Author Archives: ronniegarrison

Boating Safety and Rules

With Memorial Day Weekend coming up, a lot of folks will be out on area lakes driving boats. Many of them should not be. Way too many folks behind the wheel of a boat have no idea what they are doing and often cause accidents.

“Keep right” is the most important rule for any boat operator. You are supposed to stay to the right side of the channel and you should stay to the right when meeting a boat head-on. This is a simple rule, and it is the same as when driving a car, but many people get confused.

The steering wheel of most boats is on the right side, opposite of car steering wheels. I think this is what confuses people, they try to meet oncoming traffic on the side they are sitting on, not keeping right as required.

Skidoos or Personal Water Craft (PWC) are a whole nother problem. These small, fast boats are often driven by young kids that have no idea they are endangering themselves and others by the way they are driving. Jumping wakes may be fun, but the fun ends when you jump into the path of another boat.

Last year there were 329,569 boats in Georgia and 165 accidents were recorded. Out of that number, there were 37,649 PWCs and they accounted for 47 of the accidents. That means PWCs are 11 percent of the boats but they are involved in 29 percent of the accidents.

Drivers of bass boats are often just as bad. Many bass boats will run faster then 70 mph and the drivers often take short cuts by running the left side of bends and turns. This means they may meet a boat driver doing the right thing, keeping right, head on. If it is another bass boat and both are running 70 mph plus, there is not much time to avoid an accident.
Drinking while driving a boat can get you in trouble in a hurry. Last year there were 339 arrest for Boating Under the Influence (BUI) and many of them paid a hefty fine. Beer and boating seem to go together, but it can get real expensive if you are driving the boat.

As might be expected due to heavy boat traffic, Lanier lead the lakes with 51 accidents, more than twice as many as Allatoona in second place. Jackson had 5 accidents, down the list a good ways. Its small size concentrates boats, though. That can make accidents more likely.

The most important thing to do when driving a boat is to think. Realize what you are doing and plan ahead. Know the rules and obey them. Watch out for other people and be careful, and have a safe holiday weekend.

Lake Guntersville Fishing Report from Captain Mike Gerry

Lake Guntersville Fishing Report

Check out these weekly updated reports for selected lakes in Georgia and Alabama Lakes Fishing Report. If any guides or fishermen do weekly reports and would like them published on my site please contact me: ronnie@fishing-about.com

Captain Mike with nice Guntersville bass

Captain Mike with nice Guntersville bass

Fishing Report, Lake Guntersville 5/18/19

With very few exceptions the lake is as good as it gets, this week was exceptional, lots of fish,
big fish and great fun and big smiles from my customers. It’s just amazing how the lake gets
better if we just have a few days of consistent weather. They stay put, you can catch them in
the same place a second time and they feed; it’s all good.

The great addition to the hot baits for me this week is the Tight-Line swim jig has turned on
the bass are eating it big time; add the Picasso spinner bait and Missile Baits d-Bomb and 48
stick bait and your catching instead of fishing! The fish are 4 to 10 ft. and fishing are easy and
fun!

Come fish with me no one will treat you better or make sure you have a great day on the
water. My team of guides are the best in the business and we always treat you like we want
to be treated. We fish with great sponsor products, Lowrance Electronics, Ranger Boats,
Mercury Motors, Power Pole, Boat Logix Mounts, Duckett Fishing, Vicious Fishing, SPRO
Fishing, Navionics mapping and more.

Fish Lake Guntersville Guide Service
www.fishlakeguntersvilleguideservice.com

Email: bassguide@comcast.net
Phone: 256 759 2270
Captain Mike Gerry

Stable Snapper Season

Amendment 50 Gives Gulf States Stable Snapper Season

By DAVID RAINER
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
from The Fishing Wire


Big Red Snapper


After a three-year struggle, saltwater anglers are on the cusp of a stable red snapper season with the approval of Amendment 50 by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council.

Amendment 50, which goes into effect in 2020 with the approval of the Secretary of Commerce, gives the five Gulf states control over each state’s snapper season, and it allows leeway in size and bag limits within certain federal guidelines.

“All of the Gulf states are excited to finally have this solidified and move forward with the management plans for the individual states,” said Scott Bannon, Alabama’s Marine Resources Director. “It’s a win for the red snapper stock and a win for the states.”

