Author Archives: ronniegarrison

Shooting Deer At the Lake

Many of my Christmas trips to Clarks Hill involved shooting deer. I say shooting since no hunting was involved.

    Back then, deer season was the month of November, with a bonus season from December 26 to January 1, with most of that week either sex days.  I kept my Marlin lever action 30-30 in the boat, just in case I got a chance to shoot a deer for the freezer.

    One year after eating Christmas dinner in town with my folks I went back to the lake, got in the boat and headed over to “Broken Rod Cove to fish until dark.

As I idled into the cove I saw a spike buck walk out of the woods and lie down in the warm sun.

    It did not move and I got within 50 yards of it before turning off the motor.  I got up front on the trolling motor and got within 50 feet of it, examining it with my scope.  I didn’t shoot, season didn’t open until the next day. Although it was just a little over 12 hours away, I did not want to break the law.

    I went back and fished around that cove every afternoon the rest of the week but never saw him again.  But one afternoon, as I eased along casting a crankbait to a clay bank, I saw a doe standing 50 feet back in the woods looking at me.

    Boats on the water were so unusual back then they really did not spook the deer.  This one watched as I picked up my rifle, made sure the boat had stopped moving so I would not break the law by shooting from a boat under motor power, and shot it.

    Another day as I fished into “Sunk Boat Cove” I saw a deer standing about 25 feet back in the trees. I picked up my rifle and shot and it dropped.  I caught a flicker of white, saw another deer and shot it.  Then I looked closely – there were five more deer still standing there looking at me!

    I didn’t shoot again since I had my two deer limit.

    The next day as I fished a long narrow point nearby, dogs started barking back in the woods. I heard splashing on the other side of the point and cranked up and went around there.  Five deer were swimming across the creek, getting away from the dogs. I am sure they were the same five from the day before.  I watched as they safely made it to the bank and ran off.

    My Uncle Adron invited me to hunt with him one year.  I didn’t see anything and got back to my trailer about 10:00 AM.  While sitting on the picnic table drinking coffee, I saw two does across the cove, just standing there. 

    I guessed they were about 150 yards away, a long shot with my 30-30, but I had to try.  I got it out of the van, braced against a tree, aimed at the top of the doe’s back to allow for bullet drop, and fired.  The doe stumbled, got up and walked slowly back into the woods.

    I quickly got in the boat and idled across the cove. When I got to the bank I saw the doe standing there looking at me. I shot again and she dropped.  When I got to her, I could see my first shot hit her in the lower front leg.

    A couple years late when the lake was very low and the cove almost dry, I stepped off the shot distance.  It was 250 yards!  No wonder I hit her in the lower leg on my first try. I have no idea why she didn’t run off rather than waiting on me to shoot her again.

    The fifth and last deer I killed at the lake at Christmas was the most unusual.  Linda, our dog Merlin and I were fishing the long narrow point where I had seen the five swim a few years earlier.  That point is a long narrow island when the lake is full but in the winter it is connected to the land.

    I saw several deer up in the woods about in the middle of the point. I cranked up and went to the clear gap between the main bank and island and got out.  I told Linda to take the boat to the other end, get out and slowly walk toward me, hoping to drive the deer to me at a walk.

     A few minutes later I heard noise and looked up to see five deer running toward me.  I shot and one fell, then emptied my gun at another one but missed every shot.  One of the deer almost ran over me in its rush.

    Linda got there and said when she got near the bank
Merlin jumped out and took off toward me. She spooked the deer and they ran rather than walked my way, headed to the narrow gap and the main bank.  My plan almost worked.

    By the early 1980s I started seeing lots of people going hunting in boats. They would beach their boats and walk into the woods to hunt.  That stopped my hunting up there, deer got very wary of boats and people around the lake.  Now they are more likely to take off running as son as they see a boat rather than stand and look at it.

    Things change with time, not always to my liking.

Clarks Hill Christmas Fishing Memories

Thursday, December 10, I drove to my place at Clarks Hill, got up Friday morning and drove up to Hartwell to get information for my January Georgia Outdoor News Map of the Month article.  Back at Clarks Hill Saturday morning, I got my first cup of coffee and went out on the deck at my mobile home at Raysville Boat Club and looked at the lake.

Christmas is a time for reminiscing and sitting there took me back over many years of spending Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays at Clarks Hill.  Memories flashed across my mind like the lights of a fireworks display on the Fourth of July.

Saturday morning was the kind of day I love, not a ripple disturbed the reflecting pool of the lake surface.  The only sound was an occasional craw of a crow or the bark of a squirrel, disturbed in his search for breakfast. I was at peace with the world.

Weather always played an important of my trips. One of the best, about 30 years ago, an unusually warm winter found me fishing in jeans with no shirt or shoes.  The water was 61 degrees and big fish were active.  I caught six largemouth weighing more than five pounds each and five hybrids weighing six pounds each in three days on Shadraps.

The other extreme was one winter when my dog Merlin woke me at midnight jumping in bed with me in my small camper.  That was unusual, she always slept on the floor. The next morning I found out why. Her water bowl on the floor was frozen solid. The small electric heater kept the air tolerable from a couple feet off the floor to the ceiling but could not keep up with the 5-degree low that night.

I called my neighbor back in Griffin and asked her to check to see if she heard water running under my house from burst pipes.  She said she did not but the well pump was running. I came home fast and found the well had run dry from pumping water out of 11 holes in pipes.  I learned to solder copper pipe that afternoon.

Another winter on Christmas Eve the wind was howling and it was sleeting. I tried to fish but it was bad, so I went behind an island to get out of the wind. I caught an eight- and one-half pound bass on a jig from a rockpile there. After landing it I figured I had had enough and went in to show it off.

Some foggy mornings I unhooked my boat battery charger, pushed off from the bank, put the trolling motor in the water and started fishing.  As soon as I got a few feet from the bank everything disappeared in a white haze. Outlines of trees were the only indication anything was near.

I could image I was the only person in the world.  The fog dampened even the sounds of crows and squirrels, and the only disturbance was the whirr of my reel and splash of the lure as I cast.  Sometimes the sound of a jumping bass, barely seen in the fog, added to the excitement.

I loved being up there by myself. Back then nobody fished during the winter.  I had the lake and boat club to myself.  One year I went to the boat club Christmas afternoon after dinner in town with my family.  For a week I slept when I was sleepy, ate when I was hungry and all the rest of the time I either fished or built brush piles.

That year I did not see another person for five days.  The only reason I saw people the sixth day was a trip to town for boat gas.

