Category Archives: How To

Boating Tips

Don’t block boat ramps!!
By Darcy Mount, Colorado Parks and Wildlife
from The Fishing Wire

Important tips to avoid lonely nights on the sofa, or being the star of a viral video, as boating season begins.

Never use a busy boat ramp to “teach” others to back a trailer.

There are two things you should not learn from a spouse or significant other . . . canoeing and trailer backing. I know there are many other examples but these are my observations from my career as a park ranger and manager.Want to see couples fight? Hang around at the boat ramp. It won’t be long until an argument erupts as someone is trying to get a boat on or off a trailer. Or as couples are paddling in or out from shore.

With boating season upon us, it’s a good time for me to share some things I have seen in hopes you might avoid similar public displays of disaffection and perhaps ruin your day at the lake.

Trailer Backing
Busy boat ramp. This is where you see the most fights, domestic violence, tears, anxiety, damage to boats, trailers, docks, trucks, etc. Of course, these incidents always seem to occur on a busy boat ramp with lots of witnesses.It seems that in many cases the person most comfortable backing the trailer is also the person most comfortable driving the boat. I’ve observed this play out in many ways.

Scenario One
A couple in a boat motors up to the dock and ties up. The boat captain gets out and heads to the parking lot to retrieve the truck and trailer, backs it into the water, gets out of the truck, gets on the boat and loads it onto the trailer, hops back in the truck and drives away. This is normally easy to do, unless the ramp is crowded and people are waiting to load. Then stress levels can rise causing tension as traffic on the ramp backs up. Squabbles can occur.

Scenario Two
The person most comfortable driving both the boat and the truck decides it’s time to teach the passenger to back up the truck and trailer. This is generally done by yelling or eventually screaming from the boat, which is still afloat behind the ramp. As tension builds, the novice trying to back the trailer down the ramp gets frustrated as the trailer jackknifes and you may hear the words “I told you I couldn’t do it” being yelled or eventually screamed at the teacher on the boat. (I use the word “teacher” loosely.)

This situation can escalate and the boat driver/teacher may get yelled at by others bobbing in the water, waiting to load. This can happen because the “teacher” is distracted by the fish-taililng trailer on the ramp and lets the boat drift toward the other boats in the queue. The truck driver may experience a flight response and get out of the truck, walking away and telling the teacher to do it himself. Or the driver may even beg other people to back the trailer in for them. These people may be total strangers, which then causes more yelling from the teacher on the boat. It should be obvious, but you should never use a busy boat ramp to “teach” another to back a trailer into the water. The results are not pretty. 

Scenario Three
This is the reverse of scenario 2 with the novice trying to guide a bobbing boat onto a trailer as impatient strangers stare and even offer unsolicited advice as the “teacher” shouts instructions from behind the wheel of the truck. Either way, all the yelling is a surefire buzzkill guaranteed to ensure you boat alone in the future. (And probably sleep alone on the couch for a few nights.).

Soaking Your Partner
This occurs a couple ways and both can result in frayed tempers.The partner backing the trailer down the ramp can get soaked, and the truck stuck and in need of a tow, if the driver ends up too far onto the ramp and the truck sinks in deep water. This happens if the ramp is long and the water level is low and the ramp suddenly drops off and the truck ends up in deep water. If they back in far enough, they will find out trucks do not float as they watch it slowly sink under water. That is a guaranteed fight. 

Most common is the disaster that can occur when one partner forgets to put the plug in the boat and it fills with water as the boat floats off the trailer. 

A temper fit by the other partner can be avoided if you are lucky enough to quickly steer it back on the trailer and insert the plug.But often couples find themselves too far out from shore before they realize the boat is taking on water. This requires a boat tow and quite a bit of stress and in some extreme cases having to abandon your sinking boat. 

Boat and Ramp Repairs
This occurs often in the spring when we are so excited to get back in the water we forget to make sure the engine runs. You may see people parked in the parking lot trying to make repairs while their partner and friends in the truck wait not-so-patiently. Worse case is you float off your trailer to realize it will not start and need to be pulled back onto your trailer. 

Enjoyable Boating Adventures

If you follow these tips, you will have much more enjoyable boating adventures. And you won’t be the star of a viral video. I would like to say what happened at the boat ramp stays at the boat ramp. But if you search YouTube, you’ll discover that is far from the case.Written by Darcy Mount. Darcy is the Eleven Mile State Park Manager.

If you have general questions about Colorado Parks and Wildlife, email Darcy at AskARanger@state.co.us. Darcy may answer it in a future column.

Buy Fishing Line Based on Diameter

My favorite fluorocarbon line

Buy Fishing Line Based on Diameter, Not Lb. Test, Advises Sunline
from The Fishing Wire

Making enough line to go around the world nearly 34 times each year, Sunline has the largest stand-alone line factory on the planet. Despite making so much line every year, quality and accuracy are guiding principles for production of every spool of line that Sunline makes. 

 Sunline manufactures their lines to strict diameter tolerances that require a specific diameter range for each lb test. These diameter specifications are held across the globe for any line we offer. 

 Japanese laws require line companies selling line in the Japanese domestic market to label lines with a specific lb test based on pre-determined diameter ranges.  This policy ensures lines rated at a specific lb test will break at that lb test for true accuracy.

The true measure of a line or fiber is the denier rating.   Denier is a unit of measure for the linear mass density of fibers.  It is the mass in grams per 9000 meters of the fiber. This provides a true measure of the strength of a line or fiber and allows the strength of different materials to be compared regardless of the diameter.  One fiber may have a higher breaking strength because it is larger in diameter, but that does not mean it is stronger, only thicker in diameter.  Denier allows fibers to be tested and compared regardless of diameter for a true comparison.

