Do I Need A Boat To Catch Fish On the Gulf Coast?

No boat? No problem when you visit the Gulf Coast.
by Frank Sargeant
from The Fishing Wire

Many anglers who visit the endless sandy beaches between Dauphin Island, Alabama, and Panama City Beach, Florida, come without boats. Trailering a large boat is a hassle, and many anglers don’t want to put their flawless $50,000 bass boat and trailer into saltwater that can corrode metal parts. But this is not a problem in several locations, thanks to resort destinations that cater to anglers and boaters.

Not only are there literally hundreds of boats of all sizes for rent and for charter along the coast, there’s also very good—and free–wade-fishing or kayak fishing along much of this stretch, all the way from both sides of Dauphin Island to St. Andrews Bay at Panama City Beach.

I enjoyed some great action on blues, jacks, ladyfish, trout and reds both from rental pontoons and also while wade fishing on a recent visit to Florida’s Grand Lagoon, just inside Panama City Beach Pass, the manmade cut that leads into St. Andrews Bay. I’ve had similar results in previous visits to Dauphin Island and to Orange Beach.

As throughout much of the Gulf Coast, there are loads of quality accommodations here very close to the water—but one of the very few directly on the bay with docks right in front of the hotel is the upscale Sheraton Panama City Beach Golf and Spa Resort on Jan Cooley Drive. Check them out at https://www.marriott.com/hotels/hotel-information/pfnsi-sheraton-panama-city-beach-golf-and-spa-resort.   The Sheraton Panama City Beach is a great spot for anglers and boaters, with wadefishing on the premises, boat docks just across the walkway over the lagoon.

The hotel, rebuilt repeatedly after getting hammered by hurricanes, is now ideal for those who enjoy boating and fishing as part of their beach vacation. It’s directly on Grand Lagoon, with an extended walkway reaching out across grass flats and needle-rush marsh to the marina, and to some great wade fishing. There’s also a private beach on the lagoon here—a good spot for those who don’t like the waves and the crowds of the main beach along the Front Beach strip. (If the fish don’t bite—rare—you can always play golf or tennis or enjoy the miles of great walking paths.) Anglers also like “Flip-Flops”, an open-air bar and restaurant overlooking the lagoon, so close you can hear the mullet jump.  Flip Flop’s Bar and Restaurant in Panama City Beach is close enough to the lagoon to hear the mullet jump.

Alligator Point extends out from the corner where Grand Lagoon makes off to the west from St. Andrews Bay proper, and like many “elbows”, it’s a likely fishing spot. There’s grass here to several hundred yards offshore, all wadable at depths from 1 to 3 feet. For those not staying at the hotel, there’s a public access at the end of Jan Cooley Drive good for wading access or to launch a kayak. I caught trout and one big redfish throwing a Rapala Skitterwalk topwater at dawn off the point, while after the sun got high the trout and reds disappeared but several schools of 2 to 3 pound bluefish and lots of ladyfish and small jacks swarmed baits on the edge of the flats—a half-ounce Krockodile spoon caught all I wanted. This same action continues all along the north Gulf beaches until water temperature drops below about 67 degrees, which pushes the baitfish south.  Bluefish are a common catch all along the Gulf Coast so long as the baitfish are still present, which they typically are from April through early November. While wadefishing gets you to lots of fish, it’s also possible to rent kayaks and paddleboards at many locations along the coast, adding considerably to range as well as allowing you to fish deeper water if that’s where the fish are holding.  Standup paddleboards float in just inches of water, while allowing access to miles of great flats fishing all along the north Gulf Coast.

Fish the larger passes here and you get into other species. Deep water and lots of flow at Panama City, Destin, Pensacola, Perdido and the mouth of Mobile Bay means lots of bait and lots of big fish. Everything from 30-pound redfish to 5-foot-long king mackerel and 60-pound cobia prowl these passes, along with more big sharks than most of us want to deal with.

There are also nice mangrove snapper on the deep rocks, and an occasional keeper-sized gag grouper—put down a live sardine for them on 60-pound-tackle. If all this is not enough to provide your angling fix, you can also visit the sugar sand beaches that stretch some 160 miles. Holes right along the beach hold whiting and pompano ready to grab a shrimp tail, while outside the bar big reds and cobia cruise, along with tarpon in summer.

And of course all this is added to huge charter and party boat fleets at marine centers all along the coast. The big boats are ready to take you out for anything from red snapper and grouper to blackfin tuna and blue marlin.In short, there’s no need to bring a boat to the north Gulf Coast to enjoy the fishy bounty. 

For information on other accommodations, restaurants and area attractions in the Panama City Beach area, visit www.visitpanamacitybeach.com.

For Pensacola Beach visit www.visitpensacola.com.

For the Alabama coast, visit www.gulfshores.com

Making Up State Mottos On Fishing Trips

Crossing the Georgia state line driving home from Lake Weiss last Sunday, I was reminded of crossing many state lines on my annual trip to northern Wisconsin.  For ten years I left Griffin on Labor Day and drug my boat 1100 miles north, taking about 18 hours to get to Rhinelander.

    I listened to audio books on those trips, they made the long drive better. But I also paid attention to scenery and the road.  When I crossed a state line each state displayed their “Welcome to __” sign and some had mottos or sayings with them. I started making up my own for each state based on my experiences in them.

    Crossing into Tennessee at Chattanooga and knowing the climb then downhill run of the mountains ahead, I looked for a “Welcome to Tennessee – Use Low Gear” sign.  My experiences on the interstates in Kentucky made me think there should be a sign “Welcome to Kentucky – Watch Out for Potholes!”  One I was unable to avoid on the interstate due to traffic I hit so hard it knocked my GPS off the dash.

    I usually got to Illinois and drove through much of it in the dark. It seemed there should be a sign “Welcome to Illinois – Stop, Smell Skunk.”  It may have been because it was nighttime, but it seemed there was a dead skunk every few miles. They replaced our dead possums.  At least hit possums don’t stink up the air for several miles after they are hit.

When I finally crossed into Wisconsin there should have been a sign Welcome to Wisconsin – Watch Out for Construction Barrels.”  Since it was the end of summer and it was still warm enough to work, it seemed every mile of road was lined with orange construction barrels.

My host, a lifelong Wisconsin resident, said they had four seasons there – Early Winter, Winter, Late Winter and Construction Season.  More than one year I was fishing the week after Labor Day in my snowmobile suit in the snow and sleet!  Another fisherman in our group said he wanted to invest in the construction barrel industry in Wisconsin.

Coming home, I was always very happy to see “Welcome to Georgia” but always wanted to add “Warp Speed, Scotty!” No matter how fast traffic was flying coming out of Chattanooga, everyone always sped up when they crossed the state line.

Now, on my trips to Alabama, I can only expect to see a sign “Welcome to Alabama – Stop, Become A Football Fanatic.”