I had never built brush piles but had heard how effective they can be for fishing.  A bank I like to fish near my trailer was bare clay except for two stumps about 50 feet apart.  I could usually get a bite by the stumps if they were in the water, but that year the lake was down seven feet and the water just touched the outside edge.

Up on the bank someone had cut down some big cedar trees, cut the trunk out for posts and left the big bushy tops.  One afternoon I drug two to the edge of the water, tied the base of the trunk to the stump and flipped the top out into four or five feet of water.

The next morning I cast a crankbait to the tip of the trees and caught two pound largemouth from each.

An old roadbed crosses the creek, rising on a hump out in the middle.  There are three-foot drops, from 12 to 15 feet deep, on each side of it where it was cut into the former hill. I pulled two of the cedar tops out there and finally got them to sink by tying 5-gallon buckets of cement to them.  I put them right on the edge of the drops about 100 feet apart.

I caught fish out of them for years, including an eight and one quarter pound bass one winter.  Three years ago, I won a club tournament fishing those same two trees, they are still there.  Cedar does not rot when completely submerged under water.

I have many more fishing and hunting memories from this time of year at the lake, but those are for another time.

Reflections on the Passing of Ron Lindner

By Ken Duke
Editor, Fishing Tackle Retailer
from The Fishing WireLegendary angler, educator, writer, publisher and entrepreneur Ron Lindner died November 30. He was 86 years old.

Born in Chicago in 1934, Ron and his brother Al built a fishing empire by educating others about our sport. He was a pioneer and leaves a void with his passing.

I did not know Ron Lindner well, but I can tell you that he was an imposing figure in our industry. Larger than life, he seemed to burst at the seams with energy and ideas. On those occasions I spoke with Ron he was always excited about something — a new program, a new story, a new something that was going to be better and bigger and more effective than anything that had come before.

I admired his enthusiasm and tenacity, his unyielding dedication to the sport. Most of our conversations were more or less one-way. He talked, he expounded, he explained. I tried to keep up. Sometimes you just have to let that kind of passion carry you away.

I have admired the Lindners since the 1970s when I began to get serious about my fishing as a teen. What they were doing with In-Fisherman really fascinated me. Thinking about it now, it was the Lindners and Ray Scott who set me on the path that became my career.

It was — obviously — a different time. Things were changing fast in the fishing world. In fact, I think changes were coming faster then that at any other time in our sport’s history. The “me and Joe” stories that dominated the Big Three for time immemorial were being replaced by practical how-to and scientific content in In-Fisherman and Fishing Facts and by species-specific publications like Bassmaster Magazine. The fishing world would never be the same, and Ron Lindner was one of the people leading the way.

I still have almost every issue of In-Fisherman (I’m missing some of the early “Study Reports”) and look back at them often. They brought science and education to the fore like nothing else. Al was the editor and Ron was the publisher, but both were splashed all over the magazines and then the television shows. Both were bright, exuberant and full of helpful advice. I just had to cut through those Chicago accents so that I could “maximize my potential to put fish in the boat.”I bought all their books, too — well, all the bass books anyway. I was a Southern kid, and though I may have dreamed of catching a musky, it didn’t seem likely in the canals of Miami or farm ponds of South Carolina.

Largemouth Bass SecretsLargemouth Bass in the 1990sThe In-Fisherman Secret System and more have places of honor on my bookshelf. They’re still among the best titles ever published on the sport. They took fishing to a new level and showed us that there were skills to learn, habits to study, patterns to follow. It was not all about luck or the Farmer’s Almanac.

As I reflect about Ron Lindner, I realize there’s almost nothing he didn’t do in the sportfishing industry. He was a guide, a publisher, a designer of gear, a television and video personality, a writer, a business person, a speaker and spokesperson and much, much more.

But I will always think of him as an educator and as an ambassador for our sport and our lifestyle. He inspired me and still does. I am very fortunate to have known him, if only a little.

As I get older and lose more and more friends in the fishing world, I try to focus on what they left behind rather than dwell on their passing. To do otherwise is just too sad. Too negative.

Ron Lindner’s passing certainly leaves a void, but it should also leave us inspired to try to do as much for fishing as this giant.

See a video of Ron’s life here: https://youtu.be/5b-3RfaQ24I

Where and How to Catch February Lake Lanier Bass, with GPS Coordinates

Five pound Lake Lanier February spot

February Lake Lanier Bass

with Jim Farmer

         Some of the biggest spots in Lake Lanier are already moving to staging areas on rocky points near spawning areas in early February. You can catch a personal best spot right now by fishing crankbaits on these points.

    Lanier has developed a well-deserved reputation for producing magnum spots over the past few years. Four and five pounders are weighed in during most tournaments and bigger fish are caught all year long. Right now is one of the best times to catch one over five pounds.

    With deep, clear water, standing timber and rocky shorelines, Lanier is perfect habitat for spots.  The introduction of blueback herring gave the spots an excellent food source and this big baitfish has made them grow big and fat.  All these combined to produce a trophy spot lake.

    Jim Farmer lives a few miles from Bald Ridge Creek, has a lake house on that end of the lake and fishes Lanier a lot. He also paints crankbaits and other hard baits with custom colors specifically designed for the spots on Lanier.  He guides on the lake, showing fishermen where and how to use his baits to catch big fish. 

    After retiring from the Navy Jim moved to Lanier and started making planner boards that were very popular with striper and cat fishermen.  He fished for stripers a lot but got into bass fishing a few years ago and got hooked on them. He joined the Greater Atlanta Bass Club and fished with them until he started guiding.

    Jim also fishes the Bulldog BFL trail statewide and Hammonds and charity tournaments on Lanier.  This past December he and his partner won the UGA Fishing Team fund raiser North Georgia Fall Classic on Lanier with 19.6 Pounds and had big fish with a five-pound, twelve ounce spot.

    “The biggest spots in the lake move in to spawn earlier than most fishermen realize,” Jim said. There are still a lot of fish deep and you can catch them, but Jim likes to catch big fish shallow. He uses a variety of baits but relies on his crankbaits most of the time.

    For February fishing Jim will have a couple of crankbaits that run different depths, a jerkbait, a jig and pig, a shaky head and a spoon ready to cast.  The spoon is for catching the deeper fish, but the other baits are all fished on rocky points near spawning areas.

    Jim took me out in early January, the week after the first extremely cold week we had, to show me the following ten spots. We caught a few fish, but we were a little too early for them to be really good like they are now.

    1.  N 34 12.147 – W 84 05.019 – Going into the small creek off Baldridge Creek that has Baldridge Public Use area boat ramp, stop on the rocky point on your right. It is the first one upstream of the point with 6BR marker on it, and is a good example of one of the first places big spots stage. 

