Category Archives: Fishing With Family and Friends

Fishing and Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a special time of year. It is the time we should all stop and think of all the things we have in our lives that make us happy. We really should do that all the time, but this week is a good time to focus on how good we have it.

Most of my thankful things involve the outdoors. Very little makes me as happy as spending time fishing or hunting. That has been true all my life and almost all my Thanksgiving memories have something to do with spending time outdoors. So hunting, fishing and Thanksgiving go together in my life.

Almost every Thanksgiving while I was growing up meant big meals with family and friends. My mother’s brothers were older than her and all but one lived near us, and they all had big families. We would always eat with at least one of my uncle’s families and all the cousins on Thanksgiving Day.

Most of those days also involved a quail hunting trip after lunch. Several of the uncles had land and most of them had bird dogs, as we did, so hunting quail was a tradition. Back then there were a lot more quail since farming was still more compatible with quail habitat.

My career in education always meant a four day weekend for Thanksgiving. Since I got my first bass boat my second year out of college, almost all my Thanksgivings after I moved to Griffin involved going to my place at Raysville Boat Club on Clarks Hill for the long weekend.

Most years I would go over after work on Wednesday, fish Thursday morning then go to my parent’s house in town for the afternoon for the meal. Then I would head back to the lake for fishing the next three days.

One year my mom decided to have the big Thanksgiving meal at the lake. I know she did it that way so I could fish longer. That morning as I got ready to go out at daylight she reminded me to be in for dinner. My brother and his family and a couple of uncles and their families were coming there for the meal. I assured her I would come in early enough to get cleaned up before eating.

I will never forget that day since I landed a big bass, weighed it at seven pounds one ounce, put it back in the water and looked at my watch. It was 12:02 pm and I was thankful my mother had planned dinner at the lake. Most years I would have had to head in before the time I caught the fish.

That was the only time my mother ever got mad at me for fishing, and one of the very few times Linda has. When I went in at 3:00 pm to get cleaned up for dinner I found out she meant dinner at noon, not at dark. We always called the noon meal dinner while I was growing up but after going to college I got used to calling the noon meal lunch and the night meal dinner.

By the time I came in all my family had gone home. The only thing colder than the stares of my wife and my mother that day was the cold turkey sandwich I got for my Thanksgiving “dinner.” But I did catch a seven pound bass that day!

There were many Thanksgiving weekends that it was just me and my dog Merlin in the boat all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I would often stay later than I should on Sunday and get back to Griffin well after dark and have to unload and get some sleep before going to school Monday morning. But there were a lot of great memories.

Back then it seemed much easier to catch bass. I would often leave my boat under the boat sheds at the lake, get up at daylight and start fishing. I didn’t need to run anywhere, just put the trolling motor in the water and start casting a crankbait to the points and banks around the boat club.

There was no reason to leave Germany Creek. I got to know every stump, rock, clay bank and point that way. There was one small cove with an old sunken wooden boat back in it. I could count on catching a bass beside it every time I fished it with a crankbait. Learning little keys like that has always been important to me.

I also learned to fish a jig and pig one Thanksgiving at Clarks Hill. On Thursday morning I had caught a lot of fish on a crankbait but kept thinking about a bait I had never caught a fish on, the jig and pig.

Friday morning I tied one on and vowed to fish nothing but it all day. At 2:00 pm I was disgusted, I had not had a bite on it. The day before I had landed about 15 bass up to two pounds in four hours of fishing.

At 2:00 I was going down a bank where I had put out a brush pile. I cast the jig and pig to the right side of it and caught a three pound bass. Then I cast to the left side and caught a 3.5 pound bass. That gave me enough confidence to go to a deeper brush pile, where I caught a 6.5 pound bass. Every since that day back in the late 1970s I keep a jig and pig tied on and fish them a lot!

Spend your Thanksgiving wisely – and be thankful you have the freedom to make the choices you make for the day.

Have You Watched Costa’s Geobass Shows?

I have been enjoying watching Costa’s Geobass series of videos posted online.

In this series, four guys travel to exotic destinations to try to catch bass. But they consider any fish named bass a bass, including saltwater species, so it is not just black bass, although they do go after trophy largemouth.