New Georgia Hickory Shad State Record

New Georgia Hickory Shad Record

SWAINSBORO, Ga. (February 9, 2021) – A day of fishing is good, but you know what makes it even better? A day you catch a new state record! Christian Blake Jones of Swainsboro, GA was out targeting crappie when he reeled in this new state record hickory shad. His catch, caught on the Ogeechee River (Emanuel County), weighed 2 lb, 3 oz, and broke a 25 year old record (1 lb, 15 oz caught in 1995), according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division (WRD).

“It is beyond exciting to hear about a new state record, and it emphasizes the fantastic fishing opportunities found in Georgia,” says Scott Robinson, Assistant Chief of Fisheries for the Wildlife Resources Division.  “Who will catch the next one? It might be you – but you have to get outdoors and Go Fish Georgia!”

Hickory shad (Alosa mediocris) are gray or green above with a silvery side, large prominent scales, a horizontal row of dark spots behind the gill cover, and a deeply forked tail. They are most similar to American shad and blueback herring, which have a lower jaw that is equal or only slightly projecting beyond the upper jaw. Gizzard and threadfin shad both have an elongated ray in the dorsal fin.

Both Hickory and American shad are anadromous species that spend most of their life in the Atlantic Ocean, and then return to their natal rivers to spawn once they reach sexual maturity. In Georgia, the shad spawning run usually begins in January in the southern rivers and fish can be found until May below the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam near Augusta. American and hickory shad are commercially harvested in the Altamaha and Savannah rivers. However, these fish can also be targeted by anglers utilizing recreational fishing gear in any of Georgia’s coastal rivers and are primarily caught on artificial lures, such as curl tail grubs. The Ogeechee River near the US Highway 80 Bridge and near the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam on the Savannah River are two of the more popular areas to target shad with recreational tackle. Are you a recreational hook and line angler that targets shad? WRD would love to know! Reach out to our office at 912-285-6094 and share your experiences.

Georgia anglers support fisheries conservation! Did you know that your license purchase allows Georgia WRD to continue to do important research, maintain and operate public fishing areas and more? Purchase a Georgia license at www.gooutdoorsgeorgia.com.

For fishing tips, be sure to check out the weekly Fishing Blog post at https://georgiawildlife.blog/category/fishing/.

Information about state-record fish, including an application and rules, can be found at https://georgiawildlife.com/fishing/recordprogram/rules or in the current Sport Fishing Regulations Guidebook.

Not Too Shocking: Your Electrofishing Questions Answered


DWR biologists electrofishing while sampling fish populations on a water body. Photos by Meghan Marchetti/DWR

By Alex McCrickard, DWR Aquatic Education Coordinator
from The Fishing Wire

Have you watched some of the videos from aquatic biologists at the Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) and seen a boat outfitted with long, wand-like poles with dangling cables? Have you ever showed up to a river or stream and witnessed a crew of biologists with large backpacks and long rods extending into the water? This unusual-looking activity is called electrofishing, and it’s modern science in action.Electrofishing in action.As Virginia’s state fish and wildlife agency, DWR is responsible for the management of our fish and wildlife resources for the benefit of the public. Our agency staff work hard to conserve and protect our freshwater fisheries across the Commonwealth. The best way to monitor the health of fish populations is to catch a number of fish from one area at one time. While our aquatics biologists are all excellent anglers, there is a more efficient, safe, and effective way to catch the fish!

Electrofishing is a common method used in fisheries science; this type of biomonitoring is truly one of the most effective ways to monitor our fisheries.

Fish can really help tell the story of the health of a certain waterbody. They are in the water 24/7 and are constantly exposed to the elements. Some species are more tolerant to pollution than others. The make-up and diversity of a water body’s fish population can help tell the story of water quality and inform our agency’s biologists. In turn, all of this influences sound management decisions that can improve habitat, water quality, and fish health, which benefits the general public and anglers who cherish Virginia’s freshwater resources.

So, you now might be wondering what exactly happens during electrofishing? What’s going on behind the scenes during these surveys? Our electrofishing FAQs below cover these basics.

What is electrofishing?
Electrofishing is a technique used in fisheries science to sample fish populations. Sampling is when biologists study a number of fish from a certain area, measuring and examining them and recording the statistics. When biologists electrofish, a generator or battery gives off an electrical current that runs through the water. Volts, amps, and frequency can be adjusted based on water temperature, conductivity, and other variables. Electrofishing can take place on foot with a backpack unit on a small stream or river. For larger rivers and lakes, electrofishing typically takes place from a boat or barge.

From a boat, the anodes enter the water from a long boom off the bow. Electrical current travels from anode cables back to the cathode(s)–in many cases, the metal hull of the boat acts as the cathode. The electrical field typically expands 5 to 7 feet in circumference from each anode and down about 6 to 7 feet. The size of the electrical field can vary depending on conductivity, voltage, and frequency of electrical current.

Fish are temporarily stunned as the electrical current causes their muscles to contract.  The fish then float towards the surface where they can be easily netted.

Is electrofishing harmful to fish?
Electrofishing has the potential to be harmful if not used properly; however, biologists have the training and experience to operate the equipment safely and effectively while minimizing impacts to fish. Prior to any sampling, biologists adjust and monitor electrofishing settings to the target species in a particular habit. In some cases, electroshocking is avoided during spawning periods and habitats of certain rare and endangered species to eliminate even the perception of harm.

Does electrofishing affect different species of fish differently?
Yes, the frequency of the electromagnetic current can affect species differently. For example, low frequency electrofishing tends to only affect catfish species. When we sample tidal rivers to assess the catfish populations, we solely use low frequency.

High frequency sampling is often used for standard community assessment of multiple species. Because of their larger surface area, big fish such as bass and muskie are more susceptible to electroshocking than small fish such as minnows and darters.

Electrofishing is only efficient in shallow water, so sampling is usually conducted when all species and sizes of interest are likely to be vulnerable to this technique.

Why do DWR biologists electrofish? What’s the goal for sampling and what do DWR biologists do with the fish during electrofishing?
Electrofishing is an effective method to assess the health of a fishery in a non-lethal manner. It allows biologists to evaluate the health, variety, size distribution, and abundance of fish species on a given body of water and how that population can change over time. Length and weight measurements further allow biologists to assess overall fishery health. This type of sampling allows DWR to look at interactions within a fish population. Furthermore, we can track status of endangered and threatened species or the status of spread of any invasive species. All of this information influences sound management decisions that benefit the public who recreate on these resources.DWR staff weigh, measure, and evaluate the fish netted during electrofishing, keeping careful records of the information.

The information collection during electrofishing helps DWR fisheries biologists make sound management decisions for fish populations.

Is electrofishing safe for the DWR biologists?
Yes, because of their training and experience, DWR biologists are safe when electrofishing. Our biologists wear non-breathable waders that keep them from being shocked while using backpack electrofishing units. For electrofishing boats, numerous electric cut-offs are in place to prevent accidents, and the boat is grounded. All DWR biologists wear personal flotation devices while sampling on boats. DWR biologists have also had formal training in electrofishing principles and techniques (for example the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service electrofishing course), which contributes to the safe operation of electrofishing gear.Electrofishing a stream with backpack equipment.

