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Kayak Anchors | The Top 3 Options for Kayak Anchors

Featured Image Credit: Scott Beutjer Fishing

One of the biggest advantages to fishing from a kayak is the opportunity to fish spots that boats cannot reach. While this is a big advantage, kayaks also tend to be more susceptible to any wind that may be in the area. When sight-fishing it’s essential that your kayak is able to stay on the spot, giving you the right vantage point and out of a fish’s sight. The most effective way to do this is with kayak anchors. 

Traditionally when we think of an anchor, we picture big pieces of metal that are tossed over the side of a boat making a big splash. For kayak anglers, there are plenty of options that are more subtle, light-weight, and easy to manage. Here’s my top three.

Kayak Anchors: Power-Pole Micro Anchor

For years, Power-Pole has been a major player in the bass boat industry, reconceptualizing the concept of an anchor. A Power-Pole is essentially an electric motorized stakeout pole. The original version was designed to keep bass boats in place while fishing. Fast forward a few years later and Power-Pole adapted this technology for kayaks and other small boats. 

The set up is really straight forward. All you have to do is attach the base to your kayak and run a power wire or connect the optional battery pack and you’re ready to go. The Power-Pole Micro Anchor is by far the most expensive option on this list but if you ever get a chance to ask someone who owns one, they’ll confirm it’s worth every penny.

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Cory Dreyer on the water waiting to deploy his PowerPole Micro anchor. Image Credit: Scott Beutjer Fishing

The major advantage to the Micro Anchor is the quiet operation and wireless remote. Using a remote prevents anglers from having to deal with ropes and other areas to tie-down and with a click of a button your kayak is secured on a spot. The stakeout pole is designed well and is extremely strong and durable.

Kayak Anchors: K4x Kayak/Canoe Anchor

The K4x Kayak/Canoe anchor is specifically designed with the fishing kayak in mind. This anchor is extremely lightweight and folds up to avoid taking up too much space on a kayak. Weighing in at under 2-pounds, the K4x is designed to dig into the ground underwater and keep you securely on a spot. 

This anchor option is extremely effective when using an accessory such as an Anchor Wizard which makes deploying and retrieving an anchor extremely easy. Simply wind the handle to bring the anchor up and reverse to deploy it. The mechanism is very quiet and super simple to use.

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There are other options like the K4x, like the DaBomb anchor which operate very similarly when paired with the Anchor Wizard.

Kayak Anchors: Traditional Folding Anchor

This third option is on the list due to its simplicity and affordability. A folding anchor can vary in weight and comes in a 3-pound size that’s perfect for any kayak angler. Not only is this option super affordable but it’s also extremely simple to use. This option simply needs a rope and a tie-down point somewhere on your kayak. You’ll want to select this spot carefully to avoid having your anchor tip you over but other than that, it’s ready to go.

The beauty of kayak fishing is that it can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. Depending on your style and how you like to rig your kayak, there are plenty of options for you!

Bass Fishing Utah: Top 5 Places for a Weekend Trip

When you think about Utah, bass fishing is one of the last things that comes to mind. Utah is not known for world record-breaking bass or a destination you would travel to specifically for bass fishing. Utah is known for the gorgeous Uinta mountains and the best snow on earth! That being said, there are a few gems that hold some monster largemouth and smallmouth that make a great trip for bass fishing Utah! 

These few lakes and reservoirs hold some chunky fish and at the right time of year, you could be bringing one of these swamp donkeys into your boat. Bass fishing of any kind has recently grown immensely in Utah; specifically, kayak bass fishing. Kayak bass fishing in Utah has nearly tripled in size over the past year and is a rapidly growing sport. Through my experiences with kayak bass fishing, these are my top 5 destinations for bass fishing in Utah.

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Bass Fishing Utah: #5 Starvation Lake

Don’t let the name fool you, as this reservoir will do anything but starve you from an amazing bite. This 3,500 acre, heavenly bliss, is home to some of the biggest walleye and smallmouth in the state. This reservoir sits on the eastern side of Utah and hosts some of the most amazing camping and fishing adventures.

This large and deep reservoir harvests a healthy amount of 3 to 5-pound smallmouth bass. Starvation offers multiple terrains to fish from such as huge boulders to grassy flats. Fishing the flats with a ned rig and dropshot landed me multiple 18”+ smallmouth. While you will have to watch your surroundings for speed boats, Starvation hosts plenty of space for everyone to enjoy the fishing and activities all around the lake. 

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Bass Fishing Utah: #4 Lake Powell

While many might agree that Lake Powell should be listed as #1 on this list, as a kayaker, I list this amazing reservoir at #4. The winds and wakes can be treacherous at times and being in a kayak does not offer the best shelter. However, people travel many hours from all directions to vacation, fish, and spring break at Lake Powell. At 112-miles long, Lake Powell holds some amazing canyons to get lost in. 

To accompany this large body of water, Powell holds a wide variety of fish species, from smallmouth, largemouth, striped bass, walleye, catfish, etc. Many anglers come to this desert oasis for the incredible stripers.

This incredible fish could never discredit the fact that the Utah State Largemouth Record came from these exact same waters. In 1974, a beautiful 24.25”, 10 -pound, 2-ounce female largemouth was pulled from Powell and to this day, remains the Utah State record. Further proof of why many Utahn’s would call Lake Powell the #1 destination for bass fishing. Get to Powell as soon as you can and break this 45-year-old state record.

Bass Fishing Utah: #3 Pineview Reservoir

When you mention Pineview Reservoir to locals, tiger muskie is always brought up. Pineview is known for its 50” tiger muskie and people will travel far and wide just to pull one of those magical beasts into their boat. With all of the attention lying on the muskies, this relieves some pressure off of the large and smallmouth that are cohabiting these waters. 

This beautiful body of waters nestles itself in northern Utah and is surrounded by some of the most gorgeous mountains. Pineview offers deep and rocky walls to fish from by the dam and just opposite of the dam, you will find tons of trees, bushes, and foliage to flip and pitch in. These structures provide perfect housing for the large and smallmouth bass at Pineview.

