Category Archives: Fishing Tackle

Rods and reels to live bait

Purging Fishing Equipment

Fishermen, especially bass fishermen, can never have enough equipment. Anytime anything new hits the market, we buy it.  If we don’t have a bait a professional fisherman uses to win a big tournament, you can bet that bait will soon be in our tackle box.   

Walk into Berrys Sporting Goods and you will be dazzled by the colors and variety of bass baits. Crankbaits look like little fish but come in colors Mother Nature never dreamed possible.  Spinnerbaits look like wire contraptions with spinners on one arm, lead head and skirt on the other and do not look like anything in nature.  And many baits look like nothing on earth.   

My “tackle box” is a 20-foot bass boat with six storage compartments, several of them big enough for me to get inside and close the lid. And they are all full of rods and lures.  

  Every few years I try to simplify my fishing, taking rods, lures and worms that I have not used in a couple of years out of the boat.  Boxes of those unused lures line my garage wall after a purge, but somehow seem to make their way back into the boat over the next few months, just in case I want to try them.    

Preparing for a tournament, I usually rig about 21 rods with baits.  Up front on one side of the casting platform I have seven rigged with baits I plan to use, based on time of year we are fishing. On the other side I have seven more rigged with baits I might use.  On the back, if I do not have a partner, I have seven more just-in-case baits.   

In a typical tournament I use four or five of the ones I plan on using, usually during the first hour.  Then I settle down and stick with one or two, usually a jig and a shaky head.  Normally I never pick up any of the other rods I have ready.   

I’m trying to simplify again. I basically have two color worms I use on my shaky head, and I have a dozen 20 packs of each color so I won’t run out. I am taking out the 30 two-gallon zip loc bags filled with colors I have not used in the past year.   

With the jig and pig, I again use two colors of jigs and two colors of matching trailers.  I don’t need the 25 other colors of both!   

There are crankbaits in my boat I bought back in the 1970s and have been moved from boat to boat nine times, but probably not tied on a line in 40 years.  The two-gallon bags of “spare” spinnerbaits have been unused so long their skirts are gummy and hooks are rusty.  No point in carrying them.  

  Even after I finish getting rid of all the unnecessary junk, my boat will still be full. And no doubt things will somehow move back in to my boat during the year, never used and purged again at some future date.

Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act


House Passes Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act
By Jesse Allen
from The Fishing Wire

Fishing—in particular flyfishing—has inspired me to travel the world, ostensibly to pursue species commonly targeted with fly and light tackle such as bonefish, tarpon and permit. Like most anglers, it’s the encounters with exotic ecosystems and the wildlife they produce that inspires me to explore, rod in hand.

The most unforgettable encounter of my fishing career took place not far from home, in the blue wilderness called the Gulf of Mexico off southeast Texas. It’s an area I fish regularly for a variety of species. On that trip, I targeted sharks. That trip inspired an appreciation for apex predators and the reasons to protect them.

In 2005 Capt. Brandon Shuler guided me to a seamount that rises from about 300 feet to 80 feet of water southeast of Port Mansfield. Massive schools of forage fish, menhaden and pilchards, dappled the calm, green water as they circled the structure, attracting myriad predators to the surface. False albacore and blackfin tunas blitzed through the bait. Amberjacks ambushed from the cover of the reef below. But the sharks were the real “lions” of this watery domain. Thousands of them had aggregated over that reef, presumably to gorge themselves on the bait and gather energy for the rigors of their springtime mating.

I was so enraptured by the scene that Capt. Brandon had to remind me why we came.“Cast, cast,” he shouted, as the biggest blacktip I’ve ever seen crossed the bow heading right to left. I tossed a greenback streamer to the marauding shark. The fish charged the offering, and I set the hook. Between its spinning, high-flying leaps, the fleeing fish spun off line deep into the backing. But Brandon maneuvered the boat to our collective advantages in ways that put maximum pressure on the shark, which allowed us to land it quickly, without thoroughly exhausting the animal.

We photographed it. Then we took the measurements necessary to use in a formula that closely estimates weight. We felt a rush of excitement and relief as we realized we’d broken a Texas state record, while the shark swam vigorously away. The fish, landed on a 12-weight fly rod and 20-pound tippet, weighed and estimated 110 pounds.

No Hands Clapping

My record hardly made a splash in the news at the time. Media coverage of sharks in Texas typically focuses on Mexican lanchas poaching the animals in U.S. waters to sell in the fin trade—a trade that is an international scourge and blight on marine ecosystems.

Sadly, U.S. fishermen and seafood purveyors are still allowed to participate in an industry that is decimating ocean ecosystems around the world. The legal sale of shark fins by U.S. vendors perpetuates the market, one that encourages illegal fishing and overfishing all over the world. Poorly regulated or unregulated shark fishing can and has caused ecosystems to collapse, along with fishing-based economies.

Essential Predators

Depending on the species, sharks are high-level or apex predators. Their positions at the top of food webs put them in charge of removing the weak and the sick from fish and invertebrate populations lower on the food web, and of keeping the food web in balance. Without sharks, populations of predators lower in the food web can grow out of balance.

On a trip to The Bahamas, a nation that has banned commercial shark fishing to protect its ecosystems and tourism, a biologist-turned-fishing-guide taught me how sharks are essential in keeping jack populations in check. If jacks become overpopulated, they eat too many of the parrotfish and other grazers that clean algae from corals and seagrasses. That’s just one way that sharks protect robust, balanced food webs.

Economics 101

Recreational fishing, especially fishing-related travel, is expensive. I shudder to think what I’ve spent over the years getting myself and my expensive equipment into the world’s most sublime waters. Anglers like me drive the massive boat and tackle industries, as well as coastal economies, around the nation, and around the world. But like most anglers, I’m not going to spend hard-earned money to visit places with badly damaged ecosystems devoid of high-level predators. In fact, it angers me when mismanagement of a fishery or ecosystem undermines my investments in our sport.