In what kinds of waters do you electrofish?
Electrofishing takes place in freshwater and tidal freshwater rivers and streams. Because of the high conductivity of saltwater, it is not conducive to electrofishing.
Can anglers use electrofishing equipment to catch fish?
No, it is unlawful for the general public to use electrofishing equipment to catch fish.

Winter Woods Walks – with A Gun

  “All the leaves are brown, and the sky is gray.” Although I went for many a walk on a winter’s day, unlike the Mamas and Papas in California Dreaming, I would have to say the leaves are gone, not brown.  The woods and fields in winter are stark but beautiful.

    My winter day walks always included a gun.  Most days, from the time I got it for Christmas when I was 12 years old, it was my semiautomatic Remington rifle with the 17-round magazine.  It had a variable three to nine power scope on it.

    Sometimes I carried my single shot .410.  Those days I planned on kicking brush piles on field edges hoping to jump a rabbit. My usual luck was to jump a rabbit when carrying my .22.  I shot at a few with my .22 but never hit one.  I shot many squirrels with my .410 but preferred the .22.

    I was a little jealous of my friend Hal with his over and under .22 and 410.  He could switch from rifle to shotgun with the push of a button. But both were single shot, and I liked having multiple rounds in my .22 rather than having to take my eyes off a squirrel I missed to breach the gun and load another round.

    I loved my scope, too.  Even with good eyes back then, it was amazing how a gray squirrel could run up a big oak tree and disappear.  Sometimes there was a hollow for them to hide in, but often they just hunkered down tight to a limb and didn’t move. 

    About the only way to find them was to scan every limb with the scope, mostly looking for tell-tale ears sticking up.  I often gave up before finding them.  But sometimes a nest was the logical place for them to hide.  The balls of twigs and leaves were very obvious in the leafless tree.

    With my .22, I sometimes shot into the nest.   I could tell by the sound of the bullet if I hit a squirrel.  Since I was shooting blindly into the nest, it was usually a wounding shot and they would crawl out and fall.  But I climbed more than one tree to get to a squirrel I heard my bullet hit but did not come out.  Finding a wounded one while hanging from a high limb was always a thrill.

    I got very frustrated one day when I shot a squirrel and it fell a few feet then got tangled in vines.  I could not climb that tree, its trunk was too big to hug and there were no lower limbs.  I shot that squirrel and the vines around it many times trying to knock it loose but never did.

    All winter when hunting that area, I would go by the tree and look at the carcass of the squirrel that frustrated me so much. I hated to waste meat.

    Cold winter days often meant building a small fire to warm my hands while in the woods.  On dry days it was easy, with dead leaves and twigs littering the ground.  Wet days were a challenge, but finding a cedar tree with somewhat dry lower dead limbs and peeling dead bark near the trunk usually meant success.  And I always carried strike anywhere matches with their heads dipped in wax to keep them dry.

    Take a winter walk in the woods and enjoy the beauty.  Deer season is over and the woods are mostly empty, so you can relax and enjoy yourself.

….

Ice Fishing Goes Alternative

Five Top Hardwater Hacks, Off the Radar

By Ted Pilgrim

from The Fishing Wire

This isn’t one of those articles giving props to piles of mainstream, traditional ice fishing tackle. For that, you might simply step in to your local outdoor store and buy an ice auger, shelter or lure from any of the established brands. Or run a Google search on the aforementioned items; there’s no shortage of advice from which to form an opinion.Wearable ice accessories greatly increase mobility, comfort and fishing efficiency.

That said, try searching for alternative ice gear, or secret ice fishing tools or hardwater fishing hacks. Good luck.

Somewhat of a non-conformist himself, ice pro Brian “Bro” Brosdahl probably says it best: “Some of the most valuable ice gear I use every day sort of gets taken for granted,” asserts Bro, who routinely zigs when crowds zag.

“It’s like those key role players on a football team; the gear that really deserves credit for a great day on the ice mostly goes unacknowledged. Worse, some of these tools are totally ignored and unused by anglers. Truth is, there’s a whole bunch of pretty cool equipment you’ve probably never seen before that will absolutely enhance your time on hardwater. Some of it deserves the daily MVP award, though you might totally take it for granted.”

#1 – WEAR YOUR UNDERWATER GLASSES

Hidden among haystacks of traditional ice gear is an alternative trend toward wearable tackle and gear storage, as opposed to stuff you’re forced to drag around like a third wheel. “I wouldn’t call it a trend exactly,” Bro interjects. “I mean, it’s mostly the tournament anglers on national circuits like the NAIFC who are literally wearing their underwater cameras and their tackle around their torsos.”

Couple winter’s back, NAIFC National Champs and three-peat Team of the Year winners Brandon Newby and Ryan Wilson helped the underwater camera inventors at Aqua-Vu design a wearable case compatible with its Micro viewing systems. “The motivation for designing the Micro-Mobile Pro-Vu Case,” says Newby, “was one of necessity, and of our need to find untouched fish. For us, a portable Aqua-Vu Micro camera lies at the heart of finding fish and structure—whether we’re prefishing a tournament or hitting new water.”

Designed to fit any size angler, the Pro-Vu Case sports dual adjustable straps, positioning the camera screen across the angler’s upper torso. The softcase itself features a large zippered camera compartment with a built-in protective cover, plus extra storage for a cell phone, keys and small tackle necessities. “We can drill holes, jig or rig lines and always keep the camera at the ready. The hands-free design of the case even lets us fish and underwater view at the same time. For us, it’s an absolute must-have piece of equipment.”

#2 – ACCESSORIZE YOUR ICE SUIT

Continuing the wearable tackle trend, Frabill offers a similar apparel accessory. “Don’t know about you, but I like to fish in stealth mode,” notes Bro. “Carrying a small, all-star selection of jigs, plastics and other necessities in a single wearable case is a luxury. The fact I can use it as a hand warmer—priceless. Probably not one in ten anglers knows what I’m talking about,” he laughs.Frabill Tackle Pack/Hand Muff

Fitted to be worm around the waist, Frabill’s Tackle Pack / Hand Muff is the only wearable tackle bag doubling as an easy-access hand warmer. “Fact is, a lot of us fish without gloves—especially during a frenzied bite,” notes Bro. “The Tackle Pack fits right across my food shelf (Bro-speak for love handles). Not only can I quickly access a fresh jig or plastic tail without getting up and digging into a pile of gear, but I can also throw a couple hand warmers inside the insulated hand muff for an instant warm up. Eliminates downtime. Definitely puts a bunch more fish on the ice for me, every day.

“We’ve long said our ice suits serve as our wearable shelters. I just take it one step further.”

#3 – PERFORM PANFISH DENTISTRY

Technically, the next nouveau tool can also be worn, or just as easily tossed into one of the four-dozen pockets sewn into your ice suit. A Panfish Toothpick is pretty much what it sounds like: a slick little device that safely, easily extracts a fish’s last meal from betwixt its bony jaws. The Toothpick pops free even those troublesome hooks lodged way back in the larynx. The name of the game is preserving your expensive premium hooks, tungsten jigs and other valuable lures. Performing the procedure with minimal stress on fish is a beautiful benefit.