Companies selling line in Europe are also held to a similar standard for diameters with the EFTTA Line Charter.  The charter is a pledge by over 35-line manufacturers stating they will only manufacture lines that meet agreed upon standards.  

A few of those include:
To print on their products clear and accurate descriptions in terms of diameters and breaking strength that are easy to understand, truthful and respectful of consumer protection laws and the standards of the industry, in compliance of the ISO 2062 Standards.

To run quality controls in sufficient quantities and sufficiently often to ensure that products labels are always accurate.

Not to use any other labeling in terms of breaking strength that is not scientifically demonstrated or agreed by the industry so as to avoid any confusion among consumers leading to unfair competition.

So, what about the US?  There are no such guidelines or charters in the US market regulating diameters.  Line companies can produce a line and label it with any lb test they want.  What better way to make a line seem stronger than it really is than to make a larger line and label it with a lower lb test.  This will make the line seem much stronger than it really is. An angler thinks the line is strong but doesn’t realize they are fishing with a much larger line size.  

If an angler were to catch a record fish using one of these inflated lines, the record would not be upheld when they submitted the record catching line for testing.

 In some cases, an angler thinking he is buying 12lb line is actually buying 22lb line with a 12lb label on it.

This can obviously impact the status of record fish caught with inflated line sizes. Other ways inflated lines impact anglers are in the performance of their lures.  Many lures swim or run better with lighter line.  If you are buying line you think is 12lb which will allow a lure to perform at its best, but the line is much larger it can impact the performance of the lure. 

 Crankbaits and jerkbaits run deeper with smaller diameter lines allowing them to reach maximum depth.  Similarly, anglers that troll a lot purchase lines based on the diameter knowing it will impact the diving depths of their crankbaits when trolled.  

The Precision Trolling Data shows the impact that a larger diameter can have on the diving depth of a crankbait.

Additional Resources
EFTTA, https://www.eftta.co.uk/line-charter/
Trolling data, https://www.precisiontrollingdata.com/
Denier, https://standardfiber.com/about-denier/
Lines, www.sunlineamerica.com

Fiddle Earthworms


Fiddle Your Way to Fresh Bait
Earthworms
Fishing for food to avoid going to the store? Try fiddling up some live worms, suggests Arkansas GFC.
from The Fishing Wire

LITTLE ROCK – Going fishing doesn’t have to mean expensive equipment. It simply takes a hook, some fishing line and some sort of bait. You could dig around in the refrigerator for food-type baits, or make the bait-gathering duty an adventure in itself by gathering worms from the wild.

Earthworms are excellent live bait for catfish, bream, bass and even an occasional crappie. And handling a nightcrawler or two will definitely prevent you from getting your hands near your face before washing them.

One technique to stock up on some nightcrawlers is to break out a fiddle. “Earthworm fiddling,” “worm charming,” and “worm grunting” all refer to an interesting practice some anglers have been using for centuries to get earthworms to come to the surface and show themselves.

Simply take a stick that has notches cut along its length and push it into the ground. Then rub another stick along its length to create vibrations.

Kids who got stuck with “sticks” in music class when all the cool instruments were already handed out will know exactly what sound this makes. The vibrations will bring the worms to the surface to dance, where you can be ready to pick them up and place them in your bait bucket. OK, the worms aren’t dancing. They’re actually moving out of the ground to avoid predators.

The famed geneticist Charles Darwin theorized, “If the ground is beaten or otherwise made to tremble, worms will believe that they are pursued by a mole and leave their burrows.”

A study conducted by Vanderbilt University biological sciences professor Ken Catania in 2008 confirmed Darwin’s theory. The study, held in northern Florida, where the practice of worm grunting was extremely popular, recorded the sounds of real moles digging versus worm grunters and compared their effects on the earthworms habit of springing from the ground when in danger.

Northern Florida has taken the grunting and fiddling practice to a new level. The town of Sopchoppy has even adopted the practice as its calling card, hosting the annual Worm Gruntin’ Festival where young earthworm harvesters compete to see who can coax the most earthworms from the ground with various techniques. It doesn’t have to be two sticks making the vibrations, either.

An old broom handle driven into the ground rubbed with a hand saw can produce the low vibrations needed. Two lengths of rebar also can be used to charm up some nightcrawlers for bait. Whatever you use, be sure to keep an eye on the ground for several feet around the fiddling tools and be ready to grab the worms before they can burrow back into the ground.

Naturally, you want to do this fiddling where worms are likely to be. Extremely hard ground or sandy soil is not likely to have worms. Try under trees or in areas where the ground is fertile with lots of deteriorating vegetation. Watering the lawn heavily ahead of time can help. Rake a spot so the ground is bare, then go to fiddling. It may take some effort to figure out your technique, but it will keep you stocked with bait throughout your fishing adventures. 

Aqua-Vu Underwater Cameras

Look underwater

See What You’re Looking at With Aqua-Vu Underwater Cameras
Three ways underwater study will help you find and catch more fish.

Crosslake, MN – For most anglers, watching the fish is something that happens only in the mind’s eye. You picture what your lure looks like, and how it moves underwater. You visualize what the weedbed or brushpile looks like and you wonder what types of fish might be inhabiting it. You imagine what it looks like when a bass first sees your lure and moves in for the strike.But unless you’re scuba diving or looking through the lens of an underwater camera, you don’t really know what’s happening below the surface.

