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The Thanksgiving Fishing Forecast

November 25, 2008

If your trip over the river and through the woods takes you to New York City for the holiday weekend, be thankful that big striped bass have shown up to the beaches of the big city. According to Karl Anderson at Urban Angler in Manhattan the cows came home this week. Karl had reports of big bass feeding on schools of herring and smaller fish stacked up on the beach chasing silversides and rainbait.  While boaters are targeting the bigger fish by trolling umbrellas, spoons, and plugs surf anglers are scoring smaller bass with Hopkins spoons and bucktails. Karl said that the best way to get a bite is to attach a teaser fly with an 18 inch piece of 15-pound test leader material. He reports that the fish are stacked up from New York Harbor to Fire Island. To reach the fish, take the subway to Flatbush then hop on the Q 35 bus to Fort Tilden. “The bus drops you off right on the beach,” he said.  When we asked Karl if people on the bus look strangely at a guy with waders and a fishing rod, he said, “Not in New York City.” Meanwhile, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut headboats are targetting blackfish and sea bass with reckless abandon. They are, afterall, THE best-eating fish that swim!

SouteastThanksgiving is a traditional time of harvest and Virginia anglers are reaping the rewards of a bumper crop of striped bass this week. While most anglers were busy catching school-sized fish around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, a few lucky fishermen sneaked off and caught the first big bass of the season. Guys casting Windcheater plugs and Storm shad caught 18 to 30 inch fish on the rockpiles and bridge pilings. However, the biggest bass were taken by crews drifting live eels under bobbers off Cape Charles and Kiptopeke State Park. When the current went slack and the striper stopped biting, savvy anglers turned their attention to catching tog on the islands and pilings with chunks of crab or clam. The boats that ran offshore found the first big bluefin of the season at the Rick’s Wreck while the guys who stuck to the skinny water continued to catch trophy speckled trout in the Elizabeth River. Virginia anglers have a lot to be thankful about this Holiday season. 

SouthNew Orleans anglers are bringing new meaning to the words “Happy Thanksgiving.” That’s because the first giant yellowfin tuna arrived to Midnight Lump this week. Captain Lee McLean at said that the best of the tuna action is still a month away, so he’s focusing on chasing wahoo at the offshore oilrigs. “The first full moon and the next cold snap should really kick off the wahoo fishing,” he said. To catch wahoo, McLean trolls highspeed plugs like Marauders at the rigs in 250 to 300 feet of water. A recent bout of bad weather has made offshore fishing tough, so McLean has been chasing sea trout around Venice. “Trout fishing is stupid right now,” he said.  He told us that he fishes the cuts along the river channel with a live shrimp on a Carolina rig. “I’m not even a trout guide and I caught 150 of them in three days,” he said. 

MidwestA good way to burn off some holiday calories is chasing bass and crappies around Kansas City, Missouri.  Gary McDonald at Atomic Bait and Tackle said that fishing for these species has been very good in Lake Constellation, Smithville, and Mozingo.  “If I had to choose one lake,” he said, “I’d go to Mozingo.” Gary said that his customers report steady action on largemouth bass in 10 to 12 feet of water using ¼ ounce jigs. He suggests looking for the fish around brushpiles in coves or on the lake’s points. Crappie fishing has also been good in Mozingo. Gary said that bottom bouncers are catching limits of slabs with live minnows on a jig or a Carolina rig. He says that the crappies seem to be concentrated in 18 to 20 feet of water with some of the best action coming around the dam. 

WestLake Tahoe is a perfect place to spend a holiday weekend. Crisp air, warm fire, falling snow, good friends, and fishing! While the ski season is only a snow storm away, anglers fishing the lake are catching limits of trout. Captain John Shearer at Tahoe Sportfishing Company told us that the Mackinaws are stacked up on the humps in 100 to 200 feet of water. John is rigging live minnows with treble hooks and trolling them behind down riggers. “We’re finding schools of fish that are 20 to 30 feet thick,” he said. Sounds like Tahoe anglers will be eating trout for Thanksgiving dinner.—Ric Burnley

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Recent News

  • November 7, 2008

    Where to Fish This Weekend!-1



    Now that the election is over, anglers in battleground states can concentrate on battling some big fish this fall. According to Jim Bender at Lower Forty Outfitters ( in Worcester, Mass, November means fishing the Swift River. As other rivers in New England begin to glass over with ice, the tailwaters of the Swift will remain open to anglers. “We’re catching rainbows, browns, and brookies,” he said. The water is clear and the fish are wary, which means using 12-foot leaders down to 7X and small midges and emergers. Anglers will find easy access to the river by parking on the west end of Rt. 9. “We can fish through the end of January,” he said, “that’s when it gets really brutal.” Jim also had reports about a run of land ocked salmon on the Sillwater River. He recommends fishing after a rainfall with bright streamers. “Look for the salmon on gravely areas of the river,” he said, “the best bite has been at the confluence above the reservoir.” 

