Welcome back yak fans, and welcome to October! The days are getting cooler and that means it's a great month to hit the water. This month's column is about finding the right kayak for you.
I guess the reason that I decided to do this story is that a newbie kayaker showed up at the shop with a six and a half foot Wally World sit-in kayak and thought he was ready to take on the flats. Not so fast, Buckwheat! That ain't no fishing yak!
The first thing to ask yourself is, "What do I want to do with my kayak? " Other questions include how far do you want to paddle and what type of water; i.e. lakes, rivers, inshore saltwater, offshore do you want to explore?
Kayaks basically fall into two categories; "Sit-in" or "Sit-on":
Sit-in: This type of boat usually offers a drier ride, but if it does take on water you will need a sponge or pump to remove it. This type is normally 25% lighter than a comparable sit on top and therefore also a bit faster on the water. They offer ample storage inside, but accessibility can be a challenge on the water. Most sit-in's have very comfortable seat arrangements and track and turn very easily, but lack the versatility of Sit-on yaks.
Sit-on: Like the sit-in's there are a wide variety of models and manufacturers. The main difference,
as the name states, is that with these you sit on top of the kayak. They can be a little less of a dry ride, but due to their design with scupper holes, water will drain out of them. This comes in handy, say if you get caught in a rain storm. Something I've done way too many times is sitting in the pouring rain and watching a water spout come towards me; to say the least, an interesting and sphincter- tightening experience, because you can't outrun it!
Sit-ons, by their design, offer ample storage on the surface and usually have a storage well behind the seat for a cooler, milk crate, etc. Also, getting in and out is easily done with a sit-on so getting out and walking or wading around is easily accomplished.
Some of the things to consider with either types of yak are:
Length: Normally, the longer the boat, the faster it is and it also tracks better. So basically, if you want to ride the current down a river or play on a lake; a six and a half to ten foot boat would be fine. But, if you plan a longer paddle, a 12 to 16 foot boat would better serve your needs. Now if you want to explore the coast and go back into the creeks with narrow passages and turns; then 16-foot or above might not be what you want. Longer boats are harder to turn and slower to react to feathering and turning a long yak around in a four foot wide creek ain't fun!
Width: Width equals stability, which is a good thing, but it detracts from speed and increases weight. The wider the yak, the easier it is to stand up on without rolling over.
Weight: This is an important consideration to match up the user with the right boat. Envision a 100 lb. woman trying to lift a 70 lb. boat onto an Expedition and you'll get my point. If you find that the boat you want is too heavy for you to lift, don't despair. They load easily on a trailer, and they also make roller systems to allow you to slide the boat up onto your rack.
The third contender in this story really isn't a kayak at all. This is the stand up paddleboard (SUP). This relatively new direction in fishing craft seems to have been started by the flats stalkers, and for those of you that don't remember it looks like a surfboard on steroids with a cooler mounted in the back.
My buddy Matt Brewington, an accomplished kayak pro angler who guides out of Barracuda Bob's Bait & Tackle Company in Dunedin, has just started to use one and loves it.
My vote is being withheld pending further investigation. They don't paddle well (for me), they don't have a seat, and if you remove the skeg you can go real skinny, but hey, in 90% of the places I fish I just put my foot over the side to anchor. How much skinnier to I need to go?
But the attraction is that you can stand up and my feeling is without a built-in seat, you'd be doing a lot of that. So it would seem to me that the paddleboard is pretty much a short range boat for anyone other than an athlete, and that ain't me!
So in closing, it seems of finding the right boat is always a trade-off. So your best bet is to try out some different models, talk to your friends, and if you're really confused give me a call. I've always got an opinion... LOL!
A well equipped sit-on fishing kayak. Sometimes you can over do it!
By Bruce Butler
Let's take a moment to talk about the topic of catching fish on a kayak. I do not consider myself an expert fisherman however I have managed to catch a few fish in my day. I have encountered several "professional" fishermen/guides over the years, many of whom I have learned much from. Some of the things I have learned I will pass along to you, not as advice, but as information. There are technical approaches to fishing that some anglers employ such as lunar charts and weather patterns. Time of day is also a factor often discussed and disputed. Some feel that early morning is the only time to fish while others believe the evening or night is prime time.