“Grabbing an impaled jig with a forceps or pliers scratches and flakes lure paint and can bend or break your fine wire FISKAS Wolfram Jigs,” notes Jamie Olson, ace angler and proprietor of Your Bobber’s Down, Inc., an online retailer of elite-grade fishing tackle and hard-to-find accessories.

Both the Panfish Toothpick and new larger, T2 Toothpick feature a specialized V-slot. Apply quick direct pressure on the hook bend, backing the barb out and cleanly removing the lure. A ton of top-level anglers now use the Toothpick, says Olson, many of them having now removed pliers and hemostats from their lanyards altogether.

#4 – THE LONG & SHORT OF IT

Despite the fact most ice fishers choose 25- to 30-inch ice sticks, huge advantages highlight both longer and much shorter rods. Case in point, St. Croix Rods’ 48-inch Legend Black ice rod, considered crazy tall for an ice wand. Among anglers who prefer to stand while fishing, to keep the rodtip close to the water surface for bite detection and to prevent line freeze, a longer rod can be an exceptionally valuable tool. Moreover, for flip-and-dip style shallow water fishing, an angler can simply keep a two- to four-foot length of line hanging from the rodtip, allowing for instant and rapid-fire fishing through multiple holes fast. Finally, a longer rod provides superior shock absorption, vital for battling large, fast-surging fish such as pike, lake trout and big walleyes.

At the other end of the spectrum are palm rods, curious 12- to 18-inch all-in-one rod/reel combos capable of fishing the tiniest lead or tungsten jigs with utmost finesse. Particularly for shallow water panfish, European-born palm rods serve as superior bite detectors, most of them, like the Jonttu Sport Special, armed with adjustable, super-responsive strike indicators. Top anglers consider a palm rod to be an extension of their fishing arm, spooled with wispy 1-, 2- and 3-pound test tied to jigs weighing under 1/64-ounce.

#5 – SNELL IT

Staying with the scaled-down panfish theme, one of the biggest off-the-radar movements waiting in the wings are so-called through-head tungsten jigs. Another Eastern European contrivance, many of these elite designs lack a true line tie. Instead, they feature a small hole bored through the metal itself. A specialized, though simple, knot known as a snell or Marka knot secures these amazing jigs to your line, maintaining a perpetual horizontal posture—no repositioning of the knot required. Note: You can also use this knot with standard line-tie jigs for the same horizontal benefits. Finally, because the knot itself is recessed onto the hook shank, retying isn’t required nearly so often—and the snelled line itself can be used to secure soft plastic baits in place.

Alternative ice angling is little more than rethinking convention, taking the next step beyond “normal.” Time to embrace new or off-the-radar tools and techniques . . . before they become yesterday’s news. 

Snook, Bass and Other Species Thrive in Florida Stormwater System

Hayley Rutger, Mote Marine Labs

from The Fishing WireMote’s Dr. Jim Locascio holds a juvenile snook from a Sarasota County canal. Credit: Dr. Nate Brennan/Mote Marine Laboratory

Dozens of fish species — including common snook and largemouth bass — use certain parts of the upper Phillippi Creek system, according to the first fish survey of this urbanized network of canals, retention ponds and wetlands in Sarasota County, Florida.

The survey — led by Mote Marine Laboratory and funded by Sarasota Bay Estuary Program (SBEP) — found the highest numbers and diversity of fishes around upper creek areas mimicking natural habitat: curving canals or ponds with wetland vegetation and sections of slower-moving water. Less naturalistic canals, with shorelines straightened for optimum drainage, generally hosted fewer fish of fewer species.

Urban waterways can lose ecosystem value — for example, ability to support economically important sport fish — due to pollution, altered water flow and loss of natural habitat. Scientists around the nation are investigating how to help these waterways better serve wildlife, ecosystems and communities. Phillippi Creek drains approximately 60 square miles (145 square kilometers) of Sarasota County land, with downstream waterways richer in natural habitat and upstream waterways bearing a clearer human fingerprint: more straightened, channelized canals, sediment traps and retention ponds.

“We want to understand how to balance the role of these waterways between stormwater management and ecosystem function,” said Mote staff scientist Dr. Jim Locascio. “Can upper Phillippi Creek be enhanced to benefit fish without sacrificing its performance as a drainage system? That’s what we hope our survey results will lead into. First we needed to learn how the system is functioning and understand whether some creek areas are more productive in supporting fish.”

“Typical stormwater drainage systems were designed to transport excess water directly from residential areas to the sea; this concentrates flow through a narrow area,” said Mote Staff Scientist Dr. Nate Brennan, who was also involved in the project. “Such systems can experience flash-flooding as well as very reduced flow, and they can transport nutrient-laden sediment downstream, all of which affects how many species can survive in the canals themselves and in downstream ecosystems such as estuaries and seagrass flats. However, slower and more consistently flowing waterways can be refuges with higher diversity of prey animals as well as high-value, predatory fish such as snook and largemouth bass. Upper Phillppi Creek is dominated by straightened canals, but it also includes good refuge areas and sites with potential to create more; that really interests us.”

Since the 1980s, Sarasota County has significantly enhanced its measures to prevent floods and enhance water quality, most commonly using wet ponds. Ponds help delay the discharge of runoff, capture sediments and protect downstream ecosystems. County officials and Mote scientists each want to know whether further enhancements will help support fisheries.

Based on discussions with Sarasota County and SBEP staff, Mote scientists surveyed fish and select invertebrates (such as shrimp) at about 70 sites – most along upper Phillippi Creek, north of Bahia Vista Street and east of Beneva Road, and one downstream from this junction: Red Bug Slough preserve. Sites represented three habitat types: canals with generally straightened shorelines maintained to drain storm water; secondary stage canals with more bent shorelines, restored wetland areas, a natural preserve and sediment traps; and retention ponds known as the Celery Fields.From left: Mote scientists Dr. Jim Locascio, Dr. Nate Brennan, and Greer Babbe use a seine net to survey for fish in Sarasota County’s stormwater canal system. Credit Conor Goulding/Mote Marine Laboratory.

“Canals are a common feature around Florida and around the world, which means the results of this study could be far reaching,” said John Ryan, Environmental Manager for Sarasota County’s Stormwater Environmental Utility. “Nature friendly drainage designs could add value to the lives of a great many people who live on the world’s coasts.”

During March-May and September-November 2016, Mote scientists and interns used purse seine nets to catch, identify, count and release fish and invertebrates, measuring a sample of them. The scientists documented temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen and the presence or absence of vegetation.

In all, the researchers counted 36,136 fishes and invertebrates in 37 scientific groups. Overall, the most abundant species were the native eastern mosquitofish (scientific name: Gambusia holbrooki), which were 46.5 percent of all animals counted. Also abundant were non-native tilapia (Oreochromis spp., 13.3 percent), native  grass shrimp (Palaemonetes spp., 11.5 percent), and native sailfin molly (Poecilia latipinna, 9.2 percent). Native blue killifish (Lucania goodei), native least killifish (Heterandria formosa), and native Seminole killifish (Fundulus seminolis) were semi-abundant.

