     1. N 32 41.321 – W 85 08.142 – This main lake point and bank is a good place to start. Nick won a weekly tournament here and it holds fish year round. Heading down Halawakee Creek from the bridge the creek bends back to the left. Straight ahead the bank runs out from your right and you will see a point with a seawall around it. Trees on the bank have faces on them and there are post with ropes around them and black metal light poles around it.

     Start on this point and work to your left.  There are three good docks to fish and bass hold on them and on the block seawall.  The first dock has three metal park benches on it.  Fish the seawall then the dock and the pocket behind it.  Be sure to hit the rails coming from the boathouse. Bass often hold on rails like these.

     This pocket runs out to a natural rock point that holds fish, too. Fish it and the next two docks.  Try your jig and pig and jig head worm around the docks, probing for brush, and on the rocks and rails.  Run a crankbait or spinnerbait beside the docks and along the point. And don’t hesitate to work your favorite topwater plug slowly in this area, too.

     2.  N 32 41.486 – W 85 08.347 – Back across the creek and slightly upstream, the last point where the creek opens up has riprap around it and a small dock on the upstream side. There is a yellow cabin on the point and there are palm trees planted near the water.  The point comes up shallow then drops off.  There are some stumps and rocks around this point that hold March bass.

     Start out in front of the small upstream dock and work a jig and pig or jig head worm slowly down the bottom. Cast up near the seawall and make short hops. When you hit a stump pause it there for a few seconds then hop it away from the stump. Sometimes a bass holding by the stump will react as the bait jumps away from it.

     Work all the way around the point then try your crankbait and jerk bait over it, too. Jerk baits work better when the water is clear and this creek is usually clearer than the river or the main lake.

     3. N 32 40.893 – W 85 06.636 – Run down past the mouth of the river and watch for a rocky point on your right.  It is between two long deep coves and a brown top gazebo sits under a big pine on the downstream side. The upstream side of the point has a big pine and a big hardwood leaning a little over the water.   Start at the small wooden seawall on the upstream side at the leaning pine and work around the point and into the downstream pocket a short distance.

     There are a lot of big rocks under the water on this point and bass stack up on it all during the winter. They will start to move into the coves to spawn but some will be out here all during March.  As you fish past the gazebo there will be riprap on the bank and a house with a screen room on it.

     Fish around the rocks down the steep bank. Keep fishing down this bank, working the riprap and docks.  Some of the docks have brush around them and there is a lot of brush around the dock in front of the big house a short way down the bank. Nick says he has caught some big bass from this brush over the years. Fish all your baits here but your jig and pig is the best bet for bigger bass.

     4. N 32 40.299 – W 85 04.650 – Run into the big creek to your left right at the dam. Toward the back there is an island in the middle with a house on it and it is before you get to the condos in the bank of the creek. Just before you get even with the downstream end of the island you will see a small pocket on your right.  Start fishing at it and work toward the condos.

     The first little pocket will hold bedding bass as will the next one and other bass will hold on the steep bank around rocks, docks and brush.  Nick and I both caught bass in this area in February.  Work all your baits here, running a crankbait beside the docks and off the rocks on the bank.  Hop a jig and pig or jig head worm down the bank.  Fish rails coming out of boathouse and brush around the docks. 

     As you work into pockets here fish slowly and watch for signs of bedding bass.  You may see a light spot marking a bed or just see the black tip of a bass’s tail.  If you spot a bass on the bed throw a jig into it and let it sit.  Fish slowly with a jig for bedding bass here you don’t spot, too. Nick says bass will bed in this pocket even in early March.

     Work all the way to the little peninsular with the picnic stuff on it at the condos.  Nick says you should have a limit of keepers just along this bank in late February and March.

     5. N 32 40.568 – W 85 04.668 – Run across the creek on the upstream side of the island and you will see a big cove on the other bank. On the right going into this cove is a seawall then riprap on the outside of a small cove. Start fishing at the end of the seawall and work around that little point into the cove.

     Fish around the cove, watching for bedding bass and fishing slowly for the ones you don’t see.  If you spot bass on the bed work all the way to the back of the pocket.  Fish on around past the dock with a winch and crane to pull in a fish barrel.  There is some brush around that dock to fish.

     6. N 32 44.477 – W 85 06.688 – Head up the river to Blanton Creek and go to the boat ramp on your right. Bass move in here first as they start moving back to spawn up the river and hold here until everything gets right.  Start fishing where the riprap starts just outside the ramp and work around the pocket past the three docks out to the point in the campground.

     There is some brush here and rocks for the bass to hold on as they move up the creek.  Nick likes to work a jig and pig slowly through the rocks and brush for bigger bass. This is the spot where he caught his 8 pound, 8 ounce fish.  He says there will be “quadruple” the number of bass here than down on the main lake. 

     Nick says he will work this bank and other places several times. If he catches a fish on the first pass he will go back over it with the same bait. If he does not catch one on the first pass he will often go back over it with a different bait like a spinnerbait to offer them a different look.

     7. N 32 44.672 – W 85 08.053 – Come out of Blanton Creek and head up the river.  When the river makes a bend to  your right, straight ahead on the outside bend you will see a house on your left then no houses.  A good oxbow starts here and runs up parallel to the river.

     You can enter near the last house but you are better off going upstream a little and finding the opening not much wider then a couple of boats that goes in.  Be careful in this area, there is a hump off the bank that is under water when the lake is high.  You can idle in if you are careful or put your trolling motor down and work your way in.

     When you get back in the lake or old oxbow there will be lots of shallow water and grassbeds.  This spot and others here are better if the lake is full. The day Nick and I looked at it the lake was almost two feet low and it was hard to get in here. 

     Nick likes to pitch a Senko to visible bedding bass or work holes in the grass with it if he is not seeing beds.  Fish both sides of this oxbow all the way to the upper end.  Nick says he gets most of his hits from the middle opening up to the upper end. Water can run in up there, too, but you can’t get your boat in there.

     8. N 32 45.109 – W 85 08.219 – Across the river and upstream you will see two openings within a few feet of each other.  The downstream one has a tree on the downstream side across the mouth of it so be careful going in. Nick says some folks start fishing here, working the outside edges with crankbaits and jigs,  but he usually goes on back into the backwaters.

     As you work in you will do downstream parallel to the river.  This ditch is not real wide but not far from the opening is a small ditch on your left. Go through it and the oxbow opens up much bigger.  Both sides join together and this oxbow opens up downstream so there is a lot of water to fish in here.  Work both sides and watch for grassbeds and stumps to fish. There are a lot of stumps to your left when you go through the small ditch.

     9. N 32 45.108 – W 85 08.255 – Just upstream of the opening in hole 8 is another opening that is very shallow right at the river opening.  It goes in and this oxbow runs up the river channel.  Get across the shallow flat at the entrance and you will find deeper water to fish on back in it.

     In this one and in others fish until the bass tell you where they are holding.  In this one and the others the river side of the oxbow will be more shallow. It usually has willows and grass on it. The bank side will be deeper and often has wood cover to fish. Work both sides until you find where the bass are holding and bedding and they usually are in similar places in all the oxbows.

     10. N 32 46.000 – W 85 08.275 – Up the river and on the left just as the channel goes slightly to the right is another small opening. As soon as you go in you can go into a lake to your right. The channel also runs straight ahead and the point between the two is covered with stumps.  Go into the right one and work around it hitting the grass and stumps in it.

