Category Archives: How To Fish

Lake Guntersville Weekly Fishing Report from Captain Mike Gerry

Happy Captain Mike Gerry Client

Fishing Report, Lake Guntersville 8/1/20


As the heat turns on and up it generally becomes very tough to get bites this time of year; so
far, this has not been the case. Sure, there some days where they might not be pulling water,
or the elements made that day tough but for the most part fishing has been good and well
worth your time on Guntersville. Overall fishing is good, and the good times are rolling!


The bass are responding mostly to different versions of soft plastics, one day they want a big
worm, another a small finesse worm like Missile bait 48 stick bait or even a heavy weighted
punching type bait like Missile Bait D-Bombs. The wind as also offered the ability to use some
faster moving baits like Picasso Spinner baits, and Tight-Line swim jigs.

We have fished mainly
in the 8 to 15 ft. range looking for structure.
Come fish with us I have guides and days available all summer long to fish with you, no one
will treat you better or work harder to see you have a great day on the water. We fish with
great sponsor products Lowrance Electronics, Ranger Boats, Mercury motors, Boat Logix
mounts, Duckett Fishing, Vicious Fishing, Navionics mapping, T&H Marine and more.

Captain Mack’ Lake Lanier Fishing Report

From Captain Mack Farr

Nice fish, shy fisherman

July has been hot, especially in the afternoon. Fishing has been hot too, especially in the
afternoon! Of course when the rods are bending it’s a whole lot easier to tolerate the heat and
humidity!

If you need to cool off, you can always take a dip in the lake, which fell slightly this
past week, .21 feet over full pool to 1071.21. The surface temp is at 88 degrees. Based on the
extended forecast we have plenty of heat and humidity in store as the ‘Dog Days” of summer
are here!

Looking at the extended forecast indicates we will have a greater chance of afternoon
thunderstorms as we enter into next week.
Striper fishing has been good, and you’ll have several choices of productive patterns to choose
from.

The fish are using the typical July deep water patterns, although we still have some fish
pushing back into the pockets over a 40 to 50 foot bottom. The overall trend is Stripers moving
towards deeper water, creek channels, over the river channel. Fyi, you may find fish at any point
out over the river or major creek channels, but that pattern seems to be best from mid day on.


You may also see fish anywhere from 30 down to 80, so place the baits where the greatest
activity is. Monitor the live baits closely, keeping the bait alive on the hook is difficult in some
areas of the lake, check and change frequently if needed. Supplement the down lines with some
power reeling, Spoons, Chipmunks and Herring are all good choices and power reeling is a
good compliment to the live bait spread. FYI, Power reeling tip number 4 will post on Sunday
afternoon!

Live bait fishing has been producing well, down lines are the dominant producer, with
a few fish still being taken on weighted flat lines.
The trolling bite has also been very good, with fish responding to Minis and Jigs on the Lead
core, full size umbrellas, and spoons. Pull the Minis on lead core, about 275 feet back on the
counter, 30 foot leader included, about eight colors if you are counting off of the line. You can
use the same depth parameters on either a 2 oz Chipmunk jig or the big spoons, there will not
be much variation in depth between those three baits.

Which one is the best option? That
answer varies from day to day, but the 2oz Chipmunk tipped with a Herring or 6” trailer has been
very consistent. As far as spoons go, the Parker spoons are a good choice as are the Hawg
Series Fat Spoons.

Any of the aforementioned baits can be trolled on lead core or with a
downrigger, so keep that in mind when you deploy the spread. If you opt for the full size
umbrella, and they have also been very effective, pull the rig from 120 to150 feet behind the
boat. You can also use the rigs on the lead core or behind a downrigger as well. You may want
to go with a lighter umbrella on the down riggers, just because it is hard to hold the bigger rigs in
the release clips.

The Capt Macks 3 arm rigs create much less drag so they are a good option,
as are the Mini Mack’s. To help determine the depth of the big umbrellas when using with the down riggers, use the amount of line from the downriver ball to the rig and find the depth value
for that amount of line deployed on the chart. Add that number to the depth of the downrigger
ball and you should be spot on!


The Bass Fishing is also typical for July, main lake brush in 20 to 35 feet is holding plenty of
fish. If you want the numbers, the drop shot will be awfully hard to beat, it may catch the bigger
fish, but it will run up the numbers! Don’t forget about casting the drop shot as well. especially
on the windless days when the water really slicks off. This can be a very good technique when
fishing the brush.

Shakey heads and your favorite finesse worms will also be effective in the
brush. You can still entice a few of the bigger fish out of the brush to take a walking bait, and a
sub surface bait like a Steelshad, Spybait or weighted Fluke over the brush are also good
selections.

California Catch of Swordfish Takes Off as Anglers Embrace New Technique

Catch Swordfish

From NOAA Fisheries
from The Fishing Wire

Researchers have tagged swordfish off Southern California for studies evaluating new ways of fishing for the species. Credit: Pfleger Institute of Environmental Research (PIER)Recreational fishing for swordfish off southern California has surged over the last year. Fishermen have started borrowing a strategy from East Coast anglers and the commercial fishing world: going deep during the daytime.

Tagging and tracking research by NOAA Fisheries and the Pfleger Institute of Environmental Research (PIER)revealed that swordfish spend most of the day at depths greater than 700 feet. Commercial fishermen on the West Coast originally began fishing in deeper waters for swordfish. They used buoy gear in part to avoid protected species such as sea turtles and marine mammals.

Now recreational anglers on the West Coast have caught on to the technique and have seen their catches increase dramatically. Chugey Sepulveda, PIER Director and Senior Scientist, said anecdotal numbers suggest that recreational swordfish catches off southern California have jumped. They’ve gone from fewer than 30 in a typical year to hundreds in a matter of a few months.

“It’s been a real boost for the recreational fleet because it now offers anglers a new and exciting quarry that was previously considered extremely difficult to target,” he said.

Research shows that swordfish spend most daytime hours at depths of 700 to 1,400 feet, coming only occasionally to the surface. Recreational fishermen had once primarily pursued them only when swordfish were spotted basking on the surface. Days of excitedly dragging a bait in front of a sunning swordfish have turned into long days of staring at rod tips.

“Swordfish have always been considered the pinnacle of fishing success since the days of Zane Grey,” said Bill DePriest, publisher and editor of Pacific Coast Sportfishing Magazine. “Now it’s something more people are experiencing.”

Catch and Release Ethic Emerges
As catches have increased, many fishermen are now discussing bag limits and potential catch-and-release measures to prevent exploiting the swordfish stock, Sepulveda said. Swordfish populations in the North Pacific include two stocks: an eastern Pacific Ocean stock and a Western and Central North Pacific Ocean stock. There continues to be discussion as to which stock southern California fish belong. This is one reason why Sepulveda and his team have headed up NOAA Fisheries-sponsored research on stock structure.

The 2018 stock assessment for the Western and Central North Pacific Ocean swordfish stock found off the West Coast shows that the stock is not overfished. It is also not experiencing overfishing. The assessment also found that the stock can support more fishing while remaining sustainable. It found that the biomass shows “a relatively stable population, with a slight decline until the mid-1990s followed by a slight increase since 2000.”Figure.

Recreational fishermen have employed similar methods on the U.S. East Coast and other areas. Recreational anglers on the West Coast have caught on to the strategies and techniques more recently as the new deep set commercial fishery has taken off. The main season for swordfish off southern California is roughly from late summer into winter, DePriest said.“It’s a healthy hobby. And with swordfish, it’s definitely always exciting,” DePriest said. “It’s great to see so many people interested.”

Pacific swordfish are highly migratory and often travel thousands of miles across international boundaries. Since many nations target the species, effective conservation and management requires international cooperation as well as domestic attention.

Scientists are now seeking funding for a study to collect more data on the growing recreational fishery. Data is needed to evaluate the survival of swordfish that are caught and then released. While there are best practices for choosing the right gear and handling with care when catch-and-release fishing, survival rates vary by species.

Recreational anglers can also contribute to swordfish research by participating in our Southwest Fisheries Science Center’s Cooperative Billfish Tagging Program. The program, started in 1963, provides tagging supplies to anglers. It helps us better understand movement and migration patterns, species distribution, and age and growth. Anglers tag the fish before releasing them.

Kayak Panfish

Kayak Panfish Fishing Photo courtesy of Hobie

Kayaks, ultralight tackle and panfish make a successful combinationBy Noel VickPhoto courtesy of Hobie
from The Fishing Wire

“Panfish” is perhaps the biggest catchall category in fishing. Essentially, if it’s round and measures somewhere between the size of an adult hand and the fateful frying pan, it’s a panfish. We’re talking about the zillion species of sunfish, a couple styles of crappies, as well as – in the opinion of many including myself – white bass.

Drumroll please… And now you’re being urged to pursue the commonest freshwater fish in North America with the uncommonest of approaches: pedal kayak trolling. Take a breath and a moment to get over the weirdness. It’s an extraordinarily effective technique.For this discourse, it’s best talking lure selection first, as it’ll dovetail into techniques. My panfish trolling portfolio consists of two primary categories: hardbaits and spinners.

Hardbait Pedal Trolling
Not too many years ago, the marketplace was inundated with downsized bodybaits, including lipped crankbaits, jerkbaits and lipless rattle baits. Manufacturers miniaturized existing models and developed entirely new micro hardbaits. I’ve trolled and tested them all from my Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 14.

Panfish of all stripes – especially larger specimens – either make a living off bait and fish fry or will opportunistically eat forage with fins and tails. Hardbaits also ferret-out the most aggressive fish and can be trolled faster than spinners, letting you cover more water in less time. Hardbaits are unquestionably the best search tool.

