Category Archives: Fishing Information



SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. (January 5, 2022) – Start planning your fishing adventures for the new year and be sure to review the updated 2022 Georgia Sport Fishing Regulations Guide, says the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division (WRD). 

“Whether you are brand new to fishing or an experienced angler, you can always find something of interest in the Sport Fishing Regulations Guide,” said Scott Robinson, Chief of the WRD Fisheries Management Section. “This publication is developed with the help of fisheries biologists and staff to ensure it has the most current and accurate information on regulations and new opportunities and anglers can access it in multiple ways, including online, from our Outdoors GA app or in the printed copy.”

Anglers should note there was delayed production of a printed copy of the 2022 Georgia Sport Fishing Regulations guide due to paper accessibility and manufacturing issues. It is anticipated the print version will be available by the end of January. The guide can now be found online at, or through the Outdoors GA app (free app for iPhone or Android users). If you need a printed copy sooner, a pdf of the publication will be available online (you can choose to print the full book or only the information you need). 

The 2022 Georgia Sport Fishing Regulations Guide provides information such as a color fish identification chart for both freshwater and saltwater fish, license purchasing information, contact information for Wildlife Resources Division and Coastal Resources Division fisheries management offices and DNR Law Enforcement offices, trout stream listings, public fishing area information, state record fish listings, fishing regulations for Georgia and so much more. 

What’s New for 2022? Check out this quick bullet list below and get all the details in the new guidebook:

•         Minnow trap use is now legal in freshwaters.

•         Waters Creek trout regulations have changed.

·       Largemouth bass regulations have changed on two Public Fishing Areas.

Need more fishing information? Check out the Angler Resources page on the WRD website (

Alternative Ned Rigs


By Ted Pilgrim
from The Fishing Wire

Alternative Ned Rigs elevate your finesse game

The legendary Ned Kehde isn’t likely to utter the phrase that’s made him famous; the term for the rig that’s forever transformed the bass fishing landscape. Actually, the chances of Kehde going third-person like some Prima donna wide receiver are roughly the same as his odds of playing in the NFL. That’s just Ned being Ned: the fact the humble Hall of Fame angler would rather credit those other fathers of finesse—Chuck Woods, Guido Hibdon, Harold Ensley, etc.—than acknowledge his own momentous role in bass fishing’s backstory.

Such modesty can be misinterpreted, but in Kehde’s case simply underscores the exceptional skill with which he practices the method known more broadly as ‘Midwest Finesse.’ Friend and former NASCAR driver Terry Bevins says, “Ned’s one of the best finesse anglers in the country. Put him in the back of the boat with one of his finesse jigs, and he’s likely to whoop your butt.”

To hear Kehde tell it, the bass-catching power of his “little jig” is so great there’s simply no reason to change it. “In years past, we’ve experimented with just about every new rigging refinement you can think of.” notes Kehde. “In the shallow impoundments we fish, none have been so fruitful as an exposed-hook, mushroom-style jig dressed with half a ZinkerZ or other finesse worm. Day after day, season after season, it inveigles dozens and dozens and dozens of bass.”

The Ned-Miki

The ‘Ned-Miki Rig’ has scored big bags of largemouth, spotted and striped bass for pro angler and guide, Joey Nania

Interestingly, the same simple motivation to catch more bass has inspired anglers across America to create unique and individualized versions of the Ned Rig framework—both in retrieve and the way they fasten a finesse bait to a hook.Longtime Ned Rig fan Joey Nania, professional angler and Alabama based fishing guide, has devised a couple key mods to the presentation. Recently, he’s guided clients to loads of spotted, largemouth and striped bass, wielding a concoction he calls the Ned-Miki Rig.

