Fool Summer Walleyes with These Tips from Northland Fishing Tackle

Nearly 50 years after the inception of the modern live-bait rig—what’s today known simply as the ‘Roach Rig’—its sheer effectiveness still raises eyebrows and turns heads. Take a vigorously squirming minnow, nightcrawler or leech and couple it with a hook, leader and sliding sinker and you’re fishing the deadliest walleye presentation of all time. Get a natural, lively bait to the bottom, and just start creeping your way along fruitful structure. Sooner or later, a walleye is going to eat. It’s just that simple.

Well, sort of. During the same 50 years, a number of nice little developments have transformed a serviceable bait delivery vehicle into a precision live-bait system. The walking sinker evolved into the Quick-Change Roach Sinker. The bottom bouncer transmogrified into the Northland Slip Bouncer. Live bait care tools, like those by Frabill, now ensure a healthy supply of critters. All the while, hooks, lines, and electronics have advanced almost beyond comprehension.

Which is where “power rigging” enters the equation. It’s old school rigging (light and easy) meets heavy metal bottom bouncing (head-banging fast), plus a dash of new wave tackle and tactics. Developed by ace guide Tony Roach, this hybrid live bait system is indeed, as he calls it, “Roach rigging on steroids.”

“Power rigging lets me maintain a natural live bait presentation, while triggering fish with a bit more speed,” states Roach. “Sort of like rip jigging, the presentation induces a reactionary response, while the live bait closes the deal. Early in the season, you’re moving slow with rigs and jigs, presenting bait to fish on a definite ‘feeding bite’; show ‘em a tempting morsel, keep it in front of their snouts, and they’re going to eat. Later on, as water warms, and the food supply expands, walleyes can turn a little tricky—a slight boost in speed is often all it takes to get fish to go.

“What I really like about the power program is that I can work quickly along a lengthy edge or over a vast flat, moving .9- to 1.2-mph,” he continues. “I can still put natural bait in front of them, but I can show my wares to a lot more active fish. What I also like is that the more boats there are working a spot slowly with rigs, the better. I can cruise right along and mow down the active biters.”From a lake-wide perspective, Roach’s power spots aren’t secrets. “This approach works on nearly any classic late summer and fall walleye location. Rock points, weed edges, transition areas, mudflats—anywhere you can drag a standard walking sinker and live bait, you can power rig,” he asserts.“It’s really sort of a hybrid between slow-down rigging and dragging spinners on three-ways. I’ll start doing this pretty early in the summer—right after those initial insect hatches— and stick with it on and off through late summer into early fall. Once surface temps hit 60-degrees or so, it’s time to break out the power rigs. Then again in August and September, it really shines as water begins to cool a bit.“

Those days when everyone is either creeping along with a standard rig or bottom bouncing at a good clip–especially on flat calm days–that’s when I’ll break out the power rigs.”Roach’s power program employs a straight wire bottom bouncer, such as the Northland Slip Bouncer, coupled with a super long leader—up to 15-feet for coverless flats— tied with 8-pound test Berkley XT. At slower speeds he typically rigs a live ribbon leech, small shiner or chub on a single #6 or #4 hook. If Roach is pulling crawlers, it usually means he’s moving a bit faster, employing a dual hook harness. For added attraction, he occasionally adds a single fluorescent bead, or a single 00 flicker spinner. Often, too, especially with longer snells or near vegetation, he likes to add a Rainbow Float, 1 to 8-inches above the hook. “You can pin the float in place using a rubber Snubber Stop,” he asserts. Keeping the float well above the hook holds the entire leader off bottom, rather than just the bait itself.

While the hook, float and live bait power the presentation, the Slip-Bouncer drives. Unlike the standard R-bend bottom bouncers, Slip-Bouncers are composed of a single straight wire shaft with an open eyelet on top, which lets you feed line freely to biting fish—no resistance. The 5-inch wire “feeler” transmits bottom types like a stethoscope, while a slide-on weight system yields rapid adjustments to varying depths, speeds and currents. Another advantage: tickled over soft silt, mud or sand, these needle-like weights disturb very little bottom substrate, an occurrence that often spooks walleyes.

