Great Days Outdoors - August 2021

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6940A HIGHWAY 59 | GULF SHORES, AL 36542 HWY 59 @ COUNTY RD. 8 *REPOWER FINANCE is available through Synchrony Retail Finance, as low as 5.99% APR financing for 60 months on new, unregistered Suzuki outboard motors, subject to credit approval. Not all buyers will qualify. Approval, and any rates and terms provided, are based on creditworthiness. $19.99/month per $1,000 financed for 60 months is based on 5.99% APR Hypothetical figures used in calculation; your actual monthly payment may differ based on financing terms, credit tier qualification, accessories, or other factors such as down payment and fees. Offer effective on new, unregistered Suzuki outboard motors purchased from a participating authorized Suzuki dealer between from July 1, 2021 through September 1, 2021. †5 YEAR LIMITED WARRANTY applies to qualifying purchases of Suzuki outboard motors sold and delivered to the retail purchaser, for pleasure (non-commercial) use only, from April 1, 2021 through March 31, 2022. See Suzuki Limited Warranty for additional details. The Suzuki “S” and model names are Suzuki trademarks or . Don’t drink and drive. Always wear a USCG-approved life jacket and read your owner’s manual. 2021 Suzuki Marine, USA, LLC.




Eight Mile, AL Theodore, AL Meridian, MS Summerdale, AL

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A-Team Fishing Adventures I N S H O R E G U I D E S E RV I C E Mobile Bay + Mobile Delta + Dauphin Island



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How to go Frog Gigging. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 by David Strickland Summertime Crappie Fishing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 by John E. Phillips Selecting the Best Crossbow for the Money . . 16 by Josh Honeycutt Current State of the Boating Industry. . . . . . . . 22 by Frank Sargeant How to Get Rid of Armadillos. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 by David Strickland Techniques for Catching Swordfish Day or Night. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 by Chris Vecsey Coyote Hunting at Night. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 by John E. Phillips Boat Insurance FAQ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 by Ed Mashburn How Much Does Stocking a Pond with Bass Cost?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42 by William Kendy When to Choose a Forestry Mulcher for Wildlife Habitat. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 by Joe Baya Land Financing Interest Rates. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 by William Kendy

In Every Issue


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Best Bets. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 by William Kendy Camphouse Kitchen. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 by Hank Shaw New & Cool Gear for Outdoorsmen. . . . . . . . 54 by William Kendy From the Commissioner. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56 by Chris Blakenship From the Director . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58 by Charles Sykes The Gun Rack . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 by Craig Haney Paddle Fishing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 by Ed Mashburn Coastal Outlook. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64 by Chris Vecsey Pier & Shore. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66 by David Thornton Regional Freshwater. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68 by Ed Mashburn Prime Feeding Times, Moon, Sun, and Tide Charts. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72 Pensacola Motorsports Trophy Room. . . . . . 76 Great Days Kids Corner. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78 Fishing Tips. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81 by William Kendy A Great Day Outdoors. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82 by Jim Mize




Big Swamp Creek Timber and Hunting Retreat

Cowpen Creek Farm, Quail, Lake, and Hunting Preserve

This property is located in Alabama’s fertile Black Belt soil region along the Big Swamp Creek drain basin that consists of thousands of acres of bottomland hardwoods and very productive farm land, and is considered to host some of the best trophy deer and turkey hunting in the southeast. This property has a very diverse wildlife habitat from upland pines, a great habitat for quail and turkey nesting, to bottom land mast producing hardwoods along Big Swamp Creek and oxbow ponds for waterfowl and an overall complete bounty of resources for wildlife. Call today to schedule a personally guided tour!

