Category Archives: Fishing Tackle

Rods and reels to live bait


from The Fishing Wire

New state record northern pike caught in North Idaho: 40.76 pounds!

On March 21, 2023, Hayden Lake in North Idaho produced a new certified state record northern pike. The record fish weighed a whopping 40.76 pounds, was 49 inches in length and 26.5 inches in girth – a true monster of a fish!
Certified state record northern pike caught in Hayden Lake, Idaho.

The record was previously held by a fish that was also caught in North Idaho, in Lower Twin Lake. The fish, caught in 2010, weighed 40.13 pounds, was 50.75 inches long and 22.75 inches in girth.

The Story

Thomas Francis is an avid northern pike angler and has been for some time.

“Pike is what I go after all the time. I spend almost everyday fishing for pike. As soon as the ice is off and until it comes back,“ Francis said.

Despite being an avid pike fisherman, nothing could have prepared him for the fish that would later latch on to the end of his line and lay claim to the Idaho state record.

Fancis‘ day of fishing on Hayden Lake started like any other – same gear, same approach and same goal, to catch big pike.

When he got to the lake that day, there was still some ice on the lake, so he couldn’t cast right up to the shore, only to the edge of the ice.

“When my lure hit the water, I let it sink all the way to the bottom. As soon as my lure hit the bottom, I felt her hit. I fish with 80 pound-test line, and she almost immediately started peeling drag, a lot of it,“ said Francis.

Francis said he almost immediately knew this was a big fish.

“She pinned herself to the bottom and just kept going, peeling drag the whole time. I knew that wasn’t normal, and I could tell it was something special.“

After peeling drag for a while, the behemoth changed her tactics.

“Suddenly I got slack line, as she was coming straight up from the bottom. She came flying out of the water, and it was obvious she was a huge fish,“ recalled Francis.

When he finally landed her, Francis said he knew she was going to be a state record fish, or at least a close contender.
State record northern pike caught in Hayden Lake, Idaho.

“I immediately headed for the dock to try and find a boat with a scale and tape measure. We found a boat with a scale, and the fish pegged the scale out at 30 pounds, so we knew we needed to find a bigger scale.“

After visiting a few different places to find a certified scale, they finally received a certified weight of 40.76 pounds, a new state record.

When asked what he thinks about pike fishing in North Idaho, Francis said, “I like having pike around; they are the biggest fish we can go after here in North Idaho, and I fish for them almost everyday.“

AFTCO Solpro Fishing Gloves Review

    For years I searched for gloves I could wear while fishing.  I have dozens of pairs on which I spent way too much money and wore once.  None allowed me to feel the bites, cast both bait caster and spinning reel, protect me from sun in summer and stay warm in winter.

    At the Georgia Outdoor Writers Association meeting this past spring our “goody” bag included a pair of AFTCO Solpro fishing gloves. I thought the size was marked wrong, the XXL looked way too small for my hands.  But I struggled and got them on, and they “fit like a glove!”

    They are snug on my hands, but that helps feel the rod and reel while fishing.  The fingertips are cut out as are the palms, giving me good skin contact with line, rod and reel.  And they have protected my hands from sunburn this spring and my hands have not gotten hot while wearing them, either.

    I did not think they would be very warm in the winter and I am not sure they will be. But when I pick up a cold can of Diet Rite Cola I feel the cold on my palm and fingertips but not where the glove material is between my hand and the can.  I hope that means they will be warm.

    The tight gloves are hard to get on and I have to be careful to get my fingers headed in the right direction, but it gets easier each time I put them on.  I put them on each morning when the sun starts to get warm. 

With them and a gaiter, a simple tube of sun block stretchable cloth that goes over my head and covers my ears, neck and most of my face, I am well protected without putting on sunscreen except on the tip of my nose.  The gaiter was given to me when I attended a Bassmasters Classic as a media observer a few years ago.

Just my luck, when I went to the company site apparently the Solpro gloves are no longer available. That is probably why they were given to us, they are discontinued. It looks like they have been replaced with a “Solago” named glove.  It looks the same in pictures.

The Solago sun gloves sell for $29.00.  I am ordering a spare pair, but was disappointed when shipping cost $9.99, over a third of the cost of the gloves!  They did offer a free gaiter with my first order, though. 

And after I got home from my trip, Linda asked if I thought to check Amazon. I had not, they were the same price but shipping was free if you are a Prime member. I could have saved $10 if I had not been in such a hurry!

Minnkota Trolling Motor Review

Blueback Herring Have Changed Spring Fishing At Clark Hill

And on other herring lakes like Lake Hartwell

Bass were feeding on herring or gizzard shad spawning on a rocky point last April when I won a club tournament. I caught every fish I weighed in except one by 8:30 each morning.  Several hit a spinnerbait, the others hit an underspin lure.

