Wednesday, November 26, 2014

 
EDITOR'S NOTE
Final Edition of Wires for This Week
In observance of the Thanksgiving holiday, today's edition is the final edition for this week. We will resume our normal distribution schedule on Monday, December 1, 2014. We wish each of you a happy holiday.

ANGLING OPPORTUNITIES
South Dakota's Devils Lake bays froze early, and even the main lake pulled an ice sheet overhead recently, promising the opening of ice fishing very soon.

BOATING
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is sponsoring an online public survey as part of its continued partnerships with local governments and boaters. The survey, which is accessible at MyFWC.com, discusses anchoring issues in state waters within local jurisdictions and potential ways to resolve conflicts.
Boat Owners Association of The United States would like to ensure that active, responsible cruising boaters help the state understand what works and what doesn't when it comes to anchoring laws in the Sunshine State.

COAST GUARD
One person is dead and another person is missing in the search for two men overdue from a fishing trip aboard a 12-foot boat, which reportedly began Saturday morning near Shell Island in Florida's Waccasassa Bay.
Rescue crews from Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico hoisted six boaters to safety Monday, after their 48-foot sailing vessel Aurora ran aground on the rocks just off Coral Bay in Saint John, U.S. Virgin Islands.

ENVIRONMENT
The Department of Natural Resources recently announced its December schedule of volunteer stewardship activities at state parks and recreation areas in southwestern Michigan, offering plenty of opportunities for area residents to get outdoors and enjoy the season in several of Michigan's most scenic places.
The program, which creates additional water storage on private and public lands, provides another tool to reduce the amount of water flowing into Lake Okeechobee and the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries during high-water conditions.
The River of Grass Greenway, a proposed non-motorized transportation and recreation corridor across the Everglades between Naples and Miami, will offer activities such as bicycling, walking, bird-watching, photography, fishing, etc.

FISHING TIPS
Glowing baits can turn on fish in the right place and at the right time.

GIFTS
Consider a fishing gift your favorite angler can love for months to come. A subscription to Mystery Tackle Box means that each month your angler will receive a box containing at least $20 in lures and tackle valued at $20. The contents vary each month, offering a great way to try different products and build a better tackle box.
Cabela's Incorporated, the World's Foremost Outfitter® of hunting, fishing and outdoor gear, today released its annual Christmas Gift Guide to help shoppers find the perfect present for the hunters, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts on their gift lists.
Find great gifts for everyone on your list and get 20% OFF in our Wildlife Adoption Center.

INDUSTRY
Mercury Marine has joined the National Marine Manufacturers Association and others voicing disappointment with the Environmental Protection Agency's announcement Friday to delay until 2015 the final rule that will tell fuel refiners how much ethanol must be blended into the nation's fuel supply.
Cabela's, the World's Foremost Outfitter, will be adding Arctic Ice to it vast offerings online and in retail stores throughout the country beginning in 2015. Cabela's currently has 56 U.S. retail locations with 16 additional locations announced, according to the website.

NEW PRODUCTS
Not only does Rapala® make the world's best lures, but it also makes industry-leading accessories to complement any excursion on the ice.
Choose the right ice-fishing apparel for your best winter yet.

PADDLE SPORTS
This year's 2014 IRL Paddle Adventure kicks off at sunset on November 29th at the Marine Discovery Center (MDC) in New Smyrna Beach!
The Rookery Bay Adventure Race, held on Nov. 22, engaged nearly 70 men and women in a 3K kayak along Henderson Creek and a 4K trail run on the Snail Trail at the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center.

SCHOOLS
The Bass University fishing education classes will be taught by top pro anglers including Classic champ Rand Howell, Mike Iaconeli, Jason Christie and many others.

STATES
The commission chose its preferred management options for a draft amendment to the state's Striped Mullet Fishery Management Plan that include increasing the target fishing mortality reference point in recognition of striped mullet's importance as prey species to many important finfish species.
This holiday season, the FWC hopes people will consider gifts that will make a difference in conservation of Florida's fish and wildlife and help pass along great outdoors experiences to future generations.
The Department of Natural Resources recently finished stocking 36,228 muskellunge fingerlings into 21 water bodies located throughout the state in an effort to enhance Michigan's fisheries.
The Michigan State Waterways Commission will hold its next regular meeting Friday, Dec. 5, starting at 9:45 a.m. in the D. Hale Brake Conference Room (atrium level) of Constitution Hall, 525 W. Allegan St., in Lansing.
One of the best ways to learn about the wonders of Great Lakes and Wisconsin-raised fish is to taste them as prepared by a professional chef.

