Author Archives: ronniegarrison

Trying To Catch Bass at Clarks Hill

August 10 and 11th, nine members and guests of the Flint River Bass Club fish a miserably hot two-day tournament at Clarks Hill. At least the fishing was tough. In 18 hours of casting we landed 41 12-inch keeper bass weighing about 65 pounds.

There were three limits and one fisherman didn’t catch a keeper in two days. But there were some good fish, five weighed more than three pounds each.

Raymond English, fishing as Niles Murray’ guest, won with ten weighing 17.11 pounds. Niles placed second with nine keepers weighing 14.51 pounds, Travis Weatherly was third with seven at 10.24 pounds and Chuck Croft came in fourth with six weighing 6.66 pounds. Jerry Ragen had big fish with a 4.39 pound largemouth.

I thought I had found some fish on deep rock piles and caught two Saturday, including one close to three pounds, and lost another one that felt as big as the three pounder. But that was it, two fish all day. And Sunday I missed one bite and had another good fish pull off the dropshot worm. No fish for me after eight hot hours of trying Sunday.

Lake Chautauqua

Take a Fall Chautauqua to Lake Chautauqua
By Frank Sargeant, Editor
from the Fishing Wire

Catch muskie like this

For a relatively small lake, Chautauqua has an amazing number of huge muskies like this one, caught by anglers fishing with Muddy Creek Fishing Guides. (Photo Credit Muddy Creek Fishing Guides)

Upstate New York is an overlooked jewel when it comes to opportunities for fishing, hunting, hiking, camping and outdoors enjoyment, as I was reminded in a visit to Chautauqua Lake not long ago.

If “Chautauqua” sounds familiar, it’s because the idea of a summer getaway camp pretty much got its start here on the banks of the 20-mile long lake before spreading nationwide. The original was a sort of tent camp, church-linked but full of all sorts of diversions and entertainments that made it a huge draw for folks who couldn’t stand the noise and the heat of northeastern cities in summer.

These days, the original Chautauqua has grown into an upscale summer resort complex, still church-linked, but for outdoorsmen the lure of the lake and the creek, both also called Chautauqua, may be stronger than that of the camp.

Fall Steelhead

Chautauqua Creek connects to Lake Erie, and is a route for the steelhead that are stocked every year in “steelhead alley” by Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. In late fall, steelies by the hundreds come up the creek. The typical fish averages 4 to 10 pounds and is 20 to 30 inches long—these are a long way from being small-stream brook trout. Some fish over 15 pounds also make the journey. In the narrow confines of the fast-flowing creek—it averages maybe 30 feet wide—they put up an amazing battle. (The original word “Chautauqua” meant “jumping fish” in Iroquois, now more appropriate for the creek than ever.)

While most Chautauqua Creek steelhead are in the 5 to 10 pound range, a few real slammers make the journey up the creek each year, as well. (Photo Credit Trout Unlimited)
The creek winds its way for about 15 miles, sometimes through a deep gorge, before emptying into Lake Erie, providing plenty of spots for walk-in fishing. It’s well worth the walk; the New York DEC reports the creek has one of the highest catch rates in the state for fall steelies. Catches of four or five fish per day per angler are not uncommon when the run is on. Here’s a state map showing open areas:

Most anglers use medium-light spinning gear with 6- to 10-pound test mono, and fish salmon eggs in small nylon sacks, four or five eggs to a sack, suspended a couple feet under a small float. Some say the fish have color preferences on certain days—white, yellow and pink are among the favored colors. The fish can also be caught on flyrod streamers and nymphs—local shops have plenty of successful patterns.

One of the Nation’s Top Musky Lakes

Chautauqua Lake is noted as one of the nation’s top musky lakes. It’s about 8 miles south of the shore of Lake Erie and due east of the city of Erie, Pennsylvania. It’s a narrow lake about 20 miles long, with two distinct sections separated by a highway bridge.

The south end is relatively shallow, with an average depth of 10 to 15 feet; the north end above Bemus Point has plenty of water over 30 feet deep and holes to more than 70 feet. The lake is mostly fed by springs and rain so the water is clean, but there’s enough fertility to produce heavy weed growth—great fish habitat–along the shallows. In fact, many areas are too thick to fish near shore in late summer, but get out to the edge where the weeds fall away—a kayak, canoe or rental skiff will easily get you there–and you’ll find the fish waiting.

The lake is famed for big muskies, unusual in a fairly small lake, but the combination of abundant panfish and other forage and plenty of weed cover has continued to turn out big fish for many years. The lake is known not only for size—the lake record is a 54” fish that went 46 pounds—but also for numbers.

Anglers who know the water and the tactics regularly catch three or four muskies of 40 inches in a day, an unheard of score in most musky waters where one fish per week per boat is considered “hot” fishing. NY DEC keeps the action going by stocking some 13,000 muskies 8 to 10 inches long each year, and there’s also a one fish limit, with minimum size 40 inches. (Most musky anglers release their catch in any case—a musky is too valuable to catch only once, as they say.)