     If you go straight back you will go a good ways in a ditch then it opens up into a lake to fish.  The Senko is Nick’s best bait up here this time of year but try a spinnerbait, too.  The bass will sometimes be active enough to hit it and sometimes will give their location away by swirling at it without taking it. You can then work a Senko around that spot for them. Also watch for movement in the grass or baitfish jumping to show you where bass are holding.

     These spots give you five to fish on the lake and five up the river.  Nick will be fishing them this month and they are all good places. Check them out and you can then find some more similar spots, especially on the lake, to fish.

     The West Georgia Bass Club is a Triton Gold Certified Team Tournament trail that fishes west Georgia and East Alabama lakes. There is an annual $25 membership fee per team and the entry fee is $50 per team in each tournament. They pay back one in seven boats and have a classic at the end of the year.  For the schedule and rules go to

Georgia Department of Natural Resources Operation Viper leads to numerous charges for venomous snake trafficking.

Multi-State Wildlife investigation “Operation Viper” leads to numerous charges for venomous snake trafficking.

SOCIAL CIRCLE – On January 12, 2023, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division (DNR LED) and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) filed charges against eight individuals, for the illegal trafficking of venomous and prohibited exotic snakes.

The DNR LED has been receiving intelligence reports and complaints indicating that a black market existed for the sale and purchase of illegal and highly dangerous venomous reptiles in Georgia. In 2021, Georgia DNR LED and FWC initiated a long-term investigation with undercover investigators to determine the extent of this illegal activity.

The illegal sale, purchase and transporting of these regulated animals pose a significant public safety threat and threatens the long-term well-being of state wildlife populations. If these illegal and dangerous nonnative species were to escape, there is a possibility they could live and breed in the wild.

Over the course of the multi state investigation, nearly 200 snakes, consisting of 24 species from seven different regions of the globe, were purchased from or sold to wildlife traffickers by undercover investigators. Some of those species include the inland taipan, bushmaster, rhinoceros viper, African bush viper, Gaboon viper, green mamba, eyelash viper, multiple species of spitting cobra, forest cobra, puff adder and saw-scaled vipers. Several of these snakes are listed in the top 10 deadliest in the world and no anti-venom for the treatment of snake bites for several of the species is available in Georgia.

This lengthy investigation developed suspects both in and out of Georgia and Florida. Investigators realized early into the investigation that the black market for venomous reptiles was robust, and subjects identified in the operation were dealing reptiles frequently and in high numbers, often to or from unpermitted individuals.

Violations charged during this operation do not take into account that many of these snakes were probably sourced illegally from their home country of origin. A well- established tactic for black market dealers is to launder illegally procured snakes through a properly permitted facility, so they may be sold without divulging their true origin.

Timothy James Gould, age 38, of Central City, PA was taken into custody in Georgia on numerous felony and misdemeanor arrest warrants. The other seven suspects were arrested in Florida.

Gould is a well-established wildlife transporter and is unpermitted in the state of Georgia and Florida for any captive wildlife, let alone venomous reptiles. He advertises his illegal transport services on a popular online marketplace for wildlife dealers. When arrested, Gould had 27 exotic venomous snakes in his possession illegally.

Wildlife trafficking ranks fourth behind, drugs, weapons, and humans in global activity, and is often a nexus for other illegal activity. There are many different estimates of the value of illicit wildlife trafficking worldwide. According to the Wildlife Conservation Society, illicit wildlife trafficking is estimated to be between $7.8 billion and $10 billion per year.

For photos of the snake species, click here: Snakes

Where and How To Catch February Bass at Demopolis with GPS Coordinates

with Boyd Duckett

     Bass fishing in February can be either feast or famine.  Cold fronts and harsh temperatures turn off the bass but a three day warming trend can herd the big bass to shallow area where you can catch them  better than any other time of year.  Improve your odds by heading south. Demopolis Lake is a good bet for February bass in shallow water.

     At 10,000 acres Demopolis is the largest lake on the Black Warrior/Tombigbee River system. It extends up the Black Warrior River 48 miles and 53 miles up the Tombigbee River from an overflow dam near the city of Demopolis.  Since it is an overflow dam and the land is very flat the lake can rise or fall quickly depending on upstream rains, and there are no controls on the water level.

     Demopolis offers tough fishing at times but the 14 inch limit means the average size of bass weighed in at club tournaments is good.  In the 2007 BAIT reports Demopolis ranked 17th in angler success but 5th in average bass weight. You will catch a lot of bass under the 14 inch length limit that must be released and are not brought in during tournaments.

     Boyd Duckett grew up in North Carolina and started fishing with his brother when they found a pond back in the woods near where they lived. He began tournament fishing when 17 years old and jumped in at the pot tournament level on local lakes. A move to Nashville, TN for business allowed him to learn fishing deep in highland reservoirs, a change from what he was used to fishing.

     In 1991 Boyd moved to Demopolis and within a few years his tournament fishing seemed to get a lot better with him winning many events.  In 2002 he got serious about his tournament fishing and entered bigger tournaments. That paid off in 2007 with a Bassmasters Classic win and he now fishes the Elite Series as well as the PAA events.  He will be fishing the Classic this month on the Red River after qualifying through the Elite Series.

     In 2007 Boyd set a one-season record, winning $860,000 that year, more than any other fisherman had won in one year on the BASS trail.  He was also the first fisherman in 36 Classics to win one on his home state lake when he won at Lay Lake that year.

      Boyd learned a lot about Demopolis fishing it in local tournaments with Bill Champion.  He agreed to share some of the keys to February fishing there and says water level is critical to catching bass in February.  If the water is rising from upstream rains the fish will move far back into newly flooded cover and you can not get to them.  Falling water pulls them to the edges and makes them easier to catch.

     Since Demopolis is so shallow Boyd says the bass will move to the spawning areas as soon as there are a few warm days and the bigger bass move in first.  They will head into sloughs and creeks, working their way to the very backs of them to spawn. You can follow them this month and use a variety of methods to catch them.

     Water clarity is very important, too.  Rising water forces muddy river water back into the sloughs and you need to go back in them until you find a good color to fish. Some are so long that muddy water almost never gets all the way back in them.

     Boyd will tie on a Berkley Little Chigger Craw behind a heavy Tru-Tungsten weight for flipping mats and heavy cover, a Rat-L-Trap for searching for active fish and a Falcon spinnerbait for covering water where the Trap is ineffective. He also likes a shallow running crankbait like the Mann’s 1 Minus to run over shallow grass back in the pockets.

     Boyd showed me the following spots a few weeks ago and fish were already in some of them.  They will get better all month as more and more bass respond to the warming water and move in.

     1.  N 32 31.159 – W 87 52.209 – Running upriver from the dam the second small ditch on your left runs back and opens up into a big slough that runs parallel to the river.  Boyd called this the “Meat Hole” because of all the bass caught in it.  When we were there the rising water had filled the ditch with hyacinths and it would have been hard getting in but Boyd says it is well worth the effort.

     The ditch going in is only about 2 feet deep with the river stage at 20.5 feet so you need it at least that high to get in.  When you get back where the slough opens up, there will be a lot of flooded brush and tree bases standing in the water. Boyd says to fish the first 5 feet of cover from the edge back, working it with a spinnerbait when you can and flipping or pitching a Little Chigger Craw tight to cover where it is thick.