Bannon said state control of the snapper fishery was brought before the Council in 2016 to manage the recreational sector, which would have included the private recreational sector and the federal for-hire (charter) sector.

The 2016 and 2017 snapper seasons were painfully short under federal control. As a way to alleviate the impact on anglers and the Gulf Coast economies, the Gulf states were issued an exempted fishing permit (EFP) for the 2018 and 2019 seasons, and states were able to set their seasons under a total allowable catch for each state.

Alabama originally set its 2018 season at 47 days, but near-perfect weather and an increased enthusiasm for catching the state’s signature saltwater species forced Marine Resources to reduce the season to 28 days, which ended in an almost perfect catch-to-allocation result.

The way Alabama was able to ensure there was no significant overrun on the quota was through the Red Snapper Reporting System, more commonly known as Snapper Check. The mandatory reporting system allowed Marine Resources to monitor the catch and close the season in response to the larger-than-expected harvest numbers.

The success of the Snapper Check monitoring paved the way for the Council to approve Amendment 50.

“I think the fishery benefits from Amendment 50 because we have the ability, as individual states, of not exceeding our allocation of the quota,” Bannon said. “If you look at it from a stock perspective for the Gulf of Mexico and you were managing it as a whole and you had a perfect season, like last year, you had no way to put the season in check. Alabama alone would have consumed nearly half of the entire Gulf allocation if we had fished the whole 47 days. We would have fished it really, really hard, and the amount of fish we would have caught would have been tremendous. As it was, we closed it when we met the number of pounds and showed that we were responsible. I think this is much better for the anglers and the snapper stock. I think the EFP showed the states could come to some decisions about allocations, and that the states could manage seasons within pretty close tolerances.”

Bannon said the Gulf Council faced two challenges with state management of red snapper. First, where do the federal for-hire boats fit into the program? The Council decided to not include the federal for-hire in Amendment 50 and consider other options in the future if conditions change for the federal for-hire boats. Second, what allocations could the five Gulf states live with?

“These allocations were based on different factors like biomass and historical landings,” Bannon said. “So, the state directors used the EFP allocations as a starting point for Amendment 50.

“The EFP only allowed us to set the season within our allocation. Under Amendment 50, we received an increase in allocation from 25% to 26.298%, and that increase will be permanent. We also have in Amendment 50 the ability to set size and bag limits within certain parameters. Those are management tools to maximize the benefit for Alabama.”

When the initial EFP allocations were proposed, the totals did not equal 100% of the total allowable catch. Bannon said Florida was given the extra 3.78% because they were the final state to apply.

“They amended their EFP to get that extra allocation,” Bannon said. “We felt like that extra allocation should be negotiated. In the end, Alabama and Florida split that 3.78% under Amendment 50 because we’re the two largest consumers of red snapper. The other states were comfortable with that. It seems to be fair and equitable.”

Under the new amendment, each state creates their own plan. Alabama’s plan includes a 10% buffer as opposed to the 20% buffer under the federal system. The federal for-hire sector has not exceeded its quota for several years, and its buffer was reduced to 9%.

Alabama’s allocation of red snapper for the 2019 private recreational season under the EFP is 1,079,765 pounds. Alabama’s allocation for the 2020 season increases to 1,122,661 pounds if the private recreational sector doesn’t exceed its quota this year.

Bannon said most red snapper anglers are happy with the upcoming season, and he anticipates there could be some season adjustments when Amendment 50 goes into effect.

“Most of the responses I’ve received for the 2019 season is they were happy to get the June and July seasons and that the season was spread out enough that if the weather was bad they could go another weekend,” he said. “We know we still have concerns from the public that they would like more fishing time during the week. As we move forward in state management, that is always a possibility because we now have the flexibility to set the seasons.”

The 2019 season length is tentatively set for 27 days, starting June 1 with three-day weekends (Friday-Sunday) except opening weekend (two days) and July 4 week, which will be four days (Thursday-Sunday). The size limit and bag limit remain the same at two fish per person with a minimum size of 16 inches total length.