Trolling by pedal kayak simply means casting the bait back, letting out additional line – minimum of 100 feet – and you’re fishing. Whatever species you pursue, the odds of success are improved by getting the lure as far away from the boat as possible, especially in depths of 10-feet and less where fish more easily scatter. Experience has proven, however, that the darker the water the closer you can run baits.

As with other forms of pedal trolling, longer rods are recommended. Think about the common practice of spider-rigging for crappies; it’s about spreading the field of coverage. In a kayak, where legal, two long rods can be easily managed. 

The best all-around panfish trolling rods hail from St. Croix’s Panfish Spinning Series. The blanks are constructed of a dynamic blend of SCVI and SCII graphite providing responsive touch, balance and finesse. I employ either the 8-foot (PFS80LMF2) or 9-foot (PFS90LMF2), light, moderate-fast, 2-piece models. They curve concentrically on the move, and natively sweep-set upon strike. For added machismo with larger baits, or bigger-billed ones with greater resistance, I carry the 7-foot, light, extra-fast-action model (PF70LXF).

Rods are paired with 2500 size spinning reels. Smaller 1000 and 2000 sized reels don’t take up line nearly as fast. And personally, I like the feel of a larger reel. And when you opt to stop and cast, they yield greater distance. Daiwa’s affordable Regal LT is a solid and widely available choice.

Like all my pedal kayak pursuits, braid is the word. Braid has better sensitivity and buffers the softness of long panfish rods with stoutness to produce ideal, hands-free hooksets. Braid also lets the rod communicate to me that lures are running true. Consider either 6- or 8-pound test of Daiwa’s super narrow diameter J-Braid x8.

Leaders are mandatory, too, long ones (24-inch minimum), which combat panfish species’ exceptional vision. Fluorocarbon makes are best. I tie in sections of Daiwa’s J-Fluoro in 4- or 6-pound test, finishing with a tiny snap for speedy lure changes.

LIVETARGET’s 2 ¾-inch Rainbow Smelt Jerkbait does it all, never discriminating against species, including bass. Although designed to replicate a rainbow smelt, fish in waters dominated by shad and other shiner species don’t seem to care. I theorize that the Rainbow Smelt Jerkbait’s precision anatomy, pure trolling path, and seductive action make it universally effective.Rapala has a major stake in the panfish market, too, and their baits are always onboard.

Fish fawn over the petite, 2 ½-inch Rapala Husky Jerk, a downsized rendition of the popular, slow-sinking series. To that, Rapala also tenders the Ultra Light series, catering specifically to panfish anglers. The 1 ½-inch Ultra Light Crank is not only cute as hell, but has the surprising capacity to run deep on the troll, nearing the 10-foot mark.

Daiwa also comes to the plate with a couple diminutive heavy hitters. The 2-inch Dr. Minnow Jerkbait turns fish heads. And when you’re in the midst of larger, meat-eaters, consider Daiwa’s 3.75-inch TD Minnow.

Color selection is an exercise in experimentation. For the most part, I stick to natural, baitfish tones – the silvers, whites and blues – but often opt for more color in stained water. And for whatever reason, panfish respond exceptionally well to greens, especially ones with lighter bellies. 

Spinner Pedal Trolling
Let’s first clarify, I’m talking about hairpin spinners, not inline spinners. Years of pedal trolling have proven that bags are basically doubled with hairpins. I believe it’s the flash combined with a juicy, baitfish profiled target – the jig and soft plastic.DIY is the only way to go with hairpin spinners. Certainly, there are hordes of pre-rigged variations available, but none matching my surefire assortment. To this, entirely, my hairpins are founded on Betts Spinners. The series affords Colorado blade sizes 0, 1, and 3, the heartier 3-size providing the best loft, especially with smaller jigs. Both silver and gold options are available, too. I employ silver in most scenarios, but swap to gold in dark water.Z-Man Slim SwimZ and Finesse ShroomZ jighead with hairpin spinner.

Next in line is the actual jig. Betts offers several workable styles, too, but I prefer a couple others. Z-Man’s capsule-headed Finesse ShroomZ are the defacto heads for Ned Rigs, and I find them equally amazing with hairpin spinners. Featherweight sizes of 1/15- and 1/10-ounce are the magic bullets. Keep a pool of red, black, green and white heads onboard to color match bodies.Northland Tackle’s RZ Jig is another winner, and easily found above the Mason Dixon Line.For my druthers, there are three failsafe brands of bodies: Z-Man, Bobby Garland and Bass Assassin. The throbbing paddletail of Z-Man’s 2.5-inch Slim SwimZ is a crappie menace. Its narrow girth prompts the hairpin to run single-file. And, constructed of ElaZtech, a single Slim SwimZ can easily burn through a limit of crappies. 

Nationwide, Bobby Garland Crappie Baits own the most shelf space. This is warranted. The popular bodies – specifically the Original 2” Baby Shad – are to panfish what peanuts are to elephants. Ideally shaped like fish fry, they are squishy in the fingers, causing fish to hang on, and come in a staggering 75 colors. The flamboyant Cajun Cricket is a sunfish favorite. Baitfish-toned Blueback Shad Diamond Mist tempt everything in clear to lightly stained water. Glacier Blue, a white body peppered with blue, is a frequent flyer as well.Grab a few packs of Bass Assassin’s 3-inch Baby Shad to mix things up. They, too, come in a wide pallet of colors.

Northland Tackle’s legendary Rigged Mimic Minnow Shad come pre-rigged with physically accurate bodies and fish-fry-shaped heads. The color matching is already done. 1/32- and 1/16-ouncers are the chosen ones.  Pedal trolling hairpin spinners is elementary. Locomoting slower than you would with hardbaits, even as slow as 1 MPH, is enough to keep the blades turning while riding high in the water column. Hairpins are at their best lazily humping along above targeted fish. In 10-feet of water, I want the hairpin mobilized 3 or 4 feet down, and no deeper than 5. Sometimes, I’ll run a hairpin rig in both rod holders, crack a cold one and light a cigar, and make sequentially spaced passes over suspect water.

Even though many missions are in less than 10-feet of water, my eyes are glued to the electronics, a 9-inch Raymarine Axiom. Even in shallow water you can mark fish. But more importantly, the Raymarine reveals weeds and other fish holding elements, not to mention signaling depth breaks. And if you find panfish pasted to the bottom, it’s time to hit the brakes and go to a vertical presentation; just the jig and plastic or a weensy jigging spoon. The Raymarine will reveal these tiny baits beneath the kayak in real time. Turn on the A-scope feature and experience the same, live drama you enjoy when fishing vertically through the ice.

Assuming you’re the results-oriented type of angler who has gotten over the stigma of trolling in general (you likely wouldn’t have read this far if you weren’t), expand the technique into your panfishing – preferably by pedal-driven kayak – and see what happens. A cooler of crappies and sunfish does not lie.

Summer Catfishing

Tips for Summer Catfishing

Randy Zellers, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
Assistant Chief of Communications
from The Fishing Wire

The catfish may be one of the most misunderstood of all Arkansas’s sportfish. It occurs in practically every body of water in the state, grows to gigantic proportions, and is easy to catch with inexpensive equipment. Top off those features with its fantastic flavor, and it’s amazing that anyone would look down on these hardy fish.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission stocks thousands of catchable-size channel catfish through its hatchery system each year to small ponds and lakes that cannot keep up with fishing pressure. Mother Nature produces millions more of the fish in Arkansas’s rivers and lakes every year. All it takes to catch them is a little patience and the proper lure to tempt them into biting. The secret ingredient to all good catfish lures is scent.

Catfish can “smell” baits much better than many fish species. Highly sensitive membranes inside the fish’s nostrils detect compounds in the water. The more folds these membranes have, the keener the fish’s sense of smell. Trout have 18 or so of these folds, while largemouth bass may have only 10. The channel catfish is blessed with 140 of these specialized folds to sense smell, enabling it to detect compounds as minute as one part per 100 million.

So what odors make the best bait for catfish? Here are a few tried and true offerings to keep you hooked up this summer.

Smelling Fishy
The best smells of all are going to come from the foods catfish are used to eating. Shad, small bream and chunks of less desirable species like carpsuckers and skipjack are top producers for many catfish anglers.

Justin Homan, lead biologist in the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s catfish team, says many veteran catfish anglers, especially those on the big rivers of east Arkansas, favor cut shad and skipjack. These oily fish will put out a scent big catfish are looking for.“When I’m running jugs with my wife and little girl, we tend to use cut bait as well, especially fish with a tougher skin,” Homan said. “Chunks of carp or buffalo stay on the hook well and will bring in a lot of fish.”

Homan says flathead catfish are much fonder of live baitfish than cut bait, so targeting these big fighters may require a little more effort to care for your lures. Many anglers use goldfish purchased from bait dealers, and he’s personally done well on Lake Conway running trotlines at night with live sunfish.

“You have to catch the sunfish first, and can’t move them from another body of water, but they work very well,” Homan said. “One trick is to check your bait at about midnight. Channel cats may beat the flatheads to your bait, and the flatheads are most active after about midnight. Rebaiting then can really help bring in some bigger cats.”

Any fish or crayfish caught in the wild can’t be transported to another body of water and used as bait there unless it is used as dead bait. The risk of spreading disease or invasive species is too high when moving live, wild-caught baitfish. If you want to use live baitfish but don’t have time to catch them in the body of water where you’ll fish, goldfish, shiners and minnows that can be purchased from bait shops come from baitfish farms that are certified to be free of diseases and other nasties live fish may carry.