Most anglers troll or cast large wobbling plugs to connect with the giant muskies of Chautauqua Lake, though some also drift live baits. (Frank Sargeant Photo)
Trolling large wobblers is the favored tactic, but drifting big live baits also gets them, as does casting the weedbeds with large plugs. Needless to say, heavy gear is a must—most use stout baitcasters with 65-pound-test or heavier braid and a braided stainless steel leader to prevent cutoffs. The season is from the last Saturday in May to November 30.

Mike Sperry at Chautauqua Reel Outdoors in Lakewood, on the lake’s southwest shore, is an expert on catching the lake’s big muskies, and has one of the best selections of big musky lures you’ll ever find in a local tackle shop; Muddy Creek Fishing Guides is also among the well-known guide operations on the lake;

Bass and Walleyes

Chautauqua Lake also ranks among the top bass lakes in New York State according to NYDEC. It’s particularly loaded with largemouths due to the abundant weed cover.

All the usual bass tactics work, including fishing the weedlines and docks at dawn and dusk with topwaters. During the brighter hours, swimbaits, plastic worms and jigs on deeper scattered grass do the job.

The lake also has a good population of large smallmouth bass, particularly in the south basin—best bet for smallies is to fish live crawfish or minnows just off bottom on rocky points and other hard structure, though the fish move into the shallows and readily attack topwaters during the post-spawn. New York, like many northern states, has a closed season for bass. The open period is from the third Saturday in June through Nov. 30.

There’s a good fall bite of large walleyes, with most caught drifting with jigs or worm harnesses tipped with chubs or other minnows at depths of 25 to 40 feet. Walleyes are maybe the best eating fish in fresh water—the limit is five daily over 15 inches and the season stays open all summer, fall and winter, closing briefly in the spring spawn.

Where to Stay

Chautauqua Lake and Chautauqua Creek are small-town and agricultural country and there are not a lot of quality places to stay close by, but one that stands out is the year-old Chautauqua Harbor Hotel in Celoron.

Built in cooperation with the state’s Regional Economic Development Council and Chautauqua County on prime waterfront that had been vacant for some 40 years due to economic malaise in the area, part of the hotel’s mission is to bring jobs and prosperity to this less-developed area of the state.

The resort covers some 9 acres on the southeast end of the lake at Celoron. It’s got 1100 feet of shoreline, most fishable from shore, as well as a boat harbor, docks, open-air bar and a very nice restaurant.

The docks at Chautauqua Harbor, stretching some 1100 feet, provide lots of places to wet a line at dawn as well as to pull up a boat for lunch or dinner. (Photo Credit Chautauqua Harbor Hotel.)
They provide free coffee starting at 5 a.m., a big plus for anglers. Guide packages, including breakfast, are available through the hotel. They have indoor and outdoor pools for mom and the kids, a great fitness center and lots more;

A side trip to the National Comedy Center in Jamestown, N.Y.—childhood home of Lucille Ball—is just minutes away, and well worthwhile. Check out the tourism bureau for more; (Dave Barus is the resident fishing expert at the bureau and will be glad to steer you towards the hot bite.)

Building Huts, Tree Houses and Forts

Building huts, tree houses and forts were always a big part of summer. By mid-August, we had built more than we could use but still continued to build them.
Building them was the biggest part of the fun.

I always wanted to build a log cabin, as did my friends Harold and Hal, but our hatchets were never up to cutting down trees and notching them. So, we made do with what we could handle.

We found four small trees growing in some-what of a square on a hillside overlooking Dearing Branch. They would be the corner post of our cabin. We cut sweetgum saplings the right length for the walls. Since we couldn’t notch them and stack them like a real log cabin, we tried lashing them to the corner post but quickly gave up and used nails.

When the walls were about three feet high, about half done, we realized we had not made plans for a door. So, we made another post five feet high, cut the wall poles shorter in one corner and made our door there. Harold ended up graduating from UGA with a degree in architecture so maybe that influenced him.

When it came time for the roof, we thought we could make a thatched roof with the branches from the sweetgums we cut. Wrong. The leaves are nothing like the palm fronds used for real thatched roofs we read about and they quickly dried out, making the rain come through like nothing was there. Even when green it slowed the water down very little.

We found an old army surpluse tarp that didn’t leak much and used it for our roof. But we didn’t spend much time in it, the gaps in the wall “logs” let mosquitoes in. But it was fun building it.

A better hut was one we built of lumber. Harold’s family owned a sawmill and lumber yard, so he had access to lots of wood. We made prefab walls and a roof from 2x4s and 1x6s and laboriously lugged them to the woods under our biggest tree house in a big pine tree. We dug holes for the 2×4 post and nailed the three walls and roof together. It was to serve as our supply hut for the tree house.

