Fishing Wire Ranger Boats Careco TV
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 2018

COAST GUARD
Mariners and those living and working near waterways must be prepared, stay informed and heed storm warnings as this storm approaches the Atlantic Coast of the U.S.
CONSERVATION
Once the Idaho Transportation Department fixes a perched culvert across Highway 20 in 2019, about 89 miles of spawning and rearing habitat for wild trout will be made accessible to the Big Wood.
For the first time in 89 years, the five species of Pacific salmon that live in the Eklutna River, located 20 miles north of Anchorage, can now move upstream to additional spawning habitat.

CONTESTS
The Seth Thomas Spradlin Best of Show Award went to Ian Ho, a California 10th grader, for a stunning watercolor of a largemouth bass titled "The Awareness".
EVENTS
On Sept. 22, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will host or support four family-friendly outdoor skills events to celebrateNational Hunting and Fishing Day.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is hosting a National Hunting and Fishing Day celebration on Sept. 22 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Sun Valley Shooting Park, 1452 Suntargets Rd, Moxee, in South Central Washington.

GRANTS
Tampa Bay Estuary Program (TBEP) has been awarded $1.5 million to support projects with local government partners that will restore coastal habitats, improve stormwater quality, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 
ORGANIZATIONS
The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) has announced the kick-off of a site selection process to identify a new headquarters location in south Florida.
STATES
The Governor's Office is seeking applicants who are well-informed and passionate about Arizona wildlife and its long-term conservation.

Country music star Blake Shelton, who grew up hunting and fishing in Oklahoma, has been a longtime supporter of the Wildlife Department.
If the changes are approved, you'd be allowed to use corn as bait at all of Utah's fishing waters, keep more lake trout at Flaming Gorge Reservoir, enjoy a two-day possession limit statewide, and have a better chance at catching big channel catfish at Cutler Reservoir.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Division of Sport Fish has announced that sport fishing regulations for hatchery coho salmon have been liberalized in a designated saltwater hatchery sport harvest area near Juneau
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is in the multi-year process of updating Conservation Area Management Plans, and is seeking public input on how Headwaters Access and Red Star Access are important to Missourians.
If you like the idea of having a variety of species to target while fishing, then head to Maine's Pemadumcook Chain of Lakes.
The Fish and Wildlife Commission meets Friday, Sept. 14 in Bandon at the Bandon Community Center, 1200 W 11th Street SW in Bandon.
A report on the results of a 5-year-old policy that significantly changed salmon fisheries on the Columbia River will be a focus of discussion during an upcoming meeting of the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission in Olympia.
A bloom of the Florida red tide organism, Karenia brevis, persists in Southwest Florida and extends from Pinellas to northern Collier counties along ~120 miles of coastline.
Four state fish records recently were certified by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, including three for underwater spearfishing and one for rod and reel.
TOURNAMENTS
War heroes will compete with world-class anglers at the 6th Annual Cheeca Lodge All American Backcountry Fishing Tournament, November 8-10, 2018 at Cheeca Lodge & Spa in Islamorada, FL.
Justin Atkins of Florence, Ala., won the 2018 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open No. 4 held on Logan Martin Lake, with a three-day total of 38 pounds, 3 ounces.
In a proactive move to help conserve marlin populations and enhance the sport, the tournament committee for the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic today announced it is raising the minimum length to boat a qualifying blue marlin to 110 inches for the 2019 tournament.
Hot weather extending well into fall may make this tournament a challenge, even with top pro anglers participating.
Twenty-one-year-old Wisconsin angler Max Wilson took his knowledge of deep basin fishing and applied it to Minnesota's Lake of the Woods, weighing a total of 45.83 pounds to win the 2018 National Walleye Tour Championship.
This is a catch-and-release only tournament, with proceeds going to the Marine Fish Conservation Network (“Network”), a coalition of commercial and recreational fishing associations, regional and national conservation groups, aquaria, and marine science organizations committed to sustaining fish populations, healthy marine ecosystems and fishing communities.
WASHINGTON
Continuing his efforts to increase access to public lands, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke will open more than 251,000 acres to new or expanded hunting and fishing opportunities at 30 national wildlife refuges across the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’sNational Wildlife Refuge System.

Lester Leverages Raymarine Axiom Technology on St. Lawrence

By David A. Brown

It was quite the week for Brandon Lester. August 23-26 saw the Tennessee angler put on a smallmouth clinic during the final regular-season event of the Bassmaster Elite Series on the St. Lawrence River; and, while he came up a pound and 2 ounces short of the win, Lester’s third-place performance — 94 pounds, 1 ounce over four days — demonstrated the impact of Raymarine’s reliable and ultra-clear imaging.

Running twin Axiom Pro units at his console and one on his bow, Lester caught most of his fish over shoals — high spots or rock outcroppings in the river — that were anywhere from 25 to 40 feet down. Such spots were many, so Lester had to spend significant time examining the selection to dial in on the most promising areas.

“Raymarine electronics were an important part of this,” Lester says. “I had my SideVision set 120 feet on either side, so I could see those isolated boulders and rock veins and irregularities that smallmouth key on. These spots create current breaks and with my DownVision, I could see the fish sitting behind the rocks when I was idling.”

Lester's Raymarine Axiom Pro shows tournament critical smallmouth bass behind depth break rocks with its ultra-clear CHIRP Sonar.

Noting the critical advantage of Raymarine’s sharp returns, Lester said his ability to leverage this target separation played a key role in his success. The St. Lawrence sees massive water volume flowing between its banks and, while this certainly stimulates feeding, it can also create challenging dynamics for those trying to eyeball their quarry.