I have fished all hours of the day. I have risen before the sun and driven miles to launch and paddle to 'the spot'. Here is where the sleeping fish will awaken to my presence and be caught. Only to not land anything until ten o'clock when the sun is well up and boat traffic is in full swing. Given the warm summer days it is
personally preferable to go in the morning or evening to escape the heat of the day. No matter what time you fish it is always a good time as far as I am concerned. Some of you are encumbered with a schedule that limits available time to fish due to work or other commitments. Others of us are able to fish often because that is what we do! So with that said get out and fish when you can.
We all have our favorite fishing spots. That place where we caught that big bull red fish or the twenty plus inch trout. That monster snook was laying right there by those mangroves. We go back to those areas because there were fish there before so they must still be there. I do the same thing however I do not limit myself by not trying some place different. We have all fished that area that just looks perfect and not caught the first fish. The beauty of kayak fishing is that you can easily go to different locations without spending a lot of time, effort and money. I have been known to load my kayak and fish three
locations miles apart in a day. I have also fished within a hundred yard area all day long.
Other factors come into play. Moving tides are most productive simply because the food source for the fish we seek move more during tidal flow. I will not attempt to discuss live-vs-artificial bait. My suggestion is that you discover what works for you and the method you enjoy fishing. Whether it is fly fishing or spin casting all of it is fun. Fishing from a kayak gives me a sense of being close to the water and being independent. Fishing from a motorized boat you are at the mercy of the captain as to where you fish and in which direction you can cast. When you kayak fish with a friend you can fish together yet you are fishing where and how you want to. The objective of kayak fishing for me is to enjoy the sport for relaxation and fun.
So get out and fish. Safe and happy paddling.
Todd Terrill is a pro staff Native kayak guide for West Wall Boatworks and owner of FishnFunKayaks. You can reach Todd at FishnFunKayaks.com or WestWallBoatworks.com
The right fly for the job simply boils down to which fly produces the strike. Sounds simple, but not all flies are created equal and not all fish attack with equal aggression. Our job as fly fishermen is to narrow down our fly choice to the one that get the job done.
For the sake of argument, I am going to lean on my 25 years of fishing experience and focus on the Gulf 's main targeted fish, redfish, speckled trout, and snook. All three species are a worthy target on fly. All three species basically feed and target the same species. Small to medium sized baitfish and shrimp are the diet most associated with the Gulf 's big three.
Now as a spin fishing guide, not a fly guide, I have caught thousands of
such as a Zara Spook. Both of these lures reflect the theory of medium sized baitfish and shrimp as being the top choices in producing a strike.
How this relates to fly fishing is dramatic. With hundreds of guided fly trips under my belt, the biggest mistake I see is not on fly selection, but fly size. A have seen several beautiful versions of epoxy shrimp on board, all about the size of a tiny grass shrimp. In my experience grass shrimp is just not going to produce the strike. Simply compare the size of your fly to the real size of the bait you are mimicking. If you need help, compare your fly choice to what I know to catch fish as an experienced spin fishing guide.
members of the big three. Reflecting back, I would say the most popular
Just remember increasing your fly to produce the strike can be complicated. The most popular fly rod for saltwater inshore species is an 8 weight. Not all 8 weights are created equal, but oversized flies could require a 9 or even a 10 weight. It sounds a bit over-powering, but producing a strike is our goal. A great example is my favorite topwater fly for all three of the Gulfs big three. I need a fly that makes a huge wake, and a giant pop. The more noise the better, trust me. With this sized popper, an 8 weight is just not going to get the cast range needed. My choice is a 10 weight and a solid explosion!
