Category Archives: How To Fish

Where and How to Catch February Lake Lanier Bass, with GPS Coordinates

Five pound Lake Lanier February spot

February Lake Lanier Bass

with Jim Farmer

         Some of the biggest spots in Lake Lanier are already moving to staging areas on rocky points near spawning areas in early February. You can catch a personal best spot right now by fishing crankbaits on these points.

    Lanier has developed a well-deserved reputation for producing magnum spots over the past few years. Four and five pounders are weighed in during most tournaments and bigger fish are caught all year long. Right now is one of the best times to catch one over five pounds.

    With deep, clear water, standing timber and rocky shorelines, Lanier is perfect habitat for spots.  The introduction of blueback herring gave the spots an excellent food source and this big baitfish has made them grow big and fat.  All these combined to produce a trophy spot lake.

    Jim Farmer lives a few miles from Bald Ridge Creek, has a lake house on that end of the lake and fishes Lanier a lot. He also paints crankbaits and other hard baits with custom colors specifically designed for the spots on Lanier.  He guides on the lake, showing fishermen where and how to use his baits to catch big fish. 

    After retiring from the Navy Jim moved to Lanier and started making planner boards that were very popular with striper and cat fishermen.  He fished for stripers a lot but got into bass fishing a few years ago and got hooked on them. He joined the Greater Atlanta Bass Club and fished with them until he started guiding.

    Jim also fishes the Bulldog BFL trail statewide and Hammonds and charity tournaments on Lanier.  This past December he and his partner won the UGA Fishing Team fund raiser North Georgia Fall Classic on Lanier with 19.6 Pounds and had big fish with a five-pound, twelve ounce spot.

    “The biggest spots in the lake move in to spawn earlier than most fishermen realize,” Jim said. There are still a lot of fish deep and you can catch them, but Jim likes to catch big fish shallow. He uses a variety of baits but relies on his crankbaits most of the time.

    For February fishing Jim will have a couple of crankbaits that run different depths, a jerkbait, a jig and pig, a shaky head and a spoon ready to cast.  The spoon is for catching the deeper fish, but the other baits are all fished on rocky points near spawning areas.

    Jim took me out in early January, the week after the first extremely cold week we had, to show me the following ten spots. We caught a few fish, but we were a little too early for them to be really good like they are now.

    1.  N 34 12.147 – W 84 05.019 – Going into the small creek off Baldridge Creek that has Baldridge Public Use area boat ramp, stop on the rocky point on your right. It is the first one upstream of the point with 6BR marker on it, and is a good example of one of the first places big spots stage. 

    As soon as the water starts to warm a little in early February, especially after two or three warm sunny days in a row, spots go to points like this one.  This one provides a smorgasbord of food for them but they really like crayfish, a high protein food great for pre-spawn feeding.

    Start on the upstream side of the point and fish around it to the smaller rocky point on the downstream side going into the cove.  Jim says crawfish are active when the water is 50 to 58 degrees and his “Sand Key” color is designed to match their color this time of year. And it has rattles to mimic their sound on the rocks.

    The rocks here provide ledges for the fish to hide under and ambush food.  Fish around the points slowly, casting your crankbait to a couple of feet of water and bump the rocks out as deep as you can with it.  Jim caught a small keeper spot here the day we fished.

    2.  N 34 11.874 – W 84 04.743 – Going down Baldridge Creek there is a small creek on the downstream side of channel marker 6BR on your left. The downstream point of this creek, across from the marked one, is another good staging area for big spots.  It has smaller rocks but they are clean, without the “snot weed” that grows in some places and that the fish don’t like, according to Jim.

    There are two points here to fish. Keep your boat out in 16 to 18 feet of water and use your crankbait. Jim uses his 1.5 squarebill or the deeper running Castaway Tackle Goto crankbait that runs eight to ten feet deep.  Bump the rocks all around these two points.

    Jim fishes his crankbaits on light line to get them down deeper. He says you have to have good line and uses Sunline Shooter fluorocarbon in six or eight-pound test. A smooth drag is important for fighting big spots and he checks his line on almost every cast for nicks from bumping rocks.

    Crank the bait down and then work it slowly with rod pulls and twitches to make it rattle and dart. Try to imitate the movement of crayfish.  When a fish hits, sweep the rod a little to hook them but don’t set the hook hard with the light line.

    3.  N 34 12.703 – W 84 03.794 – Go up Young Deer Creek past the small island on your right with 4YD marker on it. Across the creek a point runs way out to a shoal marker and there is construction work on the bank.  Stop on the upstream point of the pocket going in downstream of the construction.

    This pocket is a good spawning area and spots stage on this first rocky point.  The point is not big but has rock and clay that crayfish live in, and shad and herring move across it, too. Fish a crankbait but also try a jerkbait and jig and pig.  The jerkbait imitates baitfish while the jig and pig look like bream and crawfish, both good food sources for spots.

    4.  N 34 13.250 – W 84 03.750 – Going up Young Deer a big island is on the left with 5YD marker on it. On the right is a creek with Young Deer Access ramp in it.  AS you go into that small creek, a shoal marker is on your right and a house with a US flag is on the bank.  This hump is a long rocky point and it holds fish in February.

    Stop on the end of this rock and clay point and fish the upstream side and end of it.  The channel swings in on the upstream side and gives the fish quick access to deep water. Jim says here and other places a few warm days pulls spots up shallow, but they drop back after a cold front for a few days.

    Bump the rocks with crankbaits and work a jerkbait over them.  Also crawl a jig and pig down the drop. Work it slowly and out deeper, especially after a cold front.  Even after a cold front bass will still hold here and feed, just a little deeper.

    5.  N 34 12.074 – W 84 02.319 – Back out on the main lake run up to the long point with Shadburn Ferry ramp on it.  The ramp is in a ditch that holds fish all winter.  Jim caught four of his five fish in the December UGA tournament here.

    Fish the rocky point with the shoal marker on it with all your baits. Also check the ditch.  A good winter pattern that started early this year is catching fish out of ditches like this one. Bass will hold in them out to 50 feet deep and you can see them on your electronics. 
    Early in the morning work the back of the ditch around the ramp with a jerkbait.  Bass move to the back to feed shallower then go back out deep as the sun gets bright.  Later in the day find the fish down deep and drop a spoon down to them. Jim likes the chrome three quarters ounce War Eagle jigging spoon.

    Drop your spoon down to the bottom, pop it up a couple of feet and let it fall back on tight line.  Be ready to set the hook as it falls, that is when most of the bites happen.  You can often watch your spoon fall and see the fish follow it.

    6.  N 34 12.251 – W 84 02.434 – An island forms the side of the ditch opposite the ramp. Go around to the other side of it and the rocky point there is a good one to fish, especially later in the month.  It is a little further back from the main lake so fish to move to it a little later.

    Pick apart this point with all your baits, fishing all the way around it.  Bump the rocks with crankbaits and a jig and pig.  Jim likes a crawfish colored River Bend Custom Baits jig by Richie Westfelt in three eights to half ounce.  His Castaway Tackle jerkbait is a 110-style medium diver that he paints in white or cold steel blue.  Try different cadences on each cast until the fish tell you what they want that day.

    7.  N 34 15.657 – W 83 57.998 – Run up above Browns Bridge and go into the first creek on your left on the downstream side of Chestatee Bay. Islands divide the mouth of this creek from the main bay.  Go into this creek that runs parallel to Browns Bridge Road point on the right with a big house on it. The point is on the upstream side of a ditch with a marker in it. This is where Jim caught the five-pound, 12-ounce spot in the UGA tournament and he caught a good keeper spot here the day we fished.

    The point Jim calls “Big House Point” drops on both sides, into the ditch and creek channel.  Bass spawn in the back of the ditch and stage on the point. Fish around it with all your baits, keeping your boat in about 40 feet of water and casting to the rocks. 

    8.  N 34 16.711 – W 83 57.130 – Go to the north-west side of Chestatee Bay opposite and a little upstream of the islands on the south-east side going back to the Long Hollow ramp. There is a double point on your right with a small pocket between them. There are three small leaning pines grouped together on the downstream point.  Start on the downstream side of the downstream point and fish all the way around it.

    Start about 100 feet from the point and work around it to the big rocks on the upstream side.  Fish stage and feed all along this bank and on the point. Try all your baits but Jim says this is a good shaky head point, with some brush piles and some other wood cover on it.

    Jim uses three sixteenths to one quarter ounce Spotsticker Screwball jig head and puts a Mattingly Customs worm by Josh Mattingly on it. He says those worms come in some unique colors that give the heavily pressured Lanier spots a different look. Jim dips all his plastic baits in chartreuse JJs Magic to give them added color and smell that attracts spots.

    This point, like the others, get a lot of sun, especially in the afternoon. Jim says that helps warm the water and make the fish more active.  Work quickly with moving baits then slowly work the shaky head all around the point, probing for wood and rocks, shaking it as you move it along the bottom.

    9.  N 34 16.833 – W 83 57.050 – After fishing around the big rocks on the upstream side of the above point go across the cove to the other side where the line of blown down trees up on the bank come toward the water.  Fish from that place out and around this point. It is flatter, with white rocks along a clay bank and is a good feeding area.

    Fish all your baits, trying both faster moving and slower moving ones.  Remember it is important to keep your crankbaits in contact with the bottom, making it dart, bump and rattle.

    10.  N 34 14.126 – W 84 02.810 – Back down the lake go up Six Mile Creek till you can see the bridge on your right. Keep straight ahead into the small double creek and stop on the point between the two arms of it.
There is riprap around it and a ridge of rocks coming out on the end of it.