     If the river stage is over 22 feet this spot and others gets very hard to fish since the water will be many yards back into thick woods you can’t get to. Bass follow the rising water and get where you can’t catch them.  When the level is between 20.5 and 22 this is one of the best places on the lake.

     2. N 32 31.920 – W 87 50.953 – Culpepper Slough runs off the right side of the river upstream of the marina and dock at Demopolis and goes back under Highway 43.   There is standing timber in the middle of the slough going in so be very careful. It is a good idea to idle in until you learn it.

     Go back to the bridge and start fishing. Bass will move up the slough and hold around razor grass, tree bases in the water and under matted vegetation. One of Boyd’s favorites is what he called “alligator grass,” a plant with small leaves on long stems. The roots are on the shallow side and the plant grows toward deep water, making a covering shelf bass love to hold under.  The plants warm from the sun and the water temperature will usually be several degrees warmer under the mat than in the surrounding water.

     Near the back of the slough on your right you will see the old causeway for Highway 43.  Fish all along the slough on both sides. There are lots of mats of grass to fish here.  Flip a heavy weighed Chigger Craw and let it fall through the mat.  Boyd says be ready, you can’t drop your rod tip and set the hook since the weight is so heavy. The fish will spit it out quick so set the hook on any tick or hesitation as your bait falls.

     Work all around this slough and go back as far as you can. You can’t go too shallow in February if there have been a few warm days. Hit all the cover you come to including grass mats, tree trunks and razor grass edges.

     3.  N 32 32.496 – W 87 50.947 – Run up past where the two rivers join and watch for an opening on your left.  The ditch leads into Dobbs Swamp, a huge area where you could spend all day fishing. As you go in the channel will split off to your left, the coordinates above are just upstream of that split going left.

     Start at the split and fish into the lakes and sloughs on that side, fishing open water with Rat-L-Trap and spinnerbaits and pitching a plastic bait to heavy cover.  Keep working back until you find clearer water if the mouth is stained up.  Here and in other areas river stages of 20 to 21 feet are best.

     Watch for old beaver dams across channels.  At high water they will be covered but most have grass and trees growing on them.  If the water is dropping and a current is moving across them the little cuts and channels with current always hold bass.  For some reason rising water creating a current on the upper side of them does not hold the bass but Boyd says you are guaranteed a bass if the water is dropping and you fish the current on the downstream side of them.

     4. N 32 33.126 – W 87 51.633 – Come back out and go up the right side at the split.  You can run a long way back in a narrow channel then it will end at mats of hyacinth. Push through it and lakes will open up on your right and ahead of you.   The one on the right is choked with hyacinth and the one a head is more open, with hydrilla in the middle.

     Both can hold fish but after warm days the one ahead will be better, and the water will be even clearer.  It was very clear in here the day we fished and individual bass were chasing shad. Boyd said two days before we fished, on a cloudy day, there was a lot of schooling activity here and he caught a bunch of bass. The day we fished he landed three fish on a shallow running crankbait fished slowly over the grass.

     In this and other areas, if the water is still in the low 50s Boyd will flip the edges of the razor grass beds with a Chigger Craw.  Bass will hold in these spots until it warms a little more. Also concentrate on the mats if the sun is shinning and the water is warming.  Bass are more likely to be active and in the hydrilla if the water is warming, too.  When it gets above 55 degrees Boyd will go as far back into these areas as he can, pitching to all the heavy cover.  He says you can not go too far back in February; the bass will be very shallow.

     5.  N 32 31.033 – W 87 49.004 – Run up the Warrior River until you see the cement plant on your right and an old rail road trestle running down the side of the river. It is being dismantled.  Go under it at the small ditch and a steep bank slough opens up.  The water in here is usually clear and it is deeper than any of the other sloughs in the area.  Boyd calls this the “Citadel.”

     Boyd says this is a good early February hole since the water stays clear and warms fast.  He will start just inside the slough and work all the way around it, hitting all the shoreline cover.  There is another ditch opening to your left not far from the mouth that is very good if the water is in the mid 50s and warmer.  It opens up into about an acre size lake and holds some big bass.

     6.  Run into French Creek, the big creek on your right above the cement plant.  It opens up and goes back to a bridge.  Run to the bridge and start fishing on the left side as soon as you go under it.  Fish all the way to where the bank turns back to the right at coordinates N 32 31.315 – W 87 47.331 or go to this spot and start fishing back toward the bridge.

     Boyd says this is a good early spot since it is a steep bank with a lot of wood cover along it.  You will see a metal gate running off the bank, too.  When the water temperature is 50 to 51 he likes to fish all along this 400 yard stretch, working the cover slowly and carefully. 

     Bass moving up will hold along this bank before moving on toward the back of the creek.  And French Creek tends to have bigger bass than most other areas so it is a good place to work during tournaments.  Florida strain largemouth were stocked from the bridge here for three years back in the mid 1980s and, although they have been diluted over time, their offspring still produce bigger bass than most other areas on the lake.

     7.  Go back to the bridge and start on the other side, the upstream side on your right going upstream.  Fish along the road bed around the point and into the small creek entering there. The bank is deeper from the bridge around the point and has wood cover then gets shallow in the creek.  Keep fishing the grass mats and razor grass edges all the way to the rail road bridge in the back of this small creek.  (no coordinates here –  pretty obvious what to fish from one  bridge to the next!)

     This creek is a good spawning area so the bass will first move up on the steeper bank then work their way in to the back to spawn.  You can follow them as the water warms this month.  Boyd says the bigger fish tend to spawn early on Demopolis and thinks the full moon in mid-March will be a heavy spawn. The bass should be moving into these areas all during February getting ready for it.

     8.  N 32 31.035 – W 87 47.149 – From the bridge run the left side of French Creek to the back to a dead cedar tree lying on the left bank. Start fishing at it and work toward the back of the slough, around the cove here. There are some power lines crossing in the very back of it.

     The left side of this cove where the cedar tree lies on the bank is a little deeper with some wood and grass patches.  The right side has razor grass beds.  Boyd says he will keep working around this cove over and over as long as he catches a bass on each pass.  He says you can often stay right here and limit out on good fish as they move in.

     9.  N 32 32.242 W 87 47.871 – Run up the river from the mouth of French Creek and you will pass a creek on your right that sometimes holds bass but often gets muddy since it opens up back on the river on the upper end.  Upstream of it is another slough that runs parallel to the river and is a good one.  Start fishing toward the back near the small island on the left side. Across from it is a ditch.

     Work both sides of this slough from the island to the ditch.  You will come to a beaver dam across the slough and then it opens up above it.  It is hard to get across this dam but when the bass are spawning it is a good area. In early February fish up to the dam then back out.

     If there is any current coming across the dam there will be bass in the small channels. The day we fished we spent a lot of time here since Boyd had caught a bunch of fish here two days earlier. We saw individual fish chasing shad and big groups of shad, a key to fishing since bass will follow the bait until they make their spawning move.

     Boyd impressed me the way he picked apart the cover and carefully worked different baits until he found what they wanted.  On a tough day with rising water and a hard cold front after cloudy, warm days for a week Boyd caught about 15 bass. Most of them and the biggest hit a spinnerbait he crawled on the bottom here. He kept working slower and slower until he found what the bass wanted.  If the fishing is tough keep working until you find what works that day.

     10.  N 32 33.587 – W 87 47.272 – Yellow Creek is a creek on the right after you go around the bend with Slough Creek on the left.  Boyd will go back into it to the left side of what used to be an island and is still shown as one on some maps.  It has silted in on the right side and is now a big razor grass flat. Go back to where it looks like there is a split then stay to your left.