Bannon is planning to ask snapper anglers for assistance to keep Alabama’s unparalleled artificial reef program at the top. The loss of funding for research in those reef zones will prompt him to ask the Conservation Advisory Board to implement a reef fish endorsement beginning in 2020.

“The reef fish endorsement is set up to help fund some of the research conducted in the reef zones, because we’re losing some of the funding used for that research,” he said. “The research needs to continue, and we also need funds to support programs like Snapper Check, which we hope to expand into a better program.

“It’s designed as a user-based system that applies to the people who are participating in that fishery, including private recreational, charter for-hire and commercial fishermen. Another aspect of it is it defines the user group. It gives us a better idea, especially among private anglers, of how many people are fishing for reef fish off Alabama. That way we can have better directed surveys, which are targeted at people who participate in the fishery instead of just people who have saltwater fishing licenses.”

The endorsement fees would be $10 for private recreational anglers and $250 for commercial fishermen. The charter for-hire fees would depend on the size of the boat and number of passengers the vessel can carry.

Amendment 50 gives the five Gulf states much more control of their red snapper seasons. Photo by David Rainer
As for Amendment 50, Bannon said Alabama has already shown state management will work. The public is supportive, and he thinks that Secretary Wilbur Ross will quickly approve.

“As I said on the radio the other day, Alabama has 3% of the Gulf coastline and will receive 26.298% of the total allowable catch for the 2020 season and beyond,” Bannon said. “I think Amendment 50 is a success for the fishery, and I think it’s a success for the states because the states can now manage the seasons, size limits and bag limits that best suit their anglers.

Columbiana Inn Bed and Breakfast

On travels around Georgia and Alabama “researching” information for Georgia and Alabama Outdoor News magazines, I get to fish most bigger lakes in both states with some really good fishermen. And on longer trips, I stay in interesting places and eat at local restaurants. Some are excellent, some not so much.

On a recent trip to Lay Lake with college fisherman Ryan Branch, we caught some good fish and had fun on a beautiful lake. I spent two nights at the charming Columbiana Inn Bed and Breakfast six miles from the Beeswax Boat Ramp. I did not have my boat, but the owners said fishermen with boats often stay there and there is good off-street parking.

I missed breakfast the first morning since I had to be on the lake before sunrise, but the next morning I was served the best omelet I have ever eaten. It was served with a fruit bowl and delicious pound cake.

The town of Columbiana is a pretty antebellum town with nice people, at least all I met were, and interesting history. There is plenty to do other than fish. DeSoto Springs are not far away and there is a covered bridge park, as well as lots to see in town.

One night I ate dinner at Paradise Point Marina restaurant and had a good, but expensive, shrimp po-boy sandwich. The view of the lake and marina was great.

I had to visit Davis Drug Store while there to get a seat cushion, mine blew out of the boat, and the lady that helped me was extremely nice. And I was told the owner was a bass fisherman!

I would recommend a trip there for fishing or sightseeing, or just a great place to relax for a few days. I was there during the week and the only guest for two nights, but there were at least six rooms reserved for the weekend, so make reservations well in advance!

South Florida’s Bonefish Nurseries

Conservation of South Florida’s Bonefish Nurseries

From Bonefish & Tarpon Trust
from The Fishing Wire

Bonefish fry need protecting


When we think about promoting a healthy bonefish fishery we often turn our attention to protecting large schools of adult fish patrolling the flats. Often forgotten are the more vulnerable juvenile fish, those less than three inches long, that must survive a constant barrage from predators and a chaotic, rapidly changing environment. Nowhere are the challenges faced by juvenile bonefish more evident than in the Florida Keys.

Over the years we have seen a decline in the Florida Keys bonefish population, and an unusual absence of juveniles. The cause of this decline is still unknown, but it has coincided with changes to freshwater discharge in South Florida, increases in coastal development, and higher frequency of extreme weather events. These disturbances may be responsible for negatively impacting important nursery habitats and at least partially explain the bonefish population decline.

Nurseries are potentially the most important and complex habitats that a fish will occupy during its life. They provide protection from predators, abundant sources of food, and environmental conditions that allow for fast growth and an increased chance of survival. And since juvenile bonefish are too small to move to better habitats, taking the nursery habitat away is like pulling a table cloth out from under a castle of cards; the castle will fall.