    For years at Clarks Hill after the spawn bass hung around back in coves and pockets feeding where they had bedded.  I remember daddy and two other men going around the back of a creek with Hula Popper and hooking big bass one morning.

    They would not let us kids back there with them, we were too noisy!  Four of us were in a bigger ski boat that we had pulled their jon boat to the creek from the boat ramp.  We were near the mouth of the cove, trying to paddle it and fish.

    I tried to make a long cast to a button bush in the water with my Devil’s Horse topwater plug but it went way off target. As I reeled it in as fast as I could turn the handle on my Mitchell 300 Spinning reel, a huge bass attacked the plug.

    Somehow we managed to land that seven pound largemouth. It was by far the biggest bass I had ever caught when I was 15 years old.  For days we talked about that bass being crazy chasing down that lure skipping across the top of the water. Everybody knew you fished slowly for bass!

    Now we know you can not reel a lure faster than a bass can chase it down, and often very fast moving lures will attract bites when nothing else will.  Buzzbaits were invented for that kind of fishing. I just wish I had been smart enough to figure that out back then and invent them!

    I caught many bass at Clarks Hill in the 1970s and early 1980s fishing back in coves and creeks in April. Then the blueback herring population exploded in the lake and changed everything.

    Bass love the herring.  They are big with an average size of about seven inches so they are a big meal to fill a bass fast. And they are very rich in oils and protein, perfect for bass recovering from the spawn.

    Herring are an open water fish, living on the main lake where it is deep.  When the herring spawn they go to shallow gravel and rock areas on the main lake and are easy for bass to catch and eat.

    It seems all the bass have learned that and almost[RG1]  all of them will head to open water as soon as they spawn in April to eat herring.  It has changed the way I fish on herring lakes like Clarks Hill. 


Minn Kota Ultrex Trolling Motor Review

I bought a Minn Kota Ulterra self stow trolling motor a few years ago and hated it and all the problems I had with it. So I bought a Minn Kota Ultrex trolling motor that is manual stow and deploy. It is bad on my back but it has been reliable and I have had no problems with it until recently.

At an Oconee tournament, the steel pull cable broke when trying to deploy the motor. A grove had been worn in the cast aluminum block the cable passes through and had cut the cable

groove in my Minn Kota Ultrex that cut my pull cable

I replaced the cable but it stuck some in the groove and would get cut again so i contacted |Minn Kota. here is part of their response: Hello Ronnie,

this is normal wear from the stow/deploy cable. There is not a way to make this stronger and if it is getting bothersome to the operation of the feature, it can be changed out with part number 2992333 which can be ordered online.

So they know this is a problem, say it can’t be fixed and offered to sell me a replacement block that is the same as the one damaged.

I checked online and found this aftermarket part that seems to solve the problem for about $25. They were very prompt, i received the sleeve in two days!

It was fairly easy to install and i posted on the Minn Kota Owners web page to try to be helpful, several folk there said they had the same problem, but the keyboard warriors told me I did it wrong, even after I posted a link to the installation video on the designer manufacturer’s website showing I did it like they instructed.

Bottom line, I am disgusted with Minn Kota. They know about a problem with their $2500 plus motors that looks like it can be solved with a $25 aftermarket part, but they will not add this to their design. They probably could buy a stainless steel sleeve and put it on when the motor is built for much less than $20.

KastKing Baitcasting Reel Review

KastKing Reel Review

Model MegaJaws Elite Dark Galaxy 7.2 Right Handed

$129.99 plus tax

I heard about KastKing rods and reels through James “LJ” Harmon and his comments about it convinced me to try one.  I had ordered two of my favorite rods, St. Croix Avid series, when they closed out that series and put them on sale.  I wanted a reel that would cast fairly light baits and skip them, at a reasonable price.

I rigged the reel on a medium heavy fast seven-foot St Croix, spooled up with 15-pound Sunline Sniper fluorocarbon and tied on a 3/16 ounce Strike King Bitsy Flip with a Zoom Creepy Crawler trailer.

My first cast, with no reel adjustments, produced a backlash. But as soon as I adjusted the anti-backlash a little the next cast was long and smooth.  I could cast that bait farther than a quarter-ounce jig and the same trailer, same rod and same line, but with a Johnny Morris Signature series Reel that costs $169.00 when I bought it five years ago, so that reel has seen a lot of action.

I landed a three-pound Lanier spot and a 2.14-pound Lanier Spot on my first trip with the reel, and it performed well. No problems at all.

Although I did not catch a fish big enough to strip drag, it felt smooth and even when setting it.