    As soon as the water starts to warm a little in early February, especially after two or three warm sunny days in a row, spots go to points like this one.  This one provides a smorgasbord of food for them but they really like crayfish, a high protein food great for pre-spawn feeding.

    Start on the upstream side of the point and fish around it to the smaller rocky point on the downstream side going into the cove.  Jim says crawfish are active when the water is 50 to 58 degrees and his “Sand Key” color is designed to match their color this time of year. And it has rattles to mimic their sound on the rocks.

    The rocks here provide ledges for the fish to hide under and ambush food.  Fish around the points slowly, casting your crankbait to a couple of feet of water and bump the rocks out as deep as you can with it.  Jim caught a small keeper spot here the day we fished.

    2.  N 34 11.874 – W 84 04.743 – Going down Baldridge Creek there is a small creek on the downstream side of channel marker 6BR on your left. The downstream point of this creek, across from the marked one, is another good staging area for big spots.  It has smaller rocks but they are clean, without the “snot weed” that grows in some places and that the fish don’t like, according to Jim.

    There are two points here to fish. Keep your boat out in 16 to 18 feet of water and use your crankbait. Jim uses his 1.5 squarebill or the deeper running Castaway Tackle Goto crankbait that runs eight to ten feet deep.  Bump the rocks all around these two points.

    Jim fishes his crankbaits on light line to get them down deeper. He says you have to have good line and uses Sunline Shooter fluorocarbon in six or eight-pound test. A smooth drag is important for fighting big spots and he checks his line on almost every cast for nicks from bumping rocks.

    Crank the bait down and then work it slowly with rod pulls and twitches to make it rattle and dart. Try to imitate the movement of crayfish.  When a fish hits, sweep the rod a little to hook them but don’t set the hook hard with the light line.

    3.  N 34 12.703 – W 84 03.794 – Go up Young Deer Creek past the small island on your right with 4YD marker on it. Across the creek a point runs way out to a shoal marker and there is construction work on the bank.  Stop on the upstream point of the pocket going in downstream of the construction.

    This pocket is a good spawning area and spots stage on this first rocky point.  The point is not big but has rock and clay that crayfish live in, and shad and herring move across it, too. Fish a crankbait but also try a jerkbait and jig and pig.  The jerkbait imitates baitfish while the jig and pig look like bream and crawfish, both good food sources for spots.

    4.  N 34 13.250 – W 84 03.750 – Going up Young Deer a big island is on the left with 5YD marker on it. On the right is a creek with Young Deer Access ramp in it.  AS you go into that small creek, a shoal marker is on your right and a house with a US flag is on the bank.  This hump is a long rocky point and it holds fish in February.

    Stop on the end of this rock and clay point and fish the upstream side and end of it.  The channel swings in on the upstream side and gives the fish quick access to deep water. Jim says here and other places a few warm days pulls spots up shallow, but they drop back after a cold front for a few days.

    Bump the rocks with crankbaits and work a jerkbait over them.  Also crawl a jig and pig down the drop. Work it slowly and out deeper, especially after a cold front.  Even after a cold front bass will still hold here and feed, just a little deeper.

    5.  N 34 12.074 – W 84 02.319 – Back out on the main lake run up to the long point with Shadburn Ferry ramp on it.  The ramp is in a ditch that holds fish all winter.  Jim caught four of his five fish in the December UGA tournament here.

    Fish the rocky point with the shoal marker on it with all your baits. Also check the ditch.  A good winter pattern that started early this year is catching fish out of ditches like this one. Bass will hold in them out to 50 feet deep and you can see them on your electronics. 
    Early in the morning work the back of the ditch around the ramp with a jerkbait.  Bass move to the back to feed shallower then go back out deep as the sun gets bright.  Later in the day find the fish down deep and drop a spoon down to them. Jim likes the chrome three quarters ounce War Eagle jigging spoon.

    Drop your spoon down to the bottom, pop it up a couple of feet and let it fall back on tight line.  Be ready to set the hook as it falls, that is when most of the bites happen.  You can often watch your spoon fall and see the fish follow it.

    6.  N 34 12.251 – W 84 02.434 – An island forms the side of the ditch opposite the ramp. Go around to the other side of it and the rocky point there is a good one to fish, especially later in the month.  It is a little further back from the main lake so fish to move to it a little later.

    Pick apart this point with all your baits, fishing all the way around it.  Bump the rocks with crankbaits and a jig and pig.  Jim likes a crawfish colored River Bend Custom Baits jig by Richie Westfelt in three eights to half ounce.  His Castaway Tackle jerkbait is a 110-style medium diver that he paints in white or cold steel blue.  Try different cadences on each cast until the fish tell you what they want that day.

    7.  N 34 15.657 – W 83 57.998 – Run up above Browns Bridge and go into the first creek on your left on the downstream side of Chestatee Bay. Islands divide the mouth of this creek from the main bay.  Go into this creek that runs parallel to Browns Bridge Road point on the right with a big house on it. The point is on the upstream side of a ditch with a marker in it. This is where Jim caught the five-pound, 12-ounce spot in the UGA tournament and he caught a good keeper spot here the day we fished.

    The point Jim calls “Big House Point” drops on both sides, into the ditch and creek channel.  Bass spawn in the back of the ditch and stage on the point. Fish around it with all your baits, keeping your boat in about 40 feet of water and casting to the rocks. 

    8.  N 34 16.711 – W 83 57.130 – Go to the north-west side of Chestatee Bay opposite and a little upstream of the islands on the south-east side going back to the Long Hollow ramp. There is a double point on your right with a small pocket between them. There are three small leaning pines grouped together on the downstream point.  Start on the downstream side of the downstream point and fish all the way around it.

    Start about 100 feet from the point and work around it to the big rocks on the upstream side.  Fish stage and feed all along this bank and on the point. Try all your baits but Jim says this is a good shaky head point, with some brush piles and some other wood cover on it.

    Jim uses three sixteenths to one quarter ounce Spotsticker Screwball jig head and puts a Mattingly Customs worm by Josh Mattingly on it. He says those worms come in some unique colors that give the heavily pressured Lanier spots a different look. Jim dips all his plastic baits in chartreuse JJs Magic to give them added color and smell that attracts spots.

    This point, like the others, get a lot of sun, especially in the afternoon. Jim says that helps warm the water and make the fish more active.  Work quickly with moving baits then slowly work the shaky head all around the point, probing for wood and rocks, shaking it as you move it along the bottom.

    9.  N 34 16.833 – W 83 57.050 – After fishing around the big rocks on the upstream side of the above point go across the cove to the other side where the line of blown down trees up on the bank come toward the water.  Fish from that place out and around this point. It is flatter, with white rocks along a clay bank and is a good feeding area.