The videos are fast paced and fun to watch, and they do catch fish. They use fly rods only and tie their own flies to suit the situation. They are like any group of fishermen, picking at each other and having fun.

They go to such places as Christmas Island, Papua New Guinea, Brazil, and many others

Check out these videos – I think you will enjoy them.

Memories of a Special Camping Trip

The end of August always reminds me of a special camping trip I took the summer I graduated from High School. My best friend Harold and I decided to do some “wilderness” camping to celebrate the end of high school and the beginning of college.

Harold was the only other boy my age in Dearing where we grew up. He lived less than a half mile from me and we did everything together, from hunting and fishing to building tree houses and forts.

We started Kindergarten together and graduated from the University of Georgia together. Way back then Kindergarten was not offered in public school. Ms. Lively had a private kindergarten in Thomson, eight miles from Dearing.

Each morning Harold and I would get on Mr. John Harry’s school bus and he would take us to Ms. Lively’s kindergarten at her house, which was near where his bus route started. One of our mothers would pick us up at noon each day.

The summer we graduated from high school, a couple of weeks before we were to go to UGA, I stopped working at National Homes, my summer job for three years, a week early. We gathered our supplies, loaded our 12 foot Jon boat in the truck and drove to Raysville Boat Club.

My family had an outdrive ski boat at a dock there and we used it as our tow boat. After loading the big boat with sleeping bags, fishing tackle, canned food guns and everything we would need for four days we tied the Jon boat to the ski boat and headed up Little River.

After about an hour going slowly we came to a small creek with a high rock bluff on each side. Inside the mouth of the creek was a good place to tie up the boats and be protected. We went a little ways into the woods, build a fire circle from rocks and cut down saplings to make a table between two oak trees.

To make the table we lashed two sapling trunks between the two big oaks, one on each side. We then cut shorter pieces to lay across them for the table top. We also cleared brush from the area so we would have a nice opening for our camp.

We had not brought a tent, just sleeping bags, so I raked up leaves for a mattress and rolled out my bag. It had a canvas canopy at the head end that you could use to keep rain out of your face, so I rigged it up with some forked sticks and long straight ones between them to hold it in position.

For the next three days and nights we were all on our own. I will never forget how peaceful and quiet it was around our fire at night and in the little creek during the day. At night the stars were amazingly bright. When it got hot in the afternoons we went skinny dipping – we knew no one else was around.

We put out trotlines and fished every day but I don’t remember catching much. For breakfast we cooked bacon, eggs and toast on the open fire. For lunch we had potted meat, Vienna sausages, sardines and crackers. At night we ate out of cans, too.

For one night I had brought a big can of pork and beans and heated them in the can on the fire. That was a feast with some saltines!

We didn’t worry at all about anybody or anything bothering us. Back then out in the country you really didn’t have to worry much about crime and we knew there were no critters, other than snakes, that might be a problem. And we had our .22 rifles with us just in case.

We were lucky, the weather was nice the whole time. No summer thunderstorms hit and soaked our sleeping bags. Although the canopy may have kept rain out of my face, I knew my bag was not water proof and if it rained it would be soggy within seconds.

Back then we thought we had really gone a long way from civilization to camp. But now, in my bass boat, I can be at that small creek from the boat club in about five minutes. Everything is relative!

But that trip will always be one of my best memories. I wish all kids now had the chance to do things like I did growing up. We were on our own, totally self-reliant and had to make do with what we had. It was a great experience.

Have You Planned Out Your Life Or Did You Just Bounce?

Does your life ever feel like the ball in a pin ball machine, bouncing from one bumper to the next in seemingly random patterns? My life does. There is an old Yiddish saying I like “Man plans, God laughs.” I also like the saying from a Robert Burns poem – “The best-laid plans of mice and men oft(en) go astray.”

Both those seem to sum up my life. Maybe some of you planned your life out and it is going like you want it to. I have never had that happen to me.

My life has a lot of bounces like a pinball, but looking back I have been really lucky in my bounces.

One of the first really big bounces was in college when I was a sophomore. One day in class I told the guy sitting to my right I Had gone to a fraternity rush party the night before. The guy sitting in front of him turned and invited me to a keg party at Delta Chi fraternity that night, and I went. After most of the keg was gone I somehow pledged!