No problems so far but no idea how this reel will hold up to heavy use.  I will update it after using it for a while.

For its price, it is a very good deal and I will buy another when I need a new reel.

KastKing has a wide variety of reels at different prices.  One should fit your needs but remember you usually get what you pay for, so do not expect a $50 reel to perform and last like a $150 reel and that one won’t be like a $300 reel.

They also have a line of rods, line, tackle and clothes.

Use LJs code LJTENDISC for a 10% discount

Disclaimer: I got LJ’s discount when buying this reel.



St. Croix Returns as Title Sponsor of 2023 Bassmaster Opens Series

PARK FALLS, Wis. – B.A.S.S. and St. Croix Rod, handcrafters of the Best Rods on Earth® for 75 years, are pleased to announce that St. Croix will return as title sponsor for the 2023 Bassmaster Opens Series. In addition to the title sponsorship, St. Croix will extend additional support to anglers through the St. Croix Rods Rewards Program.

Eugene Kim of Lindenhurst, Illinois caught 16-0 to top a talent-stacked field of 135 competitors in the Co-Angler division at last season’s 2022 St. Croix Bassmaster Open at Chesapeake Bay. In addition to valuable Open Series points and a significant cash prize, Kim took home $500 in St. Croix Rewards for winning the event while fishing St. Croix Rods.

New Format, New Opportunities

The St. Croix Bassmaster Opens presented by Mossy Oak Fishing have grown exponentially in popularity over the past few years. But the buzz has never been louder than it’s been since the announcement of the new Opens EQ (Elite Qualifiers) format last July, as well as the announcement of where all of the excitement will take place in 2023.

There will be nine Opens in the 2023 season — three each in three divisions — covering eight states from March into late October. Anglers fishing all nine events will be vying for an invitation to the Bassmaster Elite Series. The Top 9 anglers in the Bassmaster Opens Elite Qualifiers standings will earn an invitation to join the prestigious Bassmaster Elite Series in 2024. Individual event winners — including those who only fish one, three-event division — will be eligible for a berth in the 2024 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic.

“We’re so excited about this new format,” said Executive Director of Tournaments Hank Weldon, who oversees the Bassmaster Opens. “With the Opens EQ format, there is a clear path forward for those who want to make fishing a full-time career and prepare as much as possible while progressing toward the Elites. Those anglers’ abilities will be tested throughout the year on a variety of fisheries and prepare them for the cross-country rigors of the Elite Series. At the same time, those who only fish three events in one division will still be fishing for a dream chance to compete in the Bassmaster Classic.”

2023 St. Croix Bassmaster Opens Schedule

Division 1
March 2-4, Lake Eufaula, Eufaula, Alabama
May 18-20, Wheeler Lake, Decatur, Alabama
Oct. 12-14, Harris Chain of Lakes, Leesburg, Florida

Division 2
April 13-15, Toledo Bend, Many, Louisiana
June 15-17, Lake Eufaula, Eufaula, Oklahoma
Sept. 21-23, Lake of the Ozarks, Osage, Missouri

Division 3
May 3-5, Buggs Island Reservoir, Clarksville, Virginia
July 20-22, St. Lawrence River, Waddington, New York
Sept. 13-15, Watts Bar Reservoir, Kingston, Tennessee

St. Croix Rewards Program

The St. Croix Rod Rewards Program pays an extra $1,000 to any registered pro angler who wins a St. Croix Bassmaster Open tournament fishing St. Croix rods, or $500 to the highest-finishing registered top-10 pro angler fishing St. Croix rods.

Similarly, the program awards an extra $500 to any registered co-angler who wins a St. Croix Bassmaster Open tournament fishing St. Croix rods, or $250 to the highest-finishing registered top-10 co-angler fishing St. Croix rods.

Anglers must register during the on-site registration prior to the tournament to be eligible to win St. Croix Rewards.

James Nealy of Yale, Virginia, won the co-angler division at last season’s St. Croix Bassmaster Northern Open at James River with a two-day total of 26-14. Nealy took home the $25,183 top prize along with the $250 Phoenix Boats Big Bass Award and $500 in St. Croix Rod Rewards for being the highest-finishing co-angler fishing St. Croix Rods.

“We’re pleased and grateful to welcome St. Croix back for their second consecutive year as title sponsor for the Opens,” Weldon says. “St. Croix’s continued partnership with B.A.S.S. is proof of their commitment to anglers at every level.”

St. Croix Vice President of Marketing, Jesse Simpkins, says the Bassmaster Opens Series represents an incredible opportunity for bass anglers aspiring to compete on the biggest stage. “The Opens provide a realistic pathway for tournament anglers to prove that they can compete with the very best,” Simpkins says. “It’s the training and proving grounds for the next generation of Elite Series anglers and Bassmaster Classic Champions. We couldn’t be happier to extend our support to this arena while increasing awareness of our brand, our rods, and all the ways our team works every day to give anglers the upper hand on the water.”