     Go in and make a 90 degree turn to your left at the entrance.  Start on the left bank past the long point and work to the pocket upstream. Throw a spinnerbait in the more open water and flip a plastic bait to the edges of the razor grass. Stay to the left and work way back in here, especially if the water is warming.

     Fish these ten spots and see the kinds of places Boyd finds bass in February on Demopolis.  There are others similar to them but remember this lake fishes small.  Some of these places are worth fishing all day. Boyd says keep moving until you find some feeding fish then stick with them.



from The Fishing Wire

Winning Tactics for Plus-Sized Panfish

BEMIDJI, Minn. – Nothing beats a good panfish bite—numbers of midsized fish for the frying pan big fish for the release. We’re talking thick, hump-backed sunfish, sag-bellied perch, and dinnerplate crappies…

What’s the best way to tango with big, hardwater panfish? You need to alter your fish-catching system to accommodate for older, finicky fish. We talked with veteran Northland Fishing Tackle pro, Brian “Bro” Brosdahl, who was happy to share plus-sized panfish insights.

“Panfish feed primarily on insects and zooplankton in the winter,” offers Brosdahl. “That’s one of the reasons I designed the Northland Bro Bug Spoon; it looks like emerging larvae with its bulging eyes and thin, slender profile. It resembles a long bloodworm or hellgrammite coming out of the mud. Just add two spikes or waxies and you have the tail of the hellgrammite.” Pretty sweet DIY bait configuration.

Bro uses the smallest, 1/16-ounce size most of the time, but will size up to 1/8-ounce if the fish are really biting.

Hulky panfish and perch demonstrate addictive behavior toward Northland’s Bro Bug Spoon.


“Jumbo perch get excited if something hits bottom and makes puffs in the mud. It’s instinctual when they see that, thinking it’s a mayfly emerging—and the more puffs, the more excited they get. So, you want to drop the Bro Bug Spoon to the bottom, pound the mud, and wait for them to follow it. If you pull the bait up, pull it away super slow. They’ll come up and just crush it,” shares Bro.

In terms of locations, Bro targets most midwinter jumbo perch over muddy basins, as well as chara grass (skunkweed) flats and weed edges.


Plus-Sized ‘Gills

“With big ‘gills, if there’s not a lot of ice, they’ll bite any time. But if there’s a lot of snow and ice and it’s sun-covered, they get a lot more selective,” shares Bro. “That’s when I’m fishing higher in the water column. In 10 feet or less, fish halfway down. It’s so dark down there the bait silhouettes against the ice. I use a subtle swimming motion, just shaking the spikes or waxies on the treble hook. I’ll even shake the bait right below the ice and slowly drop it. But if I’m in 20 feet or less, I drop it down to 10 feet and then slowly drop it down to two feet from the bottom,” advises Bro.

Bro adds: “In lakes that have lots and lots of bluegills, the big ‘gills belly into the bottom so the challenge is getting the bait through the smaller ones to the trophies. In lakes with fewer fish, they come through in pods. You want to work the bait minimally and just let it silhouette against the ice. The big ‘gills will find it.”

Finding Bulls

To find big sunfish, Bro uses a combination of Humminbird MEGA 360 and MEGA Live, new, forward-looking technologies that are putting ice anglers on fish faster than ever before.

“On Humminbird MEGA 360, on the dark screen background of muddy basins, sunfish look like a bunch of rice spread out on the bottom,” notes Bro. “If they’re moving around, drill a bunch of holes and move around—but if you keep seeing them in a certain area, you want to move and intercept them.”

“On MEGA Live in forward mode you’ll see sunfish in an area and you can drill your way around them and tiptoe up to their location. In some lakes they’re spooky, in other lakes they aren’t. If there’s no snow, they’re extra spooky. If the barometric pressure and moon phase are right, sometimes you can’t do anything wrong,” offers Bro.

Bro looks for steadily-rising barometric pressure over a few days. On a falling barometer, bites are typically short, but if the pressure is really low, fishing can be tough.

“I bury my face in an Aqua-Vu when stalking big bluegills. The 822HD is like a tablet, and I can mount it anywhere. It’s not cumbersome and has a long-lasting, lithium battery. There are some days when the bite is so tough that I really rely on the camera to watch fish respond. They’ll come up and bump it, and if you try to set the hook, you’ll spook them. I don’t use a spring bobber or watch the rod tip—I just look at the Aqua-Vu screen,” offers Bro.

Besides the Bro Bug Spoon, Bro also fishes the Rigged Tungsten Bloodworm and Mayfly. A lot of times he doesn’t use bait, and when he does, it’s just one red maggot.

Bro employs the Northland Puppet Minnow for aggressive hole-popping.

“I also like Forage Minnow Spoons in the smallest, 1/32-ounce size. I’ll chandelier maggots off the micro-treble,” adds Bro, loading the thing up.

In terms of line, Bro employs 2-pound test fluorocarbon most of the time, but will size up to 3-pound if there are bigger fish around. On clear water basins, Bro steps down to spidery 1-pound mono.

For cranking, Bro uses a variety of fly-style, in-line reels, which are good for keeping your line straight sans jig spin.

“If the fish are biting, you don’t need an in-line reel, but if the bite is tough, I do use ‘em. I also like longer rods when I’m out roaming, like the St. Croix CCI Tungsten Tamer and the Pan Dancer. If I’m in a fish-house, I use 26- to 32-inch rods.”

Bro utilizes $40 Daiwa QR750 reels that he fills an 1/8-inch from the top with backing and follow with his mainline. Bro uses a loop knot to attach his baits, which provides better action.

For aggressive, hole-hopping, Bro opts for the fast-fishing Northland Puppet Minnow in the smallest, 1/8-ounce-size, typically gold with a chandelier of red or white maggots on the treble.

In terms of brand-new products, Bro has been soaking the new Glass Buck-Shot Spoon endorsing the 1/32-ounce size or outsized crappies.

So, when do you fish what?

Bro starts with the Bro Bug Spoon and moves on to a Rigged Tungsten, which is essentially a Mud Bug/Impulse soft-plastic combo you don’t have to assemble with frosty fingers. And when he’s running and gunning, Bro has a Puppet Minnow tied on.

“And if the bite is really tough—which happens chasing trophy-sized pans—I downsize to a Rigged Tungsten Bloodworm or Mayfly tipped with one maggot or a threaded waxy. I also love the 1/16-ounce Forage Minnow Jig for tough bites. When you shimmy it, it’s constantly moving forward and will irritate fish that don’t want to bite,” says Bro.

In conclusion, based off Bro’s recommendations, plan to pre-rig four to six combos. You don’t want to be messing around with reties when a bite changes or encounter a new school of fish. Preparedness is next to godliness when stalking mega-panfish.

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.

Be Careful You May Support A Group That Wants To End Your Right To Keep And Bear Arms

Are you a member of an organization that uses your dues to promote gun laws and won’t even let any business dealing with guns advertise in their magazine? If you are a member of American Association of Retired Persons you do.

In a 12/10/04 press release AARP states “AARP supported the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, which went into law in 1994 with bi-partisan support, but was allowed to expire this year.” On their website under advertising guidelines they state: “Unacceptable Ad Messages – AARP deems some industry sectors as unacceptable for its publications. These include: Guns, Firearms, Weapons.”