One of my pledge brothers got me a blind date a few months later. We didn’t really hit it off but did go on another date. That is how I met Linda – next Thursday is our 44 anniversary – August 20, 2015. Getting invited to that party was a really important bounce I never saw coming!

No matter what I planned for my life I seemed to end up somewhere else, but I have no complaints. That is how I ended up in Griffin. Although I hate to fly now, I wanted to be an Air Force Pilot. The year I graduated from UGA I passed a flight physical in January at Warner Robbins AFB and went to officer training school as a pilot trainee when I graduated in June. After a week there they gave me an eye test like the one you take for a driver’s license – and I failed! I have 27 days active service, they gave me a medical discharge real fast.

So much for those plans. When I started college my dad told me to get a degree in education to fall back on if my air force plans failed, and I did. So I had something to fall back on.

Daddy was principle of Dearing Elementary School in McDuffie County for 22 years. I knew he could get me a job in that county, but I was hard headed and didn’t want to get a job just because of him. He did check around for me. One of his teachers was Mildred Moore and her daughter, Carol Ann Marshall, taught in Griffin. He told me there were some job openings here so Linda and I applied. She also was qualified to teach.

We got jobs here in 1972 and got an apartment at Grandview. I found out later I was hired as a teacher at Atkinson Elementary mainly because they wanted another man there. I guess that was sex discrimination, or some kind of quota, but I took it not thinking about that at the time.

To get to Atkinson from Grandview I drove up College, turned right on 6th Street and went over the old bridge. The first day I made that trip I noticed Berrys Sporting Goods and stopped on the way home that afternoon since I always loved fishing and everything associated with it, and met Jim Berry.

That was one of my lucky bounces. Now some of you that know Jim may not consider that lucky, but it changed my life in two important ways.

Jim got me in the Spalding County Sportsman Club in 1974 and I fished my first tournament with him that April at Clarks Hill and fell in love with tournament fishing. I joined the Flint River Bass Club in 1978 and have not missed many tournaments in either club since joining them.

I had told Jim I always wanted to write. Part of that desire was from my insatiable reading growing up. And a big part of it was my 11th grade English Teacher Ms. Lewis. I was not a good student, just did enough to get by, I wanted to be out fishing or hunting, not in school, but Ms. Lewis bragged on the themes I wrote in her class. That was one of the few successes I had in school and it fueled my writing desire. Teachers can really have a long lasting influence on a student.

In 1987 Jim and the editor of the Griffin Daily News were playing poker, and there might have been adult beverages involved, but they came up with a scheme to run an outdoor column each week. Jim sponsored it and got me to write it, paying me the grand sum of $8 a week, in fishing stuff from his store. My first column was on crappie fishing in March, 1987 and was my start of writing.

Another lucky bounce that later paid off was in 1983. I made the state team through the club state Top Six that year and went to Kentucky Lake for the Southern Regional tournament. Two team Members, Les Ager and Carl Logan, wrote for Georgia Sportsman magazine and I had read their articles. One night on the way to dinner in a van I told them I always wanted to write articles like they did.

In 1988, five years later, I got a call from the publisher of a brand new magazine offering to let me write an article for them. I was happily surprised and started writing for them regularly. I didn’t know at the time that Carl and Les were two of the founders of GON and they remembered I wanted to write, and suggested to the publisher, Steve Burch, that he contact me.

Make An Investment In the Future by Taking Kids Fishing and Hunting

An Investment In the Future
By Josh Lantz

How you expose kids to hunting and fishing is critical. Don’t blow it.

Kids love bait and lures

Kids love bait and lures

Kids love bait and lures. Provide an explanation of what may work best and why, but allow them to experiment. Photo courtesy of

Parents are busy people. We work. We shuffle our kids here and there. And at this time of year – when so many hunting and fishing opportunities exist – we occasionally find time to enjoy the sanctity of the great outdoors.