You will sometimes find yourself in the middle of a school of largemouth but the shining star of this reservoir is most certainly the smallmouth in the shape of footballs. From crankbaits to wacky-rigs in 6” of water to drop-shotting in 40’ of water, you will find those powerful and aggressive bass. Pineview is the place to perfect every bass fishing technique. If you are lucky enough, you may even hook into a tiger muskie that will take you and your kayak on a sleigh ride.

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Bass Fishing Utah: #2 Sand Hollow Reservoir

This is arguably the best fishery in the state of Utah. Located in the very southern part of Utah, surrounded by sand dunes and red rock, Sand Hollow is a vacation destination for a multitude of reasons. While ATVs and off-road vehicles might be the loudest attraction at this state park, the largemouth fishing has really made a name for itself in the bass fishing world. Just like most lakes, you may only have a 2 fish day or you may have a 20 fish day. Either way, you will find quality fish at Sand Hollow. 

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This reservoir offers enormous red rock boulder islands with large cracks that house thousands of largemouth, crappie, and bluegill. Drop-shotting into these cracks can prove to be very rewarding. Trust in your electronics and find one of the many ledges around the perimeter of the lake and troll a crankbait along the ledge. You will find some huge largemouth that stage on those ledges, looking to ambush their prey. 

Utah does a great job at preserving the largemouth population here at Sand Hollow and it is proven with every trip that I make to the south. The lake does get extremely busy as it is only a 1,300-acre lake sitting on a 20,000-acre park. If you can wake up bright and early and get on that morning bite, you can have a 20-pound bag and be off the water by lunchtime. Just in time for all of the water skiers and jet skis to make their way on to the water. 

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Bass Fishing Utah: #1 Mantua Reservoir

Pronounced man-too-way, this small, 500-acre reservoir, has a special place in my heart. 10 years ago, a friend took me bass fishing for the first time at Mantua and I couldn’t have been more thrilled to pull up my first 3 to 4-pound largemouth. I was literally “hooked” after that day. I, along with many others, consider Mantua to be one of Utah’s best-kept bass fishing secrets. Located in a canyon, surrounded by green rolling hills and mountains in northern Utah, Mantua is by far, my #1 bass fishery in Utah

Mantua has an interesting ecosystem that is not seen in other Utah lakes. The lake is 70% lined with huge, mature trees that are submerged 2-4’ in the water. Flipping jigs or senkos at the base of these trees is almost a guaranteed bite. In the late summer, the weeds grow nearly to the top of this shallow lake. If you can paddle, pedal, or motor to a hole in those weeds, do yourself a favor and drop-shot straight down, or start the early morning off by fishing a frog and enjoy the amazing and constant blowups. 

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Prepare yourself for a severe case of bass thumb! Mantua will easily offer 50-60 fish days. It isn’t hard to find a school of 3 to 5-pound bass at any given part of the lake. Get out there early because it is well known that around noon, wind loves to howl through the canyon and can easily throw your fishing game off or even swamp your kayak with 4-foot rollers. 

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Bringing the kids along? That’s awesome because Mantua is also known for its plentiful state record-breaking sized bluegill. Throw a little jig or popper on and the kids will have fun for hours.

Mantua may not offer the largest bass in the state, but there is always a consistent amount of healthy-sized largemouth. This small reservoir has never failed to produce fish. The scenery is like nothing you’ve ever seen and is a “must” when fishing in Utah.

Bass Fishing Utah: Final Thoughts

Utah is definitely not known for its incredible bass fishing. Finding a double-digit is like finding a unicorn in our state, however, we do have some amazing fisheries that are worth checking out. Utah offers such diverse scenery from red rock deserts to snow-topped and green mountains. A multitude of species of fish can be found and caught here from bluegill to ginormous tiger muskies. If not for beautiful bass alone, come for the scenery and the experience. 

Always remember to protect and preserve our bass population. Feel free to keep your legal limit and throw the rest back so they can become larger for generations to come! Always wear your PFD and tight lines!

Football Jig Fishing and Learning Curves | Staying Versatile on the Water

A football jig is one of the best big bass baits out there. There is absolutely nothing quite like the thump of a jig bite. Don’t get me wrong, having a bass annihilate a topwater bait or load up like a stump on a crankbait gets my blood pumping too. But nothing makes me want to jack something’s jaw like a bass knocking slack in my line on a jig bite.

Traditionally, a football jig is best suited for colder weather. Not just the dead of winter but in particular the pre-spawn and early post-spawn. I’ve had some of the best fishing days and tournaments of my life fishing a football jig in Costa Series events on Lake Guntersville in February and Wheeler Lake in May. In this article, we’re going to take a look back at those events.

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Football Jig Fishing | Costa Series Southeastern Division: Lake Guntersville – 02/28/2013

On Guntersville, I was fishing rocky points and bluff walls with my football jig anywhere from 10 to 25-feet of water. There was a pretty good stain to the water and a decent amount of current. These two factors were key in my decision to go with a football jig. The current pushes the fish to the bottom where they are able to hide behind rocks and other pick-off points waiting for food to wash by. 

I believe the stained water also pushes the fish to the bottom where they don’t have to rely as heavily on sight to hunt. In swift, stained water, bass have a better chance of success when targeting crawfish moving along the bottom than they do chasing baitfish suspended in the middle of the water column. 

While I proved this theory on day one with 4 of my 5 fish for 26-pounds and 6-ounces coming on the football jig, I also proved it in a lot less exciting way on day two as I delivered 17-pounds and 5-ounces to the scales and my co-angler dropped near 20-pounds on an Alabama Rig. Both my co-anglers threw the Alabama Rig days one and two along with 90% of the competition back then. I fished the same places both days and tried to force the football jig but the current had slowed and the water clarity had improved quite a bit from day one. 

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Day one on the left and day two on the right… I was still catching some fish, but the bite certainly wasn’t as consistent on day two. 

