February 29, 2008
By Ric Burnley
From icefishing in the Northeast to big stripers out West, fishing action is beginning to heat up around the country.
Yellow PerchWhen we called Rich Greenough of Sure Strike Charters, he had 30 special-needs kids fishing for yellow perch on the ice covering Lake Champlain. “Fishing has been slow,” he said, “but the kids are riding 4-wheelers and eating hotdogs so their happy.”
The event was organized by Hunters, Anglers, and Trappers of Vermont. Greenough expects the perch fishing to explode in the coming week. As the water warms, the fish will school up and anglers will get a great opportunity to catch perch on live minnows fished from both tip-ups and hand lines. Watch the ice conditions carefully. “We’ve had three thaws and the pressure ridges are dangerous,” Greenough says, warning fishermen to stay 50 feet from any cracks in the ice.
In addition to the perch, salmon are coming to the inland sea and there are a few walleyes starting to show along with northern pike in the shallows.
Cobia As if sailfish, dolphin, blackfin tuna and king mackerel weren’t enough, Bill Broach at Bud and Mary’s (www.budnmarys.com) told us that cobia have joined the party off Islamorada. “The offshore boats found cobia roaming inside the reef today,” says Broach. S
kippers key in on the cobia accompanying huge rays just below the surface of the water. “Cast a live grunt or pinfish,” he said. “Cobia will eat almost anything.” Broach adds that cobia have made a showing on the Gulf side of the island, too. “Guys who run far enough on the backside are catching them,” he said.
In the Gulf guides usually find cobia while targeting other fish on the reefs, holes and wrecks. “Cobia will swim right to the boat,” Bill said.
Crappies“Now is a good time to catch a lot of crappies,” reports Larry Burchfield at Outdoor Adventures Guide Service (www.larrys-guideservice-com). Burchfield says that these thick panfish are getting ready to spawn. “They’re moving toward the coves,” he said, explaining that the schools are still holding in open water (between 8 and 12 feet deep) but will soon move into the shallow coves. Currently, he’s finding the fish around area bridges by slow trolling a spread of rods rigged with an 1/8 ounce jig and a live minnow. “As I came to work this morning there were six boats fishing along the Route 69 Bridge,” he said.
Burchfield also recommends that anglers look for crappies at Blocker Bridge and the Interstate 40 span. “The Gentry Creek arm of the lake has been very popular,” he said. “There will be 40 boats there today.” The water is dirty in the north part of the lake, so Larry suggests anglers use dark-colored jigs. “Chartreuse and black, pink and black, or pumpkinseed are the hot colors,” he says.
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February 28, 2008by
If you handle your own boat and also like to fiddle at the computer, you’re going to want to check out Mad Mariner’s new offering called The Docking Game.
It’s an Internet-based video game whose challenge is for you navigate your electronic boat into floating docks, T-heads, fingers piers and such. You use keyboard arrows to navigate your boat, and must avoid hazards (other boats, buoys, shallows). While you’re navigating, little surprises come up like waves, traffic, wind gusts, darkness, marine life.
First two times a tried it, I first crashed, and then ran out of gas—but then I don’t play video games. Things are improving.
You get free low-level playing but if you want a higher level experience, you can opt for a 30-day free trial after which you need a paid subscription.
www.madmariner.com/docking_game Or give a call at 888-256-5011.
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February 28, 2008by
Venice, Louisiana Captain gets weird double-header.
It’s been a weird year on Midnight Lump off the Louisiana coast in the Gulf of Mexico. Late winter is usually the best time to catch a 200-pound yellowfin tuna on the submerged seamount 44 miles off Venice. But this year, the tuna never showed. Captain Kevin Beach of Reel Peace Charters was one of the first to leave the lump in search of greener pastures.