    Fish all your baits, trying both faster moving and slower moving ones.  Remember it is important to keep your crankbaits in contact with the bottom, making it dart, bump and rattle.

    10.  N 34 14.126 – W 84 02.810 – Back down the lake go up Six Mile Creek till you can see the bridge on your right. Keep straight ahead into the small double creek and stop on the point between the two arms of it.
There is riprap around it and a ridge of rocks coming out on the end of it.

    Both arms of this creek are good spawning pockets and a lot of big spots stage on the point and feed.  There is chunk rock on a clay bottom all around the point and those rocks are what you want to bump with your crankbait, jig and pig and shaky head.  Fish all the way around it with all your baits.

    All these places are holding fish right now and will get better as the days get longer and the water warms a little. Give them a try with Jim’s baits or fish your favorites. You may catch the spot of a lifetime.

    You can follow Jim on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/jfarm44 and see his baits and the spots he catches.

NOTE – not sure this is helping – really don’t get much response if you want to stop running it.

    Do you find these Map of the Month articles helpful?  If so visit http://fishing-about.com/keys-to-catching-georgia-bass-ebook-series/ – you can get an eBook or CD with an article for each month of the year on Clarks Hill and Lanier.

Chattooga River Conservation for Trout

Text by Greg Lucas
Photos by Taylor Main

from The Fishing WireWatching an experienced team of fisheries biologists and volunteers work with a helicopter pilot to fill and drop brailer bags of trout in a remote river is a little bit like experiencing a ballet — lots of moving parts have to come together with just the right timing to make it all work.

Chattooga, Wild and Scenic River. The very words conjure up all sorts of images. If you have done a bit of whitewater paddling in the region, the Chattooga’s roaring sound pouring over and around boulders is sweet music to your ears. It is one of the longest and most spectacular free-flowing mountain rivers in the Southeast, cascading some 50 miles from its headwaters in North Carolina to the state line between South Carolina and Georgia.

But if you are a fly fisherman, or fisherwoman, or, heck, fly ANGLER, then you know the upper reaches of the Chattooga River as something special, particularly in the State of South Carolina, where we are not as blessed with trout waters as our neighboring states of Georgia and North Carolina. For it is a place where an angler can get lost in thought, lost in the music and rhythms of a river that is truly Wild and Scenic, like no other in the Palmetto State.

And thanks to an amazing partnership between the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Forest Service, and Trout Unlimited, large numbers of rainbow, brook and brown trout are stocked in the upper portions of the Chattooga River once a year, a helicopter gently laying them in backcountry areas too remote to easily be reached by vehicle. On Nov. 2, an 11-mile backcountry reach of the Chattooga River was stocked.

The Chattooga, which for a good distance forms the border between South Carolina and Georgia, was the United States’ first Wild and Scenic River, designated as such in 1974. The Wild and Scenic designation resulted in the closure of most of the access roads used for trout stocking in this 11-mile section, and that’s the reason the helicopter stocking effort started.

The first helicopter trout stockings of this part of the Chattooga began about 50 years ago, and this program has been refined considerably over time. The Chauga River in Oconee was similarly stocked with trout by helicopter on the next day, Nov. 3.

“We want trout anglers to have the experience of fishing in this remote and beautiful Wild and Scenic River,” said Dan Rankin, SCDNR Upstate regional fisheries biologist. “But we also want to give them a reasonable chance for success.”

The trout fishery in this 11-mile segment of the Chattooga River is largely supported by stocking hatchery trout reared by SCDNR at Walhalla State Fish Hatchery, and by Georgia DNR at Burton State Hatchery.Trout begin their journey in an aerated truck, then are transferred to a helicopter “bucket” for stocking.

These partner agencies and organizations—SCDNR, U.S. Forest Service, Georgia DNR and Trout Unlimited–have worked together as the “Chattooga River Fisheries Coalition” since 1986 to improve the trout fishery.

“We are stocking two different ‘management units’ of the Chattooga River by helicopter,” said Rankin. “One two-and-a-half-mile reach is the ‘Delayed Harvest’ area, and the eight-and-a-half-mile upper reach of the ‘Rock Gorge/Big Bend’ area has different regulations from the Delayed Harvest Area.”

Delayed Harvest, according to Rankin, is a “fish-for-fun” reach where catch-and-release with single-hook artificial lures is required Nov. 1–May 14 of each year. This stretch reverts to general fishing regulations (5 trout daily limit, no tackle restrictions) from May 15-Oct. 31. The helicopter stocked about 2,500 adult trout (10-plus inches) of rainbow, brown, and brook trout in this section.

The Rock Gorge section of the Chattooga River, which is considered a backcountry area, has no tackle restrictions and a 5-trout daily limit year-round. During the Nov. 2 helicopter stocking, SCDNR stocked 15,000 sub-adult (6-inch) brown trout and 1,000 adult brown trout (10-plus inch) in this segment. Georgia DNR will helicopter stock about 10,000 rainbow trout at a later date.

“The idea,” Rankin said, “is that some of these smaller brown trout, and then later the rainbow trout from Georgia DNR, will survive next summer and grow out to a nice size for anglers.”

Watching the gathering of equipment at Russell Bottoms, alongside SC 28 just before the bridge that leads to Georgia, is quite a spectacle. Dozens of trucks are lined up in a row, with people alternately running helter-skelter around the field (when the helicopter sets down the “Bambi Bucket,” to be filled with trout) and then standing around for long chunks of time while the chopper delivers its load to a remote section of the Chattooga River. Scenes like this are likely the genesis of the phrase “Hurry Up And Wait,” which is so appropriate for any gathering of government employees, whether it be fisheries biologists or infantry soldiers.

Completing the scene is that everyone is wearing many articles of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), which includes a hard hat, eye protection, face coverings/masks, closed-toe shoes (leather boots preferable), gloves, and green and yellow fire-resistant Nomex pants and shirts.

The Forest Service is very diligent about PPE, not surprisingly, since being in close proximity to a helicopter is dangerous work. There is zero cell coverage at the site, which makes coordination a real challenge.The helicopter makes quick work of ferrying the load of trout to the remote stretches of the river.

The helicopter was already on the scene when SCDNR videographer/photographer Taylor Main and I arrived around 8:20 a.m. Keith Whalen, Forest Service fisheries biologist, got Taylor suited up in all the appropriate PPE, and after the safety briefing (mandatory if you are going to get near the helicopter while the fish are being loaded), Taylor began what would be many hours of photography and videography. Over and over, she captured SCDNR Freshwater Fisheries staff netting trout from the hatchery truck into two 50-gallon plastic buckets, then carrying them to the helicopter’s “Bambi Bucket,” which was at the end of a 150-foot line. The bucket was already “watered,” and SCDNR staff poured the trout into the bucket, the chopper lifted off, and away it went.