Going Vertical

By Frank Sargeant

Anglers in the southern half of the nation can and do fish for bass all winter long, but the tactics that work in December and January are a far cry from those that work in June and July.

One interesting tactic might be called "Going Vertical"--it's making use of small but very heavy spoons to reach fish that are suspended over deep water. I was fortunate enough to learn the tactic on Santee Cooper a few decades back from a true master, none other than "Oh Son!" Roland Martin, but since then I've added a few tweaks of my own that sometimes make the method even more effective.

In most southern lakes, the winter chill causes the shad--the primary food of southern largemouths--to ball into tight schools offshore, typically at depths of 15 feet and more, and a lot of bass (to say nothing of crappies and stripers) will hang close to the groceries.

These are usually suspended fish, and while most of the year suspended fish are difficult to catch, that's not usually the case in winter, when the baitfish they're eating is also suspended.

So, the first essential tool for winter fishing is a depthfinder, the bigger the better. A jumbotron like the Lowrance HDS-12 with side-scanning capabilities and touch screen makes it easy, turning angling into a video game. The bait shows up as dense ball, and with the unit in the scanning mode, you can easily see the individual fish and their exact position in relation to the bait. (Keep an eye out for flocks of gulls sitting on the water--they usually hang close to where the big schools of bait are located in winter.)

Next, you need something that looks like the bait. Slab spoons like the Hopkins Shorty, in 3/4 and 1 ounce sizes, are the classics. Lipless vibrating crankbaits that work so well in early spring and late fall being ripped through shoreline grass are also effective for this vertical action--they sink very fast, and have a great vibrating action when snatched upward. The Rat-L-Trap is the archetype, but the Red Eye Shad from Strike King and many others work well, too. Because the line tie is typically in the middle of the back for many of these lures, they balance nicely as vertical lures.

The tactic is simple; lower the lure until it's a foot or so above the bass--not the bait, but the bass--and then yo-yo it up and down with a series of upward twitches of the rod, following it back down on the drop but not actually interfering with the fall. On the upward pull the bait vibrates, and on the drop it flutters and darts.

Most strikes occur on the fall, which means you have to develop a feel for the slight "tick" on the line that means a bass has grabbed the lure. A quick hook set and you're in business.

I personally prefer jigging with braid because it gives a much better feel of what's happening below. However, braid tied straight to just about any treble-hook jigging lure will foul on the hooks repeatedly as you flip the lure up and down.

If you add 18 inches of 20-pound-test fluorocarbon leader, however, the stiffness of the leader will prevent the fouling most of the time. The clearer leader may also help fool the fish, though I'm not sure about that. Tie in the leader with a double uni-knot to prevent slipping.

You'll mostly catch bass by vertical jigging, but a nice bonus can be a few eating size stripers, crappie and white bass--coming out of the chilly water, these fish are at their flavorful best. The fish are usually dumb and happy when they're around the shad, and where you catch one you may catch dozens. It's an interesting and productive diversion as you wait for warm weather to return.

The Fishing Wire welcomes your comments and actively solicits letters and guest editorials from readers as well as fishery managers, scientists and industry experts in boating, fishing and related equipment. Please send your comments and suggestions to frank@thefishingwire.com.
Outdoors Calendar

» Got an event you'd like to see posted here? Send it to frank@thefishingwire.com.

Apr. 1 - Nov. 30: New Jersey inshore saltwater fishing tournament. Eight species, over 50 weigh stations, $100,000 in cash & prizes for the largest catches. Proceeds to the Fisheries Conservation Trust. $FREE entry using The Fishing Wire Code: 3720; www.BeachNBoat.com or 609.423.4002.

Apr. 12 - Mar. 31: 2nd Annual Lund Boats LCI Champlain Basin Derby,
50 weeks, 15 species, $25,000! www.lciderby.com

Dec. 6 - Dec. 7: Mud Hole Custom Tackle's Rod Building 101 Class, Orlando, Fla., http://www.mudhole.com/Rod-Building-101/Classes or call (866) 790-7637 ext. 112.

Jan. 14 - Jan. 18: Chicago Boat Show, McCormick Place, Chicago; www.chicagoboatshow.com.





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