The highest biodiversity sites — with the most species and the most evenly distributed numbers of animals in each species — were secondary stage canal habitats. Their complex curves, vegetation and flow patterns can mimic natural habitat. Less biodiversity was found at retention pond sites, followed by the least naturalistic sites: canals.

Common snook (Centropomus undecimalis) — a favorite Florida sport fish — were found at 15 sampling sites in seven areas. Among those areas, 61.6 percent of snook were in secondary stage canal habitats, especially two sediment traps. All snook were juveniles that had completed their larval, or baby, stage within the past two years.

“Of the juvenile snook we found, a notable number were in sediment traps, which are used to keep sediment from moving downstream but also appear to mimic the natural systems where the snook larvae settle and become juvenile fish,” Locascio said. “In wild tidal creeks, snook may settle in terminal ponds with reduced flow. Sediment traps may be creating similar habitat as a byproduct. However, we need to better understand how the snook are affected during maintenance, when the sediments are removed. This is one good opportunity for follow-up research.”

Largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) juveniles and/or adults were found at 30 sites in eight areas, with 69.2 percent in secondary stage canal habitats.

According to Mote’s report, “…secondary stage canal habitat which included preserves, sediment traps and restored wetlands were most important for snook and largemouth bass and maintained the highest levels of diversity.”

“Some engineered habitats are mimicking natural habitats and functioning as recruitment areas for these fish in upper Phillippi Creek,” Locascio said. “That is a very positive finding, and there is more that could be done if additional areas can be enhanced and then monitored through future surveys.”

Locascio continued: “Some fish-friendly enhancements might even save money; for instance, say you have an area that’s difficult and costly to manage. Why not use that as a habitat restoration site, ultimately improving conditions for fish and decreasing maintenance costs such as removing vegetation?”

Other recommendations from this report include:

  • Build fish-friendly features resembling the current sediment traps but varying in design to enhance their appeal to snook and bass. Then follow up with a monitoring program and fish-tagging studies to determine which designs help support fish.
  • Find even more options for fish-friendly upgrades at multiple scales along Phillippi Creek by applying the current results to a mathematical model published by others in 2015. If the model applies to Phillippi Creek fish habitat, it could provide a wealth of additional ideas for fish-friendly, waterway management. 
  • Make better use of non-native tilapia, which are abundant in the Celery Fields retention ponds but may not travel far due to weirs that limit water flow. It the weirs could periodically release a pulse of water — and tilapia — safely and strategically, those tilapia may provide additional food to native, predatory fish downstream.

“The next steps are exciting,” added Brennan, “because they can involve eco-engineering where we consider stormwater management goals but add components like ecosystem health and societal benefits.  Places like stormwater canals that are often hidden from society can actually be transformed into attractive, productive urban ecosystems that improve property value and natural productivity.”

Spalding County Sportsman Club at Lake Sinclair in January

Last Sunday 15 members of the Spalding County Sportsman Club fished our January tournament at Lake Sinclair.  After eight hours of cold casting, we brought 28 12-inch keeper bass weighing about 45 pounds to the scales.  Two people caught five fish for a limit but seven people did not land a keeper.

    Wayne Teal won with four bass weighing 9.89 pounds and had a 3.81 pound largemouth for big fish.  Jay Gerson had five weighing 7.46 pounds for second, Chris Davies five at 6.41 pounds was third and Niles Murray had three weighing 6.33 pounds for fourth.

    Chris fished with me and we started where I caught my two the weekend before but never had a bite.  After

two hours I decided to do what I thought I should have done last weekend and went to clearer water. 

    The first place we stopped Chris caught a small keeper on a rattle bait.  I kept casting a bladed jig to grass and docks, thinking that would attract a decent fish.  A little later Chris caught another keeper on a crankbait, then one on a jig head worm.

    Down three to nothing I decided to go to a jig head worm just to try to catch a keeper and landed two.  Chris then lost two keepers, the first one the biggest we saw all day.  I caught my third keeper and we were tied.

    With a little over an hour left to fish, I caught my fourth keeper on the worm then, before I could get it in the livewell, Chris got his fourth one.  A few minutes later he got his fifth to fill his limit.

    I tried hard to catch another one but did not. My four weighing 5.16 pounds was good for fifth.

    I don’t know if we got to the right area after lunch when we had almost all our bites, or if it was the time of day.  Whatever it was, I am glad it happened.

    After weigh-in Wayne said he caught all his fish in the muddy water on a bladed jig.  It drives me crazier to find out the winning pattern was something I tried but never head a bite!

Epic Fall Bites for Coastal Anglers


From New Jersey to the Texas Coast, St. Croix pros sound off on epic fall bites
from The Fishing Wire

PARK FALLS, Wisc. 
Whether you mine the Northeast for stripers, tuna, blues, sea bass and blackfish or hit the southern coast for redfish, snook, sea trout and flounder, the next several weeks will see some wild action on the inshore scene. Are you ready? St. Croix’s top pros are, and we’ve asked them to share a bit about what they’re doing to capitalize on the best bites in their respective areas right now.

Northeast Coast
Captain Robbie Radlof is a renowned guide at Waterman Charters out of Barnegat Township, New Jersey. He’s one of the best in the game at consistently hunting down big tuna, as well as making a living putting his clients on striped bass, which he says has been about 90% of this fall’s fishery so far. Right now, he says the stripers are schooling up in Montauk and Connecticut and are just starting to pass through New Jersey.

“Our striper fishery has been incredible this year and it’s only going to get better here in the next few weeks,” says Radlof, who adds that new slot limits in New Jersey and New York are adding tremendous value to the recreational striper fishery in the Northeast. “We now have wads of 40”-50” fish coming back through Jersey waters. I’ve never seen this many jumbos.”Radlof says the bass are primarily feeding on adult bunker inshore.

“We’re throwing big spoons and metal-lipped plugs with the new 7’9”, extra-heavy power, moderate-fast action St. Croix Mojo Inshore rods (JIC79XHMF) on 65-lb. braid with 60-80 lb. leaders,” he says. “This is the exact rod St. Croix won the saltwater road category with at ICAST earlier this year, and it’s clear why; this is what these rods were designed for… casting large, 2-6-oz. moving baits to big, powerful fish. They’ve got a unique blend of extra-heavy power to control and subdue jumbo stripers and an ideal medium-fast tip for casting and absorbing those slashing strikes that happen with plugs and swimbaits. I’ve never used a rod this powerful that has remained so light in the hand and easy to fish.”

On days when stripers are keying in on sand eels farther offshore, Radlof switches to the new 7’11”, medium power, fast action (JIS711MF) and 7’11” medium-heavy power, fast-action (JIS711MHF) Mojo Inshore rods “These rods pair perfectly with the smaller epoxy jigs we’re using in the 1-1/4-oz. range paired with 5” paddletails, as well as the heavier Savage Gear Sand Eel lures, which have been really hot.”