The trout are bound for the Wild and Scenic Chattooga River, the river that runs through South Carolina and Georgia, and the anglers who will pursue them.

Sunline Fluorocarbon Line Review

Product Review

Sunline Fluorocarbon Line

Good

Sunline Fluorocarbon Line comes in 17 different types for different applications. Its entry level line, Super Fluorocarbon, is a good choice for general fishing.  At the top end, Super FC Sniper, is for the tournament fisherman depending on every strike for his living.

Fluorocarbon is a very low visibility line with little stretch. It sinks, so it is not suitable for all lures, for example topwater lures do not work well with it.

A variety of the types of line are for specific situations.  Dostrike FC is designed for fishing bladed jigs. Crank FC is made for fishing crankbaits. Both lines are designed with some stretch for those baits.

The Night line is made to be visible when using a black light at night.  The Super FC Green Sniper has green color in it to help the fisherman see it above the water but is much more visible underwater to fish, too. Flipping Fluorocarbon has colors to be visible to the fisherman and is abrasion resistant.

I started using Sunline Fluorocarbon years ago after doing a Map of the Month article at Lake Lanier with Eric Aldrich.  The first stop, he lowered a drop shot bait to the tip of a blowdown in 30 feet of water. When he set the hook, he sawed the fish back and forth several times in the limbs and landed a three-pound spot.

I said he must be using heavy line for dropshot but he responded it was five pound Sunline. I thought it was a fluke to land that fish, but later in the day he did the same thing in a 35-foot-deep brush pile, sawing back and forth then landing a 3.5-pound spot.

I figured if five-pound Sunline line would do that, I could tow my boat with 12-pound line.

I fish a jig and pig on 14 pound and a shaky head on 12-pound Super FC Sniper or Super Fluorocarbon. It holds its knot as well as any fluorocarbon and I have never been disappointed in it. I think I get more strikes with fluorocarbon than I would with other line when fishing slow moving baits.

Bad

Sunline Fluorocarbon Line is more expensive than many other fluorocarbon lines.

Fluorocarbon line does not stretch like monofilament. When I switched to 12-pound fluorocarbon, I broke my line several times on the hookset until I loosened the drag enough to slip a little on the hookset.

Fluorocarbon is also notorious for knot slippage. With Sunline and any other fluorocarbon, if you do not tie a good knot suitable for fluorocarbon you will lose fish.

Cost

Sunline fluorocarbon line lists for $19.99 to $39.99 for a 165 to 200-yard spool. Bulk spools are available at slightly less per yard for some types of it.

Industry-funded Research on Dorsal Spine Aging Shows Promise in Largemouth Bass Conservation




Craig Springer,
USFWS – Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration
from The Fishing Wire

There are “lumpers” and there are “splitters.”

Some fisheries scientists think that largemouth bass and Florida bass should be split into two species.  Others lump them together as one species as mere diverging strains or races.  This much can be agreed upon:  bass in southern climates grow big, and fishery managers are careful to conserve the trophy fish coveted by anglers at all experience levels.

To that end, Summer Lindelien, a fish biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has endeavored the last four years to learn more about how Florida’s largemouth bass, Florida bass, and their hybrids grow over time.  Excise taxes paid by fishing tackle manufacturers and on motor boat fuels fund her research in grants administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program.

The research is bearing fruit that promises to yield better bass fishing in Florida—if not anywhere the 19 species and subspecies of the black bass family swim. More research is in the works and necessary to take further steps.

Lindelien and her FWC colleagues are developing a new method to determine age and growth rates of trophy largemouth bass that would otherwise be missing in population assessments and ultimately, fishing regulations.  Hard bony structures are best for determining a fish’s age, body parts such as scales and ear bones that put down rings at each year of growth.  The latter is most reliable but there is a downside:  it is 100 percent lethal.  Dorsal spines may be the alternative. The method shows great promise as Lindelien learned while a graduate student at the University of Florida. She and her colleagues also completed a six-waterbody study to refine the efficacy of reading age rings on dorsal spines and are in the midst of evaluating how dorsal spine aging error affects population dynamic metrics.

Lindelien and colleagues caught wild bass known to be hybrids of largemouth and Florida bass, 36 fish in all, varying size from 12 to 22 inches long.  Six bass each were acclimated in six tanks and three from each tank where randomly picked to have three dorsal fin spines extracted with surgical scissors and snips cut flush with the bass’s back. The fish were monitored for injury and mortality for 35 days afterward.None of the bass with missing spines perished. Overall condition between fish with spines intact and those with spines removed did not vary to any great degree at the conclusion of the month-long study. In the end, the method shows much utility as a means for black bass fishery managers to gather more data on trophy fish without deleterious effects on the fish and the fish population. The method also holds promise down the road for citizen-scientists—anglers, that is—to weigh and measure and trim a spine before releasing trophy fish, thus greatly expanding the essential data scientists need.

Lindelien is the first to confirm that removing dorsal spines is benign to largemouth bass. According to Lindelien, as the dorsal spine aging technique is refined it might be employed on other black basses, common and otherwise: Guadalupe bass in Texas, spotted bass in Kentucky, Neosho smallmouth bass of Oklahoma or the rarer Choctaw bass of Alabama and Florida where removing fish of any size is not an option.

Lindelien and her colleagues published the results of the spine extraction research in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management.

Where and How to Catch September Jackson Lake Bass, with GPS Coordinates

September 2015 Jackson Bass

with Keith Dawkins

September can be the most frustrating time of year for bass fishermen.  The water is as hot as it gets and the oxygen content is at its lowest level of the year. The days are still hot and uncomfortable and the bass are sluggish. But some lakes, like Jackson, offer you a chance to catch fish and forget the problems.

Jackson is an old Georgia Power lake at the headwaters of the Ocmulgee River.  It is lined by docks and rocks are plentiful. There are good points that run out to deep water and humps that hold bass.  Shad are the primary forage this time of year and you can find the shad and catch bass.

In the 1970s and 1980s Jackson was known for big largemouth.  Then spots were illegally stocked in the lake by misguided fishermen and they have taken over the lake. Rather than catching a seven pound largemouth now you are going to catch seven one pound spots.

Spots are fun to catch and taste good, so enjoy catching them and eat them.  You can’t hurt the population of bass in the lake by keeping every one you catch. In fact, fisheries biologists say keeping all of them, even those under 12 inches long, may help a little. They have no size limit anywhere in Georgia except Lake Lanier.