There are a couple of ways to ruin coastal and marine ecosystems, and the economies they support. Pollution may be the most recognized and recognizable culprit. But overfishing—especially overfishing of high-level predators—especially in combination with pollution and habitat loss—is a quick course to collapse and economic despair.

According to experts, exports of shark fins generates only about $1 million annually for U.S. purveyors. I would wager that anglers spend at least that much in every shark-fishing destination around the country, in places such as Palm Beach, Florida and the Florida Keys, Louisiana, as well as in southeast Texas and Southern California. That’s not counting the goods and services that living sharks provide ecosystems.

Most shark species are easily overfished. They live a long time and reproduce infrequently, giving live birth to a few offspring every few years. Sadly, we are killing sharks at perilous rates, amid mountains of uncertainty, and in changing ecosystems.

By the numbers

U.S. fisheries managers don’t have adequate stock status data for over 62% of domestic shark stocks. Only 12 out of 64 stocks with data are not experiencing overfishing and are not overfished. That’s alarming. One of the driving factors behind shark mortality is the demand for their fins, which I contend should be eliminated in the United States.

Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act (S. 877)

Shark finning is illegal in U.S. waters. However, fins can be sold as part of the whole shark or detached once the shark is onshore. The import/export trade also results in thousands of pounds of shark fins passing through U.S. ports and ending up in our marketplaces. Many of the fins come from countries with lax or non-existent shark-fishing regulations, including countries that still allow shark finning.

By allowing the sale of shark fins, and supporting illegal and unsustainable shark fishing, the United States besmirches its reputation as a leader in marine conservation. In fact, the very practice of shark finning flies in the face a national conservation ethos evidenced by our stewardship of special ecosystems through national parks, self-imposed excise taxes on recreational fishing gear that benefit wildlife, and massive investments in ecosystem restoration initiatives such as Everglades Restoration.

The Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act (S. 877), which just passed the U.S. House of Representatives, would prohibit the possession, sale and trade of shark fins in the United States. It would not prohibit the sale of shark meat, including the sale of meat from the increasingly popular and prolific spiny dogfish.Now it’s the Senate’s turn: passing the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act into law would go a long way toward protecting sharks, repairing our reputation as conservationists, and protecting domestic and international ecosystems that drive coastal economies. The Senate needs to pass S. 877 now.
Photo by Capt. Scott Hamilton

Great Holiday Deals on St. Croix Rods

Happy Holiday Deals!
Great time to fill your rod locker with
St. Croix Rods
Enjoy the biggest savings of the year on select, retired St. Croix Rod models from December 6th through the 20th
Park Falls, WI (December 3, 2019) – St. Croix anglers are always on the hunt for big fish, but now is the time of year when they are also hunting for big savings. Whether shopping for anglers on your holiday list or taking advantage of the biggest savings of the year to add to your own rod collection, St. Croix Rod has anglers covered with our special two-week Holiday Sales Event, starting this Friday, December 6th and running through the 20th.

It’s our way of saying “Thank You and Happy Holidays” to our passionate angling customers, and a sure-fire way for you to make the anglers on your shopping list smile. The fast-approaching online-only sale will offer incredible savings of up to 60% off a great selection of retired St. Croix rods, plus FREE SHIPPING on orders shipping inside the continental US!

St. Croix’s Holiday Sales Event will run from 7:00 AM CDT on Friday, December 6th through 10:00 PM CDT Friday, December 20th. Shoppers at www.stcroixrods.com/collections/rod-shopper can take 30% off select Legend Surf, Avid Surf and Mojo Musky rods; 40% off select Mojo Bass Glass and Premier Crankbait rods; 50% off Rio Santo fly rods; and a phenomenal 60% off SOLE fly rods and Avid Carp rods!
Freshwater rods, saltwater rods, flyrods… from trout to tarpon, online shoppers will find phenomenal deals on them all. But don’t be late; St. Croix Holiday Sales Event prices are limited to available stock.#CROIXGEARLike the rods? You’ll love our lifestyle apparel. Spend $75 on apparel during the St. Croix Holiday Sales Event and receive a FREE Catch & Release Hat! 
MEET OUR MACHINERYComing to northern Wisconsin? We’d love to meet you, and we’d love for you to have the chance to Meet Our Machinery. Call us at 800.826.7042 or email us at factorytour@stcroixrods.com to schedule a factory tour. Learn more at https://stcroixrods.com/pages/factory-tours.

Christmas Gifts For Fishermen

I try to not think about Christmas until after Thanksgiving, so I guess its time.  I have my two front teeth, so my next choices are fishing equipment. Fishermen are easy to buy gifts for, since we never have enough fishing stuff.

Prices range from a couple dollars to ridiculous amounts.    I think any fisherman would be happy with any of the following.  I know I would since I use all of them and depend on them.  I have everything on this list, but, like any other fanatical bass fisherman, I could always use duplicates!  

  Garmin Panoptix Livescope – If you like knowing what is underwater, the Panoptix system can’t be beat.  It shows structure and cover, but more importantly, fish as they move, their depth, distance from the boat and direction from the boat, much like shining a spotlight underwater.    You can make every cast count and see how the fish react to your bait in real time. Its almost cheating! The first time I was in the boat with one and saw how it worked, I ordered one for my boat as soon as I got home.   

This system is expensive, costing a little under $3000.00 for transducer and sonar unit with a ten inch screen for it.   