“As bass fans know, the Damiki Rig has been a money presentation for enticing shad-focused bass suspended in 15 to 30 feet,” says Nania. “But you need a really well-balanced, 90-degree jighead and a compact shad-shaped bait to pull it off. Having fished the Z-Man NedlockZ HD jighead for a lot of my regular Ned Rig fishing, I realized this head would really shine for ‘video-game’ fishing—working individual bass on sonar, vertically, playing cat-and-mouse. It’s versatile enough that you can cast the bait to suspended fish, too, just letting it glide and pendulum as you work it back to the boat.

“The Ned-Miki Rig: NedlockZ HD jighead and StreakZ 3.75A 1/10- or 1/6-ounce NedlockZ HD, says Nania, melds perfectly with a Z-Man StreakZ 3.75, a bait he calls “one of the best small shad imitations ever. And because it’s made from ElaZtech, the bait’s super buoyant. When you pause and let the Ned-Miki soak, the bait maintains a natural horizontal posture. Similar fluke-style baits aren’t buoyant, making them ride tail-down, rather than hovering horizontal like a live shad.

“Northern anglers fish a similar method, keying on suspended or rock-hugging smallmouth bass. The Ned-Miki has even evolved into a superlative substitute for a dropshot rig, which isn’t quite so precise for big sluggish smallmouths hunkered down between boulders.”Watch the bait drop on the sonar screen until it’s about 1 foot above the fish’s head,” Nania explains. “Hold the bait still. When a bass begins to rise and chase, lift the bait to take it away. Sometimes, a bass will chase the Ned-Miki up 15 or 20 feet, absolutely crushing it on an intercept course. Other times, you have to entice them a little, using the bait’s super-soft, high-action tail to close the deal. Almost like a dropshot, but even more dead-on.

“All-Terrain NedGoing where no Ned Rig has gone before, Nania is ecstatic when he mentions another new finesse device. “What can I say about the Finesse BulletZ, man? This jighead is off-the-charts cool. Rig one with a Finesse TRDMinnowZ or TRD CrawZ and fish simply can’t tear it off. I’ve had the same bait on the same jighead for the past week, and dozens of bass later, it’s still going strong.

“Made to snake Ned Rig style ElaZtech baits through the thickest cover, the Finesse BulletZ sports a subtle bullet-shaped head and a slender keel weight molded precisely onto a custom, heavy-duty size 1 VMC EWG hook. “People look at this jig and wonder how the heck you rig a bait without tearing it. It’s funny because it’s actually a non-issue with ElaZtech, which is pretty much tear-proof. And once the bait’s in place, it’s there until you take it off.

“Goes without saying that the bait’s weedless,” says Nania. “But I’m also just discovering how well the little jig skips under docks,” he adds. “Regardless of the cover— rocks, brush, grass, manmade structures, etc.—this is one incredible jig-bait combo for finessing big bass in places you couldn’t previously throw a Ned Rig.”I like to rig a 1/10-ouncer with a TRD MinnowZ—Smelt and Hot Snakes are two of my favorite patterns—and skip it under docks. Rigging the same bait on a 1/6-ounce Finesse BulletZjig also shines for casting into deeper schools of bass.

“Nania notes how the jig’s keel weight makes the bait glide and slide horizontally, rather than nose-down. “It’s like some radical, improved version of the slider head, except this jig perfectly matches 2- to 4-inch finesse-style baits. And you can pull it right through the thickest brush piles with no problem at all.”From southern impoundments to northern lakes and rivers, the Finesse BulletZ jig may be at its best when rigged with Z-Man’s authentic mini-crayfish bait, the 2.5-inch TRD CrawZ.

“The TRD CrawZ is a subtle, unassuming little critter,” says professional angler Luke Clausen. “But rigged with the Finesse BulletZ jig, the bait rides in this freakishly lifelike, claws-up posture. Put it in the water and its buoyant little claws flap and wave, virtually taunting bass to bite—and they do,” Clausen laughs.

Ned-Neko Rig

Blurring boundaries between Ned-style and other finesse presentations, creative anglers have concocted what we’ll call the Ned-Neko Rig.

