Been fishin’?

Stuart bagged a seven-pounder.

Stuart bagged a seven-pounder.

Sorry I’ve been gone so long. The traveling, working,  and a little fishing has kept me away. Here are some photos for now. Hope the fish are treating you well!

Mike bagged some Crappie too.

Mike bagged some
Crappie too.

Stacy  with her first Pymatuning Lake crappie.

Stacy with her first
Pymatuning Lake crappie.

Candice visited the boat for a while.

Candice visited the boat for a while.

Blessings,

tj

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Transom mounted transducers live dangerously until now.

The latest improvement on the G3 is the Spring Back Bracket™ by Transducer Shield and Saver®. This product solves three problems.

Side imaging transducers are big targets for stumps

Side imaging transducers are big targets for stumps. Notice the springs in the Spring Back Bracket.

Transducers are targets for stumps and flotsam. While they are designed to flip up, they may not survive. A new one can cost upwards to $400.00. This bracket is spring loaded to pivot and prevent damage.

If you are lucky, the old transducer flips up. Now you get to reach down to your shoulder to push it back down. The Spring Back Bracket pivots back on its own.

The last problem is positioning the transducer so it stays wet while running. (Without a huge rooster tail.) The Spring Back Bracket features a splash plate. This allows the transducer to run “down” and reduces the rooster tail.

Thanks to this great product, I can run nearly twice the speed without losing signal. This means finding more structure while running from spot to spot.

Blessings,
tj

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Get your boat out of the dark ages.

Quality boats last for years. (Think G3, Skeeter, Ranger, etc.) Nothing feels as good as fishing out of a boat that is paid for. However, your electronics are likely four to five years old. Depth sounders are like PCs, they age quickly. Think about what you use the most. Your trolling motor and electronics see more hours of use, than anything on the boat.

The quiet yet powerful Minn Kota is the best choice.

The quiet yet powerful Minn Kota is the best choice.

The first upgrade should be your trolling-motor. Minn Kota is the industry leader in quiet, efficient operation. Consider the Terrova and the Fortrex. A friend just purchased one
Driftmaster rod holders are a solid investment too.

Driftmaster rod holders are a solid investment too.

for his 1998 bass boat. He is thoroughly impressed by the power and the lift assist.

Update your electronics. One veteran guide stated, “I’ve learned more about this lake in three months than I have in the past thirty years.” as he pointed at his Humminbird. Enough said.

Awesome for finding brush piles and structure.

Awesome for finding brush piles and structure.

Protect your investment with a new boat cover. Try the industry leader, Dowco Marine. Visit their website for their “boat finder”. Choose your boat brand and select the model to find the correct cover. Off the shelf, covers are okay. You may be disappointed with the fit. A poor fit will result in ponding of water and leaves. Loose fitting covers will flap when towed.

Dowco offers custom covers for many boat brands

Dowco offers custom covers for many boat brands


The often forgotten trailer needs a little TLC. Check tires, rollers and the bearings. New radial tires will improve your gas mileage.

These improvements do not cost, they pay.

I found this ledge with my side-finder. Here is the result.

I found this ledge with my side-finder. Here is the result.

Blessings,
tj

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Is your fishing pattern three weeks late?

Even smallmouth are a little behind schedule.

Even smallmouth are a little behind schedule.

Fish do not punch a clock per se. Water temperatures dictate when fish begin their spawn. It is time to adapt. Crappies for example are still in 12-feet of water here. Fish a little deeper. We fished the Tennessee River last week. The white bass are still deep and rather lethargic. They too are a little late. Slow down your presentation. Observe, change and adapt is the mantra of better anglers this spring.

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Unwritten rules for anglers and writers that build relationships.

Writer, Darl Black wades the cool waters for the perfect shot.

Writer, Darl Black wades the cool waters for the perfect shot.

These are unwritten rules of course and just my observations. There is an old saying; “No fish, no photo. No photo, no story.” rings true. The objective is clear for the writer. The angler hopes to educate the writer and perhaps earn some ink for his guide business or sponsors.