“Slip Bouncers are a gem—something every angler should add to their bag of rigging tricks,” Roach says.“Power rigging is ideal for inexperienced anglers and old pros alike. If I’ve got beginners in my boat, I can just set soft-tipped 8-1/2- foot trolling rods, like my Mr. Walleye SuperPros, in rod holders, and let them load up and set themselves. If we start missing fish, we simply hold rods and delay our hooksets. Drop the rod tip back toward a biting fish, feel for solid weight, and give a nice long sweep. Once you get things dialed in, you’ll hook every biter. It’s a pretty forgiving system.“Really, power rigging can be the answer on any given summer day. Right in the middle of a classic ‘slow-down’ rigging bite, you can really put on a clinic. But the power program shines later on, too, when everyone else is moving faster, pulling standard spinner rigs. In both cases, the system can really make you a hero on those tougher flat calm day bites. Tell you what, any method that saves my hide on tough guide days is okay in my book.”

Same Foolish Lies About Guns Five Years Ago

If folks wanting to take our guns and destroy the 2nd Amendment could be honest and factual they might have more influence. But with the garbage they put out they become laughable.  Dick Polman and John Micek proved this in their June 20 columns.

    Poleman wants to “play ball” with civil rights and Micek is mad that other matters are more important to people than his desire to end our civil rights.  As usual, like vultures circling road kill, both use the shooting at the ball field of a congressman and other Republicans to push their agenda.

    Poleman is upset that congress may ease the restrictions on guns suppressors, calling them silencers.  He “knows” that suppressors make guns as quiet as what he sees in movies and does not have a clue how much noise a “silenced” gun makes.  In his imagination guns with suppressors make no sound so a shooter could spray bullets forever without being heard.

    Guns are loud.  Shooters at matches at the Griffin Gun Club and other places are required to wear hearing protection.  They are so loud they can damage hearing, especially if you shoot a lot, but even if you shoot only while hunting. It is impractical to wear hearing protection while hunting, so suppressors would be a big help.

    Even with a suppressor a gun is louder than any other sound you are likely to hear at a ballfield or anywhere else in daily life, unless a power transformer explodes, a jet breaks the sound barrier or cars hit head on at high speed.

    He also uses the attempted murder by an insane liberal to call for more background checks, although the shooter went through an FBI background check to get his gun.  If something does not work it is not rational to call for more of it.

    Poleman is incensed that there is an effort to allow citizens with a state weapon license to use that license in other states.  As it is now, my drivers license allows me to drive in all states, but if I go to some states with high crime rates but strict gun control laws, things that seem to go together, I must be unable to protect myself. 

    He also talks about “automatic assault weapons,” something almost no citizen owns due to the high license costs, but he also wants to ban semiautomatic guns based on their looks.  He says bad guys can “spray” bullets with them.  The ball park shooter fired fifty shots in about five minutes and wounded five people.  I am not surprised a liberal would “spray” bullets rather than fire effectively.

    Thank goodness the Bernie Sanders supporter that tried to kill Republicans didn’t know enough about guns to use a bolt action deer rifle.  A normal person could shoot 50 rounds effectively, hitting the target, in five minutes with no problem.

    And of course, he blames me, an NRA member, for the shooting.

    Micek uses the same shooting to show his ignorance, spouting the same silly claims about “silencers.”  He is further upset Republicans are doing the same thing with their improvement on health care that the democrats did with the Obamacare disaster.   And he laughably says, “but Russia, Russia, Russia” repeatedly.

    Change the 2nd Amendment protection to the 1st Amendment protections in their rants to see how silly they look. Anytime you read an opinion piece on guns or anything else, including this one, don’t believe it without checking facts.

from 6/25/17

Using pop-up satellite tags, scientists can get a much better understanding of billfish movement and migration.

Billfish Movement

from The Fishing Wire

Research Need

Typically, researchers measure the movement of large, offshore pelagic fish using traditional streamer tags, but to get information, the fish must be caught again. This method only provides information on the tagging and recapture locations, but no information about what the fish did in between, including movements up and down the water column.

Ideally, to get the best understanding of how, where, and why a species interacts with its environment — and ultimately where to fish for it — a 3D map would incorporate depth with high-resolution horizontal movement.

What did we study?

