Thursday, February 15, 2018

A Bigger Ghost Minnow

Rebel's 2 1/2-inch TD47 Tracdown Ghost Minnow has long been one of my absolute favorite lures, especially for trout streams, but also smallmouth streams, ponds and assorted other settings. It casts crazily far, offers super versatility in terms of how it can be worked and has a narrow profile that matches a minnow and looks like an easy meal. It's pretty small, though, so it's limited to settings where I'm content with a fairly small offering.

Last year, Rebel delivered a bigger version of the Tracdown Ghost Minnow. Everything about the TD57 matches its little brother, including the six colors it comes in, but this Ghost Minnow is 4 1/2 inches long. I snatched some up as soon as I could get my hands on them, and have been using them ever since. So far, I've been delighted and have used the bigger Ghost Minnows to catch a lot of fish in wade range of situations. They cast great, even on baitcasting gear, and the weighting allows them to manage current extremely well.

I'm actually the most excited about throwing one of these dudes during high flows in a big cold-water tailwater that's home to big brown trout. I haven't gotten to do that yet, but I have caught a couple of bass on them from the tailwaters of Wilson and Kentucky dams, so I've seen how nicely they perform in the big water.

Either size of Tracdown has a tight wiggle with a straight retrieve but gets very erratic when you jerk it, so the possibilities for presentations are virtually limitless.

I leave today for a trip that will include several days of fishing, and you can bet that I'll have plenty of TD47s and TD57 in the car!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Rain & More Rain

Rain is falling steadily outside my North Georgia home, as it did most of yesterday and is forecast to do all of today and part of tomorrow. That's not bad. While enough remain has fallen that most streams are apt blown out and many lakes and ponds are muddied up, the big surge will settle fairly quickly, and the rain will serve as a nice recharge for our streams and the lakes.

I'm supposed to do some photo work on Lake Lanier on Tuesday. As of today, the forecast looks good. Only a 20 percent chance of scattered rain. A couple of days ago it said 60 percent, though, so hopefully it stays at 20 or gets better. The lake's far upper end might get dirty from all this rain, but Lanier is so deep and rocky that the lower main body normally stays in good shape. Therefore, I'm guessing we won't have a problem finding good water.

Later in the week, I hope to do some small-water fishing farther south in Georgia. This rain has been fairly warm, and the week's temperatures look warmer, so small-water bass fishing should be waking up. I'm not sure just how plans will shape up, but I have several ideas that offer good promise.

This year has started slowly, fishing wise. I've fished a handful of days in Arkansas and North Carolina and have caught some trout, but I've yet to make a cast in Georgia or to catch any warm-water fish. Hopefully by this time next week the report will be much different. One way or the other, I'll be on my way to Oklahoma next week around this time, and fishing prospects look good on that trip. I suppose that's getting a little ahead of the story, though!

Monday, February 5, 2018

Full Stride for Bass Tournament Season

The 2018 bass tournament season hits full stride this week, at least from my perspective. The season is well underway and has been for a few week. In fact, an FLW Costa Series event, an FLW Tour event and a Bassmaster Open are in the books. The Bassmaster Elite Series begin this week, though, and to me, the tournament season hits full stride once the FLW Tour and the Elite Series are underway.

The Elites are fishing Lake Martin in Alabama this week. Practice begins this morning. Last word I heard was that the lake was muddy and the water was cold. This week's weather looks pretty mild, though, so it will be interesting to hear practice reports and more importantly see tournament results!

I don't suppose will see anyone bring 31 pounds and change to the scales, like Bobby Lane did on day 1 on the Kissimmee Chain! That said, I suspect some of the guys will unlock good patterns and bring in some fat sacks of pretty spotted bass.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Just in Case

A few pack rods, reels to match, and a small selection of lures and terminal tackle live in the back of my car. Just in case. Because I never know when I might notice a bridge crossing right-of-way beside an intriguing looking stream or a park with a little lake in it and have some extra time. I don't use them that frequently on trips where fishing wasn't already my objective, but pack rods really don't take up much space in the back of a wagon, and when I do want to make a few casts, I want to be prepared. Plus I'm a step ahead on packing the car for a planned fishing trip, when those rods are right for the task.

I can't claim to be prepared for everything. The rods and reels I regularly tote are pretty light, so I wouldn't cast a weedless bass lure across matted vegetation or cast out in a marshy area where I think the most likely fish to bite would be a redfish. However, if I'm around those kinds of waters, I'm farther from home, and often it's a larger fishing trip, and the back of the car is loaded with all kinds of fishing equipment. The pack rods are more for local outings or for sampling a stream I might pass on the way to some non-fishing destination, and more often than not, fairly light tackle gives me a good option for sampling those types of waters.