Keith Dawkins grew up fishing Jackson.  His parents still have a house there and he spends several days a month on the lake.  For years he fished the Berrys tournaments and bigger trails like the Bulldog BFL but his job now keeps him from fishing tournaments.

 “Early in September bass are out on main lake structure, feeding on shad,” Keith said.  As the month progresses they push up the points and toward the coves. By the end of the month, depending on the shad, they may be way back in them.

A wide variety of baits will catch fish.  Keith always has a Flash Mob Jr. with small swimbaits on the arms and a Fish Head Spin on the middle one.  He also likes a buzz bait, popper and X-Rap five inch bait with props on both ends for top water fishing and a Fluke or Senko rigged weightless for fishing over structure and cover.

For faster fishing a 300 Bandit with white and chartreuse is good as is a #7 Shadrap in black and silver.  When he slows down and probes the bottom he will have a Carolina rigged Trick worm and a Spotsticker jig head with a Trick worm on it.

If you are seeing fish on your depthfinder but can’t get them to hit, get right on top of them and use a drop shot worm. Drop it down to them and jiggle is slowly.  If they are right on the bottom let your lead stay on the bottom but raise it up to the depth the fish are holding if they are suspended.

Keith showed me the following ten places in mid-August.  Small spots were on them during the day. The afternoon before we went he caught some quality spots and largemouth right at dark, an indication the bigger fish were probably feeding at night. Those bigger fish will be feeding on these places during the day in September.

1.  N 33 20.606 – W 83 51.667 – The big point where the river turns downstream across from the mouth of Tussahaw Creek is a good place to start early in the morning or to fish late in the day.  It is a big flat where wood washes in and hangs up and there are a couple of small pockets on it and small points run off it.

Start on the upstream end where the biggest cove on the point starts.  There are rocks on it and it drops fairly fast.  As you fish downstream the bottom flattens out and there is a lot of wood to fish.  Stay way out on the flat in seven to eight feet of water since it is so shallow and cover all the wood with a buzz bait.

Fish all the way around the point where it turns to the left going downstream.  Also try a crankbait around this wood in case the fish don’t want a topwater bait. A weightless Fluke or Senko is also good around the wood.

2.  N 33 20.313 – W 83 51.404 – Go down the river and there is a marked hump way off the left bank. There are two danger markers on it and it tops out about six feet deep at full pool, dropping off to 40 feet deep. Keith warns that boat wakes move the markers and they may not be right on top of it, so idle up toward them slowly.  The hump has rocks, stumps and brush piles on it the bass use for cover, and they will also hold in the saddle between the hump and the bank.

Start with your boat in deeper water and fish all the way around it, casting topwater and crankbaits to the top of the hump and working them back. Also try the Flash Mob Jr. here, fishing it the same way.  Watch your depthfinder as you go around it for fish holding deeper.

Try a Carolina rig and a jig head worm on this hump, too.  Keith likes to drag both baits along slowly, letting the lead stir up the bottom to attract attention.  Keith usually uses a Trick worm on both, preferring watermelon seed or pumpkin seed colors, but if the bass want a smaller bait he will go to a Finesse worm. He will often dip the tails of both size worms in chartreuse JJs Magic for added attraction.

We caught some small spots here on a drop shot when Keith saw fish near the bottom.  If you see them off the sides of the hump try that. Also, especially during the day, you can sit on top of the hump and cast a Carolina rig or jig head worm to the deeper water, working your bait up the drop.

3.  N 33 19.317 – W 83 50.574 – On the right side of the dam going toward it the Georgia Power park and ramp are on a big point right beside the dam.  There are two DNR docks in the pocket formed by the dam and point and there are “Boats Keep Out” buoys in front of them.  There is a public fishing pier on this side of the point.

A lot of wood washes in and sticks in this pocket, and the DNR and residents sometimes pull floating wood to it, so there is a lot of cover to fish. The bottom is also rocky and drops off into deep water.  In the morning or late afternoon start in the pocket, fishing the wood. Try topwater and a weightless bait like a Fluke or Senko around it, too.

When the sun is high sit way out even with the big park point but toward the dam side, and line up with the two tallest towers on the power station on the bank.  A ridge runs out parallel to the park point and flattens out on the end, and bass hold on it.  Fish it with your bottom baits and run a crankbait and the A-Rig over it

4. N 33 19.584 – W 83 50.563 – Go back upstream to the big point on the left where the river turns back to the left.  Downstream of this point, straight out from a cream colored boat house with a metal dock in front of it, a hump rises up to about 14 feet deep. Line up the end of the point with the park side of the dam and idle along this line. You will be in about the middle of the mouth of the creek coming out on the park side.

Keith caught his biggest spot from Jackson on this hump.  Sit out in deep water and drag your bottom bumping baits on it. Try a drop shot, too. Also run a crankbait across it for suspended fish.  Keith does not always bump the bottom with a crankbait but fishes it like a fleeing shad in the water column. He may go to a deeper running bait like the DD22 if the fish won’t come up for a more shallow running bait.

5.  N 33 20.028 – W 83 50.753 – Going upstream on the right bank, on the upstream point of the third big cove upstream of Goat Island, you will see a house and dock with bright silver roofs on the point.  There is a seawall around the point and big rocks are on it. As the bank goes upstream there are huge boulders where it turns into a bluff bank.

Stay way off the bank, the rocks come out a long way, and cast a crankbait or A-Rig to them.  Then try your jig head worm and Carolina rig around them.  Fish all the way around the point.  Way off the point a hump comes up and the saddle leading out to it can be good.

Watch for schooling fish here and other similar places.  There were several schools of small keeper spots chasing shad all around this point when we fished and Keith got one on his XRap.  They will school even better in September and you can chase schooling fish most of the day.

6.  N 33 20.145 – W 83 50.852 – Going up stream along the bluff bank a narrow point comes out at the upper end of it.  There is riprap around the point and a narrow pocket upstream of it.  The point runs way out and Keith says bass hold out on the point early in the month and feed on shad. Later in the month they will push shad up into the bay on the downstream side and into the narrow pocket upstream of it.

Fish the point with your Carolina rig, A-Rig and jig head worm.  Stay way out with your boat in at least 15 feet of water to fish the point early in the month. Later fish the cover in the bay and pocket on both sides with Senko or Fluke but try you’re A-Rig in the pockets, too.  Keith likes the light Flash Mob, Jr and does not put heavy jig heads on it so he can fish it shallower without hanging up.