We used pop-up satellite tags to track the movement of billfish caught in South Carolina Governor’s Cup tournaments. These tags capture the 3D location while attached, using sunlight and pressure sensors. The tags pop off at pre-programmed times and, once at the surface, transmit information to satellites and ultimately to the researcher.

We then used this information to provide a 3D model of movement.

What did we find?

One species of billfish (sailfish) off the coast of South Carolina moves seasonally and tends to stay closer to shore. But sailfish will venture offshore, too, including as far north as New Jersey and as far south as the northern coast of South America.

The depths through which fish travel change throughout the day and potentially during different types of movements, such as whether the fish are migrating or staying in an area to feed.

Overall, by tracking depth, we can capture a more complete picture of what these fish are doing and how they interact with their environment and with other species, which we might miss otherwise.

Anything else?

The advantage of satellite tags over streamer tags was apparent in one sailfish especially. This fish, tagged off the South Carolina coast, traveled to Turks and Caicos before returning to within 150 miles of where it originally was tagged, before its tag finally surfaced.

If this study had used a typical streamer tag on this fish, the only information we would have gathered is that this fish covered the same amount of area that a garden snail could cover over the same time period. Obviously, we would have assumed that likely something more happened with our fish, but without data to know what. Using the satellite tag, however, revealed the fish was much more active.

So what?

Depth plays an important role in limiting competition for food between sailfish and other species. Knowing these differences is especially important in some commercial fisheries, which can be a major source of mortality.

Understanding sailfish and other billfish movement patterns can allow for management and fishing practices that target only the species of interest, while minimizing interactions with billfish species, in turn making them more available to recreational fishermen.


Walter J. Bubley, Benjamin Galuardi, Amy W. Dukes, and Wallace E. Jenkins’s “Incorporating depth into habitat use descriptions for sailfish Istiophorus platypterus and habitat overlap with other billfishes in the western North Atlantic,” in Marine Ecology Progress Series, Vol. 638: 137–148 2020,

Summary compiled by Walter Bubley
Lead photo by SCDNR

NOAA Fisheries, the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, and the SC Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series provided support for this research.

The text from Hook, Line & Science is available to reprint and republish, but only in its entirety and with this attribution: Hook, Line & Science, courtesy of Scott Baker and Sara Mirabilio, North Carolina Sea Grant.

Exploring for Mountain Backcountry Fishing Opportunities

By Roger Phillips, Idaho DFG Public Information Supervisor

If you’re willing to stretch your legs to find great fishing spots, and you value exploration as part of your fishing experience, the Rocky Mountain backcountry beckons. There are hundreds of miles of lightly fished streams, hundreds of lightly fished lakes and drop-dead gorgeous scenery.

Figuring it out is part of the fun

You may be wondering “where are these places?” Identifying exactly where these prime spots are located defeats the purpose because you might see more people than you expect when you get there. Finding a great backcountry fishing spot will take a little homework and preparation on your part, and if we’re being completely honest, accepting that you might not find the perfect spot on the first try, which is what the exploration part is all about.Idaho has thousands of square miles of backcountry, including 15 Congressionally designated wilderness areas spread across the state and 891 miles of federally designated “wild and scenic” rivers. Those are all good places to start to your search for a backcountry fishing spot and a good chance for solitude. But there are millions more acres of public lands outside of wilderness areas that are also lightly used by anglers and have good fishing.In the Internet age, finding a suitable place to fish is easier than you might expect, at least at first. Figure out the general location of where you’d like to explore and find satellite maps online. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management maps are also good sources for information. Fish and Game’s Fishing Planner will show what fish are available in a certain body of water, and if it was recently stocked.

How to choose a mountain lakeIdaho’s mountains are filled with lakes, most of which have fish in them thanks to Fish and Game’s mountain lake stocking program. Every year, crews hike, pack in by horseback and fly in fingerling trout, which typically grow to catchable sizes within a few years.One thing to remember when choosing a destination is all mountain lakes are not created equal. Typically, a lake with inlet and outlet streams and shallow areas will be more productive than a deep lake in a high-elevation basin fed solely by snowmelt. That’s not always the case, and that’s where exploration and a little luck come into play.A good initial strategy is to find an area with a cluster of lakes, which is fairly common in Idaho’s mountains. If one lake isn’t producing good fishing, another is nearby. Don’t assume that hiking farther will improve your odds of catching more fish. Most mountain lakes don’t get heavy fishing pressure due to their remoteness and abundance, so don’t overlook a fairly accessible lake. Fishing there might be as good as one that’s several miles farther.