“A lot of those fish can be hard to mark and it can be misleading because the current is so strong those fish sit so close to the bottom where they can be hard to mark. If you can see two or three fish on the spot, that means there’s probably more there.

“I had my trolling motor transducer set on Raymarine CHIRP sonar, so I could see the rocks on the bottom and I could see the fish behind the rocks. Knowing what was going on at all times on the bottom was a big help, for sure.”

Tennessee pro angler Brandon Lester comes up just 1 pound 2 ounces short of first place win with his 94 pounds, 1 ounce third-place finish.

POSITION PRINCIPLES

As crafty and aggressive as a smallmouth can be, they’re all too happy to gobble the easy meals. On the St. Lawrence, that means leveraging the current-born buffet of baitfish that flow across the structures they inhabit.

“The Raymarine Axiom’s CHIRP sonar is everything when you’re fishing for those smallmouth,” Lester said. “You have to know that, as you come up on that shoal, a lot of times, those fish will be sitting right on the face where the current meets the shoal.

“You can see when you get over top of that rock, you want to drop your bait straight down on that rock and let it fall off the back side. Normally, that’s where that fish will be sitting and if a goby or a little minnow washes by, he can just slide out in the current and eat it really quickly and then slide back behind that rock. They don’t want to be constantly fighting that current all the time.”

Within this game plan, Lester had to vary his depths throughout the week. The first two days, he caught most of his fish in 25-28 feet, while the third day saw the bite moving into 35-40 feet. During the final day’s cloudy, rainy conditions, Lester caught some of his fish in 18-20 feet.

“You had to play around with the depths, but smallmouth are known for that,” he said. “They’re known for moving around a good bit. Typically, it’s not a drastic change; they’re still there somewhere. You just have to play around with those depth changes and figure out where they are. Typically, it’s the same shoal, it might just be a different drift.”

Lester recalls a particular bar extending off the end of an island where he had been catching fish off the tip in 25-33 feet. When the next day found that area barren, he made a drift closer to the island in 20 feet and found the fish that had moved up shallow.

During the tournament's final day, Lester found most of his smallmouth in 17-20 feet with Raymarine Axiom Pro CHIRP Sonar.

THE RIGHT PRESENTATION

Lester caught all of his fish on dropshot rigs with baits designed to mimic the invasive gobies, which have become a foundational element of the smallmouth diet. Bulbous heads and tapering bodies define these bottom-huggers and Lester rigged his impostors on No. 4 Mustad Titan-X Wacky/Neko hooks and kept them close to that zone with 3/8- and 1/2-ounce weights, depending on depth.

“I alternated between green pumpkin/purple flake and a green pumpkin/purple/copper with an iridescent bottom,” he said. “I would use that second one more when the sun was out because I feel that iridescent body shines and gives it a little shimmy in the clear water.

“When the conditions were darker, I’d go with the straight green pumpkin/purple flake because it’s a darker color and I feel like the fish can see it better.”

Running Axiom Pro in split screen: Real Vision 3D (left); CHIRP Sonar (top right); and Raymarine HD mapping (below right); was often this key to finding precise smallmouth location.

BRIDGING THE GAP

Complementing his main river work, Lester also fished a bridge near Ogdensburg and caught some of his day-three fish — including his largest, a 4 1/2-pound brownie. As he explained, the bridge deal did not require much in the way of sonar, because this was more of a visual scenario.

Comparing bridge pilings to current-breaking boulders, Lester says he fished every one, but ended up catching fish on only four. Having done well in practice, Lester thought he had the potential for 20-plus pounds on this structure, so he saved it until day three when he thought he might need some diversity. The bridge proved less generous during the tournament than it was during practice, but the visit definitely boosted Lester’s overall performance.

“A lot of guys pass it by; it’s an obvious spot, but it’s so obvious that nobody pays attention to it,” he said. “Typically, I like to let the sun get up before I fish a bridge because you get shade to position the fish. I feel like if you have shade working for you and the current, that just makes it all the better.”

Despite missing the win, Lester said he’s encouraged by his best finish on the St. Lawrence — an accomplishment to which his Raymarine mapping made a major contribution. This year, he said, was all about branching out and finding more fish.

“Typically, when I fish the St. Lawrence, I fish close by, right there in Waddington (the tournament’s host city), but this time I ventured a significant way toward Lake Ontario,” Lester said of his third St. Lawrence River tournament. “I was running 30-35 miles from the takeoff. I think that’s important; if you get complacent when you go back to a place year after year and you try to fish the same stuff year after year, it typically doesn’t go well.

“I think it’s important to try to find new stuff and to try to open new doors. It’s always a good idea to fish new areas and I think that was a big key for me.”

 

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FISHING CALENDAR
September 11
Reel Animals free fishing clinic

7-9 p.m. at Gator Ford off I-4 east of Tampa, features Captain Bill Nobles and Captain Mike Anderson of Reel Animals TV and radio shows, free food and drink.

September 14-15
Saltwater Sisters Ladies Tournament

Pirates Cove Resort and Marina in Stuart Fl.; www.stuartsailfishclub.com.

September 19-23
Trout Unlimited Annual Meeting

Redding, CA; https://www.tu.org/annualmeeting

September 21-22
Big Greg Leonard Longest Redfish Tournament

Captains' meeting at the Salty Shamrock, Apollo Beach, Fla, 7 p.m. on the 21st. Entry $25, proceeds to Captains for Clean Water to help clean up the Everglades; www.southshoreanglers.com.

October 6-7
Florida Sportsman Expo
Florida State Fairgrounds, Tampa

October 12-13
AFTCO Collegiate Bass Open

Lake Dardanelle -- Russellville, AR
Website

October 31 - November 4
Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show
 
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