Coupling a Finesse TRDHula StickZ or other buoyant finesse bait with a Neko hook and Neko weight yields astonishing action, and an intriguing underwater posture.Hooking configurations depend on cover and bass activity level. The simplest is to Texas-rig your chosen finesse bait onto a #1 to 2/0 Neko style hook. Finish the Neko-Ned Rig by inserting a 1/32- to 1/8-ounce Neko weight into the bait’s tail-end, resulting in a compelling pogo-stick-action along bottom.

Also effective is a drag-and-deadstick retrieve, particularly in small, high-percentage zones.Or, you can get extra wacky (pun intended), and hook the worm right through the middle, leaving the Neko weight in the tail. The toughness of ElaZtech even eliminates the need for an O-ring; just a 1/0 Gamakatsu Finesse Wide Gap hook, your favorite TRD and another alluring look bass can’t say no to. Ned inspired. Ned approved.

Fishing Lake Weiss, Lake Allatoona, Mobile Bay and A Visit To Battleship Park and the Battleship Alabama

    I love my job!  The past week – in October 2017 – gave me a chance to fish Weiss Lake, the Mobile Delta and Lake Allatoona.  Its tough work, but I’m glad I get to do it.

    Last Friday I drove up to Weiss and met Cal Culpepper and his dad Saturday morning to get information for a Map of the Month article that will be in the November of both Georgia and Alabama Outdoor News.  Cal is a high school senior and on the Harris County High School fishing team, and a very good fisherman.  Weiss is on the state’s borders and if popular with bass fishermen in both states.

note – Cal has gone far since this trip!

    We had a good day, catching largemouth and spotted bass.  The best five we landed weighed about 13 pounds.  All were in shallow water around grass, docks and wood cover and hit chatterbaits, topwater and shaky head worms.

    On Sunday I drove to Mobile to meet Captain Dan Kolenich, a guide there on the bay, to get information for a saltwater fishing article.  I don’t fish saltwater much so I was looking forward to the trip, hoping to catch my first redfish. I knew I would eat some great seafood and I definitely accomplished that goal.

    Unfortunately, Monday morning the wind was strong and it was raining.  I talked with Captain Dan and we decided to try to go out Tuesday morning when the weather guessers said conditions would be better.

    Since I had the rest of the day with nothing to do I went to Battleship Park.  This military park has a variety of exhibits, including aircraft, a World War 2 submarine you can tour, and the battleship Alabama docked so you can tour it, too. I spent almost six hours there.

    Walking through the submarine I could not imagine being on a crew. The tiny, cramped work and eating areas were bad enough but the racks, or bunks, hung along the walls one over the other, would never have allowed me to get a good night’s sleep.  And I could just imagine the smell during missions.

    The aircraft fascinated me since I always wanted to fly a fighter for the Air Force.  One especially interesting display showed one of the fighters the “Tuskeegee Airmen” flew in World War 2 and a video had very good special effects.  It took me several minutes to realize I was not watching actual videos of the dog fights.

    Tuesday morning was clear but still very windy. We tried to fish but the wind made it very difficult so I did not catch a redfish.  Maybe next time.

    On Thursday Wyatt Robinson and his dad met me at my house and we drove through the horrible traffic to Lake Allatoona so I could show them what little I know about that lake.  Wyatt is A senior at CrossPointe Christian Academy and on the fishing team.  He is a very good young fisherman.

    I had a lot of fun and we caught several keeper bass and even more short ones under the 12-inch limit, on topwater plugs and shaky head worms.  But the catch of the day was a four-pound channel cat that thought my jig head worm was lunch. Turned out he became dinner. Although that trip was not really part of my job it was fun, except for the traffic going and coming back, and I was impressed, as I often am, with a young fisherman’s ability and knowledge.  It is kinda scary that high school fishermen often know more than I do about bass fishing.