“The fish didn’t check their calendar this year,” he says, “we’re already in our April pattern.” Blame it on El Nino or La Nina, but last Tuesday, Beach was slow-trolling a pair of live blue runners off an oil rig 20 miles out of South Pass when his weird year got even weirder. “We had a 300-pound mako come up on the short line,” he says. The fish grabbed the bait and disappeared. Beach kept the drag loose, knowing that they had little chance of landing a toothy shark on fluorocarbon leader. While the angler let the fish swim off, Beach prepared another bait on a wire leader. “I noticed that the long bait was sinking,” he recalls, “I figured the shark had grabbed that bait, too.” Wrong.
That’s when a 300-pound blue marlin exploded out of the water. “I was absolutely shocked,” Beach says. Once he regained his senses, Beach asked his party if they wanted to catch a mako or a blue marlin. The crew voted marlin. Beach broke off the shark, and chased down the billfish.
“It put on a beautiful aerial show,” he says. After a 15-minute fight, Beach released the huge marlin. This is the third year in a row that Beach, has caught the first blue marlin of the season. “This is the first time we’ve caught one this early,” he says. Once the marlin was safely on his way, Beach went back to fishing. His party ended the day with 4 yellowfin, several blackfin, a limit of amberjack, and a grouper.
“I told the guys, we might as well go in now,” Beach says, “because it isn’t going to get any better than this.”
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February 22, 2008by
Here's a list of what's going to be biting this weekend, and where.
By Ric Burnley
Ice fishing is red hot in New England. Anglers are already scoring some huge northern pike and, as the ice breaks up, the bite will really take off. Captain Blaine Anderson (www.fishingct.com) told us that several 40-inch fish topping 20 pounds have been pulled through the ice. “It’s close to spawning time,” he said, “as the ice clears anglers will find these fish in the coves and backwaters of the Connecticut River.” Guys are finding fish through the ice that are upwards of 20 pounds 40 inches. As ice dissipates, Anderson suggests that anglers look for pike in shallow water adjacent to the weed beds where the fish will be spawning. “Any place in 3 to 8 feet of water with weeds will be a real good bet,” he says. Swimming plugs such as Huskie Jerks and Xraps work well as do Bombers. You may think that these baits are too big, but they’re not this time of year.
Catfish anglers love cold weather. But this winter’s warm spells have thrown the fish and the fishermen for a loop. “Cold water keeps the fish bunched up in specific locations,” explains Scott Wood of www.catfishingmagazine.com, “but this winter the weather has been warmer and the fish have been moving more.” So Scott and his cronies have had to change their tactics to keep up with the cats. “We used to fish a hole for 15 minutes before moving,” he says, “now we give it an up to an hour.” Instead of finding fish holed up in one location, he hopes to intercept them as they move through the river. Wood has been catching big cats on Virginia’s James River and its tributaries with fresh chunks of gizzard shad. “Look for bait marks and the fish will be under them,” he said.
It’s lunker season in Lake Fork, Texas. “We’re catching a lot of great big fish right now,” Pro Guide Larry Barnes (www.lakeforkfishingguide.com) reports. Since the fish are pre-spawn, most of these bass are between 5 to 8 pounds. “We’re already starting to catch a few double-digit fish,” he said. Until the fish move onto their beds, Barnes’ anglers are throwing Rat-L-Traps, spinnerbaits and jigs. He’s also fooled big bass by rigging Lake Fork Tackle worms wacky style. “Right now, we’re finding the fish along the grass lines and creek channels,” he says. Once the fish move onto their beds, he’ll start throwing more plastics like a lizards and tube jigs. “We’ll still use Senkos, too,” he adds. Barnes expects the fish to begin spawning by mid-March. Currently, the bass are a little finicky with the best bites coming on warm, cloudy days. “Last week a front came through and brought rain and the fish went nuts,” he says. “Once the fish start spawning, as long as the weather lets you fish you can catch fish,” he says.
The weather sucks but the fishing is excellent off San Diego. Paul Lebowitz of (www.kayakfishingzone.com) reports that huge schools of squid floated off La Jolla Canyon getting the attention of big yellowtail and white sea bass. The fish got the attention of local anglers who were able to react quickly and land some impressive catches. “My friend and editor of Fish Rap, Brandon Cotton, landed a 61-pounder in the rain,” Lebowitz says. The abundance of squid has allowed anglers to catch their own bait on the scene. “I’m not sure how long the bite will go on,” he adds. Once this run ends, Paul is keeping his fingers crossed that the fish will return in a few weeks.