Fishing lake, tillable farmland, well managed timber, and superb hunting. Located just east of Atmore in the Canoe community, with easy access off of Highway 31 & Jerkins Loop Rd and a short drive from both I-10 & I-65. The wildlife habitat has been meticulously managed for quail, turkey, dove, trophy deer, ducks, & other wildlife for years, with as many as three dozen coveys of wild quail present, an abundance of turkey on site, and 140+ inch deer harvested or seen regularly. Wildlife food plots, & several duck ponds. Cowpen Creek, a lg year round creek, flows through the property for over a mile. 4 water wells, a 2BR cabin, a 1BR cabin, several camper hookups, equipment shed, pole barn, fenced acreage designed for equestrian use that adjoins a 10 stall horse barn w/tack rm, full BA, and office / condo with kitchen. 90+/- acres of income producing farmland is some of the highest yielding in this region, and the large 35+/acre dove field, which has produced many “barrel burner” hunts, could also be converted to tillable land or other agricultural uses. Stocked fishing lake is 4+ acres with a pier and tackle shed, and there are multiple scenic home or lodge sites around the lake overlooking the surrounding farmland. Property may be divisible and additional acreage may be available.

Escambia County, Alabama, 1219+/-Acres

Lowndes County, Alabama, 1587+/-Acres

FL Panhandle Listings

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

ACRES 116 110 85 1995 710 223 113 342 179 77 37 5 653 416 395 368 284 211 153 81 67 40 2436 99 92 30 394.47 151.05

COUNTY Calhoun Calhoun Calhoun Chambers Cherokee Chilton Choctaw Choctaw Clarke Clarke Clarke Clarke Clarke Cleburne Cleburne Cleburne Colbert Colbert Colbert Colbert Conecuh Conecuh Coosa Coosa Coosa Coosa Covington Covington

337 80 48 103 938 13.64 175 37 620 176 54 9.2 6.08 856 100 65 49.8 20 17.37 10 119 0.77 1200 430 100 55 730 360


Covington Covington Covington Cullman Dale Dale Dallas Dallas Dallas Dallas Dallas DeKalb DeKalb DeKalb Elmore Elmore Elmore Elmore Elmore Escambia Fayette Fayette Fayette Fayette Fayette Franklin Hale Hale

63.04 0.86 0.84 20 115 63 5960 1204.51 510 327 270 338 6 4.53 194 163 62 36.44 4.37 1219 672 640 484 473 344 8 775 420

Hale Hale Hale Henry Henry Henry Henry Henry Houston Houston Houston Houston Jackson Jackson Jackson Jefferson Jefferson Jefferson Jefferson Jefferson Lamar Lamar Lamar Lamar Lamar Lauderdale Lauderdale Lauderdale

265 160 150 26 18 17 15 6 325 155 93 6 695 80 60 256 23 21 19.45 4 373 202 153 92 90 160 75 60



Lauderdale Lauderdale Lee Limestone Limestone Limestone Limestone Limestone Lowndes Lowndes Lowndes Lowndes Lowndes Macon Macon Macon Macon Macon Marengo Marengo Marengo Marengo Marengo Marion Marion Marion Marshall Mobile

35 33 53 60 53 30.31 3.42 1.6 1083 1013 783 656 583 486 483 289 232 120 1164 558 551 451.21 131 286 133 40 40 1800

COUNTY Mobile Mobile Mobile Mobile Monroe Montgomery Montgomery Montgomery Montgomery Montgomery Perry Perry Perry Perry Perry Pickens Pickens Pickens Pickens Pike Pike Pike Russell Saint Clair Saint Clair Saint Clair Saint Clair Saint Clair

439 308 260 160 129 353 250 116 80 60 610.57 330 270.21 240.75 240 430 121 40 5 400 162 9.2 50 1174 585 304 281 237

Shelby Shelby Shelby Shelby Shelby Sumter Sumter Sumter Sumter Sumter Talladega Talladega Talladega Tallapoosa Tallapoosa Tuscaloosa Tuscaloosa Tuscaloosa Tuscaloosa Tuscaloosa Walker Walker Walker Walker Walker Washington Washington Washington

ACRES 182 79 75 74 55 2151 1282 842 640 630 137 112 96 264 13 817 479 357 341 281 140.27 131.47 95.91 21.5 17.2 1320 456.8 240

Washington Washington Wilcox Wilcox Winston Winston Winston Winston

213 200 522 180 160 69 40 2.3


Calhoun Calhoun Calhoun Calhoun Holmes Holmes Holmes Jackson Santa Rosa Walton Washington

ACRES 30 10 10 10 127 64 63 242 95 52 22.5

Over 700 more tracts across 47 states available...