Day one my co-angler only had a couple of bites. But my day two partner smoked me with the A-Rig and I was too stubborn and ignorant to adjust. I was reluctant to throw the A-Rig on principle and that arrogance cost me money and a shot at a top 10 as I fell to 15th for the event.

Video from Guntersville Costa Series

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Football Jig Fishing | Costa Series Southeastern Division: Wheeler Lake – 05/09/2013

For our final Costa Series event of 2013, we made our way to Wheeler Lake in north Alabama. I only had one full day to practice and decided to check the bluff walls right away. I wanted to go shallow since I knew there should be a few fish still trying to spawn but thought I had better rule out the bluffs first. The little shelves on the bluff walls of the river are perfect for smallmouth, spotted bass, and largemouth to move up from deeper water, spawn and then return to deeper water without having to travel far. Once I made it out to the river, I also noticed the water was moving and there was a pretty good stain, so you know what I went with. 

The great thing about a football jig is that it can be used to cover the whole bluff.

I would throw the bait up to the bluff wall and it would often land on a shelf anywhere from 1-to-5 feet deep. If I didn’t have a bite from a spawner, I would gently pull the bait until it fell from that first shelf to the next one a few feet further down. 

It was imperative to do this slow and easy so as not to move the bait far from the vertical bluff between the shelves. If you go and look at the aquariums at Bass Pro Shops, you’ll notice the bass hanging alongside the rocks and in little crevices in the bluff wall itself. That artificial habitat was created to mimic the very same style bluffs I was fishing. I would let my bait fall on a semi-slack line: slack enough so as not to pendulum the bait away from the wall but tight enough that I could tell when the bait stopped. Often times while doing this I would feel a thump or just see my line start swimming off to the side where a fish had bit the bait on the fall. 

On my one full practice day I got a few bites in the first hundred yards so I picked up my trolling and moved to another bluff. Two bites almost immediately. So I picked up and moved another ¼ mile. Another bite on my first or second cast. And almost all of the bites I was getting were 3-pounds or better. I sampled miles and miles of bluff wall that day trying to figure out exactly where the better concentration of bigger fish were and I had one of the best problems I’ve ever had fishing, I couldn’t dial anything in because they were everywhere. I was only setting the hook about every 4 or 5 bites but all the fish I was catching were solid with the occasional 4-to-5 pounder mixed in. I finally gave up after who knows how many bites and just elected to run around and fish as much water as I could on day one. 

Unfortunately, when day one came, the bite slowed way down. I was devastated.

There was no way I had hurt them by catching what I had caught along 6 or 7 miles of bluff wall two days prior. I tried to keep my bait in the water and not get rattled and run around too much but that proved difficult knowing all the places I had gotten bites the previous day. The water was still stained, the current was still on (though possibly not as strong and that may have been the culprit but I can’t say for sure). I scratched out 14-pounds and 1-ounce and ended the day well outside the top 10 with a quite nauseous feeling as though I had let a good tournament slip through my fingers. 

On day two I picked up where I had left off but the bite was still much slower than it had been on that magical practice day. With a little over an hour to go in the day, I made long run to the back of Elk River but as soon as I shut the boat off I knew I had made a mistake. It just didn’t feel right. 

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I ran back to the bluffs and caught three fish between 4 and 5 pounds in the last hour on the football jig to weigh 19-pounds and 11-ounces and finish the event in 18th. 

Looking back I’m still not sure what changed. I caught the fish late on day two up near the bluffs and beside laydowns, though I had fished those exact laydowns and several more like them during the tournament. I wasn’t as diligent about checking generation schedules back then as I am now and the most likely culprit was a change in current. 

I do remember catching a few fish when the bite was slow way off the bluffs in 20-feet of water near the boat. Perhaps they moved out and suspended and a jerkbait, spinnerbait, swimbait or scrounger would have been a better presentation when they weren’t biting the jig as well. Another learning experience where the main takeaway was that I needed to become more versatile. 

Video from Wheeler Costa Series 

Shaye’s Football Jig Gear

The rod and reel I used in these videos have been discontinued. My current big football jig setup consists of the following gear. 

Rod: Fitzgerald Rod Vursa Series – 7’ 6” Medium Heavy 

Reel: Lew’s Super Duty 7.5:1

Line: Seaguar InvizX 15, 17 or 20-pound test (Depending on cover and water clarity)

Jig: Nichol’s Football Jig 1/2 to 3/4 ounce (Depending on current and depth) 

Trailer: Strike King Rage Craw

Bass Pro Tour Stage 8: Recap with James Elam

ANGLR Expert and Major League Fishing pro, James Elam, capped the inaugural season of the Bass Pro Tour off with his first Top 10 finish, finishing 10th at Stage 8 in Neenah, Wisconsin. We sat down with Elam to discuss how his event transpired across a playing field that consisted of three fisheries.

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Bass Pro Tour Stage 8: What Was Your Mindset Going Into Stage 8 After a Tough Year? 

I’ve done this for 6 or 7 years now. No matter if I’ve come in last place in every single tournament leading up to it, when it comes to the last tournament of the year I’m not going to treat it any differently. I’m going to go and hit it as hard as I can. I don’t let the emotions get in the way. I wanted to do well in the last tournament of the year but I also wanted to do well in every tournament this year. 

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It just worked out in this last one.  

I had never been up there and this was a multi-venue tournament with three different lakes, so I just looked at all that and tried to plan for it. I really expected to catch smallmouth at Winnebago. The first day I got there, I noticed the water was pretty off-color and dark. It didn’t look good for smallmouth fishing. They’re in there, but it wasn’t a clear, zebra muscles and goby infested lake. It just didn’t look right for smallmouth fishing. So I thought it might be a safe deal to go fish for largemouth. 

Bass Pro Tour Stage 8: Practice 

In practice, I really pushed the smallmouth deal on Winnebago. But I would spend the first hour or so fishing for largemouth. I focused on the west side of the lake because it had a bunch of good largemouth habitat with bays, canals, docks and stuff like that. And it had a lot more reefs and shoals for the smallmouth to be on so I was able to pop in and out and do both. 