Don’t overlook backcountry lakes that are accessible by roads, either. Catchable-size trout are sometimes stocked in those lakes, and some mountain lakes also have naturally reproducing populations.IDFGYou will find mountain lakes that are populated with rainbow and cutthroat trout, as well as some that have brook trout, which tend to dominate when they’re present. Brook trout can provide lots of fishing action, and they can be a lot of fun to catch for young or new anglers. There’s typically a 25-fish bag limit for brook trout, but check the Fishing Seasons and Rules booklet because there are exceptions.

The trade off with brook trout is they can overpopulate mountain lakes, and while catch rates can be high, fish are likely to be small.

Finding backcountry streamsFinding rivers is easy. They’re well marked on any map, and most have a road leading to them at some point along their course. But finding a suitable place to fish in the backcountry may be more challenging. You might get to a river and find rapids, sheer rock walls, brushy shorelines and deep water that makes wading difficult.

Steep topography can make fishing challenging.

When searching for places to fish, pay attention to the topographic lines on the map. You will probably want to avoid areas on the map with dense lines, which signify steep terrain. Look for more gentle terrain, and ideally one where the river has lots of meanders and channels, which often means it runs through a meadows or lowland.

A meandering stream in flatter terrain is likely to have more fishing opportunity

Also pay attention to the flows. Lower water in late spring and through summer tends to make fishing spots more accessible, and fishing higher in the river system is usually better for wading. Don’t overlook tributary streams because even fairly small creeks can have good fishing, and are often filled with hungry, feisty trout.Be sure to check the fishing rules because many wilderness and backcountry rivers and streams have limited harvest opportunities in order to protect wild, native trout.

Getting into the backcountryRemember the backcountry is typically accessed via gravel and dirt roads, so be sure your vehicle is capable of navigating that terrain. Also remember road maintenance can be sporadic, and road closures are fairly common. Same goes for trails, so it’s best to call the land management agency in advance, or check the internet, for current road and trail conditions. If you’re planning to hike to high-elevation lakes, remember they can be blocked by snow as late July if a lot of snow fell during winter and spring weather remained fairly cool.

Finally, be prepared because the backcountry can be unforgiving and help is usually a long ways away. You will need to know how to safely navigate the backcountry on foot. Finding rivers is usually fairly easy, but finding backcountry lakes can be challenging, and you will want to be handy with a map and/or GPS.

Be sure to pack clothing for cold and wet weather, even during summer because thunderstorms are common and can drop the temperature by 20-30 degrees, and a warm, sunny day can turn cold and wet within minutes. Bring enough food and water to enjoy a day outdoors, and don’t forget other items, like sunscreen and bug repellent. Depending on the type of fishing you like to do, you might want to wear hiking boots and carry a pair of wading shoes with you to protect your feet during your hike and avoid hiking back out with wet shoes.

Don’t forget the basics of backcountry safety. Give yourself plenty of time to get there and back, let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to return.But most important, have fun and savor the experience. The backcountry has some amazing fishing opportunities, but it’s the whole package of getting off the beaten path and plotting your own adventure that makes it special.

Doing Something About Guns That Means Nothing And Will Do Nothing

Now we know some of the “somethings” the democrats and Biden administration are demanding. From VOX, here are the proposals in the current democrat gun ban wish list legislation and my thoughts on them:

  • The Raise the Age Act: This bill raises the age to purchase certain semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21.  Two 18-year-olds commit horrific murders so let restrict all 18- to 21-year-olds. I got a semiautomatic rifle for Christmas when I was 8 years old.  These same folks want to lower the voting age to 16 and let five-year-olds choose their “gender.”
  • Prevent Gun Trafficking Act: Already illegal, so the “coulds” and “mights” in this act are irrelevant.  They are trying to stop gun sales by individuals. Same folks that sent guns to the Mexican drug cartels during the Obama administration.
  • The Untraceable Firearms Act: The ridiculous “ghost gun” law – it is already illegal to remove the serial number from a gun. But this tries to make it illegal to use a 3D printer to make gun parts.
  • Ethan’s Law, the Safe Guns, Safe Kids Act, and the Kimberly Vaughn Firearm Safety Act: Also known as “Lock up your guns so you can’t get to them when you need them” act.  If you are so irresponsible as to leave guns where kids can get to them, no law will make a difference.
  • Closing the Bump Stock Loophole Act: Former President Donald Trump banned bump stocks – so lets do something already done?