St.Croix Avid Rod – The Avid line of rods are good quality for the cost and have a great warranty.  The seven-foot medium fast is good for topwater, crankbaits, spinnerbaits and swimbaits and the medium-heavy fast is perfect for small jigs, Texas rigs and shaky heads.   I use those two actions for almost all my fishing.   

The Avid series of rods are about $180.00. each.    

American Hero Speed Stick rod –  I bought a rod from Berry’s Sporting Goods to replace my heavy jig and worm rod I broke.  When I tested it in the store, it felt good even though it is a seven-foot rod and I really wanted a shorter rod for skipping baits under docks.  The medium heavy, fast action was right, though, and I got it.    After using it several times and catching a few fish on it, I am very happy with it.  It cast half ounce jigs and Texas rigs with a three sixteenths ounce sinker well, exactly what I wanted it for.  I can skip ok with it and it has good sensitivity for feeling bites on those baits.  The seven-foot length gives me good leverage when setting the hook.   

The American Hero Rod I got at Berry’s SportingGoods was a little under $100.00.   

Bass Pro Shop Reels – I get a nice discount from Bass Pro Shops on their branded stuff, so I use their reels.  They are less expensive than many of the same quality and have had good service with them.    The three I use are the Pro Qualifer, Carbonlight and Signature Series. The higher priced reels are a little smoother and cast a little better, but for most of my fishing the cheaper models serve all my needs.  I use the Signature Series for pitching and skipping baits under docks when the higher price makes it worth it.  For everything else, the lower priced reels are fine, and I can pitch and skip with them if needed, I just get a few more backlashes.   

The Pro Qualifer is $80.00, the Carbonlight is $125.00 and the Signature Series is $160.00   

Guidewear – I fish year-round and this time of year it can be miserable on the water if you don’t have proper clothes.  A few years ago I bought a Guidewear suit from Cabellas. The bib pants and jacket have both zipper and Velcro flap closings on all openings.  They are lined and have Goretex for waterproofing.    When suited up with hood up and closed, nothing shows but my eyes, nose and hands.  It is warm and completely waterproof.  I have fished in rain, sleet, wind and temperature in the teens and have been comfortable, except for my hands, even in the worst conditions.  Rubber insulated boots complete the outfit when it rains.   

This outfit is not cheap, at about $275.00 each for bibs and jacket, but worth it if you are out in bad weather.    

 Sunline Shooter fluorocarbon – Fluorocarbon line is important in clear water but works well in stained water, too.  The lighter line is limp enough for spinning reels but 12-pound test and up is best on baitcasters.  It is some of the toughest line I have ever used, strong and abrasion resistant.  If my reel is spooled with fluorocarbon, its Sunline Shooter. It has never failed me.   

A 200-yard spool of this line is about $25.00.   

Trilene monofilament line – Some baits like topwater require monofilament line, and I like Trilene XT Extra Tough line in 12 to 14-pound test. It is very strong, abrasion resistant and cast well on both bait casters and spinning reels.   

At 1000-yard spool of this line, plenty to last a few years, is about $25.00. 

   Rapala DT 6 – The DT series of crankbaits come in a wide range of colors and depth they work. They run true out of the box with no tuning.   The DT 6 is good from fall through Spring for bass feeding in relatively shallow water.  They have no rattles and that helps for spooky, heavily pressured bass. I have one tied on every trip and have caught some of my best limits on them.   

Rapala DT 6 crankbaits cost about $8.00 each.   

JJs Magic – JJs dip and dye quickly colors plastic baits and gives them a strong garlic scent.  It comes in several colors to “match the hatch“ and bass love it.  I never throw a plastic bait without dipping the tails in chartreuse JJs.   

A bottle of JJs Magic cost about $6.00.   

All these things work well for me and I would not want to be without them on a fishing trip.

Where and How to Catch February Allatoona Bass

Allatoona Bass with Carter Koza

Lots of spots and the occasional largemouth feeding on gravel flats and bluff banks. Tournament limits consistently weighing 13 pounds, with some taking 18 pounds to win.  Don’t call Allatoona “The Dead Sea.”

Allatoona is a 12,000-acre Corps of Engineer lake just north of Atlanta on the Etowah River.  It is a small lake with a big drainage area, so the water level is well known for big changes, especially from winter and spring rains.

It can be tough to fish, but the spots there have increased in numbers and size over the past few years.  For a long time it was hard to catch a keeper there, but three pound spots are common now, and most tournaments have multiple limits weighed in. At a January 6 Allatoona Team Trail tournament, it took 18.50 pounds for first. Their big fish was a 4.63 pound largemouth, so all their limit was quality fish.

Carter Koza is a sophomore at Mt. Parran Christian School in Kennesaw and on the fishing team.  He grew up fishing with his dad, Jamie, owner of The Dugout and has learned well.  He started fishing high school tournaments in the eighth grade and won the BASS Nation High School tournament at Eufaula in 2017. He has five top five finishes on that trail.

In 2017 he was Angler of the Year in the points standings on that trail and was runner up last year.  He teams with his sister, Lee Rose Koza and they qualified for the FLW High School National Championship. Fishing is in his DNA.

“In February bass at Allatoona are setting up in early pre-spawn, feeding on gravel flats and bluff banks leading into spawning areas,” Carter said.  He covers those areas looking for active feeding fish.  Stained water helps the bite a lot, and it is usually stained this time of year.  

Carter’s goto bait is a crankbait, but he will also have a Rat-L-Trap, a jig and pig ready to try.  Although he covers water, he does not do a lot of running around, spending time on each area to fish all the good cover carefully.

We fished the following spots in mid-January on the worst possible weather conditions, the first day of a hard cold front after several days of warm rain. But Carter caught nine keepers, including two three-pound spots and one largemouth, in half a day on the water.