Follow all of the action of the 2023 St. Croix Bassmaster Opens Series at

About St. Croix Rod

Headquartered in Park Falls, Wisconsin, St. Croix has been proudly producing the “Best Rods on Earth” for nearly 75 years. Combining state-of-the-art manufacturing processes with skilled craftsmanship, St. Croix is the only major producer to still build rods entirely from design through manufacturing. The company remains family-owned and operates duplicate manufacturing facilities in Park Falls and Fresnillo, Mexico. With popular trademarked series such as Legend®, Legend Xtreme®, Victory Avid®, Premier®, RIFT, Imperial®, Triumph® and Mojo, St. Croix is revered by all types of anglers from around the world.

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

with Nick Roberson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



from The Fishing Wire

Winning Tactics for Plus-Sized Panfish

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


Plus-Sized ‘Gills

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

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

Finding Bulls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, when do you fish what?

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

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

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

ABOUT Northland® Fishing Tackle

In 1975, a young Northwoods fishing guide named John Peterson started pouring jigs and tying tackle for his clients in a small remote cabin in northern Minnesota. The lures were innovative, made with high quality components, and most importantly, were catching fish when no other baits were working! Word spread like wildfire, the phone started ringing… and the Northland Fishing Tackle® brand was in hot demand! For 40 years now, John and the Northland® team have been designing, testing and perfecting an exclusive line of products that catch fish like no other brand on the market today. Manufactured in the heart of Minnesota’s finest fishing waters, Northland® is one of the country’s leading producers of premium quality jigs, live bait rigs, spinnerbaits and spoons for crappies, bluegills, perch, walleyes, bass, trout, northern pike and muskies.

St. Croix Avid Rod Review

UPDATE – St Croix has discontinued the Avid series – my favorite – but they have a great closeout sale on them – two I ordered arrived today!!  They are at a $90 discount right now if any are left

Fishermen have their favorite rods; it is largely a matter of personal preferences. My favorites are St. Croix Rods. They have a model for any fishing need, and I have several in different models, weights and actions.

I won a St. Croix rod at a tournament in Wisconsin back in the early 1990s and fell in love with it. The Avid model seven-foot, medium weight, fast action is the best all-around rod I use. It works well for topwater baits, crankbaits and spinnerbaits. I also use it successfully for small swim baits and underspins.

The next year I bought two more Avids but didn’t pay careful attention and ordered the medium heavy weigh, a lucky accident. I used them for throwing the shaky head and small jig and pig and they were perfect. I seldom lost a fish on any of my three rods.

I broke the first rod and St. Croix replaced it under warranty for $50. They did not even ask how I broke a two-year old rod, but I am sure I hit it on the side of the boat working a topwater plug based on where it broke, cracking it.

I managed to lose one of the second two I bought, a whole nother story of my stupidity, and ordered two more of the medium action. Since I was mostly fishing shaky heads and small jigs, one of them was dedicated to the small jigs.

After losing several fish on the jig, I quit throwing it for a time. I finally realized all the fish I lost were on the medium action and had not lost fish on the medium heavy rod fishing a shaky head, I ordered another medium heavy action a few months ago. Since then I have not lost a fish on the jig, including a 4 pounder at Guntersville and many other keeper fish.

Rod weight makes a difference! The slightly heavier weight helps set the hook on the jig and shaky head where the lighter weight is fine for other baits. I fish both shaky head and small jigs on those two rods every tournament now and use the medium weight for most of my other baits.

I also have a Mojo Crankbait rod and it is perfect for casting big crankbaits, and small ones for that matter. Jamie Koza, owner of The Dugout Tackle shop in Atlanta and well-known tournament fisherman, told me it is the best crankbait rod he has ever used.

St Croix rods are not cheap but are all quality rods with a great warranty. But they make a series for most any budget, from their Bass X at about $100 to the very top end Legend Family, made for the deadly serious bass fisherman, at around $420. The Avid Family model I love is about $180 – second only to the Legend, and their Mojo Family is about $130. Their Premier series is about $120.

St Croix makes quality spinning and casting in all the above models and have models for saltwater, salmon, fly and even ice fishing. I have a St Croix Premier spinning rod and five Avid casting rods and the Mojo now and have ordered a Legend jig rod – just gotta try it out.

Disclaimer – I get a discount from St. Croix but would never use so many of them – at any price – if they did not work for me. I would recommend any fisherman try the St Croix rods in the model and action that they like.