    Both arms of this creek are good spawning pockets and a lot of big spots stage on the point and feed.  There is chunk rock on a clay bottom all around the point and those rocks are what you want to bump with your crankbait, jig and pig and shaky head.  Fish all the way around it with all your baits.

    All these places are holding fish right now and will get better as the days get longer and the water warms a little. Give them a try with Jim’s baits or fish your favorites. You may catch the spot of a lifetime.

    You can follow Jim on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/jfarm44 and see his baits and the spots he catches.

NOTE – not sure this is helping – really don’t get much response if you want to stop running it.

    Do you find these Map of the Month articles helpful?  If so visit http://fishing-about.com/keys-to-catching-georgia-bass-ebook-series/ – you can get an eBook or CD with an article for each month of the year on Clarks Hill and Lanier.

Where and How to Catch September Jackson Lake Bass, with GPS Coordinates

September 2015 Jackson Bass

with Keith Dawkins

September can be the most frustrating time of year for bass fishermen.  The water is as hot as it gets and the oxygen content is at its lowest level of the year. The days are still hot and uncomfortable and the bass are sluggish. But some lakes, like Jackson, offer you a chance to catch fish and forget the problems.

Jackson is an old Georgia Power lake at the headwaters of the Ocmulgee River.  It is lined by docks and rocks are plentiful. There are good points that run out to deep water and humps that hold bass.  Shad are the primary forage this time of year and you can find the shad and catch bass.

In the 1970s and 1980s Jackson was known for big largemouth.  Then spots were illegally stocked in the lake by misguided fishermen and they have taken over the lake. Rather than catching a seven pound largemouth now you are going to catch seven one pound spots.

Spots are fun to catch and taste good, so enjoy catching them and eat them.  You can’t hurt the population of bass in the lake by keeping every one you catch. In fact, fisheries biologists say keeping all of them, even those under 12 inches long, may help a little. They have no size limit anywhere in Georgia except Lake Lanier.

Keith Dawkins grew up fishing Jackson.  His parents still have a house there and he spends several days a month on the lake.  For years he fished the Berrys tournaments and bigger trails like the Bulldog BFL but his job now keeps him from fishing tournaments.

 “Early in September bass are out on main lake structure, feeding on shad,” Keith said.  As the month progresses they push up the points and toward the coves. By the end of the month, depending on the shad, they may be way back in them.

A wide variety of baits will catch fish.  Keith always has a Flash Mob Jr. with small swimbaits on the arms and a Fish Head Spin on the middle one.  He also likes a buzz bait, popper and X-Rap five inch bait with props on both ends for top water fishing and a Fluke or Senko rigged weightless for fishing over structure and cover.

For faster fishing a 300 Bandit with white and chartreuse is good as is a #7 Shadrap in black and silver.  When he slows down and probes the bottom he will have a Carolina rigged Trick worm and a Spotsticker jig head with a Trick worm on it.

If you are seeing fish on your depthfinder but can’t get them to hit, get right on top of them and use a drop shot worm. Drop it down to them and jiggle is slowly.  If they are right on the bottom let your lead stay on the bottom but raise it up to the depth the fish are holding if they are suspended.

Keith showed me the following ten places in mid-August.  Small spots were on them during the day. The afternoon before we went he caught some quality spots and largemouth right at dark, an indication the bigger fish were probably feeding at night. Those bigger fish will be feeding on these places during the day in September.

1.  N 33 20.606 – W 83 51.667 – The big point where the river turns downstream across from the mouth of Tussahaw Creek is a good place to start early in the morning or to fish late in the day.  It is a big flat where wood washes in and hangs up and there are a couple of small pockets on it and small points run off it.

Start on the upstream end where the biggest cove on the point starts.  There are rocks on it and it drops fairly fast.  As you fish downstream the bottom flattens out and there is a lot of wood to fish.  Stay way out on the flat in seven to eight feet of water since it is so shallow and cover all the wood with a buzz bait.

Fish all the way around the point where it turns to the left going downstream.  Also try a crankbait around this wood in case the fish don’t want a topwater bait. A weightless Fluke or Senko is also good around the wood.

2.  N 33 20.313 – W 83 51.404 – Go down the river and there is a marked hump way off the left bank. There are two danger markers on it and it tops out about six feet deep at full pool, dropping off to 40 feet deep. Keith warns that boat wakes move the markers and they may not be right on top of it, so idle up toward them slowly.  The hump has rocks, stumps and brush piles on it the bass use for cover, and they will also hold in the saddle between the hump and the bank.

Start with your boat in deeper water and fish all the way around it, casting topwater and crankbaits to the top of the hump and working them back. Also try the Flash Mob Jr. here, fishing it the same way.  Watch your depthfinder as you go around it for fish holding deeper.

Try a Carolina rig and a jig head worm on this hump, too.  Keith likes to drag both baits along slowly, letting the lead stir up the bottom to attract attention.  Keith usually uses a Trick worm on both, preferring watermelon seed or pumpkin seed colors, but if the bass want a smaller bait he will go to a Finesse worm. He will often dip the tails of both size worms in chartreuse JJs Magic for added attraction.

We caught some small spots here on a drop shot when Keith saw fish near the bottom.  If you see them off the sides of the hump try that. Also, especially during the day, you can sit on top of the hump and cast a Carolina rig or jig head worm to the deeper water, working your bait up the drop.

3.  N 33 19.317 – W 83 50.574 – On the right side of the dam going toward it the Georgia Power park and ramp are on a big point right beside the dam.  There are two DNR docks in the pocket formed by the dam and point and there are “Boats Keep Out” buoys in front of them.  There is a public fishing pier on this side of the point.

A lot of wood washes in and sticks in this pocket, and the DNR and residents sometimes pull floating wood to it, so there is a lot of cover to fish. The bottom is also rocky and drops off into deep water.  In the morning or late afternoon start in the pocket, fishing the wood. Try topwater and a weightless bait like a Fluke or Senko around it, too.

When the sun is high sit way out even with the big park point but toward the dam side, and line up with the two tallest towers on the power station on the bank.  A ridge runs out parallel to the park point and flattens out on the end, and bass hold on it.  Fish it with your bottom baits and run a crankbait and the A-Rig over it

4. N 33 19.584 – W 83 50.563 – Go back upstream to the big point on the left where the river turns back to the left.  Downstream of this point, straight out from a cream colored boat house with a metal dock in front of it, a hump rises up to about 14 feet deep. Line up the end of the point with the park side of the dam and idle along this line. You will be in about the middle of the mouth of the creek coming out on the park side.

Keith caught his biggest spot from Jackson on this hump.  Sit out in deep water and drag your bottom bumping baits on it. Try a drop shot, too. Also run a crankbait across it for suspended fish.  Keith does not always bump the bottom with a crankbait but fishes it like a fleeing shad in the water column. He may go to a deeper running bait like the DD22 if the fish won’t come up for a more shallow running bait.

5.  N 33 20.028 – W 83 50.753 – Going upstream on the right bank, on the upstream point of the third big cove upstream of Goat Island, you will see a house and dock with bright silver roofs on the point.  There is a seawall around the point and big rocks are on it. As the bank goes upstream there are huge boulders where it turns into a bluff bank.

Stay way off the bank, the rocks come out a long way, and cast a crankbait or A-Rig to them.  Then try your jig head worm and Carolina rig around them.  Fish all the way around the point.  Way off the point a hump comes up and the saddle leading out to it can be good.

Watch for schooling fish here and other similar places.  There were several schools of small keeper spots chasing shad all around this point when we fished and Keith got one on his XRap.  They will school even better in September and you can chase schooling fish most of the day.

6.  N 33 20.145 – W 83 50.852 – Going up stream along the bluff bank a narrow point comes out at the upper end of it.  There is riprap around the point and a narrow pocket upstream of it.  The point runs way out and Keith says bass hold out on the point early in the month and feed on shad. Later in the month they will push shad up into the bay on the downstream side and into the narrow pocket upstream of it.

Fish the point with your Carolina rig, A-Rig and jig head worm.  Stay way out with your boat in at least 15 feet of water to fish the point early in the month. Later fish the cover in the bay and pocket on both sides with Senko or Fluke but try you’re A-Rig in the pockets, too.  Keith likes the light Flash Mob, Jr and does not put heavy jig heads on it so he can fish it shallower without hanging up.

7. N 33 20.840 – W 83 51.985 – Go to the mouth of Tussahaw Creek to the right side going in. A ridge comes up way off this bank and tops out about 14 feet deep. You will see a light brown roof dock in front of a white cabin on the right bank and the ridge starts about even with it and runs into the creek.

Fish up the ridge into the creek until you are even with a dark brown dock.  Try you’re a-Rig and crankbait over the top of it, keeping your boat on the river side in deeper water.  Then fish it with bottom bumping baits probing for the rocks and stumps on it.  Watch here, too, for fish on the bottom and try a drop shot for them.

8. N 33 21 094 – W 83 52.213 – Go on up Tussahaw to upstream side of the first small cove. There is a tall tree stump carved into a bear standing behind a dock on the bank. Start at the dock in front of the bear and fish upstream.  Fish hold on this point and the next one upstream, too, and feed early in the month then push shad into the coves on both sides of the points later.

Fish will often hold on docks so Keith works them carefully. He will fish every dock post with a jig head worm, hitting the post and letting the bait drop straight down it.  He says spots often nose up to the post and if the bait does not fall straight down beside it they won’to hit.  Keith says he will often spend a half hour carefully fishing every post on a dock. A Senko or Fluke will also catch dock bass.