I fished a lot of reefs, points, shoals, and humps for smallmouth. I really pushed a tube and crankbait but never really got on a good concentration of smallmouth which is what you have to do for the MLF style format. 

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I could catch the largemouth pretty consistently up shallow in certain bays. I just figured I could take a swim jig, a frog, and a stick bait and catch fish in those bays.

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Bass Pro Tour Stage 8: Shotgun and Knockout Rounds – Lake Winnebago 

There were two bays right next to each other that had the best grass and good little backwaters and canals in them. I spent one morning in one and the next morning I spent in the other. You can catch those northern fish multiple times. So fishing behind someone didn’t bother me either. I actually caught two that I had broken off which was pretty interesting. That’s never happened to me down south. 

I had one place I was catching them out in the middle of this creek that had some current flow to it. The fish were out in the middle of the creek in some milfoil and pads. I stuck to the frog in there. Then I had a couple of docks I could catch some bass skipping that stick bait. Another big deal was the willow trees that would hang over and make shade. They’d be under there even if it was only six inches of water, for some reason they loves it up there under those trees. 

I had 3 places with reeds too. They were almost like sparse buggy whip type deals but I had one stretch in particular that had a ton of fish in it. I caught a lot of fish out of those both days. I had to slow down on the second day though because a lot of those fish had already been caught. 

Bass Pro Tour Stage 8: Elimination Round – Butte des Morts

The Elimination Round was on Butte des Morts. I looked at it hard but didn’t think many people were going to practice it so I didn’t either. I studied the lake though and tried to look at it similar to how I fish the Mississippi River. I looked for any little current breaks I could find or shallow water for the frog, swim jig, and stick bait type stuff I was running on Winnebago. 

I put a little game plan together and ran around a lot and did some of the same stuff I did at Winnebago. I started on 2 or 3 places that had pretty good current on them. I was trying to key in on those post-spawn fish. I also hit a few bays that had good grass and pads in them and frogged 1 or 2 fish out of each of those bays. 

But in the middle of the day, I started running out of good stuff to hit. I had already hit all the little obvious stuff where you could sit there and catch one or two, so I started running the shade lines again and caught 6 or 7 right there at the end of the day. 

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That was probably the most crucial decision I made all week. 

It was mostly a swim jig deal up in the shade lines. Earlier in the day, it was a swim jig and stick bait, and I think I might have caught 3 or 4 on a frog all day. But if I missed one on the frog I could throw that stick bait back in there as a follow-up bait and catch it… every single time. 

Bass Pro Tour Stage 8: Green Lake – Championship Round 

Green Lake was more of a smallmouth bite for sure. You could catch largemouth there, and they live there, but that lake was a different bite entirely. I would have been way better off if I had taken advantage of the 2-hour ride around on Green Lake during our practice days. Unfortunately, I had some stuff come up and wasn’t able to do that. But it looked like the typical northern smallmouth type deal where they’re going to live on those little rocky deals where there are some scattered boulders and stuff like that. 

So I pushed the smallmouth from the get-go. As soon as the sun got up I could see them spawning in about 8-feet of water and I caught some of them off the bed. You could see about 22-feet when it was bright, clear, and calm… that water clarity was amazing. Especially compared to the other two lakes where the water was more tannic looking like in Florida. I found two or three of the same areas Cliff Pace (the eventual Stage 8 Champion) found but I just wasn’t doing the right stuff and fell behind. 

Bass Pro Tour Stage 8: Looking Back

It was a fun year and exciting to breakdown some new lakes. We definitely went to some smaller puddles this year for sure and I liked that. Some of the best lakes we have in the country are medium to smaller lakes that can’t support huge fields. So that was pretty cool being able to go to these smaller fisheries like the North Carolina event and then up here in Wisconsin. 

Bass Pro Tour Stage 8: James Elams Gear

Frog Setup:

Lure – Molix Supernato Frog – black 

Rod – Shimano Poison Adrena – 7’ 2” heavy  

Reel – Shimano Metanium – 8.5:1

Line – Seaguar Smackdown – 50 pound test

Swim Jig Setup:

Lure – Molix Tenax Jig – 3/8 ounce black and blue

Rod – Shimano Expride – 7’ 2” medium heavy 

Reel – Shimano Metanium – 7.4:1

Line – Seaguar InvizX – 17 pound test

Stick Bait Setup:

Lure – Molix Sidus – green pumpkin/weightless  

Hook – Gamakatsu 3/0 EWG

Rod – Shimano Expride Spinning – 7’ 0” medium 

Reel – Shimano Stradic Ci4+

Line – Seaguar Smackdown Flash – 15 pound test 

Leader – Seaguar InvizX – 12 pound test

High School Fishing World Championship 2019 | Pickwick Lake Recap

Anthony Cicero IV and Dakota Snyder, seniors at Elizabethtown High School, brought home the win Saturday, June 22nd in the 10th annual High School Fishing World Finals on Pickwick Lake in Alabama. 

On the final day of the 3-day event, the team weighed in a total of 16 pounds 6 ounces of bass, topping the second-place finishers by over a pound and a half. Many of the teams were out deep on the ledges during the event, but the winning team found a shallow bite that ended up being the winning deal for them.

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High School Fishing World Championship: Qualifying for the Event

To qualify, anglers have to be apart of the TBF SAF (Student Angler Federation). The qualifying event for Anthony and Dakota was held at the Chesapeake Bay Flats in Northeast, Maryland. Known as Quad States (Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania), the qualifying event was held in July of 2018. The duo placed 2nd out of the teams from Pennsylvania at the event to qualify for the world championship. 

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This was Anthony’s second time qualifying and Dakota’s first tournament he had ever fished. 