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BEST BETS FOR AUGUST These are our top targets for hunters and fishermen this month! BY WILLIAM KENDY


Even though the weather is very hot, it isn’t too early to start thinking about and getting ready for deer hunting season. If you are a bowhunter, especially an older one who may have shoulder issues, August is the perfect time to start scouting out crossbows.


In his article “Selecting the Best Crossbow for the Money” Josh Honeycutt outlines the things you need to consider when you decide to jump into the crossbow fraternity.

PUBLISHED BY: Great Days Outdoors Media, L.L.C.

Honeycutt points out that there are a multitude of quality and accurate crossbows on the market at all different price points and deciding what to buy can be a challenge. To help make things easier, he suggests that you factor in how much you are actually going to use your crossbow. If you are going to be a “heavy” user a more expensive bow may be worth the investment.



Armadillos are found in the most of the southern 2/3s of Alabama and while they aren’t a threat to humans since they make holes, root and dig for grubs, insect larva, ants and even lizards and small snakes, they are a threat to your lawn, flower beds and gardens. In addition, evidence shows that they are becoming a threat to ground nesting birds like quail and turkeys.

Great Days Outdoors (USPS 17228; ISSN 1556-0147) is published monthly at P.O. Box 1253 Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459 Subscription rate is $30 for one-year, $54 for two-years, and $72 for three-years. Periodicals Postage Paid at Mobile, Ala. and additional mailing offices.

According to the National Wildlife Federation armadillo populations are increasing, mostly because they have no real natural predators. An adult can weigh up to 17 pounds and live for more than 20 years.

POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Great Days Outdoors Media, LLC PO Box 460248 Escondido, CA 92046 SUBSCRIBERS: All subscriptions begin the first issue for the month following receipt of payment, if payment is 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.

\Writer David shares some advice on how to save your property and control the “9-banded” armadillo in his article, “How to Get Rid of Armadillos”.


For many saltwater anglers, when it comes to the most wanted blue-water ocean “dream fish”, the swordfish is at the top of the list. Catching one of these deep-water denizens takes skill, patience, the right gear and electronics and the strength and endurance to handle their powerful runs and leaps. Author and experienced swordfish angler Chris Vescey shared some of his night and daytime swordfish fishing expertise in pursuing these fish. He also interviewed two Gulf Coast captains for their insight and the result is his article “Tackling the Gladiator” in this issue. For example, Vescey explains that if you can find the bait you will find the fish and that while swordfish can be caught in shallower and deeper water, the optimum depth to target is between 1,400 and 1,600 feet. Be ready for the fishing fight of a lifetime. 6 AUGUST 2021 // // 877.314.1237

CONTACT US: EDITORIAL | ADVERTISING | SUBSCRIPTIONS | Great Days Outdoors Media LLC PO Box 460248 Escondido, CA 92046 877. 314. 1237 All rights reserved. Reproduction of contents is strictly prohibited without permission from Great Days Outdoors Media, LLC.


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8 AUGUST 2021 // // 877.314.1237