Fish the points and banks going into the pockets with A-Rig and crankbait.   When fishing the crankbait Keith says he likes to crank it a few feet then pause it. Strikes will often come just as he starts the bait moving again. Try different lengths of pause before moving it again.

9. N 33 22.180 – W 83 51.728 – Go up the Alcovy to the mouth of the South River. As you go into the mouth of it, on your right, the second point is narrow and has an old boat ramp on it.  This point comes way out and has a lot of rocks on it and holds a lot of bass. Keith caught several spots here on his crankbait.

Run your crankbait and A-Rig across the point.  If there is any current coming out of the river, which often happens after a rain, Keith says it is important to stay on the downstream side of the point and cast upstream, working your baits with the current.

Also fish a Trick worm or Senko on top of the point early. It is very shallow a good way off the bank.  Then work your bottom baits on the point, all the way out to the end of it in at least 15 feet deep.  You will get hung up in the rocks but that is where the bass live.

10.  N 33 23.028 – W 83 50.590 – Run up the Alcovy River under the powerlines.  Upstream of them a ridge runs parallel to the river channel way off the left bank upstream of the first creek on that side.  Watch on the right bank for a white deck on the bank just off the water with lattice work under it. It is very white.

If you stop in the middle of the lake even with that deck and idle toward the far bank, at a very slight angle upstream, you will cross the ridge. The ridge is on the far side of the river channel and it tops out about 14 feet deep and has stumps and rocks in some spots on it.

Keith likes to keep his boat on the side of the ridge away from the river channel and fish it. He says bass tend to hold on that side and stripers hold on the river side.  Cast you’re a-Rig and crankbait over the top of it and work your Carolina rig and jig head down that side from the top to about 20 feet deep. Also watch for fish under the boat to use your drop shot.

Since the rocks and stumps are in patches, feel for them and concentrate on that area.  The end of the ridge is where Keith catches most of his fish.

Give Keith’s places a try and see the kind of structure and cover he likes this month. There are many similar places you can find and fish on Jackson.

10 Tips to Catch More Winter Steelhead


With Robert Bradley, Oregon DFW
from the Fishing Wire


Successful steelhead fishing is more about developing a good strategy for finding fish than about fussing over gear, techniques and colors. (Although pink worms really do work!)

When it comes to winter steelhead, it’s easy to get caught up in the minutia of rod types, lure sizes, best colors and latest techniques. But according to Robert Bradley, ODFW district fish biologist in Tillamook, the most important skill to master is knowing where to find fish. (Hint: it’s always near the bottom.)

Here are his 10 tips for catching more steelhead by developing a successful fishing strategy and selecting the right gear for current conditions.

1) Do your homework.
You can learn a lot about a river, its steelhead runs and current fishing conditions before you even leave home.

Figure out the run timing on the river you want to fish. In some places, hatchery fish return earlier in the season – something to think about if you want a fish for the freezer. In rivers with wild broodstock hatchery programs, hatchery steelhead are available over a longer period of time. Wild fish typically arrive later in the run, but these catch-and-release fisheries are often quieter and less crowded, especially in rivers without hatchery programs.

Check the current river levels. High water levels put fish on the move but can make fishing more challenging. Often the best fishing is right after a big rain as water levels begin to drop.  Find your access points. Bank anglers will want to look for bridge crossings, parks and other public lands. Boat anglers should identify boat put ins/take outs.

Make a phone call to the local ODFW fish biologist to get the latest conditions and some fishing tips. Or, visit the weekly Recreation Report.

2) Organize your stuff before you go.

Collect and check your boots, waders, clothing, boat accessories, etc.Locate your license and tag. If you’re electronically tagging, remember to log into the MyODFW app before leaving cell phone range.Review the regulations for the waters you want to fish, and check for any in-season regulation updates. You’ll find in-season regulation updates online at the top of each fishing zone in the Recreation Report.

Check/replace your mainline, pre-tie your leaders, sort and organize your jigs, spoons and other lures. Remember, you might be wearing gloves, which will make it trickier to pick through your lures.Spend time doing this before you go and you’ll be less stressed once you’re on the water, and have more time for actual fishing. Besides, do you really like tying leaders while standing in 40 degree water during a rainstorm?

3) Join a fishing club or hire a guide.

Organizations like the Association of Northwest Steelheaders have several local chapters, and offer a chance to Interact with veteran anglers, see speakers and participate in workshops.You might also consider hiring a guide for a trip on your new home water. A guided trip can be a one-day lesson on how and where to fish a stretch of river. Be sure to let your guide know what you want from the trip — it may be about more than just catching a fish.

4) Pick a “home water.”

Spend time learning the water on one river, or even one stretch of a river, rather than jumping from place to place chasing the bite.

And we mean really learn the water – explore every nook and cranny with a spinner or bobber/jig to figure out where the fish hold. Also, pay close attention to where other anglers are catching fish. Think about catching more fish in less water.

These are transferable skills that, once mastered, can be used on other rivers or streams.

One of Robert’s best seasons was when he fished just a single two-mile stretch of river again and again, and where he soon learned every rock that had a fish hiding behind it.

5) Better yet, pick two “home waters.”

When water levels rise after a rain, rivers reaches and streams higher in the basin will drop faster and clear first. In the same vein, smaller basins tend to get back in shape faster than larger basins.

Just remember the old adage “Water high, fish high. Water low, fish low.”

6) Learn a variety of techniques.

But don’t get too complicated. If you’re new to steelhead fishing start with spinner and/or bobber/jig techniques. This gear has some advantages:You won’t lose a lot of gear (helps manage your frustration level), and these are effective techniques to cover the water and locate fish.

Drift fishing can be very effective, especially in higher water, but you can lose a lot of gear and spend more time re-rigging than fishing. Be prepared to mix things up based on water or other conditions.

7) Adjust your gear and techniques to water levels.

Regardless of the water level, fish will be holding just off the bottom of the river. So no matter what gear you’re using, it’s going to be most effective when it’s near the bottom. Where the fish are.

That means you’ll want to adjust your tactics for different water levels so you’re fishing near the bottom without getting hung up all the time. Water levels also will influence where to look for fish and what lines/lures to consider.

So, in higher water:Look for fish in the softer waters near the bank or behind obstacles.

Upsize your gear. Use a heavier leader* (12-15 pound) and larger weights or lures to keep your gear in the right zone and to handle the increased flows.

Consider drift fishing or plunking. These slower presentations can give fish more time to consider your offering.

Choose bright colors like orange, bright pink or chartreuse.In lower water: Look for fish further up near the head of holes, or in deeper parts of the runs.

Downsize your gear. Use a lighter leader* (8-10 pound) and smaller sized lures or baits. Choose darker, more subdued colors like reds, blues and black.*

In general, use a heavier main line and just adjust your leader size for different water conditions.

8) Keep a journal.

As you get to know your “home waters” keep notes on recent rains, water levels and temperatures, current weather and conditions, what gear/techniques you used and where/when you caught fish. You may think you’ll remember where you caught a fish, but you probably won’t. You can even take photos of certain hot spots to revisit later.

Also, note those places you might want to revisit in the summer, when low summer flows often reveal deeper pools, submerged rocks and other fish holding spots that are harder to see during high winter flows.

9) Assume you’re going to catch a fish.

Be prepared to care for the fish you catch and want to keep. Do you know how to properly gill and clean it? Do you have a cooler to keep it in for the drive home? If you’re going harvest the eggs for bait, are you prepared to deal with them when you get home?

10) Know how to safely release a wild fish.



If you’re going to release a fish, do it in a way that gives it the greatest chance of surviving.

Land the fish quickly.

Use barbless hooks.

Keep the fish in the water.

Revive the fish before releasing it.

Find more information here.

Robert Bradley is the ODFW district fish biologist in Tillamook and can be reached at 503-842-2741, ext. 18613 or robert.bradley@state.or.us.

Ice Fishing, Beyond the Basics

Tips, tricks and gear that will make this a season to remember on the ice.

By Kent Sorenson
Assistant Habitat Manager
DWR Northern Region

from The Fishing Wire


It’s time to gear up for ice-fishing season! If you’re serious about ice fishing and want to catch more fish, this post is for you.

We’ll go beyond the basics with some tips and direction for those who demand more of themselves when it comes to hauling fish through a hole in the ice. (And maybe give you a few ideas for your Christmas list.) Let’s get started!

Tip #1 — Choose reliable ice-fishing gear
My first tip is to buy good, reliable gear. You’ll find that you usually get what you pay for. Investing a modest amount on quality tackle will make your days more productive and ensure that you don’t waste your trip wrangling problematic equipment.Ice-fishing gear doesn’t have to be complicated, but finding what works best for you may require a few trips and a willingness to experiment.I also recommend tailoring your gear to the size and behaviors of the fish you want to catch. For example, if you want to catch lake trout, you’ll need a rod, reel and line that are heavier than what you’d use for bluegill.

Rods and reels should also be matched to their assigned task. Even though you generally match your gear to a species, you actually match it more to the bait you intend to use rather than the species you plan to catch. For example, you can land a 10-pound fish on a noodle rod, but you can’t effectively work a 3/8-ounce lure with it.For most panfish (e.g., bluegill and yellow perch), you’ll rarely need to go heavier than 4-pound line. Possibly more important than the line weight, though, is its diameter and behavior in cold weather.