Creepy Crawlies
Catalpa worms, nightcrawlers and other crawling critters from the flowerbed also make great bait, and they can be pulled up from the dirt can be transported without issue. Flipping a few bricks from the flowerbed or scraping aside some leaves and digging at the surface of the dirt should garner enough worms for a quick trip.

Some anglers have taken the collection of worms to the next level, using a special technique called “worm grunting” or “worm fiddling” to get gobs of bait in a hurry. 

Compost bins also are great places to find active red worms nicknamed “red wigglers,” that don’t grow as big as the nightcrawlers you find on the ground after a rain but give plenty of action to entice finicky cats to bite.

SPAM-tastic
One of those overlooked grocery store baits that definitely works wonders is good old canned meat. As outdoor writer Don Wirth always penned in issues of Bassmaster Magazine’s humorous Harry ‘n’ Charlie columns, SPAM isn’t cured and ready to eat until it has a half-inch of dust collected on the top in the back of the convenience store shelves. Believe it or not, Arkansas’s current state record and once world-record 116-pound, 12-ounce blue catfish was caught on this easy-to-store bait in 2001. It doesn’t hurt to keep a can handy in the tackle box, and if the fish aren’t biting, it’s not half bad with crackers and a little hot sauce. You can’t say the same for nightcrawlers.

Vampire-proof Weenies
Clint Coleman, assistant coordinator for the AGFC’s Family and Community Fishing Program, has seen his share of stinky lures, as he helps run dozens of fishing derbies each year. His favorite bait is pieces of hot dog soaked in a mix of cherry Kool-Aid and garlic powder. For some reason, that combination sets catfish in fishing derbies on fire.“It’s easy to get at the store, and it’s easy to handle with kids,” Coleman said. “Some kids may not want to mess with worms, livers or stink baits, but everyone will pick up a hot dog. The garlic will put out plenty of scent to get the fish honed in on your lure.”

Coleman says don’t worry about adding water to activate the Kool-Aid. The juice from the hot dogs is all it takes.

Chicken Liver
Trey Reid, host of Arkansas Wildlife Television, has had the opportunity to fish for big catfish on the Mississippi River with some real sticks, and he agrees that cut skipjack is the prime rib of the catfishing world, but for his excursions to smaller waters, he still tends toward the bait he was introduced to catfishing with — chicken livers.

“You can pick it up at nearly any grocery store on the way to the lake or keep it in the refrigerator with a little less complaints from family members than other wild concoctions,” Reid said. “Sometimes it’s good to just keep it simple and remember that fishing doesn’t have to be a huge expense or take a ton of time to prepare for.

Keep it Clean
Strange as it may sound, you may not need to get stinky to get on a good channel catfish bite. Jon Stein, district fisheries biologist for the AGFC in Rogers says soap is one of the best baits used for sampling channel catfish in nets.

“Biologists used to use a manufactured soybean cheese log for bait, but we caught a lot of turtles, too,” Stein said. “Staff now use Zote Soap to bait nets. It attracts the channel catfish without the turtles so we can focus on getting valuable information on Channel Catfish including lengths, weights, population size (catch per net), age and can evaluate how much of the population is from stocked fish.”

Stein says that although he’s personally never baited up with soap, he’s talked to many anglers on the water that swear by it.“It needs to have a high animal fat content in it,” Stein said. “Some anglers say they melt it, pour it into ice cube trays and place a hook in it so the soap hardens around the hook, then they can keep things clean and organized on the water.”

Zote is even scientifically proven to catch catfish, so-to-speak. A study conducted by Russell Barabe and Donald Jackson at Mississippi State University and presented to the American Fisheries Society in 2011 found that the catch rates of catfish between Zote soap and cut bait on trotlines was statistically insignificant. The study was in an effort to find alternatives to catfish baiting that would not catch some species of endangered aquatic turtles. The soap caught zero turtles while nabbing 193 blue catfish and 462 channel catfish when fished from 11,000 trotline hooks in six coastal rivers overnight in the Magnolia State.

Have a favorite formula for catfish success? Send a comment to randy.zellers@agfc.ar.gov. If we can stomach it, we might just feature it in an upcoming edition of the AGFC’s Weekly Fishing Report.

Where and How to Catch Neely Henry Bass

July Bass at Neely Henry

with Waine Pittman

     Its hot and muggy but that is no reason to stay home in front of the air conditioner.  Catching a big spot or largemouth will make you forget the heat, and there are few better places to do that right now than the Coosa River on the upper end of Neely Henry Lake.

     Neely Henry is just downstream of Lake Weiss at Gadsden.  From the Tillison Brend Park Ramp upstream the river is narrow but there are feeder creeks with grassbeds and other cover.  Docks are scattered on the river and in the creeks.  Current runs in the river most days from power generation at the Weiss dam and the Neely Henry dam. 

     Current seems to make the spots and largemouth grow big fat and strong.  Hook a three pound spot in the current and you will swear you have one twice that big or a striper.  The current also makes them hold in predictable places and you can catch both species without dredging the depths in July.

     Waine Pittman lived the dream, as the BASS Federation Nation motto goes.  In 2008 he qualified for the Georgia Top Six in his club, the West Georgia Bass Hunters.  At the state tournament he placed 4th at Lake Seminole, making the State Team.  At the Federation Nation Southern Divisional at Santee Cooper he was the top man on the Georgia team, qualifying him for the Nationals.

     In a dream trip that almost turned disastrous due to the weather Waine was the top man on the Southern Division team which made him the Southern Division representative at the BASS Masters Classic, arguably the most important tournament there is each year.

     Waine is sponsored by Nitro Boats, Mercury Motors, Minkota Trolling Motors, JJ’s Magic, Cull Buddy, Triple Fish line, Net Bait lures, Cold Steel Lures, TC Cranks, Costa Eyewear and Tillman Eye Center.  He uses Revo reels exclusively and says they are the best reels available.

     I asked Waine what his favorite lake was and he didn’t hesitate to say “Neely Henry.”  His club fishes the lake every year, usually in July, and he also fishes pot and local tournaments on Neely.  He loves to fish the river for big spots and largemouth and knows how to catch them. 

     Waine started tournament fishing while in college and likes tournament fishing.  Next year he plans on fishing the Southern Division BASS Opens tournaments all his kids are now out of high school.

     Waine has a 5.5 pound spot and a 7 pound largemouth from the river, and his best tournament catch there was a five-fish limit weighing 23 pounds.  The river is the perfect place for Waine to skip, pitch and flip a jig and pig, his favorite way of fishing.  And it catches fish there.

     “By late June bass are set up on their summer pattern,” Waine said. That means they are holding in the river and bigger creeks on ledges and deeper cover and running in to shallow water to feed. Creek mouths are a key area this time of year, giving bass a short route to grass beds in the creeks and to cover that breaks the current on the river banks. 

     Waine will start at daylight on shallow grassbeds near creek mouths, then move to the river banks after the sun gets up.  He fishes the grass fast with spinnerbaits, frogs and buzzbaits on one pass then come back and flip them with a Net Bait Paca Punch.  After an hour he moves out to the river channel and flips them with a jig he makes.

     Flipping, skipping and pitching a jig and pig with a Paca Chunk SR. behind a five-sixteenths ounce jig works well.  That combo has a lot of action and works catches fish in the current on the river.  Flipping is his bread and butter method of catching bass.

     Waine showed me the following ten spots where he catches bass in the river in early June. We were a little early for the pattern but caught some good spots and largemouth, but not the quality fish Waine hoped we would catch. By now the bigger fish will be more active on these spots.

     1.  N 34 00.779 – W 85 55.412 – If you put in at Tillison Bend Park Ramp run up to the mouth of Cove Creek, the first creek upstream of the ramp on the same side of the river. Go into the creek to the 4th dock on the right, in front of a brick house, and fish upstream. There is a good grass bed by this ramp and it is a good place to start.

     Fish the small patch of grass quickly then work on upstream, fishing the seawall and small point at the next dock. Past it is a big point. Fish it then go around the point. A huge grassbed lining the bank starts there and runs into a cove, out of it on the other side and on up the bank.

     Throw your buzzbait to the bank and work it back across the gap.  Try a spinnerbait, too.  A frog works well over this water willow grass in the thicker parts of it and that is where the biggest bass will hold. Waine likes the Cold Steel frog since it is thin and tough.

     Waine usually fishes around the first pocket with those baits then turns and fishes the same grass with the Paca Punch. That bait is a solid body bait that stays up on the hook well and has lots of action.  He will drop the bait into holes in the grass and also punch through the thicker mats.  A half ounce sinker is heavy enough to get through most of this grass and works well.

     We hooked a couple of good largemouth here the day we fished. Both hit spinnerbaits the first few minutes before the sun came up.  Sometimes you can punch the thicker grass can catch fish in the bright sun, and if the fish are actively feeding a spinnerbait run through the grass will catch them even in the bright sun.

     2.  N 34 00.870 – W 85 55.309 – Go back to the mouth of the creek and start on the upstream point, fishing upstream. Pitch a jig and pig to all the cover along this bank. Trees and brush create eddies in the current that the bass use as ambush points 

     Always fish upstream. That gives you better boat control and also helps work your bait with the current in a natural action. Fish at an angle ahead of the boat, pitching or flipping your bait so it hits on top of the cover and falls in behind it with the current.

     Work on up to the first few docks along this bank, hitting them where the posts breaks the current.  Current is critical when fishing the river. When it moves, the bass bite, but you need a strong trolling motor to fish it. Waine uses a 36 volt Minkota for this reason.