Trophy Florida Bass Tests Angler Weight Estimates

The “Eyeball Challenge” for Trophy Florida Bass Tests Angler Weight Estimates
From The Fishing Wire

Nearly 900 anglers completed the final round, and the results were quite revealing: on average, anglers were off by plus or minus 2.22 pounds per bass in estimating weight from photos. Even the top 5% of all guessers — the A-pluses at the head of the class — were only able to shave their error down to plus or minus 1.35 pounds of the actual weight.

How big do you think this bass is? Ten pounds? Seven? Twelve? A unique study by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) along with partner, Bass Pro Shops, recently revealed that guessing right is harder than you think — whether you are an experienced bass angler, fishing guide or even a bona fide fisheries biologist. The Eyeball Challenge arose from FWC’s TrophyCatch program, which collects data from anglers on bass eight pounds or larger for use in fisheries management and conservation. The core requirement for submission is a photo or video of the entire bass on a scale with the weight reading clearly visible. And, every trophy bass must be released.

“Given the very specific submission requirements, I’m still a bit mystified whenever I get the ‘That bass isn’t 10 pounds!’ comment on one of our posts,” said biologist and TrophyCatch Facebook Manager, John Cimbaro. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned from looking at thousands of bass photos, it’s that the same fish can look very different depending on how the picture is taken and how the fish is held. A hero shot of an angler holding a trophy bass up is usually the best-looking photo for a Facebook post. But the fish-on-scale photo is the one that matters for the research program and that’s the photo l point a doubting commenter to.”

The Eyeball Challenge asked anglers to estimate the weights of bass in three separate challenges, each with a series of photos. Each bass was weighed by a biologist with field scales to ensure accuracy. The Eyeball Challenge culminated in August with Round 3, which featured 24 individual Florida bass. Nearly 900 anglers completed the final round, and the results were quite revealing: on average, anglers were off by plus or minus 2.22 pounds per bass. Even the top 5% of all guessers — the A-pluses at the head of the class — were only able to shave their error down to plus or minus 1.35 pounds of the actual weight.

Does fishing experience endow anglers with weight-guessing skills? Eyeball Challenge participants told us if they identified as novice, intermediate or avid anglers, and they provided the number of years of bass fishing experience they had accrued. Interestingly, statistical analysis indicated that there was no performance difference among the three levels of anglers. Technically, increased years of bass fishing experience translated into improvements in guessing bass weights, but in practical terms, it takes anglers a lifetime of fishing experience (60 years) to gain only about .5 pound of accuracy over inexperienced anglers. The bottom line is that no matter how good you are at catching fish or how long you’ve been fishing; a variety of factors makes it hard to accurately guess the weight of a fish from a photo.

One key result from the Eyeball Challenge was that how an angler holds his or her bass in a photo makes quite a difference in how we perceive it. Half of the bass featured in the Round 3 challenge were held out toward the camera, at arm’s length. The other half were held much closer to the angler’s torso. As anglers might guess, there was a highly significant difference in anglers’ ability to accurately guess the weights of bass in the two groups. Anglers were much more accurate at guessing weights of bass held at arm’s length but had a slight bias toward overestimating those bass. For bass held close to the body, anglers underestimated those bass by over 1.25 pounds on average. For more details on the study, visit

“It’s now scientifically proven—If you want the best photos of your catch, hold that fish out toward the camera,” said biologist Drew Dutterer, who helped design the study. “If not, it may be impossible to convince your fishing buddies just how big that bass really was!”

The TrophyCatch program has been popular for not only allowing citizen-scientists to contribute their data, which anglers report is their primary reason for submitting catches, but because industry partners such as Bass Pro Shops provide rewards for participation. To register for TrophyCatch and learn more, visit For more information about the TrophyCatch program, email Laura Rambo at

Bass Are Always Biting Somewhere for Someone

Bass are always biting somewhere for someone on a big lake. The Flint River Bass Club July tournament on Lake Sinclair last Sunday proved this in a big way. In eight hours of fishing, 11 members and guests landed 29 12-inch keeper bass weighing about 61 pounds. There were two five bass limits and one person did not catch a keeper.