BTT collaborating scientists have identified nursery habitats in the Bahamas, where thousands of juvenile bonefish are found in shallow, seagrass-free areas that are sheltered from strong waves. In the Keys, we have checked these types of habitats and have found only a handful of juveniles. Healthy juveniles are the future of the fishery, and we are teaming up with researchers at Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute to figure out where juvenile bonefish are settling in the Florida Keys. Here is what we know so far about juvenile bonefish in the Keys:

1) Juvenile bonefish should be most prevalent in the early summer, following the winter through spring spawning season.

2) We recently learned that Bahamian juvenile bonefish use sandy or muddy bottoms with little wave action. Similar habitat in the Florida Keys is rare, and so far our sampling of these types of habitats has captured very few juvenile bonefish.

Identifying and protecting essential fish habitat is the first and most important step towards recovering the bonefish population in the Florida Keys. Once we identify bonefish nursery habitats, we can work with county, state, and federal managers to designate these habitats for protection. With a better understanding of the environmental characteristics that make for quality bonefish nurseries, we can work to restore degraded habitats, so they can become functional nurseries again. The future of the bonefish fishery may depend on the success of our habitat conservation efforts.

What you can do to help:

The search for juvenile bonefish in a region as expansive as the Florida Keys requires substantial time and effort. As a community we can work together to find juvenile bonefish and protect them when they’re most vulnerable. If you have encountered juvenile bonefish while fishing or cast-netting in the Florida Keys, Florida Bay, or Biscayne Bay, please contact our project lead:

Steven Lombardo, Florida Atlantic University Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute

Email: slombardo2018@fau.edu

Office: 772-242-2305

Photo: Juvenile bonefish. Photo credit: Louis Penrod, FIT

To learn more about Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, visit www.bonefishtarpontrust.org.

Fish Kills In Ponds

I got my heart broke a few years ago. I feed the bream in a one-acre pond on my property and have been catching bluegill from 10 to 14 ounces there. The water has been a nice fertile green color all summer, and the fish have been fat and active.

Last Saturday when I threw out fish food the bream churned the water like a school of piranha feeding on fresh meat. They quickly ate the three pounds of food I threw out and probably would have eaten more if I had given them any more. That was the usual activity level.

On Sunday afternoon when I threw out a can of food, there was almost no activity. It was very hot and the sun was bright, and I hoped that was the problem. The pond had dropped about 4 inches in the past few weeks since there had been no rain, but there was still a good flow of water coming into the pond.

Monday afternoon as I drove down to the pond several buzzards flew off. I got a sick feeling in my stomach, and it was confirmed when I caught sight of dead fish floating around the edge of the pond. I walked around the pond and counted 107 dead fish – mostly big bluegill.

Tuesday morning I called the DNR fisheries biologist that covers Spalding County and he told me I was the third call that morning about a fish kill in local ponds. The hot, dry weather had left many ponds with low oxygen content, and based on what I told him, lack of oxygen was probably what killed my fish.

Fertile ponds have a lot of algae in them, that is what gives the water the green color. Algae is good – it produces food for the fish at the lower end of the food chain and during the day it adds oxygen to the water.

Unfortunately, at night the algae actually uses oxygen, and if it dies the decay process also uses up oxygen. If a green pond suddenly turns brown, it probably means the algae has died and the fish will be in trouble.

The water in my pond cleared up a lot Monday, but that was probably from the heavy rain Sunday night. That could also have been part of the problem The biologist I talked with said the fish could have been stressed because of low oxygen levels, and the influx of fresh, cooler water was too much for them to handle. That could be what pushed them over the edge.

By Thursday the remaining fish were feeding again. Unfortunately, most of them were smaller, 8 inches long or smaller. That goes along with what the biologist told me, the bigger, older fish were the ones that would die first.

If you have a pond and see the fish swimming near the surface during the day, they may be there because the oxygen level is low. About the only way to solve the problem is to put in an aerator. That is an expensive way to go, but it may be the only way to save the fish. I am checking on getting one for my pond now.

I really hated to lose all those big bream that I have had so much fun catching. But the biologist had some good news. The fish left will probably grow very fast now since there are fewer in the pond. Maybe I have something to look forward to!