Rules for the pro follow.
1. The morning’s golden light is best. Try to have several of yesterday’s fish in the live well for an early shoot. This is not phony reporting. What you did yesterday is just as important to the story. Fish often “color up” when spending a night in the live well too.
2. Your boat is your office. Good captains keep clear decks. You may find the writer lying on the floor of the boat, shooting photos from all angles.
3. Wear layers in bright colors. Grey, black, or white shirts rarely photograph well.
4. A good shave and genuine smiles for the photo shoot will pay in spades.
5. Save some dry storage for the writer’s camera bag. That bag is as important to the writer, as your boat is to you.
6. Keep snacks and water on hand. You never know when you may have a diabetic on the boat. They often need just a little something. Pros like Stephan Matt of G3 Boats often provide a shore lunch. That is a touch of class.
7. Be prepared for an interview. Detailed answers are what the writer are looking for.
8. The writer is often too busy with interviews and photography to fish hard. Clean a few fish if possible for the writer to take home. Now, you are a hero.

There are a few rules for the writer. (I am not picking on anyone here.)
1. Be on time. Enough said.
2. Help the angler launch. The quicker you get on the water, the more gold light you will have to shoot with. (Tip: Always ask, “Drain plug in?”)
3. Wipe your feet. Sand and mud can damage decks and carpet. Deck shoes are best when weather permits.
4. Never step on a seat to climb onto the back deck. This splits the seat at the seams. OEM seats run about two-hundred dollars each.
5. Thank your host. That guide may have nixed a paid, guide trip or bagged a day of tournament practice to take you out.
6. Send a few, low-resolution photos for the guide’s web page. You will be more likely to receive an invite back.
7. This builds a relationship that you can count on down the road for quick interviews and fishing reports.

I have been blessed to be both host and guest. Either way, the pleasure has been all mine to learn from the best.

Sam has hosted more writers than anyone I know.

Sam has hosted more writers than anyone I know.


Blessings, tj

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Bass and crappie begin prespawn dance.

Spring seems a long way off. However, fish are biting between the cold fronts. They have to eat. Choose your days carefully. Don’t be surprised to find crappie and bass around the lily pads. The sun warms these little “solar panels”.

Copyright Road Runner Lures

Lily pads are often the first place to warm up.

While crappie will be first in the pads, bass will soon follow. Ledges near these pads will hold the bass until the water warms enough to move in. Try the heavier, quarter ounce Road Runner along this structure.

Tip: The favorite water temperature of crappie is about sixty five degrees. Bass become more active in water temps of sixty nine degrees. Water temperatures are just one of the factors in fish activity. Your Humminbird depth sounder likely has a water temperature gauge. Check it during the day to see how much the water warms up.

Elite Outdoor Media

Rich bagged these fish along step edges.

Blessings,
tj

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A few photos from the St. Johns River trip.

The adventures and travel continue. Here are a few photos from the Florida trip. A few days in Titusville and Deland are just what I needed. The weather is perfect this time of year. I’d like to thank Visit Space Coast and Hontoon Landing.

Visit Titusville for fishing and lunch with an astronaut!

Visit Titusville for fishing and lunch with an astronaut!


American Shad visit the St Johns River once a year.

American Shad visit the St Johns River once a year.


Crappie Fishing on the St Johns River with Tim Gibson of B'nM Poles

Crappie Fishing on the St Johns River with Tim Gibson of B’nM Poles

The crappie love to hide in the lily pads near Hontoon Landing.

The crappie love to hide in the lily pads near Hontoon Landing.


The St. John’s River near Titusville to Deland offers so much beauty, so many fish!
Blessings, TJ
Dan enjoyed the "Specks" of the St Johns River.

Dan enjoyed the “Specks” of the St Johns River.

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Think you have seen it all? from Crappie NOW Magazine

This 14-inch crappie weighed 2.75 instead of the usual 2.50.

This 14-inch crappie weighed 2.75 instead of the usual 2.50.