For anglers truly interested in learning about fish behavior from an underwater perspective, an Aqua-Vu camera provides rare and incredible opportunities to observe, marvel and ultimately, catch more fish. No matter if you’re an ice angler, lure troller or a shallow water bass angler, an underwater camera can revolutionize your subsurface understanding.

Pole-Cam Perspectives Bass and crappie anglers have joined the ranks of underwater scholars, probing into and examining hard-to-reach areas beneath boat docks, inside brushpiles and under matted vegetation with a camera. Reaching out to inaccessible areas with his Aqua-Vu HD10i camera connected to a telescopic push pole, Major League Fishing pro Ott DeFoe likes to peek below boat docks. A special XD Pole Cam Adaptor makes connecting to any telescopic pole an easy five-second process.

“The pole-cam set up lets me look for big bass living in remote locations and under hard-to-reach shallow cover, like docks, without spooking them,” notes DeFoe, a longtime advocate of underwater study.“The Aqua-Vu also allows me to find concentrations of bass during pre-tournament scouting, without having to catch them before competition begins. That’s a huge asset in a tournament, and it works in clear as well as stained water, when all you need to see is the presence of fish a few feet from the lens.”

Visual Ice Fishing Mike Hehner, photographer, angler and producer for Minnesota based Lindner Media Productions has been a longtime fan of real-time underwater viewing with an Aqua-Vu camera. “I’ve spent the last few ice fishing seasons watching how bass and other fish behave in their natural habitat,” says Hehner. “What you learn is that every individual fish exhibits unique behavioral responses to lures or livebait.

“While ice fishing, I like to train the lens of my micro Revolution 5.0 Pro camera on a live minnow. Hit the record button and just start capturing footage. I can watch the video on the screen, live, or view it on my computer later on.

“Most people would be amazed to see what’s really happening down there—even during those periods when you’re not getting strikes. I’ve seen huge schools of bass move past the bait without even stopping to sniff. Other fish stalk and examine the minnow for many minutes at a time. Some bass lightly mouth the bait or nudge it, as if to taste or test it for palatability. Other times, they’ll nip the splitshot but totally ignore the minnow. I’ve also seen days when bass absolutely crush an artificial rattlebait over and over but completely ignore the livebait.

Trolling Goes Interactive A great way to add spice to the otherwise mundane task of trolling lures around the lake, sight trolling allows anglers to watch fish react in real time, right on the Aqua-Vu display. “The XD Live-Strike system connects the camera to your fishing line, letting you watch fish react to and bite lures, live,” says Dr. Jason Halfen, owner of the Technological Angler.

“What makes sight trolling with an Aqua-Vu such an amazing experience is the ability to see fish strike right on the screen, as it happens. With other Go-Pro type cameras, you don’t get to see what unfolds on the water until you’re done fishing.”Halfen and other anglers who’ve tried sight-trolling have seen some remarkable fish behaviors unfold on the screen. “You can’t believe how many fish—trout, salmon or walleyes—might be following your lure at once,” he observes. “Or the fact that a single muskie might follow your lure for 5 minutes or more before biting. You learn that a rapid acceleration in lure speed or a sudden interruption in its forward momentum, perhaps by contacting structure with the lure, can prompt an immediate violent response from fish.”

“After watching the fish for the past few years,” adds Hehner, “I realize how many times underwater study has revealed fish in spots I wouldn’t have otherwise found them. It’s also helped me make key adjustments to my presentation—a different way to hook my bait, lure size or a new color—that resulted in more bites and more fish on the line.“You never get bored watching the underwater show. You see something different, something new and exciting, every time you go out there and drop the Aqua-Vu. You learn and you absolutely catch more fish.”

View Online Version About Aqua-Vu The Original Underwater Viewing System, Aqua-Vu® is manufactured by Outdoors Insight, Inc., and has led the underwater camera category in design, innovation and quality since 1997. The Central Minnesota based company builds other popular outdoors products, such as the iBall Trailer Hitch Camera (iballhitchcam.com). For more information on Aqua-Vu, visit www.aquavu.com.

Specialized Kayak Gear

Kayak Fishing

Specialized Kayak Gear that Can Improve Your Fishing, from Hobie
Hobie pro anglers tour their tournament boats
from The Fishing Wire

OCEANSIDE, Calif. – Think of it like a downsized bass boat that happens to afford stealth-access to untouched fishing spots. If you’re an angler the likes of Kristine Fischer, it also serves as your mobile fishing office. For Hobie kayak pro Fischer and countless expert ‘yakers, outfitting their fishing rides distills down to space management and accessibility; i.e., How fast can I find and grab that particular hot bait?

Just like the desk in your cubicle (dread the thought), every little gadget, doodad and device—from your computer screen, mouse and iPhone all the way down to your favorite pencil—must lie within arm’s reach at all times. Preferably, you can snatch it without getting up or falling out of your chair. 

“That’s one of the first things you notice and appreciate about a boat like my Hobie Pro Angler 14,” notes Fischer. “Every element of its design has been intelligently positioned to maximize space and allow for optimal convenience. But the kayak’s also been engineered to allow for customization, if you want. Hobie understands that every angler wants to trick their ride with different gear—electronics, rod holders, tackle storage and other essentials.

”Hobie Associate Product Manager of Fishing Accessories, Howie Strech is quick to spotlight the kayak company’s H-Rail system, which serves both as a convenient kayak handle and as a robust mounting base for an array of accessories along either side of the boat.