Dam Removals Help Fish

Decades of Dam Removals Help Fish Reach Historic Homes
from the Fishing Wire

Herring swimming upstream


Herring swim underwater in Town Brook. Photo: Keith Ellenbogen
From NOAA Fisheries

In the United States, more than 2 million dams and other barriers block fish from migrating upstream. As a result, many fish populations have declined.
For example, Atlantic salmon used to be found in every river north of the Hudson River. Due to dams and other threats, less than half of 1 percent of the historic population remains. The last remnant populations of Atlantic salmon in U.S. waters exist in just a few rivers and streams in central and eastern Maine. They are an endangered species.

Reduced fish populations affect the entire ecosystem, since they are often important prey for other animals. They are often crucial to commercial and recreational fisheries, so reduced numbers can impact local economies as well.

NOAA Fisheries and cooperating agencies have been removing many of these barriers in recent years.

Town Brook in Plymouth, Massachusetts, once full of barriers blocking migrating fish from passing, has been reopened and restored. Now fish like river herring and eels can make it to and from habitats important for their survival and sustainability, and they are better able to support ocean species that rely on them for food.

Click to visit our story map for a virtual walk along Town Brook seeing 20 years of fish passage work.

The 1.5-mile stream flows from the freshwater Billington Sea to the Atlantic Ocean near Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts, and serves as an important habitat for fish that migrate between the ocean and freshwater areas. For hundreds of years, dams in the stream blocked fish from passing and caused populations to decline.

The NOAA Restoration Center worked with its partners, the Town of Plymouth, State of Massachusetts, and others to remove these barriers to reopen the stream. The first dam was removed in 2002, and as of 2019, five dams have been strategically removed and major improvements to fish passage have been implemented at the sixth dam site. The final, Holmes Dam, was removed just in time for the annual spring herring run.

Removing the Town Creek dam


Town Brook’s Billington Street dam, being removed with support from U.S. Army Reserve 368th Engineer Combat Battalion.
Every year, millions of fish migrate to their spawning and rearing habitats to reproduce. Some fish swim thousands of miles through oceans and rivers to reach their destinations. Often blocked by human-made barriers, when fish can’t reach their habitat, they can’t reproduce and grow their populations.

Town Creek after dam removal


Town Brook restored at the site of the former Billington Street dam.
NOAA Fisheries removes or finds ways around barriers to fish passage and improves in-stream habitat for migrating fish. We have completed more than 600 fish migration projects, opening almost 6,000 miles of rivers and streams.

May Tournament At Jackson Lake

On Sunday, May 5, nine members and guests of the Flint River Bass Club fished our May tournament at Jackson Lake. After eight hours of casting, we brought 25 bass to the scales. As usual, there were only nine largemouth weighed in. There were three limits and two fishermen didn’t catch a keeper.

Niles Murray won with five weighing 9.03 pounds and Chuck Croft placed second with five at 8.29 pounds. Tom Murray, Niles’ 13-year-old nephew fishing with him, placed third with four weighing 5.61 pounds and had big fish with a pretty 2.89-pound spot. I placed fourth with five at 4.97 pounds.

I thought it would be a perfect day, with rain and thunderstorms guessed at. But, as usual, if you planned your trip on what the weather guessers said, you missed a beautiful partly cloudy day on the lake. I hoped it would rain to keep pleasure boaters off the water.

The first few places I fished were rocky banks and points where I hoped shad would be spawning, but I guess it is over, I saw no activity. And I got no bites on a crankbait or spinnerbait.

I finally caught a small keeper spot on a shaky head worm on some rocks at 8:30. That turned out to be the pattern of the day for me, small fish on a shaky head worm.

I got my second keeper on the shaky head on a rock pile out on a flat point. I kept catching short spots, ten and 11 inches long, and invited them all home for dinner. Spots have taken over Jackson and hurt the largemouth population. There is no size limit on spots, so I try to keep ten small ones for dinner each trip.

My third keeper, another small spot, came off a seawall. Don Gober and his grandson Alex were fishing the same bank and we were talking when it hit. My fourth keeper was a small largemouth that hit on some rocks, the only largemouth I caught, at about 10:00.

It got slow for the next few hours. Even the small spots quit biting. At 2:00, with an hour left to fish, I caught my fifth fish to fill my limit. It hit as the other spots, on some rocks on a point.