Would you donate to a charity that refuses to allow anything dealing with guns or hunting? If you donate to the “Make A Wish Foundation” you do. This group claims to grant wishes to dying children and they do – as long as the wish does not involve guns or hunting. Some other groups have stepped in to grant hunting and shooting wishes, but if you donate to Make A Wish your money will not be used to grant the dying wish of a child wanting to go hunting or shooting.
Would you join a group at work and pay annual dues to them if they wanted to take your guns away from you? If you are a member of the National Education Association or the AFL/CIO you have. Both groups are listed as supporters of gun control laws by the NRA at They say “The following organizations have lent monetary, grassroots or some other type of direct support to anti-gun organizations..”

Check the list and see if you give money to any of them and how many you belong to. You will find the usual suspect groups like the ACLU, American Federation of Teachers and Common Cause but you might be surprised to also find the American Medical Association, American Bar Association, and the Episcopal Church, Washington Office. Be careful which groups you pay money to. They might be fighting against your right to own a gun and your right to defend yourself.
What action can you take if you do? In February 2000 Citibank turned down a business account because the business dealt with guns. In a 2/23/00 report the following quote sums up Citibank’s policy at that time: “Citibank spokesman Mark Rodgers told WorldNetDaily, “Citibank’s consumer business has a longstanding policy of not engaging in financial relationships with businesses that manufacture or sell military weapons, military munitions or firearms.”

Gun owners groups publicized this policy and called for a boycott. Within two months Citibank announced it eliminated that policy. I am not sure I want to do business with a bank that had that policy just seven short years ago and with bankers that started it who probably still work there, but the boycott worked there and it will work in other places.
Be especially careful of gun friendly “sounding” groups like the American Hunters and Shooters Association. They claim to support gun ownership but this is from there no2w defunct web site under Who we are : “an overwhelming majority of hunters support proposals like background checks to purchase guns, keeping military style assault weapons off our streets and the elimination of cop killer bullets.”

So this group would support banning guns that have a certain look, make you jump through hoops to buy a gun and outlaw ammo like the 30-30 and 30-06 bullets. Their name sounds good and they might support some gun rights but they support way too much of the same things the gun ban fanatics support.
Apparently some deaf dumb and blind kid at Field and |Stream magazine wrote this: “If you haven’t heard of the American Hunters and Shooters Association let me introduce you. The AHSA is an organization in its formative stages, and claims to be a viable alternative to the NRA which, it says, has alienated hunters and shooters by its boorish political tactics, unwillingness to compromise, and refusal to support conservation in any meaningful way.”

AHSA is defunct even with Field and Stream shilling for them and the founder is dead yet the NRA still works to protect ALL gun rights.
Even more troubling, the NRA says AHSA Executive Director Bob Ricker worked as a paid shill for the anti-gun lobby and its lawyers. Board member John Rosenthal is founder of the anti-gun Massachusetts state group “Stop Handgun Violence.” Now they want our support.
Not from me!


Fishing Innovator To Be Inducted Into the Texas Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame

ATHENS — The Texas Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame committee is pleased to announce that Wally “Mr. Crappie” Marshall of Anna, Texas, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2023. Marshall revolutionized crappie fishing through innovative products, tournaments and promotion of the sport. Marshall generously gives back to the fish community through his philanthropic work, teaching youth to fish and donating time and products to multiple charitable organizations and events.

“Wally Marshall’s outstanding accomplishments as a trailblazer in the sport of crappie fishing are unparalleled,” said Dan Kessler, Texas Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame selection committee chairman. “His leadership in bringing forth new ideas and innovative products to crappie fishing and the fishing community in general are second to none. On their own merits, these accomplishments warranted Wally’s consideration for membership in The Hall of Fame. However, it is Wally’s commitment to a lifelong passion for educating current and future anglers as well as the willingness to give his time and resources back to the fishing community that resulted in unanimous support for his induction to the Hall of Fame.”

Marshall grew up in Garland, Texas, for 50 years prior to moving to Anna. Marshall’s first career was as a master plumber, but his love and passion are being on the water casting for crappie. Marshall stepped into the crappie fishing spotlight in 1987 when he won the first-ever National Crappie Tournament at Cedar Creek Lake. That tournament victory opened the door for Marshall to promote and teach crappie fishing through seminars at tackle dealers, tackle shows and boat shows, and on radio and television across the state.

Marshall inked his first sponsorship agreement with Joe Hall, owner of Blakemore Lures, maker of the famous “Roadrunner” jig. Marshall launched a crappie fishing guide service in 1989 that operated until 1994 on Lake Fork, Lake Lewisville and Lake Ray Hubbard on weekends and days off. He was the first “crappie only” fishing guide to set up shop on Lake Fork.

Marshall teamed up with Bass Pro Shops to design crappie fishing products in 1997 and trademarked the name “Mr. Crappie” in 1998. Marshall retired as a master plumber in 2002 and pursued his passion of crappie fishing full time, designing “Mr. Crappie” products and promoting the sport of crappie fishing.

Marshall joined forces with Lew’s to design “Mr. Crappie” and Wally Marshall Signature Series rods and reels along with a “Mr. Crappie” fishing line in 2010. Marshall partnered with Strike King the following year to design a wide variety of specialized crappie lures under the “Mr. Crappie by Strike King” brand. As a result, “Mr. Crappie” is one of the most recognized and popular brands in the country.

In 2004, Marshall created the “Mr. Crappie Big Crappie Classic Tournament” with adult and youth divisions to encourage families to spend time together on the water. Marshall had a vision to create a show like the Bassmaster Classic for the crappie industry. Four years ago, the vision became a reality with the inception of the “Crappie Expo.” It consists of the “Mr. Crappie” $300,000 Invitational Tournament, the world’s largest crappie fry and a three-day consumer show featuring over 100 exhibitors, including lure and tackle companies, boat manufacturers and tackle dealers.

Marshall has garnered numerous honors and awards throughout his career:

  • First-ever National Crappie Tournament Champion at Cedar Creek Lake in 1987
  • Multiple crappie tournament titles on Texas lakes that include Texoma, Ray Hubbard, Lavon, Ray Roberts, Lewisville, Fork, Livingston and Tawakoni
  • 26-time National Crappie Classic Qualifier
  • 2002 National Crappie Angler of the Year
  • 2003 National Crappie Classic Champion
  • Seven-time National Crappie Classic Runner-Up
  • Inducted into the Legends of the Outdoors Hall of Fame in 2008
  • Name an “American Icon” in the 2018 February-March issue of Field & Stream magazine
  • Numerous articles and TV appearances

In addition to his professional accomplishments, Marshall is committed to introducing kids to the sport of crappie fishing. He has donated numerous fishing trips to youth organizations over the years and took youth fishing from the Buckner’s Children’s Home in Dallas.

Marshall has donated thousands of dollars of “Mr. Crappie” rods, reels and lures to youth organizations, schools, churches and the Boy Scouts. He was involved with the Garland Police Departments’ Mad Dog Fishing tournament that raises money for fallen officers’ families. He also donates products and his time to police and fire department functions and fundraisers.

“When I was approached to be nominated, it was a surprise and an honor,” said Marshall. “I look at the years gone by and all the things I’ve been blessed to do in Texas and abroad. I think about all the people I have met who helped me get to where I am at today as the 2023 inductee. You don’t really know how many people you actually touch through your work and I’m grateful that I get to represent Texas in the Hall of Fame. My motto in life and in business is “Whatever It Takes To Get It Done.” I wasn’t looking for success but I worked hard at it — the reward is having the honor to be included in the Hall of Fame with my peers.”