As you learn about the characteristics of various types of fishing line, you’ll find they all have strengths and weaknesses.We all have slight preferences that can be determined only through experience. I like monofilament line, other anglers like braids and some strictly use fluorocarbon. Rarely is one type of line best for all conditions.

Strive to find a line that is small in diameter and has low spool memory. This will have to be a try-it-and-see moment for most people.

Tip #2 — Make use of electronics
If possible, make use of electronics, particularly sonar. Nothing will build your confidence more than knowing there are fish below you. And nothing will make you a more successful angler than having that confidence.

There are many different sonar (fish finder) options available to ice anglers nowadays. I use a Vexilar, but other manufacturers make great sonar units too.Some are better than others, but any of them are better than not using one at all. Find one that suits your fishing style and fits within your budget, and you’ll wonder how you ever got along without it.Above all, don’t be intimidated by these units. Watch a YouTube video or two, practice with them for a couple of hours on the ice, and you’ll be completely competent in their use.Having a good sonar unit can really improve your ice-fishing success.Other electronic aids include Global Positioning Satellite systems and underwater cameras. Of the two, I find a handheld GPS more helpful, particularly when transferring information I learned while fishing in open water.

I have used an underwater camera, but I found myself watching fish more than fishing. (Now, I extend my trips by letting the kids use it — they’re so entertained, we end up staying longer!)

Smartphone apps have started to make themselves available as well, but I cannot personally comment on their usefulness (other than the weather apps). I would imagine we’ll see an increase in their use in the future.

Tip #3 — Learn more about Utah’s waterbodies and fish species
Become familiar with the different species you’ll likely encounter in the places you plan to fish, or conversely, determine where the species you plan to target are found. For example, if you want to catch yellow perch, it doesn’t make any sense to fish Lost Creek or Causey reservoirs, because neither water has yellow perch in it!Identify the fish you want to catch and choose your location accordingly. Also, familiarize yourself with the annual dynamics of those waters and the behaviors of the species you’ll target.Black crappie and yellow perch are a common catch through the ice at Pineview Reservoir. Visit the Fish Utah website to search for lakes and reservoirs by the species they hold.

There are some traditional and fairly reliable fisheries that can, for the most part, be counted on year after year. Take Pineview Reservoir, for example. You can generally count on it to produce a high catch rate for yellow perch. Some years the perch are small, some years they’re medium-sized and, occasionally, they’re pretty nice.

Other waters are wildly unpredictable. They tend to run in loose cycles and produce a strong year-class of naturally produced fish that dominates the fishery.The yellow perch fishery at Rockport Reservoir is a good example of this. It’s great when it happens, but a total waste of your time when it’s between peaks.

Tip #4 — Take advantage of technology
If you really want to dig into the waterbody you plan to fish, various technological tidbits available today can help a lot during the winter months:
Aerial views of waters
Water level fluctuations tracked over timeInflow and discharge of popular reservoirsGPS points you saved while fishing in the summerResources are readily available online: the Bureau of Reclamation has charts that track reservoir water levels, Google Earth has fabulous aerial photos in time series, commercial ventures (such as Navionics) have sample bathymetric maps for some local waters.With just a bit of looking, you can find some great tools to supplement the DWR’s online stocking and fishing reports.

Some additional tipsIce fishing is your ticket to catching some of Utah’s biggest fish! The ice allows you to access areas you’d need a boat for during the rest of the year.Be mobile. Don’t ever, ever, ever stay somewhere that is not producing fish. If I’m not getting bites in 15 to 30 minutes, I’m off to find a new spot.

Learn a bit (or more) about the behavior of the species you want to catch.Learn from slow days by keeping a journal and noting what did and didn’t work. If you tried a particular technique, for example, and it didn’t work, note the conditions that day. It’s possible the technique might work under different conditions. Also, note your ‘near misses’ (e.g., the day anglers around you hooked fish using a bait you didn’t have, or realizing you should have packed up and moved to a new spot sooner) and look for ways to improve. Keeping a journal is a great way to keep you from making the same mistakes on subsequent trips.

Don’t follow “hot bites” on the Internet. Find your own hotspots. There’s as much misinformation floating around message boards and fishing reports as good information.

Learn to fish by fishing with experienced ice anglers, not simply reading the message boards or fishing reports mentioned above. Don’t expect it to all happen at once: pay your dues, and earn a spot in a network of experienced anglers. Once it becomes obvious you can ‘walk the talk,’ experienced anglers will see value in what you have to share and will begin to share information with you more freely. Nobody starts out as a Jedi Master: you must be a Padawan first!

Have a basic understanding of what the bottom of the lake you want to fish looks like. Learn the depths at various locations and where the humps, ridges and changes in substrate are located. Pairing that information with the preferences and behaviors of the fish you want to catch can really increase your catch rate.Develop a basic understanding of limnology (the scientific study of fresh water, such as lakes and ponds, with reference to their physical, geographical, biological, and other features).

Kent SorensonKent Sorenson is the assistant habitat manager in the DWR’s Ogden office. His main tasks are improving habitat and public access to watersheds in northern Utah. When he’s not at work, there’s a good chance he’s fishing somewhere, looking for a spot far away from the crowds.

Where and How to Catch Lake Harding/Bartletts Ferry February Bass, with GPS Coordinates

    By now most bass fishermen have had enough sitting at home staying warm and want to venture out to defeat cabin fever.  Although there is hope for warming by the end of the month and bass do respond to the longer days, they are not easy to catch most days. Fortunately, lakes like Harding will have some feeding fish this time of year.

    For a February trip, a lake like Harding on the Chattahoochee River just downstream from West Point is a good choice. It has a variety of types of structure and cover to fish and is full of spotted bass. Spots seem to feed better in cold water and cold fronts affect them but don’t usually shut them down like it will largemouth.

    Chris Blair has been a bass fisherman all his life and his father instilled a love of competition in fishing in him. He often went with his father to club tournaments and fished from the bank until he could join the Clayton County Bass Club when he turned 16.  He does well in the club and made the Georgia BASS Federation Nation state team in 2008. 

    “Harding is one of my favorite lakes,” Chris said.  “It has some big spots in it and you can catch them in a variety of ways,” he continued. There are also some good largemouth in the lake. Although February is not the best month to be on Harding, you can catch fish there as well or better than any where else this time of year.

    The bass at Harding are holding on their winter patterns most of the month of February. They are near deep water and hiding in heavy cover.  A warm day or two will make them move a little more shallow and feed better, but they won’t venture far from the deep water sanctuary. 

    Wood and rock cover is what you want to look for, and it needs to drop into at least 15 feet of water to hold bass this time of year. If even deeper water is nearby it is even better.

    Chris will fish a three eights ounce Edge Hardhead mop jig and trailer in orange and brown in clear water and black and blue in stained water.  He likes a one half ounce Edge spinnerbait in chartreuse and white with a gold Colorado and a silver willowleaf blade.   A Hellrazor blade jig in white with a Shadee Shad trailer is good for fish that don’t want quite as much flash as the spinnerbait shows.

    A Luck Craft or Bandit crankbait in Tennessee Shad that will get down deep is a good choice for more active fish and Chris will go to a one eight ounce lead head with a six inch pumpkinseed Trick worm trailer for very inactive fish.  One of these baits will attract bites most days.

    The following ten spots show the kinds of cover and structure Chris catches Harding bass from this time of year.

    1.  N 32 42 755 – W 85 07.361 – Run down the river on the right side and go past the mouth of Osanippa Creek.  On your right will be a small point with a green pine in the water beside a dead pine in the water.  They are in front of gray roof house and there is a dock just downstream of them as you start into the pocket there.

    These blowdowns are on a steep drop and there is 15 feet of water just off them at full pool. They offer the typical kind of place Chris looks for this time of year, heavy cover dropping into deep water. 

    Start fishing on the upstream side of the green tree and work a jig and pig through the branches of it and then the dead one. Fish it carefully and slowly, winter bass are not aggressive. Give them time to hit.

    As you work away from the trees throw a crankbait and jig head worm around the docks just inside the pocket. As the water warms at the end of the month bass will move into this pocket and hold on cover around the docks.

    2.  N 32 41.843 – W 85 07.104 – Down the river past the Chattahoochee Valley Rec Park just downstream of the second small pocket there is a steep bluff bank starting at a small point with a gray house with a long walkway going down to the dock. There is raw clay on the outside of the point and some big rocks and wood cover is along this bank.  

    Start at the point and work a crankbait and spinnerbait through the cover. Slowroll the spinnerbait through the limbs of trees and bump the crankbait off the ends of them. A Hellraiser is good to work off the ends of the wood, too.

    Follow up with your jig and pig or jig head worm. Bump them slowly from limb to limb. If the water is warming, fish from the shallow end all the way out but if it is cold, especially early in the month, concentrate on the deeper parts of the cover.

    3.   N 32 41.053 – W 85 11.066 – Run to the third bridge going up Halawakee Creek. The Highway 279 Bridge is upstream of the old railroad bridge.  Bridges like this one on creeks make a squeeze point where bass often stack up as they start to move toward the backs of the creeks as the water warms and the days get longer.

    Fish the riprap and pilings from one side to the other, working a crankbait and spinnerbait bumping the rocks and along the pilings.  Also fish a jig and pig or jig head worm on the rocks and beside the pilings. Even early in the month the rocks and pilings will warm from the sun and draw baitfish and bass to them.

    You will find the water is usually a little clearer in this creek than out on the main river. This can be important in cold water. Clear cold water is better than muddy cold water most days.