With 30 minutes left to fish I decided to change and ran to a brush pile near the weigh-in site. I caught may “kicker” fish, a spot weighing just over a pound, there on the shaky head worm. Maybe I should have fished more brush but that was the only bite I got around any brush I fished.

Bassing with Spinnerbaits

Tips for Bassing with Spinnerbaits
by Marc Marcantoni, Yakima Baits Pro Staff
from The Fishing Wire

Spinnerbait


A spinnerbait is one of the most reliable lures for catching bass anywhere they are found. New materials like tin bodies, high-tech UV finishes, and better manufacturing processes make spinnerbaits deadlier than ever. Anyone can catch fish on a spinnerbait, once you learn some basic principles.

You may wonder what in nature could possibly resemble this awkward looking contraption, and why would fish eat them? Look at a spinnerbait from a fish-eye perspective, below the surface, rather than from your perspective when holding one in your hand.

Bass eat bait fish, which a spinnerbait mimics so well with its vibration and flash. These features attract fish from a long distance. The flash of the spinning blades is visible from a distance and mimics the flash of a school of bait fish. In stained water flash is less visible, but the vibration produced by the blades is felt by the sensitive nerve endings in the bass’ lateral line. Fish hunt their food by sight, hearing and feel. When they home-in on the flash and vibration, the bait fish appearance of the spinnerbait body seals the deal, resulting in vicious strikes that do not require a sensitive rod to detect.

What makes a spinnerbait unique and particularly effective is how it can be fished in heavy cover without snagging. Spinnerbaits were designed with this objective and are virtually snagfree thanks to the upturned single hook that’s directly in line with the wire arms. This allows a spinnerbait to be pulled over the top of fallen tree branches and through submerged vegetation, where bass like to hunt for bait fish. Astute anglers cast spinnerbaits beyond every type of heavy cover, and swim the lure so it comes in contact with cover and structure.


Spinnerbaits are Fish Finders

Whether fishing unfamiliar waters or your local lake, spinnerbaits are ideal for hunting your quarry. They allow you to quickly learn where fish are located. Unlike fishing soft plastics, spinnerbaits are retrieved more quickly, allowing the searching angler to cover a lot of water efficiently. Probing both shallow and deep water can be accomplished with these unique safety-pin inspired lures, and in minimal time. There is no better lure made for quickly determining where bass are located. How they attack your spinnerbait will also expose their temperament.

When bass are aggressive and jumping on your spinnerbait, stick with it. If they follow but don’t strike, consider making a change in color, size, or style of blades. If the spinnerbait is ignored, you can bet the fish are telling you to slow down and try different lures and methods better suited for inactive fish.

Where and How to Use Them

The most successful retrieve in shallow water allows the spinning blades to bulge the surface, without causing them to break through the water. A fleeing bait fish provides the same disturbance to the calm surface water of a lake, river, or pond. Predatory fish use the surface of the water as a barrier, making it easier to capture their prey by preventing escape by swimming up higher.

Added attraction can be created by momentarily stopping the retrieve just long enough to cause the spinnerbait to stutter. The momentary change of blade speed, coupled with a drop of the lure during the brief pause, will often trigger a strike from a following fish. Pausing a spinnerbait next to cover can inspire a reaction strike from inactive fish. Even better, whenever possible swim your spinnerbait so that it crashes into stumps, dock pilings, branches, or any other cover. The sudden change of direction created by the contact with the cover triggers arm-jarring strikes.

A spinnerbait is also deadly in deep water. Bait fish follow their food, not only in shallow water but in deep water too. When schools of bait fish go deep, largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass follow. This often happens where the water is calm and clear. In deep water, the key to success with a spinnerbait is to place your lure at the same depth used by the bait fish.

When the proper depth intersects with a piece of cover like a bridge piling, boulder, or deep weed edge, you want to place your spinnerbait in the same spot. Again, bump your spinnerbait into the cover, or otherwise twitch or pause the lure next to the deep cover. The change of direction is what triggers the strike.

Getting your spinnerbait to work in deep water requires understanding how to select the proper model, especially its weight, blade size and blade shape.