7. N 33 20.840 – W 83 51.985 – Go to the mouth of Tussahaw Creek to the right side going in. A ridge comes up way off this bank and tops out about 14 feet deep. You will see a light brown roof dock in front of a white cabin on the right bank and the ridge starts about even with it and runs into the creek.

Fish up the ridge into the creek until you are even with a dark brown dock.  Try you’re a-Rig and crankbait over the top of it, keeping your boat on the river side in deeper water.  Then fish it with bottom bumping baits probing for the rocks and stumps on it.  Watch here, too, for fish on the bottom and try a drop shot for them.

8. N 33 21 094 – W 83 52.213 – Go on up Tussahaw to upstream side of the first small cove. There is a tall tree stump carved into a bear standing behind a dock on the bank. Start at the dock in front of the bear and fish upstream.  Fish hold on this point and the next one upstream, too, and feed early in the month then push shad into the coves on both sides of the points later.

Fish will often hold on docks so Keith works them carefully. He will fish every dock post with a jig head worm, hitting the post and letting the bait drop straight down it.  He says spots often nose up to the post and if the bait does not fall straight down beside it they won’to hit.  Keith says he will often spend a half hour carefully fishing every post on a dock. A Senko or Fluke will also catch dock bass.

Fish the points and banks going into the pockets with A-Rig and crankbait.   When fishing the crankbait Keith says he likes to crank it a few feet then pause it. Strikes will often come just as he starts the bait moving again. Try different lengths of pause before moving it again.

9. N 33 22.180 – W 83 51.728 – Go up the Alcovy to the mouth of the South River. As you go into the mouth of it, on your right, the second point is narrow and has an old boat ramp on it.  This point comes way out and has a lot of rocks on it and holds a lot of bass. Keith caught several spots here on his crankbait.

Run your crankbait and A-Rig across the point.  If there is any current coming out of the river, which often happens after a rain, Keith says it is important to stay on the downstream side of the point and cast upstream, working your baits with the current.

Also fish a Trick worm or Senko on top of the point early. It is very shallow a good way off the bank.  Then work your bottom baits on the point, all the way out to the end of it in at least 15 feet deep.  You will get hung up in the rocks but that is where the bass live.

10.  N 33 23.028 – W 83 50.590 – Run up the Alcovy River under the powerlines.  Upstream of them a ridge runs parallel to the river channel way off the left bank upstream of the first creek on that side.  Watch on the right bank for a white deck on the bank just off the water with lattice work under it. It is very white.

If you stop in the middle of the lake even with that deck and idle toward the far bank, at a very slight angle upstream, you will cross the ridge. The ridge is on the far side of the river channel and it tops out about 14 feet deep and has stumps and rocks in some spots on it.

Keith likes to keep his boat on the side of the ridge away from the river channel and fish it. He says bass tend to hold on that side and stripers hold on the river side.  Cast you’re a-Rig and crankbait over the top of it and work your Carolina rig and jig head down that side from the top to about 20 feet deep. Also watch for fish under the boat to use your drop shot.

Since the rocks and stumps are in patches, feel for them and concentrate on that area.  The end of the ridge is where Keith catches most of his fish.

Give Keith’s places a try and see the kind of structure and cover he likes this month. There are many similar places you can find and fish on Jackson.

10 Tips to Catch More Winter Steelhead


With Robert Bradley, Oregon DFW
from the Fishing Wire


Successful steelhead fishing is more about developing a good strategy for finding fish than about fussing over gear, techniques and colors. (Although pink worms really do work!)

When it comes to winter steelhead, it’s easy to get caught up in the minutia of rod types, lure sizes, best colors and latest techniques. But according to Robert Bradley, ODFW district fish biologist in Tillamook, the most important skill to master is knowing where to find fish. (Hint: it’s always near the bottom.)

Here are his 10 tips for catching more steelhead by developing a successful fishing strategy and selecting the right gear for current conditions.

1) Do your homework.
You can learn a lot about a river, its steelhead runs and current fishing conditions before you even leave home.

Figure out the run timing on the river you want to fish. In some places, hatchery fish return earlier in the season – something to think about if you want a fish for the freezer. In rivers with wild broodstock hatchery programs, hatchery steelhead are available over a longer period of time. Wild fish typically arrive later in the run, but these catch-and-release fisheries are often quieter and less crowded, especially in rivers without hatchery programs.

Check the current river levels. High water levels put fish on the move but can make fishing more challenging. Often the best fishing is right after a big rain as water levels begin to drop.  Find your access points. Bank anglers will want to look for bridge crossings, parks and other public lands. Boat anglers should identify boat put ins/take outs.

Make a phone call to the local ODFW fish biologist to get the latest conditions and some fishing tips. Or, visit the weekly Recreation Report.

2) Organize your stuff before you go.

Collect and check your boots, waders, clothing, boat accessories, etc.Locate your license and tag. If you’re electronically tagging, remember to log into the MyODFW app before leaving cell phone range.Review the regulations for the waters you want to fish, and check for any in-season regulation updates. You’ll find in-season regulation updates online at the top of each fishing zone in the Recreation Report.

Check/replace your mainline, pre-tie your leaders, sort and organize your jigs, spoons and other lures. Remember, you might be wearing gloves, which will make it trickier to pick through your lures.Spend time doing this before you go and you’ll be less stressed once you’re on the water, and have more time for actual fishing. Besides, do you really like tying leaders while standing in 40 degree water during a rainstorm?

3) Join a fishing club or hire a guide.

Organizations like the Association of Northwest Steelheaders have several local chapters, and offer a chance to Interact with veteran anglers, see speakers and participate in workshops.You might also consider hiring a guide for a trip on your new home water. A guided trip can be a one-day lesson on how and where to fish a stretch of river. Be sure to let your guide know what you want from the trip — it may be about more than just catching a fish.

4) Pick a “home water.”

Spend time learning the water on one river, or even one stretch of a river, rather than jumping from place to place chasing the bite.

And we mean really learn the water – explore every nook and cranny with a spinner or bobber/jig to figure out where the fish hold. Also, pay close attention to where other anglers are catching fish. Think about catching more fish in less water.

These are transferable skills that, once mastered, can be used on other rivers or streams.

One of Robert’s best seasons was when he fished just a single two-mile stretch of river again and again, and where he soon learned every rock that had a fish hiding behind it.

5) Better yet, pick two “home waters.”

When water levels rise after a rain, rivers reaches and streams higher in the basin will drop faster and clear first. In the same vein, smaller basins tend to get back in shape faster than larger basins.

Just remember the old adage “Water high, fish high. Water low, fish low.”

6) Learn a variety of techniques.

