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Troy Meridian 65

DIXIESUPPLY.COM Eight Mile, AL Theodore, AL Meridian, MS Foley, AL


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Helping YOU get the JOB DONE for over 3 Decades

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12 15




22 26


the Founder 6 From by Alan White








New Gear for Outdoorsmen by Joe Baya


The Gun Rack Patterning Your Shotgun for Turkey Hunting by Craig Haney


4 APRIL 2018 // // 877.314.1237

Best Bets by Alan White





From the Commissioner License Sales Contribute to Alabama’s Great Fishing by Chris Blankenship Hunting Heritage A Turkey Named PhD by Corky Pugh From the Director Game Check, Year Two… What Did We Learn? by Chuck Sykes Paddle Fishing Transport the Kayak Safely by Ed Mashburn


Wildlife Management Clover Management by Daryl Bell


Camphouse Kitchen by Hank Shaw


Pier and Shore by David Thornton


Gulf Coast by Mike Thompson

Freshwater 60 Regional by Ed Mashburn Feeding Times, Moon, 64 Prime Sun, and Tide Charts


Pensacola Motorsports Trophy Room

70 72 73

Realtree Kids Corner


A Great Day Outdoors by Garry Bowers

Classifieds & Fishin' Guides Fishing Tips by Capt. Lee Pitts



PROPERTY TEXT HERE Sumter County Lodge & Retreat

PROPERTY TEXT HERE Las Medina Lodge & Lake Retreat

Sumter County, Alabama, 487+/- Acres This is a great family hunting tract with excellent amenities including a 2,400 sq ft cypress cabin; a 1,500 sq ft shed for equipment and storage; a lake; 2 ponds and a good internal road system all on gently rolling topography. Jones Creek flows through the acreage providing a water source for the abundant wildlife which includes superb deer, turkey, ducks, and doves. Convenient to Demopolis and Tuscaloosa.

Monroe, Alabama, 271.5 +/- Acres This turn key recreational, hunting, and timber investment near Peterman has it all: stocked 3 acre fishing lake, furnished lodge, furnished log cabin, and equipment, all minutes from the shopping and churches. Hunt trophy deer and turkey using the improved road system, the 13 food plots, or in the mature hardwood bottoms, merchantable pine stands, fruit trees, and mature sawtooth oak that adorn the property.

Alabama Listings COUNTY Autauga Autauga Autauga Autauga Autauga Baldwin Baldwin Baldwin Baldwin Baldwin Barbour Bibb Bibb Blount Blount Blount Blount Blount Butler Butler Butler Butler Butler Calhoun Calhoun


375.25 75 47.5 10 5 1995 546 492 360 280 52 98.6 30 144 84 41.4 21 19.03 149 120 77 29 24 102 100

Calhoun Cherokee Chilton Chilton Chilton Chilton Chilton Choctaw Clarke Clarke Clarke Clarke Clarke Clay Clay Clay Clay Cleburne Cleburne Cleburne Cleburne Cleburne Colbert Colbert Colbert

1.69 65.5 2800 221 169 150 133 30 620 526 489 220 215 117 42 40 38 139 80 57 56.48 40 164.73 150 54

COUNTY Colbert Colbert Conecuh Conecuh Conecuh Coosa Coosa Coosa Covington Crenshaw Crenshaw Cullman Cullman Cullman Dallas Dallas Dallas Dallas Dallas DeKalb DeKalb Elmore Elmore Elmore Elmore

ACRES 31 30 171.82 64 17 75 55 55 5 86 30 289 175 41 600 230 205 140 100.8 89 23 2000 127 90 90

Elmore Escambia Escambia Escambia Escambia Escambia Fayette Fayette Fayette Fayette Fayette Franklin Franklin Franklin Franklin Franklin Greene Greene Greene Greene Hale Hale Hale Hale Hale

51.9 671.6 76 50 25 20 260 232 140 87 85 563 552 273 250 205.19 500 497 90 0.72 150 114 96 53 40

COUNTY ACRES Jefferson 400 Jefferson 137 Jefferson 94 Jefferson 87 Jefferson 44 Lamar 373 Lamar 220 Lamar 109.24 Lamar 55.3 Lamar 46.5 Lauderdale 680 Lowndes 1181 Lowndes 1013 Lowndes 656 Lowndes 601 Lowndes 567 Macon 157 Marengo 264 Marengo 153 Marengo 148 Marion 120 Marion 94 Marion 40 Marion 34 Mobile 1800

Mobile Mobile Mobile Mobile Monroe Monroe Monroe Monroe Monroe Montgomery Montgomery Montgomery Montgomery Montgomery Morgan Perry Perry Perry Perry Perry Pickens Pickens Pickens Pickens Pickens

439 328 320 260 790 325 271.5 129 67 435 310 250 143.1 128 150 200 189 140 82 40 513 370 310 280 70

COUNTY ACRES Pike 352.8 Randolph 407 Randolph 329 Randolph 78 Randolph 60 Randolph 52.4 Russell 1403 Russell 711.35 Russell 692.31 Russell 68.66 Saint Clair 117 Saint Clair 87 Saint Clair 78 Saint Clair 40 Saint Clair 37 Shelby 126 Shelby 120 Shelby 80 Shelby 40 Shelby 27 Sumter 506 Sumter 487 Sumter 276 Sumter 213 Sumter 75

Talladega Talladega Talladega Talladega Talladega Tallapoosa Tuscaloosa Tuscaloosa Tuscaloosa Tuscaloosa Tuscaloosa Walker

2088 1314 1074 1015 723.5 46 427 300 153 151 144 233

COUNTY ACRES Washington 200 Washington 190 Washington 160 Washington 115 Washington 80 Wilcox 233 Wilcox 177 Wilcox 155 Wilcox 107 Wilcox 78 Winston 279 Winston 84



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What Goes Around, Comes Around

PUBLISHED BY: Great Days Outdoors Media, L.L.C. PRESIDENT: Joe Baya FOUNDER & EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Alan White CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Christine LaGrassa OFFICE MANAGER: Lisa Williams


have always been interested in trapping. Trapping was once the backbone of the U.S. economy and played a major role in our history. Back in February, I was lucky enough to have a friend who is very good at trapping, mentor me in honing my skills. I learned that trapping is an art and to be good at it, paying attention to small details is essential. It takes a lot of practice and these are things you cannot learn on YouTube or in a weekend class. I have mentored several kids in hunting and fishing over the years so being the recipient of the mentoring felt strange but it gave me a perspective that I didn’t have before. I can’t explain what it means for someone to take their time and patiently work with you to teach you their skills. If anything, the whole experience made me even more enthusiastic about mentoring kids. All of us have certain skills. Sharing those with others will pay big rewards. What goes around, comes around. I am living proof of this.


CONTRIBUTING FREELANCE WRITERS: Chris Blankenship Daryl Bell Alex Granpere Craig Haney Charles Johnson Ed Mashburn Doug Max

Greg McCain John E. Phillips Corky Pugh Chuck Sykes Mike Thompson David Thornton Jim Barta

Garry Bowers Deneshia Larson Patrick Garmeson Hank Shaw Joe Baya Capt. Lee Pitts

Great Days Outdoors (USPS 17228; ISSN 1556-0147) is published monthly at 951 Government Street B, Mobile, AL 36604. Subscription rate is $24 for one-year, $40 for two-years, and $55 for three-years. Periodicals Postage Paid at Stapleton, Ala. and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Great Days Outdoors 951 Government Street B, Mobile, AL 36604

Have A Great Day Outdoors, ALAN WHITE

Founder, Great Days Outdoors Magazine

SUBSCRIBERS: All subscriptions begin the first issue for the month following receipt of payment, if payment received by the 15th. Great Days Outdoors assumes no responsibility for delivery after magazines are mailed. All delivery complaints should be addressed to your local postmaster. CONTACT GDOM: EDITORIAL | ADVERTISING | SUBSCRIPTIONS | Great Days Outdoors Media c/o Container Yard 951 Government Street B, Mobile, AL 36604 877. 314. 1237 All rights reserved. Reproduction of contents is strictly prohibited without permission from Great Days Outdoors Media, LLC.


6 APRIL 2018 // // 877.314.1237


BEST BETS FOR APRIL These are our top targets for hunters and fishermen this month! BY ALAN WHITE

Photo by Ed Mashburn Photo by Capt. Yano Sera

Eastern Wild Turkey Spring turkey season began in March and ends April 30th in Alabama. In April, the hens will begin to nest, leaving the toms searching for receptive mates. Lonely toms are easier to call using a variety of calls. Male wild turkeys gobble to attract hens. You can locate gobblers by listening for their gobbles, which is more likely to occur at dawn. Hunters must be extremely quiet and still. Wild turkeys are equipped with incredible color vision and sensitive hearing. Only gobblers with visible beards are legal to kill. Limit in Alabama is one per day and 5 per season per person. All harvests must be reported via GameCheck.

Cobia The annual spring migration of these powerful fish, as they move along the gulf coast, presents the best chance for spotting and casting to a Cobia. The fish can often be found swimming near floating logs or any other structure. Live eels or other baits should be cast near the fish to present an easy meal. Sight-fishing is the best method for catching Cobia and is best done from a boat tower while slowly trolling near the coast. Cobia look similar to a shark in the water with a brown or dark gray back and white belly. A dark stripe runs from gills to the base of the tail. The minimum legal fork-length is 33 inches. Creel limit is 2 per day, per person. The world record Cobia is 135 lb. 9 oz.

Spotted Seatrout Commonly known as speckled trout, the spotted seatrout is prized by inshore anglers. These fish are ambush eaters and feed most heavily a few days prior to and after a full moon when spawning occurs. Live shrimp, live croakers and a variety of artificial grubs are top choices for bait. Target shallow water with top-water lures early in the morning or during low-light conditions. As the sun brightens, specks will move to deeper water. Anglers are encouraged to release larger females to keep populations healthy. Minimum legal length is 14 inches and creel limit is 10 per day, per person.

20 YEARS OF ARTICLES 100s of years

experience at your fingertips

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e m i t g n i r p S to

s E t L e L I r c V RS Se E T N U G E K A L

Traditionally, Lake Guntersville has produced great springtime bass fishing and still does. BY JOHN E. PHILLIPS Photos by John E. Phillips


The author, John E. Phillips, certainly isn’t disappointed when he catches 10-20 bass this size in the springtime at Guntersville but always seems to miss a big one. 8 APRIL 2018 // // 877.314.1237

ake Guntersville is still kicking out monster-sized bass, and anglers all across the country travel there to fish. My longtime friend and guide, Phillip Criss of Scottsboro, Alabama, who fishes about 300 days a year, caught a 9-1/2-pounder in the spring of 2017. Here are Criss’s secrets to catching springtime Guntersville bass. Guntersville Lake can be really tough for a newcomer to fish successfully. It


homes plenty of new grass and new lily pads. Just about everywhere you look, you’ll expect to find bass. The regions where I want to concentrate my fishing in the spring will be the spots that have new-growth grass and lily pads with 3 feet or less of water above the vegetation. I’m fishing those places because the bass in Guntersville are moving up to those shallow-water flats to spawn in mid-March through mid-April.

Fish the Middle of the Week

The first secret for catching big springtime bass at Guntersville is don’t schedule your fishing trip for the weekend. Some weekends Guntersville may have eight major bass tournaments. In late March and early April, the bass are either shallow, or they’re moving to the shallows, getting ready for the spawn. Even with cold fronts, the bass in 2-3 feet deep water won’t swim a mile or two away from the shallow water when cold fronts hit. They’ll usually move to the first dropoffs, often only 1- to 1-1/2-feet deep, from the flats to hold until the water temperature warms up enough for them to move shallow again.

Fish Chatterbaits and the Equipment to Use

Our number-one bait in the spring on Guntersville is the chatterbait that has a blade on the front of a jig that causes the jig to make noise as it swims through the water on the surface. If the lake has had a cold front, we’ll still fish the chatterbait, just slower. At first light, the bass may be somewhat reluctant to take the chatterbait. But once the sun warms-up the shallow springtime water, the bass will bite more aggressively – often from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm. My favorite chatterbait is the Z-Man chatterbait ( store/categories/chatterbait) in a crawfish or a bluegill color or a shad pattern on 65-pound test PowerPro braided line. I work that chatterbait as close to the root ball of the lily pad stems as possible. If a big bass takes the bait and wraps you up in the lily-pad stems, this line is strong. I put my braided line on a Boyd Duckett heavy-action rod ( that’s 7’3” to 7’6” long and use a wide-spool baitcasting reel since

braided line tends to work better on that. You also can cast your chatterbait farther and slower and still have plenty of line left on the reel.

Hire a Guide

Some people are reluctant to hire guides because they believe they can find bass on their own. But no one knows a lake better than a guide, who probably spends 200+ days on the water. These guides know where the bass should be under certain water and weather conditions and which lures to fish.

Our number-one bait in the spring on Guntersville is the chatterbait that has a blade on the front of a jig that causes the jig to make noise as it swims through the water on the surface.” I had two dads fishing mid-lake with me in the spring of 2017, whose sons were pre-fishing for a high-school tournament. The early-morning bite was slow. But once the sun came up, and the wind blew, we started fishing the pockets that had the most wind hitting them, which pushed the baitfish into the lily-pad stems. Every pocket where the wind was blowing the hardest, the water temperature there was 1 to 2 degrees warmer than the rest of the lake. The wind was pushing our boat fairly fast, and I had a bass miss the chatterbait. I handed my rod to one of the Dads and said, “Cast this bait to that pocket.” On the Dad’s very first cast, he hooked and landed a 7-pound largemouth from the middle of the lily pad stems. The bass

rolled, jumped and put on a show. The angler who’d caught the bass asked, “How many people do you take out fishing catch the biggest bass they’ve ever caught in their lives fishing with you?” About 75 percent of the people I guide catch their personal best bass with me here on Guntersville Lake.

Fish the Lily Pad Stems

Once lily pads appear on the surface of Guntersville’s water, they create shade, and shade prevents grass from growing on the bottom. The lily pads usually grow on hard bottom, and the hard bottom is where bass on Lake Guntersville prefer to spawn. In late March, the bass will move into those stems, preparing their beds and waiting for the water temperature to get right for the spawn. When the water temperature stays 62 to 64 degrees for several days, the bass will spawn. The bass will search for spawning flats protected from a north wind that generally are 2-3 degrees warmer than the rest of the lake. Traditionally, we see bedding bass here at Guntersville by the third week of March until the first week of April, if we don’t have any snow or cold fronts move onto the lake during this time.

Keep a Logbook

One of the tools I use to know where the bass should be every day I fish is a logbook. Each day when I come off the water from fishing, I log the conditions for that day: where I’ve found bass holding; what lures we’ve used to catch those bass; where I’ve fished and the number and the size of bass I’ve caught; what time of day the bass bite best; where they’ve seemed to be on their spawning cycle; how many strikes I’ve had; what number of bass we’ve had on our lines and lost; and what number of bass we’ve actually gotten to the boat, taken pictures of and released. My logbook will tell me about 75-80 percent of the time where we’ll find bass, which lures we need to catch the bass, and what time of day we’ll probably catch bass. Remember, on the days I’m not guiding customers, I’m out on the lake fishing places I’ve never fished before and using lures that I rarely if ever fish with, or that I’ve never fished with previously. I also enter that information into my logbook. 877.314.1237 // // APRIL 2018 9

Secrets to Springtime Lake Guntersville Bass

Fish with Other Baits for Spring Bass

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One of the most exciting moments we had on a guide trip last spring was when one of my customers was throwing a Rat-L-Trap crankbait and had a strike that almost knocked him out of the boat. The fish took off, taking almost all the line off the reel. I turned the trolling motor on, and we chased the fish. I told my customer, “I don’t know what you’ve hooked into, but I know it’s not a bass. A bass would come up and try to throw that Rat-L-Trap.” Finally, we caught up to the fish, and his Rat-L-Trap had hooked a 30-pound carp in the tail. My customer laughed and announced, “I don’t care what kind of fish it is. I haven’t had this much fun fighting a fish in a long time.” Weedless Soft-Plastic Swimbaits, Spinner Baits, and Buzzbaits - Besides the chatterbait, I’ll be using weedless soft-plastic swimbaits and spinner baits. Spinner baits once were the number-one bait to catch big bass here at Guntersville, and you could catch bass all day long on them. However, new and better techniques and new baits have caused many bass fishermen to quit using the productive spinner bait. I’ll fish the buzzbait in the afternoon around the primrose grass (water primrose). Crankbaits - Occasionally, the square-bill crankbait will produce some good bass. Although I guess one of the all-time favorites that works really well on Guntersville at this time of year is the Rat-L-Trap, you can’t just throw the Rat-L-Trap out, reel it in and expect to catch bass. You must swim the Rat-LTrap slowly over the top of the grass, let it drop down and rip it out of the grass to catch the top part of the grass. Then no grass will hang on your hook. To fish the Rat-L-Trap effectively, the fisherman must stay in touch with his Rat-L-Trap and know what that bait is doing from the time it hits the water until he reels it into the boat. If the Rat-L-Trap quits vibrating, you’ll know it’s picked-up grass. Flukes, Frogs and Jigs - When the grass at Guntersville tops-out, I’ll fish a fluke on the edge of the grass, a plastic frog on top of the grass or a jig in holes in the grass. I don’t think Guntersville’s grass will top-out until about mid-April. I like the Stanley Ribbit Frog. When the bass won’t take the chatterbait, I’ll often cast a swim jig and swim it just under the water.

Don’t Fish for Bedding Bass

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4500 Hwy. 77 · Southside, AL 35907 10 APRIL 2018 // // 877.314.1237

I’m often asked, “Can you see the bass on the bed on Guntersville before and after the grass comes up?” Although I’m sure you can see some of them, I don’t fish for bedding fish. I think catching bedding bass in tournaments is one of the reasons that Guntersville’s bass population is in question. There is more bass fishing pressure on Guntersville Lake too now than there ever has been, especially on weekends. I believe that the bass have wised-up to fishing pressure and moved to areas where anglers don’t fish. Last spring a winning stringer of five bass that weighed 40 pounds, 11 ounces won a one-day tournament here at Guntersville. Nine pounds, 9 ounces was the biggest bass in that five-fish limit. Also a high school tournament last spring had a winning five-fish limit that weighed 32 pounds.

Secrets to Springtime Lake Guntersville Bass



I don’t fish for bedding fish. I think catching bedding bass in tournaments is one of the reasons that Guntersville’s bass population is in question.”

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I will be guiding customers on bass-fishing trips during April. Although we’re not looking for or targeting bedded bass, I’m sure we’ll catch some. We’ll bring them to the boat, hold them up and make a couple of pictures before releasing them. This is just my opinion, and there are probably a lot of bass fishermen who will disagree with me.

Try New Places to Catch Bass

On every trip you make to Lake Guntersville, fish new places that you’ve never fished. If you go to the same spots where you’ve always caught bass, and fish most of the same lures that you’ve caught bass on in those places, you’ve probably done a good job of educating the bass on what lures not to take. I also watch where most people are fishing, especially on the weekends. They’ll go to those spots because they know that bass are there. But when I take customers, I’ll always fish one or two areas I’ve never fished before to see if bass may be there. Any day I don’t have a guide trip, I’m searching for regions to fish that I’ve never fished previously that I think may be holding bass. I’ll find a little pocket or a cove that I’ve never fished, go to that spot and fish it with a wide variety of baits to learn whether any bass are there, or to find a new place to take my customers to fish. I’ve located numbers of productive places that hold bass by fishing new sites when I don’t have trips. I’ll also fish what’s known as a community spot, areas on the lake that everyone knows usually produce big bass. At a community spot, I’ve learned that something’s on the bottom - structure or current - that causes that place to concentrate baitfish that attract bass to move in and out of the spot to feed. I’ve caught some really nice bass fishing community spots during the week. Bass show-up at the community holes because the food’s there.

Improve Your Bass Fishing

Two years ago I spent most of the winter putting out 400-brush shelters. Today some of them hold bass, and some of them don’t. But anytime I’m close to any of these brush shelters, I’ll check them with my side-scanning depth finder to see if they’re holding bass. Often on days when the fishing is really tough, I can go to some of these spots and catch some good bass. You can contact Phillip Criss by calling 205-461-5549.

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877.314.1237 // // APRIL 2018 11

FLOAT wakulla

Float Wakulla River A Step Back in Time

A dark, secret place that provides great wildlife viewing and great fishing, Wakulla River on the Forgotten Coast of Florida is a special treat for anglers. BY SEB FREDRICKSON Photos by Seb Fredrickson


knew there had to be fish in the clear, tannin-colored water of the river as it flowed past the old fallen-down wooden pier. The slow but definite current slowed and swirled as it moved around the old pilings. This is just the sort of place that river largemouth bass love to hold position waiting for some small, edible creature to wash past. My cast was exactly where I wanted it to be. I guess miracles do occur on occasion, and my white and silver soft plastic fluke sank in the water as it neared the old pilings. The slowly sinking lure pulled the line down, and then the line bumped once, twice, and it started to move slowly upstream away from the old dock.

12 APRIL 2018 // // 877.314.1237

There had to be something moving the lure, and this would be a good time to find out what this something was. A made a sharp hook set, and then the line came very tight, and something very strong moved out into the middle of the river over a weed bed covering the bottom of the river. Whatever this something was, it did not like the pressure I was putting on it with my bent-over rod. As I continued to pull on the hooked something, I saw a dark form come to the surface with a leap that startled me, and a five-pound bass erupted from the clear but dark water and then dove for the weeds below. Sometimes I get lucky, and this day was one of those times. I managed to keep the strong fish under control, and after


a couple of rolls on the surface, I had a gorgeous example of Florida largemouth bass at the side of my kayak, and I reached to take its lower jaw. This five-pounder was the largest fish of the day, but it was not the only bass that came to visit. And this is the way that very often the world turns at this magnificent short river.

Where and what it is

The Wakulla River starts at the massive springs at Ed Ball State Park just outside of Crawfordville, Florida. Every day, 200 to 300 million gallons of water pour from the cave entrance below the surface at the park, and it’s this cool, clear, constant temperature water which creates the character of the Wakulla River. Since the Wakulla is almost totally spring-fed, the water stays clean and clear, and the river doesn’t blow out from heavy rain very often. In fact, fishing is very good yearround in the Wakulla because the water temperatures don’t change much due to the spring water. As the river moves through the protected area of the park, there’s no access at all in the upper regions of the river, many smaller springs contribute their water to the flow. There are lots of side springs which paddlers and boaters can easily explore, and these are some of the most attractive parts of the river. During the coldest months, the Wakulla River and its springs are home to many manatees, those massive and still endangered marine mammals. It’s very common to have manatees come up to investigate a floater or angler, and it is a truly impressive sight to have one of these gentle giants come up just alongside the boat. When the river exits the protected park area and crosses State Road 267, anglers and floaters can put their craft in and float downstream. In about twelve miles, the Wakulla joins the St. Marks River at the small village of St Marks and from there the combined streams soon enter the Gulf. The Wakulla is not a long river, and it’s not a big river, but it has some of the best scenery in this part of the world, and even though it’s not far away from civilization and folks, it seems like a totally wild and semi-tropical jungle stream. In fact, some of the old Tarzan movies

were filmed here. This river looks like a place Tarzan would choose to live.