1. N 34 08.053 – W 84 39.200 – Across the cove from the Galts Ferry ramp a big flat point has a danger marker way our on it.  This point is between two good spawning creeks and typical of the type flat Carter likes to fish in February.

Start at the pole, there is a lot of brush around it.  Stop a long cast from it and fish a crankbait all around it.  With the water low you will see the tops of many brush piles and they will hold fish even in very shallow water, so always cast to them.

Carter’s favorite crankbait is a Spro RKCrawler and he especially likes the new model 50 in the mudbug color.  It has some chartreuse in it to help the fish see it in stained water.  He cast it on 12 to 15-pound Segar High VizX fluorocarbon line and uses a St. Croix LGC61 medium heavy crankbait rod.

Fish around the pole then into the downstream side of it into the creek, past the Atlanta Yacht Club dock and boat ramp.  Make long casts, keeping your boat in about ten feet of water, and bump the bottom from two to eight feet deep.

Fish all the way into the creek until you are across from the danger marker about half way back on the other side. Then jump over to that side and fish around that marker, the private ramp on that bank and out about 50 yards.  Carter caught a couple of keeper spots on both sides of this creek and lost two or three more that pulled off.

If the weather has been warm and sunny for a few days, warming the water, fish further back on both sides.  Pay attention to the area you get bites in places like this, are the fish hitting out on the points or back in the creek and concentrate on those areas. Warming water will make the fish go further back into the creeks.

2. N 34 07.751 – W 84 37.752 – Run up to the mouth of Kellogg Creek and stop on the right just inside the creek past the first two small coves and the sign.  This bluff bank is a good example of the kinds of bluff banks that hold pre-spawn bass. 

Kellogg Creek is the best creek for finding big schools of baitfish this time of year, a critical factor in catching bass.  And it has many good spawning areas in it.  Fish along this bluff, keeping your boat in close and making angled casts ahead of you to bump the bottom from right on the bank out to eight feet deep or so.

Watch for any change in the rocks, bass like transition areas.  A change in the kind of rock, a small point or a change from big rocks to smaller ones all should be targets of your casts.

3.  N 34 07.749 – W 84 36.579 – A little farther back the creek splits into two arms. The point between them is another good bluff bank with big rocks dropping fast into deep water. Stop just inside this point on the main creek arm that goes to the right and work out and around it.

Carter says you can fish this one point and catch fish all day.  Angle your casts to keep your bait in water where it is bumping bottom most of the cast. Carter says it is critical to be bumping the bottom with your bait to catch fish. 

When you go over an area and catch some fish, go back over it.  Try slowing down with a jig and pig the next pass to catch less active bass. Carter likes a black and blue Chattahoochee Jig in dirty water but goes to a green jig in clearer water. Match your jig color with a Zoom Chunk or Rage Craw.

4. N 34 07.398 – W 84 36.896 – Go to the Kellogg Creek Road bridge back in the main creek. Bridges are always good this time of year, they are choke points for bass moving back and offer a good feeding area.  Carter caught a largemouth and one of his two biggest spots here, both on the RKCrawler, the day we fished.

Fish all the riprap on both sides, keeping your boat in close for angled casts.  The points on both sides, all four corners of them, are key points. Also make a few casts to the pilings when you go under it, running your bait right beside the concrete. 

A trap allows you to vary the depth you fish on them and in other places.  Carter casts a limon one in stained water and chrome in clearer water.  The loud buzz often triggers a bite as you reel it along.

On the upstream side of the bridge fish the boat ramp at Payne Day use area and the state brush pile around the pole in the middle of the creek arm. It gets very shallow fast around this brush with the water down but the brush will hold fish. 

5.  N 34 11.353 – W 84 35.286 – Up the river Sweetwater Creek is on the left just upstream of Little River.  It is another good spawning creek and has good bluff banks on both sides.  Fish both with all your baits, working the inside and outside area of the point and around it. Carter caught his biggest spot of the day on the upstream point when we fished.

Wind blowing across and along these bluff banks, as well as well as the gravel flats, helps the bite. Carter likes to work with the wind since it makes it easier to cast and lets him cover the water faster, as long as it does not move the boat too fast. 

You can go back into Sweetwater Creek and others and fish rocks and blowdowns for largemouth, but you won’t get a lot of bites. For a kicker largemouth, pick apart a blowdown with a jig and pig and bump rocks with it and your crankbait.

6.  N 34 10.440 – W 84 35.731 – The downstream point of Little River is another good bluff bank in February.  There is a good channel swing here where the Little River channel hits the bank.  Bass winter on it since they can move vertically and start feeding more as the days get longer, moving into the river to spawning areas.

Start on the small rock and clay point on the downstream end of the bluff where it opens up into the main Etowah River.  Fish into Little River, casting all three of your baits along the wall.  Bump the bottom with the RKCrawler and run a trap right along the rocks.

When fishing a jig, work it slowly to follow the rocks as they drop. Carter sometimes dips the tails of his trailer in chartreuse JJs Magic for more flash, and spots seem to love chartreuse.  Calm days may make the fish less likely to chase a moving bait so windless days are a good time to try a jig.

7.  N 34 09.814 – W 84 34.958 – Go up Little River to the no wake zone at the bridge.  Stop on the bluff on the right with 2L channel marker on it and fish up that rock wall to the bridge, then fish the bridge riprap.

Sun hitting the riprap here and in Kellogg Creek, and the natural rocks in other places, warms the rocks and raises the water temperature a little, something bass like.  But they may be holding on the shady side, too, so fish both shade and sun on these spots.

8.  N 34 09.107 – W 84 34.347 – On up Little River, Rose Creek enters on the right.  When you get to it, slow down if you don’t know the area well. Mud flats and wood are dangers here and you must follow the channel.