The Keep Americans Safe Act: – by banning “high-capacity magazines.”  Already been tried, from 1994 to 2004 such magazines were banned, as were a laundry list of “assault weapons.”  Contrary to the lies, there is no evidence that ten-year ban made any difference, the Columbine school shooting, the worst at that time, was committed in 1999, right in the middle of it, and it was allowed to expire after 10 years because it did nothing to help.

From the same VOX article, here is the real goal: Democrats could still think bigger

“The House’s expedited consideration of the gun control bills would likely help reduce gun violence if the bills became law, but as German Lopez ecplained for VOX, the policies that could have the most impact are ones that reduce the number of guns that people have. These include proposals like gun licensing, which would curb the number of guns that are sold because it makes it more difficult to obtain them.”

    Reduce the number of guns law-abiding citizens can get and own.  That is their goal and they will not be happy until it is zero.

I will ask my usual request.  Give me factual information, not emotional “mights and maybes,” showing how your proposal would have made a difference in any of the recent shootings.

Lake Guntersville Weekly Fishing Report from Captain Mike Gerry

Gunterwville Bass caught with Captain Mike Gerry

Also see:

Captain Mack’ Lake Lanier Fishing Report

Lake Country Fishing – fishing reports on Lakes Sinclair and Oconee, and more. (subscription required)

Fishing Report, Lake Guntersville 6/18/2022

With near 100-degree temperatures and water temperatures near 85 degrees fishing has
definitely changed in the past week or more. The bass are not as active as they were, and the
early bite and late bite are the best of the day and in-between is tough not only on the bite
but on the body as just being out there in this heat is not easy at least not for me!

Our lure selection is slow-moving Missile Bait 48 stick baits, and Quiver worms, along with
Tight-Line jigs in the deeper edges and Tight-Line swim jigs moved slowly over grass. There is
a top water bite on SPRO Pop-r’s but there is also a lot of floating grass making it hard to
keep a top water bait in the water.

Come fish with me I have days available to fish with you, right now more than 4 hrs. are
tough on the body and tough on a bite. We fish with great sponsor products Boat Logix
mounts, Ranger Boats, Mercury Motors, Lowrance Electronics, Vicious Fishing, Duckett
fishing, Dawson Boat Center,

Nothing Common and No Sense in Proposed Gun Laws

    “We have got to do something.”

    Any shooting like the one in Uvalde, Texas where innocent children are killed is horrible, but do not blame me and other law-abiding gun owners.  Blame the low-life evildoer that did it.

    Unlike the gun ban vultures that started circling and crying the “do something” mantra before the first body was recovered from the school in Texas, I tried to listen to all the conflicting reports and wait for valid information.

    The “something” gun banners always demand is “common sense” gun bans.  There is nothing “common” about their demands and if they made “sense” they would not have to exaggerate and tell half-truths to outright lies.

    I have been disappointed and amazed, but not surprised, by the bald face lies and stupid comments to uninformed babbling from everyone from personal friends to the president. 

    Biden’s comments have been weird.  First, he said something about the 2nd Amendment not really meaning “shall not be infringed” because citizens could not own cannons when it was passed.  When he was told by constitutional scholars like John Turley that he was wrong, in fact you can still own a cannon today, he continued to tell that lie.

He then began babbling about how a .22 caliber bullet would lodge in the lungs, but a 9 mm “big caliber” bullet would blow the lungs out.  That is an inane comment by anyone familiar with guns and bullets. 

But somehow it relates to banning “assault” weapons, meaning the AR-15.  AR stands for the company that developed the gun, Armalite, is in no way an “assault” weapon, no military in the world uses it.  And the most common caliber for it is .223, apparently less dangerous to Biden than the dreaded 9 mm.

One TV commentator said it was ridiculous an 18-year-old could go buy an automatic rifle and more than 300 round of ammo without a background check.  Fortunately, a guest on the show pointed out the rifle was not automatic, he went through a background check and it is not uncommon, especially in that area to buy large amounts of ammo. 