Frog Gigging HUNTING

How to go


Historical documents attest to the fact that frogs were on the menu in China around the first century. European records are sparse, but by the twelfth century, monks in France petitioned leaders in the Catholic Church to classify frogs as fish for their meatless Fridays. The commoners in France got wind of the monk’s new menu item, and before long, hunting French frogs became a profitable profession. By the 1600s, a Frenchman named Alexandre Dumas included frog recipes in his book entitled “Grand Dictionnaire de Cuisine.” In the book, he also describes a man named Simon who was making “a most considerable fortune with frogs, sent to him from his region, which he fattened and then sold to the very finest restaurants in Paris, where this foodstuff was very much in fashion.” (Editor’s Note: Dumas wrote “The Three Musketeers” and “The Count of Monte Cristo”) FROG FARMING Most states regulate wild frog populations by setting limits and making the commercial harvest of wild frogs illegal. Unfortunately, that means that unless you learn how to catch your own, your choice is between canned, frozen, or finding a restaurant with frogs on the menu. The high demand combined with habitat loss has driven imports of frozen frog legs to over five million pounds a year. At a recent event in Florida that bills itself as “The Worlds Largest Frog Festival,” most of the fried legs consumed came from imports. Several attempts throughout the last century to set up frog-farming operations in the U.S. met with failure. The promise of making money with tadpoles has a perpetual ring to it, but the truth is that frogs are not the easiest amphibians to raise. It is difficult to get them to eat anything but live food, and they can take about three years to grow to market. There was an enterprising fellow in the 1930s named Albert Broel, founder of the American Frog Canning Company and author of “Frog Raising for Pleasure and Profit.” His business was located just outside New Orleans, and for a while, he became America’s leading frog canner and the leading promoter of frog culture. He advertised and sold breeder bullfrogs with a promise of tremendous profits but struggled as the nearby frog population dwindled due

to over-harvesting. The U.S. Government subsidized one university researcher for more than 18 years before pulling the plug on that effort. Internationally, Indonesia and China export more frogs than anyone. India was once the leading frog exporter, but that changed soon after President Nixon served frog legs imported from India to Congressmen at a White House dinner. Shortly after eating, a member of Congress wound up in the hospital with salmonella poisoning. An ensuing investigation discovered widespread contamination among 90% of the frogs exported from India. I think a good lesson here is that if you want the finest tasting, all-natural frogs, get a good light, a can of mosquito spray, a good gig, and catch them yourself. FINDING FROGS Bullfrogs are the primary target for most hunters in Alabama and neighboring states. Pig frogs look similar to bullfrogs and are only slightly smaller. However, their habitat is limited to the coastal regions of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, South Carolina, and all of Florida. Almost every creek, pond, lake, river, or swamp has the potential to provide a platter of frog legs to anyone willing to wade or paddle its waters. The bullfrogs’ unmistakable croaking can be heard when the temperature begins to warm in March and continues through the summer. Late afternoon, just before dark, is a great time to evaluate the population of a potential hunting area as you listen for their unmistakable calls. It’s also essential to learn the geography of your hunting waters before darkness settles in. BULLFROG HUNTING IN ALABAMA Both bullfrogs and pig frogs can be hunted in our state. There is no closed season and they may be taken during the day or nighttime. The limit in Alabama waters is 20 frogs per person in a 24 hour period extending from 12 noon to 12 noon the following day. HUNTING TIPS A bullfrog’s eyes appear nearly golden as they reflect the flashlight beam. 877.314.1237 // // AUGUST 2021 9

Frog Gigging

If someone questions why you hunt frogs, remind them that they are on the menu’s of some of the finest restaurants in Paris.

They will usually be sitting where the water meets land or with just their heads above water. A good light renders them temporarily blind, and a stealthy approach allows placing the gig near enough for an accurate jab. Many serious frog hunters find remote areas that see little hunting pressure and where frogs up to two pounds with legs the size of chickens can occasionally be found. Frogs that weigh at least a pound are the ones sought by serious hunters. With practice, one can judge the weight of a bullfrog by the distance between its glowing eyes. Walking on land to get close enough to gig one takes a stealthy approach. Frogs can feel the vibration from your footsteps and will often spook before closing the distance. Frog hunters prefer a lightweight, highly maneuverable boat to ease close enough for their gig. For smaller bodies of water, that means a canoe or small flat-bottom is the best option. On a good night, bullfrogs are easily pinpointed by following their bellowing call. However, they are easily spooked, so a quiet approach is essential. Work the bank with a good headlight, looking for a pair of glowing eyes, then glide in for the kill. Our family used to camp out regularly on a nearby stream. We fished limb 10 AUGUST 2021 // // 877.314.1237