    4. N 32 41.092 – W 85 08.936 – Going down the creek there is a big creek on your right just before you get to the Highway 379 Bridge.  A power line crosses the mouth of the creek, jumping from one long narrow point on the upstream side to the long narrow point on the downstream side.

    Start on the upstream point at the power line and fish the bank, casting to the clay bottom that changes to riprap.  Throw crankbaits, Hellrazor and spinnerbait.  When you get to the blowdown slow down and fish it carefully with a jig and pig and jig head worm.

    You will be in 15 feet of water a cast off the bank near the point but the old creek channel swings in near the blowdown and the tip of it is in water about 25 feet deep at full pool.  It is in a perfect location to hold bass all month. The water is deep enough for early in the month and bass moving into the creek as the days get longer will hold in the tree before moving further back.

    5. N 32 41.356 – W 85 08.098 – Go under the bridge and head downstream. Straight ahead the bank runs out from your right and the river makes a turn to the left.  On the right bank right where the turn starts is a point with some post along a wooden seawall on it. The posts have lights on them.

    Stop well off the point in 45 feet of water and east toward it. Off the tip and slightly downstream of it is a huge boulder sitting in about 15 feet of water and there is rubble around it. Bass, especially spots, like to hold around this rock.

    You can bump the top of the rock with a crankbait that runs six or seven feet deep then slow roll a spinnerbait on it. Work a jig and pig and jig head worm all around the rock, throwing up to the seawall and fishing back past the rock.  Bass will hold all around the rock and feed on shad, so seeing balls of shad here and on other spots like this really helps.

    6. N 32 42.034 – W 85 06.591 – Run out of Hawalakee Creek and go across the mouth of the river. You can run across above the island with the house on it near the creek and downstream of the island with the cross on it near the other bank. Locals call this “Church Island.”

    The right bank going up across from the island with the cross is steep and drops off into deep water.  There is a white house on the downstream side of this point and it flattens out and the bluff bank along the point has big boulders in it.

    Start fishing just upstream of the dock where the big rocks start and work upstream, all the way past the next dock.  Chris will get in close to the bank and parallel it with a big crankbait and also slow roll a spinnerbait along the bottom.

    This is also a good place to fish a jig and pig and jig head worm when the water is cold. Chris says he will throw right on the bank then “creepy crawl” either jig down the rocks, barely  moving it so it stays right on the bottom and falls only s few inches at a time. The bottom drops fast here so you have to move it very slowly.

    7.  N 32 42.406 – 85 06.891 – Go up the river past the next big round point and stop at the mouth of the narrow cove on your right. The upstream point of this cove is rock and drops off on the end into the channel. There is a ledge across the mouth of the cove and it is shallow going toward the downstream point but it drops off into the river on the outside of it, too.

    Fish the  upstream point early in the month and work into the cut as the days get longer and the water starts to warm. Bass hold on the point and feed on shad then work into the cut, holding and feeding around wood cover in it.  There are usually lots of shad around the mouth of this cove so check for them.

    Chris says there is lots of good brush as you go back into this cove and it is a good place to fish later in the month.  Fish your jigs around the point and you can fish a jig head or jig and pig vertically if you see fish under your boat. As you go into the cove fish all your baits around the brush and other wood cover.

    8.  N 32 42.946 – W 85 07.012 – The downstream point of the cove with Idlehour Ramp in it holds bass.  This shallow point is a good place to start if you put in here or end your day before you take out, or both.

    Stay well off the point and make long casts across it with all your baits. Work your spinnerbait and blade jig along the bottom and bump it with a crankbait. Then drag a jig and pig or jig head worm along the bottom.

    A lot of tournaments are held out of this ramp and bass released here often hold on this point.  There are usually shad on it so it is worth fishing carefully and at different angles. Work all the way around it, keeping your boat out as far as the no wake buoy on that side, while fan casting the point.

    9. N 32 44.041 – W 85 06.662 – Up the river just before it bends back to the left at Blanton Creek is a cove. It is the last one on the right before Blanton Creek going upstream and is very shallow. But the downstream point is rocky and drops off into the channel.

    Stop out from the point and work in. You will see a big pine blowdown but it is broken off at the water level. There is brush out in front of it to fish, though. Another smaller blowdown is closer inside the mouth of the cove. 

    You will also see a log lying on the bottom out from the bank, showing how shallow this pocket is.  You don’t want to fish into the pocket. Instead, work your jigs in the blowdowns and brush and also down the steep rocky bank going downstream of this spot.  Chris says this is a very good spot hole.

    10.  N 32 44.605 – W 85.07.901 – Run up past the bluff bank on your left to where the river turns to the right.  At the end of the bluff the bank levels out and a creek enters the river.  On the upstream point of the creek is a big “For Sale” sign.

    Out in front of this sign about 40 to 50 yards is a rock pile right on the lip of the old river channel. It is very rough and comes up out of 10 plus feet of water to top out at about five feet deep at full pool.  Bass hold and feed on these rocks, especially when current is moving down the river.

    Chris positions his boat downstream of the rocks and throws a crankbait up to work back with the current.  He wants to get it down to bump the rocks but be prepared; you will get hung up here.  Fan cast all over the top of the rocks.

    These ten spots hold bass right now and through the end of the month. Check them out and you can find many more similar places to catch February bass at Harding.

With Piers Closed, Angler Takes to Alabama’s Beautiful Beaches


By DAVID RAINER
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

from The Fishing Wire

With a nickname like Pier Pounder, David Thornton of Mobile has seen his favorite pastime disappear with 2020’s double whammy of hurricanes. Hurricane Sally took the Gulf State Park Pier out of commission, and Hurricane Zeta destroyed Cedar Point Pier in Mobile County.

“I guess you can call me the Pier-less Pounder because the only pier open in the Mobile area is the Fairhope Pier, and it’s closed at night because they don’t have any lights,” Thornton said.

However, Thornton has a major backup plan, thanks to Alabama’s beautiful beaches and surf teeming with a variety of fish species.

Thornton said he’s been hooked on fishing in the surf since he was 12, and a trip to Gulf State Park Pier with his buddy, Tom Allenbach, sealed his loved for pier fishing.

“Tom was fishing a live alewife under a float,” Thornton said of the trip to Gulf State Park Pier. “He told me to hold his rod while he caught more bait. I asked him how I would know when I got a bite. He said, ‘You’ll know.’

About that time, I felt a tug and thought I was hung on somebody else’s line. Then the fish took off, stripping drag. It was about a 10 ½-pound king, and that was when I really got hooked on pier fishing.”

But for now, fishing from shore is where Thornton will be until a portion of Gulf State Park Pier is reopened sometime late this winter.

Before Thornton decides where to pursue fish in the surf, he gathers information about weather, water, wind and tide conditions.

“Know what the weather is going to be like with the marine forecast,” he said. “It’s not that I look for any certain conditions; it’s just that I want to know what to expect and adjust. I look at the tide tables. Then I’ll decide where I’m going and what I’m going to fish for based on the conditions.

“Ideal conditions would be 10-15 mph winds either onshore or sideshore with waves 1 to 3 feet. For shore fishing, it’s really better with a little chop on the water. I think it stimulates the fish to bite more readily. Also, you have current flow. If there is a current working over the sandbar, you want to pay special attention to the tide, especially if it’s close to a pass. If it’s too rough or too calm or with very little tidal movement, the fish don’t cooperate as well. If I’m going to fish a neap tide, I’m going to fish close to the pass.

”When Alabama’s tides come off a neap cycle, the tide swings will sometimes reach more than 2 feet from low tide to high tide. That’s when Thornton likes to be fishing the open beaches.

“That tide movement stimulates the bite,” he said. “When I go, I’m looking for a longshore sandbar. The longshore sandbar is usually 100 to 150 yards off the beach. But there are places where the longshore sandbar swings in closer to the shore. The best places are where the sandbar is within casting range. That creates a pinch point where the fish are going to be moving from one trough to the next. When the bar is closer, you can use lighter tackle and target a variety of fish.

“I’d much rather catch a big fish on light tackle and take a long time than catch a small fish on heavy tackle.”

Thornton casts to the inside edge of the sandbar to start the day and adjusts his casts according to the bite.

“The fish tend to feed along the edges,” he said. “They use the sandbars for protection from predatory fish. The area from the shore out to the first bar is where most of the fish live. That old adage is that 90 percent of the fish live in 10 percent of the water. It’s the same in the surf.

”Speaking of light tackle, Thornton truly goes as light as possible. Where some folks show up on the beaches with long rods with 20- to 30-pound line, Thornton fishes with line in a range from 4-pound-test to 15-pound-test. He uses his 10- to -12-foot rods with the 15-pound line for the long casts. He takes his 7-foot rods and light line for fishing closer to the shore. However, anything can bite any of his rigs.

“I’ve hooked 20-pound black drum within 10 feet of the shore, and I’ve caught whiting and pompano out by the sandbar,” he said. “The mistake I see most people make is they’ll cast out as far as they can, pop the rod in a rod holder, plop down in a chair and wait for a fish to bite. If they don’t catch anything, they say the fish weren’t biting that day. Odds are, they overcast the fish. With light tackle, I feel like I have just as much fun catching 14- to 16-inch whiting and an occasional pompano as somebody heaving this heavy tackle and waiting hours between bites.”

Thornton uses No. 4 Kahle hooks and a variety of sinkers from pyramid to no-roll egg-shaped. If he wants the bait to remain stationary, he sticks with the pyramids. If he doesn’t mind the bait moving a little, he’ll use the flattened egg sinkers or coin sinkers.