We were afraid to sleep in that tree house. Although we put side boards around the platform, it was just too high. So we camped under the tree in our army surplus pup tent and sleeping bags and kept our stores in the hut.

Putting out a sleeping was always fun. No matter how hard we tried, we could never get all the sticks and rocks cleaned up that would dig into us and make us miserable all night.

The old tent leaked a little. I will never forget one morning after it rained most of the night. We managed to get a fire started at the mouth of the hut with wood we kept dry in it and cooked breakfast. Taking our tin mess kit plates back into the tent to eat our perfectly burned eggs, bacon and toast there,
I set my plate down on the floor. It floated in a puddle of water. I could spin it and it would spin several times before stopping.
But breakfast was good!

We built tree house all over the place, but my favorite was in my front yard. A pecan tree just a few feet from Iron Hill Road had two somewhat parallel, somewhat level, limbs coming off the trunk. I built a simple platform about five feet square on those limbs.

During the summer, I spent many hours sitting or lying on that platform, watching the occasional car go by. I watched as that road it changed from dirt to tar and gravel and finally asphalt over a ten-year period.

I loved reading and often took a library book up in the tree with me, getting lost in adventures all over the real and imagined world. And many of them were science fiction, taking me off our planet completely.

Outdoor magazines were read there, too. I had a subscription to Outdoor Life, Sports Afield and Field and Stream as far back as I can remember. I read and dreamed about hunting, fishing and survival adventures like the folks in them.

Although I knew I would never be able to build one in middle Georgia, I wanted to try my hand at igloos and snow caves. I wondered if I could survive the cold and attacks by polar bears while eating bear, seal and caribou meat.

Tree houses and huts were good places to dream and scheme. Some of those dreams, like salmon fishing in Alaska, came true for me. Many did not. But just the dreams were invaluable.

How Good Is Summer Smallmouth Bass Fishing in Virginia?

Summer Smallmouth Bass Fishing in Virginia
By Alex McCrickard, Virginia DGIF Aquatic Education Coordinator
from The Fishing Wire

Summer Smallmouth

During the dog days of summer, many anglers put their rods and reels down and are content to wait until later in the fall for cooler weather. Unfortunately, these anglers end up missing some of the most exciting warm water fishing conditions of the year. During this time frame, I tend to focus my efforts on one species of fish in Virginia, smallmouth bass. Pound for pound and inch for inch, these fish fight harder than most other freshwater fish in the state.

Smallmouth Bass in Virginia

Smallmouth bass, frequently referred to as smallies or bronzebacks, are a freshwater member of the sunfish family: Centrarchidae. Their green and brown sides are often marked with vertical black bars. Some of these fish have war paint like markings extending horizontally and diagonally behind their eyes and across their gill plates. Smallmouth bass are native to the Great Lakes system and the Mississippi River Basin including the Tennessee and Big Sandy River Drainages of Southwest Virginia. However, these game fish have been introduced all across the Piedmont of Virginia and are truly a worthy opponent on rod and reel. Because of the smallmouth’s widespread range in Virginia, they are readily available to anglers fishing west of the coastal plains above the fall lines of our major river systems. This allows anglers who reside in cities and large metropolitan areas to fish local as smallmouth opportunities are plentiful. The James River in Lynchburg and Richmond, Rappahannock Riverin Fredericksburg, Rivanna River in Charlottesville, Maury River near Lexington, and the New River in Blacksburg are fine examples of local opportunities.

The mainstem and larger tributaries of these rivers are full of smallmouth. Anglers in Northern Virginia can focus efforts on the Upper Potomac River as well as the Shenandoah mainstem, North Fork, and South Fork. The North Fork of the Holston River and the Clinch River provide excellent smallmouth opportunities in Southwest Virginia. Floating these larger rivers in a canoe or raft can be a great way to cover water, just remember to wear your life jacket. You can also wade fish these rivers and their tributaries, especially in the lower flows of late summer.

Summer Conditions

My favorite conditions to fish for smallmouth are from mid-summer into early fall. During this time of the year our rivers and streams are typically at lower flows with fantastic water clarity. These conditions provide for some incredible sight fishing opportunities for smallmouth bass. Look for fish to be holding against steep banks with overhanging trees and vegetation. During the middle of hot summer days it can pay off huge when you find a shady bank with depth and current. It can also be productive to target riffles and pocket water during this time of the year. Smallmouth will often be in the faster and more oxygenated water when river temperatures get hot.

It’s important to think about structure when locating summer smallmouth. These fish will often be found along a rock ledge or drop off. Log jams, underwater grass beds, and emergent water willow also provide structure that these fish can use for cover. Smallmouth can be found along current seams where fast water meets slow water. Fishing a quiet pocket behind a mid-river boulder or targeting the tailout of an island where two current seams come together is a good idea.