It can be easy to use hunting or fishing as an excuse to leave the kids or the family behind for some quality time alone. That’s fine. We all need to escape. But don’t overlook the present and future rewards that come from providing your children with a proper introduction to the traditional outdoor sports. And, most importantly, don’t blow it once you’ve made the commitment. Make too many mistakes and you’ll risk quashing their enthusiasm for future outings, maybe for good. Follow some general guidelines, however, and you’ll spark the flame that feeds a lifetime of passion for the outdoors.

Choose the right kind of hunt. Select a quarry and location that ensures your kids will stay comfortable while still allowing a reasonable chance at seeing and bagging game. Any type of hunt from a ground blind is a great option. Blinds conceal motion and nervous energy, allow for comfortable seating, and facilitate keeping snacks, warm clothes, heaters, books and even video games at the ready. The trick is keeping your kids comfortable and happy. Blinds fit the bill and serve as comfortable and practical “base camps”.

A quality blind

A quality blind

A quality blind is an invaluable tool for keeping kids comfortable and concealing nervous energy in the field. Photo courtesy of

Give them their own equipment. Choose a youth bow or firearm that will grow with them. Of course, if your kids are actually hunting, practice shooting at home or at the range until they become proficient and confident. If they are too young to hunt, purchase a toy cap gun and instruct your youngster on how to handle it and use it as if it were a real firearm. Encourage them to carry it in the field. This is great practice for firearms safety and helps to keep kids engaged. Buy them their own hunting clothes, too, in order to further their excitement and feelings of participation.

Explain what is going on. Some kids are capable of simply enjoying the outdoors experience, but most will get bored unless you involve them in everything that is going on. Where are you hunting and why? What are you hoping will happen? What are you trying to accomplish with your calling? Try your best to explain the various outdoor sights, sounds and smells around you.

Don’t hunt or fish too long. If the goal is to instill a lifelong love of the outdoors, it is critical that each outing be pleasurable. When your youngster gets cold, bored or loses interest, it is time to pack it up and head for home – with a possible stop to the ice cream shop or other special treat reserved just for your days afield.

kids need their own hunting gear

kids need their own hunting gear

Regardless of whether or not they are ready to hunt, kids need their own hunting gear to facilitate practice and give them a sense of engagement while afield with mom or dad. Photo courtesy of

It’s about both of you

Anyone who has read or heard anything about taking youngsters fishing or hunting has probably heard that the experience is “all about the kids”. This isn’t the entire story. Sure, the child’s comfort and enjoyment is critical, but don’t forget what you’re getting out of the deal. You’re making an investment of your time and patience in order to plant a seed. Being patient and conscientious now will result in a hunting and fishing buddy for the rest of your life. There aren’t too many parent and child activities that offer this kind of mutual enjoyment and meaningful bond.

That said, one of the best ways to maximize the return on your investment is to adjust your expectations. Focus on seeing game instead of taking game. Of course, go about things the proper way and you may not need to compromise. But just seeing game in a hunting situation can be very exciting for youngsters, especially if you are excited about it too.

When taking kids fishing, especially the first few times, leave your rod at home. Focus on helping them catch fish instead of catching them yourself. Help them. Teach them. Again, explain what is going on in order to keep them engaged and excited. You may think it’s possible, but you cannot do these things when you’ve got a rod in your own hands.

Ever wonder what it would be like to be a fishing or hunting guide? Take your kids hunting or fishing and you’ll get your chance. As a guide and father, I can attest that the situations are almost the same. My kids may not smoke cigars or tell dirty jokes, but they are both lousy tippers.

The payoff

Putting the needs of our kids ahead of our own is something every parent is used to. Follow the same model when taking your kids afield. Give a bit now and you’ll be rewarded when you are old and gray.

“Hi, Dad. Want to go hunting today?”

days of mutual enjoyment

days of mutual enjoyment

A bit of patience and sacrifice while they’re young leads to countless days of mutual enjoyment. Photo courtesy of

What Is Fishing the Dog Days of Summer Like?

We are in the middle of the Dog Days of summer. It is so hot it is almost tempting to stay inside with air conditioning and not even go fishing. Any activity outside is miserable.

The Dog Days get their name from the Dog Star Sirius. At least that is the official version. To us in the south this time of year is called Dog Days because it is so hot outside that the dogs won’t come out from under the porch!