“Adjustability is everything in kayak fishing, and the H-Rail lets you quickly attach, remove and adjust all the essential ‘yak accessories,” says Strech.“The 12-sided H-Rail accepts a 1” or 1-1/2” RAM ball, to which most anglers mount sonar units, a GoPro or an Aqua-Vu underwater camera. You can also attach horizontal rod racks and rod holders, as well as cup holders and tackle bins, and the Universal H-Rail Mounting Plate allows you to adapt nearly any mounting base and accessory on the market.

”Hobie kayak pro Kristine Fischer utilizes every square inch of her boat through immaculate rigging and customizing.Fischer calls out one particularly valuable accessory adaptation. “I use a paddle holder connected via 1-inch RAM ball to secure my landing net,” explains the Hobie Bass Open champ. “Instead of holding a paddle, I use it to keep my net resting up in the front of my kayak where it’s out of my way but easy to reach.

”Also connected to the H-Rail of Fischer’s Pro Angler is a second RAM mount for her Lowrance HDS 9 sonar. “One kayak-specific tweak is a Point-1 GPS module, which shows me the exact on-screen position of waypoints relative to the nose of my kayak,” says Fischer. “This assures that every cast I make is right on target.

”The versatile Hobie H-Crate Storage System family affords countless storage possibilities.Another often-overlooked tech-tool that accompanies both Fischer and Strech on every outing is an Aqua-Vu micro underwater camera. “I can mount the Aqua-Vu directly to the H-Rail with a Pro Snake mount or use a RAM Camera Mount designed for a GoPro,” adds Fischer. “The Micro Revolution camera even has a built-in cable reel so I can instantly drop the optics into the fish zone and see what’s happening. When I’m done, I can reel the camera back up as quick and easy as retrieving a lure. The camera is an awesome tool for tournament prefishing, too.

”On the East Coast, pro kayak angler John Hostalka has taken the initiative of DIY-rigging his own GoPro mount. “My Hobie Mirage Outback is so full of extras that I haven’t had to do much accessorizing,” admits Hostalka, who casts for the wide variety of species in Chesapeake Bay.

“But for taking video, I needed a mount that allowed me to easily spin the camera any direction with one hand. Based on something I saw Brandon Barton using, I made a mount modification to my Scotty rod holder base that also let me remove the pole and camera for taking quick underwater release shots. It’s a pretty slick set-up that I can even adjust while fighting a fish.

”Another increasingly important piece of on-board electronics used by anglers is a Power-Pole Micro. The downsized Power-Pole rides astern and pins the kayak in place in up to 8-feet of water, which is especially handy for achieving perfect positioning in windy conditions.“Everything is powered by a single Dakota Lithium 23-amp battery, which is half the weight of a comparable sealed lead acid battery. Also keeps me juiced up for up to sixteen hours straight—either a really full day on the water or two or three normal days of fishing. The battery can fit into either the front hatch or right under my seat, secured in place with zip ties.”

“The storage space in these boats will blow you away,” adds Fischer, who admits to carrying a load of tackle, and up to 14 rods a day. “I can carry 12 rods—2 per slot, 6 per side—in the built-in rod racks on my Pro Angler. I like that they’re horizontal so I can sneak under bridges and trees without worrying about snapping tips.

”Strech notes Hobie’s ultra-versatile H-Crate, which fits perfectly in the space directly behind the seat. “The H-Crate Storage System is made for personalization,” suggests Strech. “Its integrated rod holders carry four combos, but can accommodate up to 10 or more with additional rod holders installed to the crate’s grid walls. The H-Crate also has four sections of H-Rail that serve as carry handles and accommodate extra accessories such as a tackle bin or Hobie’s new feature-rich Mini Bin. Inside, you’ve easily got enough space to pack around ten standard 3700-size tackle boxes.

”Fischer, of course, loads her H-Crate with tackle and then some. Between her seat and the H-Crate lies a Cal Coast Battle Box, which organizes terminal tackle such as tungsten bullet weights and worm hooks. Under her comfortable, adjustable seat, Fischer stashes two additional totes filled with Ned rig baits and other soft plastics. Attached to the back of the seat is a zippered Vantage Seat Accessory Bag loaded with fluorocarbon leader and other fishing line.

Beneath the hidden hatch at her feet lies a Hobie Rectangular Gear Bucket filled with the most important plastics or lures for the day’s fishing; pliers and other tools fit neatly into a cargo pocket built-into the underside of the hatch lid itself. The kayak is also armed with extra rubber mesh pockets alongside the seat, which Fischer uses for more tools and a Cal Coast Donkey Leash lanyard equipped with a multitool. Up front, the spacious bow hatch is equipped with a liner that contains more lure totes, camera monopods, safety flags, a hand paddle and an extra life-vest. Providing extra traction, comfort and sound-dampening advantages, Fischer finishes her ‘yak with Hobie EVA Deck Pads, giving it a cool, customized look.

“People tell me I have the most organized kayak they’ve ever seen,” she laughs. “I’m not so sure about that. But it does always amaze me how much tackle, accessories and electronics I’m able to fit on this rig. When the bite is on and time is short, sure is nice to having everything I need right at arm’s reach.” 

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

Learning Fish Behavior from A Garmin Panoptix

I  have learned a lot from my Garmin Panoptix I installed last November.

This system is a sonar that shows a live picture of what is underwater on the screen, much like shining a spotlight at night shows what is in its beam.  And it shows movement as it happens, not as a line on the screen like older units.

One of my first surprises was how many fish are down there. I see schools of crappie and hybrids and clouds of baitfish suspended over deeper water this time of year.  And I can see fish moving along the bottom, probably catfish and carp.

Fish hovering around stumps, rocks and brush, or holding right on a drop off, are probably bass.