    The presidential election wasn’t the only contest on angler’s minds this week. Bill Dibble at Dance’s Sporting Goods ( outside Richmond was concerned about the 2008 Bass Casters Invitational Tournament on the James River. Bill targeted the creeks along the Appomatics River focusing on deadfalls with crankbaits and spinner baits. Bill’s biggest fish was over 3 pounds and his stringer weighed 9 and a half pounds, but it wasn’t enough to beat the first place team’s 11-pound catch.  “We had the right fish on, but we lost him,” Bill resigned. He said that the winning team was using the same tactic on a different part of the river. There are also good numbers of striped bass mixed in with the bass. Reports that catfishing is starting to get good around Dutch Gap at the Benjamin Harris Bridge.  Soaking chunks of herring in the deeper channels of the River for big channel and blue cats will keep VA anglers warm through the winter. 

    So, what’s a candidate to do after the election? Go to Disney World, of course. Besides the Tea Cups and Pirates of the Caribbean, Orlando offers some excellent opportunities for fresh and salt water fishing.  Captain Rich Thomas at Bitters Bait and Tackle ( has been heading to Mosquito Lagoon and chasing speckled trout. “This is the time of year when the speckled trout action heats up as the weather cools,” he told us.  Rich looks for the fish to push into shallower water as the water temperatures drop. He suggests launching a boat at River Bridge Park or Haul Over Canal and fishing a fluke or skip shad. Sweet water fishing should also improve as the water gets cold. He reported that anglers are finding steady action on largemouth in Lake Toho and the Harris Chain by working crankbaits and big rubber worms on the grassy points and sharp edges. 

    Once the acceptance speeches and victory parties are over, the President-elect can load his family into the wagon and head out of Chicago for some fly fishing. Jon Uhlenhop at Chicago Fly Fishing Outfitters ( suggested that the president and his men head to the Milwaukie River to fish for steelhead, lake trout, and browns. “How you fish the river depends on the water flow,” Jon explained. When the water is low, he suggests dead drifting nymphs, egg patterns and leaches. “Brown trout love chartreuse,” he points out, “while steelhead love Oregon cheese egg patterns.” When the water is running high, Jon switches to swinging.“Look for moderate current to perform a controlled swing over an area,” he says. Jon likes streamers in natural colors. “Top producers are olive or olive brown and black and red or black and purple,” he said. Jon added that there is plenty of parking and easy access at Estabrook Park off Capital Drive. “There is almost 2 miles of river to fish and it never feels crowded,” he said.   

    Nothing makes a person feel better than catching a fish. To pick up their spirits after loosing the election, the challenger and his people may want to get out of town and do some fishing. Aaron Lambert at Fisherman’s Choice Pro Shop ( in Phoenix recommends running up to Lake Alamo or Havasu and taking his frustration out on largemouth bass. At Lake Alamo, Aaron has been pitching Sweet Beaver soft plastics and a ¼ to ½ ounce tungsten weight at downed trees.  He’s found the best results with the colors “white trash” and “sprayed grass.”  He said that anglers working ¼ to ½ ounce football headed jigs and Hula grubs along the rocky shoreline at the dam are also catching good numbers of largemouth.  Lake Havasu is even farther from Phoenix, and the fishing is a little better.  “The cool thing about Havasu is that the striper are starting to go crazy,” he said. Aaron has been catching striped bass under working birds with a Lucky Craft Pointer 100. When the birds aren’t working, Aaron says you can find the striper by looking for the boats that are dragging anchovies off Windsor beach. While everyone is fishing for striper, Aaron will go off and look for largemouth. “Sometimes we’ll go up the river and pitch and flip Flapping Hogs at the tulies,” Aaron said.  

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