The Texas Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame is housed at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens. Its mission is to “recognize and honor those who have made a lasting contribution to freshwater fishing in Texas, and to foster a sense of appreciation, awareness and participation in the sport of fishing.”

Since 1997, the Hall of Fame has inducted 37 individuals and organizations, including Gary Klein in 2022. Marshall will be inducted as the 38th member during a ceremony at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center on Oct. 6.

Nomination forms and instructions are available online or by calling (903) 676-2277.

Can You Catch Largemouth Bass In January On The Mobile Delta

with Wayne Miller

     Cold weather this time of year makes many people want to go south for warmer climes.  Bass fishermen are no exception.  To find warmer water and more comfortable temperatures this time of year, and biting bass, plan a trip to the Mobile Delta.  It contains a wide variety of waters to fish and the bass are biting right now.

     The Mobile Delta region is an amazing place, especially to fishermen used to lakes and rivers in the north half of Alabama.  Looking at a map shows a maze of rivers, creeks, sloughs and lakes to fish.  The two main rivers, the Mobile River and the Tensaw River, twist and turn, with smaller rivers splitting off them and channels connecting all of them. 

     Tides affect water levels some every day but wind direction can make a big difference in how much. With no hills to block the wind it can create problems for the fisherman.  The good news is there are always protected places to fish and you can get out of the wind. Rain upstream changes water temperature and clarity as well as the amount of salt in the water.

     Usually a strong out-going tide is best for bass fishing. Dropping water will create current and position bass on cover, making them easier to find. Since the tide changes every day and wind make a big difference, check with Wayne to see what it is doing when you plan a trip. 

     Navigation can be a problem to the newcomer to the area and you have to watch for shoals, shallow flats, floating logs and barge traffic. And you can get turned around in a hurry if you don’t have a good GPS if you don’t pay close attention to where you are going.  It is a good idea to choose a small area to fish, put in at a ramp near there and go slow until you learn that area.

     Even with these problems the Delta is a great place to catch January bass.  They stay active due to the changing conditions and feed all month long.  They grow fast and fat but die young so you are likely to catch a lot of two to three pounders but a six pounder is a trophy.  Patterns are fairly simple and you don’t need a dozen rods rigged with different baits.

     Wayne Miller works at one of the big chemical plants and owns Fish’n Fever Tackle in Saraland.  His job at night allows him a lot of time to fish during the day since he seems to need little sleep.  Wayne spends a lot of time following the bass on the Delta and talking with bass fishermen there.  He guides for bass there, too.

     Fish’n Fever also sponsors a tournament trail on the Delta that averages more than 95 boats in each tournament. The tournaments in the warmer months attract a lot of fishermen and his championship at the end of the trail in October is always a hard fought event.  He also runs a winter trail in the area. You can get tournament info as well as river stages and weather reports at

     Over the years Wayne fished a lot of BASS tournaments like the Top 150 trail. He also competes in local tournaments and has done well.  His best five bass limit from the Delta was just over 20 pounds and he has a 7.5 pound bass from the area, a huge bass here. Touring pros often contact him for information before tournaments here.

     In January the bass are in the creeks and lakes, according to Wayne.  They pull off the main rivers and are likely to be found holding in deeper holes and outside bends of the creeks away from the main current.  They like wood and water plants like eel grass, milfoil and spatterdocks. Cypress trees also attract bass where they grow in the water.

     The primary food for bass in January is crabs.  That may be a surprise to more northern anglers but think about it.  The Delta abounds in small crabs about the size of crayfish, a food most bass fishermen are very familiar with in upland lakes.  They also eat small baitfish this time of year.  Although shrimp are a favorite food for bass here, the shrimp are gone in January and not a factor.

     Wayne says three rods are all you need to catch bass now. Rig one with a jig and pig, one with a crankbait and the third with a spinnerbait and you can cover all bases for bass.  No matter what the cover you have a bait that will catch bass from it.

     Jigs like the Davis Bait Company Paca Jig, Strike King Pro Model and Lunker Lure Triple Rattleback are all good.    A one-quarter to three-eights ounce jig in black and blue, peanut butter and jelly or purple/brown work well. Wayne tips them with the Net Bait Paca Chunk in matching colors.

     For crankbaits Wayne likes the Bandit 100 and 200 Series in Spring Craw, Humblebee, Red Craw and Red Splatterback.    The Bagley Balsa series in black and chartreuse, crawfish orange and crawfish chartreuse are all good since they look like crabs.  A one-quarter to three-quarter ounce Rat-L-Trap in crawfish colors also work well.

     Spinnerbaits in colors that represent baitfish and crawfish are also good.  Wayne chooses a Hildebrant Snagless Sally in crawdad/professor with a #4 blade in the three eights ounce or #4.5 blade in the half ounce or a Mann’s Hank Parker three eights and  three quarter ounce with chartreuse/white  skirts and two gold willowleaf blades.  He also likes the War Eagle three-eights or one-half ounce Screamin Eagle. He says the further up the rivers you go the bigger your spinnerbait should be.

     If you love throwing plastic baits, as a fourth choice Wayne would have a 7.5 inch Culprit worm in Christmas color or a Zoom lizard in watermelon seed with a chartreuse tail ready.  You can Texas rig these plastics for flipping heavy cover or use a short Carolina rig for fishing wood on flats.

     Since the water is usually not real clear and barnacles are often on any wood cover you fish Wayne sticks with fairly heavy baitcasting tackle.  His reels will be spooled with braid or mono that is 14 pound test or heavier.  You need heavy, abrasion resistant line to get Delta fish out of cover that might be covered with sharp barnacles.

     Wayne showed me the following ten spots to catch January bass on the Delta. We fished when the shrimp were still in the area and the bass were keying on them, but they are gone now. We did catch some fish on spinnerbaits, jig and pigs and crankbaits but landed over 35 keepers on live shrimp.  You can catch bass like that now on artificials on the following places and patterns.

(Note – the following coordinates are in degrees, minutes and seconds [DGS), not the usual tenths of degrees {DS}.  You can set your GPS to either and it will convert them. Be sure you are set to DGS when you put these in then you can change back to DS and they will be correct.)

     1. N 30 43 50.4 – W 87 58 28.9 – Lower Crab Creek is one of Wayne’s favorite winter holes on the lower Delta.  It runs from the west side of the Tensaw River over to the Spanish River and Delvan Bay but you have to come in from the Tensaw end.  The GPS coordinates are at the Tensaw end where you enter. 

     You can start fishing right where you enter and work the whole creek or you can run it to the end near Delvan Bay.  The creek channel is well defined all along the length of the creek.   There is eel grass and milfoil and a little wood cover all along it that holds bass but Wayne’s favorite area is near the bay end. He will run down to near the first split on that end and start fishing, concentrating on the holes and points there.

     Some of the holes and outside bends are six to eight feet deep and that makes it ideal for bass to stack up there this time of year. Anytime a smaller creek splits off, but especially if it is on the outside bend, Wayne will make repeated casts to the area.  He also throws his crankbait right down the middle of the creek near those splits.

     Fish the whole creek but concentrate from the first split to the bay end.  Pitch a jig and pig to the grass and work a spinnerbait through it. Try your crankbait along the outside edges of the grass and across points and mouths of creeks.  Run it right down the middle of the creek, too. Wayne says he often catches 12 to 15 bass out of one spot here.