What to Fish For

The Wakulla offers a wide range of fishing choices. The primary target of most anglers is the native largemouth bass. These river bass are some of the most beautiful bigmouths seen anywhere. Dark, plump, and brightly colored, these bass get big, too. There are some truly large bass here, but the very clear water, the heavy weed growth, and the caution of the biggest bass make them very hard to catch. Bass anglers will want to use 10 lb. test line in most cases, and if the water is very clear and the bass are very cautious, even lighter line may be required. Soft plastics work very well. A very effective offering for the Wakulla bass is a white or silver fluke rigged weedless and weightless. Cast this lure at the edge of the thick weed mats and let it sink. Watch the line for the slightest twitch as the fluke sinks. Strong hook sets are needed here, so don’t be shy about putting the wood to a biting bass. Another fun way to fish this weedless fluke is to cast it far over the weed mats and then hop the lure across the tops of the weeds. Be ready when the fluke reaches an open spot in the weeds. It can be very exciting when an aggressive Wakulla bass blasts up through the weeds to take the lure. The Wakulla is a place where a special little bass, the Sewanee bass, can be found. This little fighter is not native to the Wakulla, but anglers have dropped their live catches here, and the little Sewanee are doing well. These gorgeous little bass look and fight like smallmouth bass, and There are some truly they are one of the most brightly colored large bass here, but the members of the bass family. very clear water, the Fly anglers can have a ball casting popping bugs to pockets and dark shoreline heavy weed growth, and cover for some fine stumpknocker and the caution of the biggest bluegill bream. It’s not unusual to have bass make them very some feisty smaller bass take a popper hard to catch. intended for bream, either. As the Wakulla nears the town of St Marks,

For best results, try soft plastics worked near deep water cover. 877.314.1237 // // APRIL 2018 13

Float Wakulla River A Step Back in Time

the character of the river changes. It becomes a tide-influenced brackish stream, and redfish and other saltwater battlers are common. During the cooler months, some very big sheepshead run up the river and anglers catch them off the Highway 98 Bridge using shrimp and fiddler crabs.

water on the river, and it doesn’t involve any other people to help with boat shuttling. Anglers who want to sample the fine saltwater fishing on the Wakulla can easily put in at the great ramps at St. Marks and either go upstream or downstream.

Special Considerations

During the summer, fishing trips will be much more pleasant if taken during the middle of the week.” How to Access the River

Anglers can easily put in at the State Road 267 crossing where the river exits the park boundary, and the folks at The Wilderness Way, an excellent local kayak shop, can help with boat shuttling services and even kayak rentals. To float from the first put in point at the park boundary to the Highway 98 crossing will take only three or four hours. To properly fish the same water will take much longer. Another good option for anglers is to put the boat in at the boat ramp at the Highway 98 crossing and paddle or slowly motor upstream, and then float the river back to the launch ramp. This is a very good way to access some of the best fishing

14 APRIL 2018 // // 877.314.1237

Now, even though the Wakulla River looks like a jungle stream and often appears to be a totally wild place, the truth is something else. Tallahassee is only twenty miles away, and on weekends and holidays, the river gets extremely heavy recreational use. During the summer, fishing trips will be much more pleasant if taken during the middle of the week. Even then, after about ten o’clock in the morning, anglers can expect to share the river with lots of floaters, some of whom are not considerate. Spring and fall off-season fishing trips are probably more fun for anglers, but the noise and foolishness of the rowdy party-folks on weekends disturb anglers a lot more than the fish. Even on heavy-use times, the Wakulla River bass still like to come and play.

Important Contact Information The Wilderness Way 850-877-7200



Fly fishing guru suggests understanding the mood and habits of bream is just as important as choosing the right bug. BY GREG McCAIN Photos by Greg McCain


hoosing a popping bug for bream seems like an easy proposition. Go to the local big box store or sporting goods outlet and buy what’s available. Everyone knows that bream will hit anything. Knowledgeable fly fishermen scoff at that naïve approach, however. They can rattle off the various complications that arise from going the cheap, easy route. First of all, the selection is often limited in most stores simply because the demand is usually low. The quality of easy-to-get bugs also comes into question. Durability is a major concern and inexpensive bugs often survive only a few explosive strikes from bigger fish before being rendered unfishable. Several questions come into play when considering the best possible presentation for bluegills and other bream species. What makes a good bug to entice fish, especially early in the year when they hug spawning beds? Just how important are size, shape, and color in the process of selecting the best popping bug for bream? Where do you find them? And are popping bugs even the best choice for bream at certain times of the year? Fly fishing guru Tony Cox, who calls the Tennessee River home but catches fish on the fly from the trout streams of Arkansas and Tennessee to the Gulf of Mexico, offers a variety of options about what works well for bream from early in the season through the summer months. Living near Florence, Cox ( spends much of his year pursuing bream and bass on Wilson and Pickwick lakes and their tributaries. He starts his pursuit of bream about the time they go on the bed in April or May. Anglers farther south in Alabama might encounter spawning activity as early as late March with peak activity taking place in April. Regardless of location or the exact timing, Cox said part of the

challenge of choosing the best presentation involves understanding the mood of the fish. “It all really depends on one thing, whether it’s choosing a popping bug or a steamer: how far are the fish willing to move to hit it?” Cox said. Cox even goes as far as to suggest that choosing to fish a popping bug for pre-spawn bream and early spawners is probably not the best idea. While he revels in the flush of a bull bream on a bug as much as anyone, Cox said force-feeding a surface lure to spawning fish will probably result in a long day of casting 877.314.1237 // // APRIL 2018 15

Choosing and Using Popping Bugs

practice with the occasional strike from small bream. He further explains that bream on beds often have to move both horizontally and vertically through the water to reach a popping bug, especially the bigger fish, which typically spawn in slightly deeper water than their smaller counterparts. “Early-season and spawning fish are generally just not willing to chase that much,” Cox said. “If you ever find them that want to chase, let me know. If I find them, I’m probably not going to tell you.” He adds that he wants a lure, usually sub-surface, to target bream early in the spawning cycle. Cox owns an array of fly rods designed to match every fishing situation, so he is likely casting streamers and nymphs on a rig filled with a full sinking line as the spawn begins. However, the average fly fisherman who owns a single rod, one likely spooled with a floating line, isn’t equipped for that practice. The solution, according to Cox, is a simple one and involves the trusty popping bug. A POPPER AND A DROPPER The novice fly fisherman is probably most comfortable with a popping bug tied to his leader. But when the fish don’t want to eat on the surface, Cox suggests adding the dropper, a small weighted fly connected to the popper with a short leader. It’s a classic combination used in a variety of fly fishing situations and can significantly increase the number of strikes for fish holding tight on a bed.

Some of the old stories are true. You grow up reading about waiting for the rings to dissipate. There’s something to that.

Cox calls the two-lure combo the fly fishing equivalent of a drop shot rig employed by bass fishermen. “Take a good-sized popping bug, just about any old bug as long as it’s got a good hook,” he said. “It really doesn’t matter as long as it’s got good foam or cork and will float the fly. If it gets hit early in the year, it’s a happy accident.” The leader can be anywhere from about 18 inches up to about three feet, depending on water depth. While the popping bug doesn’t have to be ornate – Cox said removing the legs helps eliminate “casting drama” – just use a dropper that tantalizes bream. “Some of my bugs are old enough to drive,” Cox said. “They don’t look like much. But I want a fly (for the dropper) with a lot of movement. It’s kind of like playing with a kitten with a string. You want to entice them and then they will pounce.” Cox said the combination demands some practice to present well, especially with a longer leader. “You’re not just going to grip it and rip it,” he said. “Nobody is going to accuse you of looking like the guys from a River Runs Through It. I have been accused of looking like an octopus falling out of a tree (when casting a popper and dropper). 16 APRIL 2018 // // 877.314.1237

“It’s actually more of a lob than anything else.” The good thing, Cox said, is that precision accuracy is not always required. “Cast to get it there without creating a square knot in the air,” he said. “Cast beyond the target, strip it back slowly and allow the dropper to pendulum. Get it near the bed, stop it, and make a bedding fish nervous.” MAGICAL TRANSITION Given a choice, most fly fishermen would rather fool fish on the surface than catch them on a streamer or nymph. It’s part of the magic of fly fishing. Cox said he begins to experience that type of action each year sometime in late April or more likely May in north Alabama. The fish become more aggressive and look to the surface to eat. He said those bream are likely the first wave of spawners that have left the bed. “It doesn’t all happen at once and that’s nature’s design to preserve the species,” Cox said. “Some are still on the bed and some are already in post-spawn. “When you happen to get them coming to the surface to eat, then you can always clip off the dropper and just use the popper. Usually, you’re going to find some of both, sometimes in the same area.” Cox said he chooses a bigger popping bug, usually one with an open face, for early surface action. He wants to get the bream’s attention. Even then, the fish may be slow to come to a bug on top, and patience is required. “Pop and stop,” Cox said, “a big pop and then a pause. Some of the old stories are true. You grow up reading about waiting for the rings to dissipate. There’s something to that. “The fish are not going to chase 40 feet in April or May like they will in June. Early on, it’s pop and stop.” Cox also said don’t be afraid to experiment with size. He frequently uses bugs that are bigger than average for bluegills. The bigger lures attract bigger bream and also appeal to bass as well. On other days, smaller bugs are the ticket. REALISM VS. PRESENTATION Ultimately, Cox said he is usually not concerned with exactly “matching the hatch.” Size can be important. So can shape and color. However, he is more concerned with putting a realistic-looking presentation in front of a fish that causes it to react given its present mood. “I’m not a realist when it comes to matching flies, and that gets me in trouble when I go speak to fly fishing clubs,” he said. “They want me to talk about how I exactly match a fly to what the fish are eating. There is something to do that, but it’s not me. “I am much more of a ‘presentationist’. As long as I get the general shape and length, profile, and action, I will mess with shade, whether it’s light or dark, rather than with specific colors.” That doesn’t mean that Cox resorts to using just any type of bug. He is constantly refurbishing his old bugs and seeking out new ones. What does he look for in the best bug? “That’s a hard question to answer,” he said. “It’s hard to find stuff locally. You have to do your homework online, and then you don’t

Choosing and Using Popping Bugs

actually know what you are getting until you put it to use.” COMMERCIAL SUCCESS When purchasing popping bugs, Cox has long favored an offering originally produced in the Birmingham area. The BoogleBug line has a strong following among fly rod enthusiasts. The bugs are pricey but well-constructed and effective. A single bug can withstand multiple days of fishing at times, and fishermen even extend their use by re-conditioning them. “It’s really one of those comfort things, maybe confidence is the better word,” Cox said. “I still like the BoogleBug and use them at times. I really want to hate them, but I still buy a few. They make a really good bug.” Cox went on to suggest looking for quality bugs and flies in higher-end fly shops. The alternative is to scour the Internet on sites like That site offers BoogleBugs and other higher-end bugs and flies. The price of a quality bug usually starts at about $3 and can easily be double that amount. “I don’t know if there’s a single brand,” Cox said. “Mostly it’s what you have available and have confidence in fishing. If you have confidence in it, you’re probably going to have some success. “I do buy some. I like to go to fly shops just to see what’s out there. I will admit, some of (the bugs) are sometimes made to catch fishermen more than to catch fish.” DO IT YOURSELF Like many fly fishing addicts, Cox spends hours hovering over the vice, tying, and re-tying. He mentions an X-Acto knife as much as he mentions specific threads or other materials. The right combinations sometimes happen through experience and sometimes by accident.

Regardless of the outcome, Cox said the do-it-yourself approach can be both productive and fulfilling. Cox experiments with a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials in building his flies and bugs. “You would be surprised what you can make with some cheap sheet foam from the dollar store,” he said. “There is something of an art to making a really good fly or bug, but the average person can build them well enough that they can catch fish all year long.” Cox recommends using YouTube videos as tutorials and seeking out materials at a craft store like Hobby Lobby, which features more variety and a better selection than the average outlet. Of course, most fly shops offer supplies, but prices will also generally be higher. Cox builds many of his baits with foam, using cork when it is available. “Cork is old school, it’s expensive and not easy to find,” he said. “Many of the flies and bugs are made today out of some other type of material.” KNOW THE FISH Cox re-emphasizes the importance of understanding the fish as much as choosing the right bug. “Bluegills can be tricky,” he said. “They are underrated as a fish that can kick your tail when they get particular.” They may demand a popping bug with multiple wiggling rubber legs when they have their choice of mayflies all around them. At other times, a bare-bones popper may result in unrestrained, repeated strikes. “I’m sure there are bugs that are the absolute best for a given situation,” he said. “It’s equally important to know the mood of the fish. Is it the time of the year when their metabolism is high? Are they willing to chase?

A popper and dropper rig is a deadly combination for pre-spawn and spawning bream.

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Certain tactics can be helpful to catch a trophy speckled trout. CAPT. BOBBY ABRUSCATO

Photo submitted by Capt. Bobby Abruscato


ost of the lights from the marinas on both banks of the mouth of Dog River had come on as it was getting close to dark on this cold late–February evening. My boat drifted along with the slow-moving incoming tide — the wind almost non-existent. I was jigging a chartreuse Berkley Power Bait on a 3/8 oz. jig head. The first two trout I had caught were both quality fish probably weighing over 5 lbs. each. Over the previous weeks, I had caught some nice fish, and it usually didn't take long — about two drifts to finds out if the fish were going to bite. This was one of the evenings that it felt "on" and the anticipation was driving me insane. The bite was like a jolt of electricity and I set the hook even though the fish was probably already on. It was

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a good one I could tell as there was no moving it at first. Luckily there were no other boats fishing so I could concentrate on the fish and not have to worry about drifting into someone. The fish made a few runs to try to get back down and every time I’d move it would take that much more line back. The fight only lasted for about 5 minutes, but it felt like an eternity. My hea rt was thumping with butterflies swarming in my stomach. At last the monster trout rolled up to the surface and I laid the rubber lined net under it and gently laid it on the deck. The trout measured 28.5-inches but what was most impressive was its girth. The fish looked like a football as it was probably loaded with roe ; having yet to make its first spawn of the year. I lifted the fish taking one last look at it before preparing


to revive and release it when I heard from the balcony of the Grand Mariner Restaurant “Hey, don’t let that go! It’s our dinner!” I just then noticed the two couples that were watching me land the fish. “Sorry, this one’s going back. You’ll have to catch your own.” was my reply as I eased the monster fish back into the water. That was in 1998 and I still remember every detail of the catch. In 50 years of chasing speckled trout (which represents thousands of fishing trips), I have caught 6 of what I consider trophy sized or "gator" speckled trout – those are trout over 7 pounds. Needless to say, that size fish are indeed rare along the northern Gulf Coast. So how does one go about catching a wall hanger speckled trout? Obviously, the fish have to cooperate, but there are a few things that can be done to improve the odds.

times of the year and while using different techniques. Also, only one came while targeting big trout – i.e. I lucked into the others. The idea here is that there is no substitute for having using quality tackle and always having it in tip-top shape because you never know when the fish of a lifetime may be ready to eat your offering. How many times have we all heard about "the big one that got away?" The connection to the fish is the line and even the best line is not very expensive so

Being able to cast a long way is of utmost importance when targeting big trout.

Luck versus Preparation

There is a saying that goes "Luck is where hard work meets preparation". Because big trout feed year-round they can be caught at any time. All of my really big trout have been caught at different

it pays to keep a quality line on your reel. Of course, the best line is not worth a cent if the knot is weak. I use five knots and have gotten good at tying them. I

have also had the opportunity to test them and some of the simpler knots — the Trilene, Palomar, Loop, Albright and Surgeons. All rate very high at the break. Be sure that whatever is used, can be tied quickly and most importantly effectively, and always check the knot after tying. All fish are in one of two modes, but never both at the same time. They are either eating or trying to keep from being eaten. When something scares them they won't eat. One of the things I tell my charters, especially when shallow water fishing, is that the one that casts the farthest is going to catch the most fish. That's because the fish can "feel" the boat, thus know that something isn't natural. I set my rods up so that they can be cast a long way by even an inexperienced angler. Being able to cast a long way is of utmost importance when targeting big trout. Also, use the current to your advantage when live-baiting. Letting the bait drift feely away from the boat is a very natural presentation and a very effective way to get the bait away fr om the boat. My personal best trout and the biggest trout that I have ever had a charter catch

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Targeting “Gator” Sized Speckled Trout

have been while wading. By wading, you eliminate the boat and are super stealthy. In both cases, the fish were caught in less than two feet of clear water at mid-morning with a bright sky — not what I would have considered prime trout time. I think the only way we could have caught those fish was to be in the water. They don’t get big by being eaten, so they probably have a keen sense of self-preservation that shuts them down when something doesn’t feel right.

Baits and Presentation

On the subject of bait, the common thinking is to use big baits to solely target big trout. There is definitely a lot of truth to that because by using large baits you eliminate the smaller trout from being able to eat. I am often amazed at the size of a bait that a trout will eat — or try to eat. We've all caught trout that are barely

bigger than the top water plug we we re throwing. The moral here is that you almost can't use a bait too big. Eightinch finfish; croakers, mullet or pogies, can and are regularly eaten by big trout. The key though is not to just hook up a big bait and throw it out. The bait has to be presented in a natural fashion. For example, croakers don't look natural 3 feet under a cork in 15 foot of water, but mullet and pogies do. Shrimp don't swim up current. So shrimp and shrimp imitations need to be retrieved from up to down current or allowed to drift freely with the current. I mention shrimp because although big trout do eat big fin fish, they still eat a lot of shrimp while they are eating them.

Best Times

As mentioned, big trout can be caught year-round, but there are times when they are more likely to be caught. Trout spawn on the central Gulf Coast when the water temps are above 62 degrees. Typically, that is from April 1st to mid- October — of course varying based on the weather. The spawn is a regular occurrence — about every 4 days but peaks around the full moon. During the spawn, trout, unlike some other species, feed very aggressively.

As mentioned, big trout can be caught year-round, but there are times when they are more likely to be caught. On the peak full-moon-spawns that feeding activity is amplified 3 days before and after the moon. Naturally, that is a great time to target them. Also, the 30-inch trout in early April is going to weigh as much as two pounds more than she would in November because she'll be loaded with full roe sacks. The roe is very dense thus adding the weight. So when I am asked when would be the best time to catch a 7+ pound trout, I usually tell my clients that the full moon periods of April or May would be their best bet. Again, even though some of my biggest trout have come at different times of the day, I still like to be at my prime area when on a big trout trip at first light, dusk or on overcast days. Trout are ambush feeders and I feel that the low-light provides them with the cover that they need to feed. Therefore they are more likely to be in said mode.


There is no need to kill a big trout anymore and more often than not, ire of other trout anglers is bestowed upon anyone that does. Nowadays, many taxidermists don't need the actual fish to do a mount and many people agree that the replica mounts even look better and certainly last longer. If you happen to catch a trophy trout, take some good pictures, especially of any unique features of the fish, and release it. Trout of this size are always females and contribute greatly to the population as they are very prolific spawners. Best of luck in your pursuit of that trophy trout and if you decide to use them I hope that these tips are of use to you. 20 APRIL 2018 // // 877.314.1237

Targeting “Gator” Sized Speckled Trout



Orange Beach Billfish Classic May 16-20 Blue Marlin Grand Championship July 10-15 You’ll find year round fishing in some of the world’s richest inshore and offshore fishing grounds along the Alabama Gulf Coast. / 877-475-1534 877.314.1237 // // APRIL 2018 21


f r u S e h t in


Gathering and using the right bait is important to surf fishing success. BY DAVID THORNTON Photos by David Thornton


he highly sought after Florida pompano is the premier fish for surf fishers year round. Prized not only for the tasty meals they provide but for their scrappy fight as well. After all, they are members of the jack family of fishes; and though small (usually weighing a pound or two) they can be fairly numerous at times. Even more plentiful are the drum-like kingfish species (gulf, northern and southern). Commonly called “whiting” and “ground mullet”, they average just less than a pound but may grow to almost three pounds. Still, they are good sport fish on light tackle and also great table fare. Additionally, the larger drum fish species (red and black) may be present in the surf zone. Drum of any size (from one to twenty or more pounds) may prowl about under the waves in search of food in the various forms of invertebrates (clams, crabs, shrimp, etc.) and even small fish (including their cousins). These are also good eating fish when young, and once they reach adult age may continue to grow (and reproduce) for decades. Our unique stretch of shoreline from Cape San Blas in Florida to Dauphin Island, Alabama is commonly referred to as “The Emerald Coast.” That is a good descriptor of the nearshore region renowned for its predominantly clear, light green colored water which covers white quartzite sandbars and beaches. This is good habitat for a huge variety of invertebrate species as well as numerous fish which feed on them. Though not often visible to the casual beachgoer, these small sea worms, crustaceans and mollusks live beneath the water and in the sandy bottom. But they make up the bulk of what these native fish live and thrive on in these shallow waters just off the shore.

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The author with an above average sized pompano landed on a Fishfinder rig.


This is a trying and even hostile environment in many ways. Hot in summer, the shallow clear water may exceed 90 degrees. And cold in winter when occasional freezes may drop the gulf water temperature even into the 40s for a time. Plus the surf zone is periodically ravaged by large waves and strong currents from huge storms. In addition, predatory fish, mammals, and birds routinely patrol here. Looking to make a meal of these smaller, more defenseless fish. So the fish that make a full time living here grow up fast and strong, and can even be quite wary occasionally. And like anywhere people fish, to be successful it is important to use any natural elements of location and food to your advantage.

Though not often visible to the casual beachgoer, these small sea worms, crustaceans and mollusks live beneath the water and in the sandy bottom.