Hang on. It does not matter your age; there are plenty of crappie lessons to learn. After fifty years, I am still learning. Reading CrappieNOW is a great place to start. What totally hits you between the eyes is experience. Here are a few examples.
A fun lesson was just a few months ago. Fellow Crappie NOW writer Jeff Samsel and I hit the water. The plan was to bass fish for an hour because he needed a bass photo for an article. After that we would crappie fish. We began to cast quarter-ounce Road Runners with four-inch BanG, Shads. Three hours later, we had sixteen of the largest crappie we could ask for. The lesson? Never underestimate what big crappie will eat.
The next lesson was that very night at the fillet table. I never weighed a crappie that was less than sixteen inches. These were “measly” fifteen-inch fish. However, they felt heavy. I was curious about two of them. They weighed 3.01 and 3.08 pounds! How many three-pound fish have I tossed back? The lesson? Weigh any crappie over fifteen inches.

Another lesson was a reminder of simpler times. Two older men motored by in a rickety boat. These anglers quietly anchored near a point. The greybeards held a cane pole in each hand and loaded the boat. The lesson? Keep things simple and you will have more fun.

Think back to your last fishing trip. What did experience teach you?
Mother’s Day is the 11th of this month. This is a great opportunity to take mom fishing!

Blessings,
TJ

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Fishing, Eating, Fellowship and Fireplaces

Alan Clemons enjoyed Noxubee Lodge too.

Alan Clemons enjoyed
Noxubee Lodge too.

I could not help but smile as Noxubee Lodge came into view. The graceful farmhouse was a welcome sight. A reminder of simpler times, I pulled the screen door to reveal a large porch. The next door opened into a huge parlor. The warmth of the massive fireplace, the creak of the wood floors and the smells of the kitchen greeted this old angler. This was going to be no ordinary fishing trip.

Oh, there is hunting too. Ducks visit the 300-acre duck swamp. Deer and hogs are everywhere. Turkeys roam the farm as if they own it.

Venison tenderloins and roasted duck, dressed our plates that evening. The desserts were as good as the fellowship. This old redneck slept comfortably that first night.

The in-room coffee was a blessing the next morning. Wondering into the dining area, I found venison sausage-biscuits awaited my arrival. (Yes, I ate again.)

We ran down to “lake one” to test the waters. The morning bite was slow due to the cold front. However, we managed a few bass before lunch. (Yep, still eating.)

Our hopes were higher for “Big Lake” that afternoon. We managed some bass to four-pounds. Returning after a coffee break, the fishing had slowed a little. Jeff bagged another bass over six-pounds.

The next morning’s trip was a nice surprise. Twenty-two bass, visited the G3 boat. A quarter ounce Road Runner rigged with a BanG Shad was the ticket for Alan.

Lunch was a hearty crawdad bisque, and deli sandwiches.
We passed on the skeet shooting opportunity and returned to the lake. The bite was slower. However, Jeff hooked a bass over seven-pounds. Jeff won the battle and breathed a sigh of relief.

Are you ready to book your trip to Noxubee Lodge? Imagine hunting hogs in the morning and fishing for hogs in the afternoon. If 10,000-acres of first class fishing and hunting appeal to you, click this link. Who knows, I may be see you there.
Blessings, -tj

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Take a bite out of winter. Catch more fish.

41-degrees today, 29 tomorrow. Keep extra layers handy.

41-degrees today, 29 tomorrow. Keep extra layers handy.

Winter has reared its ugly head these past few days. These can be tough conditions.
How does this former Florida boy beat the cold?

Start at the top. Knit caps and neck gaiters are wonderful. I have found the Polar-Tec material to be the warmest.

Base layers have improved over the years. The XGO brand is American made. Choose the “Phase 4.0” for maximum warmth. This brand is the most comfortable I have found.

SealSkinz™ makes waterproof socks and gloves. These actually fit like a second skin. Another great sock is a brand called “Fits”. These knee-high socks are very warm.

Boots are cumbersome in a boat. Try a half-boot style like the Camo-Camp Boot by Muck. They are waterproof and warm.

Your legs need another layer. Have you tried fleece-lined jeans? The warmth and comfort is off the chart. Look for these at retailers like Cabela’s outfitters.

Outerwear technology has changed too. Check out the new StrykR® jackets and bibs by StormR®. These feature Neoprene Core™ technology. This material adds positive flotation to their gear.

Layer up with these high-tech products. Now you can concentrate on fishing, instead of being cold.

Guess who this is. Photo courtesy of Tim Huffman.

Guess who this is. Photo courtesy of Tim Huffman.


Blessings, -tj

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