“If I’ve got a side wind that is creating current, I can also use that slow-moving bait to cover more ground,” he said. “That way, I’m not just throwing darts at the fish. If your bait is moving too fast, you may have to go to a pyramid.”

Thornton suggests forgoing the ready-made pompano rigs and sticking with lighter line.

“If you’re targeting one- to two-pound whiting and one- to three-pound pompano, even 20-pound line is overkill,” he said. “Light line allows the fish to give account of themselves. They’re really feisty for their size. When you match the tackle with the fish, you’re going to have a lot more fun, and I really think you get more bites. It seems like every time I step down in tackle size, the number of bites I get practically doubles. Whiting and pompano can be particularly line-shy at times.”

Thornton considers the Florida pompano as his target species, but he is happy as can be with what he calls the “byproduct” of pompano fishing, which is whiting, a silvery species with a black patch at the top of its tail. Known as Gulf kingfish elsewhere, whiting don’t get much larger than two pounds but are delicious table fare. Thornton said

Southern kingfish, known locally as ground mullet, are common in the surf at Dauphin Island.“Whiting, by far, is the most prevalent fish in the surf,” he said. “But you never really know what you’re going to catch.”

As far as bait, Thornton uses fresh dead shrimp with the heads and tails pinched off when he has run out of ghost shrimp, a crustacean that lives in the surf that is caught using a suction pump commonly called a slurp gun to extract the creatures from the sand. On our outing last week, the fish definitely showed a preference for ghost shrimp. Thornton also uses a product called Fish Bites, a product with different scents infused into the material.

Thornton said shore anglers will be able to catch whiting and a few pompano throughout the winter. When the water gets a little colder, sheepshead will show up around all the jetties. The pompano limit in Alabama is three fish with a minimum total length of 12 inches. The limits on sheepshead are 10 per person with a 12-inch fork length minimum. Whiting have no size or creel limit.

The best time all year to fish the surf is in the spring, according to Thornton, who keeps readers apprised of coastal fishing conditions with columns in Great Days Outdoors and the Mullet Wrapper.“Late March through April and possibly early May is the time to fish the beach, especially for pompano,” he said.

“With the lockdown this past spring, we didn’t get to fish for pompano until May. The Gulf State Park Pier was still open during that time, and the pompano catches were astounding.

”Thornton is definitely going to celebrate when the Gulf State Park Pier reopens a portion of the pier about 40 feet past the middle section with the restrooms.

“I’ll be ecstatic,” he said. “The cruelest irony of all was the pier had scheduled a grand reopening the day that Sally smashed it. I was supposed to give a little talk that day, and I was going to reminisce about walking out on the new pier after many people had been waiting five years for the pier to be rebuilt after Ivan. It took my breath away. I remember on the old pier, we would often say, ‘If it was just 100 yards longer.’

Then they built it 200 yards longer. The fishing was just outstanding.

“When I walked out on the pier before Sally I couldn’t help but think about all those people who helped me become a better fishermen, people like Harley Rogers and so many others. For most of the people who are regulars on the pier, they have the attitude of ‘pay it forward.’ When you see somebody struggling, you try to help them with their tackle or bait. Then you see their whole attitude change. You don’t see that everywhere. That’s one of the things that makes Gulf State Park Pier special.”

Tactics and Techniques to Target Smallmouth Through the Changing Seasons


The author with a trophy smallmouth bass from the James River in downtown Richmond. Fall is one of the best times of the year to target big smallmouth bass across the state.

By Alex McCrickard, Virginia DGIF Aquatic Education Coordinator
from The Fishing Wire

There might not be a finer season to explore our freshwater fisheries across Virginia than in fall.  Maples, tulip poplars, oaks, and sycamores turn red, orange, yellow, and brown as air temperatures cool to a comfortable range in the 60s and 70s.  The cool crisp air during this time of the year is a welcome change to anglers who have fished throughout the hot humid Virginia summer.  The changing of the seasons creates excellent conditions for anglers targeting smallmouth bass across the state.Smallmouth Bass in Virginia

Smallmouth bass, frequently referred to as smallies or bronzebacks, are a freshwater member of the sunfish family: Centrarchidae.  Their green and brown sides are often marked with vertical black bars.  Some of these fish have war paint like markings extending horizontally and diagonally behind their eyes and across their gill plates.  Smallmouth bass are native to the Great Lakes system and the Mississippi River Basin including the Tennessee and Big Sandy River Drainages of Southwest Virginia. 

However, these game fish have been introduced all across the Piedmont of Virginia and are truly a worthy opponent on rod and reel.  Because of the smallmouth’s widespread range in Virginia, they are readily available to anglers fishing west of the coastal plains above the fall lines of our major river systems.  This allows anglers who reside in cities and large metropolitan areas to fish local as smallmouth opportunities are plentiful. 

The James River in Lynchburg and RichmondRappahannock River in Fredericksburg, Rivanna River in Charlottesville, Maury River near Lexington, and the New River in Blacksburg are fine examples of local opportunities.

The mainstem and larger tributaries of these rivers are full of smallmouth. Anglers in Northern Virginia can focus efforts on the Upper Potomac River as well as the Shenandoah mainstemNorth Fork, and South Fork.  The North Fork of the Holston River and the Clinch River provide excellent smallmouth opportunities in Southwest Virginia.  Floating these larger rivers in a canoe or raft can be a great way to cover water, just remember to wear your life jacket. 

You can also wade fish these rivers and their tributaries in lower water conditions.Changing River ConditionsRivers and streams across Virginia are typically in low flow conditions on average years as summer moves to early fall.  As the days get shorter and air temperatures drop, water temperatures are soon to follow.  As water temperatures cool from the upper 80s down to the mid 70s and eventually upper 60s, smallmouth will become very active. 

While the smallmouth’s metabolism might be highest in warmer water temperatures, these conditions can sometimes make the fish a bit sluggish, especially on bright sunny days in the heat of the summer.  Therefore, the cooling trends that occur in early to mid-fall can oftentimes put smallmouth on the feed.  Also, as water temperatures drop, dissolved oxygen will increase. 

During the hottest summer months, smallmouth often congregate at the heads of riffles in broken water where dissolved oxygen levels are highest.  It’s the fall cooling of water temperatures that in turn can spread more smallmouth out evenly throughout various habitats from riffles and pocket water to long runs, pools, and flats.  Smallmouth can also disperse when large rain events occur throughout fall and river levels rise from typical low late summer and early fall flows.

As mid-fall progresses into late fall, water temperatures will drop even further.  As water temperatures drop into the mid to low 50s, smallmouth will stage in transitionary water between their summer habitat and deep overwintering holes.  In Virginia, this oftentimes happens from late October through the middle of November.  Look for smallmouth to be on the edges of drop-offs as well as congregating around river points and bends. 

During this transitionary time smallmouth can also be found in the middle sections and tailouts of deep riffles holding around structure like log jams and big boulders.Early Fall – Techniques and ApproachTopwater lures and flies will continue to produce good numbers of smallmouth bass throughout the entire month of September and well into the month of October. 

Anglers should take advantage of this last opportunity to fish on the surface before winter kicks in.  Popular topwater lures that anglers enjoy to fish in the summer will also prove to be productive in early to mid-Autumn.  Make sure to keep buzzbaits, Whopper Ploppers, Zara Spooks, Heddon Tiny Torpedos, and the Rebel Pop-R in your box of topwater lures.September and October are great months to fish topwater lures and flies for Virginia smallmouth bass. Photo by Meghan Marchetti/DGIF.

For fly fishing, make sure to keep your flybox stocked with your favorite poppers.  I always carry Boogle Bugs, Double Barrel poppers, and Walt’s Bass Popper in a variety of sizes and colors in early fall.  It’s best to experiment with your retrieve to figure out if the fish are looking for fast or slow action.  Your retrieve and approach can also depend on the type of water you are fishing and the action of your fly or lure.  Sometimes in choppy riffles a faster retrieve can allow the lure or fly to move more water where as a slower pop and pause retrieve can be very productive in flat water stretches.

Late Fall – Techniques and Approach
As water temperatures continue to drop in late October through November, a subsurface approach is best.  It’s still possible to catch bass on topwater lures and flies but you will find more fish feeding subsurface with water temperatures in the 50s.  Smallmouth will actively ambush smaller forage fish during this time of the year as they attempt to put on weight for the upcoming winter season.  This makes mid to late fall one of the best times of the year to target large smallmouth in our rivers and streams across Virginia. 

Use baitfish imitations and target the transitionary water that smallmouth occupy during this time frame. A variety of subsurface crankbaits, soft plastic swimbaits and flukes, spinnerbaits, and jerkbaits will prove productive.  The Rebel Crawfish, a crayfish crankbait, should also be in your selection of subsurface lures as smallmouth will prowl pools and flats for crayfish in the fall.

When fishing some of these subsurface lures, especially soft plastic swimbaits and flukes, its important to apply action to the lure on occasion by quickly jerking your rod to the side and then pausing briefly during your retrieve.  This will give your lure an erratic motion and imitate a stressed and injured baitfish which is exactly what the smallmouth are looking for.  When fishing soft plastics with a jig head, you can adjust the size of your jig head based upon the depth and current that you are focusing on.  Anglers can also fish a variety of different colored jig and pigs for targeting late fall smallmouth that are holding lower in the water column closer to the bottom of the river.Subsurface lures work well when targeting fall smallmouth. Photo by Meghan Marchetti/DGIF.