Radlof says the New Jersey bluefin tuna fishery has been evolving for the better in recent years, again, thanks to tightened regulations implemented about ten years ago. “We’re seeing regular opportunities for 100- and 200-lb. fish that we didn’t have just a few years ago,” he says, but points out this year has been atypical. “We’re getting an impressive biomass of sand eels, which has really helped, but the water got warm this summer and a lot of our tuna just pushed north. We have some resident bluefins around right now, but they are fairly spread out and have been picked over pretty good. We had a great yellowfin bite in mid-August, and the bluefins should be coming back through soon, headed to North Carolina,” he adds.

“I’m hoping it won’t be too bitterly cold in December when they show back up!” When they do, Radlof says he’ll be targeting them with poppers and stickbaits.

Radlof drills down on some additional key features of St. Croix’s new Mojo Inshore rods. “The larger, more powerful rods in the series I’m using daily have new hybrid cork/EVA foam handles. The EVA portion in the middle of the handle sits right under your arm when you’re throwing those big metal lips and adds some real comfort to the equation. That’s also the same section of the handle that makes contact with a rod tube or rocket launcher when the rod are stowed, so it keeps the cork grips from getting worn and banged up. The soft non-marring rubber gimbles on the butts are a huge plus, too,” he says. “I’m often running 50-60 miles one way to find the big fish, and that soft gimble holds the rod and heavy reel securely in the rod holders.”

South Carolina & Georgia Coast
RedFin Charters captain, Justin Carter, operates out of the rich and diverse waters around Charleston, South Carolina.“We’re just past the mullet run and our bull redfish have moved offshore,” he reports. “But the shallow-water speckled trout bite on artificials is really picking up. Our water temps have dropped, trout have moved past the spawn and are transitioning into shallow wintering areas,” continues Carter, who says a couple key factors are contributing to the quality of the trout fishery right now.

“Waning daylight is prompting a lot of feeding. There’s a lot of shrimp in the creeks, and trout will continue to feed hard with temps mid-50s or higher, which could last into January,” he says.Carter is finding success on bigger trout with topwaters and suspending twitch baits, and well as Z-Man Trout Eye jigs paired with 4” DieZel MinnowZ. Depending on the size of his jig, he’s fishing 7’, light power (JIS70LF) and 7’6”, medium-light power, fast action (JIS76MLF) St. Croix Mojo Inshore spinning rods, and switches to the 7’6”, medium power (JIS76MF) Mojo Inshore when throwing spinnerbaits or topwaters.When the birds show him where they’re at, Carter is still targeting 35”-50” beast reds farther offshore with chuggers and 7”DieZel MinnowZ, but the smaller resident redfish are schooling up in the shallows to protect themselves from marauding porpoises, which no longer have access to as many mullet. “Along with the trout, we’ve got tremendous sight-fishing opportunities for slot reds and some up to 35” right know,” says Carter.

“It’s a really exciting time to be fishing right now.”

Cobia represent Carter’s ace-in-the-hole, bonus big fish at this time of year. “It’s interesting; we have some recent studies – which back up my observations over the past several years – that show our cobia aren’t just moving south and north in the spring and fall. They’re also moving east and west, and I tend to catch them in 90-120 feet this time of year,” explains Carter, who says 30-40-lb. fish aren’t unusual. “We see them regularly showing up in the chum slick while drifting on the bottom for kings and little tunny.” Carter keeps two Mojo Inshore rods rigged and ready for when Cobia appear: one rigged with a freelined livie on a 5/0 circle hook, and another set up with a white, 10” Z-Man HeroZ jerk bait rigged on a ChinlockZ hook.

“That HeroZ is outstanding cobia bait,” he says. “They’ll hardly ever turn it down as long as there’s enough distance between the fish and the boat. The Mojo Inshore 7’11”, medium-heavy (JIS711MHF) rod is ideal for both of these presentations.”

Florida Keys
“The month of November can be full of great opportunities in the lower keys,” says owner of Push It Good Inshore Charters, Scott Brown. “Resident tarpon, snook and jacks are gorging on schools of bait and some of the bigger bonefish and permit are still cruising the flats. As long as water temps don’t drop below 75 degrees and winds stay relatively moderate, you can find good numbers of all of them,” he says.Brown touts sight fishing the flats this time of year when conditions are favorable. “I like to pair a 3000 series spinning reel with a St. Croix 7’, medium-light power, new Legend Xtreme Inshore spinning rod (XSS70MLF) for presenting ¼-oz to 3/16-oz jigs to cruising bonefish and redfish.”The lower keys flats can be tough at times depending on the weather and conditions, which warrants a lightweight, responsive and super sensitive rod like Legend Xtreme Inshore.

“The ability for quick, accurate and subtle presentations is paramount when fishing for pressured bonefish. And when the wind starts blowing and visibility is reduced, that’s when Legend Xtreme’s unmatched sensitivity really comes into play; you may not be able to watch it happen, but you know when a fish has picked up the jig.”For cruising permit, Captain Scott likes freelining a live crab. “A 7’6” medium-power rod paired with a 4000 series spinning reel is the ticket,” offers Brown, who prefers to fish with the new Legend Xtreme Inshore version (XSS76MF), but keeps the incredibly capable new Triumph Inshore version (TIS76MF) rigged and handy for his clients.

“These new, handcrafted Triumph Inshore rods are simply amazing, and – in my opinion – offer an unbeatable combination of performance and value.”A big part of the lower keys’ appeal is that there’s always a bite to be had, even when conditions get nasty. “When the north winds kick up and water temps drop, I like to switch it up to live baiting for tarpon, snook and snappers. This time of year, the tarpon and snook are between 10-20lbs and larger snapper move inshore,” says Brown, who prefers a rod that’s not too heavy, but has adequate back bone to set the hook and keep fish out of the mangroves.

“The 7’ medium-heavy Triumph Inshore rods are ideal when fishing medium-sized mullet and large pilchards on 30-40-lb. fluorocarbon,” he says. “You have that fast tip necessary to accurately pitch baits close to cover, plus the power required to pull the fish away from trouble.” When the bite is really on and the tarpon are cruising , Brown switches from livies to ¼-oz. soft swim baits and bucktail jigs. His preferred rod in these cases is the 7’, medium-power Legend Xtreme Inshore spinning rod (XSS70MF).

Texas Gulf CoastFlorida-born Guillermo Gonzalez grew up chasing snook and tarpon in the Biscayne Bay backcountry south of Miami. A transplant to Texas, the 2017 Kayak Angler’s Tournament Series (KATS) Angler of the Year travels extensively to fish and compete, but most often finds himself chasing redfish and trout along the Texas coast.“The majority of our coast is known for sight fishing to shallow redfish, but the marshes are really coming alive right now,” says Gonzalez, who believes the increased activity in most areas is primarily shrimp-related. “There’s definitely more shrimp in right now, and you can see them popping as redfish move through an area.”Given the natural smorgasbord, one would guess that live shrimp and shrimp imitations are the bait of choice right now.