The very idea of using a specific natural bait in the surf zone is to “match the hatch” so to speak. We should try to give the fish that live and feed in this turbulent region between the beach out a hundred yards or so to the longshore sandbar (and perhaps a bit beyond) what they are used to eating. Or at least bait up with something close enough to that which they seek so they will not hesitate to eat the offering, much to our delight. MAKE IT LOOK “REAL” GOOD Though fresh dead and frozen shrimp (penaeid shrimp) are likely the most widely used natural baits for surf fishing along the gulf coast region, they are actually not very common in the surf zone. These shrimp grow up in the inshore bays and estuaries and then migrate offshore into the gulf to spawn. But they are relatively cheap and easy to store and obtain, so they are most often used. And they can be quite effective at times, even after being frozen. Especially when they are ‘doctored’ up to resemble the more common naturally occurring prey items such as beach ghost shrimp or mole

crabs (called “sand fleas”). This can be accomplished several ways. The easiest is to partially peel and break the shrimp into bite-sized pieces for the fish you are targeting. Pompano and “whiting” have no biting teeth and relatively small mouths built for sucking in prey items not much more than 2 inches long and a ½ inch wide. Most whole shrimp (in the shell) are larger than that and have sharp ends. A typical 3-inch long bait shrimp can easily be rendered more palatable to these fish by removing the carapace (head cover) and the tail section while leaving the legs intact. Shrimp larger than 2 ½ inches should be cut in half and each part hooked separately. This method not only releases more scent into the water, it increases the bite ratio. And it makes your bait supply last longer too. Simply thread the abdominal segment (or segments) onto a #6 or #4 Kahle hook or circle hook and cast to a likely area. A variety of commercially pre-made double hook “pompano rigs” are made specifically for this presentation. The small hooks are tied by dropper loop onto a length of 15# to 20# clear monofilament or fluorocarbon line with a swivel on one end and a snap or loop (for the weight) on the other end. This is so the pyramid weight can easily be changed out as conditions warrant, or removed at the end of the day for transport and storage. You don’t want a sinker knocking or rubbing against your fishing rod and causing damage to it. Plus the best surf rods should be 9 feet or longer, have a sensitive tip to detect light bites and break down into two sections. The rigs are available in several styles applicable to specific fishing conditions. The ones with a small red or orange bead just above the hook (to attract the fish’s attention) are usually best in near calm and fairly clear water. And the rigs with a brightly colored float just above the hook seem to work best in rougher conditions or when there is less visibility under water. But in perfectly calm water with high visibility, a simple fish finder rig (locally called “Carolina rig”) may be the ticket for getting wary fish to bite on a single bait. It is usually best to cast the rig into a break in the beach sandbar, or edge of a dropoff and place the rod in a rod holder and wait for a bite. The bite is often preceded by a single ‘tap’ on the bait as the fish tries to stun its prey. That is soon followed by a series of taps as it gets the bait into its mouth and darts away to help swallow it. The Kahle or circle hooks usually work best like this, by allowing the fish to practically hook itself in the corner of the mouth from the increasing pressure from the line to the reel. The drag should be pre-set with just enough tension to set the hook in the

Ghost shrimp make a excellent bait for a wide variety of fish.

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Baiting up in the Surf

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fish’s mouth while allowing the running fish to take some line so as not to uproot the sand spike. All the angler need do is give an added ‘jab’ to be sure the hook is firmly set as the rod is lifted from the rod holder. The same methods can be used with other baits which may be available like “live” or “fresh-dead” shrimp, sand fleas and beach ghost shrimp. Even pieces of large clams, crabs and hermit crabs seem to work fine as natural baits. And chunks of fresh cut fish such as mullet, menhaden, croaker, etc. work well for some species like “bull” redfish, drum, bluefish and even ground mullet (but not so much for pompano and whiting). As always fresher baits are often the best, even live if you can get it. And if you have to use frozen bait, at least use fresh seawater to freeze it in. That seems to help it retain firmness and perhaps flavor for the intended fish. Probably the least favorable bait near shore is squid, which usually best attracts only catfish and rays. GET IT YOURSELF Gathering your own bait should be a worthwhile effort that balances your time and effort with a return of more fish caught. The best known of these is raking sand fleas along the wash zone of the beach where the waves lap up on shore. When the waves pound and push up on the sand, the material is dislodged from the turbulence. And as the water recedes, it drags this material back toward the water. Mole crabs (called “sand fleas”) make a living there by straining this water for fine organic particles with their feather-like antennae. Occasionally these can be seen as small ‘V’s in the sand as the wave recedes. A close grouping of these tell-tale marks in the sand are indicative of a “colony” of sand fleas. And that is the best place to drag the rake. Timing is essential to maximize your catch by using the power of the water moving down the beach to pull more fleas into your rake. This process of what to look for specifically and how to go about it can easily be researched via videos available on the internet such as baitSANDFLEAS.html Sand fleas an inch or so long are ideal bait sized, and easily fit onto the hooks as previously described on the bottom fishing rigs. Simply drive the hook up through the round shell from underneath the tail which is tucked between the legs. They can also be used to tip jigs, which is a very effective method for searching out pompano in the spring and early summer along the beach. Sand fleas are often available for sale (frozen) at local bait shops and they usually sell rakes for $30 to $50. If sand fleas are not available for the angler (as in winter), a small piece of fresh shrimp about the same size may work almost as well. Especially helpful in the spring and early summer is the added attractant of a ½ inch piece of orange colored Fishbites. This synthetic strip is formulated in several flavors and colors to dissolve slowly in seawater, releasing a scent trail. Though the jury is still out on how well these fish can “see” colors, the bright orange coincidentally resembles the eggs of a sand flea. It sure works. So well, in fact, these fish may at times bite on hooks baited ONLY with Fishbites! The blue packs are for use in water above 65 degrees and Fishbites in red packs are formulated for water below 65 degrees.

Baiting up in the Surf

Much more numerous than sand fleas, beach ghost shrimp populate much of the benthic surf zone and frequently make up the majority of the diet of fish living in that area. Pompano and kingfish seem to relish them, and even the larger drums rarely pass up such a morsel. They are a sort of saltwater soft-shelled crayfish, even resembling crayfish or lobsters more than what we typically think of as shrimp. But beach ghost shrimp are rarely sold in bait shops because they don’t seem to live more than a day or two after being extracted from their burrow. And procuring them is a bit more labor-intensive, requiring a ghost shrimp pump.

The easiest way to locate a ‘colony’ of ghost shrimp is to search at low tide with near calm conditions. This suction device can be bought from most coastal bait shops (for about $30), or made from parts available at most hardware stores (for about $15). It is constructed from a 3-foot long piece of 2-inch diameter PVC pipe. A handle is attached to a test plug which creates a vacuum seal as the handle is drawn upward. The suction slurries the sand with water as it is pulled up into the tube (hopefully along with the ghost shrimp). The contents are then discharged off to the side and examined for the 2 to 4 inch long shrimp. Several ‘slurps’ may be needed to extract a shrimp as their burrows may extend down 2 to 3 feet beneath the opening, and perhaps even off to the side. This can be quite a bit of exercise at times, and practically impossible if the water is too high or too rough. The easiest way to locate a ‘colony’ of ghost shrimp is to search at low tide with near calm conditions. Look along the edge of a beach point or sandbar for lines of their tiny gray ‘poop pellets’ that wash ashore. Underwater nearby should be a series of inch-high sand mounds along the bottom. These look like tiny volcanoes and may even have a small hole actively discharging puffs of sand as the shrimp digs. With favorable conditions (low tide and calm surf), two to three dozen of these can be obtained in about 30 minutes. And that represents plenty of opportunities to catch fish for the rest of the day. This situation of morning low tides best for gathering ghost shrimp, and a high tide in the evening is most prevalent along the beaches from October through March. Coinciding with the passage of cold fronts, north winds, and calming surf. Ghost shrimp can be rigged as bait in much the same way as other shrimp, and larger specimens should be cut in half. Take care when hooking them though, as they are quite soft. The best places to start the hook is through the anal opening at the end of the tail, or through the leg mass under the head. And watch the bait as you cast to be sure it doesn’t come off the hook. If you are having difficulty keeping it on a hook, you can build a “bait cradle” out of a small rectangle cut from nylon hosiery or other light mesh. Simply hook the mesh and wrap the bait

with it and secure the loose end by hooking it again. A piece of mesh often lasts for several casts (or fish) before becoming too shredded to use. But the fish don’t seem to mind it being on the hook. WHEN TO GO ‘ARTIE” Warm water in summer and fall brings a flood of small and juvenile fish into the surf zone. These often outnumber the more desirable species and sizes, and for a time render that area practically unusable for natural bait which is quickly eaten off the hook. Besides, tides from April through September are usually high in the morning and low in the evening (or at night). Gamefish native to the surf zone usually feed closer to shore on a rising tide and move away from shallower water as the tide falls. So they are never stationary and seldom solitary. These fish seem to always be on the move looking for food or shelter, or perhaps even a mate. For these reasons, it is always a good idea for an unproductive angler to roam along the shore as well in search of schooling fish. But it’s not practical nor time efficient to put bottom rigs out every 30 feet as you move down the beach. A much quicker way to locate a school of pompano or whiting or slot-sized redfish is to “prospect” with a jig. Jigs are ideal for beach use because they are fairly light and small, but cast far (even into the wind) and sink to the bottom quickly. Fishing a pompano jig or a Silly Willy Rig is an art form of itself, but it can be a very useful tool for the shore bound fisherman to locate fish. Using a light spinning reel on a 7 to 9-foot medium light action rod with 4 to 8-pound monofilament line, an angler can try several casts in a likely looking spot before moving on. Fan-casting from a single spot can effectively cover hundreds of yards of the bottom in just a few minutes. And if the fish don’t bite a bare jig, it can always be “sweetened” with a piece of bait or Fishbites to enhance it. Most jig fishers tie directly onto the line with no leader. The action is simply a wrist snap to jerk the jig upward a foot or two and let it fall back to the bottom. Most strikes come on the fall or just as the line is gained to start another “hop”. Slow the action a bit with a piece of bait on the hook, or even “crawl” it along the bottom. The bite is usually a bump or peck as the fish tries to “stun” its prey. Then a jolting strike as it grabs it and heads away. Another variation of jig fishing occurs in the late summer and fall as flounder begin to move out of the bays and out into the gulf to spawn. Flounder are opportunists, but seem to not be able to resist a bouncing jig. Especially one resembling a ghost shrimp like a 3-inch Gulp shrimp in the New Penny or Molting colors. For this setup, one can simply tie on a ½ to ¾ ounce stand-up lead head jig and thread the Gulp onto it. The action can be either the “hopping” or dragging motion or a combination of the two. Bycatch from this method often includes the hard-pulling redfish and acrobatic ladyfish or even other species including pompano. So by adjusting tactics to match conditions, and armed with these tips, there is no reason a properly equipped beach angler can’t be at least modestly successful catching fish in the surf year round. 877.314.1237 // // APRIL 2018 25

HOW TO BUILD A GHOST SHRIMP PUMP 26 APRIL 2018 // // 877.314.1237




f all the small sea creatures hidden under the white sand of the Emerald Coast beaches, Beach Ghost Shrimp Callichirus islagrande may well be about the most important and least recognized for surf and pier fishermen. Many anglers are familiar with using penaeid shrimp or even mole crabs (sand fleas) as fish bait. But beach ghost shrimp often make up a larger percentage of natural food items for pompano, drum, sheepshead and other

commonly seen because fish seem to snap them up faster than $20 bills in a Walmart parking lot. But pieces of ghost shrimp are often found in the stomachs of these fish at the cleaning table, proving how often they are eaten. This shy, soft crustacean can burrow several feet down into the sandy bottom for protection, and to find its own food as well as a mate. Since they are not commonly available for sale, about the only recourse for anglers looking to use them as bait is to dig down after them. The "ghost shrimp pump" or "slurp gun" is the perfect tool to perform this labor-intensive task. The practice of using a suction pump device to extract ghost shrimp seems to have originated in Australia where similar species are referred to as "yabbies".

Building one yourself is easy and only takes about an hour. It will reward you not only for the modest amount of money saved but by catching a virtually unlimited supply of your own fishing bait while using something made by your own hands.

Ghost shrimp produce a large amount of fecal pellets (pictured above), giving away their living in the surf zone. They are


Some years later, use of the pump was adopted in the United States as expensive imports. Then about 10 years ago interest picked up and anglers began clamoring to find out how to make their

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Baiting up in the Surf

own pumps. There are several variations of the pump, and detailed assembly instructions are available by searching "ghost shrimp pump" on the internet. They are fairly simple devices, assembled from about $15 worth of parts available at most hardware or home improvement stores. Plus, some coastal bait shops sell them already assembled for around $35. Building one yourself is easy and only takes about an hour. It will reward you not only for the modest amount of money saved but by catching a virtually unlimited supply of your own fishing bait while using something made by your own hands. Plus, this allows room for any personal customization you might be inspired to adapt to creating your own version. Your neighborhood plumbing supply or building store should have the necessary parts to construct your own pump. GHOST SHRIMP PUMP PARTS NEEDED: A 30” to 36” long piece of 2” diameter 'thin-walled' PVC pipe. A 36” to 42” long piece of 3/4” diameter 'thick-walled' pipe. A 3/4" 90-degree elbow or T-fitting. A 2” end cap (with a 3/4” hole drilled in it). TWO 3/4” end caps. One will need a 5/16” hole drilled in the center. A 5/16” stainless steel lock nut (and washer). A 2” PVC Test Plug (the red plastic will need to be ground down to fit inside the 2” tube). A 5/16” X 2” Stainless Steel bolt (to replace the standard 1 1/2” long bolt in the test plug). A 5/16” stainless steel wing nut. 28 APRIL 2018 // // 877.314.1237

A small can of PVC 'primer' and PVC cement (glue). SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED: NOTE: the long piece of 3/4” pipe should be no longer than the length of the 2” pipe. • So cut a 6” long piece off one end of the 3/4” pipe to use for your handle. • Glue one end of this 6” long pipe into the intact 3/4” end cap, • Glue the other end into the 3/4” elbow (or T). • Glue the longer 3/4” pipe into the bottom of the handle elbow (or T). IMPORTANT: pass the 2” end cap up onto the long piece of 3/4” PVC. IMPORTANT: pass the thread end of the 2” long 5/16” bolt out the end of the 3/4” end cap before gluing to the lower end of the 3/4” pipe. Thread the washer and lock nut onto the 5/16” bolt and tighten (be careful not to over tighten). Place the test plug on the end of the 5/16" bolt and the wingnut after it (tighten by hand only). The 2” pipe should slide over the test plug and into the end cap suspended on the handle. I prefer to just push the long outer tube into the end cap near the handle instead of gluing it. This allows it to be quickly disassembled after use to rinse away all sand and saltwater. Also, I add a drop of 3-In-One oil to the end of the bolt and loosen the wing nut to allow the rubber O-ring to relax until

Baiting up in the Surf

needed again. The amount of pressure the wingnut exerts on the O-ring will squeeze it outward against the sides of the tube. So when the handle is pulled upward, it creates a vacuum which draws water and sand (and hopefully a ghost shrimp) up into the tube. The contents are dispelled off to one side and examined for a ghost shrimp simply by pushing the handle back down in the tube.

Just about anyone can do this — even children. But it is a very strenuous workout.

USING THE PUMP Hold the top of the tube in one hand and the handle in the other. As you draw up on the handle with one arm, try to press the tube down into the sand by extending your other arm downward. This exercise will maximize the depth you are excavating with each 'slurp'. After squirting the contents off to one side, quickly reinsert the end of the tube into the depression you just created and repeat the pumping process. The accessible shrimp are usually near the top of their burrow. So after two to four 'pumps' you should have

excavated down about 2 to 2 ½ feet. If you haven't seen a shrimp by then your odds of finding one in that hole seem to decrease. So it's probably best to just move on to the next burrow. I seem to have the best luck slurping ghost shrimp on a dead low tide, just as the tide starts back in, but not always. Look for the burrows (or simply 'open holes' in the bottom) with a bit of sandy water discharging from them. That is usually indicative of a ghost shrimp which may be near the surface and actively digging. Once you get the rhythm of what to look for and how deep to go, it gets a bit easier. Usually bait gathering sessions last about an hour, to get 30-50 shrimp. But I like to take frequent breaks for rest or check my fishing rigs. Often I just gather a few ghost shrimp to begin fishing with and then make several excursions nearby to get more as needed. They store well in a shallow pail or even a Ziploc bag in the cooler. Leftover ghost shrimp can be frozen (about 20 or so) in a bait cup or small Ziploc bag filled with seawater (not tap water). They will be a bit 'mushy' when thawed, but still, make great bait or even chum. Just about anyone can do this — even children. But it is a very strenuous workout. So be careful using muscles you may not ordinarily use, or use for long periods, especially in cold weather. Still, it is a great way to get outside even in cold weather and at least get some fantastic fishing bait. Good luck!

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Waterway TURKEYS Lightweight watercraft can effortlessly put you in position to bag a gobbler. BY CHARLES JOHNSON Photos by Charles Johnson


wo camo hunters hurriedly trudge down a hardwood ridge. The morning darkness was quickly fading, and the eastern sky began to glow a fiery pink. The pair hustled to get into listening position. Would the old Tom divulge his roosting spot again today? Suddenly a thunderous gobble broke the morning silence. It was him. The old big Tom the two turkey chasers have been after the past three mornings. One hunter plied a few soft tree yelps and the bird gave an immediate response. The hunting duo had him pinpointed on the next ridge. The pair continued their trek to close the distance between them and the bird. At the bottom of their ridge, they realized a major obstacle, water. A small slough on the upper reaches of a lake prevented the pair from getting any closer to the gobbler. A continuous series of yelps had the old bird gobbling passionately. But, he would not fly across the slough. Many times, over the course of a season, turkey hunters have faced similar situations. A lake, river or creek has saved a gobbler from the roasting pan. However, turkey hunter can employ a different tactic in reaching a wary gobbler near a waterway. Canoes, kayaks and small boats can save turkey hunters foot travel, time and frustration in establishing a calling position on an otherwise impossible mission to reach a bird. Hunting turkeys from a

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Waterway Turkeys

small watercraft can open up many available locations that other hunters are not willing or able to approach.

Watercraft selections

Kayaks have become popular in recent years. Many are designed for fishing from small creeks to saltwater bays. These crafts are lightweight and can easily be transported on the roof rack of a car, SUV or in the bed of a truck. Canoes are a little larger but are also easily transported. And most canoes can hold two occupants safely. “I have used a small boat to cross a lake to get to a gobbling turkey,” mentions Andy Barker of Munford, Ala. “It saved a lot of walking getting to the other side.” Canoes have been used for centuries in transported hunters and trappers down many miles of tributaries across the United States. Modern canoes are lightweight and stable. Also, they have the capacity to carry plenty of gear with one or two hunters aboard. Kayaks are generally for one person, but they do have storage areas for gear. An advantage of canoes, kayaks and even small boats are that they can easily quietly propelled. Paddling is the most effective method to approach a gobbling turkey with stealth. “Choose a canoe or kayak you can easily handle,” advises Scott Exum of Jacksonville, Ala. “Know your limitations and practice paddling before the hunt.” Canoes and kayaks can be easily unloaded and transported to the water’s edge. Rubber mats or carpet placed in the bottom of the craft will help dampen any unwanted sounds. A clunk or ding on the side of a boat can alert a turkey to your presence.

Gearing up

Using a canoe or other lightweight watercraft for turkey requires some additional planning and gear. It may be wise to invest in a floating gun case. Many waterfowl hunters utilize the special floating cases just in case an incident occurs. A personal floatation device (PFD) and an extra paddle is also a good idea. Your turkey vest, calls, and shells should be protected anytime on the water. A small amount of water from a paddle or tipping can ruin a morning’s hunt. A gear bag or tote will allow easy access when you arrive at your turkey gobbling location. “A waterproof bag will help protect your turkey gear when paddling into position,” Exum explains. “There are various sizes available for ample room.” Canoes allow room for extra gear that may be needed for the hunt. Chairs, pop-up blinds, and turkey seats can easily be carried along if so desired. Small coolers or ice chests with bottled water, sports or soft drinks will be welcomed after the hunt. 32 APRIL 2018 // // 877.314.1237

Waterway Turkeys

A foldable two-wheeled canoe or kayak carrier will make transporting the watercraft from vehicle to the water an easy chore, especially for solo hunters. With two hunters the process is a snap. Also, don’t forget about a rope or strap to tie off the watercraft if needed. The beauty of using a light-weight watercraft is they can be easily and quietly drug up on shore. This allows for a quick exit of the craft and getting to a calling position. The purpose of a small watercraft for turkey hunting is to save time and effort.

A Must Read for Turkey Hunters. “Any information that came from outside was highly suspect. Anything

On tributaries with moving water, it may be easier to paddle downstream. Look for put-in and take-out points along the route.

that came from inside, even from members of your own family was, in many cases, tarred with the same brush. Nobody and by that I mean nobody, gave away a thing. The “boy” in this story is blessed with an honest and benevolent grandfather who

Depending on the location of your hunt and the lake or creek, fishing may be a bonus. After the hunt, a slow paddle back to the vehicle can allow for some excellent fishing. A majority of small waterways receive little if any fishing pressure. Keep the tackle simple with a small rod and a few spinners or soft-plastic lures.