Niles Murray blew us all away with five bass weighing 17.08 pounds and his stringer included two identical 4.52 pounders. Lee Hancock placed second with three weighing 8.46 pounds and had big fish with a 4.76 pound largemouth. Doug Acree came in third with fiv weighing 8.39 pounds and Niles’s guest, Otis Budd, came in fourth with four weighing 7.32 pounds.

My day started and ended bad. On the way to the ramp I hit either a hole or something right on the side of the road with my trailer tire. When I got in the boat and Alex started backing me in, I heard the telltale sound of a flat tire. I had not noticed anything wrong until then.

I waited to put the spare on after weigh-in since it is much easier to put it on an empty trailer. Thanks to Doug Acree and Niles Murray for their help, it took only a few minutes. Then Chuck Croft stuck around and pulled me out after I loaded my boat.

In the tournament my start was not good. I missed two hits on a buzzbait, jerking one keeper out of the water all the way to the boat but it came off. Then I caught a keeper on the buzzbati between two docks. There seemed to be no reason for the fish to be where it was.

I noticed some mayflies and started fishing around them but caught only bream. I finally caught a second keeper at 9:00 on a shaky head worm near some brush, then with an hour left to fish caught my third one on a floating worm in grass. My three weighed 3.46 pounds and was good for sixth place, not the day I wanted.

New Georgia Hickory Shad State Record

New Georgia Hickory Shad Record

SWAINSBORO, Ga. (February 9, 2021) – A day of fishing is good, but you know what makes it even better? A day you catch a new state record! Christian Blake Jones of Swainsboro, GA was out targeting crappie when he reeled in this new state record hickory shad. His catch, caught on the Ogeechee River (Emanuel County), weighed 2 lb, 3 oz, and broke a 25 year old record (1 lb, 15 oz caught in 1995), according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division (WRD).

“It is beyond exciting to hear about a new state record, and it emphasizes the fantastic fishing opportunities found in Georgia,” says Scott Robinson, Assistant Chief of Fisheries for the Wildlife Resources Division.  “Who will catch the next one? It might be you – but you have to get outdoors and Go Fish Georgia!”

Hickory shad (Alosa mediocris) are gray or green above with a silvery side, large prominent scales, a horizontal row of dark spots behind the gill cover, and a deeply forked tail. They are most similar to American shad and blueback herring, which have a lower jaw that is equal or only slightly projecting beyond the upper jaw. Gizzard and threadfin shad both have an elongated ray in the dorsal fin.

Both Hickory and American shad are anadromous species that spend most of their life in the Atlantic Ocean, and then return to their natal rivers to spawn once they reach sexual maturity. In Georgia, the shad spawning run usually begins in January in the southern rivers and fish can be found until May below the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam near Augusta. American and hickory shad are commercially harvested in the Altamaha and Savannah rivers. However, these fish can also be targeted by anglers utilizing recreational fishing gear in any of Georgia’s coastal rivers and are primarily caught on artificial lures, such as curl tail grubs. The Ogeechee River near the US Highway 80 Bridge and near the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam on the Savannah River are two of the more popular areas to target shad with recreational tackle. Are you a recreational hook and line angler that targets shad? WRD would love to know! Reach out to our office at 912-285-6094 and share your experiences.

Georgia anglers support fisheries conservation! Did you know that your license purchase allows Georgia WRD to continue to do important research, maintain and operate public fishing areas and more? Purchase a Georgia license at

For fishing tips, be sure to check out the weekly Fishing Blog post at

Information about state-record fish, including an application and rules, can be found at or in the current Sport Fishing Regulations Guidebook.

What Are Cicadas?

You may hear a humming sound when near woods this spring and early summer.  What is often called locusts locally are actually cicadas and there are a variety of them.  Some come out of the ground and transform into adults every year, other groups emerge every five, seven, 13 and 17 years. 

   The most talked about are the “17-year locusts,” a big group that comes out every 17 years in huge numbers and are named “Brood IX.” This year as many as 1.5 million adults may emerge per acre in some areas.   