If you buy into my truth in producing a strike with big flies, experiment with several rods. Not all rods are created equal and some will load big flies easier than others. Also spending a little more money will light up that 10 weight. My advice when choosing a "big fly" rod is try several. Schedule a demo with your local outfitter and find the rod and line combination that works best for your casting ability. I hate to say it, but "GO BIG OR GO HOME"
By Capt. Mike McNamara
Central Florida is known for an abundant population of black crappie, but only during their spawning run up the St. Johns River are American and hickory shad available to catch. Local anglers look forward to that time of the year when the shad come calling and the crappie are thick. The event also catches the attention of Coastal Angler Magazine Orlando. The Orlando magazine will host the 6th Annual Central Florida Shad and Crappie Derby beginning November 1, 2014.
This year's Shad and Crappie Derby will distribute $10,000 in prizes among 20 lucky winners. Not bad for an event that is free to enter. Just remember, you do have to register to win. Visit the website at www.cfshadderby.com to view the rules and to locate a signup location near you.
Black crappie will be abundant and hungry by November and anglers will be searching for that first sighting of shad when December rolls around. The Derby is an excellent opportunity to promote family fishing fun and win some prizes at the same time.
American shad, the largest member of the herring family, travel thousands of miles to reach their intended spawning destination in Florida's St. Johns River. Scientists identify both hickory and American shad as anadromous, meaning that they live and grow in the ocean and then swim upstream to spawn in fresh water. Before re- turning to the fresh water in the St. Johns River they have lived in the ocean about four years and will weigh in the neighborhood of 2 to 3 pounds. In northern states the shad survive spawning and because they live longer, reach weights of 4 to 6 pounds. The Florida state record is 5.19 pounds. Unfortunately many of the Florida shad die after spawning, but not before giving anglers a unique fishing opportunity.
The shad migration delivers them to an area known as Shad Alley where their presence provides anglers a welcome change of pace for their fishing adventures. Captain Tom Van Horn, an avid shad angler, says Shad Alley is normally considered
to be the area of the St. Johns River from the east end of Lake Monroe to the south end of Puzzle Lake. Generally the area begins to populate with spawning shad by mid-December and they remain in catchable numbers through mid-March.
Some shad anglers take their search for the feisty shad a little further south than what is traditionally known as Shad Alley. Mark Benson, a passionate angler and student of the shad migration bases much of his fishing strategy on scientific information. "Both the American and hickory shad prefer to spawn in the highest velocity water flow they can find," says Benson. "This current helps keep the fertilized eggs clean and ensure good oxygenated flows until they hatch. After they're fertilized they drop to the sandy river bottom where they hatch in three to four days."
Benson says the current also assists in the actual spawning behavior by keeping the eggs and sperm in suspension as long as possible, allowing for proper fertilization. "Flow rates between 500 and 900 cubic feet per second (cfs) are desirable, but even at 300 cfs they can find bends and narrow spots of the river with a little higher velocity. Of course," says Benson, "they'll take what they can get." In other words, the shad will be here to spawn regardless of river conditions.
Benson uses a government website to check on water levels in the river. "In high water years when the water levels are 5.0 feet or higher on the gauge in Christmas, Florida the river is out of its banks and flooding across the prairie. Because the shad are looking for the fastest moving water they can find they'll continue upstream (south) looking for better conditions." Benson explains that the gradient is a little steeper the further upstream you go. In high water years Benson has found shad all the way up to the weir just below Lake Washington, near Melbourne.
In lower water years the fish will be further north. "Once the river drops to 4.5 feet on the gauge, the water has receded from the prairie floodplain and is running within the banks for a long section of the river stretching from SR520 to SR46. My favorite section under these conditions is from Hatbill Park to the Beachline (528)."
Keeping an eye on the data over a period of time has led Benson to a noteworthy discovery. "Checking the USGS website* and looking at three to five or more years of data reveals an interesting pattern. It's remarkable to me, the historical pattern
of rain through the summer, the river flooding across the prairie and then the rain and flooding stops just in time to drop the water to the correct levels for the shad to find suitable spawning areas. Ahh, the wonders of Mother Nature!"
Regardless of which part of the river you choose to fish, light tackle spinning gear or lightweight fly rods are all you need. Either of these choices will land the biggest of the spawning fish. Lightweight equipment also increases the challenge and the pleasure of grappling with a feisty shad.