And there are lots of them. But seeing them does not mean they will hit my bait.

Time after time I see my bait move through them and they ignore it. Even worse is when I watch my jig fall on the cast or hop it and see a fish come up to it and follow it back down but never hit it. That does make me change colors, size and baits more often.


When I see fish in brush or on other cover, it makes me make more casts to it. The first tournament I used my Panoptix I saw what looked like fish in a brush pile in front of a dock. Normally i would hit a brush pile two or three times with a bait then move on. But seeing fish in that one made me make multiple casts and I caught a keeper on about my tenth cast!

I have always heard bass move tight to cover in muddy water.  In November and December, Jackson was very clear and I could see bass holding just over rocks and other cover, and they would slowly move around it. But after the rain Jackson muddied up and now I see bright dots indication bass right against the rocks or down in the brush.  And they don’t move, they just sit there.

I know a bait cast out and sinking will swing back toward the boat, and to get it to go straight to the bottom I “feed” line to it as it falls.  That is important when trying to get you bait to the bottom under docks and down to brush.Watching my bait swing back toward the boat as it falls amazes me.  A half ounce jig with a twin curly tail trailer cast on 14-pound fluorocarbon line makes an arch back toward me no matter how much line I feed to it.  It moves back toward me about a foot for every five it falls, so if I cast to a brush pile 20 feet deep I have to cast at least four feet past it to get my bait to hit it.

Another confirmation of fish behavior is the reaction of fish as my boat gets near them. Fish holding over rocks and brush will slowly sink down into it as my boat approaches. In clear water it is very noticeable. Bass over cover 20 feet deep started sinking down into it when my boat got within 30 feet of them.


I saw this happen many times when i moved in to try to jig a spoon or use drop shot. N ow, after seeing it happen, I will try to make very long casts in clear water!

I am just exploring lakes with my Panoptix and hope to learn a lot more in the coming months.

Winterizing Your Boat


BoatUS Guide to Winterizing Your Boat
Boaters across much of the country are getting ready to put their boats to bed for a long winter’s nap, but not every boat owner knows all the secrets of winterizing a recreational boat. Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) shares some quick tips to ensure safe storage until next season.

1. Despite mild winters, California, Florida and Texas have the most engine winterizing claims. Boaters in northern climates know to winterize but all it takes is one deep freeze in a normally balmy state to cause major damage to your boat. Unless you’re in an area that never freezes (like Key West or Hawaii) you probably need to winterize.

2. Water expands almost 10% by volume. That expansion means that any water left in your engine, potable water system, or refrigeration system can do some major damage over the winter. Even an engine block can crack open during cold weather. The key is making sure all water gets drained out or replaced by antifreeze.

3. Batteries are happier at home. If you live where you never boat in winter, remove your batteries, bring them to the garage or basement and use a trickle charger to keep them topped off to protect them and extend their life.4. It’s easier to prevent mold than to stop it. Without some air circulation, your boat’s interior can build up condensation, which can lead to a moldy mess next spring. Solar-powered vents and boat covers that lets air circulate can help keep mold at bay.

5. Waxing the hull now makes spring clean-up much easier. The grunge of sitting all winter at a boatyard comes off a lot quicker if you apply a coat of wax before you put your boat to bed.

6. There are two types of antifreeze. Ethylene glycol – the kind in your boat’s cooling system works fine for engines, but it’s very toxic. Propylene glycol is safe for potable water systems and is also fine to use for the raw side of engine cooling systems – check the label. Make sure antifreeze is rated to protect down to the lowest possible expected temperatures.

7. Add fuel stabilizer before you fill your tank. That helps mix the stabilizer so it protects all of the gas. Running your engine for a few minutes after mixing it up will get some stabilized gas in the engine’s fuel system, protecting it over the winter.8. If enough water enters your fuel tank, gas with ethanol can phase separate over the long winter storage period. For boats with portable gas tanks, try to use up fuel now. Any remainder can be used (if unmixed with two-stroke oil) in your vehicle. If your boat has a built-in gas tank, fill the tank almost to the top, leaving a little room for expansion. This will minimize condensation on tank walls, stopping phase separation in its tracks. Never plug a fuel tank vent.

9. Write down what you did or had your shop do. That way, next spring you won’t wonder if the lower unit lube was changed or the spark plugs replaced.

10. Take home any removable electronics, small outboards and even alcohol. The dark days of winter are when boats are most frequently broken in to. Not every thief is a professional – some may just want to raid your boat’s liquor cabinet.

11. Remove all food. Not only might it spoil, but it can attract rodents and other pests, leaving you with a nasty spring surprise.

12. Using a heater as alternative to winterizing is a really bad idea. Not only can the power go out during a big winter storm leaving the boat unprotected, the heater, extension cord or connections can (and do) overheat and cause a fire.

13. In addition to snowstorms knocking-out power to heated indoor boat storage facilities, do-it-yourselfers sometimes make mistakes when winterizing. Either way, for boaters who live in northern states, protecting yourself with ice and freeze coverage insurance may be a smart option. It’s often very affordable, but there’s a deadline to purchase, typically by the end of October.

For more information on how to properly store a boat over the winter, including how to cover a boat, winterize plumbing, store ashore or in the water, and to get a free downloadable BoatUS Boater’s Guide to Winterizing checklist, go to BoatUS.com/seaworthy/winter

Repair Broken Fishing Rod

Darn the Luck of a broken fishing rod!
Gary Giudice
from The Fishing Wire

Oops! Darn the bad luck. So you broke your favorite fishing rod. Now what?