     3.  N 34 00.744 – W 85 54.500 – A little further up the river on the opposite side, just where the river starts a gentle bend to the right, a small double mouth creek enters the river. There are grass beds in the mouth that hold good bass. Waine said he pulled up here one day and on back to back casts caught a 4.63 and a 4.75 pound spot. There was a big bass chasing shad here when we got to the spot but we could not get it to hit.

     Keep your boat out in the river and cast into the creek, working your fast moving baits over the grass. Fish both sides of the small island splitting the creek at the river edge.  Waine says he does not work back into the smaller creeks like this one since the bass will be set up right on the river this time of year.

     4.  N 33 59.479 – W 85 54.044 – Further up the river Tidmore Bend makes a big horseshoe bend.  Going upstream, watch for an old dead snag tree leaning out over the water.  Start well downstream of this snag and work up to it. You should stop across the river from the blue roof house on the far bank if you can’t see the snag.

     This inside bend is typical of a good type place to fish.  There is a little less current here so bass like to feed here when it is running strong, but still enough to make them active.  

     Waine says he usually catches bass in less than five feet of water, so he concentrates his casts to the base of trees in the water and brush or little cuts on the bank. It is worth fishing on out to the ends of the bigger trees some to see if bass are holding deeper, but unless you get some bites keep your bait in the more shallow feeding zone.

     5. N 34 05.552 – W 85 51.845 – Waine usually runs way on up the river from here, going past the Appalachian Highway Bridge. Upstream of the bridge Coats Bend makes a sweeping turn to the left.  Go all the way past it to where the next bend starts turning to the right.  A small island sits just off the bank and a small creek enters behind it. This is an excellent place to fish.

     Start just downstream of the cut behind the island and fish upstream, pitching your bait into the ditch and working it out. Cover both points. The downstream point will have current hitting it and turning into the ditch, creating a good feeding eddy. The upstream point has current swirling around it to make the bass feed. There is grass on both points that you should hit hard, but also fish out in front of it.

     Fish upstream a short distance, hitting the cover on the river bank. Fish will feed along it as they move to the mouth of the creek to feed so it is worth checking out.

     6.  N 34 07.637 – W 85 48.102 – Run all the way to the bend where the Weiss Re-Regulation pool empties into the river and stop on the right bank going upstream.  Fish the right bank along the inside bend of the river, starting well downstream of the turn.  Fish up to the turn past the dead snags in the water.

     Along here the current is very strong out in the river but you will actually find water moving upstream from the eddy behind the point.  There are cuts in the bank that create additional eddies and the wood in the water breaks the current, too. 

     Waine got a good keeper spot here on his home made jig and says it is a very good bank.  It is worth hitting every little hole and piece of wood along this bank.  Fish it slowly. With the current eddying around you can fish here fairly easily in both directions.

     7.  N 34 07.217 – W 85 49.057 – Headed back down the river go to the mouth of Ballplay Creek, on your left going downstream.  It is on the straight section of the river about half way before you get to the turn back to the right going downstream. There is a lot of wood in the mouth of this creek, especially under the overhanging tree on the downstream point.

     Waine says it is nasty under that tree and you will probably get hung up, but it is worth it since it holds good bass.  Start fishing just downstream of the creek mouth and work into it, hitting the cove under the tree as you go into the creek. This one is deep enough to fish into the creek about fifty feet then fish back out on the opposite bank. 

     Time of day is not real important but sun seems to help position the bass a little.  We caught more fish while the sun was bright than when it was cloudy. But current is more important than anything else, and Waine will fish this pattern from an hour after first light the rest of the day.

     8.  N 34 06.632 – W 85 51.505 – Going back down the river on the outside slight bend to the right watch for a small building on the left bank. Just downstream of it is a ditch with wooden retaining walls on it. This is the location of an old cotton mill.  You want to fish the right side of the river, across from the ditch.

     Idle in slowly here, especially if the water is down some. Old walls and humps come up to a couple of feet deep about 50 feet off the bank and make eddies in the main river current.  Waine will fish a Bandit 200 shad colored crankbait here as well as a spinnerbait.  You can reel the crankbait down to bump the tops of the cover and run a spinnerbait over it.

     This is a good place to pull in and make a couple of dozen casts to see if the bass are on the structure.  Waine says he will not stay long if he doesn’t get bit quick. Stay out a long cast from the bank and work your baits at an angle, casting toward the bank then coming back downstream. Also fan cast upstream to hit the cover further out. You can see it on your depthfinder.

     9.  N 34 04.074 – W 85 49.733 – Go back down past the big bend and the island in hole 5.  Just before you get to Coats Bend you will see some houses and docks on the right side. If you are headed upstream they are the first docks on the left above the bridge, but a long way from it. 

     Stop in front of the dock with a Rebel Flag with the words “In God We Trust” on it. It is in front of a big unusually shaped house. The house is long and thin running at a 90 degree angle to the river then wide at the end away from the river. There is also a high car unloading area with columns supporting the high roof. It looks like the front of a hotel.

     The three docks from the flag upstream are good ones to fish. Wood washes in and hangs on them, and small diversion walls just upstream of some of them make good eddies at the docks. Fish the posts of the docks and all the wood around and under them, and also make some casts behind the docks between them and the bank, with your jig and pig.

     10.  N 34 01.954 – W 85 50.274 – Running down the river there is a small creek on the left on the outside of Coats Bend.  The creek forks a little way back. It is upstream of the bigger Dry Creek. This smaller creek has a dock on the upstream point that has steel I Beams supporting the deck and a paving stone or wall stone wall on both sides of the walkway coming down to it.

     Fish both points at the mouth of this creek.  Then work on back into the creek, fishing the overhanging brush and wood in the water.  Waine says the water is deep enough here to work all the way back to where the creek widens out on the left fork going in.  He got a keeper spot off the point where the creek splits.

     All these places hold good bass and there are many more creek mouths, inside bends and other kinds of cover to fish in the river. Head to it this summer and get in on the incredible fishing when the current is running.

Where and How to Catch December Neely Henry Bass

December Bass at Neely Henry

with Johnny Osborne

    Thanksgiving Holidays. Christmas Holidays. Lots of people hunting. What a great time to be on the lake!  Compared to much of the year there are few people on the lake and the bass are biting from the end of November through December.  A good choice for catching spots and largemouth right now is Neely Henry.

    Located on the Coosa River just downstream of Lake Weiss, Neely Henry is a long river-like lake with just over 11,000 acres of water.  It runs 77 miles from dam to headwaters and has a wide variety of structure and cover, although many creeks and ditches are silted in.  Dammed in 1950, this old lake has lots of grass and there is still a lot of wood cover in the lake.

    According to the Alabama DNR there are a lot of 15 to 18 inch largemouth in the lake and the spotted bass population is “exceptional” for large fish.  The numbers of spots in the 14 to 20 inch range is one of the best in the state.   Just over half the bass weighed in during tournaments are spots, according to the BAIT survey.

    Johnny Osborne grew up in the area and has lived near Neely Henry all his life, except for a stint in the navy.  He has fished all his life and in the 1970s a co-worker got him started tournament fishing.  Fishing has been a passion all his life.

    This year Johnny fished the BFL series and made the regional tournament.  He also fishes the BASS Weekend Series and the ABA as well as many local tournaments.  He does some guiding on the lake and has helped many pros locate hotspots for big tournaments.

    Last year in the in the St. Jude’s Charity Tournament on Neely Henry he and his partner had five spots weighing 19 pounds, 2 ounces.  His best five from Neely Henry weighed over 26 pounds and his best tournament catch was five at 24-14.  He has landed a 6 pound, 3 ounce spot and an 8 pound, 2 ounce largemouth on Neely Henry.

    “Bass are following baitfish and feeding shallow from Thanksgiving through Christmas,” Johnny said.  You can catch them on a variety of baits and in several kinds of cover and structure.  Current makes a big difference and they bite much better when it is moving.

    Most of Johnny’s fishing this time of year concentrates on the mid-lake area, from City Ramp in Gadsden to the Rainbow Landing area.  Bass move to creek openings and shoreline cover and feed on shad as them move with the current, and you don’t have to make long runs to cover the area.

     Johnny will have a Stanley spinnerbait with a one gold and one silver willowleaf blade and a chartreuse and white skirt and an Academy XPO chartreuse crankbait for faster fishing. 

    For slower fishing he will rig a jig head that he pours himself with a watermelon red worm with a chartreuse tail, and have a Arkie tube Texas rigged and ready.  The tube is his favorite bait and Johnny likes a green pumpkin color.  He will also rig a Trick or Finesse green worm on a Carolina rig with a 32 inch leader behind a three-quarter ounce lead.

    A topwater bait like a Pop-R or a Sammy is also ready for low light times like early in the morning or during cloudy days.  Johnny says he catches bass at Neely Henry on top until the water gets to the low 50s so you can catch them on top most of the month.

    Put in at City Ramp or Rainbow Ramp and you can fish these spots without a lot of running. There were fish on them a couple of weeks ago when we fished and they should be even better now.

    1.  N 33 59.191 – W 85 59.996 – Head downstream from City Ramp and go under the bridges. On your right you will see a campground then a big white house on a narrow point between the river and Big Wills Creek.  The end of that point runs parallel to the river and is deep on both sides and is covered with rock.

    Stop on the river side and cast across the point.  You can run a crankbait or spinnerbait over it if there is current running and the fish are active.  If there is little current, work around the point casting a jig head worm up almost to the seawall and working it back down the point and across it at different angles.

    The day we fished there was not much current here in the early afternoon but we caught over a dozen bass on it on jig head worms. All were spots and the biggest was about two pounds. Johnny says you often get a lot of keeper size spots here since they stack up on this point.

    Before leaving Johnny will fish up the river side of the point for a hundred feet, working the steep drop along this bank.  Bass will feed here, too, especially if there is a good current running along the bank.