lines for catfish at night and caught bream and bass during the day. We would clean the fish for our evening meal and sometimes head out right at dark to add a few frog legs to the hot grease, but we used our bare hands to catch them. If they were too small, we just released them. This method is still used today in many parts of the country. I would add a note of caution when grabbing a frog with your hands. When shining a light to temporarily blind a frog, I’ve often noticed a cottonmouth or water snake sneaking towards the same frog I was after. If there are frogs, there are snakes nearby. HUNTING FROGS WITH GIGS Hunters have used various gig designs throughout history to help capture food from the oceans, rivers, lakes, and land. Their design is a variation of the spear tip, but it uses multiple tines. The gig tips have evolved from forged two and three-prong ends to high-tech stainless steel configurations with up to five replaceable tines. They come in various lengths and diameters, so the size of the frogs hunted should determine the type of gig needed. The standard frog gig design looks like straitened fishhooks and is attached to a base in a side-by-side or circular pattern. They are fitted onto the end of a wooden, composite, or metal pole and secured with epoxy and or screws.

Frog Gigging

Another type uses pivoting jaws that grab and hold onto the frogs without killing them. A pole length of 5-8 feet is usually adequate for gigging frogs on most lakes. However, some streams and rivers have brush and downed trees along the banks that might warrant a longer pole or one that can telescope to accommodate those hard-to-reach spots. FISHING FOR FROGS I remember reading a story about two older gentlemen that used long cane poles and a dry fly tied to the end of a stout line to fish for frogs during the day. They would dangle the fly near their prospective dinner, and the frog would zap it with its sticky tongue, and the fight was on. We all know that the color red can cause a bull to charge, and it seems that bullfrogs have a thing for it also. You can take a small treble hook and put a strip of bright red fabric over the barbs to make an irresistible lure for your next catch. CLEANING AND COOKING Frogs are easy to clean. Cut the legs off above the pelvis with shears or a sharp knife. Grab the skin with pliers and peel it towards the feet. It usually comes off in one piece. Then cut the feet off at the ankle and you can remove the legs from the pelvis at the hip joints. Whether you deep-fry, barbecue or grill em, they are a tasty southern tradition that will impress even finicky taste buds. If someone ridicules your offering, just remind them, they are served at the finest, most-expensive 5-star restaurants in Paris. BY HANK SHAW Photo by Holly A. Heyser

French Fried Frog Legs Prep: 1 hour • Cook: 15 mins • Total: 1 hour 15 mins


• • • • • • • • •

1 1/2 to 2 pounds frog legs 1 cup milk 1 tablespoon salt 1 tablespoon black pepper 1 cup flour 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided 3 garlic cloves, sliced very thin 2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice 2 to 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley


Soak the frog legs in the milk in the fridge for an hour. Meanwhile, mix the salt, black pepper and flour in a bowl, then chop the garlic and parsley. Heat 5 tablespoons of the butter in a frying pan large enough to hold all the frog legs; if you don’t have a pan large enough, put a baking sheet in the oven and set a rack inside. Turn the oven to about 180°F. You’ll use this to store the finished frog legs while you fry the rest. If you do have a large enough pan, set the baking sheet with the rack set inside next to the stovetop. Dredge the frog legs in the seasoned flour and shake off the excess. Fry in the butter over medium-high heat until golden, about 3 to 5 minutes per side. Flip only once if you can help it, as the flour coating is fragile. Set on the rack to drain when the frog legs are done. Discard the butter in the pan and wipe it out with a paper towel. Set the pan back on the stove over medium-high heat. When the butter is hot, saute the garlic until it smells good, about 1 minute. Turn off the heat and swirl in the lemon juice. Arrange the frog legs on individual plates, and, right before you serve, mix the parsley into the sauce. Pour it over the frog legs and serve immediately.



3. 4.

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To produce limits of big crappie for his customers throughout the summer, Tony Adams will put out more than 100 crappie attractors each year from December-February.

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Crappie Fishing Tips BY JOHN E. PHILLIPS

Crappie don’t die after the spawn. Some of the biggest crappie of the year can be caught in the summer months, if you know where to find them and how to catch them.

the boat float over the structure, and when the jigs are above that structure, he stops the boat.