Depending on what’s broken, you have options to fix it. Some options are good, some not so much. A simple broken tip is one thing but slamming a rod in a car door is entirely another.

If a tip is broken with very little of the rod involved you are in luck. Most tackle shops and even box stores sell top guides and rod tip repair kits. It is possible you might be able to use the original guide that’s dangling on the line.

To remove the original guide, take a cigarette lighter, slowly heat it up and slip it off the damaged tip. You might have to use a pair of pliers to avoid burning your fingers.

To replace it first inspect the end of the rod and make sure it is a clean break without splinters running down the shaft of the rod. Make sure the repair kit guide is the right size then glue it on using the included glue. Typically it is melted with a lighter. If you are using the original guide and opt not to buy a repair kit, a high temp glue stick will work.

If too much of the tip is broken off or by chance you break it mid-way it’s a much bigger problem. It is important to note that even a small repair can significantly change the action. To fix a mid break you can take a section of an old scrap rod and make an internal slice, cut a section that fits inside both sides of the break on the rod you are repairing; slip both sides over the break and glue in place, but this rarely works well even when professionally done.

Sometimes it’s best to just scrap the broken rod for parts and be done with it, which is extremely painful for our favorite or premium rods.

The best way to avoid fixing a rod is to prevent breaking it in the first place. Most all rods are broken going to and from your favorite fishing area and not while fishing. The best solution to prevent damage is to transport it properly.

Even if you break a rod on a monster fish chances are it was damaged before the first cast. The old adage “That fish was so big it broke my rod!” doesn’t hold up under scrutiny.Rod protection during travel is easy when using a Rod Vault ST (https://denveroutfitters.com/rod-vault-st/). Designed to fit on most vehicles’ roof racks; rods are stored, locked up and protected from banging around and slamming car doors. They will be also be ready and rigged upon arrival at the water and back home again. Many anglers just leave rods in the Rod Vault ST all the time rigged and ready to fish at a moments notice.

Don’t be that guy that is always breaking rods and blaming it on someone or something else. With proper care fishing rods should last a lifetime.

Acorns for Fishing Bait?


Fishing for Squirrels
By Frank Sargeant, Editor
from the Fishing Wire

This is the time of year when, for an abrupt change of pace, some anglers might choose to go squirrel fishing.At least, that’s what some neighbors have accused me of recently as I baited up with acorns to fool the resident grass carp in our North Alabama neighborhood lake. (I would never actually fish for squirrels, of course, though in my youth I did briefly try to fool robins into pecking at plastic worms crawled slowly across the lawn—until Mom caught me.)

Every year in October the giant carp, which are put in the lake to keep down aquatic weeds, turn from eating vegetation to gulping down acorns that fall into the water from overhanging oaks. The specialized feeding lasts for about a month, until the acorns stop falling, but while it’s on, the carp present a very interesting an unusual target for freshwater anglers not used to catching fish that frequently weigh 15 to 20 pounds.

There’s probably a lake near you where the same species is doing the same thing—grass carp are now found in at least 45 states.And while common carp have a generally poor reputation among anglers in the U.S. (they’re venerated in Europe) grass carp are a whole other critter. Bringing one in is very similar to battling a redfish of similar size—they’re strong and have far more endurance than most freshwater fish, and they occasional boil on top or even jump partway out of the water. Caught on anything short of 15-pound-test gear, they’re a real handful.

They’re also a whole lot more wary than common carp. They have very good vision, and are quick to spook if a boat or a bank-walking angler approaches too close. Getting a successful cast to them requires a slow and stealthy approach, and the bait has to come down just right, not close enough to scare them but close enough that they can hear it “plop” into the water.It’s the sort of angling challenge that can add a bit of interest to anglers burned out on the slow action for late summer and early fall largemouths.  And for the charge that carp are inedible—more or less true—very few anglers kill and eat bass these days, either.

Handling these bruisers is not a light tackle game—I gear up with a spinning rod suitable for bull reds or king mackerel, a 4000-sized spinning reel and 20-pound-test braided line, which actually probably tests closer to 30. A couple feet of 25-pound-test monofilament acts as a leader, running to a size 1/0 octopus type hook in short shank. The hook has to be fairly heavy wire—the fish quickly straighten crappie-weight hooks.The bait is a green acorn, without the cap. They like most types, but an acorn from a red oak is hard to beat. White oak acorns are often too large for them to eat, and they don’t like overcup oak acorns either.

Getting the hook through an acorn can take some doing—if you get into “squirrel fishing”, as I admit that I have, you’ll probably want to gather several acorns in advance, drill a tiny hole through the center and then push the hook eye through so that it’s just exposed—the thing looks like a fat bass bug without hackles. Otherwise, you have to force the hook point through the acorn, not an easy matter, though do-able. Use no weight—the acorn will sink slowly on its own.

Find an overhanging tree where the carp are feeding, slip up silently and make a cast. Free-line the bait all the way to bottom. Many times, the carp grab it on the way down. If not, let it sit on bottom for a few minutes.When a fish takes, there’s no doubt about it—they gulp it down and take off like a shot. Set the hook and you’re in for maybe the most impressive battle you’ll run into in southern freshwater, with the possible exception of a monster blue or flathead catfish.

This is a pump-and-reel fight—you can’t just reel them in like you can most bass. It’s more akin to fighting a saltwater fish or a big landlocked striper. They also act a bit like cobia when you bring them to shore or into the boat, going bonkers for a time—best to stand back and let them run out of energy before removing the hook.