Personally, I have purchased more than 1000 rounds of 7.62×39 ammo at one time for target practice to save money.  Shooting more than 100 rounds in one target shooting session is not uncommon.  And common .22 long rifle bullets I shoot in my semiautomatic squirrel gun I have owned since I was eight years old come in boxes of 525 rounds.

Calls for extended background checks are another “common sense” waste.  The background check in place for years did not work this time so let’s make you get one on your child before giving them a gun for Christmas with an “extended” background?

All guns bought from licensed gun dealers must go through the current background check. The proposed “extended” check would have made no difference since the shooter in Texas bought his gun from a licensed dealer, already covered in the current law.

The sale of over 100 brands of rifles defined as “assault” guns were banned for ten years, from 1994 through 2004. One liberal commentator told this lie: “Mass shootings dropped by 40 percent during the ‘assault weapons’ ban.” 

Here is what says: “A RAND review of gun studies, updated in 2020, concluded there is “inconclusive evidence for the effect of assault weapon bans on mass shootings.”  Seems a 40 percent drop would be pretty “conclusive” evidence, if it was true.

It didn’t work the first time, lets lie about it and do it again.

I keep hearing “Nobody needs an assault weapon.”  Yet they can’t define what they consider an “assault weapon,” it is a constitutional right and there are many reasons to own one. That is why there are somewhere between 10 and 20 million correctly called “modern sporting rifles” in the US.

One senseless murder is too many, but if these guns were the problem such shootings would be much more common.

Confiscation of all guns is the ultimate goal of some.  But if you confiscate all rifles, from my old .22 through all deer rifles to modern sporting rifles, you might somehow eliminate guns that are used in 2.9 percent of all homicides in the US. 

The most recent data I can find from the FBI shows homicides by all rifles in 2019 was 364, compared to 1476 by knives, 1591 by blunt objects and 600 by fists and feet.

If you want to have a rational discussion on gun control, don’t exaggerated, tell lies and make up numbers to try to push your agenda.  I will rely on facts, not emotions.

If you just have got to do “something,” go spit on the insane murderer’s grave. It may make you feel better and it will be just as effective as all the proposed gun control laws put together.

Till next time – Gone fishing!

Have Your Fish and Eat it Too with Gyotaku

Randy Zellers Assistant Chief of Communications Arkansas GFC
from The Fishing Wire

LITTLE ROCK — Trophy or table-fare? Catch a notable fish and you’re stuck with the choice. Besides the high cost, taxidermy requires handing over your prize instead of enjoying it as a meal. A quick photo of the fish at the time of the catch is nice to share with friends via social media, but rarely are worthy of hanging on a wall.

Anglers from overseas faced the food-or-fame dilemma centuries ago, and their solution was so popular, it became folk art. Japanese fishermen would bring paper and ink along on their trips to make impressions of fish they caught. They would paint one side of the fish with ink, and press it to paper. The ink would transfer to the paper, showcasing the fish’s size. Once satisfied with their record, they would wash the fish and still be able to bring it back for a meal or market.

A Little History

No one really knows the name of the first angler to capture his catch in artwork, but the oldest existing fish print is of a large red sea bream, caught by Lord Sakai of the Yamagata prefecture in 1862. Soon after his artwork was displayed, the practice became a recognized art form called gyotaku (gyo – meaning “fish” and taku – meaning “stone rubbing”)

.Many modern artists have added their own touch to the process, transforming basic shapes into multicolor masterpieces, some of which sell for hundreds of dollars. But you don’t have to be an artist to enjoy the hobby, and there’s no better way to add even more excitement to a child’s first catch.

Taku Tools

Gyotaku requires only a few items found in practically any art supply store – paper, paint and brush.

While any paper will make a decent “fish print,” the best option usually is rice paper; another good choice is parchment paper used for baking. Crumple the paper into a ball and smooth it back out a few times to offer a crackled texture and make it more flexible.

Use non-toxic paint, especially if you plan on eating the catch. Non-toxic acrylic paint is thin enough to show fine details and comes in a variety of colors. Dark paints help make small details stand out, but some people like to match the color of the fish in their print.