There is a big warning sign on the bank on the right. Just upstream of it, an outside bend of the river makes a good bluff wall. It is not as deep at the ones on the main lake but as the water drops bass move down the river to the deeper water on places like this and concentrates the fish.

Start on the downstream end of this bend and fish up it until it flattens out.  Big rocks are on the bank and under the water that offer the bass feeding and holding cover.  Fish it like the deeper bluff walls, working all three of your baits.  Carter caught a keeper spot here on his crankbait the day we fished.

There are other outside bends like this up the river. All will hold fish but be extremely careful if you go further up, especially if the water is seven feet low like it was when we fished.  If you try to run it and don’t know it, you will run aground.

9. N 34 10.436 – W 84 35.324 – Back out at the mouth of Little River the upstream point is flat with small pockets along it.  Inside the point is a bulkhead wall on the bank. Just downstream of that small wall is a point that has gravel and stumps on it. Other wood cover also washes in and sticks on it. Bass get more active in February on flats like this in the afternoon from the sun.

Start at the wall, keeping your boat in ten feet of water, and work out toward the end of the big point between Little and Etowah Rivers.  This big flat holds lots of pre-spawn bass roaming it feeding.  Make long casts toward the bank and bump the bottom with your crankbait. Work out to the orange sign near the point. When you catch a fish, go back over that area since the bass tend to roam in schools.

10.  N 34 10.064 – W 84 36.785 – Back down on the main lake channel marker 30E is on your left at the Boy Scout Camp.  There is a small ramp on the gravel point the marker is on and it is good one for pre-spawn bass.

Stay out in 10 top 12 feet of water and bump the bottom with your baits.  Be sure to make several casts to the ramp, they hold fish.  Carter got bites on almost every ramp we fished, landing several keepers and losing several more that pulled off.

Fish around this point and the next one, too. Both hold bass that are getting ready to spawn in the pockets between them. Both are typical of gravel flats that are good this time of year, the boat ramp makes it even better.

These places and similar ones all over the lake are holding feeding fish right now and will get better all during the month as the water warms.

You can follow Carter on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/carter.koza.31 to see some of the fish he catches and how he caught them.

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.

Garmin Panoptix Livescope Review

A week ago last Thursday, after two frustrating days of running wires, hooking them up and screwing brackets on my boat, I got my Garmin Panoptix Livescope unit hooked up.  Part of the frustration was with the installation instructions with the unit. I kept having to stop and watch videos to try to figure out what to do.

    I thought maybe the confusion was just me, but several of the folks showing how to do it in the videos said they agreed, the instructions were terrible.

    Even though that Friday was rainy and cold, I just had to go to Jackson and see if I had it hooked up right and how it worked.  Although I had watched the system in action on Brent Crow’s boat, he has been using the Panoptix for three years and knows what he is doing. I was afraid the unit set-up would be as confusing as the installation, but it was very user friendly and simple.

    After launching the boat I idled to a point, turned on the unit and dropped the trolling motor with the transducer on it in the water.  Instantly I watch a school of fish slowly move across the bottom under a school of baitfish. It was amazing.

    I eased around with the trolling motor for about three hours, looking at brush piles, rocky points and fish.  It took some time to get used to the very different view on the Panoptix than what I usually see on my other units.  But it quickly became apparent what I was seeing.

    I made a few casts and watched my bait in the water.  A crankbait left a line as it wiggled back to the boat.  I could tell exactly how deep it was running. A jig arched to the bottom then left lines as I jerked it up and let it fall back.

    A couple of times I could see my jig going through groups of fish that I assumed were bass, based on their position.  But they would not hit it.  In and around brush I could see groups of fish suspended and guessed they were crappie, based on their size and position.

    Last Saturday in the Potato Creek Tournament I got to use the system for eight intense hours of hard fishing. The system preformed as advertised and expected. I learned a lot. 

    The main thing I liked was that I could see fish and know my casts were in the right place.  When fishing without the unit, I often wonder if I am casting to empty water or to places with fish but ones that won’t bite.  Now I know.

    It was very frustrating to see fish, know my bait was in front of them but still not get a bite.  It did make me change baits often, trying to offer the bass something they would bite. It also worried me that many fish, as the boat approached within about 30 feet, would sink down into cover and become inactive. That told me the importance or long casts.

    I did not do well in the tournament, catching only three small bass and placing ninth out of 17 fishermen.  But I am not sure I would have caught those three without the Garmin.

    The first two hit in some deep brush that I have fished for years.  But normally I would fish there with a couple of different baits then move on if I didn’t get a bite. Seeing fish there made me try different things and stay longer. 

    I caught one on a jigging spoon and one on a swimbait.  Normally I would fish the spoon but not the swimbait since it gets hung in brush so much. But with the Garmin I could cast and watch the bait, keeping it just above the brush, and not get hung.

    The first cast I made I saw a fish hit the swimbait  as it fell and got excited when I felt a fish on it, but it turned out to be a 1.5 pound crappie, a nice fish but no help in the tournament.  A couple of casts later I caught my second keeper on the swimbait.

    After trying several places and not seeing fish, I worked down a bank.  As I passed a dock I saw a brushpile in front of it that I did not know was there, and it looked like fish were in it.  That made me cast to it repeatedly rather than just making one or two cast as I usually do to brush.  Several casts to it produced my third keeper at about 10:00 AM.

    The rest of the day I watched fish ignore my baits, no matter what I tried.  That was very frustrating but based on the tournament results and what folks said, everybody had trouble getting bites. 

    Maybe if I had just left the Garmin turned off and fished the way I usually fish I would have done better. Or maybe I would not have caught a single fish.  Tournament fishing is like that.

    I am amazed at the Panoptix and how it works.  I think it is the electronics of the future for bass fishing and expect to see more and more of them on bass boats.