I grew up in a big wood house with a tin roof. We didn’t have air conditioning. We had to rely on fans and open windows to try to stay somewhat cool in the house. At night a fan would blow on the bed to let us sleep. I used to love to place a fan so it blew under the sheet, making a kind of tent with air moving across me.

That house was so old it sat on stacks of rocks supporting the big floor beams. When we tore down that house to build another in the early 1960s we found ax marks on those floor beams, showing they had been hand-hewn from big pine trees. The heart of pine beams had turned to lighter wood as they aged.

We found out why the dogs liked it so much under the house and porch. That was the coolest place around except in the water of the branch. My brother and I, and our friends, played under there for hours. At places the beams were several feet off the ground and we could almost walk under them.

Our playing under there ended when daddy caught my brother, three years younger than me, when he was about five years old. He had taken some paper feed sacks under the house and was in the process of building a campfire!

I loved the sound of rain on the tin roof of that house. During the day it meant the house cooled off and was more comfortable. When it rained at night the drumming of the raindrops cooled the house and lulled me to sleep.

One treat of summer was eating a cold watermelon on a hot day. We would put them in the big walk in egg cooler and they got nice and cold. In the side yard under a big pecan tree there was a wooden platform about eight feet square and a foot high. It was the perfect place to cut a watermelon and eat it.

Mama had a big butcher knife in the kitchen we used to cut the watermelon. It was so old and well-used the blade was concave from years of sharpening. I always wanted to use it to cut bites of watermelon from my slice, but was not allowed to handle it until I was about eight years old.

Even that was too young. One of the first times I was allowed to use it I cut all the red from my rind and enjoyed it. Then, for some reason, with the rind on the wood platform, I thought it would be a good idea to stab it with the knife.

When I stabbed straight down my right hand slick with watermelon juice slide down the handle and the blade. I can still remember looking at my palm as I opened it and seeing a gash that opened raw meat before the blood started gushing. My parents wrapped my hand and took me to the emergency room at the hospital eight miles away.

It took eight stitches to close the cut. I still have a faint scar running across my palm. Mom was standing beside me on my left side as the doctor worked on my right hand extended on a table. I wanted to watch the doctor but she turned my head away.

After a few minutes she asked me why I was staring at her eyes. Then she realized I was watching the doctor work on my hand in the reflection in her glasses.

We always went barefoot all summer long and our feet got tough, but not tough enough to stop a nail. There was an old barn near the house that was falling apart and we loved playing in it. But several times each summer we would step on a board with a nail in it and stab it into our feet.

Back then the cure was simple. Daddy would clean the nail hole, put a penny on it then a hunk of fatback on top of the penny and wrap it. The penny and bacon was supposed to pull the poison out. And I guess it worked, I never died, but I may have extra copper in my veins.

Most kids now are so protected and restricted by their parents I can’t imagine them getting injured as much as I did. But I survived, and even the memories of injuries are not so bad almost sixty years later.

A Father Son Cross Country Trout Trek

Jeff and Asher Samsel

Jeff and Asher Samsel

Father-and-Son To Embark On Cross-Country Trout Trek
from The Fishing Wire

Adventure takes many roads, and if you’re lucky, one takes you to a trout stream. If you’re really lucky, you’ll get to share it with your children. Fathers often dream of big adventure with their kids, journeys that take them far from home while bringing them closer together. For many of us, though, work and obligations pile on, and before we know it, the child is grown. Outdoor writer and dedicated Southern trout fanatic Jeff Samsel is not letting that happen. July 20, he and his 10-year-old son Asher will embark on a 3-1/2-week expedition sure to provide high adventure and plenty of memories. The Samsels are living the dream of throwing rods in the car and heading west, intent on exploring legendary trout waters together. Father Samsel is doing it right, too, by plotting destinations but leaving the timing loose.

“Our route is far from exact,” the elder Samsel said.

He’s fished the scenic trout streams of the Appalachian Mountains around his Clarkesville, Ga., home for more than two decades, and visited many of the most famous trout waters in the country, but he designed this trip to focus on streams and rivers of the northwest. Their first stop, however, is an Arkansas stream that’s near and dear to his heart. Asher is the second Samsel son to accompany his father on fishing trips. Nathaniel, now 17, tagged along with Dad many times through the years, and often returned home to share with Asher the stories and pictures of the giant trout that swim in Dry Run Creek, a special regulation stream for anglers under the age of 16 and the handicapped.