     2. N 30 43 33.2 – W 87 58 27.0 – On the east side of the Tensaw River across from and a little downstream of Crab Creek is Conway Creek.  The north side of this creek has deeper outside bends with water up to 12 feet deep.  The south side is flatter and shallower with grass. All along the length of this creek you will find eel grass, spatterdocks and milfoil to fish. There is also some wood cover to fish.

     Work the creek trying both sides and all the cover. Concentrate on the type area you catch fish. Wayne says the north side is usually better this time of year because it is deeper. Work all your baits around any cover you encounter. When you catch a bass slow down and fish that spot hard since the bass usually school up tight this time of year.

     3. N 30 44 18.0 – W 88 02 40.7 – Chickasaw Creek, also called Chickassbogue Creek because of the boat works in it, is on the west side of the Mobile River just north of the big bridge.  It has a deep main channel with many shallow creeks branching off it.  There are logs all along it but the further up you go the more wood you will find and there a cypress trees in the very back to fish.

     Fish crankbaits and spinnerbaits over the logs but also slow down with your jig and pig and work them carefully. Bass will be more sluggish in the colder water. Pitch your jig and pig to the base of cypress trees and try to find the root ball of bigger trees. Bass will often hold right by the trunk of the tree so try to hit it with your bait and let it fall straight down.  If they are in the roots you may have to really slow down to get in them.

     4. N 30 48 09.5 – W 88 00 52.2 – Moving to the middle Delta, Bayou Sara splits off the west side of the Mobile River on the west side of Twelve Mile Island. It has a deep main creek channel and a good bit of mixed grass near the river. There are a lot of cypress trees the further up it you go.  The water here is usually clear and it is a good place to try when the Delta is flooded with dirty water in other places.

     Wayne says to fish your crankbait and jig and pig here.  Work all visible cover. Also try dragging a short Carolina rig along flats and the outside of grass to find hidden cover and to attract sluggish bass.  Pitch a jig and pig to all cypress trees.

     Pay careful attention to where you get bit. Bass often hold on similar trees and similar places so if you are getting hits only on the outside tree, concentrate on them. If your bites are coming right beside the trunk make sure your bait falls straight down on a slack line.

     5. N 30 55 41.6 – W 87 54 43.1 – Mifflin Lake is on the west side of the Tensaw River near the I-65 crossing.  It has a deep channel with log covered flats and some stretches of deep cypress trees. Wayne says this is an excellent place to work a jig and pig and a crankbait in the winter and early spring.

     Fish the logs on the flats with both baits. Bass will be on them pre-spawn and are looking for bedding areas.  As the water warms in late winter, which comes early this far south, more and more bass will stack up on these flats.

     6. N 30 53 56.6 – W 87 53 38.3 – Dennis Lake is off the east side of the Tensaw River a little further downstream of the I-65 crossing and is a smaller version of Mifflin Lake.  Fish it the same way.  Smaller creeks like this one are better on windy days since you can find more protected water to fish. 

     Much of the shoreline here is lined with cypress trees to give you more protection and lots of targets.  Work each tree slowly and carefully until you find the keys.  Fish the whole area from the mouth to the back but watch for deeper holes that hold concentrations of fish.

     7. N 30 51 11.1 – W 87 54 45.9 – McReynolds Lake is on the west side of the Tensaw river just north of the railroad bridge and is a big lake with many small creeks branching off it.  Most of the cover here is grass of different kinds but some banks are covered with laydown logs and there are a few cypress trees to fish.  Spend some time in this area to locate fish, paying attention to the depth and type cover and you should be able to find fish in similar places all around it. This is a good place to spend a whole day.

     8. N 30 51 54.5 – W 87 59 12.5 – Dead Lake is on the west side of the Mobile River between the I-65 and Railroad bridges.  It is one of the smaller lakes in the middle Delta but there is lots of log covered banks and cypress trees to fish. 

     This is a good place to fish when a north wind blows water out of the Delta.  Dropping water on flats here make the bass move to the deeper ends of the logs and are easier to pattern. This is true of several of the areas so when the water is dropping more than  normal concentrate on the deepest end of the cover. 

     9. N 31 00 47.3 – W 87 54 00.9 – Tensaw Lake on the upper Delta is on the east side of the Tensw River north of the interstate bridge.  It has s deep channel covered with logs and deeper cypress trees.  Fish it from the creek mouth all the way to the upper end with crankbaits and a jig and pit. Wayne says this is another excellent winter and early spring spot.

     10. N 31 03 22.6 – W 87 59 53.6 – Cedar Creek off the west side of the Mobile River just downstream of where the Alabama and Tombigbee Rivers join to form it. Wayne says it is a deep creek lined with cyress tree cover and is a good spot to work with bigger baits. It is a clear creek that produces bigger than average fish.  Stick with your bigger crankbaits and spinnerbaits here, and a jig and pig, for bigger bass.

     Many of these creeks and sloughs are big enough to spend a full day fishing. Often in tournaments the fishermen that gets to one of these spots and stays there all day brings in a winning stringer. Give them a try, check out similar areas and have a great winter bass trip.

     For current information, booking a guide trip with Wayne, tournament info and maps visit Fish’n Fever, check out the website or call Wayne at 251-675-6030.  If you know the area you want to fish he can also suggest nearby ramps to use.

FISHING OBSERVATIONS – Is the Midwest the Best Place To Fish?

Bob Jensen of

from The Fishing Wire

Fishing Observations

The 2022 fishing season is in the books. In conversations with anglers over the past few weeks, several observations have been presented more often than others. Some of these probably can’t be answered with any degree of accuracy, but to this angler, they’re interesting and worthy of some thought.

It seems that big fish are being caught with more regularity in recent years than in the past. It’s not unusual to see pictures of trophy muskies, bass, and walleyes on internet and social media sites on a weekly and even a daily basis. We never used to hear about or see photos of so many big fish. That’s because we didn’t have access to the internet and social media sites until recent years. It wasn’t that long ago in fishing history that magazines were a primary form of communication about fishing, and most of them came out on a monthly schedule, and often the deadlines for those magazines was several weeks or months in advance of the magazine being printed. The photos that appeared in those magazines were already a few months old when the magazine arrived in the mailbox. Today, if an angler catches a big one and wants to highlight the experience, it’s on the internet the same day.

I also think that many anglers are much more willing to share big fish catches today. There are a variety of reasons why anglers are more willing to pass along their successes, but there certainly are a lot of impressive fish catches showing up.

It also seems like fish in some areas are easier to catch than they are in other areas. Cole Floyd is a bass tournament angler. Cole lives in Ohio but fishes in a variety of different states every year. He has noticed that largemouth and smallmouth bass can be more willing to bite in some areas than in others. Last summer Cole participated in a bass tournament in Minnesota, and after the tournament he hung around Minnesota for a few days to explore the bass action. He found that the bass were more willing to bite, fought better, and looked healthier than they do in many other regions that he fishes. In his travels he’s also learned something that many of us can benefit from. There will usually be a hot bait from area to area, but plastic baits such as those in the Rage line of plastics will produce anywhere. Green Pumpkin is a color that bass will bite regardless of region. When he’s trying to establish a pattern and just wants to get bit, Cole will often tie a Midsize Rage Bug rigged Texas-style onto his line and start throwing it anywhere that looks like home to a bass. Many of the most successful bass-catchers agree that a Rage Bug or Rage Grub will catch’em almost anywhere.