During hot, bright, summer days the fishing can be most productive early in the morning and again in the evening. I try to fish during these times as smallmouth will often be active during low light conditions and can get sluggish during the middle of a hot bright afternoon. That being said, these fish can be caught in the middle of bright sunny days as well. Also, afternoon cloud cover and a light shower can turn the fishing on in a matter of moments.

Summer Feeding Habits

Smallmouth bass are piscivores, they feed primarily on other fish. Various species of shiners, darters, dace, and sunfish are bass favorites. These fish also prefer large aquatic insects like hellgrammite nymphs and crayfish. However, the abundance of other aquatic and terrestrial insects allow smallmouth to diversify their menu in the summertime. It is not uncommon for these fish to target damselflies and dragonflies during summer hatches. I’ve seen summer smallmouth feeding on the surface with reckless abandon as damselflies hovered along a water willow island on the James River. These fish are happy to eat large cicadas, grasshoppers, or crickets that find their way into the water. These seasonal food sources allow for exciting topwater action.

One time during a mid-August float on the James River I found a long bank with overhanging sycamore trees providing shade along the edge of the river. I had been fishing a subsurface Clouser Minnow without a strike for nearly an hour. Because it was a windy afternoon I figured I would try my luck with a small green Boogle Bug popper on my 6 wt fly rod. A few casts later I had a fine smallmouth explode on the popper underneath the overhanging tree limbs. I landed the fish and held it up for a photo just in time to see it regurgitate a half dozen large Japanese beetles. The fish had been utilizing the windy conditions to snack on beetles as they got blown into the water. It can really pay off to change patterns based on water and weather conditions.

Medium to medium light spinning and baitcasting rods in the 7 foot range are great for late summer smallmouth. It can pay off to scale down in low clear water. You may want to consider fishing 6-8 lb test instead of 10-12 lb. Soft plastics work well for smallmouth and favorites include swim baits and tubes. Various spinnerbaits can be a great way to cover water in the larger rivers during this time of the year. Sometimes you can be surprised at how well a simple Mepps spinner or Rooster tail will produce. Topwater baits are a late summer “go to” with low and clear water. Try fishing buzzbaits, the smaller Whopper Plopper 90, Zara Spooks, and Heddon Tiny Torpedos. Buzzbaits and Whopper Ploppers can be retrieved quickly across the surface enticing explosive takes. The rotating tail of the Whopper Plopper acts like a propeller and creates lots of noise and attention.

For fly fishing, 9 to 10 foot rods in the 6 to 8 wt range are best. A 9ft 5wt may work well on the smaller rivers across Virginia but you will want a heavier rod on our larger rivers. Heavier rods in the 7 to 8 wt range will also turn over some of the bigger bugs we tend to throw this time of year on floating fly lines. A 9ft tapered leader in the 0x to 3x range will work well depending on water clarity and flows. Fishing large poppers like Boogle Bugs or Walt Cary’s “Walt’s Bass Popper” will get the smallmouth going. The Surface Seducer Double Barrel popper by Martin Bawden pushes lots of water. Large foam cicada patterns, Japanese beetle patterns, and western style Chernoyble Ants are fun when fished tight to the bank. Don’t forget to include a few damselfly and dragonfly patterns in your summer smallmouth fly box.

Don’t let the dog days of summer keep you from missing some of the most exciting warm water fishing conditions of the year!
When fishing these surface flies and lures, the takes can be very visual. Sometimes during a strip and pause retrieve, the smallmouth will slowly approach the fly from 5 feet away to gently sip it like a trout. Other times a fast strip retrieve will generate explosive takes. These visual late summer takes are hard to beat!

If the fish aren’t looking up you can do well stripping streamers. Bob Clouser’s Clouser Minnow was developed for smallmouth bass and a variety of colors can be productive this time of the year. My favorite color combinations for this fly are chartreuse and white, olive and white, as well as a more natural brown and white. The dumbbell eyes on this fly make it swim up and down through the water column as you retrieve. Lefty Kreh’s Deceiver is another fine smallmouth fly along with the famous Half & Half which is a combination of the Clouser Minnow and Deceiver. Chuck Kraft’s Kreelex has become a favorite amongst fly anglers in Virginia and the smallmouth can’t seem to ignore it. The flashy profile of this fly attracts fish in clear and stained water. Another popular smallmouth streamer is the Gamechanger developed by Blane Chocklett. The Gamechanger is multi-sectioned allowing it to swim naturally through the water column. Most other articulated streamers developed for trout fishing will also be productive on smallmouth bass as well. All of these streamers come in a variety of sizes. When choosing fly size, it’s essential to match the size of the forage fish the smallmouth are keying in on. This can vary from larger rivers to smaller tributaries but typically sizes 2-6 will work well with larger patterns being in the 1, 1/0, and 2/0 sizes.