GDO interviewed two of the state’s top crappie guides, Brad Whitehead of north Alabama and Tony Adams of south Alabama, to learn how they produce limits of crappie when most folks are sitting in air conditioning, drinking sweet tea.

“The key to success is to keep the boat as still as possible, so our jigs sit dead still just above the structure,” Whitehead explained. “If you’ve ever watched crappie in a hog trough or an aquarium, you’ll see they’ll hold on structure. Minnows added to that tank will suspend just above the structure and not move at all or only slightly. In summer, most of the crappie you catch will be holding tight inside the structure, looking up and pulling out of that structure to attack baitfish. Generally you’ll get a violent strike in hot weather when crappie attack a bait, making your line jump and the tip of your pole bounce.”

FISHING FOR SUMMERTIME NORTH ALABAMA CRAPPIE WITH BRAD WHITEHEAD Brad Whitehead of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, has guided for crappie in north Alabama for about 20 years. “When I first started fishing for crappie, I was one of those guys who thought you only could catch crappie in the spring. However, through the years, I’ve learned that you can catch crappie every month and every day of the year,” Whitehead said. EQUIPMENT Whitehead fishes a 12-foot B‘n’M Double-Touch graphite pole, designed by the Duck Commander game calls guys. “This pole is very sensitive and allows the angler to see even the slightest bite when fishing. I’ll use a 1/16-ounce jighead with a Slab Magnet (soft-plastic lure) on it. My favorite colors of this do-nothing jig with a wide tail are Sho Nuf, Percy, Salt and Pepper and Fast Lane. I fish a 1/18-ounce No. 5 split shot about 18 inches above the jig. I also add to the hook a Crappie Magnet Slab Bite that’s impregnated with scent and glitter that dissolves in the water to imitate scales coming off a baitfish,” Whitehead said. Whitehead emphasizes the importance of quality electronics. “I like my Humminbird Helix 12 to locate structure and also to keep up with the crappie. On a windy day, crappie will pull out of structure and suspend, often 10-15 yards away,” Whitehead said. “On windy days, I’ve caught just as many crappie on the sides of structure as when my boat’s sitting right on top. Without good electronics, you may not be able to pinpoint those crappie holding on that brush.” “I have a jig on each of two rods per person and fish out of my 754 War Eagle Blackhawk boat. It’s a crappie boat designed for side pulling. I like clear sixpound-test Vicious line, since the water is usually clear in August where I guide on Pickwick and Wilson lakes, as well as the small lakes at the Bear Creek Development Authority.” PATTERNS OF SUMMER CRAPPIE AND TACTICS FOR CATCHING: Whitehead explained that post spawn crappie are looking for the first deep-water structure where they can hold that creates an ambush point to attack baitfish. He fishes in 14-20 foot deep water over brush piles or stake beds he’s sunk. He lets

Whitehead says this pattern usually will hold up until the middle of September. “Crappie are much like us. When north Alabama temperatures reach 90+ degrees, we all get somewhat sluggish. However, when someone brings ice cream to us, we’ll eat it,” he noted. Catching 8-10 crappie from each piece of structure isn’t uncommon in summer. According to Whitehead the best day to fish this tactic is when there’s no wind and your jigs will look more lifelike, suspended above the cover. “I generally catch the most hot-weather crappie in the morning’s first five hours 5:30 am until 10:30 am. A lot of boat traffic on the lake often seems to make the crappie quit biting,” Whitehead pointed out. Whitehead mentions that many crappie fishermen choose to fish with guides during the summer because the guides are on the water every day and have identified the most-productive structures to catch the most crappie. To locate other underwater brush piles, he recommends taking your wife and children boat riding, turning on the side-scan feature of your electronics and looking under piers and drop-offs and on ledges and points. FISHING FOR SUMMERTIME SOUTH ALABAMA CRAPPIE WITH TONY ADAMS Tony Adams of Eufaula has fished Lake Eufaula for 30+ years in the summertime for crappie. He first started fishing with his granddaddy and his uncles at night for crappie and during the spring crappie spawn. In 1989, he moved to Eufaula and started seriously fishing for both crappie and catfish – realizing crappie, just like people, have to eat every day. PLACES HOT WEATHER CRAPPIE HOLD According to Adams, summertime crappie concentrate on: 1. Underwater creek channels and ditches running into the main river channel; 2. Ledges that drop-off into the main river channel. Immediately after the spawn, the crappie usually will move-out to the first ledge away from the spawning grounds and concentrate there until the weather becomes hot, 877.314.1237 // // AUGUST 2021 13