Many anglers also agree that for variety, the Midwest offers the best when it comes to freshwater fishing. If the bass don’t want to bite, there will usually be some panfish, pike, or walleyes that will. Some lakes aren’t the best walleye lakes, but they’re outstanding for other species. When it comes to just getting bit, it’s really hard to beat the lakes, rivers, reservoirs, and ponds that are generously scattered across the Midwest. Almost anyone who lives in the Midwest realizes that, and anglers who come from the south, east, or west quickly make the same observation. For the next few weeks I’m going to be observing ice fishing stuff, and when Mother Nature permits, I will look forward to more open water observations.

How To Catch Northern Pike Using Livetarget and Mustad


from The Fishing Wire

A Northern Pike Year-End Rally with LIVETARGET And Mustad

Big teeth, big appetite, big attitude — northern pike bring their A-game every time. Now, imagine that drama at close range, and you have the thrilling pursuit of stalking pike on foot. Indeed, wading for these apex predators presents a pulse-pounding version of a sport many know from the safety and security of a boat. However, for those willing to step into the water, a next-level experience awaits.

Mustad pro and tournament competitor Dennis BomBom Skou knows well this version of pike fishing, and his insight provides a blueprint for anglers anywhere pike roam. From Minnesota to Manitoba and all throughout Europe’s diverse tapestry of lakes and rivers, this adventurous approach to one of freshwater fishing’s most revered species won’t disappoint.


“When wading, you can fish in knee-deep water and even shallower, too,” Skou said. “I know it sounds crazy, but that’s where we (often) find the pike. Sometimes they are just sitting there in less than a foot deep water, close to the bank or on a shallow flat out in the open. Sometimes you’re in places where you can’t do that in a boat. Another thing I like about wade fishing is that you have a better chance of sneaking up on a pike. Wading is a more stealthy strategy.”

Skou also likes the spontaneity factor. No time-consuming boat or kayak prep; just grab the tackle bag, rod, and waders, and you’re on your way. “If you just have a couple of hours to fish, wading can be a perfect choice,” Skou said.


Ask Skou to describe his ideal pike habitat, and he details a location with at least a moderately firm bottom so he can wade without sinking. Starting on secure footing is essential, as wading is often a solitary venture.

“Something very important is the hardness of the bottom; I do not want it too muddy, as I would easily sink and become stuck there,” Skou said. “Sometimes, sinking one foot deep is not a problem, but if you’re out on your own, you should think twice before you do it. People can think differently about what’s okay and what’s not, but I never take chances. If the mud is too deep, you can sink in so much that you are completely stuck. This can be really bad if your waders take in water. A lot of this fishing occurs during the winter months, so getting wet and cold, puts you at serious risk of hypothermia.”

As far as bottom makeup, Skou calls his preference “leopard bottom.” Finding such promising areas requires pre-trip study.

“Before picking out my spot for the day, I go on Google maps to see if the area looks interesting,” Skou said. “This gives me a pretty good idea of the bottom composition, the weed or grass density, and water condition. I don’t want a sand desert down there, nor would I want the water to be too deep. I kind of look for a good mix of everything. Small open spots with sandy or muddy bottoms and spotted areas with weeds and grass – that’s my go-to area.”

Ultimately, Skou finds his best wading opportunities in areas where prey fish find enough cover in which to hide. When he finds a forage-rich spot, he knows he’ll also find predators lurking there.


The aggressive pike is always game for chasing moving bait and, for wading use, Skou said he does best with shallow running baits. One of his favorites is the LIVETARGET Erratic Shiner.

“This little spoon has great action and looks very much like the small baitfish that pike feed on,” Skou said. “The glow pearl has been one of my best colors. Besides the Erratic Shiner, I generally use smaller baits. The biggest are up to 18 cm.

Other productive wading baits include soft rubber swim baits rigged on Mustad Power Lock Plus Spring Keeper Hooks , a LIVETARGET Juvenile Pike Swimbait, a LIVETARGET Yellow Perch Crankbait, or a LIVETARGET Yellow Perch Jerkbait.

“Always cast close to the weeds, structure, and drop-offs,” Skou advises. “Keep an eye out for fish jumping and if you see a school of baitfish desperately breaking the surface, chances are that a pike is on the hunt! Cast to where you saw them and BAM! Fish on!”

Rod options generally come down to personal preference and the size of pike you’re targeting. However, a 7- to 8-foot, medium-fast Mustad Basscraft spinning rod fits this role well. Featuring an innovative blank construction with LCJ (Longitudinal Carbon Jacket) technology, the Basscraft design ensures a progressive tip curve, with up to 200% greater sensitivity and strength, compared to standard blank construction. For anglers fond of braided line, like TUF-LINE DOMIN8, this rod’s braid-friendly Fuji guides provide the requisite durability.

“I think I have a better reach with a spinning rod and reel than I do with (baitcasting gear),” Skou said. “For braid, I normally go with 0.18mm on a spinning reel and a bit more on a baitcaster.”


Skou offers a couple of insights from his pike experience.

What to Wear: Skou likes the comfort of breathable waders, which allow greater mobility than neoprene. However, for longer wading trips, it’s harder to stay warm in breathable fabric, so he’ll opt for neoprene’s heat-retaining advantage.

“For boots, I go for lightweights because I don’t want to walk around carrying too much unnecessary weight,” Skou said. “It’s hard enough to be walking all those kilometers with a heavy backpack full of pike lures. Also, I prefer wading boots with a felt sole for a better grip.

“Under my waders, I’m wearing marine wool and fleece. It’s always a gamble trying to pick the right number of layers for the day. It’s very easy to either get too cool or too warm. But during the cold season, it’s easier to predict how it’s going to go and what outfit to wear under your waders. I always have an extra layer on my lower body than I do on my upper body.”

Safety First: One of the most appealing elements of wade fishing for pike is the allure of pushing farther and farther to see what the next dozen steps might reveal. Skou understands this, but cautions anglers to maintain their awareness.

“Be careful not to go out too far, because if the tide suddenly becomes high, the water level can rise super-fast,” he said. “This can put you in a situation where you can’t get back to shore without a swim. You don’t want to swim in your waders, leaving behind all your gear.

“If you’re going out alone, or if your group is spread across a bigger area, you could consider wearing an inflatable life jacket. If you find yourself in a dangerous situation, wearing a life jacket may turn out to be the best decision you ever made.”

Skou said a wading staff can be helpful in defining bottom conditions and choosing your steps wisely. If you’re wading in high weeds, that staff can help you locate holes, rocks or other tripping hazards before they become a problem.

Reference Points: Every productive trip offers something that can facilitate future success. Skou knows this and records key details from each of his wading excursions.

“For a better understanding of your water, keep a log of your trips,” he said. “In time, you will learn when you’ll have the best chances for a successful fishing trip. If you catch fish, take notice of water temperature, water level, tide stage, wind direction, and so on. You will be surprised how much of a help this can be.”

All of these points matter because they combine to create the opportunity to experience a truly spectacular moment. Wade fishing brings you closer to the action than anything you’ll experience from a boat and that’s a memory you don’t want to miss.

“It’s very addictive to fish for pike like that,” Skou said. “Standing in the water right next to them as you land, unhook, and release them to see them swim off — very cool!”

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.