“Shrimp imitations are always going to work,” Gonzalez confirms. “But redfish aren’t the pickiest fish in the world; in my experience, if a red is going to eat, it will eat about anything in your tackle box.” But Gonzalez does choose certain lures that have some well-defined characteristics. When sight-fishing shallow redfish in the fall, he gravitates towards smaller, softer baits that land quietly, and are darker in color. “I’m fishing a lot of belly-weighted root beer-colored flukes, as well as smaller, darker paddletails when sight fishing,” he specifies. “Whatever you choose needs to land softly and small tends to win… nothing clunky.”

For presenting such baits, Gonzalez is bullish on St. Croix’s all-new Triumph Inshore series of rods. “These rods combine incredible St. Croix performance with an almost-unbelievable price, and the entire series has been designed to support the specific regional techniques coastal anglers employ around the country,” he says.“Wade fishing around oysteries, potholes and drains in the marsh is hugely popular along the Texas coast, and many Triumph Inshore models have been designed with this in mind. These anglers are doing a lot of casting, so the rods are lightweight and crisp with great ergonomics,” says Gonzalez, who adds that often means split grips and shorter handles.

“They are also using a lot of moving baits, so rods need to be soft enough to keep fish pinned.”Gonzalez prefers the 6’8” and 7’ medium-power, moderate-fast action Triumph Inshore models for his style of fishing. “The tips on these rods are perfect,” he says. “They’re soft enough to make the short, accurate pitches necessary to have success with shallow redfish in the marsh, with the power and back bone required to tame them. He also adds that the 7’ medium-light power, moderate action casting rod (TRIC70MLM) has a sweet, parabolic action that coastal Texas trout anglers are flocking to.St. Croix pro and lifelong inshore angler, Joseph Sanderson is a former collegiate FLW and BASS competitor and current KBF tournament kayak angler. He dives deeper on the new, trout-centric TRIC70MLM.

“As Guillermo already mentioned, wade-fishing is really popular down here. if I go wading for trout, I’m really working; popping and reeling in slack and then repeating. A heavy, stiff rod will wear you out. This rod is comfortable to fish all day with,” he says, “When wading deep, you can’t use your arm; you have to use your wrist. The medium-light rod and shorter handle of the TRIC70MLM really helps. And since speckled trout have really soft mouths, the moderate action of this rod keeps them hooked up.”

Sanderson recently spent a day sight-fishing for reds from a skiff and wading with the 6’8” and 7’ medium power, moderate-fast action Triumph Inshore casting rods (TRIC68MMF and TRIC70MMF). “We had calm conditions and clear water, so we were making a lot of medium-distance casts in the 50-60-foot range. Accuracy mattered and both rods delivered with 1/16-oz. jigs and small paddletails,” he says, noting that rods also had plenty of power to subdue the 20”-28” slot fish they were catching. “I’m not very conventional about matching rods to big fish,” says Sanderson. “I can assure you these medium-power rods will easily handle 30”-35” reds.”Sanderson drills down on Triumph Inshore’s varied handle options. “I preferred the 7’ version a bit better with the longer, full cork handle because I prefer to cast with two hands, but found the shorter-handled 6’8” split-grip an ideal option for wading. It’s rare to find a casting rod that performs with the lightweight jigs and baits I use so much of the time, and both of these rods excelled.”Sanderson and Gonzalez were impressed with the new Triumph Inshore rods from the start. “When I unpackaged these rods, the first thing I noticed was the surprisingly high quality of the cork and their beautiful finish,” Sanderson says.

“The second was their extreme light weight. These are without a doubt the finest inshore rods in their price range I have ever held.” Gonzalez agrees, adding, “the finish, components, balance and cosmetics of these rods are flawless. I never expected to see that in a rod retailing for $130.”

Catch Up with Radlof, Carter and Sanderson Live
Want to hear even more about what’s happening on the inshore scene right now or ask questions of your own? Join St. Croix pros Joseph Sanderson, Justin Carter and Rob Radlof on Facebook Live @stcroixrods, Tuesday, November 24 at 7:00PM Central.

#CROIXGEARLike the rods? You’ll love our lifestyle apparel. Save 20% off retail on select performance tees, November 16th through the 31st. 
Shop now! 

Where and How To Catch February Logan Martin Bass, with GPS Coordinates

        Although winter still has a firm grip on fishermen, bass are responding to longer days.  They are starting to feed up for the coming spawn and venture from deep water to nearby shallows to eat. At Logan Martin this means they are on deep rocky banks that have shallow cover and on shallow points that drop into channels.

    Logan Martin is on the Coosa River east of Birmingham and I-20 crosses it near Pell City.  It is full of fat Coosa Spots and quality largemouth. Rocky river channel shorelines with docks and points at mouths of creeks and coves line the lake and both species are feeding on them this month.

    Tim Ward grew up fishing Logan Martin. He and his family stayed at a campground in Clear Creek often and he had a small boat to explore the nearby area and learn to catch bass.  He really got into bass fishing when he was 13 and fished his first tournament when 18.  His experience club fishing led him to join the Auburn Bass Team and he fished with the team from 2011 to 2015.

    Now Tim fishes with the Marathon Bassmasters in Birmingham and is working on fishing on the pro side of big tournaments by fishing as a co-angler in BFLs.  He placed second in a Bass Nation tournament and won a couple of BFLs on the co-angler side. He also fished the ABT Southern Division.

    Logan Martin is Tim’s home lake and he fishes it often.  He knows that the bass start feeding more and more in late January and all during February, even if the water remains cold.  Toward the end of the month when the water does start warming they are even more active.

    “All during February Logan Martin bass still want to be near deep water, but will move shallow to feed,” Tim said. Rocky river channel banks with a shallow ledge along it is a good place to find them, as are points that drop into deep water. Rocks are the key but wood cover on them helps.

    To cover those kinds of places, Tim relies on a variety of baits. A jerkbait, crank bait, rattle bait and chatterbait all allow him to cover water and find feeding fish. If he is not finding active fish, a shaky head will always catch fish on Logan Martin under any conditions. 

    The water is usually a brownish stained color this time of year, with clearer water in some creeks. The water color controls his choice of colors.  Shad colors are good in clearer water but brighter colors like chartreuse are better if the water is stained. In muddy water Tim says red is hard to beat.

    We fished on a cold, cloudy windy day in early January and caught some spots and largemouth on several of these places. 

    1.  N 33 29.288 – W 86 14.998 – Going up the river from Cropwell Branch the river makes an “S” bend and Powel’s Campground is on the left bank going upstream.  The right bank across from it is an outside bend with docks on it and wood cover washes in. It is a good example of the kind of river bank he likes.

    As the river turns back to the left there is a big bay on the right with a smaller bay just upstream of it.  Start at the upstream point of the upstream bay with a dock on it.  The dock has a covered boat slip and there is a matching smaller covered deck on the bank.  There is a small private ramp on the upstream side of the dock. 

    Start at the point and fish upstream, casting to the bank and covering any wood cover and all the docks along this bank.  Your boat will be in 20 feet of water or deeper a fairly short cast off the bank, but there is a small shelf the docks sit on, and bass move up out of the channel to feed all along it.