Before the hunt

Like all savvy turkey hunters, a little scouting can help facilitate the hunt, especially along unfamiliar waterways. Grab a topographic map or use a satellite photo to review the area you plan to hunt and paddle. Look for launch points, bridge crossings, and property boundaries. “It is a good idea to survey the lake or area before using a boat or canoe,” Barker comments. “It is better to know the water and any hazards before the hunt.” Barker mentions it is easier to see landmarks and pull out areas during daylight hours. On the morning of the hunt navigating the waterway will be simple and safer. On tributaries with moving water, it may be easier to paddle downstream. Look for put-in and take-out points along the route. In your planning, a second vehicle may be required. It can be parked at a take-out site along the route. Or have someone meet you at a predetermined spot and time. Don’t forget about scouting the turkey area you plan on hunting. While scouting the waterway is important, so is the area the turkeys are using. Look for roosting locations and feeding areas. Learn the best route or trail into the area after you have parked your boat. In some instances when hunting waterway turkeys, it may be only a short paddle across a lake or down a short stretch of a creek arm. Other cases may require a longer paddle and a little more time. Plan accordingly. Old gobblers may have set up their home in remote areas only accessible by water. These birds probably have not heard a hunter’s call all season. And your approach by canoe, kayak or small boat can help fill in a blank on your turkey tag.

learned the hard way. Alan covers very well what has come to be called “The bad old days” when you mostly made it on your own or you didn’t make it at all.” TOM KELLY

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BBO Boardshorts

The name says it all, Boardshort Bottle Opener (BBO) is one of its kind with a built-in bottle opener that is attached to the pocket flap of the shorts. The days of chipping your tooth, reaching for your dirty slipper or looking for a lighter to open your beverage are over. Simply lift the pocket flap of your BBO shorts and enjoy! The shorts are made with industry leading quality 4-way and 2-way stretch fabrics and are great for fishermen as some of the models (REEL & MANO) include a plier pocket. Visit www. Starting at $48

Under Armour Fish hunter

For the anglers who have spent countless hours in the blazing sun working non-stop to outsmart and outwork their quarry beneath the water, Under Armour® introduces the new UA Fish Hunter shirts. The UA Fish Hunter shirts feature a technical woven fabric that’s incredibly breathable, stretchy and light. It provides exceptional freedom-of-movement and cool comfort when the fishing action heats up. When temperatures rise, anglers will appreciate the moisture-transport system that wicks away perspiration and dries fast, and the mesh-backed shoulder vents add even more comfort and ventilation. The new shirts also have built-in, anti-odor technology to prevent the growth of odor-causing microbes and the shirts are constructed with a stain-release material that prevents stains from soaking in. Another key feature in the new UA Fish Hunter shirts is the 50+ UPF protection to keep the sun’s harmful rays at bay. Starting at $59.99 Visit

Avian X Trophy Tom

New from Avian-X in 2018 is the unique and versatile Trophy Tom. Sittin’ pretty on the wall one day and in the field drawing the ire of dominant gobblers the next, the Avian-X Trophy Tom serves double-duty as an affordable and beautiful way to display the tail fan and beard of your trophy gobbler, as well as the ultimate portable strutting or stalking decoy. Whether adding that all-important element of visual attraction – a tail fan – to your decoy spread, or using it for fanning, Avian-X’s versatile new Trophy Tom solves all kinds of problems. Available at licensed Avian-X dealers in early 2018, the Trophy Tom has an MSRP of just $79.99.

Plano Weekend Seried Soft Crate

With a lightweight design that travels easily, the Plano weekend series soft crate will fit securely in a milk crate or rest freestanding as a crate alternative. The fourpanel design carries as much or as little as you need and you can easily remove panels and utilize attachment points for customizable storage. The side storage panels double as sturdy carry handles and the lid features a large storage area and additional zippered pocket. Made with durable water-resistant fabric, it carries up to nine 3600 Series StowAways (two #23650 StowAways included) MSRP $49.99

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Outdoor Edge Cut n’ Cue

Outdoor Edge has introduced two new Cut-N-Cue barbeque sets that will make impressing friends and family with grill-master skills easy and affordable. The CutN-Cue 10- and 14-piece sets are the ultimate barbeque kits and include all the tools necessary to prepare and grill the perfect meal. The new Cut-N-Cues are available at retailers nationwide or conveniently online at with suggested retail prices of $79.95 for the 10-piece set and $119.95 for the 14-piece set.

Henry Survival Pack

The U.S. Survival AR-7 is consistently one of Henry’s top sellers. Once used as an emergency backup firearm by U.S. Air Force pilots the rifle is now a top choice for recreational users, backpackers, emergency preppers and survivalists in need of a utility takedown rifle. For 2018, the brand new U.S. Survival Pack revolves around the 3.5-pound rifle that breaks down for carrying into its 16.5-inch stock. The kit includes a myriad of American-made items. The Henry U.S. Survival Pack, model #H002BSGB has an MSRP of $550 and must be purchased from a licensed firearms dealer. For more information visit:

Cuda Bait Net

Cuda is expanding its product offering with a completely new line of fishing nets, which includes a baitwell net and three telescoping nets. All Cuda fishing nets integrate a zipper for easy net attachment and removal. There’s no need to restring a replacement net around the hoop, simply zip and go. In addition, each product includes a mesh-coated net, which helps preserve the longevity of the fiber while making it easy to clean with nothing more than fresh water. Like all Cuda tools, these nets have been thoroughly tested by professionals, in both fresh and saltwater conditions, and are backed by Cuda’s lifetime warranty. Visit MSRP $34.49

Big Shot Extreme 500 HD

BIGshot Archery, LLC announces the introduction of the latest target in its high-compression crossbow target line; The Extreme 500 HD. The new 500 HD is designed to stop crossbows up to 500 feet per second with easy two-finger pull. The Extreme 500 HD utilizes special military fiber filling and achieves extremely high density. “The Extreme 500 has been a huge hit with high-end crossbow shooters due to the strength and easy pull,” stated BIGshot President Al Perelli. “It’s really the only target that holds up to high-end crossbows like Ravin™ and the new Mathews® Sub 1™ and we guarantee if you shoot one, you’ll want one.” MSRP 149.99 Visit

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Patterning Your Shotgun for Turkey Hunting Make sure your shotgun is ready to take a turkey!


Use a thirty-inch target to check the pattern’s center.

Photo submitted by Craig Haney

S Study your targets to make sure there are no holes in the pattern or the point of impact has changed.

ettling into position, I was ready for the start of turkey season. The early morning air was a little chilly but with the sun coming up shortly, the day would quickly warm. I was hunting with my old friend Dennis who has been mad at the turkeys for the thirty-plus years I have known him. While we have been friends a long time, this was the first time he had invited me to hunt turkeys. Dennis is an excellent caller and turkey hunter so I was excited he was going to “talk turkey” for me. As the warming sun came up, so did my expectations of seeing and better yet

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taking a nice gobbler. Time passed slowly without us seeing or hearing a turkey when a group of hens started feeding into the field. Dennis started “speaking turkey” better than I speak English but with no response so we waited quietly for a while. Before long, I caught movement in the corner of my eye about thirtyfive yards to the left of where we were set-up. A gobbler cautiously eased onto the field and was standing broadside to our position. Easing my shotgun up, I took aim and fired. In a split second two things happened; the turkey flew off and I couldn’t believe I totally missed him.


Dennis could not believe it either asking me if I was shooting “blanks” in my shotgun. I soon realized I had put a double ‘whammy” on myself by using a new choke tube and a different brand of ammunition without checking the shot pattern on a target. It was a long ride home with Dennis reminding me every twenty miles or so of my “colossal mistake.”

Patterning your Shotgun BEAD SIGHTS: I like to use a solid rest for the stability it gives when patterning. Use a permanent in-ground shooting bench at the range or a portable bench rest. Use a 30-inch bulls-eye target to check the center of the pattern. Using a field load initially will save the punishing recoil from the 3-inch or 3½ inch magnum turkey loads. Chamber one field load into your shotgun, aim at the bulls-eye on the target and fire. Check to see if the pattern is centered at 10 yards. If your pattern is “dead-on”, great. If not, put up a new target and adjust your aiming point in the direction it needs to go. Shoot another round making the adjustment needed to center your shot. After your shot is centered, take down the bulls-eye target and replace with a head and neck turkey target. You can download those free from Pattern your shotgun on the turkey target at 20, 30 and 40 yards using your hunting loads and using a new target at each distance. Count the number of pellets in the kill-zone on each target. A minimum of six pellets in the head and neck should do the job. OPTICAL SIGHTS: When using a scope or red-dot, you still need to use a stable rest whether it is a permanent bench rest or portable one. Start out with a 30-inch bulls-eye target and center your pattern. Make adjustments as needed to the windage or elevation in your scope or red-dot. Shoot several times on a fresh target to confirm your pattern is centered. Once your pattern is centered, put a head and neck target up at 20 yards and fire one shot using your hunting ammunition. Carefully count the pellet holes to make sure you have at least six in the head and neck. Put a new target up at thirty yards and fire one shot. Check the target for the minimum of six pellets in the kill zone. Follow the same procedure at forty yards. Study your targets to make sure there are no holes in the pattern or the point of impact has changed. Adjust your sights as needed. If there is still a problem, go through the patterning process again with a different brand of ammunition, pellet size — 3-inch versus a 31/2-inch load or choke tube if all else fails. LAST SHOT I had wanted to hunt with Dennis on his turkey lease for a long but I totally missed a gobbler because I didn’t take the time to check my shotgun’s pattern with the new choke and turkey load. Don’t make the mistake I did, take the time to pattern your shotgun anytime you change chokes, ammo brands, pellet size or add a sighting system. By doing so you will be a more successful hunter.

Shooting from a solid rest gives needed stability when patterning your turkey gun.


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License Sales Contribute to Alabama’s Great Fishing The number of licenses sold determines fisheries management budgets.


BY CHRIS BLANKENSHIP Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resources Photo by David Thornton

ow that spring is in full bloom, many people in Alabama head for our abundant waterways, lakes and farm ponds to try to hook a variety of readily available fish species in our great state. For those who didn’t renew their fishing license last fall, be sure to purchase your fishing license before you head out. One of the main reasons fishing license sales are so important to the fishing future in Alabama is the funding those sales generate. The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources does not receive any money from the State General Fund. License sales determine the annual budgets for the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) and Marine Resources (MRD) divisions. A BIG RETURN ON INVESTMENT Generally, the way that works is for every dollar in license sales, the state gets three federal dollars through the Sport Fish Restoration Act (Dingell-Johnson, Wallop-Breaux Act). Sport Fish Restoration dollars come from a federal excise tax on fishing equipment, trolling motors and fish finders, import dues on fishing tackle and various watercrafts and a percentage of motorboat and small engine fuel tax. WFF handles the freshwater side of fisheries management and asset allocation. The money from license sales and

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matching dollars fund programs like fish hatcheries, fisheries research, boating access, environmental affairs, reservoir management, pond management, rivers and streams, state public fishing lakes, fish habitat enhancement and aquatic education. Three warm-water fish hatcheries in Alabama produce between 3 and 4 million fingerlings annually to be used to stock a variety of water systems in the state. The fisheries research is conducted by several universities in the state that are contracted to monitor fisheries in a variety of locations to allow WFF to formulate smart management strategies. WFF’s Fisheries Section maintains about 115 boat ramps throughout the state and adds new boat ramps when suitable land is acquired through purchase or extended leases. Government and non-governmental organizations receive technical guidance on protection and preservation of our state’s valuable aquatic resources through the environmental affairs program. Fish sampling by fisheries biologists is a large part of the reservoir management program in Alabama. Biologists can use the sample data and surveys with anglers to determine the fisheries status of a lake. That information is then used to develop creel limits and size limits that are management strategies to maintain or improve the health of the fishery. The pond management program


gives landowners technical assistance to help with sport fish management in the smaller bodies of water. WFF biologists will typically make more than 300 on-site pond checks annually to help pond owners enhance or maintain fish populations. Because Alabama is one of the leading states in biodiversity, the state has numerous rivers and streams that hold aquatic species that depend on flowing water to survive. The rivers and streams program monitors those areas where species are threatened because of a loss of water flow. Aquatic education is aimed at Alabama’s youth to stress the importance of protecting and improving the ecosystems for native aquatic species. To take advantage of the abundant fishing opportunities in the state, the young and novice anglers are also given fishing and casting lessons when possible. The Fisheries Section manages 23 public fishing lakes in 20 counties across the state where access to natural waterways is limited. The lakes range from 13 to 184 acres and provide quality fishing for a nominal fee. The fish habitat enhancement program uses both artificial and natural material to provide habitat and cover in lakes and reservoirs to enhance the fish populations, which gives anglers a better chance of success. In recent years, Marine Resources’ license funds have been used to cover the 25-percent match requirement for a variety of programs, including fishery-independent sampling programs for inshore species, boating access, fish stock enhancement, artificial reef construction, outreach and education, fish disease monitoring

CCA AL Spring Events APRIL 21ST Lower Alabama Chapter MAY 3RD Birmingham Chapter MAY 10TH Mobile Chapter

and research of offshore reef fish species and artificial reefs. The fishery-independent sampling programs don’t rely on intercepts or interviews with anglers but use other methods to determine the abundance and health of species like speckled trout, redfish, and flounder. ONGOING PROJECTS Of course, boating access is a big issue along the Alabama Gulf Coast, and MRD is constantly searching for areas that might come available for boat ramps. The program also upgrades and refurbishes current ramps, which is going on right now at the Fort Morgan ramp. Using fingerlings raised at the Claude Peteet Mariculture Center in Gulf Shores, MRD has released tens of thousands of redfish into the estuaries in coastal Alabama. MRD is working to spawn other inshore species, like pompano and flounder, to enhance the stocking efforts. Alabama has the premier artificial reef program in the nation with about 1,030 square miles of artificial reef zones. The license money and federal match go to adding approved artificial reefs to the zones as well as monitoring the activity and impact the reefs have on the numerous species like red snapper, triggerfish, and amberjack. As you can see, a fishing license is so much more than a fee for the privilege of fishing. Think of it more as a contribution to DCNR’s efforts to ensure Alabama has great fishing opportunities for generations to come.

Show Your Support for Alabama’s Coastal Fishing & Marine Resources. All proceeds from your TAX DEDUCTIBLE purchase are used for marine conservation in Coastal Alabama. For more info on the events or CCA Alabama 251-478-3474

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A Turkey Named PhD This ol’ tom was as tough as they come


BY CORKY PUGH Executive Director, Hunting Heritage Foundation

amed turkeys are never good. If one is familiar enough to have been named, that means he knows exponentially more about you than you know about him. For every morning you engage a particular turkey, he typically learns more about the hunter than the other way around. PhD was so named for Pretty Hard Damn Turkey. His territory in south Montgomery County, Alabama was a beautiful parcel with an incredible diversity of pine uplands and hardwood bottoms interconnected with a sprawling network of internal roads and firebreaks. As wild turkeys go, he was as tough to kill as they come. Despite his home range in east central Alabama, he behaved more like a north Monroe County turkey. THE WARIEST TURKEYS ON EARTH Paraphrasing Tom Kelly, he described Monroe County turkeys as the offspring of generations of survivors who were relentlessly tormented by rednecks whose shotgun barrels were rusty for the last fourteen inches from riding around with then poked out the truck window on rainy days. No more apt description has ever been written of the extremely

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paranoid and elusive gobblers that inhabit the hills of north Monroe County. PhD was like a transplanted northMonroe County turkey that was very obviously out-of-place in east-central Alabama. Not that east-central Alabama turkeys are easy to kill, because they are not. But those of us who have hunted extensively both places know that there are distinct behavioral and physical differences between the two. The east-central Alabama turkeys are larger, with adult gobblers weighing upwards of 21 pounds, and jakes weighing 18 pounds. By contrast, adult gobblers in southwest Alabama very often weigh around 18 or 19 pounds. The southwest Alabama turkeys are leaner and typically darker, mostly jet black. Turkey biologists explain the physical differences this way: the turkeys in east central Alabama are the true Eastern Wild Turkey, and the southwest Alabama turkeys are an intergrade between the Eastern and the Florida turkeys. No one has better explained the behavioral differences than Tom Kelly. A crude form of natural selection has resulted in the wariest turkeys on earth. More often than not, they gobble sparingly, approach silently using terrain


and cover, take one cautious look from a safe distance away, do an abrupt about-face, and walk away. A DRAWN-OUT DUEL PhD and I dueled for seven mornings over the course of the season. He was the first turkey to gobble on the property every morning, but seemed call-shy, either going silent or walking the other way gobbling. Twice he walked where I could see him, well out of gun range, and simply stood there like a statue, looking for an interminable period before turning and walking away.

Hunting PhD was like a game of chess. He seemed to work hard to avoid being seen, shying away from set-ups that would work on mere mortal turkeys.

On another morning, he had slipped in and was standing about 80 yards away down a road through the hardwoods and caught me amateurishly moving my aching knee just a little. I had no idea he was there until I heard his sharp PUTTT…PUTTT… PUTTT!!! Hunting PhD was like a game of chess. He seemed to work hard to avoid being seen, shying away from set-ups that would work on mere mortal turkeys. After an extensive game of catand-mouse on morning six, he was gobbling as he worked his way up a ten-foot-wide permanent firebreak toward where I sat twenty yards down another firebreak that intersected from the interior of the tract. As he approached the intersection where I sat sweating and breathing hard with my gun on my knee, he detoured off the firebreak into a 30-yard-wide strip of thick water oaks between the firebreak and a paved county road, passing by totally out of sight, but continuing to gobble every minute or so. Once past the junction of the two firebreaks, he moved back into the one he had walked and continued on further along well out of gun range. SILENCE IS GOLDEN Vowing to kill this tough, old turkey, I returned to the area where he roosted the next morning in the pitch-black dark. Slipping silently into the area, I didn’t owl or make any other sound, simply setting up on the dim woods road that led to his roost. PhD gobbled at the first owl, and I moved 25 yards or so to within forty yards of a hill and a curve, with him still somewhere around a hundred yards away. Blinding in off the side of the dim road, I waited for him to gobble again. GilOBLOBLOBL!! he sounded off. Resisting the temptation to call to him, I let him continue to gobble for several minutes, before tree-yelping as soft as I could on a scratch box. He cut me off, and I laid the call aside, getting my gun on my knee.

Fifteen minutes later, I saw a turkey coming through the brush off the other side of the road near the curve. At first, I thought it was a hen because of the diminutive size, and did not make any final adjustment with the shotgun barrel as the turkey approached. As the turkey stepped into view and turned sideways at 39 steps, the huge paintbrush beard was unmistakable. PhD stood there without moving a muscle, just looking where he had heard the hen yelp. Seeing no hen, he did a military about-face and started to walk away. Moving the gun barrel six inches to the right, and pulling the trigger, I watched the turkey collapse as the #6 Hevi-shot found their mark. PhD holds the distinction of being the smallest adult gobbler I’ve ever killed, weighing only 15 pounds, and also being the hardest turkey I’ve ever killed. I’ve hunted some more difficult, but never killed them. One has to wonder if his progeny will be as wary. The Hunting Heritage Foundation is an Alabama non-profit organization established in 2011. To see what HHF stands for go to the website at You can write to us at: P. O. Box 242064, Montgomery, AL 36124, or * The opinions expressed in this column are solely that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the staff and management of Great Days Outdoors Media, LLC.

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Game Check, Year Two… What Did We Learn? Participation in the GameCheck System is vital for accurate data.

Y BY CHARLES “CHUCK” SYKES Director of the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Photos submitted by Chuck Sykes

We need our hunters to be part of the equation and assist us in collecting this data so we can better manage some of our most treasured natural resources.

ear two of mandatory Game Check is in the books. In the 2016-2017 season, we experienced a recordbreaking drought, hot weather, and a bumper acorn crop, all of which we suspected contributed to the low reported harvest. The 2017-2018 deer season couldn’t have had better weather as far as I’m concerned. Rain fell at the proper time to get food plots established, and most of the state experienced cold weather during a major portion of deer season. So, what’s the excuse going to be this year? Our reported harvest declined from 82,414 to 75,874. I can only come up with two reasons the Game Check numbers were lower: Hunters are simply not taking time to Game Check their harvests or our hunters actually killed fewer deer. Personally, I find it hard to believe that hunters killed fewer deer this year than last. On the other hand, I harvested fewer deer this year as compared to last and that can be attributed to pure laziness. I saw more deer, had the opportunity to harvest more deer, but chose not to take them because of demands on my time after the hunt.

TECHNICAL ISSUES As we have done in the past with the Game Check system, we take constructive criticism from our staff as well as the public and make changes whenever 44 APRIL 2018 // // 877.314.1237

possible. A couple of issues arose with the Outdoor Alabama app this year. When developing the app, one of the main boxes we had to check was the ability to enter data without cell service. As with most innovative technology, little quirks within the system appeared over time that could not have been predicted. One such issue I encountered was that error messages would appear when trying to enter a harvest in areas with weak cell service. If I had no service or good service, no error messages would appear. But, if I was in an area with a weak signal, the app wouldn’t work. It took quite some time to figure out that if I simply put the phone into airplane mode I could enter the data and the app would accept it. When I took the phone off airplane mode, the data was recorded and my confirmation number was sent as soon as a good connection was established. Several other minor issues were detected that helped us conclude we need our own application so that we can immediately address issues and not have to wait for someone else to do so. Beginning in May of this year (after the Spring 2018 turkey season and before red snapper season), we will launch the newest version of the Outdoor Alabama app. This version will be compatible with iPhone, Android, and Google phones, unlike the current version. By introducing this new application, we


feel we can offer a better product to our hunters and, if issues arise, we can be much more responsive. Hunters will have ample opportunities to install this new app before next deer season. THE LONG RUN I would like to thank the hunters who did participate in Game Check this year. We know it is a big step to take, but it will be worth it for the overall health of our deer herd and the management of one of our most precious natural resources. As we said all along, we are not going to make knee-jerk reactions and initiate changes based on one year of data. This is going to be a long-term process. Trend data must be established before any changes are implemented. Although it’s only been two years, we are seeing some possible trends emerge. The top three counties are remaining constant. That is a positive trend. On the negative side, hunters are reporting less each year and are recording more bucks than does. Now, the question is what can we do with this data? Even though we increased law enforcement efforts on the Harvest Record/Game Check regulation (more than 200 citations and 300 warnings), reporting was down. How can we further address the suspected lack of compliance? Should we conduct more compliance-check roadblocks working in conjunction with ALEA and local sheriffs’ offices? Do we wait at the gates of major hunting clubs for members to leave? Do we start checking processing facilities and taxidermists? I know when I kill a buck in Illinois, I must report the deer and get a confirmation number. When I take the head to the taxidermist

and the carcass to a processor, they both must take down my license information as well as my confirmation numbers. That last question should send all the conspiracy theorists and government overreach folks into orbit! But, we are merely looking for ways to increase compliance. CONSEQUENCES Let’s play devil’s advocate so you can better understand how important accurate data is to proper management. Let’s suppose, with the data we’re receiving, that compliance is approximately 70% versus the 30% we think we are experiencing. If so, then that data may mean our deer numbers aren’t as strong as we’ve been thinking. It may indicate we should lower the antlerless bag limit since more bucks are being reported than does. Perhaps we should shorten the season length to reduce the pressure on the resource and make our law enforcement efforts more effective? I’d say once you pick yourself up off the floor, I have your attention now. As you can see, for WFF to do our job as managers of the state’s resources, we must have accurate data. We need our hunters to be part of the equation and assist us in collecting this data so we can better manage some of our most treasured natural resources. The WFF staff has traveled the state conducting seminars, worked booths at deer shows, placed radio advertisements, taken out magazine advertisements, conducted radio and tv interviews, and numerous other outreach efforts attempting to educate Alabama’s hunters on the importance of their participation in Game Check. What else can we do? We welcome all legitimate suggestions.

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Transport the Kayak Safely Several options exist for getting your Kayak from point A to point B.

Kayak trailer can move several kayaks at once safely.