Late October through November is an excellent time to fish large streamers for big smallmouth bass.  When fly fishing in mid to late fall, consider fishing with a sinktip or a 250 grain full sinking line in the deeper riffles and pools on our larger rivers.  Sometimes it pays off huge when you can get your fly down to the fish during this time of the year, especially in the latter part of the season as winter approaches.

I have had great success in the fall fishing Bob Clouser’s Clouser Minnow, Lefty Kreh’s Deceiver, as well as the combination of the two patterns: the Half & Half. Large articulated streamers that were originally developed for trout fishing in western states likes Montana, Colorado, and Wyoming will also be productive on fall smallmouth.

Kelly Galloup’s articulated streamer patterns from Montana work well and most of these flies have large profiles as some of them are tied with wool or spun deer hair heads.  Charlie Craven’s patterns from Colorado are also quite productive on our Virginia smallmouth.  The profile of these large articulated streamers attracts fall smallmouth and these patterns swim really well through the water as they are articulated.  The multi-sectioned Gamechanger tied by Blane Chocklett also works quite well this time of the year. 

You should also carry large beadhead or conehead Woolly Buggers.  I like fishing this classic pattern in sizes 2-4 in black, dark brown, and olive. Chuck Kraft’s Clawdad and Harry Murray’s Hellgrammite are also productive patterns to fish lower in the water column this time of year.Fishing large streamers is a great technique for targeting big smallmouth bass. Consider fishing a sinktip or full sinking line in mid to late fall on our larger Virginia rivers, especially in higher flows. Photo by Meghan Marchetti/DGIF.

Autumn can truly be one of the most pleasant times of the year to target smallmouth across the Commonwealth.  Anglers will enjoy cooler temperatures and wearing waders when fishing these rivers during this time of the year.  As the season progresses from October into November, it’s important to bring a dry bag with a towel and an extra change of clothes for safety precautions due to cooler water and air temperatures.  Make time to get out this fall and take advantage of the prime fishing conditions for smallmouth across the state.

Carp: The Gamefish in Our Backyards


Add an underwater camera to your arsenal and learn where the giants await.Carp specialist Nathan Cutler calls his Aqua-Vu his most important learning tool.
from The Fishing Wire

Crosslake, MN – Nathan Cutler remembers the first big carp he ever hooked. Standing on shore that day in 1999, exhausted and beaten, Cutler lamented the battle, the lost fish and the damage it had inflicted upon his gear.

Among the casualties: The carp had stripped 150-yards of line from his spool, straightened the hook, melted the gears in his reel, burned the eyelet inserts on his rod and stripped the reel right off its seat.

That was the day the lifelong Canadian angler decided to learn all he could about this massively under-appreciated creature, the common carp—and that meant immersing himself in the underwater domain of his favorite fish.

“I’ve learned more from my Aqua-Vu HD underwater camera in a year than I probably could have in decades of regular fishing,” says Cutler, who operates ImprovedCarpAngling.com and a corresponding YouTube channel featuring spectacular underwater carp footage.

“As a scientist, I love to test out every new tactic, bait and rig and watch how fish react. Not only does the Aqua-Vu camera allow me to record the fish in their natural environment, but more importantly, I can view things as they happen in real time. This lets me adjust rigs and baits on the fly to see what works and what doesn’t.

At home near the crystalline waters of Lake Huron and the St. Lawrence River, Cutler enjoys immediate access to numerous shore fishing spots, each one hosting concentrations of carp up to 40-pounds or more.

“I have no idea why more anglers don’t target them,” wonders Cutler. “Carp are one of the largest, hardest-pulling catch-and-release species that live in abundance close to shore. You can set up pretty much anywhere along the shoreline here and enjoy a very successful day of fishing.”

On most of his shore spots, including breakwalls and marina docks, Cutler finds it easy to deploy his Aqua-Vu HD10i camera by dropping it right off the bank, dock or pier. On shallow flats, Cutler simply wades out and places the camera by hand. He then casts his fishing rig and bait to lie within several feet of the camera lens.

“One cool thing about carp angling, which makes using the camera very easy, is that you usually bait or chum an area and wait for fish to come to you,” he notes.

“I’ve designed a mount for the Aqua-Vu that acts as an anchor, positioning the lens at any angle I want, adjacent to my fishing area. I use the Aqua-Vu XD Pole Mount attached to a base of concrete poured into a 5-gallon bucket.”

Instructions for Cutler’s camera stand can be found in a YouTube video explaining the setup.

On-Screen Observations

In the past year since his first underwater carp forays, Cutler has observed some truly fascinating fish behaviors, as well as the hidden habits of other aquatic animals.

“I’ve seen cormorants and otters swooping at baitfish in 25 feet of water,” he says.

“I see salmon all the time that seem intrigued by the camera and like to bump and knock it over. Smallmouth bass often stop and look directly into the lens before moving on. When all the fish suddenly clear out, it usually means a big pike is about to swim through the lens.

You also can’t help but notice all the round gobies down there. In real time they’re difficult to spot because they move in bursts, stop and disappear into bottom. When I speed up the recorded footage it looks like the whole bottom is moving.”Aqua-Vu HD10i Underwater Viewing System

Carp, known by their most ardent angling fans as highly intelligent, discerning and wary, exhibit some fascinating underwater preferences.

“I’ve been a fan of the simple hair rig for years and thought by presenting my bait a few inches above bottom over my pre-baited areas, fish would notice it quicker and I’d catch more fish.

“Actually, the camera showed me that the fish would nudge the rig, appear to feel the hook and avoid it altogether. Only about one of every ten fish I saw on screen took the bait without nudging the rig first. That was a huge revelation. As soon as I pinned the hook to the bottom, with the bait barely floating above, my catch rate nearly doubled.”

Cutler’s camera work also revealed that carp often detect and avoid his fishing line.

“I’ve watched carp on camera detect my line and bolt off in the opposite direction. To combat this, I now use a ‘back lead,’ or a a second weight attached to your line nearest the rod tip, pinning the line to the bottom so fish are less likely to see it. Line visibility isn’t something many anglers ponder, but with carp, it can be a major factor.

”The camera screen further surprised Cutler with the sheer number of fish haunting his pre-baited areas. “Many days I’ll be sitting without a nudge on my line. I’ll drop the camera to see if my rig and bait are presented properly and I’m always shocked by the number of fish visiting my baited area—up to 15 different carp moving in and out of frame, taking mouthfuls of bait as they feed.”The XD Pole Adaptor allows for a variety of viewing angles and applications

What Carp Eat

Cutler says the camera has proven to him that carp favor canned sweet corn from the grocery store. “No idea why North American carp love it so much, but I’ve learned if I’m targeting a new area, I always toss in a can of Jolly Green Giant and lower the camera. With other baits, it can take a long time and a lot of chumming before carp stop to investigate or eat it.

“If you pre-bait an area for an extended duration, you can have great success catching larger fish with other baits, especially boilies (a hardened, flavored dough bait that fends off smaller nuisance fish.)

Another great carp bait is a pack-bait recipe combining sweetcorn and bread, which nearly always produces fish.

”Interestingly, Cutler frequently observes carp eating mouthfuls of invasive mussels. “I see carp eating zebra mussels on the camera all the time. I believe it’s why carp grow so large in the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes.

Come fall when temperatures drop, carp move in to deeper rocky areas with heavy mussel concentrations. Carp sometimes feed so heavily on zebra mussels that they develop red sores on the roof of their mouth resulting from the sharp shell edges.”

Carp crush shells and ingest the soft-bodied mollusks with special pharyngeal teeth in their throat.“After watching carp in the same area, you begin to differentiate certain specific fish by visible characteristics, such as scale patterns, scars, etc.,” he notes.

“For me, a fun challenge is to target individual big carp I see on the camera screen. We call it ‘specimen hunting.’ I’ve named one particular carp Popeye, and I’ve been trying to catch him for two years now. I see him on almost every outing, but I’m still waiting for him bite my rig.

Hopefully, next time.”

Fishing with Matt Baty on Lake Seminole

Back in August, 2017. I drove down to Bainbridge and met Matt Baty at Wingate’s Lunker Lodge Saturday morning to get information for my October Map of the Month article in both Georgia and Alabama Outdoor News. Since Seminole is a border lake between the two states the same article will run in both magazines.

    Matt grew up in Faceville, right on the lake, and has fished it all his life. He now guides there and on nearby Lake Eufaula and keeps up with the bass and knows where they are and what they are eating.

    He and his partner had won an evening tournament on Seminole on Thursday night, landing five bass weighing 14 pounds in the three-hour tournament.  It amazed me when he told me the tournament launched in Bainbridge, a 30-minute fast boat ride up the Flint River from where he caught the fish.

    And he had to make the run back in the dark.  That meant they had less than two hours to actually fish when they got to their honey hole at the mouth of Spring Creek.  I have made that run many times in tournaments and you have to follow a twisting, turning channel. Its a good thing he knows the lake well to make it in the dark.

    Matt took me to the grassy flat with hydrilla forming a mat on the surface along the edges of the deeper Spring Creek channel.  We started with topwater but got no bites, but when he switched to a crankbait he caught five keepers up to two pounds each on five consecutive casts. That is hole #1 in the article.

    I landed a three-pound largemouth on a worm there but then it got tough.  We fished all morning without another keeper but then, on what is hole #7 in the article, he landed three bass about three pounds each by punching a plastic bait through the hydrilla behind a 1.5-ounce sinker.

    I don’t even own a sinker that big and did not try his method.  He offered me one but you have to stand up to fish that way and my back will not let me do it more than a few minutes.