Watch Out For That Deer During the Rut

  The cartoon “George of the Jungle” had a theme song that contained the phrase “Look out for that tree.”  Drivers had better heed the idea “look out for that deer” right now.

    Bucks are in full rut, chasing does with abandon, paying no attention to their safety, or yours.  They will run out in front of cars, as will the does they are chasing, without a warning.  A friend on Facebook posted about seeing 16 dead deer in 30 miles on a highway not far from here.

    Bucks also do no pay as much attention to hunters as normal. A usually wily buck that feeds only at night and hides in thick cover during the day will be out roaming looking for and chasing does all day.  The rut is the best time to kill a big buck.

     I was out at Jack Ridgeway’s house, getting a tire replaced on my boat trailer last week, when Keith Duncan drove up. He had a massive eight-point rack in his truck from a buck he had killed.  The pages and website of Georgia Outdoor Magazine are full of pictures of trophy bucks killed in the past couple of weeks.

    So many deer have been killed in the past couple of weeks that every deer cooler in this area was full last weekend. None of them could take any more deer to process until they worked through some of what they had, preparing delicious venison for hunters’ freezers.  

    The good news for drivers, and bad news for hunters, is the main rut is about over.  Activity will decrease rapidly in the next few days and both drivers and deer will be safer. So, if you want a big buck you better get in the woods fast.

Fall Walleye


Night-Bite Walleyes
By Bob Jensen
from The Fishing Wire

If you want to catch a big walleye, fall is the time to do so. There are lots of bodies of water across walleye territory that are home to true trophies. If the walleye-of-a-lifetime is your goal, center your efforts on the bodies of water that have a history of producing big walleyes.

Often the best trophy walleye producers will be large, deep lakes that are home to baitfish that make the walleyes fat. Some types of forage fish make walleyes grow big, so we want to concentrate on lakes that have those types of baitfish: Cisco, tullibee, and the like. One reason that the night bite can be good for walleyes is that these baitfish live in clear water lakes, and walleyes can often be easier to catch at night in clear water lakes.

But there’s another reason why the walleyes go on a night-bite in the fall.

Those baitfish that make the walleyes grow big are fall spawners. They’re in the shallows laying their eggs at a time of year when the walleyes are interested in adding some fat to their bodies to get them through the winter months. Those baitfish are very susceptible to hungry walleyes when they’re in those shallow areas.

To take advantage of this night-time opportunity, you need to do a couple of things. First, you need to identify a potential hot-spot. The fall-spawning baitfish will usually spawn in shallow water that is close to deep water. Shorelines or off-shore shallow sand or rock areas will be good starting points.In lakes that don’t have fall spawning baitfish, a night-bite can still occur. Look for areas with current. Go out during the day to current areas and see if baitfish are present. If they are, walleyes will visit at night.

If you’ll be fishing from a boat, take along only essential equipment and have it in a specific place so you know where it is.If you’ll be wading, check out the area for rocks or logs under the water that you could trip on.Get to your spot before the sun goes down and get set up. Keep quiet. When fish are shallow, they’re oftentimes spooky.

Jigs and plastic will catch walleyes at night, but night in and night out, many of the best night-time walleye catchers are throwing hard minnow-imitating baits. For deeper water go with a Lucky Shad: They run down 6 or 8 feet and that’s usually deep enough. If you want to get deeper, tie on a KVD 300 Deep Jerkbait. It runs to about 11 feet. Experiment with color. Try baits that look like the local baitfish, and try baits that look like nothing the walleyes have ever seen.

When fishing shallow we’ll usually be casting. Go with a KVD 300 Jerkbait. Try a straight retrieve, but also work it with sweeps of the rod. I like a Lew’s Custom Speed Stick in the Walleye Special action because it casts these lighter baits well. I also like 15 pound test XTCB Braid 8 line. This line is super-sensitive and super-strong for its diameter.

I have many fond memories of catching walleyes at night from mid-fall until it was too cold to enjoy being out there. I prefer full moon nights, and I also like some wind. The best nights seem to be when the wind is blowing into the area that you’re fishing. Find out for yourself in the next few weeks how productive night-fishing for walleyes can be.Outstanding night-time walleye baits include the shorter Lucky Shad and the longer, thinner KVD Jerkbaits.

To see new and old episodes of Fishing the Midwest television, fishing articles and fishing video tips, go to fishingthemidwest.com

Flint River Tournament at Lanier

Last Sunday seven members of the Flint River Bass Club fished our November tournament at Lake Lanier.  We landed 18 14-inch keepers weighing about 34 pounds total. There was one five-fish limit and no one zeroed.  There was only one largemouth weighed in.

    I won with five at 8.42 pounds, Chuck Croft placed second with four weighing 7.73 pounds and Don Gober was third with three weighing 6.77 pounds, including a chunky 3.09 pounds for big fish.  Niles Murray placed fourth with three weighing 5.37 pounds.

    Niles fished with me and our day started wrong. After driving 70 miles per hour on I-75, I-675, I-285, I-85 and I-985 with no problems just getting to the ramp, I started backing down the ramp.  A guy walking in the parking lot yelled that I was losing a tire on my trailer.

    When I got out and looked one of my trailer tires was leaning at an angle.  I told Niles to continue backing up and before the trailer got to the water the tire fell off. The bearings were completely gone, even though there was no warning and I check them often.

    I threw the tire in the truck and we go the boat launched.  Thank goodness for dual axle trailers!  But I knew I could not get home with all the weight on that side on one tire.  I tried to forget it and fish.

    The first place we stopped after taking off, a rocky point, Niles quickly caught a keeper spot on a cramkbait.  A few minutes later I landed one on a jig and pig then Niles caught his second fish.  We worked that area hard, thinking there should be more feeding fish, but didn’t get another bite.