“Sturgeon fishing has been excellent,” reports Dennis Hull at Bite Me Guide Service (www.nwfish.com) in Keizer, Oregon. Hull says that there are good numbers of big fish on the Willamette River, but he’s had to work to find them. “The weekend warriors are having a hard time,” he admits, “but there are plenty of fish in the River.” Hull says that the key is finding fish that want to bite. “Keep moving until you find them,” he recommends, adding that anglers may have to move several miles to find the right stage of the tide. “You can’t rely on your favorite hole,” he explains, instead, he tells anglers to search for the fish with a fish-finder. “I go through a systematic bait rotation—smelt, squid, shrimp, herring, and anchovies—until I find what the fish want to eat.” If the sturgeon still won’t bite, Hull moves to another spot. “We hammered them last weekend,” he says. To target sturgeon, Dennis uses a sliding sinker from 12 to 24 ounces on 50 to 65-pound super braid on a 9-foot rod. “When they’re being sneaky, the lighter steelhead rods are better,” Hull says, “If the fish bites and feels a broomstick they won’t stay with it.”
CHECK OUT OUR GALLERY OF COOL FISHING PICS HERE
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February 21, 2008by
I get reader letters about fish kills in small lakes and ponds on a regular basis, and now here’s something that can help prevent such heartbreakers. If you’re lucky enough to have permission to fish a private pond or small lake, you should let the owner know about this product. And if you’re even luckier and own such a small fishing water, you’ll be excited about how this invention is going to maintain your considerable investment—both in money and hard work building up the fishery.
A bit over three decades ago BASS founder Ray Scott experienced a massive fish kill on his private bass and panfish pond. Scott told me how, after his fish had been pushed into a thin band of oxygenated water near the surface after days of hot, windless weather, a cold wind blew in, mixing the top layer with zero oxygen lower water. There just wasn’t enough oxygen left in the lake. Scott was greeted in the morning with the horrible sight of nearly all of his fish floating belly-up.
From that day Scott began devising a mixing device. You can’t call it a simple aerator that merely bubbles the top water layer. It’s a kind of pump with an enclosed fan at the top that forces the surface water down, and the low oxygen water up. Though Scott admits his first devices were crude, he kept fiddling with the system and finally went to a manufacturer that specializes in water circulators, de-icers and similar items. Their engineers refined Scott’s concept and the result will become available in March.
It’s called the Lake Life Pump. The accompanying diagram shows how it works. It’s far from being inexpensive, but for those who already have a considerable investment in a small fishing water, it’s well worth investigating.
The Prescott, Wisconsin-based manufacturer is Kasco Marine. Check it out for yourself.
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February 19, 2008by
Hi Jerry... I just wanted to take a moment to comment on the Doug Hannon Wave Spin reel..
With a full-time desk job during the day, the only time I can make it out on the water is in the darkness of night-time fishing.. a scenario that makes for tough fishing when you get wind knots that you can't see in the dark. I take out many novice anglers and non-fishing savy friends and I find myself handing them this Wave Spin reel for fishing at night because I dont get the wind-loop problems like I've had with other reels. I'm not an engineer and I dont know how or why this reel reduces those wind loops but I dont care.. it works, and its given us more time to fish rather than spending the time in darkness trying to untangle spectra knots. Great product, good drag that lands big fish like this tarpon. And when it comes time to changing the line on the reel its a breeze with the spool-separation capability.
The angler in the photo, Gus Pedrayes, caught this nice tarpon off Miami early Monday morning. His first tarpon ever.. on the reel.
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February 15, 2008by
Even as I comb the interesting new records granted by organizations like Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame and IGFA, our readers keep sending photos of really good fish—some of which have special meaning for them. Here’s a look at some that caught my eye, plus others from the record guys.
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