But don’t get too complicated. If you’re new to steelhead fishing start with spinner and/or bobber/jig techniques. This gear has some advantages:You won’t lose a lot of gear (helps manage your frustration level), and these are effective techniques to cover the water and locate fish.

Drift fishing can be very effective, especially in higher water, but you can lose a lot of gear and spend more time re-rigging than fishing. Be prepared to mix things up based on water or other conditions.

7) Adjust your gear and techniques to water levels.

Regardless of the water level, fish will be holding just off the bottom of the river. So no matter what gear you’re using, it’s going to be most effective when it’s near the bottom. Where the fish are.

That means you’ll want to adjust your tactics for different water levels so you’re fishing near the bottom without getting hung up all the time. Water levels also will influence where to look for fish and what lines/lures to consider.

So, in higher water:Look for fish in the softer waters near the bank or behind obstacles.

Upsize your gear. Use a heavier leader* (12-15 pound) and larger weights or lures to keep your gear in the right zone and to handle the increased flows.

Consider drift fishing or plunking. These slower presentations can give fish more time to consider your offering.

Choose bright colors like orange, bright pink or chartreuse.In lower water: Look for fish further up near the head of holes, or in deeper parts of the runs.

Downsize your gear. Use a lighter leader* (8-10 pound) and smaller sized lures or baits. Choose darker, more subdued colors like reds, blues and black.*

In general, use a heavier main line and just adjust your leader size for different water conditions.

8) Keep a journal.

As you get to know your “home waters” keep notes on recent rains, water levels and temperatures, current weather and conditions, what gear/techniques you used and where/when you caught fish. You may think you’ll remember where you caught a fish, but you probably won’t. You can even take photos of certain hot spots to revisit later.

Also, note those places you might want to revisit in the summer, when low summer flows often reveal deeper pools, submerged rocks and other fish holding spots that are harder to see during high winter flows.

9) Assume you’re going to catch a fish.

Be prepared to care for the fish you catch and want to keep. Do you know how to properly gill and clean it? Do you have a cooler to keep it in for the drive home? If you’re going harvest the eggs for bait, are you prepared to deal with them when you get home?

10) Know how to safely release a wild fish.



If you’re going to release a fish, do it in a way that gives it the greatest chance of surviving.

Land the fish quickly.

Use barbless hooks.

Keep the fish in the water.

Revive the fish before releasing it.

Find more information here.

Robert Bradley is the ODFW district fish biologist in Tillamook and can be reached at 503-842-2741, ext. 18613 or robert.bradley@state.or.us.

Frustrating End to Tournament Year

Largemouth I caught while fishing with Michael Ward

Well that didn’t go as planned and hoped!  All three bass clubs ended our tournament years at
Jackson last weekend.  The Potato Creek Bassmasters fished our December tournament on Saturday and the Spalding County Sportsman Club and Flint River Bass Club fished a two-club tournament on Sunday.

    On Saturday 20 of us fished for eight cold hours to land 30 bass weighing about 53 pounds. There were two five-bass limits and seven people didn’t catch a 12 inch keeper.

    Raymond English blew us all away again with a limit weighing 12.01 pounds and his 5.03 pound largemouth was big fish. Kwong Yu placed second with five bass weighing 7.60 pounds, third was Trent Granger with three bass weighing 6.49 pounds and Shay Smith came in fourth with for bass weighing 6.43 pounds.

    Raymond said he caught the big one on a crankbait and Kwong caught a limit in the first hour we fished.  Others said they caught fish on spinnerbaits, Carolina rigs and shaky heads.  It seems if you found a hungry fish and got a bait near it, it might hit anything that looked like food to it.

    I tried a little of everything, crankbaits, spinnerbaits, jigs and shaky heads. I could often see fish that acted like bass in their positions and movements on my Garmin Panoptix but could not get them to hit in the stained 55-degree water.  And I fished from shallow brush and rocks to deep brush and rocks and everything in between.

    At 10:20 AM I was fishing a deep point with rock piles on it and missed a hit on my jig. I picked up a shaky head and cast back to the same place and caught a 14-inch keeper spotted bass. Since I got two quick bites and could see other fish around the rocks, I stayed there an hour trying to make them bite everything I had tied on, but never got another bite.

    Finally at 2:15 I cast my shaky head to some shallow rocks on another point, got a hit and landed a three pound spot.  That was it, I had two weighing 4.35 pounds and placed fifth.  It was a very frustrating day!

    On Sunday 19 members of the two clubs fished eight hours to land 38 bass weighing about 41 pounds.  There were three five-fish limits and eight people zeroed. 

    Travis Weatherly won with five bass weighing 7.10 pounds and his 2.39 pounder was big fish.  Jay Gerson came in second with five weighing 6.66 pounds, Russell Prevatt was third with five at 6.07 pounds and Kwong Yu had three weighing 3.68 pounds for fourth.

    Jay said he caught his fish on a floating worm early. Others said they caught their fish on a variety of baits on a variety of types of cover and structure. Like the day before, it seemed you had to put your bait right in front of the right bass at the right time to get a bite.

    At blast off I went straight to the point where I caught my first keeper the day before. There were fish all over it with no sun on it yet, so I had high hopes. I could see what looked like bass suspended, some on the bottom and baitfish everywhere. It looked perfect. I never got a bite.

    After a frustrating hour of trying to make fish that I could see bite a variety of baits, I left that point.  For the next six hours I tried everything I could think of to catch a fish. I had one bite on a shaky head on a deep rocky point but missed it.  That really frustrated me.

    At 2:30, with one hour left to fish, I cast a shaky head to a shady seawall. I though I felt a tap but could not see my line.  I took off my sunglasses and saw my line was already back under the boat.  When I set the hook, a small keeper spot came over the side of the boat.

    That was the only fish I caught all day, a 12.5-inch spot weighing .85 pounds. I came in last place of the people that caught fish.

    All three clubs start our new year with tournaments in January.  That would be a good time to join us for a lot of fun, and maybe a little frustration. 

    The Flint River club meets the first Tuesday each month and fish our tournament the following Sunday.  Dues are $20 a year and tournament entry fee is $25, with optional big fish pots each tournament as well as two other optional annual pots.

    The Potato Creek club meets the Monday after the first Tuesday and fish our tournaments the following Saturday.  Dues are $50 and entry fee is $30, with optional big fish pots for each tournament and for the year.

    The Sportsman Club meets the third Tuesday each month and fish our monthly tournaments the following

Sunday. Dues are $50 and entry fee is $25 with optional big fish pots.

    All three clubs have or will have club classics that members qualify for by fishing at least eight tournaments a year or placing in the top eight for the year in the points standings.  All three clubs meet at Panda Bear restaurant.

    Think about joining one club, or all three!