BY ED MASHBURN Photos by Ed Mashburn

I have car topped my kayaks from the Alabama Gulf Coast to the Florida Keys, the Everglades, and last year we car topped two of our kayaks to Arizona.

efore we can go on the water in our kayaks, we have to get the kayak to the water. Various ways of transporting our kayaks offer advantages for anglers, and they all work. Some just work better than others for different anglers. Although not many kayak anglers think much about overland-transport of their boats, the truth is that more accidents and damage to kayaks occur while the boats are being moved from place to place rather than from accidents on the water. Kayak anglers really do need to look at the options which exist for kayak transport and then select the method of loading and moving the kayak which works best. CAR TOP: SIMPLE AND EASY A good, well-designed and installed kayak rack mounted to the roof of a car or truck offers secure and inexpensive land transport for kayaks. Kayak racks work best when used with factoryinstalled luggage racks. These original equipment luggage racks are well built, and they allow the kayak racks to be adjusted to fit specific kayaks. I have car topped my kayaks from the Alabama Gulf Coast to the Florida Keys,

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the Everglades, and last year we car topped two of our kayaks to Arizona. Car toppers work very well when they are done right. Kayaks balanced on good rooftop racks and secured with straps or lines front and back as well as in the middle of the boat with multiple lines are very secure, and even big semis blowing past on the freeway won’t dislodge the boat. In fact, for lighter kayaks, car top racks are probably the best way to get the kayaks to the water. There are some points to keep in mind when considering car topper racks. First, the higher the vehicle being used to transport the kayaks, the more difficult loading and unloading the kayaks is. Our minivan is a real beast to load kayaks on top, and since my wife and I are both short, the problem gets even worse. Next, car topping some of the bigger, heavier fishing kayaks can be tough. Any kayak which weighs more than 60 pounds is going to be tough to lift on and off the car top. In fact, when car topping kayaks, it is best to assume that loading and unloading is going to be a two-person job. And if the two persons are strong and tall, it will all work much better.


TRAILERS: MORE INVOLVED, BUT VERY NICE There are a number of lightweight trailers designed specifically for transporting kayaks, and some of these trailers are very effective. Most trailers allow more than a single kayak to be hauled, and some custom trailers allow up to six or even eight ‘yaks to be loaded, but these trailers are mostly used by professional kayak shuttle services. Trailers allow anglers to load and unload even the heaviest kayaks with relative ease, and many trailers have bins and lockers for storage of fishing gear. There are even kayak trailers made to be towed by bicycles! However, trailers present their own set of considerations for kayak anglers. Trailers require a good trailer hitch and lighting harness for the tow vehicle. If the tow vehicle is not already equipped for towing, getting it rigged and ready to pull a kayak trailer can be quite expensive. Just having a trailer behind the vehicle is a complication and a possible source of trouble when on the road. A trailer represents another set of wheels and tires, more lights to keep working, and a much longer vehicle profile. Also, many kayak trailers have very small wheels and tires. These mini-wheels will support the weight load of a couple of kayaks just fine, but the wheels may not be adequate for long-distance travel. These tiny wheels are not good for trailers which will be used on freeways and other high-speed roads. The tiny wheel bearings tend to burn out very quickly, and the little tires build up heat and fail. One of my kayak fishing buddies had to replace tires five times on the initial long distance trip with his new kayak trailer. Kayak trailers need to have big, highway rated wheels and tires. And depending on the state of residence, a kayak trailer may have to be registered and licensed. PITCH IT IN THE BACK, TIE IT DOWN, AND GO! The quickest and easiest way to transport a kayak is to simply load it in the bed of the pickup truck, tie it down securely, attach a red warning flag, and hit the road. It’s a snap to slide a kayak in or out of a pickup bed and get on the water. It’s fairly easy to carry two or even three kayaks in the back of a pickup. Other vehicles can also do the “slide in and tie down” transport technique. One of my kayak fishing buddies lowers the seats in his big old SUV and sticks his kayak in the back and lowers the gate as far as it will go and then secures the gate with a lanyard. Whether a pickup truck or other vehicle is used, pitching the kayak in the back works well if the angler takes time to secure everything properly. Sliding the kayak into the pickup bed, taking a couple of loops of line around the kayak and assuming it’s secure can be a mistake. Looking in the rearview mirror to see the kayak sliding across the road behind the truck while driving down the road is not a good sight, and I’ve seen it. When using the “pitch it in the back” technique, the angler must be certain that everything is secure- rods, PFDs, bait buckets, and kayak. Paddles especially like to blow out and get lost. Multiple lines which secure the kayak to the truck bed are

required, and very long kayaks like some of the bigger Hobies might well need a bed extension to help support the end of the kayak left hanging out the back. Of course, always have a red warning flag on the extended end of the kayak to help drivers behind keep their distance.

Even bicycles can transport kayaks on trailers well and safely.

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Clover Management Every wildlife management plan can benefit when clover is included. Here’s what you need to know for successful clover patches.



hen it comes to food plots for your deer and turkeys, it is hard to beat a good stand of perineal clover. Clover is high in protein, fixes nitrogen into your soil, and is extremely browse tolerant. Perineal white clover, such as; Ladino and White Dutch can also hang around for 5-7 years if managed correctly. Saving you time and money compared to planting summer annuals every year. Aside from the aforementioned qualities, my favorite thing about clover is that it is the first thing to green up in late winter. In Alabama, I normally see my perineal clover fields waking up, or germinating in the case of frost seeding, around the 3rd week of February. This is crucial to helping our deer herds through the toughest part of the year. Which is late winter through spring green-up.

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I recommend maintaining 3-5% of your total property acreage in food plots, and out of your total food plot acreage, I recommend 10% of them to be perineal white clover plots. This will pay dividends as far as attracting and providing for your local deer herd. CLOVER MANAGEMENT In order to get the full life out of your stand of clover, you really have to manage it right. Yearly mowing, herbicide treatment, fertilization, and soil amendments are going to make or break your success. If you are establishing a new clover field, it is important that you start off the right way. In the southeast, I prefer to establish my clover fields around the 1st-2nd week of February. This is early enough that we can rely on a couple of more frosts to help


work the seed into the soil via freezing and thawing. Let’s say you are attempting to establish the clover in a field that’s currently a fall food plot or overgrown field. The first and most important step is to take a soil sample and apply the recommended amount of lime to correct the ph. level of your soil. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. Once you apply the lime to the field, disk or till it into the first 6-12 inches of soil. Studies have shown that lime applications that are not incorporated into the soil, only affect the ph. in the top ½-1 inch of soil. Once the lime has been applied and disked in, you want to roll the plot with a cultipacker or sod roller. This step is also crucial because it’s going to firm up the seedbed and ensure you get maximum seed to soil contact. You can rent a sod roller from most equipment rental companies for around $25 for the weekend. The next step is to broadcast your seed at a rate of 10-12lbs./acre and roll the field a final time to ensure you get good seed to soil contact. Be sure to time your planting with a decent rainfall. Once your field is planted, I recommend waiting till early April, when the clover has had time to germinate, to come in and fertilize the plot with the correct amount of fertilizer recommended by the soil sample. If you include the crop you wish to plant on the sample when you send it in, it will have fertility recommendations specifically for that crop. Be sure to fertilize before a rainfall and before we start getting extremely hot weather. Do not expect fast growth out of the clover the first year. Because it’s perineal, it spends the majority of the first year establishing a root system. Throughout the year, as you see grassy weeds emerging, spot spray the grasses with a mix of Clethodim and crop oil to eliminate the grasses. For broadleaf weed control, spot spraying with a blend of 2-4DB and crop oil will give you control on most weeds. Mowing the clover is also an effective strategy for controlling broadleaf weeds. However, I recommend doing so before May, when the hot weather rolls in. When possible, do your herbicide treatments in the late evening to avoid sun scorch from the water droplets on the leaf tissue. Come fall, you will want to broadcast some type of cover crop into your clover. I personally prefer to use wheat to cover crop my perineal clover plots, at a rate of 100lbs./acre. The wheat will feed off of all the nitrogen that the clover has fixed into the soil and continue to hold soil nutrients in the top layer of soil, should your clover go dormant due to cold winter temps. The wheat will also provide your clover with the needed phosphorus and potassium, as the wheat dies come spring. This eliminates the need to apply maintenance rates of fertilizer to the clover every spring. I do still recommend pulling a soil sample yearly to make sure no more corrective rates of fertilizer are needed. After the first year, you will simply mow the clover in the spring to set the growth back and get rid of the fall cover crop. The majority of clover fields that do not make it past year one, do so because of weed competition. So managing your clover stands is extremely crucial. Take the time to do it right and you will not be disappointed in the results that the clover will provide you.


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Lake front lots, The Coves, call Dickey Andress Lake front lots, Eagle Ridge, call Dickey Andress Lake front lot, Riverview call Dickey Andress Pete Coats at (251) 564-4552 Dickey Andress at (251) 564-6383

VIEW ALL LISTINGS AT: 877.314.1237 // // APRIL 2018 49

8 Questions to Ask When Buying Land Assess your readiness to purchase your piece of the American Dream.

BY DAILY THOMAS Vice President / Branch Manager for First South Farm Credit in Birmingham, AL


efore anyone buys a piece of land they have a ton of questions about the type of property they should buy. But what most people do not think of is HOW they will put the deal together. It’s easy to dream about the opportunities, but it’s important to assess the financial considerations along with 50 APRIL 2018 // // 877.314.1237

the characteristics of the land. These 8 questions to ask when buying land are some of the most common, and most overlooked, questions I answer as a loan officer for rural land. I hope they help you in assessing your readiness to finance your first, or next piece of property.


QUESTION 1: HOW MUCH OF A DOWN PAYMENT DO I NEED? Typically you can expect to need between 15-20% down, depending on the land being financed and the credit of the applicant. However, there are alternative options, such as pledging equity in real estate, other than the traditional cash down payment. QUESTION 2: WHAT KINDS OF LOAN TERMS ARE AVAILABLE FOR FINANCING LAND? Loan terms from as short as 1 year and as long as 30 years…and anything in between. We can tailor the loan term to fit your personal situation. QUESTION 3: WHAT ARE INTEREST RATES ON LAND LOANS? Interest rates vary depending on several things. Credit is the most important, but also what term you select has a big impact on the interest rate. Rates change every day, so it’s best to speak with one of our lenders to get the most up-to-date and accurate rate quote possible. QUESTION 4: WHAT IS THE MINIMUM NUMBER OF ACRES YOU WILL FINANCE? We really do not have a minimum acreage requirement. Typically we say that we can finance 10 acres or more, but depending on the location and type of property, we can finance less acreage. QUESTION 5: WHAT IF THERE ARE IMPROVEMENTS ON THE LAND I AM LOOKING AT BUYING? Our loans apply to both bare land and land with improvements. QUESTION 6: WHAT IF I DECIDE TO BUILD ON THE LAND? DO YOU OFFER CONSTRUCTION LOANS? In addition to land financing, we also offer construction loans to improve your land. Ponds, barns, cabins and even country homes are just some of the improvements that we can finance. QUESTION 7: SHOULD I GET PRE-QUALIFIED BEFORE BEGINNING MY LAND SEARCH? While it’s not necessarily required by all land realtors, it is a good idea and it’s becoming more common. Being pre-qualified going into the search has several benefits. It gives you a good idea what you can afford, you can submit an offer on a property faster so you don’t miss out on the right tract, and it gives your offer more weight because it shows that you’re serious about purchasing. QUESTION 8: YOUR NAME IS FIRST SOUTH FARM CREDIT, DO YOU ONLY FINANCE FARMS? AND DO I HAVE TO FARM THE LAND I WANT TO BUY TO USE FIRST SOUTH FOR FINANCING? NO! We were founded to serve the credit needs of farmers, but we can finance rural real estate for anyone, no matter what they do for a living. First South can also finance land for many different purposes, whether it is farmland, hunting land, investment property, or a future home site.


A Checklist Before You Begin So is land financing right for you? If it is, you’ll need to have the following documents in order. Below you will find a checklist of everything your lender will need to begin the land financing process. DON’T BE INTIMIDATED Buying land can be an intimidating proposition. It can be difficult to find financing for unimproved land and most people do not have the cash readily available to pay for it outright. This land financing checklist is a good starting point for people ready to finance land, whether you’re seeking a pre-approval or you’re ready to move forward with a purchase. Having these items prepared makes the entire land financing experience much smoother and enjoyable.

THE LAND FINANCING CHECKLIST 1. Personal Financial Statement (Balance Sheet): If you don’t have one prepared already, simply make a list of your assets and liabilities. Basically, what you own and what you owe. 2. Most Recent Tax Information: Be prepared to provide 2-3 years of tax returns, including W-2’s. 3. Current Pay Stub (For all applicants) 4. Asset verification for any significant accounts: Bank statements, 401-K statements, etc. 5. If self-employed, additional information on the business: Business financial statement, Profit and Loss Statement, Business tax returns, etc. 6. Sales Contract: If you’ve already found the right property and have it under contract, or when you do, your lender will need this. 7. Legal Description of the property: This can be found on the most recent deed or from a new or existing survey. 8. Plans and costs for any improvements to be financed.


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Photos by Holly A. Heyser and Hank Shaw


et’s face it: Wild turkey legs, wings and to a lesser extent, thighs can be unbearably tough, and the tendons are often as tough as bone. The answer? Braise them. For a long time. Eventually, the meat will get tender, and you then pull it off the bone. You can do all sorts of things with that meat, but my go-to is to make wild turkey carnitas.

Wild Turkey Carnitas

Prep Time: 25 mins • Cook Time: 3 hrs • Total: 3 hrs 25 mins Ingredients • 2 skinless turkey legs plus wings, or 2 turkey thighs • Kosher salt • 1 tablespoon juniper berries, crushed (optional) • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns, cracked • 1 tablespoon coriander seed, cracked • 1 tablespoon cumin seed • 1 tablespoon oregano, Mexican if possible • 1 small cinnamon stick • 3 dried small chilies, such as an arbol or Thai • 3 bay leaves • 5 tablespoons lard or olive oil • 1 tablespoon honey • Juice of 1/2 an orange and 1 lime

Photo by Holly Heyser

I am guessing you’ve eaten carnitas made with pork before. If you haven’t, it is a Mexican dish where you braise the meat in a nice broth until it gets tender, then brown it on one side only in some lard or vegetable oil. The result is both tender and crispy, which is genius. There’s a reason it sells out at Chipotle every day… You can, of course, use other meats here, too. I’ve used the legs from geese a lot, and it works great. Pork is traditional, pheasant is fine. And you can do it with venison, but I prefer a similar technique called barbacoa which I will write about in later issues. If I can give you one piece of advice here, it is to take your time. Turkey will get rubbery and nasty before it submits and becomes smooth and luscious. If you need more water, add more water. This recipe will require at least 3 hours of your time, maybe more if you are cooking an old Tom. Be patient. It’s worth it.

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Instructions 1. Salt the turkey well and put it into a Dutch oven or large lidded pot, add all the herbs, spices and enough water to just barely cover the meat in the pot. Cover and simmer for 3 to 4 hours, or until the meat is falling off the bone. Don’t worry, it will. Eventually. A jake or domestic turkey will be tender in about 90 minutes to 2 hours, and old tom might be double that. 2. When it is tender, remove the turkey from the pot and let it cool. Shred with two forks or your fingers. Discard the bones and any tendons. You can store the meat for up to a week at this point. 3. To finish, Add the lard to a frying pan and brown the meat as much as you like. I like a mix of soft and crispy. At the very end, drizzle in about a tablespoon of honey and the citrus juice. Mix and serve. I serve this as part of a taco plate. But you can eat it any way you like it: Sandwiches, ravioli filling, a topping for rice, in a burrito… I prefer this in soft tacos, with the traditional accompaniments: limes, onions, maybe a hot sauce or two, roasted chiles and cilantro or parsley. A homemade salsa verde is a great sauce here.


Fish Risotto, Venice Style

Prep Time: 1 hr • Cook Time: 45 mins • Total: 1 hr 45 mins I used striped bass for the broth in this recipe, but you can use any lean white fish. The fennel is important, so if you can’t find a fennel bulb, add a tablespoon of fennel seeds to the broth. It’s also vital that you use short-grained rice, preferably proper risotto rice -- long-grained rice lacks the particular starch needed to make a risotto. Ingredients BROTH • About 2 to 3 pounds of fish heads, bones and fins, gills removed • 3 tablespoons olive oil • 2 celery stalks, chopped • 1 large onion, chopped • 1 fennel bulb, both bulb, and fronds, chopped • 4 garlic cloves, minced • 2 tablespoons green peppercorns • 3 bay leaves • 1/2 cup chopped parsley • Salt to taste RISOTTO • 2 tablespoons olive oil • 1 large shallot, minced • 2 garlic cloves, minced • 1 1/2 cups risotto rice • 1 cup white wine • Salt • About 1 cup flaked fish meat • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter • 1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese • 1 tablespoon lemon juice • 2 tablespoons minced parsley

Photo by Holly Heyser

Instructions BROTH 1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and drop in all the fish heads and bones. Let this return to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and discard the water. Pick off about 1 cup of fish from the carcasses and heads and set aside in the fridge. 2. Clean the pot or use another, and heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute the celery, onion and fennel bulb for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring often. Do not let it brown. Add the minced garlic and cook another minute. 3. Add the blanched fish carcasses, green peppercorns, bay leaves and parsley and cover with enough water to submerge everything by 1 inch. Bring to a bare simmer, then drop the heat a little until the broth is just steaming, about 160°F. Add salt to taste. Let this cook gently like this for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Photo by Holly Heyser

RISOTTO 1. Once the broth has been cooking for 45 minutes, start the risotto. Heat the olive oil in a medium pot over mediumhigh heat. Sauté the shallots for about 90 seconds, until they turn translucent. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Add the risotto rice and stir to combine. Cook, stirring often, for 3 to 4 minutes. 2. While the rice is cooking, get a fine-meshed sieve and a ladle ready. Add the white wine to the risotto and stir to combine. The rice will almost immediately absorb it. When the pot is nearly dry, add two ladles of the fish broth -- poured through the strainer to make sure all that’s in the risotto is broth, not debris. 3. Stir the risotto almost constantly until the rice absorbs the broth. Taste for salt and add a little if needed. Repeat this process of adding a ladle or two of strained broth and stirring until it has absorbed until the rice is fully cooked, but still al dente. You want it just past the point where there is a little chalkiness at the center of each grain of rice. This normally takes 35 minutes or so. 4. When the rice is ready, stir in the remaining ingredients. The risotto will tighten up, so add a final ladle of fish broth right before you serve. This risotto needs to be a little soupy; the Italian term is all’onda, or “under the waves.” You may end up with more broth than you need. That’s OK, once it’s strained it will keep for a week in the fridge and will freeze well for up to 3 months. 877.314.1237 // // APRIL 2018 53

Camphouse Kitchen

BLT Fish Sandwich with Homemade Tartar Sauce Prep Time: 20 mins • Cook Time: 20 mins • Total: 40 mins

This is how I like my fish sandwiches, but as you know there are endless variations in terms of buns, fish species and how they are prepared, not to mention condiments and accompaniments. Any lean, white, bass-like fish will do fine. Some alternatives would be largemouth or smallmouth bass, croaker, catfish, red drum... you get the point.

Photo by Holly Heyser

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Ingredients FISH • 4 to 6 strips of bacon • 4 skinless fillets of bass, crappie, red drum, etc. • Salt • 1 cup flour • 2 eggs, lightly beaten • 1 cup breadcrumbs • Oil for frying (I prefer peanut oil) • 4 large lettuce leaves • 4 to 8 slices of tomato • Buns for the sandwiches (I prefer Kaiser rolls) TARTAR SAUCE • 1 cup mayonnaise • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard • 2 teaspoons lemon juice • Tabasco sauce to taste • 1/2 cup chopped pickles • 2 teaspoons capers, chopped • 1 small shallot, minced • 1 tablespoon minced chives • Salt and pepper Instructions 1. If you’re making homemade tartar sauce, do this first by mixing everything in a bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in the fridge. 2. Fry the bacon slowly in a pan until almost crispy; you want a little bend in your bacon for a sandwich. Set the bacon aside and discard the fat in the pan, or reserve it for another recipe. 3. Get all your fixings’ ready for the sandwiches, and get three shallow containers out for the dredging station: One for the flour, one for the beaten eggs, and one for the breadcrumbs. 4. Take the fish out of the fridge and salt them. Pour the oil in the pan you fried the bacon in and heat it over medium-high heat until it’s about 350°F -- if you don’t have a thermometer, flick a little flour into the oil. When it sizzles immediately, you’re ready. Turn the heat down to medium for a moment. 5. Dredge the fish fillets in flour, then dip in the egg, then in the breadcrumbs. If you want a really thick and crispy crust, dip the fillets in egg and breadcrumbs a second time. Turn the heat to high on the oil and gently lay the fillets into the pan. Make sure they are not touching each other. Let them fry for a minute or so, then adjust the heat down; adding the fish drops the heat of the oil, which is why you want to kick the heat up for a minute or two to compensate. If you can’t get all the fish into the pan at once, fry in batches. 6. Fry the fish until they are golden brown, about 2 to 5 minutes per side; use the longer range if your fish fillets are thicker than an inch. Set on paper towels to drain. 7. Spread the tartar sauce on both sides of the buns, then add the lettuce, fish fillets, tomato, and bacon. Open a beer and enjoy!

Camphouse Kitchen

Grilled Quail with South Carolina Barbecue Sauce

Prep Time: 20 mins • Cook Time: 20 mins • Total: 40 mins I love barbecue no matter where it’s from, but I am especially fond of the mustard-based South Carolina style of barbecue sauce. Traditionally slathered over pulled pork, this sauce is good on anything. Use this sauce on barbecued pheasant legs, or on quick-grilled quail. Ingredients • 8 to 16 quail, backbones removed and flattened • 3 to 4 tablespoons vegetable oil • 4 tablespoons butter • 1/2 onion, grated • 1/2 cup yellow mustard • 1/2 cup brown sugar • 1/2 cup cider vinegar • 1 tablespoon dry mustard, like Coleman’s • 1 teaspoon cayenne • Salt to taste Instructions 1. Make the sauce first. Heat the butter over medium heat, then add the onion and sauté until it turns translucent — about 3 or 4 minutes. Add everything else, stir well and simmer slowly for 20 minutes or more. You can buzz it in a

blender for a smooth sauce. 2. To flatten the quail, use kitchen shears to remove the backbones of the birds by cutting along either side. Put the quail breast side up on a cutting board and press to flatten. If you want to be fancy, carefully snip out the ribs and the curved saber bones near the wishbone. Salt the quail and toss them in the vegetable oil. 3. Get your grill hot and lay your quail breast side up. Grill over high heat with the grill lid down for 5 minutes. As it cooks, paint the breast side with the sauce. Turn the quail over and paint the cooked side with sauce. Grill the breast side with the grill cover up for 2 minutes, then turn over again and paint with the sauce one more time. Cover the grill and cook another 2 to 4 minutes. Take off the grill and paint with sauce one more time.