Female Cicadas lay their eggs on woody parts of trees and bushes. When the eggs hatch, the nymphs go into the ground and grow, eating plant roots. They grow for the years for their species, emerge from the ground, then climb up a tree or bush a few feet and come out of their shell, developing wings.

Males “sing” by rubbing membranes on their body making the sound we hear that attracts females.  After they mate, the cycle starts over.   

My grandfather died when I was six years old, but I vaguely remember his small farm.  A tiny field was surrounded by pine trees, and whenever I visited, I would go out there and find Cicada husks clinging to the bark and collect them.  Sometimes I found a one or two, other times dozens.   

I have found the husks around Griffin, too.  At the hunting club and on my land, if I look carefully, I can find them.  The light brown husks are hard to see on the bark but they do stick out a little to help spot them.   

A few years ago I was fishing Lake Sinclair and we could hear the Cicadas singing in the woods. The surface of the water was covered with dead bugs. Their bodies were reddish brown and were everywhere.   

After fishing about three hours without a bite, I finally decided to “match the hatch” and tied on a red worm.  I immediately started catching bass. The bass were feeding on the dead Cicadas that had died in the water and fell to the bottom and were so focused on that food source any other color did not attract them.   

Carp are usually hard to catch on artificial bait, but during the Cicada hatch they come to the top and eat floating bugs.  You can tie a fly that looks like the dead Cicada and catch them on a fly rod, about the only time you can do that.   

This year the reason there are so many Cicadas is the 13 and 17 Cicadas cycles are matching, so both groups are coming out at the same time.   

Listen for the humming sound and know that is just one of amazing parts of nature’s life cycle.

Fiddle Earthworms

Fiddle Your Way to Fresh Bait
Fishing for food to avoid going to the store? Try fiddling up some live worms, suggests Arkansas GFC.
from The Fishing Wire

LITTLE ROCK – Going fishing doesn’t have to mean expensive equipment. It simply takes a hook, some fishing line and some sort of bait. You could dig around in the refrigerator for food-type baits, or make the bait-gathering duty an adventure in itself by gathering worms from the wild.

Earthworms are excellent live bait for catfish, bream, bass and even an occasional crappie. And handling a nightcrawler or two will definitely prevent you from getting your hands near your face before washing them.

One technique to stock up on some nightcrawlers is to break out a fiddle. “Earthworm fiddling,” “worm charming,” and “worm grunting” all refer to an interesting practice some anglers have been using for centuries to get earthworms to come to the surface and show themselves.

Simply take a stick that has notches cut along its length and push it into the ground. Then rub another stick along its length to create vibrations.

Kids who got stuck with “sticks” in music class when all the cool instruments were already handed out will know exactly what sound this makes. The vibrations will bring the worms to the surface to dance, where you can be ready to pick them up and place them in your bait bucket. OK, the worms aren’t dancing. They’re actually moving out of the ground to avoid predators.

The famed geneticist Charles Darwin theorized, “If the ground is beaten or otherwise made to tremble, worms will believe that they are pursued by a mole and leave their burrows.”

A study conducted by Vanderbilt University biological sciences professor Ken Catania in 2008 confirmed Darwin’s theory. The study, held in northern Florida, where the practice of worm grunting was extremely popular, recorded the sounds of real moles digging versus worm grunters and compared their effects on the earthworms habit of springing from the ground when in danger.

Northern Florida has taken the grunting and fiddling practice to a new level. The town of Sopchoppy has even adopted the practice as its calling card, hosting the annual Worm Gruntin’ Festival where young earthworm harvesters compete to see who can coax the most earthworms from the ground with various techniques. It doesn’t have to be two sticks making the vibrations, either.

An old broom handle driven into the ground rubbed with a hand saw can produce the low vibrations needed. Two lengths of rebar also can be used to charm up some nightcrawlers for bait. Whatever you use, be sure to keep an eye on the ground for several feet around the fiddling tools and be ready to grab the worms before they can burrow back into the ground.