Experienced shad anglers know that small lures in bright colors are what the shad prefer. Lures like the 1/16 and 1/32 ounce Blakemore Road Runner is readily available and popular in Shad Alley. Anglers that like to throw plastics on spinning outfits have good success with D.O.A. Tiny TerrorEyz or 2-inch Shrimp. Choose colors like pink, chartreuse or red.
Fly fishers like colorful streamers, clouser minnows or designs of their own creation. Bright colors like orange and pink are chosen to attract the shad and encourage a strike.
Trolling is also a popular technique for catching shad, especially for newcomers to the sport. "Trolling is probably the easiest way to get started, and anyone can do it," says Capt. Van Horn. His personal preference is to use tandem Road Runners with willow blades on a trolling rig. "If you use an outboard troll at the slowest speed you can. If you use a trolling motor vary the speed from .8 to 1.2 until you discover a productive pace." This is also a good way to locate a concentration of fish and then stop and catch them by casting.
As suggested by Benson's experience, look for those parts of the river that yield the fastest running current, because that is what the spawning shad are looking for. Narrow channels, sharp bends and steeper gradients are the most likely places to find shad in numbers.
Benson's personal website is markbensonoutdoors.com. Van Horn's is http://www. irl-fishing.com.
*Note: The website Benson refers to in the article is: waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/ uv/?site_no=02232500
Ron Presley is the author of two award-winning books, "Secrets from Florida's Master Anglers" and "Fishing Secrets from Florida's East Coast." He is past president of the Florida Outdoor Writers Association (2013).
By David Migliore
If there ever was the perfect saltwater fly-fishing scenario then it would most certainly have to be on the South Jersey Sod Banks. This prolific ecosystem is rich in life and rich with fishing tradition as well. There is ample room for extended back casts and there are thousands of miles of bank structure, flats, cuts and deep channels. While sharpies with the plug and bucktail frequent these waters, the gamefish here, mainly striped bass, bluefish, flounder and weakfish go virtually unprovoked by fly-fishing enthusiasts.
Maybe it's the draw of the supposedly bigger gamefish that frequent the jettys and beaches. Or maybe it's simply no one ever told the mainstream fly crowd about it. I would think it is the ladder, because this is a developing fishery and even with bait and plug I've landed bigger fish than I ever have in the ocean in the back bay. Unlike the Keys or the Rocky Mountains, most people don't think of this area as a mega fly-fishing opportunity. But I'm here to tell you it is, and the natural beauty, pristine waters and seasonally large and aggressive gamefish who all readily take the fly will most definitely leave you little room for argument.
On the contrary fly-fishing here will test your skill to the highest degree. Right off the bat, the fish usually are very spooky, well hidden, selective and often dealing with seasonal temperature extremes. This creates many challenges for the fly-fishermen that don't exist to the other methods of fishing in these waters.
The first problem the fly-fisherman faces is spooky fish and long distance casting. The fish here are from the sea. They're used to open water but are drawn onto the flats for spawning and mainly feeding, so this environment is not what they're used to. That translates into them being spooky when they come inshore. You will need to master the long-distance fly cast. The angler should expect to not get bit if he doesn't throw 50+ feet consistently, which every fly- fisherman has trouble doing. The long distance fly-cast will be just as important on windy days as it is on calm days, so learning how to cope with long-distance fly-casting in high winds is essential too.
The next problem is finding fish. There is just so much perfect water here. The fish can and will be anywhere and if you want to catch them, the first step is finding them. Now you could accomplish this by looking at folks on the internet who are catching and systematically figure out exactly where they're standing or floating to the foot, or you could take the other route and learn where the fish will be for yourself. That is a more fly-fisherman like attitude anyway. Covering water is the key term. But things like water temperature, baitfish presence, seasonal baitfish locational preferences and likely structure go hand in hand with that.
The third problem you will need to overcome to catch on the fly especially in late summer is selective fish. Often these gamefish are selective to the baits they are eating. When they are being selective things like silhouette, color, drag and size can make or break your success and are the factors that make this such a rewarding fly-fishing scenario. I'm not going to get into the different crabs, shrimps, baitfish, worms, rodents, large insects or squids anymore than I already did, but there are numerous species of all those that you will do best to imitate individually.