High School Fishing World Championship: Arriving at Pickwick Lake

10-months after qualifying for the event, the duo arrived at Pickwick and had 3-days of official practice to figure out the bite over an 11-hour drive from home. As a coach and boater, Anthony’s father was allowed to fish with them during practice and help the boys make decisions and build their pattern for the event. 

Upon arriving, they tried to locate some ledge fish, but there were always boats where they wanted to fish, with 388 boats in the event, Pickwick Lake was crowded. With those conditions, the team had to switch it up. 

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“We never could locate a ledge bite like that so we decided to go shallow and hunt some grass.” 

They started off in some creeks, looking for grass, both shallow and deep. We fished around for a little while and finally settled on Mulberry Creek where Anthony had fished the year prior.

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High School Fishing World Championship: Mulberry Creek

“When we got to Mulberry, it was absolutely loaded with grass. Last year it was emergent, but this year it was tall and thick about 2-3 feet under the surface.” 

The team ended up catching one good bass out of the grass and then found some smaller fish as well, but it wasn’t exactly what they were after. On the last day of practice, they pulled in and found a brush pile right in the grass where the bass were schooled up. They caught a few two pounders and left to find more. 

The first day of the tournament, they rolled into Mulberry and Anthony and Dakota filled the boat right off of that brush pile with some 2 to 3 pounders. At Pickwick, they knew fish that size were not going to get the job done, so they ended up bouncing around to some smaller main lake coves to finish out their day. 

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They ended up finding some coves with a few better than average fish. 

At the start of the second day, they decided to stay out of Mulberry and went back to running their main river coves. The duo sacked up a limit on frogs and chatterbaits, but they didn’t feel that the coves would be productive the third day. 

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“We caught 5 but didn’t get many more bites. The second day was tough compared to the number of bites we got on the first day.” 

When Anthony and Dakota awoke on the third and final day of the tournament, Anthony had a feeling in his gut he chose to follow. “The morning of the third day, we figured we would run our spots like the first day, so we ended up in Mulberry early.”

The water had cleared up a little and they found that there was a log paired with the brush pile they had found. They ended up catching a few four pounders off of that brush pile before Anthony caught a 7-pound, 7-ounce bass. 

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Anthony’s father was a bit emotional when describing that catch. He said, “Once it was in the net, I knew it was over, they had it won.” The duo kept fishing after that catch but said they had a hard time not laughing and celebrating from time to time. “It was surreal to know we had it won, we just spent the day fishing around laughing and having a good time.”

High School Fishing World Championship: Frogs and Chatterbaits

We were throwing ribbit frogs along with a Z-man Jackhammer and Pheonix Chatterbait in green pumpkin with a Lake Fork Magic Shad trailer in Green Pumpkin. 

Back in the coves, we were throwing the frogs around matted grass. The chatterbaits we were running right over the grass that was just under the surface. In the very backs of the coves, we found some deeper pockets where the big fish seemed to sit which is what helped us get a solid bag on day two.

Scholarships and After High School Plans

For their victory, Anthony and Dakota won their choice of scholarship offers from Bethel University, Simpson University, and Kentucky Christian University.

Anthony was unsure about attending college until this win. “I might go to college now since we won,” he said. With such great universities offering a chance to attend, he said the hardest part now will be deciding which university to attend. 

Dakota plans to join the U.S. Marines after his upcoming senior year to serve his country. He feels lead to do so, so that citizens like himself can chase their own dreams, be it fishing, or whatever else it may be.

Bass Fishing West Virginia: Top 5 Places for a Weekend Trip

Growing up in the State of West Virginia has instilled in me a love of the great outdoors. Whether it’s hunting, fishing, hiking or just driving through our state, West Virginia has some of the best places in the country to enjoy nature and all its beauty. While I have always appreciated the beauty of the state, it wasn’t until the last few years that I have had a renewed, grander appreciation for the state that I grew up in. So, what gave me this renewed appreciation for the state that I already love? Seeing it from a different perspective, the view from the seat of my kayak, bass fishing West Virginia!

West Virginia has done a great job of offering access to see many spectacular locations such as state parks, trails, or other tourist attractions. In order to get a close-up view of some of the most breathtaking locations, there is no better way than slowing down and paddling through it in a kayak.

Over the years, I have been blessed with the opportunity to travel the state and see many locations while kayaking. Whether it be fishing in tournaments or camping and fishing with friends and family, I have had a front row seat to see the beauty of God’s awesome creation. While there are far too many to write about in one article, I want to share just a few of my “must see” locations.

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Bass Fishing West Virginia: Sandstone Falls

The first place and definitely one of the most breathtaking is Sandstone Falls on the New River in Summers County, WV. The first time I ever visited the falls was by walking out the Sandstone Visitor Center catwalk and viewing the falls from the various observation decks. 

Now, this is a great way to view and take in the beauty of the falls, but it wasn’t until a few years later when I put my kayak in and paddled up to the base of the falls that I truly appreciated the power and beauty of this location. 

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Standing at the pool directly below the falls where you can feel the sheer power and majesty is truly a special place that I will always cherish. It takes some work to get there, but it truly is worth the effort!

Bass Fishing West Virginia: South Branch, Potomac River

Another spot that holds a special place in my heart is the South Branch of the Potomac River near Romney, WV. This is a place that has been a part of me since before I could walk. I have baby pictures of me on the banks of that river with my parents and grandparents and now I have pictures of me with my wife and children at the same places. This truly is one of my favorite places on earth, and I make it a point to spend time there every year with my family and friends. 

One of my favorite trips to take on this river is through a section called the “Trough.” This is roughly a six-mile section of the river that carves through the Allegheny Mountains and is only accessible by either railroad or river. This section has some of the most beautiful scenery with deep pools, small rapids, numerous Bald Eagle sightings, and some great smallmouth bass fishing. There is truly no better way to fully appreciate this place than floating through it in a kayak.