When the battle is over, grab a few quick photos and let the fish go back to doing what it was put into the lake to do, patrolling for excess weed growth. The stocked fish are sterilized and not capable of reproducing, a measure to make sure they don’t become invasive problems as their cousin silver carp have in many waterways.Catching fall grass carp is an interesting diversion and a new challenge for many anglers. It’s assuredly unlikely ever to replace chasing largemouths, and I don’t see a million-dollar payout U.S. Carpmasters Classic on the horizon any time soon, (though there actually is a carp classic in France) but it’s a lot of fun while it lasts.
Acorns for fishing bait?

How and Where to Catch September Lake Eufaula Bass

September Bass at Eufaula
with Dwayne Smith

September is one of the worst months for bass fishing in many of our Georgia lakes. The water is at its hottest and bass are deep and hard to find. But at Lake Eufaula the numerous ledges are full of bass and the grassbeds all over the lake entice some bass to feed shallow. You can take advantage of both patterns and catch bass there this month.

With 45,180 acres of water, there are lots of places to fish at Eufaula. Stretching 85 miles from the dam to Columbus, this long lake is mostly river bottom with lots of shallow areas and good drops into channels. Those are perfect places for bass to hold and feed this month.

Eufaula is a shallow lake with big flats everywhere. Grass grows on many of these flats and points leading to the channels, and willow bushes grow all over the lake, even on some mid-lake ledges. Bass like to feed around this shallow cover and can be found there all year long, but this pattern gets even better in late September when the water begins go cool.

Dwayne Smith won the Georgia Bass Chapter Federation Top Six tournament at Eufaula last April. He won it early, catching a limit of bass on spinnerbaits first thing each morning. Fishing with the Blackshear Bass Club for the past six years has taught Dwayne a lot about the lake since they fish it about four times a year, and he put his knowledge to good use in the Top Six.

Making the Top Six team each year that he has been in the club is something Dwayne is proud of doing, and he likes fishing the Top Six. He also likes Eufaula and can catch fish there most of the year. He says September can be a good month if you know were to fish.

“Start early in the grassbeds, then move to the drops as the sun gets on the water,” Dwayne said. That is a simple pattern but it works well for him most of the year, and September is no exception.

Dwayne will start each morning throwing a half-ounce white Terminator spinnerbait with a gold willowleaf and a silver Colorado blade. He likes a split tail white trailer and says the bait looks so good in the water sometimes he wants to eat it himself! The spinnerbait is fished in the shallows all over the lake, anywhere there is grass or willows.

Dwayne may start out on the main lake on humps but the sun hits those areas early. As the sun comes over the trees he will often move to the shady bank to get some more time with his spinnerbait. But when the sun gets bright, it is time to move to deeper water.

“Look for shallow water near deep water,” Dwayne said. A drop from the shallows to the channel is going to hold bass, and the steeper the drop the better it usually will be. Dwayne will fish a Carolina rig on these places, casting up shallow and working his bait down to deeper water.

A black Trick worm rigged behind a one ounce sinker on a 24 to 30 inch leader is Dwayne’s standard Carolina rig. He likes heavy line on both spinnerbait and Carolina rig, and uses 15 pound Trilene Big Game line on everything, including his leader.

You will often see bass busting shad on top during September, so Dwayne also keeps a chrome half-ounce Rat-L-Trap rigged and ready to cast toward them. And he will have a big Fat Free Shad on another rod to run across shallow drops in case the bass want something moving a little faster than a Carolina rig. He likes shad colored crankbaits if the water is clear and something with some chartruese in it if the water is stained.

I fished with Dwayne in early August to get a look at the way he fishes Eufaula. He showed me ten of his favorite places to fish in September to share here, and he explained how he fishes each. The following ten spots will give you some grassbeds and shallows to fish this month as well as drops to move to when the sun gets bright.

1. N 32 03.171 – W 85 03.321 – The bank straight across from the mouth of Little Barbour Creek has a good grassbed and is on the east side of the lake, so it stays shady for a good while each morning. Dwayne will start right across from the mouth of the creek and fish upstream all the way to the small creek.

Keep your boat out and easy cast from the bank and throw your spinnerbait back into the edge of the grass. Fish it back out, running it by any clumps of grass or any wood cover out from the bank. Dwayne fishes the spinnerbait fast, keeping is down under the water but running it back quickly at a steady speed. Making a lot of cast as fast as possible is important since this pattern does not last long.

2. N 32 01.997 – W 85 03.413 – Head downstream and the channel will make a sharp bend to the Georgia bank, then swing out toward the Alabama side. Right where the channel leaves the east bank there is a small island. A point runs off this island and follows the edge of the channel as it cuts across the lake. There is a red channel marker just off the island.

Dwayne likes to keep his boat upstream of the drop running off the island and casts up onto the flat formed by the point. He will work his Carolina rig or crankbait back to the boat, fishing some of the top of the flat and then covering the edge of the drop.

If there is current moving the lip of the drop is probalby the best spot. If the current is not moving Dwayne will work the Carolina rig down the drop and probe for any wood stuck there. He will work from the island out to the channel marker, fishing the edge all along there.

3. N 32 01.546 – W 85 02.876 – Head on downstream and the channel goes to the Alabama bank then makes a sharp turn back to the Georgia side. The mouth of Rood Creek is where the channel hits the Georgia bank, but just upstream is a small creek with a split near the mouth. The river channel runs near the mouth of it and the double opening has deep water in it.

The point on the split in the mouth of this creek has a hump off it that has stumps on it. It is only four feet deep on top and drops off to 25 feet or deeper all around. Keep your boat out in the deeper water and fish around the hump, making casts up on top of it and fishing down the slope.