Photo by Holly Heyser

Hunting for paradise? The buck stops here.

-Recreational Land -Forestry & Timberland -Equipment -Operating Capital -Livestock -Rural Home Loans

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ICW Docks

Anglers need to be ready for anything to come along when fishing the ICW docks.

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ICW Docks





Equipment Sales Company


(251) 937-5313

30 Blackburn Ave. Bay Minette, Ala. 36507

P.O. Box 1676 2505 US Hwy. 31 S Bay Minette AL, 36507


Built to protect shipping during wartime, the Intracoastal Waterway offers anglers some great fishing around docks year round and day and night. BY FLOYD CHANDLER Photos by Floyd Chandler

Although the original builders of the Intracoastal Waterway, this 3,000-mile long artificial canal which runs from the MidAtlantic States to Brownsville, Texas didn’t have me and my red fishing addiction in mind when they set about digging the ICW, I’m very glad they made the canal. The ICW provides some of the best inshore saltwater fishing in the world, and anglers who fish the ICW, and the many docks which give boaters access to the ICW are in fishing heaven.

Florida ICW Docks

The ICW in northern Florida gives anglers some tremendous fishing. The ICW ship channel itself doesn’t get any wider here than any other places, but the Santa Rosa Sound east of Pensacola can be almost a mile wide in places, and this wide open area gives anglers some great options for dock fishing the ICW. Navarre Beach ICW docks offer some of the best and most reliable fishing for inshore anglers anywhere along the coast. On both the mainland shore and the island shore, there are lots of private boat docks which project out into the Santa Rosa Sound and toward the ICW, and these docks always hold fish. Since Navarre Beach has docks on both sides of the Sound, anglers can usually find protected water which is not as subject to wind and wave action. Anglers in the Navarre Beach area should check out the docks which lie at the western edge of the developed island. These docks project into some of the deepest water to be found in the area, over 20 feet in some spots, and there are some very big

COMMERCIAL AND RESIDENTIAL MAIL: P.O. Box 638, Orange Beach, AL 36561 PHONE: 251.981.9473 | FAX: 251.981.1826 24 HOUR EMERGENCY: 251.609.2287

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ICW Docks

This red came from a dock which had rocks on the shore of the ICW. CS 4

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ICW Docks

reds here. Also, some very large black drum live here, and they will welcome a bait or lure intended for reds eagerly. Oriole Beach docks are on the mainland side of Santa Rosa Sound, and these docks while often built in shallower water than the island side docks, have their own advantages. Some great weed beds often lie just off the ends of these ICW docks, and some wonderful speckled trout and redfish action comes to anglers who fish these docks. Pensacola Bay-Deer Point docks offer even more fishing choices. These docks lie on the Gulf Breeze shore on the ICW and Santa Rosa Sound, and anglers can expect some fast redfish action, and specks are quite common, too. Also, since these docks are on the shores of the ICW as it enters massive Pensacola Bay, anglers can often find bull red schooling action in fall and winter just off the ends of these docks.

‘Bama ICW Docks

As the ICW moves westward, more docks than can be numbered have been built on its shorelines past Innerarity Point and toward Perdido Bay. All of these docks offer some great fishing. Robert Dobson, better known as B.T., of Foley, Alabama spends a lot of time fishing the ICW which lies in coastal Alabama, and he offers us some good ideas for great results when we fish the canal.

These narrowed spots in the ICW often help concentrate and strengthen currents which occur naturally in the canal, and these currents can really generate a good bite.

B.T. says, “I like to start at Lulu’s Restaurant on the ICW near the Highway 59 Bridge and work the docks which lie to the west along the ICW. These docks are right on the deepest water of the ICW, and you’re more likely to find fish near docks which have deeper water close by.” The ICW just west of the highway crossing of Highway 59 is a very good place to start an ICW trip in Alabama. There’s a fine boat ramp just under the bridge, and anglers can then access the docks and other structure which lie to the west toward Mobile Bay or run east toward Orange Beach and several docks in that direction. Also, anglers should not be in a big hurry to move away from the Highway 59 Bridge area. The old bridge crossing was just east of the new bridge, and lots of old pilings and other structure where the bridge used to be and some very deep water provide some good fishing, especially for large redfish. Boat traffic can be thick in this area and on weekends it can be hard to fish here during the day as lots of pleasure boats, and of course, large commercial barges move through the

$39,995 * Plus appliciable taxes and fees


24201 US Hwy 98 Fairhope, AL 36532 251.928.2244

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ICW Docks

B.T. with a very good ICW redfish taken on a live shrimp. CS 6

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ICW Docks

ICW here. Anglers will always want to exercise caution and pay attention to other boat traffic moving through the narrow sections of the Alabama ICW.

Best ICW Dock Techniques

Use the Current At many points of the ICW as it crosses Florida and Alabama, the canal gets quite narrow and constricted. Although this can complicate things for navigation, it often improves things as far as the fishing goes. These narrowed spots in the ICW often help concentrate and strengthen currents which occur naturally in the canal, and these currents can really generate a good bite. B.T. tells us that a falling tide which creates moving water in the ICW is one of the best times to be fishing the canal. When the water moves, redfish, specks, sheepshead and all other game fish tend to get much more active and responsive to anglers’ offerings. If some docks with good water movement can be found, these specific spots deserve some close attention because fish will probably be close by. For some very good fishing, anglers on the ICW should look for locations along the shoreline where rocks and boulders have been used to help stabilize the shoreline. These boulder shorelines on the ICW are very good places for crabs and shrimp and other smaller food fish to gather, and redfish love to hold on those docks which are close to rocks shoreline. There are a few stretches on the Alabama run of the ICW which offer docks with deep water close by, some good current movement, and rock shorelines very close. These docks are the prime spots day in and day out for anglers.

Don’t Quit When the Sun Goes Down

Our buddy B.T. Dobson tells us that anglers who want to use the docks to 877.314.1237 // // APRIL 2018 CS 7

ICW Docks

their best advantage will not stop fishing when the sun goes down. Fishing those docks which have all-night lights can be a real blast, especially when the days are hot. Night time fishing along the ICW in summer can be very comfortable, and also very productive.

Another particularly good thing about the ICW docks is that no matter what time of year we go fishing there, something will most likely be close at hand to offer us a good fight.

B.T. says,” I’ve fished the ICW and its docks for over 20 years. I look for action under the lights. Trout will be working glass minnows, and reds can be spotted a long way off.” When trout are feeding at night under a lighted dock, anglers will hear a definite “pop” as the trout smash minnows and shrimp at the surface. Anglers can get within casting distance and put a lure or bait up current of the lighted water and let the offering drift into the strike zone. It's important when fishing ICW docks at night to not get the boat too close to the feeding action. Specks, in particular, can be pretty spooky, and too close an approach can put the feeding

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fish down. The good thing is that usually the fish will return and start actively feeding again if given a little while to calm down. Redfish feeding under ICW docks are another matter. Reds are not as spooky as trout, and when they are feeding on the surface, there’s no doubt about it. Massive swirls and splashes indicate a school of reds making life difficult for baitfish and shrimp. Night time fishing ICW docks can produce some of the most exciting top-water bites from redfish that anglers will ever experience, and working a walk the dog top-water lure under ICW docks is a good way to have some real hard-pulling fun.

And What to Use to Catch Them

Fish holding on the ICW docks are there because they find shelter and they find food. Most of the time, fish here are on the prowl for a good meal. In addition to top-water plugs for night time fishing, anglers won't go far wrong by throwing soft plastic jigs as close to the dock pilings as possible. Scented grub bodies like the GULP! baits work very well for everything that swims in the ICW. Of course, it’s hard to beat live shrimp either under a popping cork or free-lined so the shrimp drifts naturally under the dock. The only thing wrong with live shrimp is that all of the pinfish and other bait stealers in the vicinity will strip away the shrimp in a heartbeat. Another particularly good thing about the ICW docks is that no matter what time of year we go fishing there, something will most likely be close at hand to offer us a good fight.

Pier & Shore Fishing Outlook

April provides a great opportunity for pier and shore anglers along the coast. BY DAVID THORNTON Photos by David Thornton

Crowds can get rather large on the popular panhandle piers, and increasingly competitive. Especially on weekends and when it comes to sight casting for pompano or cobia.


istorically speaking, April is one of the best months of the year to fish from the beach or pier along the coast. Spring is usually in full swing and the fish respond to almost daily rising water temperatures. On average the water temp gets near 70, or even above that by the end of the month. Sheepshead are winding down their spawning activities, but become more common catches along the beaches as they make their way toward the bays. Then numbers of pompano surge in the surf zone as they gather in increasingly large schools in preparation for their upcoming spawn. And Spanish mackerel schools are migrating parallel to the coast in huge numbers throughout the month. These are soon followed by even larger schools of blue runners and ladyfish (called “hardtails” and “skipjack”) which move into and soon dominate the surf zone by the end of April. Larger pelagic fish like jack

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crevalle, king mackerel, and the highly prized cobia are also on the move and become targets for pier anglers. Meanwhile inshore, speckled trout gather in large groups. Becoming more active around the jetties and passes in Alabama and the back bay piers of northwest Florida like the Three Mile Bay Bridge. Plus the water is getting warm enough for wade fishing. Thus opening up even more territory for anglers pursuing trout and redfish from shore. Artificial lures that mimic small mullet or menhaden (like MirrOlure’s 51M and 52M series or Unfair Lure’s Rip-N-Slash or Mullet series) are great tools to locate schools and ensure lots of action. Of course, the old standby of free lining live shrimp or drifting them under a float is almost a sure bet to catch a mess of trout, or at least pick up other tasty fish like pompano, sheepshead, and flounder as by-catch.


CONFLICTING AND OVERLAPPING OPPORTUNITIES Just about the time the masses of ‘spring breakers’ are thinning out, it seems many more local anglers come out of hibernation to fish again. Crowds can get rather large on the popular panhandle piers, and increasingly competitive. Especially on weekends and when it comes to sight casting for pompano or cobia. Every gulf pier from Mexico Beach, Florida to Gulf Shores in Alabama has its contingent of highly dedicated cobia casters and pompano jig slingers. And every year is a bit different in response to the nuances of weather, water temperature, and clarity. But the results are almost always the same as some eye-popping cobia are landed and dragged down the pier to the envy of others. King mackerel quickly overtake cobia in numbers available to be caught from the piers this month. This often leaves anglers ‘on the fence’ as to what species they want to focus on. Simultaneously, the numbers of local baitfish surge into the surf zone and congregate around the piers. This creates another impasse as some anglers want to drift fish with live bait, while others are ‘snobbling’ frozen cigar minnows and still others are throwing diving plugs, all to the same fish while cobia anglers keep their vigil. Couple this with folks throwing jigs or Gotcha plugs for Spanish mackerel or throwing out ‘set lines’ for pompano between those jigging for them and the whole scene can get quite hectic and even overwhelming for some people. But at least it is ‘organized chaos’ which has evolved from decades of fishing together. After all, this is pier fishing, and in most cases, the spirit of harmony and mutual cooperation prevails. Savvy anglers will clear the rail to allow another angler quick passage. Others will momentarily cease fishing and grab a net or gaff to help this more fortunate angler land his or her catch. We all hope the ‘Golden Rule’ for pier fishing will come back and aid us when we hook up to a good fish!

experiment with different setups or distances from shore. I try to learn something new every day spent on the beach. NETWORKING FOR MORE FISH Never be afraid to talk to other anglers to find out what tactic or bait is working (or not working) for them. Their experiences can help you eliminate fishing vacant or unproductive waters. Also, it gives you a wider view of what baits, locations, and even depths or distances fish are being caught. Productivity is as much about finding a pattern as it is locating where the fish are swimming. Sharing knowledge can make you both better! It used to be angler knowledge could only be decimated by word of mouth, or in print. Nowadays social media can aid you in becoming more successful too. Many fishing websites have specific forums for surf or pier fishing (like Pensacola Fishing Forum). And most of the piers have Facebook pages where reports, pictures and a lot of useful information can be gleaned as well. Just don’t fall into the trap of “following the reports” and showing up in a location when the word is already out. Often times the fish move or the weather changes and they will be elsewhere, and so should you! Learn to anticipate where the fish you want to target will be, and try to be there at the right time to beat the crowd ;-) With the increasing options of species and venues available to shore-bound anglers this month, there is almost no reason to not catch fish. So when you get the chance be sure to let your friends know where, when and how so they can also enjoy their great days outdoors.

ANGLERS IN SEARCH OF SOLACE It seems shore fishing would be the antithesis of pier fishing, and it often is. There are many miles of unfished beaches, and surf fishers often seek solitude as much as they do fish. But this is not always as easily obtained near popular public venues, densely populated cities or building complexes. Especially as the water warms and more vacationers want to get in it to wade or swim. Fortunately, there are still areas that remain virtually barren of people, even on weekends. Of course, they are ‘off the beaten path’ for the most part, like the National Seashore areas. But a determined surf angler who can take a surf cart even a few hundred yards down the beach can often find a quiet space to fish and even catch fish. Learning to ‘read’ the beach is a key factor to successful surf fishing. Avoid featureless stretches of beach with mundane profiles and concentrate on the points, sandbars and depression edges. A good hat and sunglasses are essential to see detail underwater, especially when the glare is bad or the water not very clear. Let the shades of water color show you the depth and the waves the definition of the sandbars. And don’t be afraid to 877.314.1237 // // APRIL 2018 57

Gulf Coast Fishing Outlook

There’s nothing that stirs the soul of the coastal angler more than the warm breezes of spring. BY MIKE THOMPSON Photos by Mike Thompson


pril sets off an alarm in the head of speckled trout anglers in search of large trout. Speckled trout will be moving back and forth from the depths as the warm sun rays heat up the shallows. Specks will start showing over oyster shell bottoms. The shells capture the warming effect of the sun and small bait starts to increase, as well as the hungry specks that feed on them. When this happens you should target the fish with live shrimp under a cork. If live shrimp is not available you should try Vudu Shrimp or D.O.A. Shrimp under a rattling cork or popping cork. If the water is clear you should go with natural colors, but if the water is off color, you should go with brighter colors like chartreuse. Specks and redfish will also start to make their appearance on the man-made reefs this month. Reefs on the eastern side of Mobile Bay will turn on first, as the

waters of the eastern shore stay clearer on incoming tides. Reefs in the Mississippi Sound will also start holding fish this month. Use soft plastic grubs to fool the specks and reds. If you don’t own a boat you can still get in on some April action at the jetties of Perdido Pass. Sheepshead, bluefish and a few speckled trout will be hanging around the rocks. Use live shrimp if available. If not available, you can catch fish on dead shrimp or plastic grubs. OFFSHORE April is still one of those ‘in-between’ months when it comes to offshore fishing beeliners and white snapper are among the few catch and keep species available in April. While you still can catch lots of red snapper, you must return them to the water till the season opens in June. However, some of the best picture

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opportunities take place during the closed season, so be sure to take along a camera to record your success. A lot of attention will be focused on the annual migration of cobia this month. Some commercial captains employ the use of towers to spot the cobia on their move westward. Once spotted, you should try to intercept the fish and toss a frisky live eel in front of the fish. It’s quite exciting to see the fish approach and engulf the live eels. A friend of mine. George Turner described this as a brown torpedo moving in and when the cobia opens its mouth it looks like a large white pie plate about to take the eel or other bait. Speaking of other baits, the cobia will readily hit large plastic jigs tossed in front of them. Chartreuse or white colors are local favorites. During the month of April, many captains in the offshore charter fleet rely on the steady bite of bull reds to complete a trip. These big reds will clobber Drone spoons trolled behind the boat. Often, several rods will bend at once, adding a delightful chaos to the trip.


FRESHWATER Bass will still be plenty active in the shallow bays of the Tensaw Delta. Spinnerbaits will still rule as the top bait, but as grasses become thicker, soft plastic worms or lizards worked through the grass will be a better choice. Colors such as Junebug or Tequila Sunrise will be good choices for the soft plastics. April’ is still a month of weather un-stability. Setting up where these bays drain into creeks can be a great strategy to locate schools of bass. Weather fronts can still pass through, accompanied by strong north winds. This situation will drain the shallow bays and force the bass back into the creeks.

If you don’t own a boat you can still get in on some April action at the jetties of Perdido Pass. Sheepshead, bluefish and a few speckled trout will be hanging around the rocks.

Bream should still be hanging around in Delta creeks until the water warms, urging the bream to seek bedding areas in shallow spots. On the lower Delta, be sure to check out the numerous duck blinds left over from the past duck season. If waters warm early, you could hit a nice payload of bream. Use crickets to entice the bream. If waters remain cool, you can still locate bream in the creeks. Use seed shrimp along the grass edges of the creeks, paying special attention to any structure you find. If you can’t catch your own seed shrimp, live crickets are a top producer for April bream. Crappie will be available in middle Delta lakes if waters clear. Look for the crappie around any wood structure. Be sure to fish the bases of cypress trees in the lakes. Drop small jigs by the bases. This can be done with or without the aid of a small cork. Dangling the bait almost motionless will trigger strikes more than you would expect. You can also employ the use of small spinnerbaits to fool the crappie. Chartreuse Road Runner baits are excellent in this scenario. You might even

catch a few aggressive bass using the small spinnerbaits. Nice lively crappie minnows will take the lion’s share of crappie, if available. Try dangling the minnows near any structure. Boathouses and pier pilings are great places to target the crappie. Don’t ignore grass edges near channels to find crappie this month. CONCLUSION Warm weather surely excites both anglers and fish this month. While the fish may be tough to find, once you locate them, you can really put a hurting on them! See you on the water!

Important Information Live crappie minnows Boutwell’s Bait and Tackle 251-937-8649 (Bay Minette, AL) Drone spoons

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Regional Freshwater Fishing Outlook

Across the northern Gulf Coast and inland, freshwater fishing will be as good as it gets anywhere in April. Let’s see what some of the best anglers can tell us. BY ED MASHBURN Photos by Ed Mashburn


MILLER’S FERRY Our buddy Joe Dunn of Dunn’s Sports in Thomasville is excited when it comes to talking about the fishing during April at Miller’s Ferry. Joe says, “It’s all going to be wide open. Everything will be in full-blown spring patterns.” For bass anglers that means they’ll want to work the banks at Miller’s Ferry using spinner baits, buzzbaits, and chatterbaits. We can’t go wrong if we use white and chartreuse, white and blue, and Joe’s favorite color combination, white and gold in the spinner baits. Bass anglers can also find good bass by flipping jigs in the growing grass mats. Crappie anglers will also want to be looking at shallow water. Crappie will be on the spawning grounds in the shallows, and anglers can work the banks with live minnows under floats. Joe Dunn says that vertical jigging around the stumps will produce lots of slabs in April. Look in four to six feet of water. Catfish will be hot too. All of the shallow

flats will have catfish in April and jugs with one to two-foot-long lines will work well. For best catfish catching, fresh cut shad will be the best bait. For best fishing regardless of the target, anglers will want to concentrate on the sloughs such as Gold Mine, Marina Slough, and Hog Pen Slough where the water will warm faster than the rest of the lake. LAKE WILSON/PICKWICK Captain Brian Barton tells us, “We’ll have a potentially wider range of water temperatures this month. Water temperatures will begin in the low to mid 50’s and by month’s end should reach the 70-degree mark. Catfish will start migrating into the mouth of the deeper sloughs early this month.” Mouths of major creeks like Shoal, McKernan, Six Mile, and Big Nance will all hold staging fish this month. In the main lake, fish should concentrate along the base of bluff lines relating vertically to blow-downs and chunk-rock where present. Some fish will always be on or near the bottom, but look for fish to start

60 APRIL 2018 // // 877.314.1237

suspending in the water column as the water warms throughout the month. A good way to catch these cats is to use a 2/0 or 3/0 Mister Twister weighted worm hook to medium-heavy action spinning tackle and bait with shad, skipjack, or chicken livers. Cast toward the bluff and allow the bait to slowly fall to the bottom. If live crayfish can be found they are deadly for big blue cats fished this way. Tops and just-off-the-river ledges will be good spots to target. The mouths of Indian, Second, and Bear Creeks will hold plenty of catfish this month. Look for these fish in anywhere from 15 to 35 feet of water. On the upper end of Pickwick, near the dam look for concentrations of cats behind wing walls and rock piles that run horizontally along the lake. The barge canal below the dam is an excellent place to fish late in the month. Last year, during the last weekend of April, we took 47 cats on jugs in less than 5 hours. For those who like to jug fish, set jugs 8 to 12 feet deep and bait with shrimp, shad gut, or cut bait. The gravel bar at Pond Creek will load up with spawning channel catfish this month. To target these fish, anchor upstream and along the edge of the gravel bar. LAKE EUFAULA Captain Sam Williams says bass will be found near brush piles on the river edges, and anglers will need to look for grass growing rapidly. Soft plastics rigged


Carolina style and lipless crankbaits will pull these bass in. Bass will be found in good groups near the mouths of creeks, and the hydrilla should be growing and creating thick mats of vegetation which will hold better bass. Anglers should look for the fresh green color, and if this new grass is near other structure such as blowdowns or old lily pad stems, it deserves some time and attention. The catfish bite will be getting very good in April when the whisker fish will be going to the spawning beds. Live bait or big chunks of cut bait will work either on rod and reel or jug fishing. Captain Sam says, “They’ll be up in creeks — look for them in weeds and pads.” Captain Sam tells us that a little caution is in order when pulling on jug lines which seem to have big catfish on them. For some fast white bass and hybrid action, anglers can use lipless crankbaits and spinner baits in silver or white colors near creek and river channels where the fish will either be heading upstream to spawn or downstream back to the main lake body after they’ve completed spawning. April will also see bream of all kinds starting their annual move to shallow water for bedding. Try live bait fished on the bottom around shoreline cover for April bream action. Don’t be surprised when a big catfish takes live bait intended for a bluegill. When this happens, life can get pretty interesting for a while. LAKE WEISS Captain Lee Pitts says, “Locating the new growth water vegetation is a matter of high priority for anglers looking for the best bass fishing. If you can find some fresh green, a mix of old and new grass, (the grass with the yellow-tipped flowers) the bass like that better.” Spinner baits, jigs in 3/8 oz. weights or soft plastic lizards will all work well in the springtime grass. For the spinner baits, go with white or white/chartreuse colors, and just slow-roll it across the bottom. Another good April technique is to let the spinner bait sink, and then slowly hop it back. When the spinner bait reaches the end of the grass, just let it “die” and sink. Often the bass will take it as it falls toward the bottom.