Crayfish and Hellgrammite patterns can be productive during the heat of the day in late summer. Harry Murray’s Hellgrammite and Strymph can be fished with success lower in the water column closer to the bottom of the river. Chuck Kraft’s Clawdad and Crittermite are two other go to patterns. Its best to try numerous different approaches and techniques until you can find out what the fish are keyed in on each day.

In all, late summer smallmouth should be on your angling to do list. The conditions during this time of the year are excellent for sight fishing and cater to a topwater approach. From the smaller tributaries to the larger rivers, smallmouth opportunities are diverse across the state. Make time to get out this summer and fish local in Virginia.

St. Croix Redesigns Legend® Surf Rod

from Traditions Media

St Croix Rods for surf fishing

St. Croix redesigns Legend® Surf rod series to deliver heightened performance and value

Park Falls, WI (August 14, 2019) – St. Croix’s pinnacle surf rod series, Legend® Surf, has been refined for 2020 to offer anglers increased performance at a reduced price. Updates include an all-new Fuji® guide train designed to provide optimal surf fishing performance with improved durability. In the sand or from the jetties, Legend Surf continues its legacy of leading the way in high-performance surf fishing.

The world’s most demanding surf anglers have good reasons to celebrate… twelve of them, actually. That’s the number of premium-performance rod models in St. Croix’s Legend Surf series, and all of them have been newly redesigned with state-of-the-art componentry. Less-demanding surfcasters should be celebrating, too, because new, lower pricing means these legendary, top-tier surf rods are now accessible to more passionate anglers than ever before.

“For years the Legend Surf rod family has been recognized as the pinnacle of factory-built surfcasting rods,” says St. Croix Regional Account Manager Alex Smay. “They’re just a joy to fish. They’re incredibly light and offer performance that is second-to-none.”

Building on Legend Surf’s exceptional performance characteristics and capabilities, St. Croix engineers relied heavily on the expertise of St. Croix pro team anglers to further improve and expand the series for the serious techniques that surf anglers regularly use. “There are a lot of good rods out there if you’re going to throw some bait out in the surf and let it sit,” says Smay.

“But we’ve never been satisfied with that. We really dialed the new Legend Surf series in for plug fishing, working pencil poppers and swimmers, all the wooden lures that surf anglers in the Northeast use, and the poppers employed down in Florida. Anglers who are after seriously big fish in rough and often nocturnal conditions… those are the folks who have really come to appreciate what this rod family has to offer when it comes to casting distances, working the baits in a certain way and fighting big, powerful fish… whether 50-pound stripers or 50-inch snook.”

Smay comments on the key Legend Surf design change: “We had really great componentry on these rods, but in listening to angler feedback, diehard surf anglers told us they actually preferred a different guide train. It’s another example of how we at St. Croix work with anglers to design the rods they want. In this case, changing the guides not only improved the performance and the durability of the rods, but it also allowed us to lower Legend Surf rod prices across the board, making these premium tools available to an increased number of anglers. So, it’s a win-win.”

Renowned surf junkie and St. Croix pro-staffer, Alberto Knie, or “Crazy Alberto” as he’s called, lives up to his name. The Florida surf-caster has spent years warring the surf all along the Atlantic coast. He’s one of the experienced anglers who provided St. Croix with feedback leading to Legend Surf’s design changes.

“As an avid angler and one who likes to target trophy fish, from the initial Legend Surf to the new and improved, the difference is remarkable,” says Knie. “These rods excel in the most extreme and demanding situations.”

Knie has used the new rods for big stripers, tarpon to 150 pounds, 50-pound bull reds, and monster 50-inch-plus snookzilla during his travels up and down the East Coast – all on artificial baits.

“The new titanium Fuji® K-Series KW guides are lightweight and durable, and St. Croix also upped the size of the main guide ring up to 50 mm, which further improves casting performance,” he says. “If you’re looking for specialized, custom-level high-performance rods with extreme castability, the new Legend Surf is it. It’s been fine-tuned over the years to meet the needs of the most extreme trophy-hunting surf anglers in the game. From the subtleties of its finish – which is tremendous – to the unparalleled customer service you get with the 15-year transferable warranty, you cannot go wrong with the components, performance, durability, and all the other benefits that come with owning a Legend Surf rod. They are literally the Best Rods on Earth.”

Designed and handcrafted at the St. Croix Rod factory in Park Falls, U.S.A., Legend Surf series rods are available in ten spinning and two casting models to perform flawlessly in any surf fishing duty. Spinning rods range in length from 7’ to 12’, while casting choices run 10’6” to 11’. Each rod carries a 15-year transferable warranty backed by St. Croix Superstar Service.