However 75% of the time the fish are not selective and covering water with a bright (or dark) fast moving fly will do the trick. In fly-fishing this is known as the Royal Wulff effect. The Royal Wulff is a trout fly that doesn't really imitate any particular mayfly, but just looks like a mouthful of high-end protein and it is deadly on the trout streams across the world. My saltwater Royal Wulff equivalent would have to be Lefty's Deceiver. 99% of the time that is what I tie and throw. You simply cant beat that fly in my opinion. But there are thousands of different saltwater flys, all of which have a place to be thrown on the sod. Clouser's half and half, foam bodied popper flys, crabs and big floating black rats should all be in your fly box. While I often toss shrimps, crabs and worms for the dead drift I fish my streamers and poppers with the under arm/hand over hand method (Chesapeake retrieve). This allows me to haul in line on a hook up fast. Often the traditional strip under finger technique does not pick up line fast enough and the result is 9/10 times a lost fish. When you hook a saltwater fish on the fly haul in your line fast as hell! Don't even worry about using the reel until all your cast-line is gone from the fish running far.
So I find great riches in fly fishing the sod. It is more challenging and the rewards are greater knowing you got it done on the fly. I encourage my fellow anglers, if you never picked up a fly rod or are trico hatch veteran, come and check out fly-fishing in these pristine waters. If you are akin to tough fish and understand the price, bounty and rewards of hard success, then I'm sure after a couple great sessions fishing the sod-bank's evening rise you will agree, these waters are fly- fishing paradise.
Early this summer I had a chance to try something that I had previously only heard of in passing conversations and knew close to nothing about. An out of town friend who I took fishing had purchased a tenkara rod and was anxious to test it out. Using the quick start guide that came with his outfit, we attached the line, leader and fly, and were fishing within minutes. Catching my first trout on this new rod proved to be very exciting, and I was immediately hooked.
So what is Tenkara?
Tenkara, in Japanese, means "from heaven." This is fitting in my opinion. It is a very old traditional Japanese approach to fly fishing using only a rod a line and a fly. There is no reel involved. Although the art of tenkara dates back several hundred years, it has become popular in the US just within the last 5 or 6 years.
Historically, tenkara rods were made of bamboo, but today most are made with
carbon fiber. They are long, light weight, and very flexible with typical lengths ranging from 10 to 14 feet.
The cork grips are similar to regular fishing rods. The rods are telescoping, meaning the sections collapse down to a very compact size of 18 to 20 inches. At the tip end of the rod, a short piece of cord, a "lillian," is glued to the tip. The line is then attached to the lillian. Unless you are a tenkara purist, there are no hard and fast rules to the line that is used, and the line set up is more of a personal preference. The line can either be a tapered, furled line (the traditional approach) or a level line. The furled lines are made up of twisted or braided thread or monofilament. The level lines, (meaning all one diameter, not tapered), are typically a single strand of either monofilament or fluorocarbon.
A short 3 to 4 foot section of tippet is then attached to the line. Typically, the length of the line plus the tippet is equal to the length of the rod.
In addition to the furled and level lines described above, there is also a hybrid approach. The set up that I first used was with a 20-foot section of thin level running line (typical plastic coated floating fly line). A tapered leader was attached to the level line, which tapered down to 5x tippet. This is not the traditional tenkara set up but a hybrid approach that has more of a traditional fly fishing feel to it. Again, the type of line that is used is a personal choice, so try the various options until you find what works best for you.
The traditional tenkara fly is a wet fly tied with the hackles in a reversed position. Again, unless you plan to stick with the traditional tenkara approach, all the typical patterns of dry fly, soft hackle, nymphs, and streamers may be used.
Landing the Fish
Typically the line length is equal to the length of the rod, so when a fish has been
hooked, you simply lift your arm high and slide the fish into the net. If the line length has been extended to a length longer than the rod, then the fish must be brought in by hand. Gently lift the rod until you can grab hold of the line and then pull the fish in, sliding your hand down the leader to the fly and release.