    At the next place we tried, an old roadbed that runs out on a point, I caught my second keeper ona  crankbait. We had four in the boat the first hour of the tournament, so I felt pretty good, but then it got slow.

    We tried another rocky point and I got my third keeper on the jig and pig.  By now the sun was up and it was bright, so we tried some deep brush and some more deep rock points. I caught three short bass on a shaky head worm but no keepers.

    At about 11:00 we decided to try a different pattern and ran up Flat Creek to more shallow water. As we worked a series of rocky points, I caught my fourth keeper on the jig and pig, then got my fifth one on a shaky head on another point.

    Niles had a good keeper pull off his worm hook near the boat down about six feet deep. We could see it fighting in the clear water and I had the net ready, but it just came unhooked.  He then got his third keeper on another nearby point.

    We came in and weighed the fish, then I called the toll-free number for BoatsUS.  Membership costs $36 a year and that level includes free towing up to 100 miles.  I called them at 3:30 and they started looking for a tow service that could handle my boat.

    About 15 minutes later the dispatcher called me back and said no one wanted to tow my boat on Sunday afternoon but one local service would pick it up, store it in their secure lot overnight and bring it to Griffin Monday morning. I told them that was fine.

    At 4:00 the flatbed wrecker arrived. By 4:15 my boat was loaded and I headed home, glad I didn’t have to fight the ridiculous traffic with boat in tow, much less one missing a tire.

    Monday morning a little before noon they delivered my boat to Jack and, luckily, he still had an old spindle from the last axle I broke.  By 2:00 my boat was home in my garage, ready for my next trip. All my worries were pointless.

    BoatsUS is well worth the price of membership just for the towing service. They also offer on-the-water freshwater towing for $85 a year. I have used the road towing twice and on water towing once.  Since I did not have the higher membership, water towing cost me $300!  But it was well worth it at the time.

    Overall, a bad start ended up not too terrible.

Hobie Kayak Foot Propulsion


Kayak Foot Propulsion: A Legacy of Innovation
Hobie Celebrates More Than Two Decades of Pedal-Driven Fishing and On-the-Water Fun
from The Fishing Wire

The popularity of kayak fishing – and recreational kayaking in general – is at an all-time high. These versatile, economical and portable watercraft unlock access to beautiful places and experiences. Overall advances in design, technology and manufacturing have combined to fuel this expanding popularity, but the most revolutionary advancement – the birth and continued evolution of leg propulsion – has probably done more to expand kayaking’s reach than any other innovation.

While various kayak manufacturers now offer some version of leg-propulsion technology to consumers, the very first pedal-drive system originated more than 20 years ago, when engineers at iconic watercraft brand, Hobie, introduced a leg-powered technological solution. In 1997, Hobie permanently revolutionized kayaking with the invention of the original MirageDrive, which replaced the paddle with the sheer efficiency of this patented, pedal-driven system. With the largest human muscle group now in play – the legs – kayaking became less tiring, easier, and more fun than ever. And because it also freed the hands to fish, it’s easy to point to the Hobie MirageDrive as the single, most significant advancement that has driven kayak-fishing’s exponential growth over the past two decades.

The birth of the MirageDrive is a fascinating story that stems from the seminal research and design work of Hobie engineers Greg Ketterman and Jim Czarnowski, along with an extensive team of contributing technical staff. From 1997 through 2019 there have been many milestones worth noting – changes to the original MirageDrive that have resulted in greater mobility and increased ease-of-use for kayak anglers across the globe.

Greg Ketterman, an engineer with an extensive background in working on innovative sailboats, was the primary designer of the first MirageDrive. With this strong background in sailing technologies – much of which was derived from his experience with the world’s pinnacle sailboat racing series, The America’s Cup – Ketterman’s approach to the MirageDrive was as a device with underwater “sails” versus a propeller.

“Imagine the sails on a sailboat working underwater. That’s how he saw the fins of the MirageDrive,” says Hobie Vice President of Engineering, Jim Czarnowski. “In essence, the MirageDrive had a mast and sail, but rather than the sail moving in the air and the air moving past the sail, the sail would be driven through the water and produce lift just like a sail would work above the water.”

Roughly the same time that the original MirageDrive was invented and patented, a young Jim Czarnowski was researching a similar submersible watercraft propulsion technology while studying engineering at M.I.T. in Boston.“I was at M.I.T. working on something similar called the ‘Penguin Boat’ that had a MirageDrive-type propulsion system on the back – a boat that was propelled by flippers,” says Czarnowski.

“The work I did received a lot of publicity, and Hobie cited the work in their MirageDrive patent process. The Boston Globe ran a story on my Penguin Boat and one of the owners who lives in Boston sent that article to the Hobie headquarters in Oceanside, California. That was my first introduction to a partnership with Hobie. I’ve been with them since 2002, working on various craft and continuous advancements to the MirageDrive.” 

The MirageDrive existed in its original form for nine years, from 1997 to 2006. During those years the first fishing-specific Hobie watercraft with MirageDrive was introduced, the Mirage Outback, in 2001. The Mirage Outback featured a much wider platform and more stability than other previous MirageDrive watercraft, boats that were designed, built and marketed specifically for pure kayaking, not fishing. Response to the Mirage Outback was tremendous, and kayak anglers quickly took note of the advantages afforded by leg propulsion – for starters, more time casting and less time maneuvering with the paddle.

Four years later, in 2006, the MirageDrive’s fins went through a major redesign in terms of shape, the result being the Turbo Fin. One of the Turbo Fin’s major new features was a square tip that produced more thrust with less effort. This increase in thrust was due to the way it twisted when it interacted with the water, creating more productive lift surfaces out near the tips of the fins.