7’ one-piece, medium power, moderate-fast action spinning (GSS70MMF)
8’ one-piece, medium power, moderate-fast action spinning (GSS80MMF)
9’ two-piece, medium power, moderate-fast action spinning (GSS90MMF2)
9’ two-piece, medium power, moderate action spinning (GSS90MM2)
10’ two-piece, medium power, moderate-fast action spinning (GSS100MMF2)
10’6” two-piece, medium power, moderate action spinning (GSS106MM2)
10’6” two-piece, medium-heavy power, moderate-fast action spinning (GSS106MHMF2)
11’ two-piece, medium-heavy power, moderate-fast action spinning (GSS110MHMF2)
12’ two-piece, medium-heavy power, moderate-fast action spinning (GSS120MHMF2)
12’ two-piece, heavy power, moderate-fast action spinning (GSS120HMF2)


10’6” two-piece, medium-heavy power, moderate-fast action casting (GSC106MHMF2)
11’ two-piece, medium-heavy power, moderate-fast action casting (GSC110MHMF2)

From striped bass and blues in the Northeast to big drum in the Mid-Atlantic and the outright bruisers of the southern coast, St. Croix’s improved Legend Surf rods offer hard-fishing surf rats the opportunity to seriously step up their game for a new, lower price that comes without compromise. MSRP runs from $470 to $670.


Integrated Poly Curve® (IPC®) mandrel technology
Advanced Reinforcing Technology™ (ART™)
High-modulus/high-strain SCIV carbon with FRS for unparalleled strength and durability
Offset, slim-profile ferrules on two-piece models provide one-piece performance
Fuji® K-Series KW tangle-free guides with SLIM SiC rings and titanium frames for unrivalled, 100% corrosion-proof performance
Fuji® DPS Deluxe reel seat with Back Stop™ lock nut and PVD-plated hoods
Custom neoprene handle provides comfort and durability. Positive grip improves when wet
Two coats of Flex-Coat slow cure finish
Ten spinning and two casting models with rod lengths ranging from 7’ to 12’ cover nearlyall sur f fishing possibilities
Engineered and built for extreme surf fishing performance
15-year transferable warranty backed by St. Croix Superstar Service
Designed and handcrafted in Park Falls, U.S.A.

About St. Croix Rod

Headquartered in Park Falls, Wisconsin, St. Croix has been proudly producing the “Best Rods on Earth” for over 70 years. Combining state-of-the-art manufacturing processes with skilled craftsmanship, St. Croix is the only major producer to still build rods entirely from design through manufacturing. The company remains family-owned and operates duplicate manufacturing facilities in Park Falls and Fresnillo, Mexico. With popular trademarked series such as Legend®, Legend Xtreme®, Avid®, Premier®, Tidemaster®, Imperial®, Triumph® and Mojo, St. Croix is revered by all types of anglers from around the world.

Hunt Early Season Squirrels in Pines

If you plan on squirrel hunting anytime soon, check out big pine trees. Everywhere I go I see signs squirrels have been cutting pine cones. It seems a little early for that and it may indicate limited food supplies, or maybe I just don’t remember timing very well.

I grew up on a small 15 acre farm where we raised a few cows, some hogs and 11,000 laying hens. A branch ran down one property line and was wooded, but most of the rest of our land was open. Fortunately, all around our property were woods and I knew everybody around us and had permission to hunt their land.

Behind our house I could follow the branch upstream and cross a property line. Not far from there was a ridge with a huge white oak tree on it. That white oak was a great place to hunt squirrels when acorns were mature and I spent many hours sitting under it.

A little further up the hill there was a big old pine tree, and it also was a good squirrel hunting spot. The squirrels would come from a long way to cut the pine cones in that tree and eat the acorns in the white oak. There is no telling how many squirrels I killed out of those two trees over the years.

There is something special about sitting in the woods as it gets light early in the morning, with everything slowly coming into focus. I got that thrill while squirrel hunting and now get it from a deer stand.

Learning to hunt squirrels is great training for deer hunting, teaching you to sit still, move carefully and slowly when you have to, and to stay quiet at all times. Shooting squirrels is also great training learning to hit a target.

We never let squirrels go to waste. Young squirrels were floured and fried just like chicken. Older squirrels were boiled then the meat was used to make squirrel and dumplings. We also made BBQed squirrel, squirrel stew with carrots and potatoes and baked squirrel with onions. It was all good.

Give squirrel hunting a try. And don’t hesitate to cook them and see how good they taste!

Getting Ready for Deer Season

Getting ready for deer season. Deer hunters are getting all excited, planting food plots, scouting for natural food sources and getting equipment ready. Archery season opens this Saturday and hunting a food source, or the trail between feeding and bedding areas, is usually the best bet now.

On October 15 Primitive weapons season opens for a week. That week you can continue to hunt with a bow but you can also use a muzzle loader. Then gun, or modern fire arms, season opens on October 22 and stays open here until January 8, 2017.

Like last year hunting is buck only in area counties until November 5, then you can shoot does until November 13. It is buck only again until November 21 when doe days are open until January 1. There are a wide variety of different doe seasons around the state. Those dates include Spalding and surrounding counties but doe days are different as close to us as Merriweather and Bibb counties, so check before going.