I discovered how much I like pack  rods when my then-10-year-old son Asher and I traveled across the country on a tripped dubbed the RebelTroutTrek. We traveled for nearly a month in a Ford Fiesta, so we had loads of gear, and simple pack rods stayed out of the way but were always handy, and though we carried a handful of rods, he and I mostly used one rod each for the entire trip.

The rods I currently carry are Fenwick Eagle Travel Spinning Rods. I've had them for a few years and use them quite a bit in trout or smallmouth streams and on ponds for my regular fishing, and have been happy with their performance. They cast smoothly, despite being three or four pieces (depending on model), and they are priced reasonably for the quality at about $70.

Gazing at the picture as I write this reminds me that my car gear is just lying their awaiting a call to action. I wonder if it will get used before the day is over?!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Fishing Licenses

Recent mail delivered the hard copy of a North Carolina fishing license and trout permit that I'd bought online a week or so earlier, and as I slipped it into my wallet I realized that I have half a dozen current annual licenses for different states. I get to fish in a lot of different places, so I buy a lot of licenses, but I think that's more active annual licenses than I am normally carrying.

The annual vs. short-term question is one I face frequently, and I often find myself comparing costs, looking at expiration dates and pondering possible fishing plans. In some states it's easy. I pretty much always get an annual for Georgia, Arkansas and Alabama because I know I'll be back often enough, and I get them at least semi-often in several other states. It's a bit of a guessing game, though, and I often guess wrong. Either I opt for annual and fail to make it back before it expires, or I buy a short-term, and then end up returning and needing another, and another, and another...Trout and saltwater licenses add another level of complications.

I don't mind fishing licenses. Much of the money goes where it should, and I'm very thankful for all that state fisheries departments do to provide access and create the best possible fishing opportunities. I'm admittedly no crazy about the structure in some states, and sometimes picking the best license seems like more of a game than it should be. For the moment, there are half a dozen states where I can fish without giving the license any thought!

Friday, January 19, 2018

New Fishing Car Appreciated

I've been completely happy with my Subaru Outback since I got it in June and have traveled enough to give its ride and useful space a solid test. I was extra happy to have it on Wednesday, though, because of the unexpected 6 inches or so of snow that I wrote about yesterday.

I don't know whether I needed the all-wheel-drive. My friend Tim Mead didn't have to put his Silverado into 4-wheel-drive. However, that was the very sort of circumstance that prompted me to buy the Subaru, despite having been very happy with the Ford Fiesta that was my fishing car before this one and took me all over the country. Between the twisty mountain highways and the rough Forest Service road up Big Wilson Creek, both covered in quite a bit of snow in places, I wouldn't have attempted the trip in the Fiesta, but the Outback handled everything nicely.

In truth, I was just glad to get my fishing car dirty and get it off the highway - even before the snow arrived. Now it looks like it has been much farther north, with an ugly coating of salt and mud. Better clean it off so I can go get it dirty again!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Surprise Snow

Snowy bank of Big Wilson Creek in Western North Carolina. Photo by Tim Mead
I guess I can't say the snow was a total surprise. The forecast I'd looked at had said there was a 40 percent chance of light snow Tuesday during the overnight hours, with a possible accumulation of an inch. However, when I peeked out he hotel window on Wednesday morning, there was already much more than an inch on the ground, and the snow was still falling steadily.

I didn't mind. Not at all, actually. Tim Mead and I had already enjoyed one sunny day of fishing the Delayed Harvest section of Big Wilson Creek in Western North Carolina, and the snow would provide opportunities for a completely different set of photos from the same section of stream.

Travel was super slow on the snow-covered winding roads, the fish bit better on the sunny day, and we cut our fishing time fairly short for a couple of snow- and cold-related reasons (including a clumsy slip on my part that left me with soaked gloves and one sleeve wet to the elbow in 28-degree air). Nevertheless, I got to spend an absolutely delightful day with a very good friend exploring a stream that looked very different than Southern Appalachian streams normally look.

The careful drive to the river on the snowy highways and slow travel through Wilson Creek Gorge, which is downstream of where we fished, only added to the adventure. We stopped several times in the gorge to take photos of the river as it crashed between snow-covered boulders and poured over icy waterfalls. Even the walk to the river carried an added sense of an adventure because of the snow.

We actually only landed one trout (a nice rainbow) on the snowy day, but fish alone don't make or break fishing days. Work-wise, the day was a great success because of the unique snowy photos I was able to get. Personally, it was simply fun.