Many of the Samsels’ Trout Trek stops are special regulation areas. Instead of fly fishing these mostly barbless hook areas, though, the pair will be fishing spinning rigs armed with barbless-hook lures designed for these waters by Rebel Lure Company. With a little ingenuity (and a pair of needle nose pliers), though, they also will be replacing regular treble hooks with the barbless variety for lures that don’t come “regulation ready” straight from the factory.

After Dry Run, the father-and-son head to Cabela’s worldwide headquarters in Sidney, Neb., to gather equipment for the trip, and then they’re off to Deadwood, S.D., to fish the rugged trout waters of the Black Hills. After Deadwood, they point the car west to make a big loop that takes them to the Olympic Peninsula in Washington and ends in Laramie, Wyo. Samsel estimates to travel nearly 8,000 miles from start to finish.

“We’ll be fishing eight different states. Many are places I’ve long dreamed about but have never seen,” Samsel said. “A lot of people have said ‘he’ll always remember that time with his dad.’ That’s true, but I think it’s just as true about me.”

And that’s what adventure is all about. You can follow this adventure through the blogs filed by both the elder and younger Samsel. The elder at and the company’s Facebook page, as well as the North American Fisherman website and Jeff’s own Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds. Get Asher’s viewpoint through his blog at

Remembering My Father On Fathers’ Day

My father grew up on a dirt poor farm in Jacksonville, Georgia near Lumber City and McCray. He and his two brothers and five sisters worked hard even as kids to survive. I never knew his father, he died before I was born, but his mother lived in Ocala, Florida with one of her daughters and I saw her a few times a year.

Daddy joined the Navy as World War II started when he was not yet 20 years old. He never talked much about his service, other than he trained to be a gunner and got deathly seasick on the troop transport to the South Pacific. He said he threw up for 30 days straight!

After getting a medical discharge for rheumatic fever he came home and lived with one of his sisters in McDuffie County where he met my mother. Like many of his fellow veterans, he went to college on the GI Bill and graduated with a degree in agriculture from the University of Georgia. After college they moved back to McDuffie County and I was born that summer. I was born in Athens since mama continued to go to her doctor there after they moved away in June of 1950.

Daddy was the agriculture teacher and shop teacher at Dearing High School. Part of that job was visiting local farmers and helping them out with everything from soil testing to hog castration. When schools consolidated around 1960 and the high school students were sent to Thomson, he became principal of Dearing Elementary and stayed there until retiring in 1977.

In the seventh and eighth grade he taught me math and shop. It was a small school so the principal also taught some classes each day. When I say small I mean small. I started first grade and went through eighth grade with the same 28 students, all in one classroom each year as we moved from grade to grade.

Daddy also bought a small farm and started an egg producing operation, starting small with four houses with about 1200 chickens each. When I was a teenager he added four more houses, much more modern and housing about 1500 layers each. Our 11,000 chickens provided eggs for most of the grocery stores in the area from the A&P and Winn Dixie to mom and pop country stores. And dozens of people came to our house to buy eggs in small amounts.

Daddy loved bird hunting and kept two pointers in some old chicken houses about a mile from our house. We fed them every day and could not wait until quail season opened each year. I spent many hours with him, following the dogs and hoping to find a covey of birds.

For several years I just walked along and learned safety and hunting etiquette. Then I was allowed to carry a .410 shotgun and actually try to hit a bird when the covey or a single flushed. I don’t think I ever did, although I was deadly with the shotgun on squirrels and anything else sitting still.

Since daddy knew many farmers well we were also invited to dove shoots every Saturday during season. I was daddy’s retriever for several years and prided myself on finding every bird he hit no matter where it fell. And again I was learning about dove shooting and safety while sitting in the blind with him.

I was really proud when I was allowed to take my .410 with me and had all my equipment in an old gas mask bag one of my uncles gave me. I still have that bag, more than 50 years later, and use it while deer hunting now. And a few times I actually hit a dove on those shoots and got to put it in my bag!