If you hunt with a long bow you should have been shooting it for weeks, making sure you can hit your target. If using a cross bow it is more like shooting a gun but you need to practice with it to learn its range limitations and accuracy.

Gun hunters should never go into woods without zeroing in their guns. I have heard all too many times a guy say “I don’t know how I missed that big buck.” Than they shoot their gun at a target and the sights are way off. Their excuse is usually something along the lines “It was dead on four years ago when I checked it.”

Griffin Gun Club hosts a sight in day, usually the first Saturday in October, when the public can bring their guns and some ammo to the range and members will help make sure your gun is accurate. It is a great time to have someone that is good at sighting in guns help you.

Right now deer are feeding on a variety of things, from grass and vines to mushrooms. After the rain this weekend there should be a lot of mushrooms to attract deer on opening day. Deer love mushrooms and I usually find them in pine woods, growing in the pine straw litter. The only problem with hunting mushrooms is they are scattered and it is hard to pattern the deer, and they last for only a few days.

It won’t be long before acorns start falling, and they are deer’s favorite food. Find a big whiteoak tree dropping lots of acorns and you are almost guaranteed a deer will find it too and feed around it. Set up on a hillside with lots of oaks and you should see deer feeding through the area.

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:

Captain Mike with nice Guntersville bass

Captain Mike with nice Guntersville bass

Fishing Report, Lake Guntersville 8/10/19

As we move into August it appears that the fishing on Guntersville has remained strong, there
some dead time but for the dogdays of August we are catching good numbers and decent
size. The day is limited especially if you don’t like being out in the heat bur for the first 4 to 6
hrs. of the morning fishing is strong.

So far, the month of August I personally haven’t seen a lot of current being pulled limiting
you to let the early morning wind and natural jetty areas to find fish. This has moved the bass
some-what to different locations. We are mainly catching fish in 8 to 10 ft. water with top
water baits over grass the Picasso buzz bait, Zara Spook and pop-r’s being my best choice of
baits. The big worm is also catching fish but for me it’s a second choice.

Come fish with me no one will treat you better or work harder to see you have a great day on
the water; I have a team of guides with many years of experience on Guntersville. We fish
with great sponsor products, Lowrance Electronics, Ranger Boats, Mercury Motors, Boat Logix
mounts, Vicious fishing, Duckett fishing, SPRO Fishing, Navionics mapping and more.

Fish Lake Guntersville Guide Service

Phone: 256 759 2270
Captain Mike Gerry

Journeys of One Atlantic Salmon

The Mind-Boggling Journeys of One Atlantic Salmon
By John Holyoke
from The Fishing Wire

Charlie swims along his journey

“Charlie” the Atlantic salmon (right) swims among other salmon in a pool of the Sandy River in western Maine. Charlie is a repeat spawner, and was captured twice at Waterville’s Lockwood Dam, exactly two years apart. Photo Casey Clarke/Maine Department of Marine Resources

Your morning commute to work might be hectic and harrowing, but before you start feeling sorry for yourself consider the journeys that Charlie — the name given to a soon-to-be-famous Atlantic salmon — has taken over the past few years.

Charlie recently was captured in a fish lift at the Lockwood Dam on the Kennebec River in Waterville. That on its own is not a surprise. The fact the adult salmon was actually what’s called a “repeat spawner” and had been captured at the same facility exactly two years (and thousands of miles) earlier was grounds for celebration.

“This is the only repeat spawner we have ever had [in the 13 years since the Lockwood facility has been operational],” said Paul Christman, a marine scientist for the Maine Department of Marine Resources.

Christman said that over the course of a year, all of Maine’s salmon rivers might see one repeat returnee, most of those counted on the state’s busiest salmon river, the Penobscot. This year, more than 1,000 salmon have returned to the Penobscot. Just 56 have been counted at Lockwood. Making Charlie particularly intriguing is the fact he’s either a naturally reared fish from eggs planted by fisheries personnel or a wild-spawned fish.

And the journeys that Charlie has made are mind-boggling, Christman said.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, young Atlantic salmon can travel more than 6,000 miles during their migration to and from the North Atlantic, where they will spend between one and three years before returning to their native rivers. That means Charlie might have 12,000 miles on his fins by now. He has surely earned a break, which he is currently taking.

Charlie was first caught on June 18, 2017, and had a radio tag and a “PIT” tag attached to him. The PIT tag allows scientists to identify him by a unique 16-digit number. The radio tag allowed them to track him until he regurgitated it at some point after he began his return to the Atlantic two years ago.

The crew’s radio tracked him to a pair of comfortable pools in the river where he spent the summer.

Then, after making his way back downriver (and over four hydroelectric dams), he headed back to sea where he flourished for two more years before swimming back to Lockwood Dam on the Kennebec.