Since the tenkara rod will collapse down in seconds to a very compact size, it makes it ideal for backpacking or hiking along mountain streams. The long rod aids in keeping line off the water and obtaining the perfect drifts. This is especially help- ful in mountain streams with fast, tumbling currents. I have also found tenkara to be a useful teaching tool. Beginners new to fly fishing, especially children, can begin fishing immediately without the additional line and reel that needs to be tended. It's a great way to introduce them to casting in a short period of time.
Temple Fork and Patagonia have teamed up to offer a hybrid tenkara package, which includes the rod, line, leader, an assortment of flies and an illus- trated guide book. This is a great way to get started. There are a number of other vendors that provide equipment, and there are resources that offer other insightful information on technique. Here are two of the links that I have found especially useful:
I'll have to admit that I was very skeptical of this fishing method at first. What truly caught my attention about tenkara was its simplicity. This was a surprise to me, now that I think about it, because I'm a gadget geek in the truest sense of the word.
While I don't anticipate ever giving up my traditional fly fishing gear, there is a time and place for trying new things, and a tenkara rod is a perfect example of this for me. Now, I have several tenkara rods in different lengths. I believe one of the great things about fly fishing is the fact that there is always something new to learn, no matter how long you have been fishing or how advanced you become. I've used my tenkara rods on both the Elk River and the Caney Fork with great success. I'm looking forward to a fall trip to the Smokies where I'm sure to put them to the test in mountain streams and learn even more about this new approach to fly fishing. Try it. You may like it!
Susan Thrasher is an FFF certified fly casting instructor and owner of Southern Brookies Fly Fishing located on the Caney Fork River in Lancaster, Tennessee. She can be reached through the web site at www.southernbrookies.com.
The sky was still pitch black as we pulled into the Doll Mountain Dock at Carters Lake. All that could be seen on the lake was a large green glowing area that looked like Martians had invaded. That would be Eric Crowley, our guide, using a Hydro Glow light to catch bait. He had a bait tank full of gizzards, threadfins and alewives, and once we loaded up, the big Humminbird unit on the bow showed us where we were headed.
We arrived at the back of a cove with fish breaking the surface all around. Eric baited up the Penn Squall combos we would be using and dropped them in. We trolled slowly along waiting for our first bite. The rod close to Leon slammed down but before he could get it, the tip sprang back up. When he reeled it in, we found the bait bitten in half.
After a few more of these "short bites", another boat told us it was having the same problem. I began casting out a free liner, a bait with no weight, and it was quickly snapped up by a spotted bass. I caught a couple more bass like this, and we had several more short strikes on the striper baits. This was the first surprise of the day; the striper here not feeding heavy and
only short biting. Eric said they had been having good luck up river, so we reeled up and headed back across the main lake.
Now this is where it gets weird. If you don't know me, then you might not know I am mainly a big catfishing guy. We caught many flatheads and a few channel cats on Carters before on previous fishing trips but never any blues. In 14 years of fishing more than 150 days a year, Eric had never seen one in this lake. As we headed toward the river we saw the guide that we shared the cove with earlier that morning pointing at the water and shouting something at Eric and making big fish signs with his hands. Eric stopped and the guide said there was a school of big striper right here and they had already broken off several rigs.
In a few minutes another rod on their boat doubled over pointing at the water! I watched the line, and I looked at Eric and said, "That looks like it may be a catfish". As the fish broke the surface I looked at it and said, "That is a blue cat." We all looked at each other and the guide on the other boat said he have never caught a blue catfish in this lake. I instantly knew those other break offs weren't striper, but were catfish, blue catfish!
We had gotten our baits down now, and we starting to get a few bites too. Leon hooked into one and lost it. I hooked one and landed it, then another. The other boat landed a nice flathead. Vic caught a good blue, Eric hooked a flathead, and it was getting pretty crazy! Leon landed one and the other boat broke off another and then missed two more bites. Then the other boat landed two very nice channel cats. Somewhere in all this madness, everyone on our boat forgot we were on a striper trip.