At times the most effective method of fishing a spinnerbait doesn’t rely on a retrieve. “Helicoptering” spinnerbaits involves pitching (a form of lobbing the spinnerbait) or casting to a target and allowing the spinnerbait to fall vertically along that target. Bass, as ambush predators, will charge out and grab it on the fall. You’ll likely see the bite before you feel it. Your line will jump or trail off one way or the other, when that happens…set the hook! The Drop Dead FredTM made by Hildebrandt® was expressly designed for this highly effective application. The design of this spinnerbait allows for a slow fall which keeps the bait working longer through the water column.


Wind is Your Friend

Many anglers find fishing in the wind to be uncomfortable, and because of that avoid it whenever possible. Wind and spinnerbaits go together better than peanut butter and jelly. Bass utilize wind to hunt more easily for bait fish that struggle in the waves. Because waves break up the light penetration, bait fish tend to locate near the surface. A quickly moving spinnerbait is the best tool to exploit wind conditions, and it is common to load the boat by fishing spinnerbaits in the wind and waves.

Current Can Also Help

Like wind, current collects bait fish and predatory fish, making current seams prime locations to fish a spinnerbait. Current seams create an edge, or barrier (like the surface or the bottom) that fish utilize to trap their prey. Study any river, tidal flat, or lake to locate current seams, and cast your spinnerbait so it runs where the moving water and calm water meet. Position yourself so that you cast up-current, and retrieve your spinnerbait in the same direction as the water flow. Predators expect bait fish to move with the current, and you will catch more bass by paying attention to this.

Selecting the Right Spinnerbait

The best spinnerbait is one that matches the conditions, and best imitates bait fish. Each component must be considered to match the water color and clarity, depth, type of cover, and activity level of your quarry. Spinnerbait models vary by the quality and thickness of the wire, the color, shape, and size of the blades, the body size and material used for the body (including the skirt), the length and size of the hook, and the quality of the swivel used. The number of possible combinations of components is endless, and no tackle box or budget can cover all the bases. The wise angler buys an assortment of models with changeable components, and then adjusts each spinnerbait to produce the flash, vibration, size and color that produces the best combination for the fishing conditions.

The most important component of a spinnerbait to consider is the blades. When selecting the proper blade, always start with a good quality blade that spins at a variety of speeds. Hildebrandt® is the industry leader in manufacturing top- quality blades. They are balanced and shaped perfectly, with precision thickness and taper. Hildebrandt® blades are matched with a genuine Sampo® ball-bearing swivel, to ensure the blades are free-spinning. The thick plate finish is polished.

To reflect maximum light, and the copper blades are lacquer coated to prevent tarnishing. The bottom line is when you purchase a Hildebrandt spinnerbait, or packages of Hildebrandt blades, you catch more fish!

Colorado blades are rounded, and produce the most vibration and lift. Because of these characteristics, they allow you to fish a spinnerbait more slowly than other blade shapes. They are the best choice for fishing in shallow, cold water, or when- ever bass are less aggressive and responding to slower presentations. The additional vibration is important when fishing stained water or low-light conditions where bass use their sense of feel to locate prey, more than their sense of sight.

Willow-leaf blades are shaped like their namesake, and produce more flash and less vibration. A spinnerbait with willow-leaf blades can be retrieved much faster, and much deeper. They are the blade of choice when fish are deep, since they do not cause your spinnerbait to lift when retrieved. They allow you to fish a spinnerbait at maximum speed, making them a great choice when water temperatures exceed 70 degrees and bass are aggressive. In clear water, a fast retrieve can trigger a bass to strike before it gets a good look at the lure. Willow-leaf blades produce the most flash, and when fished at high speeds they will produce great results in clear water.

Blade color can be silver, copper, gold, or painted. Silver is typically a good choice for clear water, and in bright, sunny conditions. Copper blades are best when fishing water that is generally clear, but with a tannic or dark stain. Gold or brass is preferable when the bait fish have yellow highlights, like golden shiners. Painted blades cover a variety of conditions. Chartreuse is used in muddy water, white in low light conditions with clear water, and combinations of both cover a variety of situations. Hildebrandt offers their Elite Pro SeriesTM spinnerbait in True LifeTM painted blades that add a striking bait fish appeal with UV finishes for maximum visibility under all light and water color conditions.