I can remember only one time daddy went squirrel hunting with me. I went many afternoons after school and even some mornings before school. One afternoon daddy went with me. I killed my limit of ten that afternoon, one of my best hunts, and daddy never killed one. But he never shot at one either, letting me kill all we saw. He was much more proud of me killing them!

Daddy didn’t like fishing very much and never went with me or mama. Mama loved fishing and went every chance she got. As he got older daddy did start crappie fishing with us in the spring at Clarks Hill. Not because he liked fishing but because he loved to cook and eat crappie.

I was expected to work on the farm from an early age. And daddy depended on me and my brother helping out. But I know he did extra work many times so I could go hunting or fishing rather than work.

Happy Father’s Day. If you can, enjoy some time with your father. If he is gone, like mine, rejoice in his memory. And if you have kids, spend some fun time with them. They will always remember fishing or hunting trips long after movies and games they like are long forgotten.

Lots of Spots At A Kids and A Club Tournament At Bartletts Ferry In May

Last Saturday we had only three boats participating in the Spalding County Sportsman Club/Flint River Bass Club youth tournament at Bartletts Ferry. Even though the numbers were low and the fishing was tough we had fun.

On the youth side Alex Watkins fishing with Sam Smith won the older age group with four bass weighing 2.89 pounds. My partner Hunter Jenkins came in second with two at 2.55 pounds and his 1.29 pound largemouth was big fish. Blaze Brooks, fishing with Zane Fleck, won the younger division with two bass weighing 1.18 pounds.

In the buddy tournament Sam and Alex had five fish weighing 5.82 pounds for first and a 1.45 pound largemouth for big fish, Hunter and I had five at 5.07 for second and Zane’s team had two at 2.28 pounds for third.

Youth could weigh in any legal fish, so they could bring in spotted bass less than 12 inches long. On the buddy side all fish had to be 12 inches long. Bartletts Ferry is full of little spotted bass and we all caught a bunch of them. There were only three largemouth brought to the scales.

Hunter and I started fishing a point with topwater, crankbaits and worms. He had two bites on worms but when he set the hook he brought in a half worm. I missed two on topwater and I think they were all little spotted bass, too small to get the hook.

As the sun got higher we went out on a point and I could see fish on it on my depthfinder, and I caught two small keeper spots and several too short to keep on jig head worms and drop shot. Then we fished several more places without catching anything.

At about 11:00 we started fishing docks and Hunter got two keeper largemouth and I got a keeper spot. We both caught some throwbacks, too. That was it for us. It was a very frustrating day, made even more so at the ramp when we watched a pot tournament weigh-in and it took five weighing 14.5 pounds to win and 14 pounds to get a check!

The next day in the Spalding County Sportsman Club May tournament at Bartletts Ferry 16 members and guests fished from 6:00 AM till 2:30 PM to land 55 keepers weighing about 64 pounds. There were only 11 largemouth, all the rest were small spotted bass. Six of us had five-fish limits and only one fisherman didn’t have a keeper.

Billy Roberts won it all with five weighing 8.02 pounds and had a 3.72 pound largemouth for big fish. My five at 6.18 pounds was second, Niles Murray had five at 6.14 pounds for third and Sam Smith’s five at 6.05 pounds was fourth.

After seeing the tournament with the good catches weighed in Saturday I thought all night, trying to figure out what they could have done. Often you can go up the river and catch largemouth, but the water looked muddy at the ramp so we had all fished clear water on the main lake Saturday. I told my partner Jordan McDonald we were going for broke, running up the river to try to catch some bigger fish even if it was muddy.

The first place we stopped I got a keeper spot on a spinnerbait, not what I was hoping for, and Jordan caught a short spot. We fished great looking cover for over four hours and all we caught were two more short spots and a short largemouth even though there was good current, usually a good sign, the water was what I consider a perfect color. I could see a spinnerbait down over a foot deep.

At 10:30 we decided we had better go to the clear water and try to catch a keeper spot. On the way down the river, near the mouth and still in very stained water, I remembered a good point and we stopped on it. Current was moving across it and it is often a very good place when the current is flowing.