Bass Fishing West Virginia: Greenbrier River

The third spot on my “must see” list is the Greenbrier River. The Greenbrier with its clear water, fun rapids, deep pools, incredible scenery, and great bass fishing is the kind of place that will leave you wanting more. This river was where my addiction to kayak fishing was born. I spent many years floating this river in a canoe, but once I took my first trip down in a kayak, I was hooked! 

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This river truly has it all, great fishing, rapids, deep pools, beautiful scenery, and numerous public access sites to suit any paddlers style. 

The river starts in the town of Durbin, WV and travels over 170-miles to empty into the New River in beautiful Hinton, WV. While the river is great fishing year round, Spring and early Summer provide the best water levels to enjoy this Mountain State treasure.

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Bass Fishing West Virginia: Tygart Lake

The number four spot on the list takes us to the town of Grafton WV. The Tygart Lake and the river which flows above and below the dam are one of the most overlooked spots in the state to fish. Tygart lake holds a healthy population of smallmouth bass as well as Largemouth, walleye, and Musky. Tygart is a Corps of Engineers flood control lake, so the lake levels vary greatly throughout the year. Due to this fact, most of the structure on this lake is rock. Aside from the many floating boat docks located throughout the lake, most of the quality fishing comes from scanning the lake with your electronics and locating deep drop-offs with rock structure which often holds numerous fish.  

Head below the Dam and the fishing in the Tygart river below the spillway is truly something special. The amount of 12 to 13-inch smallmouth is amazing in this area of the river. Spend a day floating down the river when conditions are right and you will catch a lot of nice smallmouth.  One of the other notable aspects of this part of the river is the high population of Musky. Most trips are awarded an exciting encounter with one of these river monsters.  

Bass Fishing West Virginia: Stonewall Jackson Lake

The final spot on my “must go” list is the Stonewall Jackson Lake. This lake has been famous for the quality bass fishing over the years. While the glory days of multiple 4 to 6-pound bass are rare, there are still a lot of big bass caught every year in this West Virginia destination. 

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This lake with over 2,600 surface acres of water features an amazing amount of quality habitat to grow big bass.  

Flooded timber is one of the most abundant targets for anglers on this lake.  Locating the old river bed, creek channels, and roadbeds can pay off big while fishing this lake.  Many no wake zones exist, which makes it a great place for the kayak angler as well as the bass boat crowd. Spend a few days exploring the waters of Stonewall Jackson and you will have a good chance at a true trophy bass.

These are just a few of the great places in West Virginia that are best viewed from the water. Next time you are looking for a place to get away and do some kayaking, head to West Virginia and see for yourself why we say, “Almost Heaven – West Virginia”.

Tarpon Fishing | Sarasota Tarpon Fishing with Captain Jim Klopfer

Written by: Captain Jim Klopfer

Sarasota offers visiting anglers several different fishing opportunities. They can fish the inshore flats for action and variety, target snook in the backwaters, or go offshore for grouper and snapper. However, those seeking the ultimate challenge will try their hand at tarpon fishing.  These fish average 75-pounds and tarpon up to 200-pounds are hooked each season. This is truly big-game fishing! 

This type of fishing is unique. There are plenty of places in the world where anglers can catch fish that weigh over one hundred pounds, however, there are very few opportunities to sight cast to fish that large using relatively light spinning tackle. 

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Tarpon are a beautiful fish that put up a spectacular fight, earning them the name “Silver King”.

Sarasota Tarpon Fishing Seasons

Tarpon show up off of the Sarasota beaches in early May. These are mature fish that migrate up from the Florida Keys as part of their annual spawning migration. Early in the season, tarpon are found in schools, known as “pods”. These schools can have a dozen fish, or two hundred fish. 

By late July, most of these schools have spawned and the pods have broken up. Fish can still be caught out on the beaches, though they do not show as often. Single fish and pairs of fish are more commonly encountered. By August, most of the tarpon have moved on.

Tarpon Fishing Tactics and Techniques

Tarpon fishing is as much hunting as it is fishing. Before a fish can be hooked, it must be found. Fortunately, tarpon have several behaviors which aid in this. They form up in schools and often swim up on the surface. They can be seen milling about, called “daisy chaining” as they swim in circles on the surface. They also are found moving in large schools.

Dawn is the prime time to find one of these schools milling on the surface. The water will be quiet and the fish begin moving at first light. It is important for anglers to be quiet and patient. As the sun climbs high in the sky, fish can be seen in the water, even if they do not show on the surface.

Boat positioning is key to making a good presentation. Anglers need to anticipate the movement of the school and then position the boat in front of them. Once in position, anglers cast live baits in front of them. Small crabs and hand-sized baitfish are the top live baits. Hopefully, a bite ensues. 

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Once hooked, most tarpon leap high out of the water several times.

Tarpon Fishing: Fighting a Giant Tarpon

The sight of a 150-pound fish leaping six feet out of the water, shaking its head angrily is awe inspiring! This often times happens close to the boat, which allows many tarpon to throw the hook on the initial jump. This is called “jumping a tarpon” and is almost as much fun as catching one. The stalk, the bite, and the jump are very exciting.

Once hooked, the best technique is to give the fish slack line when it jumps. This reduces the chance of it becoming unhooked. The tarpon will make long runs and more jumps. The angler should put as much pressure as possible on the fish during the fight so that the tarpon can be released unharmed. It is not fair to fight one for more than an hour or so. Also, it is against the law to lift the fish out of the water. 

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Anglers need to take a few minutes to revive the fish before it is released.

In conclusion, anglers contemplating a Sarasota fishing charter may choose to try for mighty tarpon. It is challenging, but the reward is the fish of a lifetime!

Tokyo Rig Fishing | A Tokyo Rig Breakdown with Flukemaster

We sat down with ANGLR Expert and bass knowledge treasure trove Gene Jensen (AKA The Flukemaster) to get his take on the Tokyo Rig. Here’s what he had to say about one of his new favorite bass fishing techniques.

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The Action of a Tokyo Rig

A lot of people think the Tokyo Rig is just a short leader dropshot, which it kind of is, but you don’t get the same action as you would from a dropshot. The action is just a little bit different. And it’s different enough to make a difference in the catch rate. 