There’s no need to splurge on an expensive paintbrush; the fish is doing the real painting. An inexpensive sponge brush works well to coat the fish with the pigment. A fine-tipped paintbrush also comes in handy to touch up the work and add detail to the fish’s eye.

Find a Fish

The best part of making a fish print is finding the fish. Arkansans are blessed with so many streams, lakes and rivers that finding a fishing location is as easy as a quick search on When it comes to finding a youth’s first fish, the Family and Community Fishing Program offers ponds in major cities around the state to get young anglers hooked. Visit to discover one of these locations near you.Crappie, bass, bream and other fish with large scales tend to make the best prints; catfish can be printed, but it requires a delicate hand.

Fishy Flair

Clean the fish with water and a bit of dishwashing detergent to remove its protective slime coat. This slimy layer offers an excellent barrier to bacteria and fungus, but can cause the paint to smear into a featureless blob. Press paper towels against the fish to dry it. Be sure to wipe the insides of the gills and undersides of the fins as well; any water left in these areas will be squeezed onto the paper when pressed. Give the fish a firm squeeze at the belly to ensure all liquids are purged.

Lay the fish on a flat surface and use newspaper or magazines to prop up the dorsal and anal fins.Use the sponge brush to apply a light coat of paint to one side of the fish; coat everything but the eye. Be sure to apply paint to the mouth and fins.

Place the paper over the fish and press firmly across the entire painted surface. Do not let the paper move once it is placed over the fish. Pull the paper straight up off the fish’s body and look over your artwork.

Don’t be discouraged if the first print doesn’t have much detail. This usually means there’s too much paint on the fish. Just press more clean sheets against the fish until you get the look you like. If you run out of pigment, you can repaint and try again.

Paint in the fish’s eye using the fine-tipped paintbrush. You can also add a few details to add color or contrast. Trout wouldn’t look the same without their spots, and crappie come to life when you darken a few random scales and add a few specks to their fins.

Once you’re satisfied with your print, wash the fish, filet it and cook up your catch knowing you’ll always have a record of the one that didn’t get away.

Combat Fishing At Clarks Hill In April

Club bass fishing can be a humbling experience.  And in my limited experience, at higher levels it is worse.  It is easy to go from hero to zero in a few days.

    I grew up fishing Clarks Hill, catching my first bass from the lake in 1962 while my family was camping at “The Cliffs,” an unimproved access point on an old dirt road.  My church group as well as my family camped there several times every summer.  Then in 1966 our family joined the Raysville Boat Club, where I am still a member.

    For years in the 1970s through the 1990s I spent most holidays fishing there, including Christmas, Thanksgiving and spring break. And, since I was a teacher and school administrator during those years, I had summers off and would spend several weeks there each summer, fishing every day.

    I learned the little keys to the lake, small rock piles, drops and stump fields most people never saw.  When the lake was low during the winter I looked for hidden gems that held bass, places like those as well as hidden points, ditches and humps. And I built brush piles to attract and hold the bass.

    Now many of those kinds of places are easily found with modern GPS mapping, but some are still somewhat secret.  But the lake has changed a lot over the years, first getting blueback herring in it that changed the feeding habits of bass.  Then hydrilla spread all over the lake for a few years but it has now been killed off completely.

     The biggest change is fishing pressure. For years it was unusual to see another fishing boat during the week, now even on a weekday I often have to get in line to fish a place that holds bass.

Jim Berry invited me to join the Spalding County sportsman Club in March, 1974 and we fished the club tournament in April at Clarks Hill. I got hooked on tournament fishing and I joined the Flint River Bass Club in 1978 and the Potato Creek Bassmasters in 2016.

 I think the Sportsman Club has fished our April tournament at Clarks Hill every year since 1974.  I often do well, a memory on Facebook showed me winning the tournament there in 2016 with ten bass weighing 24 pounds.

    Way back in 1983 I came in fourth in the State Top Six Championship competing with 550 other club fishermen at West Point. Then I came in second in the Regional at Kentucky Lake, missing qualifying to fish the Bassmasters Classic by two pounds in a three-day tournament.

    That made me think I was a pretty competitive fisherman, so I signed up for the six Georgia Redman “semiprofessional” tournaments the next year. After not placing in any of them, I figured it was just first year “jitters” so I signed up for all six the next year.