It dawned on me that we were catching a fish that is hardly ever caught in Carters, so I texted a good friend of mine, Nick Carter, to see if he knew what the record blue was for the lake. He responded, "Don't think there is one. Why, are you holding one?" He said if I had one over 15 pounds, I might be able to get it in the record books. I kept the biggest one I caught and put it on ice. It weighed a little more than 18 pounds on our scale.
We continued to catch and release several smaller fish, even catching my first catfish on the fly rod. Later I had the fish weighed on an official certified scale. Since they are not listed as a species present in Carters, there was some talk with DNR about where I caught it.
Over the years, I have noticed that most bass anglers and my clients in general, agree there is nothing more exciting than watching the water explode in response to the action of a top-water lure. Enticing a surface strike requires you to get their attention. Among top-water lures few, if any, come close to creating the attention and surface disturbance, as does the buzz-bait!
First of all is the proper equipment! I use and outfit my clients with 7'0" to 7'6" Heavy Action Duckett Micro Magic rods; with either a 6.4.1 or 7.1.1 LEW's Speed Reels spooled with 50-65 pound test Vicious Braid. Having a fast reel with a strong rod and line is a must when fishing Buzzbaits.
There are several ways to entice that explosive big bite on top-water. Start by equipping yourself with Assassinator or Boogerman Buzzbaits, they are just the ticket! The unique splashing, sputtering, and gurgling commotion created by a buzz-bait is very hard to resist, even for a bass that is being lazy. In addition to reinforcing the worth of this time proven big bass catcher; here are some pointers which should help improve your strike and hook-up percentages with a buzz-bait.
As with any lure, successful bass catching requires us to make adjustments in our presentation until we hit the one the bass seem to be most responsive too. Employing a buzz-bait is no different. I prefer 3/8oz or 1/2oz. buzz-baits made of high quality materials that can take a beating from the largest of fish and hold together. Worn-in lures tend to produce a squeaky noise which I believe gives the lures added appeal. One of the "noise" enhancing modifications I like to make is to bend the blade arm slightly downward so that the blade ticks the shaft or head as it rotates. Another is to drill several holes in the blade so that it emits a "bubble" trail as it moves across the water.
Learning how to present your lure properly is simply a matter of practice and trial/error each day you're on the water. One day it may be a fast (burn) retrieve and the next it might be just fast enough to keep the lure chugging along the surface of the water. It is important to engage your reel just before the lure hits the water. Doing so removes any slack from your line and allows you to start your retrieve before the bait has a chance to sink. During the retrieve, I hold my rod tip up which keeps the bait in proper contact with the water but not so high as to lift the bait from the water or prevent me from generating a solid hook set. Steer the bait into objects such as logs, lily pads, docks or rocks. Some of the best action can be just as the bait deflects off an object. As the bait approaches to the boat, I gradually lower my rod tip thereby allowing the bait to maintain proper contact with the water. Use caution in the last ten feet of your retrieve, a fair amount of the time fish will follow your lure all the way back to the boat and try to take it from you at the last minute. It's always a good idea to figure eight your lure just prior to loosing contact with the water.
Colors, I prefer white, black/red best in clear water; in stained water I have been known to tie on a combination chartreuse/ white, chartreuse/ blue or the famed Guntersville Red. My color choice is usually predicated on the light conditions, water clarity and time of the year. One other aspect that can make a huge difference is the "Delta Blade" or "Prop" as many know the varying the color from polished aluminum to a black or gold can make all the difference in your fishing trip.
Lastly, let's talk lure make up of the Boogerman and Assassinator Baits. Both are custom made in the USA with premium materials one lure at a time. The heads are turned side which adds lift and allows the lure to be worked slower on the surface. The delta blade is constructed so that the wire passes through the blade, verses only attaching at the top and bottom. The wire of the is a durable stainless steal .042. The Assassinator primary wire has a 45 degree bend which provides for a better hook up ratio and can handle the biggest of fish, whether it's a mother of all bass or one of those giant toothy creature Muskies from the North Country. The Boogerman has to be one of the noisiest buzz baits on the water. By simply adjusting the "Delta" blade to strike the head of the lure you can draw bass from depths of 6 foot or better in the thickest of cover. This is especially effective when there is a slight wind causing a 2 to 5 inch chop on the water.