    Tim will fish all the way up to the next pocket if he is getting bit. But if he fishes a hundred yards of this bank without a bite he will move to another place.  He does not expect to catch a bunch of fish in one spot.  He is looking for individual feeding fish holding on the cover along this bank.

    2.  N 33 30.754 – W 86 15.618 – Going back down the river there is a double creek entering on the outside bend on your right. There are two islands in the mouth of it. The downstream point runs way out to the creek and river channels and fish hold and feed on it until moving in to spawn.

    We rode over this point and Tim’s electronics lit up with baitfish holding near the bottom in 20 to 25 feet of water.  Baitfish are always a good sign that bass are in the area.  We did not stay long since the wind was blowing strong but if you can fish a place like this you should stay on it and cover it carefully.

    Keep your boat in 25 feet of water off the end of the point and fan cast all over the point. Cast toward the bank will be in eight to ten feet of water and you can cover it out to about 12 feet deep with a crankbait that dives that deep, Tim’s choice this time of year. He likes a chartreuse and cream color and wants his bait to bump the bottom from 6 to 12 feet deep.

    Also try a rattlebait in places like this.  Cast it to eight feet deep and work it out to 15 feet deep, the range Tim expects bass to hold right now.  Work it back by slow rolling it near the bottom or pumping it up and letting it fall back.

    3.  N 33 29.529 – W 86 17.354 – Going down the river past the mouth of Cropwell Creek the first opening on your right is a cove with docks in it, and there is another smaller pocked just downstream of it.  Fish stage on the points of both these pockets and spawn in them.

    The downstream point of the downstream pocket is rocky with a dock on it. The upstream side is flatter with docks along it, too.  Tim likes to fish both sides of this pocket this time of year.  Cast a chatterbait and squarebill crankbait to the dock posts.  Try to bump the post with the squarebill.  Tim uses a Strike King 1.5 in chartreuse and black. Bump it off dock posts and any other wood cover on the bank.

    Also work a shaky head around the docks and wood cover, and probe for brush around the docks with it.

The first dock on the upstream side has a yellow bench on it and there is a good brush pile out from it. 
We missed a couple of bites in that brush pile, the wind made it hard to fish a shaky head.

    4.  N 33 26.822 – W 86 17.321 – Run down into Clear Creek to the bridge.  The riprap on the bridge holds fish all month long and more move to it as they work up the creek toward spawning areas.  Fish both side of the riprap on both ends of the bridge.

    Fish the rocks with a jerkbait and crankbait.  Tim says a Megabass 110 in sexy shad is hard to beat. The water in here is usually clearer, as the creek name implies.  A shad colored crankbait bumped along the rocks in 8 to 12 feet deep will also catch fish. Both baits allow you to cover the riprap quickly.

    Work the rocks with a shaky head, too. On the rocks a fairly light head will get hung up less. Tim uses a three sixteenths to one quarter ounce head and he puts a green pumpkin or Junebug Zoom Trick or Finesse worm on it.  He also dips the tail of the worm in chartreuse dye.  Fish it with a drag and shake action. 

    5.  N 33 26.928 –  w 86 16.688 – Going up the left arm of the creek a long point comes off the right bank and runs over half way across it. The creek channel runs along the upstream side and the end runs out to where the channel swings around it. There are big rocks and a danger marker on the end of the point.

    Keep your boat in 25 feet of water and fish the end and upstream side with a jerkbait and crankbait.  Try different cadences with the jerkbait but Tim says the typical jerk, jerk, pause works well most days.  Pause the bait longer in colder water.   Also try your shaky head here. We caught a keeper spot here on a shaky head.

    6.  N 33 26.839 – W 86 18.577 – Going down the lake from Clear Creek there is a big cove on your left. Arms run off both sides in the back. There are good channels running into them and there are a lot of docks along the banks. Bass move into this cove to spawn and hold along the channels, moving up to the shallows to feed this month.

    Tim said this is one of his favorite places and we fished all the way around it, and caught a good largemouth and two spots, as well as missing several bites.  Start on the left as you enter the pocket at the dock on your left in front of a brick boat house at the mouth of the arm that goes back to the left. There is a flag pole on the bank beside the dock and a cement boat ramp going to the boathouse.

    The water is shallow along the banks here and Tim choses chatterbait and squarebill around the docks and gravel banks.  The largemouth hit a chatterbait and the spot hit the crankbait here. Hit any cover along the bank.

    Also fish your shaky head here. Some of the docks have brush in front of them where the fish feed. Probe for the brush and work it thoroughly with your shaky head.  Fish all the way to the last dock on the right side.

    7.  N 33 26.927 – W 86 18.704 – The upstream point of this big cove has riprap around it, a white bird house on the bank and big rocks up shallow.  Rocks also run out to deep water on the point that runs across the mouth of the cove.

    There were fish and bait fish on it when we rode over it and we caught a largemouth out in 15 feet of water. Stop out in 25 feet of water off the end of the point and fan cast it with a shaky head, crankbait and rattlebait.  Then work toward the bank, covering the shallows around it with square bill and shaky head.

    8. N 33 26.659 – W 86 19.208 – A little further down the lake toward the dam a long point runs out from the left bank, drops into a saddle and comes up to a small island. There is a yellow smiley face flag on it and there are rocks all around it and a big tree off the bank on the downstream side. The river channel runs right off the outside point of it.

    Start at the saddle on the upstream side and work around the island with your jerkbait.  When you get to the outside point keep your boat in 15 feet of water and cover the point with both jerkbait and shaky head.   This point is one of the few places Tim expects bass to school up and he says you can catch a lot of fish on it.

    9.  N 33 26.469 – W 86 19.673 – Across the lake a big island with a causeway sits near the right bank going toward the dam. The outside bank of this island drops off fast with rocks and docks on it. There is a small pocket half way down the bank.

    Tim starts on the upstream side of the pocket at the dock in front of a house with red umbrellas by it and fishes around the pocket. Tim says this is a good place to catch a big fish this time of year.  Fish all around the pocket and docks on both sides with chatterbait, jerkbait, squarebill and shaky head. Tim uses the Z Man half ounce bait with a chartreuse and white skirt.

    10.  N 33 27.487 – W 86 17.826 – Back up the lake on your right at the mouth of Clear Creek, Clear Creek Harbor Marina has a riprap breakwater point running off the right bank.  Bass hold and feed all along this riprap on both sides, and concentrate on the end. We lost a decent fish that was right on the edge of the water.

    Fish all the way around the riprap point with crankbait and jerkbait. Get in close to the rocks and parallel them, especially if there is wind blowing in on them. There was a good chop on the water here when we fished, perfect for this time of year.

    If the wind is not blowing stay off the rocks and cast a shaky head to the edge of the rocks and work it all the way back to the boat.  This is a good spawning pocket so fish gang up along the rocks as they get ready to move in and spawn.

    All these places are excellent this month, and many similar places hold fish right now.  Check Tim’s favorites to see when he looks for and you can find many similar spots all over the lake.