    2.   N 33 58.191 – W 86 00.004 – The mouth of Big Wills Creek is very wide since it makes a big bend, hitting the bank at the point above then swinging across to the far bank before turning and entering the river near the downstream point. Since the channel enters here, the downstream point of Big Wills Creek is good, too. 

    Stop on the river side of the point.   You will be across from the playground and old ramp at Dub Parker Boat Launch.  Fish the point that runs upstream parallel to the river and the flat on either side of it. Bass hold on the point and feed on the flats.

    Johnny starts on the river side and casts up on top of the point with a shaky head or his Texas rigged tube.   When sitting here you can see a three door white dock on the far bank of Big Wills Creek and the restaurant on the road across from it, but you will be a long way from it.

    Fish from the bank to the drop into the old creek channel.  Bump the bottom, probing for any cover where bass will be hiding.  Current running across this point makes it much better.

    3.  N 32 58.220 – W 85 59.331 – Run down the river and watch for the opening to a slough on your right.  It is near the end of a gently bend of the river to the left and is just downstream of a brown roof dock with a big wind chime on it.  The house behind it also has a brown roof with a white chimney. There was a “for sale” sign in the yard in early November.

    Keep your boat out in the river and fish the downstream point of this slough. The river channel runs right up to the mouth of the slough.  There was a stump sticking up out on the point and there is a hump in the middle of the slough. 

    Run a crankbait across the shallows, casting from the river channel and working your bait from shallow to deep. Bump the bottom as long as you can on each cast.  Make sure you work out from the point to cover the hump, too.

    After trying the crankbait try both a shaky head and tube. Drag them along the bottom, hoping them and then letting them sit still for a few seconds to wave in the current. 

    4.  N 33 57.475 – W 85 58.119 – Head downstream until you can see the upper end of Freeman’ Island, the big island in the middle of the river.  On your right you will see a small island just off the bank and upstream of it a big brown brick and wood house on that side.  The upstream point of the island has chunk rock on it and the flat from the island to the dock and ramp at the house holds feeding bass.

    Start at the island staying on the river side of the island and cast across the upstream point.  Keep working toward the dock, staying way out and making long casts. The flat has stumps on it and bass hold around them. 

    This is a good area to fish a Carolina Rigged worm since the heavy sinker will allow you to fish it quickly and find the stumps.   Your jig had worm and tube will work well, too.  Fish the area carefully, some big bass hold here.

    5.  N 33 56.910 – W 85 57.480 – Downstream of Freeman’s Island on the left going downstream you will see a electric pole on the bank surrounded by a chain link fence. It is not easy to see in the brush but it is the outlet for the Tyson plant wastewater holding pond.  Waste from the chicken processing plant dumps into the river here and it has a colorful local name that recognizes the “stuff” that comes out.

    This outflow draws in big schools of baitfish and big bass feed here.  You will see a path on the bank coming down to the water and out from it a pipe runs out to dump waste. This pipe is covered with riprap and you can see humps of rocks if you ride over it, but be careful if the water is low.

    Keep your boat out from the bank and end of the pipe and make casts to the bank with a crankbait, running it back across the rocks at different angles.  Johnny likes the Academy crankbait since it works well, runs right and is not too expensive.  You will lose crankbaits here on these rocks, but can catch some big stringers of bass.

    There are three different drops along here and bass will hold along any of them.  Johnny says a lot of six to eight pound bass have been caught here and many tournaments won on this spot so don’t pass it by.

    6.  N 33 57.037 – W 86 01.005 – Run a good ways down river past the right turn bend to where the river starts a left turn. On your right a creek enters upstream of the bend and Tommy’ Marina in the back of it.  There are some danger markers on the upstream side of the opening. 

    The mouth of this creek has several humps and drops across it where the river runs in close and many bass hold here.  Be careful, you can go from 20 feet of water to nothing in a few feet, and not all the humps are marked.

    Work this area with Carolina rig and shaky head and tube. The humps and drops are covered with stumps and chunk rock and you will get hung up a lot. Johnny says a crankbait would work well here but you lose too many to make it worth throwing them.

    Current running across these drops makes a big difference.  The fish will feed when the current is running so position your boat so you can cast upstream and work your bait back with a natural movement with the current.  Work around the area until you find the bass feeding.

    7.  N 33 56.737 – W 86 01.407 – Go around the bend and downstream toward the bridges.  Stop just upstream of the upstream boat shed on your right at Bucks Marina and work upstream.  There is a house here with satellite dish in the yard and a boat shed with a pontoon under it with a yellow and white cover.

    Fish all along this bank, working the cover and cuts along the bank, staying out in 20 feet of water or so.  Use your shaky head, tube and Carolina rig.  There is a good bit of wood cover on the bottom here so probe for it. 

    The channel makes a good ledge along this bank and bass hold on the lip of it and run in to feed.  It was along this bank where Stacey King got 2nd place in a PAA tournament and where Johnny’s fishing partner, Gary Howington caught a huge seven pound, six ounce spotted bass.

    Work the bank and all cover from the boathouse all the way upstream to gray and white dock with a boat with a Mercury motor on it. Just downstream of this dock is a ridge or hump and this is where Stacey King caught his fish.

    8. N 33 56.499 – W 86 01.610 – Go to the upper bridge of the Highway 77 crossing and stop out from the riprap on the left side going downstream. Johnny says this is a great place to find bass pushing shad into the corner and feeding, especially in the morning.

    Throw a spinnerbait, starting on the end of the riprap and working it into the grassy pocket and fishing upstream about 50 feet. Work it at different speeds as much as you can in the shallow water. Watch for fish busting bait on top.  Current makes this spot much better.

    This pocket and pattern gave Johnny the bass he needed to win the two day BFL finale last year on Neely Henry. He said he was surprised to get here each morning and find it open, with no boats ahead of him stopping here.

    Work the upstream pocket then go around the point and fish the downstream pocket, too. Sometimes the current will make the bass go into this pocket and eat the baitfish here.

    Johnny will fish down to the second bridge, the bigger one, and work around the second piling from the left bank going downstream. There is a big rock pile around this piling and it is a good place to throw a jig head worm or a tube and catch spotted bass.

    9.  N 33 56.051 – W 86 02.322 – Go downstream to the first small island on the right bank downstream of Rainbow Landing. It is several hundred yards down that bank. Start at the small pocket just upstream of the island and fish upstream all the way to the ramp.

    Some bass released in tournaments at Rainbow Landing stay here and feed along this bank. You can fish it in either direction but current usually makes boat control better going upstream, and current helps the fishing. 

    Fish all the shoreline cover including docks, wood and rocks along this bank. It is shallow and your boat will be in only a few feet of water, but you can often catch a lot of bass here.  There are several private boat ramps along here and Johnny says you should never pass a boat ramp on Neely Henry without casting to it.

    We got our best two bass on our trip here, a 3 pound spot and a 3.5 pound largemouth. Both hit a jig head worm. Fish topwater baits along this bank and also work it with a crankbait, tube or jighead worm along this bank and work it carefully.  If you are catching fish it is worth more than one pass.

    10.  N 33 55.283 – W 86 03.615 – Past the small island in the hole above the river channel moves to the left bank then makes a swing back to the right bank below a big flat.  Near where it swings back to the right bank there is a small marina with boat sheds. Start fishing just upstream of the boat sheds and fish upstream.

    There are a series of small points and three riprap areas along this bank to hit as you go upstream.  Work the riprap and points with your tube and jig head if there is not much current and throw a spinnerbait and crankbait when the current is strong.  Watch for any wood cover along this bank and fish it carefully. 

    Johnny says big spots often get on these riprap banks and you can catch a big stringer quickly when you hit the right spot.  Fish all the way upstream to the brick house on the upstream side of the third patch of riprap.

    These places will give you a good idea of the kind of places Johnny catches bass on Neely Henry this time of year. Give them a try then find similar places on the lake that will hold fish, too.

    You can contact Johnny at 256-492-1162.

Where and How to Catch September Neely Henry Bass

September Bass at Neely Henry

with Dustin King

    September finally offers bass fishermen some hope that things are getting better.  The first of the month it is still uncomfortably hot during the day and bass are still on their summer patterns, but slowly things get better.  Days get shorter and cooler, water temperatures start to drop and bass get more active.  If you want to take advantage of these changes head to Neely Henry.

    Neely Henry is a river lake on the Coosa River at Gadsden.  It has lots of big largemouth and Coosa spots to catch, and they get more active in September.  The grassbeds that line much of the shallows become more attractive to bass and the shallow ledges see more feeding activity.  You can find just about any kind of fishing you want on Neely Henry this month.

    Dustin King grew up on the lake and still lives in a house on its shoreline.  He guides on Neely Henry and fishes most tournaments on it. After fishing with a local club for a couple of years Dustin now fishes some of the trail tournaments like the BASS Weekend Series, BFL and Coosa River Team Trail.  He has a 5.5 pound spot and a 6.5 pound largemouth from Neely.

    Even at his young age Dustin has done well enough to have a good many sponsors, including Go2Bait plastics, Lews Reels, Greg’s Custom Rods, Rock Hard Tackle jigs, Tackle Doctor spinnerbaits and Topwater Clothing.

    “In late August bass are still suspending off river and creek ledges and running in to feed for short periods of time,” Dustin said.  If you hit the right ledge at the right time you can catch some good fish fast, but feeding often does not last long. You have to be there when they feed.

    “Later in the month, bass move toward shoreline grassbeds and tend to hold a little more shallow,” Dustin told me. Both spots and largemouth tend to be a little easier to catch when holding out from the bank and they feed more around the grass beds and for longer times on the deeper holding areas.