We immediately started catching fish. It was strange. The boat was sitting in about 14 feet of water and we were casting up on the point, covering it from five feet deep out to 14 feet deep. In the next two hours I caught about 15 small keeper spots and several that were too small to keep. Although I gave Jordan one of the lizards I was using, and he rigged it Texas style just like mine, I caught all the keepers.

By 12:30 the fish quit biting and the boat traffic go so bad it was uncomfortable and dangerous to stay there, so we went to some other places. For some reason pleasure boaters like to break the law and ride close to fishermen, violating the 100 foot rule. Most of them seemed to slow down to make as big a wake as possible. I yelled at one guy when he almost ran over us and he yelled back we were in his way although there was a lot of open water all around us!

Jordan had a bad day. I got three more keepers fishing docks and points but he never got one. It is weird the way it goes some days and you just can not figure out why. I have had it happen to me many times. In fact, in a February tournament at Bartletts Ferry Jordan won with a limit weighing about 12 pounds and had big fish and I caught one keeper all day!

What goes around comes around, sometimes!

Fishing Fathers’ Day Gifts

A Few Ideas for Dad’s Day Gifts

By Frank Sargeant
from The Fishing Wire

Forget the socks and ties, OK? We want outdoors stuff for Father’s Day. Here are a few suggestions:

Anglers are hard on shoes, no doubt about it. Our feet are frequently wet, from spray, from rain, or from hopping over the side to beach the boat. It’s not uncommon to have shoes drizzled with fish blood and slime and with mud, either. And most of us spend long hours standing up to fish–sitting restricts casting efficiency too much.

Most of us also like “kick off” type shoes, low-cut, just in case we someday fall over the side–it happens to everybody eventually.

Finding shoes that are at home in the water, stain-resistant, comfortable enough to make long hours of standing bearable, and easy to get off and on can be a bit of a challenge.

Soft Science is one good solution. Their “Fin” model shoes are amazingly comfortable and light–under a pound for a pair, which is about half the weight of conventional shoes. The microfiber mesh uppers keep feet cool, whether you wear socks or not, and the material is both strong and stain-resistant.

The removable insole is made of a soft composite the company calls Trileon, which is waterproof, stain-resistant, odor-resistant and washable, and which provides great arch support and heel cushioning. The sole is made of this same material, and it’s non-marking on boat decks and very “grippy”, even on wet fiberglass or mossy boat ramps.

Vents in the sole allow water to run out if you go wading, and the sole wraps up well over the mesh uppers to give a bit of protection on rough terrain. Fins are available in sizes from 6 to 13, and in five colors. Price is $79.99;

The Impecca Power-It is an amazingly compact jump-starter, about the size of an iPhone 6 Plus (but thicker) and yet it’s got the oomph to kick off your outboard or tow vehicle for an emergency start. It’s also a charger that works for 12-volt marine and automotive batteries, and it also has dual USB outlets to charge cellphones, tablets and laptops. It includes an LED flashlight with SOS signaling device–all for $79.95 in the 8,000mAh version.

The company says the product will recycle 3000 times before needing replacement. Larger versions capable of jumpstarting even large trucks and big RV’s are also available;

Also for those who need portable power, the Olympia External Battery/Dual Solar Charger provides charging and battery power for those who go “off-grid” in areas where electrical power is not available. The system includes a 5500mAh rechargeable battery, solar recharging panels and both USB and micro-USB ports for charging. It’s designed to handle wet weather and the bumps and shocks of backcountry life, according to the company. It charged my iPhone 6 in about three hours, and the company says it will charge most tablets in 5 to 6 hours. It’s $59.99:

Every outdoorsman can use another set of Cablz, the clever sunglasses retainers made of stainless steel cable or heavy monofilament. These things not only keep your glasses handy at all times, they also don’t hang on the back of your neck and draw sweat, as cloth retainers do.

The rubber tips of these retainers slide easily onto the ear pieces of most glasses, and several models have adjustable lanyards, especially handy if you need to keep several pairs of glasses handy, as I have to do these days–one for running the boat, one for reading the GPS and one for tying knots. They’re 11.99 to $14.99. A flotation device that slides on the retainer is also available–I’ve never had one blow off, but considering the price of prescription sunglasses these days, probably a good idea;