Experiment with blade color to find the color(s) that are most effective in the water you’re fishing.

Hildebrandt spinnerbaits have been purposely designed with this concept in mind. They feature an innovative, quick-change clevis so you can change your blade in seconds as you look for the most effective blade and color combination. Rather than purchasing and carrying dozens of spinnerbaits with different blades, Hildebrandt spinnerbaits allow you to carry several different weight or style spinnerbaits, all with the ability to add the desired blade shape or finish of your choice. Spare Hildebrandt blades in all sizes, shapes and finishes are available from full service tackle dealers around the country.

Skirts and trailers can also be changed, and are also readily available from your dealer.

The spinnerbait body serves several important functions. It assures your spinnerbait runs straight with the hook in the up position; it provides a life-like minnow profile to target; and also serves to hold skirts or soft plastic trailers for added enticement.

Spinnerbaits designed for largemouth bass generally have larger frames, heavier gauge wire, and larger blades. Hildebrandt spinnerbaits like the Tin RollerTM, the Okeechobee SpecialTM, and the new Drum RollerTM are popular choices and sport the quick-change blade feature. Largemouth bass spend much of their time in shallow water, especially around heavy cover so the beefier construction is critical.

When selecting the most appropriate spinnerbait, choose one that allows you to match the bait fish largemouth bass are eating. Identifying the best retrieve speed, amount of flash, and the amount of vibration necessary in triggering strikes will determine the amount of success you have. Speed and vibration are controlled by both the reel retrieve speed and by the style of blades on the spinnerbait. By changing the sizes and style (Willow-leaf or Colorado) of the blades, you can adjust the degree of flash and vibration to fine tune your presentation.

Smallmouth bass and spotted bass are frequently found in open water, and they forage on smaller bait fish, so a more compact design works better. The new Hildebrandt Double DeepTM is deadly for both species. Weighing in at one-ounce, and paired with Willow-leaf blades, allows you to achieve maximum depth and speed that isn’t possible with other designs. The overall size is more compact, and the smaller gauge stainless steel wire provides the perfect vibration, without sacrificing strength. Use a #3.5 blade when you need maximum speed and less ash. A #4.0 blade is the most commonly used size for most conditions, and a larger #4.5 blade can be used for slower speeds, more flash, and stronger vibration. Each blade size has a time and place, so carry all sizes and experiment until you dial-in the best for the day.

Give Them What They Want
When bass are aggressive and attack your spinnerbait, you’ve found the ideal combination of speed, size, and color. If they follow and turn-away instead of striking, they are telling you they are interested, but the color or size is wrong. In most cases a simple color change fixes the problem, and changing the rear blade will likely make the difference. A skirt change would be the next best choice, and finally a change in weight and retrieve speed should be considered.

Just under the surface, in and around structure, in deep water and all points in-between, spinnerbaits have earned their place as a primary bait in catching all species of bass. Apply this know-how of size, color, speed and depth, being mindful of how you approach your targets and fishing bass-holding water and you’ll find spinnerbaits will occupy a place of prominence in your fishing strategy too.

Marc Marcantonio is an accomplished tournament bass fishing professional with three IGFA world records to his name along with a long list of impressive tournament wins and credentials. Marc is also a member of the Yakima Bait pro-staff. Beyond Marc’s tournament activities he’s a frequent seminar speaker and writer.

Mothers’ Day

Mothers’ Day is always a bitter sweet time for me.

My mother died 19 years ago. She was my mentor for fishing and always encouraged me to go with her to farm ponds near our house, and she often did my chores so I could go even more often.

I have many memories of our trips. I caught my first bass on a trip with her to Usury’s Pond. That jumping 10-inch bass hooked me for life by the way it jumped and fought on my cane pole.

We spent many happy hours sitting on the bank fishing for anything that would bite. Side by side we filled our stringer with bream and catfish and enjoyed our time together. Later we fished from a small jon boat in those ponds, then from our big ski boat for crappie around bushes at Clarks Hill.

We fished many times from my bass boat when I got one in 1974. I would cast artificial baits for bass while she fished for bream and anything else that would hit her minnows or worms.

I miss fishing and talking with her.