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I went from fishing a dropshot down in Florida to a Tokyo rig and went from catching 2 or 3 an hour to 40 an hour. 

The difference to me is the weight itself goes down in the mud and keeps the bait up above the silt and gives the fish an easier target. Other than that, I can’t put my finger on it. All I know is the bass destroy it. A month later, my son had a high school fishing tournament on Lake Lanier with all spotted bass and he finished 6th fishing the Tokyo Rig. 

3 Ways to Apply a Tokyo Rig

You can do a lot with the Tokyo Rig. My favorite three applications for it so far are fishing grass lines, flipping docks and punching grass. I like to drag it up to grass lines and shake it kind of like you do a dropshot where you don’t move the weight and only move the bait. Or I’ll punch it like a normal punch rig but the difference is that it really does penetrate a whole lot easier than a regular punch rig. 

What I’ve been doing lately is fishing it under docks. It gets pretty silty under docks, especially post docks, but bass like to hangout around those wooden posts. If you throw a jig in there it’s going to sink right down in the silt where the Tokyo Rig is going to stay up above the silt. It still acts just like a jig but the bass can get to it a lot easier.

My favorite three style baits for it right now are some sort of creature bait like a Strike King Rage Bug, a Zoom Brush Hog or Baby Brush Hog and then a big worm. Larger profile baits. 

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You’re still kind of finesse fishing it but with bigger baits. 

I just kind of think of it as power finesse fishing. It’s really one of those things that I tell people you just have to try it. I just tried it one day and was amazed at how well it worked.

Gene’s Tokyo Rig Gear

Rod – 7’3″ Med Hvy Fate Black 

Reel – 8.1:1 Concept A 

Line – Seaguar AbrazX 

Lure – VMC Tokyo Rig 

Baits – Zoom Brush Hog or Baby Brush Hog & Strike King Rage Bug

 

A Video on How To Tokyo Rig with Flukemaster

KBF Southeast Region Trail Event On Lake Chickamauga Recap

Featured Image Credit: Scott Beutjer Fishing

122 anglers registered on TourneyX for the June 15th KBF Southeast Region Trail event with the hopes of catching some of the legendary bass from Lake Chickamauga. The tournament was co-sponsored by TVKA and KBFTN, two Tennessee kayak clubs, and allowed kayak anglers to launch from any public access point along its 20,790 square miles. Steve Owens, as he always will, did an excellent job of directing the event headquartered out of Dayton, TN.  

The week before the event found anglers catching fish just about everywhere; on about every technique. The weather was cooperating, slightly cooler than the area had seen, and the bite was good. Fish seemed to be in the creeks, in the bays and out on the main channels.  The only difference between the locations – size.

KBF Southeast Region Event on Lake Chickamauga: Pre-Fishing

Cody Milton, the second place finisher in the event (and first in the pro division), had been on the water since Wednesday trying to find the larger fish. He had found a great rate on an Airbnb with several other anglers that allowed him affordable extra days on the water.

“I like to fish at least a single day, but feel it takes two to three days to really understand what is going on. At Chickamauga, I launched from thirteen ramps during the three days before the tournament looking for hydrilla in clean water.”

He had ninety and one hundred inch days jumping between ramps before the tournament began but was still not sure which single location was ‘the one’.  “There was just not as much grass as last year”, so when a friend suggested he check out a spot just outside of a large bay with a channel swinging into it, he decided to give it a try late in the afternoon. Cody found grass in 7 to 9-feet and clear water, but there was a lot of boat traffic in the .3 mile stretch.  He left, still uncertain.

Kristine Fischer on the other hand pre-fished for two days, focused on two specific areas that landed her the win in the event.  Before arriving, she had eliminated deep water by looking at the weather, conditions, and the fact that they were not pulling much water to create current out deep. 

“I like to select just a few ramps and then expand on that area. I was debating on two launches Friday night still. I also try to avoid high traffic areas, i.e. Chester Frost. I look for areas with a lot of diversity – shallow sloughs – ledges, secondary points, docks, etc..”

These decisions helped her to find fish in the grass at a spot much farther north on Chickamauga than Cody, and gave her more confidence than her second choice; a place with two small areas holding fish.  With both producing on a Texas rigged creature bait with a one-half ounce weight.

“I caught the best fish at my second spot, but it would have been a, ‘put all your eggs in this basket’ type of spot.”

KBF Southeast Region Event on Lake Chickamauga: About The Top Two

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Kristine and Cody with Tournament Director, Steve Owens.

Kristine Fischer

There is never any doubt when you see Kristine Fischer’s name on the list for an event that she is going to be a contender. She has been fishing out of a kayak for eight years, tournament fishing for four but says that she has fished since she “popped out of the womb”.  I asked if she came from an outdoorsy family and she replied “absolutely, that’s all I knew growing up”.

She has even taken her passion for being outdoors on the road, spending her days traveling full time in an RV with AJ McWhorter. Renting her house back in her home state of Nebraska has allowed them to eliminate bills and save money to “do what we love”.

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“It has allowed me to learn the minimalist ways of life and be very happy with little”, but says that it also makes tackle shipments a bit more difficult.  

Like most consistent anglers at KBF events, it is easy to understand why they are at the top when you talk with them. Kristine is no exception  The passion, the determination to win, and her knowledge shows when you are lucky enough to share a ramp or conversation with her during a trip. She is even willing to help other anglers by encouraging them on bad days, sharing what might work at the next event.  

Kristine believes that her success is “a combination of tedious preparation and mental strength.  Being able to trust your instincts and not second guess yourself so you’re making the best decisions when the pressure is on. Just like with any sport, you can have all the talent in the world but if you’re not able to execute come game day, you’re very beatable”.    

Her strategies and hard work are paying off this year.  She has two national level wins, including a big win on Kentucky Lake in the Hobie BOS; securing her a spot in the Hobie Worlds for 2020.  Sponsors are also recognizing her talent with St. Croix Rods, Hobie, Ram Mounts, Cal Coast, Dakota Lithium, Westin and AFTCO getting behind her.