A new study that examined the survival rates of 12 different shark species when captured as bycatch in commercial longline fishing operations found large differences in survival rates across the species, with bigeye thresher, dusky and scalloped hammerhead being the most vulnerable. The study, led by researchers at the University of Miami, provides new information to consider for future conservation measures for sharks.
Researchers analyzed more than 10 years of shark bycatch data from the western Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico longline fisheries. Some species, such as the tiger shark, exhibited over 95-percent survival, whereas other species' survival was significantly lower, in the 20- to 40-percent range, such as night sharks and scalloped hammerheads.
"Our study found that the differences in how longline fishing is actually conducted, such as the depth, duration and time of day that the longlines are fished can be a major driver of shark survival, depending on the species," said lead author Austin Gallagher. "At-vessel mortality is a crucial piece of the puzzle in terms of assessing the vulnerability of these open-ocean populations, some of which are highly threatened."
The researchers also generated overall vulnerability rankings of species taking into account not only their survival, but also reproductive potential. They found that species most at risk were those with both very slow reproductive potential and unusual body features, such as hammerheads and thresher sharks. The researchers suggest that high at-vessel mortality, slow maturity and specialized body structures combine for the perfect mixture to become extinction-prone.
The study, titled "Vulnerability of oceanic sharks as pelagic longline bycatch" was published online in the open-access journal Global Ecology and Conservation
Catching a cooler full of seatrout can sometimes be downright easy. Catching just one gator trout heavier than 5 pounds is a different story. If you want to catch gator trout consistently, you've got to target them.
The size at which a trout becomes a "gator" is a source of debate. Most anglers get excited about an individual heavier than 5 or 6 pounds. On the other hand, anglers who have learned to target truly large seatrout are looking for that lifetime fish that stretches a tape 28 to 30 inches or longer. Just to put it all in perspective, the IGFA All-Tackle World Record weighed a whopping 17-pounds, 7-ounces. It was caught on Florida's Atlantic coast at Fort Pierce, Fla. in 1995.
Florida's Atlantic coast appears to be the national hotbed for giant trout. But regardless of where you fish in the spotted seatrout's range throughout the Gulf and all the way up the East Coast to Massachusetts, larger individuals of the species show the same tendencies.
Once trout get big enough that their diet shifts from mostly shrimp to mostly finfish, they become more solitary. That's not to say there won't be a few large trout hanging out together. They are ambush predators and lazy by nature. They like current, where tides bring a continual buffet to them, and seek out structure or cover to hide and nearby deep water for escape from predators. During the summer months, the edges of sandy potholes on grass flats are prime habitat. Drop-offs, cuts, docks, bridges and jetties will also hold big trout. A key is these areas also attract bait.
Shrimp is the most widely used bait for seatrout, and it'll catch the big ones when presented right in front of their noses. But when shrimp aren't running, an angler is better off fishing with a larger protein package. Finger mullet or pinfish in the 5-inch range are big bait that will tempt a gator out of inertia. However, taking a big trout's skittish nature into account, artificials might be an even better idea.
In the shallow waters they inhabit, boat wake, vibrations through the hull or even water movement caused by a rocking vessel are enough to spook an old trout into lockjaw. For this reason, sight fishing for them is not as effective as blind casting. Artificials like 5- to 6-inch jerkbaits and big soft plastics can be cast long distances repeatedly with little fuss. Large gurgling or popping topwater plugs are another good option, and the added commotion draws attention. By making long casts, you lower the risk a gator trout will sense you before you can put a bait in front of it. By the same token, wading or fishing from an inconspicuous vessel like a kayak are good ways to sneak into the shallows where big trout live.
Some final pieces of advice for targeting gator trout: Fish during low light or at night when they feed the most. A lighted dock should not be passed up. Find areas that are tough to access, where fishing pressure is limited, and slow down your presentation to keep the bait in the strike zone longer.