Around the same time, there were major innovations happening in the designs of new watercraft that could be efficiently propelled by the MirageDrive, like trimaran sailboats. The first of these, the Hobie Adventure Island, was introduced in 2006. “There’s something that happens when you mix sailing and the MirageDrive; you’re able to essentially motor-sail in a light wind so you can pedal and achieve more speed, which is more wind for the sail. It’s a positive feedback scenario where you’re getting more power to the boat so you can push the boat much faster with the MirageDrive. It’s different than, say, using a propeller on a sailboat. When you stop pedaling the drive doesn’t really have any resistance, because the fins become straight again and actually provide some lateral resistance. It makes for an amazing sailing boat,” says Czarnowski.

Two versions of this sailboat have become tremendously popular over the years, and they’re Czarnowski’s personal favorites amongst the entire MirageDrive fleet. The Hobie Adventure Island trimaran was introduced in 2006 and the Tandem Island trimaran in 2009.“In addition to the changes to the drive that were occurring, we were also working with lots of new and different craft to put the drive on. Originally, the MirageDrive was used in the basic kayak, but we found we could ignore many of the rules of what a kayak really needs to look like. Traditionally, it had to be narrow enough to paddle, but the MirageDrive allowed us to start making much wider and more stable kayaks designed specifically for anglers. Again, our first fishing kayak with a MirageDrive was the Mirage Outback in 2001.

The next major step was the Pro Angler 14 in 2009. Those were different versions of what a pedal fishing kayak could be thanks to MirageDrive propulsion. And we also introduced the first pedal-driven inflatable kayak in 2007,” says Czarnowski.Fast-forward to 2014 and Hobie made another significant design modification to the MirageDrive. By putting bearings on all movable surfaces of the drive, Hobie was able to increase efficiency by another 10%. The end result was called Glide Technology.Yet another milestone in MirageDrive development occurred in 2016, when Hobie introduced the first stand-up paddleboard with MirageDrive called the Hobie Eclipse. “This was a new version of the drive. The pedals were oriented horizontally so the user could be standing on the board and pressing down on the pedals. We had to develop new fins that would provide a lot more resistance to accommodate and balance the weight of the user. That resulted in essentially a new drive using the same technology as the previous drive, but with a new way for the fins to move back and forth from an upright pedaling position. That product became the Hobie Mirage Eclipse in the spring of 2016,” comments Czarnowski.

The summer of 2016 marked a significant milestone in the history of the MirageDrive, as engineers unveiled the patented MirageDrive 180, which was similar to the previous MirageDrive but allowed users to pull a lever on the drive that would flip the fins around 180 degrees to produce instant thrust in reverse. Prior to this, users had to employ a paddle if they wanted to back up the kayak, or remove the drive and rotate it manually 180 degrees. MirageDrive 180 offered a quick, efficient and extremely valuable solution to both forward and reverse mobility. Driven by consumer demand, MirageDrive 180 quickly became standard equipment on a host of Hobie products, including fishing kayaks, and the response was outstanding. MirageDrive 180 became a must-have feature with kayak-fishing anglers across the globe.

Earlier this year, Hobie engineers designed and brought to market an even more amazing drive, aptly dubbed MirageDrive 360. Now, with Hobie MirageDrive 360, the boat can not only be moved in forward or reverse, but also sideways, diagonally, and even spun on its own axis. Available on the next generation of Hobie Pro Angler 12 and 14 models, MirageDrive 360 features an extra steering handle on the boat that quickly aims the drive in any direction. “If you turn that handle, it turns the bottom unit of the MirageDrive 360. The pedals stay in the same place, but the part producing the thrust underneath can be pointed in any direction providing true 360-degree maneuverability,” says Czarnowski.

The International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades’ (ICAST) New Product Showcase Awards recognize the best new fishing products in multiple categories each year. Voted on by attending product buyers and members of the sportfishing media, these “Best of Category” awards represent the pinnacle of achievement in the sport fishing industry and are intensely competitive. The Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 14 with 360 Drive Technology was awarded “Best in Show: Boats and Watercraft” – no small feat considering the wealth of competition within this crowded segment.Upping the ante with all-new Kick-Up Fins, which automatically retract upon impact, the new MirageDrive 360 delivers precision boat control and close-quarter maneuverability that’s unrivaled by any other human-powered watercraft.

“One of the limitations of all previous pedal-powered drives was potentially damaging the drive by running into a submerged object. With Hobie’s Kick-Up Fins, if the fins encounter any kind of obstruction they’ll retract and re-deploy once the obstacle has passed,” says Czarnowski. “They’re now a standard feature in the MirageDrive 360, MirageDrive 180, and standard MirageDrive craft, and allow kayakers to go where there want and fish how they want with total control and complete confidence.”From the inception of the first pedal-driven kayak through this year’s release of MirageDrive 360 and Kick-Up Fins, Hobie’s ongoing innovation in engineering and design have consistently resulted in more enjoyment, more capability and less worry for all kayakers.

Today’s Hobie 360 Pro Angler 12 and 14 represent the pinnacle of Hobie innovation and performance. Both are currently shipping to dealers, and Kick-Up fins will be standard equipment on all new 2020 Hobie Mirage kayaks with exception of Passport models.

Learn more at: www.hobie.com.About HobieSince 1950, Hobie has been in the business of shaping a unique lifestyle based around fun, water and quality products. From their headquarters in Oceanside, California, Hobie Cat Company manufactures, distributes and markets an impressive collection of watercraft worldwide. These include an ever-expanding line of recreation and racing sailboats, pedal-driven and paddle sit-on-top recreation and fishing kayaks, inflatable kayaks and fishing boats, plus a complementary array of parts and accessories.