Naturally, you want to do this fiddling where worms are likely to be. Extremely hard ground or sandy soil is not likely to have worms. Try under trees or in areas where the ground is fertile with lots of deteriorating vegetation. Watering the lawn heavily ahead of time can help. Rake a spot so the ground is bare, then go to fiddling. It may take some effort to figure out your technique, but it will keep you stocked with bait throughout your fishing adventures. 

Repair Broken Fishing Rod

Darn the Luck of a broken fishing rod!
Gary Giudice
from The Fishing Wire

Oops! Darn the bad luck. So you broke your favorite fishing rod. Now what?

Depending on what’s broken, you have options to fix it. Some options are good, some not so much. A simple broken tip is one thing but slamming a rod in a car door is entirely another.

If a tip is broken with very little of the rod involved you are in luck. Most tackle shops and even box stores sell top guides and rod tip repair kits. It is possible you might be able to use the original guide that’s dangling on the line.

To remove the original guide, take a cigarette lighter, slowly heat it up and slip it off the damaged tip. You might have to use a pair of pliers to avoid burning your fingers.

To replace it first inspect the end of the rod and make sure it is a clean break without splinters running down the shaft of the rod. Make sure the repair kit guide is the right size then glue it on using the included glue. Typically it is melted with a lighter. If you are using the original guide and opt not to buy a repair kit, a high temp glue stick will work.

If too much of the tip is broken off or by chance you break it mid-way it’s a much bigger problem. It is important to note that even a small repair can significantly change the action. To fix a mid break you can take a section of an old scrap rod and make an internal slice, cut a section that fits inside both sides of the break on the rod you are repairing; slip both sides over the break and glue in place, but this rarely works well even when professionally done.

Sometimes it’s best to just scrap the broken rod for parts and be done with it, which is extremely painful for our favorite or premium rods.

The best way to avoid fixing a rod is to prevent breaking it in the first place. Most all rods are broken going to and from your favorite fishing area and not while fishing. The best solution to prevent damage is to transport it properly.

Even if you break a rod on a monster fish chances are it was damaged before the first cast. The old adage “That fish was so big it broke my rod!” doesn’t hold up under scrutiny.Rod protection during travel is easy when using a Rod Vault ST ( Designed to fit on most vehicles’ roof racks; rods are stored, locked up and protected from banging around and slamming car doors. They will be also be ready and rigged upon arrival at the water and back home again. Many anglers just leave rods in the Rod Vault ST all the time rigged and ready to fish at a moments notice.

Don’t be that guy that is always breaking rods and blaming it on someone or something else. With proper care fishing rods should last a lifetime.

New Illinois State Record Smallmouth

New Illinois State Record Smallmouth Bass Gobbles Z-Man® Ned Rig 
Downtown Chicago waterfront serves up 7-pound 3-ounce whopper — and it’s still swimming
Press Release:

Ladson, SC (October 23, 2019) – Most of Chicago’s 2.7-million residents were fast asleep. But for avid angler Joe Capilupo, the night of Monday, October 14 provided the perfect opportunity to cast for Lake Michigan smallmouth bass. The payoff, as it turned out, would more than justify a little loss of shut-eye.

Working their usual Chi-town fishing turf, Capilupo and two friends had cast and moseyed their way from the Shedd Aquarium, south toward Buckingham Fountain without much action. Twenty minutes before 11pm, a police officer strolled by to remind the anglers the Monroe Harbor lakefront park would soon be closing.

At 10:50pm, Capilupo felt something crack his Ned rig. “Soon as I set the hook, the fish started pulling really hard, stripping drag,” recalls Capilupo, a Cook county corrections officer. “Figured I had probably hooked a drum or maybe a bigger bass.” Darkness prevented Capilupo from getting a good look at the fish until he worked it slightly closer to shore.