    At the end of that second year I again had not placed in any of the tournaments.  It made me feel completely incompetent. I decided maybe I was a decent club fisherman, not good enough to compete at a higher level, so I have stuck with club fishing since then.

    I did make the state team four more times over the years and have done well in the clubs, winning the point standings in them multiple times. Some tournaments do not go as planned, and sometimes after one I wonder if I really know what I am doing.  But that usually passes after a few days.

    I am writing this at Clarks Hill on Tuesday. I have been here a week, fishing every day and fishing the Sportsman Club tournament over the weekend.  Right now I feel totally incompetent and am lost about how to catch fish. None of my old places or methods have not worked.

    In the Sportsman Club tournament 14 members fished nine hours on Saturday and seven on Sunday to land 106 bass weighing about 153 pounds. There were 18 five fish limits and no one zeroed.   

    Sam Smith won with ten bass weighing 20.53 pounds. Kwong Yu was second with ten at 18.24 pounds and had big fish with a 3.80 pound largemouth.  Niles Murray placed third with ten weighing 17.18 pounds and Wayne Teal came in fourth with ten at 15.51 pounds.

    I came in 11th with three bass weighing a whopping 5.23 pounds!

    I was very disappointed to see almost half the bass weighed in were spotted bass.  They are expanding in Clarks Hill and I am afraid this change is really going to hurt the largemouth fishing over time.

    After two days of practice and catching only five bass, I felt like I needed to do something different. There is a pattern and place that has been good for about the past seven years, it is how I won in 2016 and a couple more times since then.

    But so many folks know about that now I just did not want to do it. I call it combat fishing, joining many other boats in a small area and fighting to out fish and out cast them.  It is just not much fun but now I wish I had tried it.

    After not catching a single fish Monday and only one today from my old places, I guess combat fishing is on the schedule for this weekend in the Potato Creek tournament here!


Free Release Tools Offered for Gulf of Mexico Fishermen

Return ‘Em Right is launching its program to offshore anglers throughout the Gulf of Mexico today. By participating in a short online review of best practices anglers can receive free release gear valued at $100 to help reef fish survive release.

Each year, more than 10 million federally-managed reef fish are released, and at least one million of those will die after being released. A main reason is due to barotrauma, a pressure-related injury fish experience when reeled up from depth. Anglers may observe barotrauma when they release a fish, only to see it float away on the surface. For every one percent of landed and released fish anglers save through learning and using best release practices, over 100,000 reef fish could survive to grow, possibly spawn, and be caught again.

“I have enjoyed teaching my daughter to fish and know one way to keep the fisheries healthy for her generation is to release them properly. I hope Gulf anglers take advantage of Return ‘Em Right – free gear and training to benefit the fishery is a win-win,” said JD Dugas, recreational angler from Louisiana.

Return ‘Em Right promotes best release practices, with an emphasis on proper use of descending devices, which research shows can improve long-term survival of reef fish by up to three times. Descending devices are weighted devices that help fish overcome buoyancy and injury by releasing them at depth. These devices come in a variety of forms including weighted inverted hooks, lip clamp devices, and weighted crates and boxes.

“I used descending devices for the first time recently, and I’ve seen them work firsthand. Not a single fish floated back up the entire day offshore fishing,” said Alexandra Spring, three-time IGFA World Record Holder.

Gulf of Mexico reef fish anglers 18 years and older are now eligible to visit the Return ‘Em Right website, review best release practices, and receive a package of release gear to use out on the water. The educational review is available to all individuals who are interested in learning best practices when encountering barotrauma, regardless of your age, location, or role in the fishery.

“Return ‘Em Right welcomes all anglers to participate in the program and we are excited to be a resource to a community committed to preserving the future of the sport,” said Nick Haddad, Fisheries Communications Manager, Return ‘Em Right.

About Return ‘Em Right

Return ‘Em Right is a program that aims to reduce catch and release mortality from fish suffering from barotrauma in the Gulf of Mexico. The program is led by Florida Sea Grant, University of Florida, Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission, NOAA and a coalition of anglers, industry groups, state agencies, universities, government and non-government organizations committed to maintaining healthy fish stocks and fishing access in the Gulf of Mexico. The project was selected by the Deepwater Horizon Open Ocean Trustee’s as part of a 2019 Restoration Plan.