    Seminole is a beautiful lake and has a lot of three and four-pound bass in it.  Fishing there seems much better this time of year than around here and is well worth the four-hour drive!

This Map of the Month article is available to GON subscribers at https://www.gon.com/fishing/seminoles-fall-bass-with-matt-baty

How To Catch November Reds, Trout and Flounder in Mobile

November Mobile Reds, Trout and Flounder

with Captain Dan Kolenich

    “November is one of the two best months of the year for catching reds, trout and flounder in Mobile,” Captain Dan Kolenich said. As the water cools and freshwater starts flushing out the bay, shrimp move toward the ocean and you can catch all three species. The shrimp are mature and as big as they get, so they are even more attractive food in November. Only in May, with the shrimp are moving in and the fish are following them, is as good.

    Captain Dan moved to the Mobile area in 1979 and fell in love with the fishing, learning how to catch reds, trout and flounder in the bay as well as all the species available in the area.  He started guiding 18 years ago, and has also fished some of the professional redfish tournament series like the Inshore Fishing Association (IFA) Redfish Tour and the Oberto Redfish Cup.  They do not fish Alabama waters so raveling to different areas like Florida and Louisiana in those tournaments helped him learn to find even more fish in Mobile.

    Until a few years ago most of his guide trips were with clients that wanted to catch fish on spinning tackle, with one or two fly fishing trips per year.  But now 60 to 70 percent of his trips are fly fishing trips and he is able to help fly fishermen catch trout and reds, with the occasional flounder, in the bay and rivers.

    Although he sometimes uses live bait like pogies, bull minnows and shrimp, he prefers artificals.  His favorites for spinning tackle are High Tide plastic shrimp and minnows on their B52 jigs and he sometimes makes them into spinnerbaits by adding a Hildebrant blade on a wire.  Those baits are soft and flexible but hold up well, allowing you to catch many fish on one bait before you have to change.

    He also casts a Mirror Lure 32 M lure as well as their Top Dog Jr. topwater plug. As the shrimp become scarce the fish feed more on baitfish that these plugs, as well as the soft minnow lures, imitate.

    “When you start catching freshwater drum where you had been catching trout and reds a few days earlier, its time to move further out,” Captain Dan said.  Starting somewhere around Thanksgiving and lasting until Christmas, the water cools and fresh water flushes saltwater out of the bay and fishing becomes difficult for desired species.  But until that happens, fishing is excellent, and you can follow the bait and fish as they move further out.

    Early this month start fishing about five miles upstream of the causeways and by the end of the month you should be fishing within a mile of the causeways. Start up the Tensaw and Raft Rivers around Gravine Island and work down those rivers as the fish move out.  The Blakeley River is another good place to try.  Later in the month concentrate on the Spanish and Apalachee Rivers.

    The pilings on the causeways that cross the bay are also good, with some fish around them all month, but they get better later as fish in the rivers move down and join resident “piling” fish.

    Early in the month you can catch trout around shallow wood cover up the rivers and reds over grass beds on high tide.  An east wind will often push an additional foot of water into the bay, making the shallow bite better.  For shallow water, plugs work well since you can keep them over the cover. Birds feeding back in bays and sloughs are a good sign the fish have pushed bait into those places and are active in them.

    For trout, find logs and trash on the bottom in two to three feet of water and work the Top Dog Jr over them.  Their C-Eye Suspending Twitch Bait will suspend 12 to 18 inches deep, allowing you to work it over the cover.  Trout seek water in the 70 to 80-degree range, so look for those temperatures for the best fishing.

    For reds, work those same baits over the grass beds in shallow water three to five feet deep.  Sometimes you can see reds feeding in the shallow water or the mud stirred up by them. They are in these areas feeding on crabs and minnows. Cast far enough ahead of feeding fish that you don’t spook them and start working it when they get close to it.

    As the tide moves out it pulls water, bait and fish out to deeper water near the channels. In the rivers the bottom slopes off in a shelf out to one to 10 feet deep then flattens out to about 12 to 14 deep before falling into the channels.  Captain Dan says about one-third of the river will be this creek bottom at the 12 to 14 feet deep and that is the depth trout and reds hold and feed.

    That is a lot of water to cover but Captain Dan says it is easy to find the fish since lines of boats will be drift fishing around them, and you can join them.  Go up current to the head of the line, put out your lines and drift through the fish.  When you stop getting bites reel in, crank up and go back to the head of the line to start another drift.

    This is the accepted method of fishing in the crowd. Captain Dan warns that you should not anchor when you catch a fish, it lessens your chance of catching more fish and, worse, it messes up everyone else fishing the correct way, drifting through them.  The only anchored boats are going to be fishermen that really don’t know how to catch the fish.

    Until Thanksgiving a good day trout fishing will produce 30 to 40 keeper size fish.  After Thanksgiving you may catch only four or five, but they will all be gator trout, over 20 inches long.

    For both trout and reds a High Tide shrimp or minnow behind a jig head work well.  Both will hit them when drifted near the bottom.  Vary the weight of your jig head depending on your drift speed, starting with a three sixteenths head, to keep your bait near the bottom. A red head High Tide jig head is Captain Dan’s go-to color. You can use live bait, but Captain Dan prefers artificials for ease of fishing as well as reducing costs.

    Reds like a bait right on the bottom and this is when Captain Dan likes to put a spinner over his jig.  It gives you more depth control as well as attracting fish to the bait.  Try to keep it within a foot of the bottom.

    Flounder also feed in the rivers this time of year and will hit jigs, but they tend to hold on points where rivers and creeks come together.  They sit on the bottom and feed, not really moving around much. You can catch them by drifting and casting to the points along your drift, but a good tactic for flounder is to anchor next to a point and cast up current on it.

    Use a jig and let it sink and work it with the current just over the bottom.  When a flounder hits there is no doubt, according to Captain Dan. When they take a jig it is a hard hit and they tend to hook themselves.

Bull minnows are also good for flounder and you can catch them “Carolina Rig” style, with the hook on a two-foot leader behind a sinker.  Cast or drift this rig on points and drag the sinker along the bottom, adjusting the weight of it with the current so it stays on the bottom.

Don’t “set the hook” hard on a trout, just tighten up and raise your rod tip. A hard hook set can tear the hook out of their mouth.  A red will hit hard and run and set the hook itself but you do not want to jerk your rod tip since their rubbery mouth can tear.

For all three species Captain Dan uses a seven-foot medium action Falcon rod with a Okuma spinning reel.  The rod’s light tip helps keep from tearing the hook out of the soft mouth of trout but is strong enough to hook the rubbery mouth of a red, and it has enough backbone to fight them efficiently. 

The reel has an extremely smooth drag, important when fighting a red on the ten-pound test line he uses.  He does tie a 12 to 18-inch 17-pound fluorocarbon leader on his main line, which is either Power Pro braid or monofilament. The leader helps since there are a lot of things to abrade your line.  

Although red’s mouths are tougher than trout’s, they are soft and the rod action and light line, as well as a smooth drag, are all very important to keep from losing hooked fish.

Captain Dan an Orvis endorsed fishing guide.  He uses nine-foot, eight weigh rod and says you need a fast sinking “depth charge” line to get down to the fish.  He drifts with a Clouser minnow fly and it needs to be fished at the 12 to 14-foot depth where the trout and reds are feeding.  You can cast the same bait for flounder but it, too, must be near the bottom for them.

The pilings on the bridges are good places to cast a fly or jig for all three species.  Contrary to what seems to be intuitive, Captain Dan has found fish hold on the up current side of the pilings rather than in the eddy on the downstream side.  There may be some fish on the eddy side, but, much like dolphins riding the bow wave of a ship, fish hold in the upstream ‘dead zone” break better.

Hold your boat on the up current side of the piling and cast your Clouser minnow or jig up to the front of the piling rather than past it, and let your bait sink down in the dead zone there. Try letting the bait sink to different depths to see if the fish prefer a certain depth.  Live shrimp or minnows can be fished on the pilings in the same way.

Captain Dan encourages catch and release on all fish but he does not mind if you keep just enough for a fresh meal.  Releasing all or most of your catch helps insure the fishing will be good in the future.  The size restrictions on reds and trout has really helped the fishing, too.

There is a ten fish, 12-inch minimum size limit on flounder.  Trout also have a ten-fish creel limit and must be over 14 inches long.   There is a three-fish limit on reds and you can keep fish between 16 and 26 inches long, but only one over the 26-inch length.  Reds over 26 inches long are the brood stock and all should be released, and Captain Dan says they are really not very good to eat at that size, anyway.

More than the usual amount of rain in the fall can flush out the saltwater earlier and muddy up the rivers, make fishing more difficult. Strong winds can also create problems.  It helps to have an experienced guide to adapt to daily changes in conditions. 

When you find the kinds of places these fish feed, don’t get stuck fishing familiar places. Captain Dan says finding new, similar places is one of the thrills of fishing here, and there are a lot of them to explore.

All you need on a guided trip with Captain Dan is what you want to eat and drink to put in his ice chest, hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, camera, and clothing like a long sleeve shirt and rain gear.  He asks you to wear soft sole shoes.  Although he provides all tackle he says you are welcome to bring your favorite rods, reels and tackle to use.  You do not need a saltwater license when fishing with him but if you go into freshwater you do need a freshwater license.

Contact Captain Dan for a guided trip fly fishing or spinning tackle fishing, at 251-422-3474 or email him at info@captaindankolenich.com.  His website at captaindankolenich.com has fishing reports as well as more information on his trips.