Cody Milton

Cody has been around tournament angling for most of his life, having fished with his dad (a professional angler himself) at many different lakes. Traveling with his dad afforded him the opportunity to fish as a co-angler and learn from some of the best.  On those occasions when he isn’t fishing, he is working with his family at their business(s) in Searcy, Arkansas. 

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If a conversation with Cody doesn’t leave you impressed with his knowledge of fishing, patterns, or techniques alone; ask him about technology, electronics and mapping.  

“I was around when the first side scans or the latest technology came out and spent a lot of time learning about them when I was 12-13”, and his education shows. We had an extensive conversation about the difference between maps and why he feels that Lakemaster is superior due to the method used to collect the data vs other maps. He taught me that Google Earth can be critical to learning more about seasonal patterns. I felt like I had just entered my freshman year of college and signed up for a 5000 level course in “how to fish” without taking any prerequisites or doing any required reading.

When asked what he thinks has helped him to be so consistent, he said “several things” but in the end feels that he rules out so many things before getting to the water.  He uses seasonal patterns to decide what will not work and starts studying maps long before the tournaments. He had been studying Chickamauga even before the Hobie BOS event on Kentucky Lake last month.  

“I try to find places, then I look for a ramp.  Using the Torqueedo helps!”  

He also gives some great advice on dissecting the water while pre-fishing for kayak anglers.  

“Look for extremes on every lake to understand it.  I found from 66-80 degree water while moving around on Chickamauga.”

All you have to do is follow Cody to know that it is paying off. The 2018 KBF AOY has taken a check in 11 straight events and doesn’t seem to be letting up at all.

KBF Southeast Region Event on Lake Chickamauga: Tournament Day

The weather was still cooperating and boat traffic was extremely heavy as Kristine decided to fish the spot where she found the most opportunity, not the largest fish. Her Texas rigged creature bait in the grass pattern held up to land 99.25 inches of bass. This left her 6.25 inches ahead of Cody and 6.75 inches ahead of Henry Veggian who had found enough fish for third on a topwater pattern, slinging a Pop-R all day.  

Cody caught his fish on a 1.25 Strike King Jig with a D-Bomb – punching grass on the main channel. He shared the spot with Mike Elsea (winner of the 2019 KBF National Championship), who managed a top ten. Mike was a full twelve inches behind the leader, but he finished well ahead of most of the field; with thirteen anglers not landing a scorable bass. 

The largest fish of the event was a 23 inch Chickamauga largemouth caught by Jason Broach, earning him big bass honors. 

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Spring Fishing Got You in a Slump? Here’s How to Bust Out

I should have known my Spring fishing was doomed the moment I answered this question at the end of a recent fishing presentation.

“You pretty much always catch something, right? Do you ever get skunked?”

My answer was honest. It does happen on occasion, I said, though I couldn’t recall the most recent skunking off the top of my head.

On my very next trip, the fishing gods served up a helping of humble pie as I returned home empty handed. It was a somber reminder that even diehard anglers get whooped from time to time.

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What Causes the Spring Fishing Slump?

Now that I think about it, most of my skunkings have happened in the Spring. Here in Idaho, like many places, sSpring is marked by unpredictable weather. Rain, wind, fluctuating water temperatures and river levels can make it hard to plan and execute your tried-and-true fishing strategies.

I followed up my goose egg trip with one that got canceled by storms and another that only produced tiny panfish. It was official… this was a slump. But slumps are made to be broken, and I was determined not to let this one last. With a free Saturday on the horizon, I dialed up my go-to fishing partner, Caleb.

Summer Fishing

It was time to go Spring fishing slump-busting on Brownlee, a Snake River reservoir on the Idaho-Oregon border.

I loaded my boat with bass, crappie, and catfish gear. No matter what was biting, I was going to be ready. That’s one of the keys to summer fishing, bring a variety of gear so you can adapt to changing conditions and give yourself the best chance of putting some fish in the boat.

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Breaking the Spring Fishing Slump

It was a crisp, clear morning as we arrived at Brownlee. In a welcome sign, Caleb landed two monster crappies right off the boat launch while I was parking the truck.

“We’re not getting skunked today, boys!” he announced.

I took a few casts and reeled up a hilariously small crappie. The skunk was off, but my slump was still intact. We motored off in search of Brownlee’s famous flathead catfish. My hard luck continued as Caleb reeled in one 19-pound monster, and then another.

“Next one’s yours,” he said. “I can feel it.”

Like a baseball player mired in a hitting slump, the key to turning things around is patience and a positive outlook. I stayed loose by taking in the sights and sounds and enjoying Caleb’s run of success.

And then, like a hanging curveball in the heart of the plate, my opportunity arrived. A fish bumped my lure once, twice and then BOOM! My rod doubled over as it ran for deeper water.

Big flatheads play the slow game, hugging the bottom while you gradually work to regain your line. Caleb seemed even more giddy than I was, nervously scanning the water for a glimpse of this big cat.

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Photo Credit: Missouri Department of Conservation

Finally, the flathead surfaced. A huge, mottled green head and gaping, whiskered mouth never looked so pretty! At 13 pounds, he wasn’t our biggest catch of the day. But Caleb and I agreed, the slump was history.

We closed the day with some more big crappie for the frying pan, and I also wrangled a big channel catfish on my ultralight rod. The bite was never red-hot, but we worked hard enough to make it a successful day. Which, ultimately, was the important lesson this whole experience refreshed in my mind. 

Sooner or later, every angler hits a slow patch. When your slump comes, use persistence and a positive attitude to send your slump packing.

3 Tips to Bust Your Spring Fishing Slump

  1. Bring a variety of gear so you can adapt to changing conditions!
  2. Keep working hard and try new techniques if the bite is slow!
  3. Stay positive and be ready for anything, a big fish might come when you least expect it