“When the fish finally flashed in the water, I thought, my gosh, I’ve got a huge smallmouth bass!  But even then, I figured it couldn’t have gone more than 5-pounds, which had been my goal for several years.“I reached for the net and hollered for my buddies Jonny Pitelka and Myles Cooke to come over and help.” 
New Illinois Smallmouth Record
As Capilupo stretched out to maneuver the smallmouth bass into his net, the fish woke up and tail-walked clear of the water. “It was an incredible jump, but it kind of gave me a heart attack,” he laughed. Fortunately for the LeGrange, Illinois angler, the big bass’ head-shake didn’t dislodge the Z-Man jig and Finesse TRD from its jaw.

“When we finally got the fish to shore, I got a better look at her and thought she might go 6 (pounds). The bass was so big my buddies actually had to help me lift it up.”After a handheld scale displayed a weight of 7-pounds 5-ounces, the anglers realized the smallmouth bass might eclipse the state record. Capilupo and friends started dialing friends, outdoor writers, Illinois fisheries officials or anyone who might help register the bass on a certified scale.

“We couldn’t reach anyone at first. Nobody believed us, so I went on social media and someone told us to go to nearby Henry’s Sports and Bait. Meanwhile, another friend had brought big garbage bags which we filled with water. My mom delivered a large cooler and another buddy had returned from Wal-Mart with an aerator. We stayed up all night and made sure the fish stayed in the water and regained its strength.“Eventually, a co-owner and store employee met us at Henry’s,” noted Capilupo. “Their reaction was incredible; they were blown away by the fish, and helped us really take good care of it in one of their special bait tanks.” 
By 1:30pm on Tuesday, the bass had at last been certified by a Department of Natural Resources biologist. Officially, the bass weighed 7-pounds 3-ounces, measuring 22-1/4-inches in length and 16-1/2-inches in girth. The previous Illinois state record smallmouth weighed 6-pounds 7-ounces, caught in 1985.

Recalling some of the misfortunes he faced earlier that Monday, Capilupo said his favorite St. Croix rod had gone overboard while kayak fishing. Somehow, his friend Pitelka managed to snag and save the outfit—a St. Croix Mojo Bass rod and Daiwa Legalis reel. “It just didn’t feel like my day,” recalls Capilupo, who had up until his big bite, landed only a small rock bass. “I’d also lost A 15-incher (bass) and had a good-sized drum break my hook. It was an old, rusty hook and I should have switched out.

”Ultimately, having tied on a fresh 1/5-ounce Z-Man Ned Rig jighead onto which he threaded his favorite bass bait— a California Craw pattern Finesse TRD— Capilupo made the cast that reversed his fortune. “The Z-Man Ned rig is really the only bait we throw for smallmouths,” he said. “It’s our go-to, never-fail bait, for sure.”

Capilupo described the fateful cast, which occurred not far from the Shedd Aquarium. “I had just put on a new California Craw TRD and cast out about 20 feet. That longer 7-foot 1-inch St. Croix is the perfect rod for shorecasting. I let the lure drop to the bottom and gave it a little twitch. I picture the retrieve as a frog hopping. Right after that first hop, I felt a big jarring hit and set the hook.”
More than twenty-four hours later, the trio of anglers huddled in Henry’s back-rooms to discuss the planned release of their prized smallmouth bass. As Henry’s Sports and Bait co-owner Tom Palmisano told Chicago Sun Times outdoor columnist Dale Bowman, “He (Capilupo) is one of the classiest fishermen in the world. His buddy was sitting in the back of my store, tending to the fish like a newborn baby on its way home from the hospital. I can’t think of a happier moment in my years in the business.”

“We knew we wanted to release the bass back into Lake Michigan,” noted Capilupo. “And there’s no question, the bass was in beautiful shape when we did.“Back into Lake Michigan, she goes,” Capilupo recited in a YouTube video documenting the release. “Thanks buddy. Great fight. Great fish. Seven pounds 3 ounces. Smallmouth bass.”