An obliging crew then gave the salmon a ride back to the Sandy, and that’s where he remains, resting comfortably after his second grueling trip in two years.

“As of last Thursday, he was sitting in one of the pools that he sat in two years ago,” Christman said.

Christman said DMR personnel have snorkeled nearby and report that Charlie looks healthy — and big.

Jennifer Noll, another DMR fisheries scientist, reported that when Charlie was captured two years ago he was almost 29 inches long. Now, he measures nearly 34 inches from snout to tail.

Christman said many fish die in their natal rivers before even heading to sea once, and they face countless challenges while in the ocean. Upon their return to a river, they must overcome more obstacles and survive predators that would like to enjoy a salmon dinner.

The fact Charlie has made those grueling, life-threatening trips twice makes him a rare fish indeed.

“He has defied all the odds. He has actually survived an enormous amount of mortality,” Christman said. “He is at least two years older, three years older than all the other [salmon] in the Sandy River. This guy has seen it all and survived. It really is amazing.”

Christman thinks Charlie successfully spawned two years ago — spawning redds were found near where he was hanging out — and hopes he is able to do the same this year.

Passing along his genetics to future generations can’t hurt, after all.

“This guy really wins. I mean, he’s got it all,” Christman said. “It’s really amazing to see a fish that has been through it all and survived [all of those threats]. I just can’t fathom.”

View of Charlie’s River

“Charlie” the Atlantic salmon would have made his way up this part of the Kennebec River to reach the Lockwood Dam, both in 2017 and in 2019. A marvellous tale of a charismatic species making the Kennebec River a home for spawning. Photo Maranda Nemeth.

Squirrel Season Opens In Georgia

Squirrel season opens August 15th. This opening day always brings back memories of my experiences growing up hunting tree rats. They were the main game available to kids back then, and I hunted them every chance I got. We ate every one I killed, too.

I got a BB gun when I was six years old and “hunted” birds around the house with it. When I was 8 Dad bought me a used Remington semiautomatic .22 and taught me to shoot it. I was not allowed to take it out of the house without an adult with me, but my friends and I managed to get to shoot a lot by convincing one of our fathers to go out for a time with us most every weekend.

That fall I was chomping at the bit wanting to go squirrel hunting. Dad did not care for squirrel hunting but loved to shoot dove and quail. He took me with him on dove shoots and we had a couple of pointers and I got to follow him and the dogs, too. All of the time he had to go hunting was spent looking for birds.

One afternoon after school I was home and the only adult there was a woman that helped at our farm. I saw a squirrel grab a pecan from the tree in the front yard and head back across the road to the woods. I told Gladys to come with me as I grabbed my .22. She fussed at me but followed.

Across the road I looked up the big hickory tree that the squirrel had gone up. As I walked around the tree the squirrel would circle, keeping the trunk between us. I told Gladys to shake a limb on the opposite side of the tree from me, and the squirrel came around where I could see it.

That was my first squirrel. My parents were a little upset that I had made Gladys go out with me, and she was not happy, either, but Dad showed me how to clean the squirrel and he seemed proud of me that I had been able to kill one. After that they let me go out on my on, by my self for a couple of years, then allowed me to hunt with friends once they were sure I was careful enough.

I spent many hours in the woods around the house learning the habits of the wily squirrel. Wild squirrels are not like city squirrels that are not afraid of much of anything. Wild squirrel is a favorite menu item of everything from hawks to foxes and they are very wary. You have to stalk them or sit very still until one comes close enough to shoot.

And wild squirrels don’t fill every tree in the woods. You learn to find what they are feeding on and locate the areas where they are active. Squirrel hunting taught me the importance of cleaning a place to sit so I would not crunch any leaves, and how to stay very still for a long time, not an easy lesson for an eight to ten year old.

I remember Dad going squirrel hunting with me only one time. It was a Saturday afternoon before bird season opened and he said he would hunt the woods across the road with me. I was thrilled, and it was one of the best days every for me. I felt real grown up showing him oaks and hickories where the squirrels fed, areas where mushrooms grew after a rain and attracted them, and pines where they cut cones.

Somehow that afternoon I killed 10 squirrels, the first time I had ever got a limit. Looking back I remember that Dad never fired a shot, somehow he was always the one to move around a tree to make the squirrel move, the one that moved around while I sat still and made the squirrels think the danger was gone, and the one that was slow raising his gun when we both saw a squirrel.

That happened over 50 years ago now, but I still have vivid memories of him in the woods, whistling to me and motioning to me to move a certain way. I remember the pride I felt showing him my knowledge, and the pride I felt from him toward me. It is a very good memory.

Squirrels are great game to teach youth hunting skills. Learning to hunt squirrels will prepare you to be a better deer hunter, too. And you can build some great memories with between parents and kids while squirrel hunting. Consider a trip to hunt squirrels with your kids this fall.