Jig colors which work well on Weiss bass are black/blue, and green pumpkin colors. The Zoom Super-Chunk is a very good addition to the jig. Location is important in April. Captain Lee tells us, “The better fish will be way in the backs of pockets.” Weiss is famous for its crappie fishing, and April is a great month to get in on the crappie bite. Crappie will be shallow around brush piles, piers, and stump rows. Crappie will be spawning the whole month, so the fishing and catching will be hot if the fish can be located and the angler puts the right bait before them. Lots of two to two and a half pound crappie will be located and caught in April. Captain Lee says, “We like to throw a cork with a jig under it. A Southern Pro jig in 1/32 oz. weight in dark colors such as black/chartreuse and gape and chartreuse are great on cloudy days. On brighter days we’ll go with black and red, blue/sour grape, and white/chartreuse colors.” Fishing the cork and jig combination for big slabs is pretty easy if you don’t like to work too hard and too fast. Captain Lee advises crappie chasers, “Throw the jig with a three-foot leader. Ease it eight to ten inches and stop. Let it swing and try to shake it under the jig. Work this rig near cover.” Captain Lee reminds anglers, “Most all flats on Weiss have stumps, holes, something that’s holding the fish. Find the structure and you’ll find the fish. We’ll keep working these spots.” LAKE NEELY-HENRY Captain Lee Pitts says, “All back bays and tributaries will be very good. Anglers should go as far back as possible in the feeder creeks and bays which open into the main lake. Try to fish boat docks and other structure which will be holding and sheltering spawning bass.” Bass anglers can try fairly large crankbaits in shad patterns around shallow structure and over points. Don’t neglect the backs of caves where the bass will be bedding in April. “You can’t get too shallow. I’ve seen the backs of bass out of the water like feeding carp,” he says. To catch these shallow water bass, anglers should throw large spinner baits in white and chartreuse colors

for a good workout. Try to put the bait close to structure and let the spinner bait drop to the bottom from time to time. Neely-Henry has a good mix of largemouth and spotted bass. Captain Lee tells us, “The spots will be on river structure and the first points of shorelines. They like some current. Spots love spinner baits in orange and chartreuse patterns with gold spinners. They really like gold!” Crappie fishing will be very good in April, and most crappie will be down-river in the bigger sloughs. Anglers should try jigs under floats- just as mentioned in the Weiss Lake report. Live minnows work very well at times, and it never hurts to have a bucket of lively minnows along to tip a jig with. LAKE GUNTERSVILLE Captain Jake Davis says, “Fish the sloughs off the main river and the shallow flats off the main rivers. The Goose Pond Marina area and the Mud Creek areas are both very good for April bass.” Bass in Guntersville will often make a bed under the grass mats as protection and cover. This can help anglers locate bedding fish. Any green grass needs to be worked. Lizards, worms, chunks, and creature baits will work when they are dropped into or below the green grass. Try the soft plastics as trailers for jigs in 3/8 to ½ oz. weights. Black/blue and peanut butter and jelly (purple with brownish steaks) are good colors for the bedding bass. Rattle-L-Traps in red colors if murky water and Texas Shad patterns if clear will work well. Crappie anglers looking for good slab action will find crappie on the beds on flats, and they will often be in the same general area as the spawning bass. Captain Jake says, “I’ll find flats with crappie spawning, and the bass will be eating the crappie.” It’s totally possible for anglers to fish the crappie for a good mess of fine-eating slabs, and then fish big silver crankbaits or spinner baits on the edges of the crappie beds to catch some big bass which have been dining on the crappie, too. To catch the crappie, try live minnows or small plastic-body jigs work very slowly across the bedding areas. Bream anglers should start to find bluegills and redears moving into shallower water, and don’t be surprised if

877.314.1237 // // APRIL 2018 61

Regional Freshwater Fishing Outlook

bream start to show up while anglers are working crappie beds. Bream will take small crappie jigs, but crickets and red worms fished on light tackle will work best. SIPSEY FORK Randy Jackson of Riverside Fly Shop on the Sipsey Fork tells us that April should begin some of the best fly fishing of the entire year. He says, “April is in the best hatching months of the year, and in April we have a good caddis fly hatch usually, but it’s all dependent on the weather. Anglers need to watch the weather and look for days that are not too humid and are calm and cloudy. These are the best dry fly fishing days.” Last year, the Sipsey Fork had some great fly hatches all summer from April to August. When the bugs are not hatching off, anglers can use subsurface nymphs like the classic Hare’s Ear in sizes 14 to 16 for good results. For those anglers who have not mastered a fly rod yet, lots of Sipsey Fork rainbows can be caught on ultra-light spinning gear. Randy Jackson says, “Use a tiny swivel with a light leader and a fly. Put a tiny lead above the swivel and a float above that. The fly moves through the water naturally.” Four-pound test line on the ultra-light rig is needed, and fluorocarbon line works best. Skipjacks may very well be up the river near the dam in April, and they are a blast on light tackle. Any tiny, shiny lure or fly will work for the jumping skipjacks. Anglers can expect to find nine-inch rainbows quite often, and there are some fine twenty-inch holdover rainbow trout downstream. Remember, there are fourteen miles of trout water on the Sipsey Fork — and the fish are not all up near the dam.


APALACHICOLA RIVER Captain Jimmy Maxwell tells us that the entire Apalachicola River system will be very good in April, and anglers can expect to find good fishing anywhere along the river and its backwaters. The Dead Lakes area around Wewahitchka will be on fire with great bream fishing around the massive cypress stumps and other woody cover. Shellcrackers will be bedding on the first phasechange of the moon in April, and anglers can find some great bream fishing with worms fished on the bottom. Bass anglers might find bass still on beds in April. Captain Jimmy says that last year was a late spawn for bass because of cooler weather in the spring. Any feeder creeks and backwaters along the main river should be holding bass, and anglers can have good luck throwing just about any kind of lure to shoreline cover. Big spinner baits which create a lot of action in the water will be best if the water is dingy. Anglers who fish the river toward the town of Apalachicola can expect to run into a wide range of species, and it’s not uncommon to encounter redfish and other saltwater species in the river as it nears the bay. LAKE SEMINOLE April is a fine time to visit Lake Seminole to see what anglers 62 APRIL 2018 // // 877.314.1237

talk about when they describe the fine bass fishing on the northwest Florida lake. Captain Matt Baty tells us that bass anglers will both see and catch some good bass in April here. He says, “Bass in April will be spawning on main lake sandbars. Use a good pair of polarized glasses to scan sandbars between the Flint River and Spring Creek. If the water is clear, you can usually see the sand.” Once bedding bass are spotted, anglers can work the immediate area for good results. Captain Matt tells us, “When you see bass on the sand, throw a Jenk Rip Knocker 75 in shad pattern or a 6-inch Big Bite Baits Trick Stick in green pumpkin.” The bass will either be spawning directly on the bars or they will be post-spawn on the edges of the bars where the hydrilla is growing. If the water is cloudy and the grass and sandbars can’t be seen, use your electronics to locate these fish-holding areas. LAKE TALQUIN In April on Lake Talquin, anglers can expect to find good fishing for just about every kind of fish that calls the lake home. Jeff DuBree of Whippoorwill Lodge at Lake Talquin says, “The bass will still be spawning in places, and the post-spawn pattern will be good. There will be shad spawning by then in the shallows. Jerk baits matched to the small size of the shad fished around shallows will be very good in early mornings. Any of the lake’s shallows can hold great bass in April. Bream will be very good in April here. Bluegill will be spawning heavily and anglers using crickets and worms can fill an ice chest. Also, Jeff DuBree recommends anglers try small Beetle Spins in black with gold spinners for great bream action. Some big redears will be caught in April in deeper water — say 8-10 feet around sandy humps in the main lake. Catfish will be quite good in April for anglers who use stink baits. Important Information Joe Dunn, Dunn’s Sports 334-636-0850 33356 Hwy 43, Thomasville, AL Captain Sam Williams Hawks Guide Service 334-687-0400 Brandon Jackson/ Randy Jackson Riverside Fly Shop 17027 Hwy 69N Jasper, AL 256-287-9582 Captain Lee Pitts 256-390-4145

Captain Brian Barton 256-412-0960 Captain Jake Davis Mid-South Bass Guide Service 615-613-2382 Jeff DuBree Whippoorwill Sportsman’s Lodge Lake Talquin 850-875-2605 Captain Matt Baty 229-726-0153 Captain Jimmy Maxwell Backwater Guide Service 850-899-0063

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877.314.1237 // // APRIL 2018 63


Mobile / Tensaw Delta


PRIME FEEDING TIMES This chart is specifically designed for fishing times in the Mobile/Tensaw Delta & other tidally influenced waters of South Alabama. Date Day

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

This chart is specifically designed for game movement for the state of Alabama & fish feeding times in non-tidal waters in the state. Inclement weather or rapidly changing temperatures can adversely affect feeding times. Moon Over & Under is the best feeding times for game animals & fish in non-tidal waters.

April 2018

April 2018

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun Mon Tue Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun Mon

64 APRIL 2018 // // 877.314.1237

Shaded areas represent best days during the month.


PHASE                                               

Date S M T W T F Sa S M T W T F Sa S M T W T F Sa S M T W T F Sa S M

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30


8:26 PM 9:26 PM 10:23 PM 11:19 PM --:-12:12 AM 1:03 AM 1:51 AM 2:35 AM 3:17 AM 3:55 AM 4:31 AM 5:07 AM 5:41 AM 6:16 AM 6:53 AM 7:33 AM 8:16 AM 9:05 AM 9:58 AM 10:57 AM 11:59 AM 1:03 PM 2:07 PM 3:11 PM 4:13 PM 5:14 PM 6:14 PM 7:13 PM 8:11 PM


1:32 AM 2:20 AM 3:07 AM 3:55 AM 4:43 AM 5:31 AM 6:20 AM 7:08 AM 7:55 AM 8:42 AM 9:29 AM 10:15 AM 11:01 AM 11:48 AM 12:36 PM 1:26 PM 2:18 PM 3:13 PM 4:11 PM 5:10 PM 6:09 PM 7:07 PM 8:03 PM 8:56 PM 9:47 PM 10:36 PM 11:24 PM --:-12:12 AM 12:59 AM


7:29 AM 8:05 AM 8:42 AM 9:21 AM 10:02 AM 10:47 AM 11:34 AM 12:23 PM 1:16 PM 2:09 PM 3:05 PM 4:01 PM 4:59 PM 5:59 PM 7:00 PM 8:03 PM 9:08 PM 10:13 PM 11:18 PM --:-12:19 AM 1:17 AM 2:08 AM 2:55 AM 3:37 AM 4:15 AM 4:52 AM 5:27 AM 6:02 AM 6:38 AM


1:56 PM 2:43 PM 3:31 PM 4:19 PM 5:07 PM 5:55 PM 6:44 PM 7:32 PM 8:19 PM 9:06 PM 9:52 PM 10:38 PM 11:24 PM --:-12:12 AM 1:01 AM 1:52 AM 2:45 AM 3:42 AM 4:40 AM 5:39 AM 6:38 AM 7:35 AM 8:30 AM 9:22 AM 10:12 AM 11:01 AM 11:48 AM 12:35 PM 1:23 PM


Fort Morgan Su 1 M


T W T F S Su M Tu W Th F

3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

S 14 Su 15 M 16 T W Th F S Su M T W T

17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26

F 27 S 28 Su 29 M 30

2:41 AM / 0.73 12:42 PM / 0.88 4:35 AM / 0.68 12:38 PM / 1.04 1:01 PM / 1.16 1:35 PM / 1.25 2:13 PM / 1.3 2:55 PM / 1.32 3:39 PM / 1.31 4:24 PM / 1.27 5:13 PM / 1.22 6:09 PM / 1.14 7:34 PM / 1.04 9:31 PM / 0.95 1:23 PM / 0.77 11:10 PM / 0.87 12:33 PM / 0.82 ---1:02 AM / 0.8 12:04 PM / 0.93 3:17 AM / 0.78 11:58 AM / 1.08 12:11 PM / 1.23 12:40 PM / 1.37 1:19 PM / 1.47 2:05 PM / 1.53 2:55 PM / 1.54 3:46 PM / 1.49 4:35 PM / 1.38 5:25 PM / 1.23 6:22 PM / 1.04 12:46 PM / 0.81 10:38 PM / 0.86 12:06 PM / 0.87 ---1:00 AM / 0.78 11:25 AM / 0.98 11:01 AM / 1.13 11:13 AM / 1.27

7:05 AM / 0.6 8:24 PM / 0.34 6:47 AM / 0.66 9:23 PM / 0.26 10:32 PM / 0.21 ---12:26 AM / 0.19 2:08 AM / 0.16 3:24 AM / 0.14 4:28 AM / 0.12 5:20 AM / 0.13 5:57 AM / 0.15 6:23 AM / 0.21 6:36 AM / 0.3 6:35 AM / 0.41 5:40 PM / 0.7 6:26 AM / 0.53 6:53 PM / 0.55 6:17 AM / 0.65 7:46 PM / 0.4 6:06 AM / 0.74 8:38 PM / 0.26 9:38 PM / 0.16 11:07 PM / 0.09 ---1:00 AM / 0.03 2:23 AM / -0.02 3:33 AM / -0.02 4:37 AM / 0.02 5:30 AM / 0.11 6:07 AM / 0.25 6:14 AM / 0.43 3:41 PM / 0.78 5:25 AM / 0.6 6:16 PM / 0.62 4:53 AM / 0.71 7:28 PM / 0.45 8:16 PM / 0.31 9:01 PM / 0.22

Fowl River Su 1

Mobile River

4:44 AM / 0.79

7:54 AM / 0.78

12:44 PM / 0.86

9:25 PM / 0.24



1:12 PM / 1.04

10:23 PM / 0.12



1:48 PM / 1.18

11:09 PM / 0.05

W 4

2:36 PM / 1.27

11:58 PM / 0.03



3:28 PM / 1.34




4:15 PM / 1.37

12:59 AM / 0.04



4:59 PM / 1.37

2:02 AM / 0.07

Su 8

5:46 PM / 1.35

2:58 AM / 0.13



6:44 PM / 1.3

5:24 AM / 0.19

Tu 10

7:47 PM / 1.22

6:46 AM / 0.24

W 11

8:50 PM / 1.12

7:51 AM / 0.31

Th 12

10:48 PM / 1

9:09 AM / 0.4

F 13


9:58 AM / 0.52

S 14

1:21 AM / 0.93

7:04 PM / 0.46

Su 15

3:42 AM / 0.89

7:37 AM / 0.84

12:01 PM / 0.88

8:30 PM / 0.29

M 16 12:14 PM / 1.08

9:42 PM / 0.1

T 17 12:40 PM / 1.29 10:38 PM / -0.07 W 18

1:19 PM / 1.47

Th 19

2:10 PM / 1.6


F 20

3:13 PM / 1.68

12:40 AM / -0.22

11:33 PM / -0.18

S 21

4:10 PM / 1.69

1:58 AM / -0.21

Su 22

5:00 PM / 1.63

3:02 AM / -0.14

M 23

5:51 PM / 1.5

4:13 AM / -0.01

T 24

6:51 PM / 1.3

5:41 AM / 0.15

W 25

7:59 PM / 1.08

6:43 AM / 0.35

T 26


7:27 AM / 0.57

F 27 12:01 AM / 0.84

5:09 AM / 0.74

11:53 AM / 0.79

6:16 PM / 0.57

10:26 AM / 1

9:15 PM / 0.38

S 28

Su 29 11:18 AM / 1.18

9:49 PM / 0.2

M 30 11:55 AM / 1.33

10:13 PM / 0.08

Su 1 M T W T F S Su M Tu W Th F

2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

S 14 Su 15 M 16 T W Th F S Su M T W T

17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26

F 27 S 28 Su 29 M 30

4:27 AM / 0.91 2:28 PM / 1.1 2:24 PM / 1.3 2:47 PM / 1.45 3:21 PM / 1.56 3:59 PM / 1.63 4:41 PM / 1.65 5:25 PM / 1.63 6:10 PM / 1.59 6:59 PM / 1.52 7:55 PM / 1.42 9:20 PM / 1.3 11:17 PM / 1.19 3:09 PM / 0.97 ---12:56 AM / 1.09 2:19 PM / 1.03 2:48 AM / 1 1:50 PM / 1.16 5:03 AM / 0.97 1:44 PM / 1.35 1:57 PM / 1.54 2:26 PM / 1.71 3:05 PM / 1.84 3:51 PM / 1.92 4:41 PM / 1.93 5:32 PM / 1.86 6:21 PM / 1.73 7:11 PM / 1.53 8:08 PM / 1.29 2:32 PM / 1.01 ---12:24 AM / 1.07 1:52 PM / 1.08 2:46 AM / 0.97 1:11 PM / 1.23 12:47 PM / 1.41 12:59 PM / 1.58

8:37 AM / 0.74 9:56 PM / 0.43 10:55 PM / 0.33 ---12:04 AM / 0.27 1:58 AM / 0.23 3:40 AM / 0.2 4:56 AM / 0.17 6:00 AM / 0.15 6:52 AM / 0.16 7:29 AM / 0.19 7:55 AM/ 0.27 8:08 AM / 0.38 8:07 AM / 0.52 7:12 PM / 0.88 7:58 AM / 0.66 8:25 PM / 0.69 7:49 AM / 0.81 9:18 PM / 0.5 7:38 AM / 0.93 10:10 PM / 0.33 11:10 PM / 0.2 ---12:39 AM / 0.11 2:32 AM / 0.03 3:55 AM / -0.02 5:05 AM / -0.03 6:09 AM / 0.02 7:02 AM / 0.14 7:39 AM / 0.32 7:46 AM / 0.54 5:13 PM / 0.97 6:57 AM / 0.75 7:48 PM / 0.77 6:25 AM/ 0.88 9:00 PM / 0.56 9:48 PM / 0.39 10:33 PM / 0.27

Perdido Pass Su 1 M 2 T W T F S Su M Tu W Th

3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

F 13 S 14 Su 15 M 16 T W Th F S Su M T W T

17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26

F 27 S 28 Su 29 M 30

12:20 AM / 0.52 4:38 AM / 0.39 12:02 PM / 0.63 6:04 PM / 0.16 3:26 AM / 0.38 1:20 AM / 0.42 10:18 AM / 0.72 6:40 PM / 0.13 10:52 AM / 0.8 10:32 PM / 0.14 ---11:31 AM / 0.84 12:13 PM / 0.86 1:00 AM / 0.09 12:58 PM / 0.86 1:54 AM / 0.06 2:46 AM / 0.04 1:52 PM / 0.83 3:46 AM / 0.04 2:50 PM / 0.8 4:46 AM / 0.05 3:41 PM / 0.75 5:31 AM / 0.07 8:03 PM / 0.7 6:03 AM / 0.12 8:52 PM / 0.7 6:12 AM / 0.2 9:48 AM / 0.39 9:39 PM / 0.67 12:07 PM / 0.34 10:14 AM / 0.45 5:53 AM / 0.29 10:31 PM / 0.61 2:19 PM / 0.29 10:39 AM / 0.53 3:15 AM / 0.36 11:31 PM / 0.53 3:47 PM / 0.22 3:21 AM / 0.4 9:14 AM / 0.63 5:13 PM / 0.12 ---2:42 AM / 0.4 12:35 AM / 0.45 6:06 PM / 0.03 9:37 AM / 0.77 10:11 AM / 0.89 6:52 PM / -0.03 10:53 AM / 0.99 7:49 PM / -0.04 11:41 AM / 1.04 11:25 PM / -0.1 ---12:32 PM / 1.05 1:27 PM / 1.01 12:37 AM / -0.13 2:27 PM / 0.94 1:40 AM / -0.12 3:22 PM / 0.83 2:30 AM / -0.07 3:19 AM / 0.01 7:25 PM / 0.71 4:46 AM / 0.12 8:30 PM / 0.64 4:43 AM / 0.24 9:21 AM / 0.51 5:26 PM / 0.38 9:24 PM / 0.56 4:56 AM / 0.36 9:45 AM / 0.61 10:20 PM / 0.47 5:53 PM / 0.24 1:57 AM / 0.38 10:13 AM / 0.7 6:24 PM / 0.13 ---10:39 AM / 0.77 6:56 PM / 0.06 7:30 PM / 0.02 9:31 AM / 0.84

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ALAN WHITE, Host Founder, Editor-in-Chief Great Days Outdoors Magazine