    A variety of baits are always rigged and ready for September fishing in Dustin’s Skeeter.  He will have a Tackle Doctor spinnerbait, a big deep running crankbait, a Rock Hard Shaky Head, and a Carolina rig ready. A topwater bait like a Spook or Pop-R and a rattle bait like a Rat-L-Trap is also handy for throwing as schooling fish that often come up during this month.

    In early August Dustin had a guide trip and let me ride along to get information.  We fished the following spots that will still be holding bass most of September and looked at some places that will get better later in the month. Dustin landed a big largemouth off one, probably his biggest largemouth from Neely.

    The following spots will show you the kinds of places Dustin catches bass in September.  Try his tactics and baits on them.

    1.  N 33 55.743 – W 86 02.674 – If you put in at Rainbow Ramp you will be fairly close to all these spots. Head down the river and watch for three small islands right on the right bank. Downstream of them a little way is a yellow boathouse.  Straight out in front of it in the middle of the lake on the river ledge Dustin has some brush piles and rocks on the right ledge.  You will be about even with a big open hillside on the other bank where there are no trees and the grass is short.

    You can idle around to find the brush. It is where the river channel makes a slight turn. When you find it back off and sit in about 12 feet of water and cast toward the yellow boat house.  The brush runs for about 75 yards upstream and you want to fish it all with a Carolina rigged worm.  Dustin will try different sizes, from the Go2 finesse worm to their 14 inch curly tail worm.

    Bass have been on this spot all summer and will feed most of September here.  Fish the whole area carefully, trying to hit all the rocks and brush on the ledge.

    2.  N 33 55.412 – W 86 03.467 – Further downstream on the right Lakeshore Drive runs right along the river bank.  There is riprap lining the water’s edge. Dustin starts at the first dock past a stretch of bare bank and fishes downstream. Bass feed here early in the morning the first of September and feed longer as the water cools.

    Fish a buzzbait or topwater plug along this bank, throwing right on the bank and working out.  Also fish a jig head worm like the RockHard quarter ounce green pumpkin head with a Go2 Swim Craw on it.  Bass feed on crayfish along these rocks and the swim craw imitates them.

    Fish down this bank past two or three docks. If you catch fish keep working this bank, it often loads up with bass.  Dustin will often make a pass with a topwater bait then go back over it with the jig head if he catches anything.  If two of you are fishing, you should try the different baits to see what they want.

    3. N 33 53.508 – W 86 04.278 – Run downstream around the bend to the left and watch on your right for a dirt road entering the water between two docks. It is across from a big slough on the left bank and the upstream dock is an open wood dock with a gray roof. The downstream dock is a brown platform with no roof.

    The roadbed entering marks an old ferry crossing and there is a lot of gravel on the bank around it. Bass move into shallow water here to feed later in September and you can catch a lot of fish as they eat shad.  The top of the old road is about nine feet deep a long cast off the bank.

    Work all the area between the two docks with a shad imitating plug like a Rat-L-Trap, making long cast to the bank and fishing it back out.  Dustin says you could sit here all day and catch bass when they move into the area to feed. Shad are the key, if you see shad the bass will be there.

    4.  N 33 52.290 – W 86 04.055 – A little further downstream the river makes a sharp turn to the mouth of Big Canoe Creek.  On the right just before the mouth of the creek a smaller creek enters and there is an island on right on the upstream point of this creek.  Grass is all around it and a point comes off it toward the creek channel.

     You can catch fish around the grass early in the morning on topwater and spinnerbaits but Dustin concentrates on the point, working a big crankbait and a shaky head across it. He usually sits on the downstream side of the point and casts back across it, working from the shallows out to the creek channel.

    When throwing a big crankbait Dustin tries to hit the bottom then slows down, keeping it bumping along. That seems to attract the fish. Also try a topwater across the top of the point.  Watch for schooling fish here, they often come up and you should be ready to throw to them.

    5.  N 33 51.606 – W 86 05.515 – Up Big Canoe Creek Perimeter Creek enters on the left.  You can see a bridge not far back in the creek and a long point runs off the upstream side of it, between it and Big Canoe Creek.  In the middle of the mouth of Perimeter Creek, about even with the end of the upstream point and a gray roof boat house on the other side, the creek channel makes a bend.

    Dustin sits on the downstream side of the creek ledge in the channel and casts a big crankbait, Carolina rig or shaky head. Sit in about 14 feet of water and you will be casting up into about eight feet of water.  There are stumps and shellbeds on the creek ledge and bass hold here all month long.

    Dustin caught a bass here that would push seven pounds on a big deep running crankbait in the middle of the morning.  He was bumping the bottom when it hit on the edge of the ledge.  He got hung up several times on the stumps here but managed to get his bait back each time. It is worth the chance of losing a plug to catch the bass that hold here.

    6. N 33 51.725 – W 85 05.570 – The long point on the upstream side of Perimeter Creek runs way out and holds bass.  The Big Canoe channel runs in and parallels the point on the upstream side.  There are lots of stumps on it.

    Go way out to the end of the point where it is about six feet deep and throw a topwater bait across it.  You will be fishing water less than six feet deep and bass often run in here to feed.  After working the area with topwater go upstream until you drop off into the channel, then turn toward the bank.

    Sit in the channel and work a Carolina rig or shaky head, throwing up on top of the point and fishing back down the drop.  This is really just a very shallow creek ledge and bass feed on top and hold on the drop into the channel.

    7.  N 33 53.530 – 86 05.615 – Run up Big Canoe Creek past the last big slough on your right and watch for a grassbed in the middle of the creek channel. Be careful here, the channel is about 14 feet deep but the edges are very shallow, as the grass bed shows. The channel runs right along the outside of the grassbed.

    Fish the channel side of the grassbed early with topwater like a buzzbait or spinnerbait then fish a shaky head worm along it.  Throw the shaky head right to the edge of the grass and move it very slowly to follow the steep drop. Fish it down to the bottom then make another pitch to the edge of the grass.

    Bass were feeding on shad here when we fished and Dustin and his client caught several spots and white bass.  They often school up here and this spot can be good all day long. Watch for dimpling shad or swirls and cast to them.

    8.  N 33 50.592 – W 86 34.335 – Greensport Marina is on the right side going into the mouth of Beaver Creek.  An old roadbed comes out just downstream of the marina and runs out to the river channel where another road hits it.  Bass stack up on this roadbed in September and it is an excellent place to catch them. They are moving up into more shallow water and toward the grassbeds around the marina.

    Sit on the downstream side of the roadbed and cast up across it with a Carolina rig and shaky head. Your boat will be in about nine feet of water and the roadbed tops out about six feet deep.

    Current on this spot and all others is very important.  When power is being generated at the dam current flows across points, roadbeds and ledges and moves baitfish.  Bass move to feed on these easy meals so cast upstream and fish your baits with the current like the baitfish move.

    You can get a generation schedule for Neely Henry by calling 1-800-LAKES11. Soon after they start generating with one or two units current starts moving across structure and turns on the bass.

    9.  N 33 49.103 – W 86 03.136 – Ottery Creek enters the lake on the left further downstream. The upstream point between the creek and river runs way out and is very narrow. Go into the mouth of the creek and past that point until you see a dip in it.  There is a long point coming off it at right angles running out to the channel.  It is out from a chain link fence along the bank, just upstream from where the seawall changes from wood to riprap. 

    This point is loaded with stumps so fish it with a Carolina rig and jig head. A crankbait will catch fish but Dustin says you will lose a lot of them to the stumps.  Sit out in 15 feet of water and cast toward the bank in five to six feet of water.  Follow the contour break around the point.

    10.  N 33 48.934 – W 85.04.051 – On the right further downstream Shoal Creek enters the lake. Right in the mouth of it a roadbed runs all the way across the mouth, out to the creek channel where an old bridge is blown out then to the far bank. You can see where it enters on the right going in at small dock.

    Start well off the bank, keeping your boat on the downstream side of the roadbed in about 14 feet of water to start. Cast up and across it with a crankbait, Carolina rig or jig head.  Dustin caught a good two pound plus largemouth here the day we fished on a crankbait.

    Fish all the way across to the channel and the other side, too. Dustin says you can sit here all day and catch fish when they run in to feed.  If you catch a bass cast back to the same area as quickly as possible since they often don’t stay up on it long.

    Wind blowing across this roadbed and other spots helps like current does. Baitfish will move with the wind so take advantage of it. Current generated at the dam pulls water out of the creek, making it even better.

    All these spots will hold bass in late August and September, with some of them getting better as the month progresses.  Try them and see the types of places Dustin looks for and you can find others all over the lake.

    To see how Dustin fishes these places in person, call him for a guide trip at 256-504-6659 or visit his web site at http://www.dustinkingfishing.com/

Where and How to Catch June Neely Henry Bass

June Bass at Neely Henry

with Karen Rae Elkins

    There is something special about Coosa River lakes in June.  The bass, both spots and largemouth, are stacking up in predictable places and feeding.  Neely Henry is one of the best on the chain for a trip this month.

    The Alabama DNR calls Neely Henry one of the best-kept fishing secrets in Alabama.” Running 77 miles from its dam to the Weiss Dam, it covers 11,235 acres that vary from a river run on its upper end to shallow flats and creeks on the lower end.

    Built in the late 1950s, many of the creeks and ditches are silted in and the shallows are full of grass. It can be a dangerous lake to run since there are few markers and many creeks have stump fields and shallows that will eat lower units.  Be very careful when running this lake.