This is a good place to run a crankbait across the top of the hump, then fish a Carolina rig on it. You will get hung up on the stumps but there will often be bass holding by them, too. Fish this spot carefully, taking time to cover it from all angles.

4. N 32 00.670 – W 85 03.605 – Downstream of Rood Creek the channel swings toward the Alabama bank and then right back to the Georgia side. A little further downstream it angles across the lake to the Alabama side, and just upstream of where it hits the bank is an opening to a big flat split by an island. This big area is actually the ends of two old oxbow river runs cut off from the lake by an island. Dwayne calls the big flat grassy area behind the island “The Barn.”

This very shallow water has lilly pads and other grass along the bank. Out in the middle you will see clumps of hydrilla. Bass will feed here year round, but move in more as the water starts to cool near the end of September.

Start fishing near the mouth and cast to every cut and hole in the grass and pads. Watch for dark clumps out in the middle of the open water and fish them with your spinnerbait, too. Run your spinnerbait along and through every fishy looking spot.

5. N 31 59.003 – W 85 04.129 – Head downstream past the mouth of the Witch’s Ditch and the lake will open up. The island that runs parallel to the river on the Georgia side, the one that cuts off the Witch’s Ditch, ends and the lake will open up. Just downstream of the end of this island is a red channel marker and there is a good river ledge here where the channel makes a small turn toward the Alabama bank.

Position your boat just downstream of the marker and you will be in about 40 feet of water. You can cast up onto the top of the ledge to 12 feet of water and fish the stumps on it. Fish all long this ledge, trying a crankbait and then the Carolina rig. When you hit a stump, pause your bait and let the bass have a good look at it. If you don’t get bit, cast right back to the same place to fish that stump again.

6. N 31 58.304 – W 85 03.888 – As you go downstream the channel will swing all the way to the Georgia side just below the mouth of Bustahatchee Creek. The red channel marker 103.1 will be near the bank and just upstream of it you will see some small willows sticking up out of the water about 200 feet off the mouth of a small creek called “The Watermelon Hole.” There is a big irrigation pump in this small creek and you can usually hear it running.

This hump was the site of a house before the lake was backed up, and the old brick foundation is still there. Fish all around this hump and the willows with your spinnerbait then back off a little and fish it with your Carolina rig. The river channel is just off the outside of it and the creek channel runs by it, too. Fish the drops into each with your Carolina rig and feel for the bricks. When you hit them fish them slowly.

Watch for schooling fish here. While we were fishing it some big shad scooted out of the water and Dwayne threw his Rat-L-Trap to it. He hooked a stong fish that fought more like a bass than a hybrid, and I was ready with the net when it got close to the boat. Unfortunately, the bass made a strong run and pulled loose before we saw it.

7. N 31 58.221 – W 85 03.924 – Just downstream of this hump, right at channel marker 103.1, the channel makes a sharp bend back toward Alabama and the mouth of Cowikee Creek. The water in the channel is 58 feet deep and it comes up to a shallow flat with a small point running out on it. You can see the small point as a buldge on the bank in the grassline.

Keep your boat out in the channel and cast up onto the flat. Some wood cover sticks here at times but the main feature is the drop. Fish the lip of the drop with crankbait and Carolina rig.

Dwayne told me this was a good spot hole as we pulled up on it, and he caught a small keeper spot here on his Carolina rig. Fish all long the lip of this drop as the channel swings away from the bank.

8. N 31 58.103 – W 85 05.776 – Run into the mouth of Cowikee Creek and head upstream until you get to the island on your right just outside the channel. The channel will make a wide sweeping bend all the way across the creek from the far bank to the end of this island and then back to the far bank. Stop just outside of the red pole channel marker that has a small number 271 on it that is standing off the end of the island. Keep your boat in the channel.

The outside bend here has brushpiles and stumps all along it. Dwayne will fish from this pole all along the outside bend all the way to the next red pole marker downstream. Near the channel marker at the end of the island Dwayne hung a strong fish on his Carolina rig but it got him down in the brush. He sawed it back and forth for a short time before it broke off.

9. N 31 54.845 – W 85 07.082 – Dwayne runs the Alabama side from the mouth of Cowikee Creek all the way to Old Town Creek Park. This is very shallow water and is dangerous if the lake is down any at all, which it may be in September. You are much safer following the channel.

When you get to Old Town Creek Park swimming area, just downstream of the fishing pier, a ledge runs way out from the swimming area toward the Georgia bank. It is called the “Closeline” because it runs so straight and far. Dwayne will keep his boat on the upstream side of this drop and fish all along it, casting up onto the top of the flat and working his Carolina rig down the drop.

There is some brush on this drop and the drop runs about even with the bank at the swimming area. If you look at the bank you can tell how it continues on out in the lake. If there is any current this is an excellent place and you can fish it out 100 yards or more. Current helps here just like on all other holes where there is a drop.

10. N 31 53.025 – W 85 07.843 – The last hole Dwayne showed me is a long point with rocks on it running out from the Alabama side. It is easy to find because there is a railroad on top of this point. The point he likes to fish is the railroad causeway on the Alabama side.

Dwayne will start on the upstream side of the causeway and work around the point with a crankbait or spinnerbait, casting up near the rocks and fishing back out. If there is current running around this point the bass will stack up on the rocks to feed on shad moving downstream. It is a good place all day long and is easy to find.

Give these spots a try and then use what you see on them to find others. There are acres of grassbeds on Eufaula and many of them hold bass. And the miles of river and creek ledges hold bass this time of year. Eufaula is one of our best lakes in September. Spend some time there.