JOE BAYA, Co-Host President/Publisher Great Days Outdoors Magazine

Airing every Thursday at noon on WNSP and Saturday morning on JACKSON 7AM






877.314.1237 // // APRIL 2018 65


Panama City

Pensacola Bay East Pass Destin Navarre Beach / Su 1

2:51 AM / 0.63

5:44 AM / 0.6

12:20 PM / 0.88

8:50 PM / 0.12 10:00 PM / 0.02



12:33 PM / 1.06



12:58 PM / 1.19 11:07 PM / -0.04

W 4

1:29 PM / 1.26


Su 1 M 2

2:18 AM / 0.31

5:10 AM / 0.2

11:47 AM / 0.43

8:16 PM / 0.04

12:00 PM / 0.52

9:26 PM / 0.01


12:25 PM / 0.58 10:33 PM / -0.01

W 4

12:56 PM / 0.62 11:42 PM / -0.02




2:07 PM / 1.29

12:16 AM / -0.07



1:34 PM / 0.63




2:52 PM / 1.28

1:30 AM / -0.08



2:19 PM / 0.63

12:56 AM / -0.03



3:44 PM / 1.25

2:41 AM / -0.08



3:11 PM / 0.61

2:07 AM / -0.03

Su 8

4:44 PM / 1.22

3:41 AM / -0.08

Su 8

4:11 PM / 0.6

3:07 AM / -0.03


5:53 PM / 1.17

4:29 AM / -0.07

M 9

5:20 PM / 0.57

3:55 AM / -0.02

Tu 10

7:07 PM / 1.11

5:06 AM / -0.03

Tu 10

6:34 PM / 0.54

4:32 AM / -0.01

W 11

8:25 PM / 1.02

5:34 AM / 0.05

W 11

7:52 PM / 0.5

5:00 AM / 0.01

Th 12

9:47 PM / 0.91

5:53 AM / 0.16

Th 12

9:14 PM / 0.45

5:19 AM / 0.05

6:00 AM / 0.31

F 13 12:16 PM / 0.32

5:26 AM / 0.1


F 13 12:49 PM / 0.64 11:16 PM / 0.8

5:02 PM / 0.56

10:43 PM / 0.39

4:28 PM / 0.18

S 14 11:53 AM / 0.75

5:52 AM / 0.47

S 14 11:20 AM / 0.37

5:18 AM / 0.15


6:31 PM / 0.39

1:09 AM / 0.69

5:13 AM / 0.61

Su 15 12:36 AM / 0.34

4:39 AM / 0.2

11:34 AM / 0.91

7:38 PM / 0.21

11:01 AM / 0.45

7:04 PM / 0.07

11:37 AM / 1.1

8:41 PM / 0.04

M 16 11:04 AM / 0.54

8:07 PM / 0.01

T 17 11:57 AM / 1.28

9:48 PM / -0.1

T 17 11:24 AM / 0.63

9:14 PM / -0.03 10:29 PM / -0.06

Su 15 M 16


5:57 PM / 0.13

W 18 12:31 PM / 1.43 11:03 PM / -0.19

W 18

Th 19

1:15 PM / 1.53


Th 19 12:42 PM / 0.75 11:51 PM / -0.08

F 20

2:08 PM / 1.58

12:25 AM / -0.26

F 20

1:35 PM / 0.77


S 21

3:08 PM / 1.56

1:47 AM / -0.29

S 21

2:35 PM / 0.77

1:13 AM / -0.1

Su 22

4:16 PM / 1.5

2:58 AM / -0.29

Su 22

3:43 PM / 0.73

2:24 AM / -0.1

M 23

5:33 PM / 1.37

3:56 AM / -0.23

M 23

5:00 PM / 0.67

3:22 AM / -0.08

T 24

6:59 PM / 1.2

4:41 AM / -0.11

T 24

6:26 PM / 0.59

4:07 AM / -0.04

W 25

8:39 PM / 1

5:11 AM / 0.08

W 25

8:06 PM / 0.49

4:37 AM / 0.03

T 26

12:32 PM / 0.7

5:21 AM / 0.3

T 26 11:59 AM / 0.34

4:47 AM / 0.1

10:33 PM / 0.8

4:42 PM / 0.62

10:00 PM / 0.39

4:08 PM / 0.21

4:59 AM / 0.52

F 27 10:45 AM / 0.41

F 27 11:18 AM / 0.83 S 28

11:58 AM / 0.7

4:25 AM / 0.17


6:28 PM / 0.41

1:17 AM / 0.65

3:25 AM / 0.64

S 28 12:44 AM / 0.32

2:51 AM / 0.21

10:57 AM / 1.03

7:36 PM / 0.2

10:24 AM / 0.51

7:02 PM / 0.07


5:54 PM / 0.13

Su 29 11:00 AM / 1.22

8:31 PM / 0.05

Su 29

10:27 AM / 0.6

7:57 PM / 0.01

M 30 11:18 AM / 1.37

9:21 PM / -0.06

M 30 10:45 AM / 0.67

8:47 PM / -0.02

66 APRIL 2018 // // 877.314.1237

Su 1 12:19 AM / 0.58 9:11 AM / 0.71 M 2 1:41 AM / 0.44 9:39 AM / 0.87 T 3 10:19 AM / 0.99 W 4 11:01 AM / 1.08 T 5 11:48 AM / 1.12 F 6 12:39 PM / 1.14 S 7 1:37 PM / 1.12 Su 8 2:40 PM / 1.1 M 9 3:49 PM / 1.07 Tu 10 5:00 PM / 1.03 W 11 6:19 PM / 0.98 Th 12 10:46 AM / 0.59 7:57 PM / 0.91 F 13 10:13 AM / 0.65 9:34 PM / 0.84 S 14 9:59 AM / 0.74 10:59 PM / 0.76 Su 15 9:33 AM / 0.88 ---M 16 12:24 AM / 0.68 9:00 AM / 1.05 T 17 9:17 AM / 1.24 W 18 9:52 AM / 1.41 Th 19 10:35 AM / 1.53 F 20 11:25 AM / 1.59 S 21 12:21 PM / 1.58 Su 22 1:22 PM / 1.51 M 23 2:28 PM / 1.38 T 24 3:38 PM / 1.2 W 25 7:03 PM / 0.99 T 26 9:45 AM / 0.78 9:11 PM / 0.85 F 27 9:45 AM / 0.86 10:39 PM / 0.72 S 28 9:36 AM / 0.96 ---Su 29 12:05 AM / 0.61 8:19 AM / 1.09 M 30 8:37 AM / 1.22

4:00 AM / 0.36 5:14 PM / 0.03 4:00 AM / 0.39 6:22 PM / -0.03 7:37 PM / -0.06 9:25 PM / -0.08 11:30 PM / -0.09 ---12:31 AM / -0.09 1:18 AM / -0.06 1:57 AM / -0.01 2:28 AM / 0.06 2:49 AM / 0.15 2:59 AM / 0.24 12:50 PM / 0.57 3:01 AM / 0.35 2:12 PM / 0.48 3:02 AM / 0.45 3:16 PM / 0.36 3:05 AM / 0.54 4:16 PM / 0.22 3:07 AM / 0.6 5:17 PM / 0.1 6:25 PM / -0.01 7:51 PM / -0.09 10:24 PM / -0.16 11:45 PM / -0.2 ---12:47 AM / -0.18 1:40 AM / -0.1 2:20 AM / 0.04 2:12 AM / 0.21 1:54 AM / 0.37 1:21 PM / 0.6 1:57 AM / 0.48 2:43 PM / 0.42 2:06 AM / 0.54 3:53 PM / 0.24 2:11 AM / 0.56 4:56 PM / 0.1 5:55 PM / -0.02

Su 1

1:06 AM / 0.67

5:20 AM /0.52

12:02 PM / 0.79

7:13 PM / 0.16



11:45 AM / 0.94

8:35 PM / 0.08



11:46 AM / 1.07

9:56 PM / 0.02

W 4

12:16 PM / 1.17 11:13 PM / -0.01



12:54 PM / 1.22




1:36 PM / 1.23

12:34 AM / -0.03



2:23 PM / 1.22

1:53 AM / -0.04

Su 8

3:17 PM / 1.17

2:54 AM / -0.05



4:22 PM / 1.11

3:38 AM / -0.03

Tu 10

5:55 PM / 1.04

4:08 AM / 0.02

W 11

7:48 PM / 0.98

4:23 AM / 0.1

Th 12

9:10 PM / 0.9

F 13 11:05 AM / 0.65

4:32 AM / 0.2 4:42 AM / 0.32

10:31 PM / 0.81

3:54 PM / 0.5

S 14 11:08 AM / 0.74

4:47 AM / 0.45

11:56 PM / 0.72

5:07 PM / 0.38

Su 15 11:09 AM / 0.87 ----

4:27 AM / 0.57 6:16 PM / 0.24

M 16 10:52 AM / 1.02

7:27 PM / 0.11

T 17 10:59 AM / 1.19

8:43 PM / -0.02

W 18 11:31 AM / 1.34 10:00 PM / -0.12 Th 19 12:13 PM / 1.46

11:16 PM / -0.2

F 20

1:00 PM / 1.52


S 21

1:50 PM / 1.52

12:33 AM / -0.23

Su 22

2:44 PM / 1.45

1:47 AM / -0.23

M 23

3:48 PM / 1.32

2:50 AM / -0.17

T 24

6:15 PM / 1.15

3:38 AM / -0.05

W 25

8:08 PM / 1

4:06 AM / 0.13

T 26 10:31 AM / 0.71

3:58 AM / 0.33

9:36 PM / 0.85

3:00 PM / 0.62

F 27 10:16 AM / 0.83

3:43 AM / 0.5

11:10 PM / 0.71

4:40 PM / 0.45

S 28 10:22 AM / 0.99 ----

3:17 AM / 0.63 5:59 PM / 0.29

Su 29 10:24 AM / 1.13

7:12 PM / 0.15

M 30 10:13 AM / 1.26

8:19 PM / 0.06


Biloxi Bay Su 1

12:10 PM / 1.12

8:20 PM / 0.28



12:23 PM / 1.34

9:35 PM / 0.15



12:48 PM / 1.52

10:45 PM / 0.06

W 4

1:19 PM / 1.63




Pascagoula Su 1

2:24 AM / 0.94

6:01 AM / 0.81

10:38 AM / 1.05

7:01 PM / 0.31


2 11:10 AM / 1.22

7:59 PM / 0.23

11:53 PM / 0


3 11:47 AM / 1.35

8:54 PM / 0.18

1:54 PM / 1.69



4 12:33 PM / 1.43

9:54 PM / 0.16


2:34 PM / 1.7

12:59 AM / -0.02



1:23 PM / 1.48

11:10 PM / 0.17


3:20 PM / 1.68

2:01 AM / -0.03



2:09 PM / 1.49


Su 8

4:15 PM / 1.61

2:58 AM / 0



2:51 PM / 1.47

12:22 AM / 0.18



5:25 PM / 1.53

3:49 AM / 0.05

Su 8

3:37 PM / 1.41

1:27 AM / 0.21

Tu 10

6:52 PM / 1.43

4:32 AM / 0.13


4:45 PM / 1.33

3:53 AM / 0.24

W 11

8:28 PM / 1.33

5:07 AM / 0.25

Tu 10 6:14 PM / 1.25

4:40 AM / 0.26

Th 12 10:00 PM / 1.22 F 13 12:52 PM / 0.89

5:32 AM / 0.4

W 11 7:32 PM / 1.17

5:09 AM / 0.32

5:44 AM / 0.58

Th 12 10:15 PM / 1.09

5:27 AM / 0.42

11:34 PM / 1.11

4:19 PM / 0.81

S 14 11:49 AM / 1.01 ----

5:54 PM / 0.63

1:29 AM / 1.01

4:50 AM / 0.93

Su 15 1:27 AM / 0.98

5:33 AM / 0.79

11:31 AM / 1.21

7:07 PM / 0.43

10:06 AM / 1.04

6:16 PM / 0.23

M 16 11:35 AM / 1.45 T 17 11:55 AM / 1.68

8:16 PM / 0.23

M 16 3:13 AM / 0.96

5:44 AM / 0.93

9:24 PM / 0.04

10:33 AM / 1.23

7:16 PM / 0.08

T 17 11:03 AM / 1.42

8:18 PM / -0.05

W 18 11:40 AM / 1.58

9:24 PM / -0.13

Su 15

5:35 AM / 0.77

W 18 12:26 PM / 1.89 10:36 PM / -0.12 Th 19 1:05 PM / 2.05 11:49 PM / -0.23 F 20

1:50 PM / 2.13


S 21

2:42 PM / 2.12

1:00 AM / -0.28

Su 22

3:39 PM / 2.02

2:08 AM / -0.25

M 23

4:45 PM / 1.83

3:08 AM / -0.15

T 24

6:13 PM / 1.58

4:00 AM / 0.04

W 25

8:29 PM / 1.32

4:40 AM / 0.29

T 26 12:56 PM / 1.03 11:05 PM / 1.11

5:00 AM / 0.58

F 27 11:28 AM / 1.15 ----

4:49 PM / 0.94 4:43 AM / 0.86 6:16 PM / 0.67


F 13 11:41 AM / 0.73

5:04 AM / 0.53

11:43 PM / 1.03

4:19 PM / 0.57

S 14 9:45 AM / 0.84

5:14 AM / 0.65


F 20 1:25 PM / 1.74


S 21 2:15 PM / 1.73

12:17 AM / -0.19

Su 22 3:01 PM / 1.63

1:20 AM / -0.13

M 23 3:48 PM / 1.46

2:38 AM / -0.02

T 24 5:06 PM / 1.24

3:53 AM / 0.12

W 25 6:48 PM / 1.02

4:37 AM / 0.3

T 26 11:08 AM / 0.82

4:58 AM / 0.51

10:48 PM / 0.92

3:20 PM / 0.71



5:19 PM / 0.4

Th 19 12:29 PM / 1.69 10:53 PM / -0.18

F 27 10:50 AM/ 0.91

Share highlights from your great days outdoors with us!

3:55 AM / 0.7 5:06 PM / 0.49

S 28 10:57 AM / 1.38 Su 29 10:58 AM / 1.6

7:17 PM / 0.43

S 28 9:06 AM / 1.07

5:55 PM / 0.31

8:09 PM / 0.24

Su 29 9:31 AM / 1.27

6:39 PM / 0.17

M 30 11:14 AM / 1.79

8:56 PM / 0.1

M 30 10:01 AM / 1.42

7:23 PM / 0.07

April 2018 Sunrise / Sunset 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

6:33 AM 6:31 AM 6:30 AM 6:29 AM 6:28 AM 6:26 AM 6:25 AM 6:24 AM 6:23 AM 6:21 AM 6:20 AM 6:19 AM 6:18 AM 6:17 AM 6:15 AM

7:05 PM 7:06 PM 7:06 PM 7:07 PM 7:08 PM 7:08 PM 7:09 PM 7:10 PM 7:10 PM 7:11 PM 7:12 PM 7:13 PM 7:13 PM 7:14 PM 7:15 PM

16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

6:14 AM 6:13 AM 6:12 AM 6:11 AM 6:10 AM 6:08 AM 6:07 AM 6:06 AM 6:05 AM 6:04 AM 6:03 AM 6:02 AM 6:01 AM 6:00 AM 5:59 AM

7:15 PM 7:16 PM 7:17 PM 7:18 PM 7:18 PM 7:19 PM 7:20 PM 7:20 PM 7:21 PM 7:22 PM 7:23 PM 7:23 PM 7:24 PM 7:25 PM 7:26 PM

877.314.1237 // // APRIL 2018 67


CJ Perciavalle and some ducks.

James A Coker & his friend bagged this turkey!

Lauren Lowrey Bowling’s first bow kill!

Pensacola Motorsports

Jamie Novak with an 8.15 lbs bass. Caught and released in the Mobile-Tensaw delta.

Lawrence Smith & his friend had a great day duck hunting.

618 N New Warrington Rd. Pensacola, FL 32506 (850)456-6655

Joe Ringhoffer had a great day on the pier!

Joe Voloshik and a nice 8-point buck.

Steve Roberts and a mid-slot red caught in Coden. 68 APRIL 2018 // // 877.314.1237

James A Coker & his friend bagged this turkey!

PHOTO of the MONTH Veronica Tillman’s first buck.

This 10 point taken by Alvin Rivers in Clarke County. Notice the “acorn” points.

Drew Giles has some success fishing in a kayak!


GIVE US YOUR BEST SHOT The most playful, fun personal watercraft built on a durable, lightweight platform with stability for three and strong towing capabilities.


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Photo of the Month! Simply share your great day outdoors with us!

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When Submitting Trophy Room photos, be sure to include as much information as possible about the person and the trophy. Please include you address so that we can send you a free subscription if you are "Photo of the Month" winner. Final Decision is made by the editorial Staff of Great Days Outdoors Magazine. Submitting a photo does not guarantee it will be published.

©2016 Yamaha Motor Corporation, USA. Follow instructional materials and obey all laws. Drive responsibly, wearing protective apparel. Always drive within your capabilities, allowing time and distance for maneuvers, and respect others around you. Don’t drink and ride. For more information, visit or call 1.800.88.YAMAHA. WaveRunner® is a Yamaha brand personal watercraft and not a generic term. Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price does not include prep, freight or tax.

877.314.1237 // // APRIL 2018 69



Ashlyn Parker’s first deer.

Brooklyn was on the causeway bank fishing with her grandfather when they landed this big black drum.

Dalton (age 13) and Colton (age 9) Mckenzie both shot some nice bucks.

70 APRIL 2018 // // 877.314.1237

Celia Baya caught her first fish, two beautiful Coppernose Bluegill while fishing with her Dad and Uncle on Church Lake in Florida. Celia is the niece of Great Days Outdoors Publisher Joe Baya and her Uncle couldn’t be prouder!

Holden Shiver, 2 years, with some ducks!

Jackson Bakker, age 7, killed his first deer an 8-point buck on family farm in Troy, Alabama.

Drew Giles’ son caugh these nice specks.

Jadyn, 11 years old, killed his first buck the day after his birthday in Choctaw Co.

Brady Conner, 8 and Carson Conner, 10 caught this redfish at Dauphin Island Lighthouse.

Logan Davis caught this flounder on Magnolia River.

Jacob Ojeda’s son killed this gobbler with a 10” beard and 1 1/8” spurs.

Parker Bazzel and an awesome buck!

Give us your best shot!

Featured kids receive a gift! Send your submission to Submitting a photo does not guarantee that it will be published. We cannot give any guarantees on when a photo will be published. Please include: child's full name, age, mailing address, and any details, like if it's a first time, when and where animal was caught/killed, how much it weighed. If it's a buck, include points. NOTE: You must include a mailing address in order to receive the gifts!

877.314.1237 // // APRIL 2018 71


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April can be great for Inshore Fishing CAPT. BOBBY ABRUSCATO

Photo submitted by Capt. Bobby Abruscato


here is a lot to look forward to in the spring month of April if you are an outdoorsman. There is turkey season and some of the best inshore and near shore fishing of the year. The only problem during the month of April is the weather can make it difficult to do any planning. That being said, and when the weather does allow for it, look for some incredible speckled trout action in Dog River — especially at the mouths of the numerous bayous that drain on to the flats. If there is heavy local rain, the better trout action will be at the lower end of the Bay and Mississippi Sound. The shallow bays like Grand, Portersville, Heron and Dauphin Island will produce trout regardless of either upstate or local rain. In all of the aforementioned places, topwater plugs early and popping corks with shrimp or shrimp imitations will be the go-to offerings. The shoals west of the Dauphin Island Bridge also come to life in the mid-spring. Here, live shrimp under popping corks are the undisputed way to catch them. Because the current moves very well — even on neap tides, the bait can be allowed to drift freely to both cover ground and make very natural presentations. Later in the month, wade fishing both sides of the west end of Dauphin Island’s west end is a preferred technique of the savvy trout fisherman. Again top waters early then slow-sinking plugs like Mirro Lures or my favorite the Slick Lure will keep the action going. For redfish, move to the banks of the shallow bays with the same cork rigs and look for banks with features on them. Creek mouths, points and oyster beds are going to be where the reds will be schooled. When the weather allows, the bars at the mouth of Mobile Bay will be covered with huge bull reds. Drift with the current while casting GULP swimming mullet in chartreuse of white on 3/8- ½ oz. jig heads. The action out there can be insane. Sheepshead will be towards the end of their spawn but can still be caught at any of the structure near the mouth of Mobile Bay. Here you’ll need a real crustaceanlike shrimp or some type of crab. Fish close to any structure that has barnacles on it and be sure cover the entire water column. While fishing for the sheeps, don’t be surprised if you catch redfish, red or vermillion snapper or other tasty fish like white trout or ground mullet. April on the northern Gulf Coast- what a great time to be an outdoorsman! By the way, I love turkey season and I’m not even a turkey hunter! 877.314.1237 // // APRIL 2018 73


Don’t You Just Hate That? BY GARRY BOWERS


Everyone despises Monday mornings, one irons, coaches who call a triple option to the short side of the field, February and souse meat. But after that, outdoorsmen pretty much have completely different dislikes than other folks. It’s because our situations are different, plus we don’t pay much attention to the mundane things other people find distracting. For instance, non-outdoorsmen get upset when they have a bad hair day or when a Cyndi Lauper CD melts on their dashboard or when they spill gravy on their necktie. Outdoorsmen generally don’t care much about their tresses or little metal records and don’t wear neckties unless they absolutely have to. But we absolutely detest things other people are not likely to encounter. For instance, you go to pick up a “dead” squirrel you just plinked out of an oak tree, and it sinks its little beaver teeth into that web of skin between your thumb and forefinger. Don’t you just hate that? Or when you hang a monster bass on which you can barely gain line and while you’re fighting it you’re calculating the price of the taxidermist, and then it surfaces and you discover it’s a foul hooked carp. I really hate that. It’s early spring and has been unseasonably warm and rained for three days. You wake up on Saturday morning and the sun is shining and visions of top-water bassing are dancing in your head. Then you walk outside and its 26 degrees. Don’t you just hate that? Or when you’re out hunting and go to cross a fence you did not know was electrified. The saliva in your mouth crackles like pop-rocks, your eyeballs explode and your extremities

go completely numb. And you smell burning flesh, but don’t feel anything. At first. I just hate that. Don’t you just abhor those obnoxious motion-activated singing bass mounted on the wall? There was one by the front door of a drinking establishment Ducky and I frequent. I made them take it down. Not that I am all that intimidating, but he and I are responsible for approximately one-quarter of their annual revenue, so they were happy to comply. Speaking of Ducky, he had a situation recently that he found particularly despicable. He was shopping at a Bass Pro Shop and wandered into the camping section where he stepped into an erected model wall tent, lay on the cot to check it out for size and went to sleep. He woke up at 2 a.m. On his way downstairs to figure a way out of the closed and empty store, he rounded a corner and literally ran into the security guard. They stood face to face and had a wide-eyed screeching contest for a few moments. Ducky said he really hated that. And the security guard hated it so bad he had to change his pants. Because outdoorsmen are such rational people, we tend to loath illogical people. Now, when I was a kid, my grandfather used to take my cousin and me fishing, and he drove all out pedal to the floorboard wide open. It was scary. I asked him why he drove so fast and he patiently explained. “Son, the road is a dangerous place with lots of accidents. The less time you spend on it, the less likely you are to have

74 APRIL 2018 // // 877.314.1237

one.” That was convoluted reasoning, but logical nonetheless. I’m talking about people who have no logic at all, like the anti-2nd amendment politicians with armed bodyguards who want to take our guns away to “make society a safer place.” I hate people who are so stupid they can’t comprehend that the constitution gives us the right to bear arms to protect ourselves from government officials like him. I know, I know. We are supposed to hate the deed and not the person. But I have a hard time thinking in those terms. And I just hate that.


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(251) 471-3138 877.314.1237 // // APRIL 2018 75

See You At Lay

L a ke S u m m e r 2


The Narrows at La Coosa Marina coming this summer. open seating | bar by the water | recreational area | volleyball & cornhole Our menu features fresh, seasonal ingredients and flavor combinations prepared simply yet creatively!

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76 APRIL 2018 // // 877.314.1237

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Great Days Outdoors - April 2018  

Great Days Outdoors - April 2018