    Largemouth are in the lake in good numbers in the 15 to 18 inch range according to the Alabama DNR. The DNR also calls the spot population “exceptional” for large fish and the numbers of spots in the 14 to 20 inch range is one of the best in the state.

    Karen Rae Elkins was born in Huntsville but moved closer to Neely Henry Lake when ten years old.  She grew up fishing and loves it. The farm she lived on had five ponds and she would fish for anything that would bite, but one day she got her fathers’ bass fishing equipment, caught some bass and was hooked herself.

    Her father owned The Fishing Hole bait and tackle store in Anniston so she was exposed to a lot of fishing talk. When her father retired he asked her to fish tournaments with him and they competed on the Guys and Dolls and Cartersville Couples Trails, as well as in many local tournaments.

    When the Women’s Bass Tour was started Karen saw how many lakes in her area were on the schedule so she signed up.  She really likes the camaraderie and fun from this trail and says it has made her a better fisherman.  

    This spring Karen agreed to run the Team Trails tournament trail on the Coosa River and is also starting a Youth Tournament Trail in this organization. She fishes the tournaments as well as running them.

    Karen’s best five fish limit came a few years ago on Neely Henry when she brought in 18.18 pounds. And she won a tournament on April 4 this year with five weighing 14.4 there. She likes fishing and likes competition so tournaments are a good fit for her.

    Sponsors mean Karen is able to fish more than she would be able to without them and her sponsors include: Mojo Weights, Reel Grip, Bo’s Jigs, Team Trail Tournaments and JJs Magic.  She also supports the Magic Foundation and Second Chance, to organizations that are very important to her.

    “The bass are feeding in the grass in June and are fun to catch,” Karen told me.  The spawn is over and the bass are hungry.  She likes to start out shallow in the mornings catching these bass, then moves to points, humps and ledges later in they day when water is moving.  And a third good pattern is fishing docks.

    For fishing the grass Karen likes the Mojo rig and says it gives her a slight edge over the more common Texas or Carolina rigs most fishermen use. The Mojo rig gives the bait a little different look.  It is a thin cylindrical weight with a rubber band you insert so you can “peg” it on your line.

    “Start with your weight six inches from the        bait then move it closer if you aren’t getting bites” Karen said. A variety of plastics will work in June and she tries different ones until the fish tell her what she wants.  A Sweet Beaver is always a good choice but she also catches bass on Zoom Finesse Worms and Brush Hogs and Strike King Lizards.

    A few basic colors work well on Neely Henry. Watermelon Red, Junebug and Green Pumpkin are all standard colors.  And Karen always dips her baits in JJ’s Magic, saying that attracts the bass and makes them hold the bait longer.  She will often dip the tails in either red or chartreuse but if she does not want this flicker of color she uses the clear to add scent.

    Around docks Karen flips a Bo’s Jig and really likes the color named for her. The “Karen’s Jig” color has green pumpkin, black and root beer strands in it.  She tips it with a Sweet Beaver or a Zoom Chunk and works the jig under the docks, around all pilings and in any brush around the docks. This works well when the sun is bright.

    If current is moving bass will stack up on points, humps and ledges to feed. Karen likes a crankbait that runs seven to ten feet deep for fishing those areas and her favorites include Lucky Craft CB Square and Jackall Muscle baits.

    Karen showed me around Neely Henry a few weeks ago and the bass were just starting to move onto their June holes.  We put in down the lake and fished early, then took out and went up to Gadsden and fished the river some.  The lake is varied and the patterns can differ.

    The following spots all hold bass this month:

    1.  N 33 53.547 – W 86 06.603 – Back in Canoe Creek just downstream of Canoe Creek Marina you will see some brush tops out in the middle. This brush is on a hump where the channel swings across the creek and grass grows on it in June, too. It is a good place to find bass, especially if there is any current moving down the creek.

    Going up the creek watch for a nice house on your right with a gray dock with a “For Sale” sign on it. Stay on that side of the creek since the shallow hump is out in the middle. When you get near the gray dock look to your left and you should see the brush on the hump. If you get to the marina you have gone too far.

    Karen will start on the channel side and fish all around the hump, pitching her Mojo rigged Sweet Beaver of Brush Hog into holes in the grass and moving it through the thinner areas of grass.  For some reason Junebug with a chartreuse tail seems to work especially well here.

    Drag your bait through the grass and work it slowly and carefully. Be ready to set the hook when you feel any weight or your line moves at all. If there is current try to throw your bait so you work it with the current in a natural movement.

    2. N 33 51.375 – W 86 03.217 – Running down the main river from Canoe Creek you will see the opening to Greens Creek on your left.  Off the upstream point are two small islands.  Idle in to the point but do not go between the islands. There are lots of snags here. 

    When you get to the point you will see an older dock to the left of two cement boat ramps that are side by side. Start at that dock and work around the point, fishing around to the inside of the point.  Fish the grass here with a Mojo rig, work a crankbait over the shallows and pitch a jig and pig to the docks.

    The jig and pig is especially effective if the water is clear and the sun is bright, driving the bass to the shade.  Fish all the cover carefully. Karen says she has caught several five-pound-plus bass on this point.

    3. N 33 50.619 – W 86 04.472 – Beaver Creek is a good big-bass creek and Karen has several types of cover and structure she fishes in it.  As you go into the mouth you will see Greenport Marina on your right.  There is a seawall in front of the store and storage area then a long point runs upstream. There are picnic tables on the point. Off the end of this point is a hump or island, depending on the water level. When we were there it was slightly under water.

    Start near the store and fish the seawall toward the point.  Fish the Mojo rig and crankbaits along here. This is the only place Karen will rig an Old Monster worm on her Mojo rig. The extra big worm attracts quality bites on this spot.  Work from right on the seawall out to several feet deep. There are patches of grass to fish and some other cover.

    When you get out near the end of the point fish the hump and around it into the cove behind it.  Work the whole area carefully but Karen says the best area is the seawall at the store, so pay extra attention to any cover here.

    4.  N 33 50.175 – W 86 05.807 – You can run into Beaver Creek on plane until you see the silo ahead on your right. Stay to the left side going in.  When the silo comes into view it is a good idea to slow down and idle the rest of the way due to stumps and shallows. 

    When you get back about even with the silo on your right you will see a grass point on your left.  There are cattails, rocks, grass and stumps starting at this point working upstream and the channel swings on this side making it even better.  Shallow grass near deeper water is usually better, but keep in mind deeper water here might mean seven feet deep.

    Fish along the left bank working your Mojo rig through the grass.  Try to hit any stumps you can see and also probe for hidden stumps with your weight.  Fish on up this bank and there will be a grass island on your right and some big rocks on your left. There is a spring in the rocks that keeps the water cooler and moving some here.  Fish around the rocks and the island, too. This is one of Karen’s best tournament holes.

    5.  N 33 50.054 – W 86 06.448 – Idle on back into the creek until it narrows down. The bottom back here is sandy and there is lots of grass and stumps to fish. And overhanging trees in some areas provide shade. Work all the cover in the water, including the fence rows running off the bank, with a Mojo Rig and a crankbait. 

    Fish slowly and carefully. Some big bass hold up back here in June.  When you catch one bass work the area hitting every bit of cover, there is often more than one in a spot.  You should go as far back as you can get your boat if you are catching fish.

    Karen says two or three kinds of cover together makes for a hot spot to catch a bass. Look for wood in the grass, combining two kinds of cover.  If there are also rocks or a drop it makes it even better. Fish any combinations of cover carefully.

    6.  N 33 44.973 – W 86 03.559 – Run downstream and watch for a big round point on your right. On the upstream side is a boat ramp and there is a dock on the downstream side. The house has a “For Sale” sign. 

    This point has deep water just off it where the old channel swings by but it comes up quickly with a shallow ledge on the downstream side.   Current coming down the river hits this point and moves across it, creating an eddy on the downstream side.     Fish a deep diving crankbait here, casting up near the bank and working it across the shallow water, making it dig bottom, and then over the drop into deeper water. Fish with the current, moving water makes the fish bite much better here and other spots. Fish all around this point, covering both the upstream and downstream sides.

    7.  N 33 48.742 – W 86 04.032 – At the mouth of Shoal Creek the downstream point is good and all three kinds of cover you want to fish is one it. Current hits this point, too, and there is deep water just off shallow water. There is a wood house with a tin roof and three dormers on it.  AS you go into the cove on the upstream side there is a gray boathouse with turquoise doors on it.

    Start at the dock and flip a jig to it, especially if it is sunny.  Work a crankbait all around the point and the upstream cove. Then fish a Mojo rig in the grass.  Work each as you come to them to cover the area completely.

    Current hitting this area makes it better but wind blowing in helps, too. Wind will create a chop on the water, breaking up the light and making it more likely a bass will hit an artificial bait, and it also moves water, creating a current. Wind is your friend as long as it is not too strong to control your boat.

    8.  N 33 48.634 – W 86 03.764 – Across the river is a big bluff rock wall and a small rock island off it.  The bluff wall is on the upstream side of the opening to a big cove and the water is very deep off it.  Three was an old trotline hanging on the rocks with some dried fish on it the day we fished. It looked like some kind of voodoo charm!  This is a great spotted bass hole and Karen works all around it.

    This is a good spot to rig a Finesse worm on your Mojo Rig and throw it right on the bank.  Move it slowly and let if fall down the face of the rocks. Don’t move it much or it will fall too far, dropping past fish too quickly.

    There is a stump row on the downstream side of this point, too, another combination of types of cover. Fish them with the Mojo Rig but also flip a jig and pig right against the rocks and work it out, trying to hit stump.

    9.  N 33 48.891 – W 86 05.325 – Run back into Shoal Creek and watch on your left for a yellow house with a brown roof and a boathouse with two doors in front of it.  All the way across the creek is a big flat and hump with stumps on it. On the bank on that side you will see a mobile home on the bank. Idle straight toward the mobile home and watch your depthfinder.

    You will be in about 10 feet of water on the flat then it will come up to about five feet deep. You will still be a long way off the bank, in front and upstream of a red door dock in front of the trailer.  There is a stump rod on this shallow hump and a small ditch runs out near it.

    Karen will work back and forth along this drop fishing crankbaits and a Mojo Rig. She will work it a long time because she says you never know when bass will move up on this spot and feed. And it constantly replenishes itself from the deeper water nearby.

    10. N 34 00.816 – W 85 57.072 – It is a long run upstream of the bridges in Gadsden so it is a good idea to trailer up here if you can. Going upstream from Gadsden watch for a rock bluff wall on your left just as you see the trailers at Tillison Bend Park. You will be upstream and the same side of the mouth of a fairly big creek that has a blowdown across it.

    Start at the beginning of the rock wall and fish it all the way past the first three docks, a very long way upstream. Karen says it takes a long time to work this spot correctly and you can spend most of a day on it. It is worth it, this is where she caught the 18 pound limit in a June tournament.

    Karen keeps her boat in close to the wall in about 11 to 12 feet of water and makes three casts before moving up the wall. On cast will be in toward the wall as a slight angle with the Mojo Rig. She then makes a long cast to the wall ahead of the boat and works it back at an angle to the boat The third cast will be straight ahead of the boat and is worked back to the boat.

    Fishing like this covers all the water from the face of the wall out to 12 feet deep or so. To do it right can take hours working along here. When she gets to the docks Karen fishes a jig and pig around them.  Current always makes this spot better. Karen says she does not even fish it if the water is not moving.

    11. N 34 01.170 – W 85 58.766 – Run back downstream and you will see a golf course on your left and more holes across the river on your right.  You are close enough to see the sharp bend back to your left going to the bridges and the water station in the bend.

    Watch for a creek opening on your right that goes back to the golf course. You will see some big PVC pipe going into the water and some smaller pipe running out above the water and dropping down on the river side. As you idle into the creek there is another set of pipes and they are for the pump house you see on the bank that waters the golf course.

    When you get back a ways from the river the creek splits and straight ahead it will go around and under a wooden golf cart bridge.  Go back to the bridge area and fish all the grass and stumps in the back of this creek. Karen will pitch a jig to wood cover in the grass and also run a shallow diving crankbait over the grass that is under the water.

    Another trick Karen uses in this and similar spots is to Mojo Rig a big lizard like the Zoom Magmum or the Strike King 3X lizard. These big baits draw strikes from big bass. Work them through the grass back in this creek in June.

    12. N 33 59.205 – W 85 59.855 – Run downstream past the bridges and watch for a big three story yellow house with white roof and trim on your right. The house sits on the beginning of the upstream point of Big Willis Creek on that side and looks like it is in a park.

    Across the river from the house is a small ditch that is not real noticeable as you run by. You will see the bank flatten out and go back a little. This old ditch has filled in but it creates a shelf in front of it that holds good fish.

    Keep your boat out from the bank and cast a crankbait to the bank. Dig the bottom coming out the shelf to the edge of the drop. This is a good spot that does not get a lot of pressure since it is not real noticeable.

    13. N 33 58.493 – W 85 59.664 – Run down the river past the old closed park on your left and watch for a small creek opening on that side. There are to white PVC poles on either side of the opening and a pasture or field on the downstream side of it. The poles mark two big stumps.

    Karen fishes the mouth of this creek and works the stumps with her baits. She fishes on down the bank a hundred feet or so, fishing the grass and wood cover. Bass often stack up here and current helps.

    Also work into the small creek. There are stumps, fence rows and grass beds to fish in it.

    14.  N 33 57.190 – W 85 57.768 – Run down the river until you see a long narrow island well off the left bank. This small island sits in front of a river ledge with trees on it that separates the river from a big slough behind it.  There are houses and docks in the slough and a bunch of wood duck nests, especially on the downstream end around the docks there.

    There is a small opening on the upstream end of this slough and Karen often starts there in the morning, fishing into the shallows, working grass and stumps. When you get to the other end where it opens back up there are two PVC poles, one with green paint on one side, that mark the channel going it.

    Karen will fish the edges of this cut and the area around it, probing for stumps and trash. She will also work up the river side of the ledge, it drops off pretty quickly and is hard clay. Bass hold all along it.

    These 14 spots offer a wide variety of kinds of places to fish, with some on the main lake and more up the river. There are many more similar spots. Check these out to see Karen’s patterns then explore to find more, just be careful.

    Karen guides on Neely Henry and you can contact her to get her to show you first hand how she fishes here.  Call her at 256-454-3804 or her web site at www.karenslake.com. You can also get information about her Team Trails tournaments.

How Deep is Too Deep for Walleye Release?

Deep Walleye
How deep can you catch a walleye and release it?
By Northland Pro Joel Nelson
from The Fishing Wire

Walleyes spend the better part of their summer season in deep water.  Provided there’s enough oxygen at depth, they happily enjoy cooler water temperatures and the bevy of bugs and other bait that congregate on deep structure.  Older fish in certain lakes, learn to key in on larger bait stock. 

That could mean ciscoes and whitefish, or suckers and even bullheads or rough fish depending on where you’re fishing.  That still puts them deep, maybe coming up occasionally to feed before sinking back down.Depth however is a relative term, depending on the lake you’re fishing.  On Minnesota’s Upper Red Lake, 10 feet of water and deeper is considered quite deep. 

The same is true in the prairie pothole region where there’s plenty of great little walleye holes that never make even 20 feet.  Then again, there’s great walleye lakes like Vermillion, where walleyes can be found in excess of 50 feet of water.  Of course, your favorite walleye lake may be at either end, or anywhere in between.

While the depth of walleyes may be relative to the system in which they live, their ability to survive summer capture at those various depths is not.  Most fish caught in 30+ feet of water will likely die as the result if water temps are at their peak. 

Brandon Eder, Assistant Area Fisheries Supervisor for the MN DNR’s Waterville Office confirmed this in a recent conversation while adding, “No matter how slowly you reel in fish from that depth, there’s still likely going to be some trauma.

” Throughout the walleye-belt then, there’s plenty of catch and release fishing that might as well be catch and kill.  Not that there’s anything wrong with eating a walleye either.  I love ‘em, and prepare them a bunch of different ways.  However, there are plenty of lakes that mandate release of walleyes a certain size, and anglers should know some ins and outs of how depth can affect the release of walleyes during the summer. 

Eder suggests, “Be prepared to keep your first 6 fish regardless of size (depending on the regs) and then quit or go shallow.

”There’s a pile of factors that influence walleye mortality, with depth of capture being only one of them.  Hooking method, or how deeply into its mouth a walleye eats the bait is a big influence, as is the use of live bait vs. artificial baits, but those are often related.  Water temperature is another factor, and warmer temps see fish that simply don’t release as well and survive.  It’s why catch and release walleye tournaments aren’t held as often in the deep summer, and why you should consider eating the fish you catch when water temps are the hottest of the year. 

Extended or prolonged handling of a fish outside of the water is yet another factor that affects mortality.

Many of those factors an angler can directly influence, especially in the summer as you can’t control the water temp.  Without switching away from live-bait, circle hooks vs “J”-hooks, and pinching down all barbs, what’s a catch and release angler to do?  The answer is to change the depth at which you’re fishing, and to know what depths are likely lethal, and which are not.

Barotrauma is a big word with a relatively simple meaning, especially as it pertains to walleyes caught at depth.  It affects all living things, but with walleyes swimming rapidly from deep water, it refers to physical injuries caused by water pressure.  Quick ascent means a swelling air bladder, which can push their stomachs out, bulge their eyes, and ultimately cause deadly injury.  Releasing those fish at the surface, in extremely warm water may make the angler feel good as they swim away, but may not lead to survival.

One solution to the problem of fish barotrauma has been “fizzing” – the act of releasing that pressure with an accurately placed hypodermic needle into the swim bladder of the fish.  Of course, “accurately” is the key, as stabbing a fish with a needle indiscriminately, can further exacerbate the problem. 

Eder says, “I don’t like the idea of anglers running around poking walleye with needles.  It’s hard to get the right spot in perfect conditions and even tougher in rain, wind, or after dark.”Another solution in the form of re-compression devices may pose some freshwater promise, as they have gained greater acceptance in coastal areas.  These tools can simply be an inverted barbless hook secured to a line with a weight that takes the fish to bottom and releases it with a sharp snap of the line, or a jaw clamp that releases similarly.  The general idea of both being that the fish quickly gets back down to a depth that allows air bladder pressures to recede, and ultimately supports its survival. 

For rockfish specifically, studies have shown 80%+ survival rates.  While I’m not aware of any similar research on walleyes, the decompression devices show greater efficacy overall.

Of course, you could always just limit your fishing north of 30 feet, or make sure that you are legally able to take and eat fish of any size for the lake that you’re fishing.  If a limit is what you’re after in those depths, stop fishing once you’ve hit it.  Eder also mentions, “If you are on fish over 20″ you should leave so you don’t kill more than your 1 over 20″.” 

All of which means that if you’re putting the hurt on big fish deep, consider switching tactics, locations, and potentially lakes.  Focus early and late when fish are more active shallow.  Break out some slip-bobbers and camp out on a rock pile, or drag some spinners or rigs along a weedline.

There’s lots of ways to get your ‘eyes, but this summer when temperatures climb, do your best to respect the resource by going easy on those deep fish.