Summertime Crappie Fishing Tips

has learned so much about what kind of structure draws the most crappie and where to place it. “I started by cementing used Christmas trees in concrete blocks and sinking about 75-100 at or near some of the spots described including underwater creek channels and ditches, ledges, underwater humps and structure,” Adams reported. “I learned quickly that crappie only would hold on sunken Christmas trees for about 1 to 1-1/2 years. Later I used all types of material for hot spots, including French drain type pipes with holes in them. I’d place a two-liter plastic bottle in the top end of the pipe, put foam in the top to hold the bottle in place, wire the pipe to a concrete block and sink it. But when the wire rusted and broke, the pipe floated away.” Pictured here are the Slab Magnet jigs that Brad Whitehead fishes with during the summer.



swimming into the shallow water of the spawning flats to feed and moving back to the ledges once the weather warms-up. Next the crappie will move out to the ledges in 14-21 feet of water in creek and river channels, holding on their shady sides. As the baitfish come up above those ledges, the crappie move up to feed on those shad; Underwater humps (mounds and hills). In the mornings, when the sun rises in the east, the crappie generally will be on the west side of the humps, out of the sun and more or less hidden to ambush bait. In the afternoons, once the sun is setting in the west, the crappie will swim to the east (shady) sides of the humps. Crappie also will use the humps as current breaks, holding on the downside when current’s being generated; Structures that Adams has put out before, during and after the spawn and placed in areas to give crappie more cover where they can ambush baitfish, including his 2,400 crappie spots he’s built. Adams started putting-out structures in Lake Eufaula in about 1994 to create crappie hot spots and

Next Adams used PVC pipe, but this construction only produced a few crappie. Adams finally learned that the river cane (bamboo) he dried and the crepe myrtle limbs cut by neighbors worked best by concreting this straight wood into five-gallon buckets and sinking them. “I’ve learned over the years that I want the brush to stand up to half the depth of the water column where I’m sinking the brush,” Adams says. For instance, if the cane and crepe-myrtle limbs stand up straight 10 feet tall out of a bucket, Adams sinks them in 20-foot-deep water. This kind of straight-limb structure is much easier to build, carry out in his boat and sink. He also sinks 1216 foot tall magnolia trees and has identified that the best depth for summertime crappie fishing is 15-25 foot deep water. “On bright summer days, the crappie will concentrate in 12-16 foot water. On cloudy or rainy days, crappie will hold out away from the structure, usually in more-shallow water,” Adams explained. “My summertime crappie fishing begins in December to February, when I’m building places to catch crappie during the hotter times of the year.”

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14 AUGUST 2021 // // 877.314.1237


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Summertime Crappie Fishing Tips

To keep his most productive spots viable, Adams puts out additional structure on them about every two years. “Most of my structure is arranged in a 30-foot diameter circle on the bottom,” he said.” When I pull up to fish on a spot, my customers from the front of the boat to its back all have structure on which to fish. I want everybody in my boat to catch crappie.” EQUIPMENT: Adams fishes for crappie out of his War Eagle Blackhawk boat, model number 2170. Adam’s favorite poles are the B’n’M Buck’s Graphite Jig Poles like the BGJP 82N eight-foot pole and the BGJP 102N 10-foot pole. Adams fishes jigs only, jigs tipped with live minnows, single-hooked live minnows and/or small spoons. “I prefer a 10-foot jig pole to hook and pull crappie into the boat and also to judge the depth of water where I’m fishing a jig or a minnow,” Adams said. “For instance, if you pull out enough line, so that your hook is at the end of your 10-foot pole, then once you put it in a rod holder, the tip of the rod generally is two feet out of the water, which means my anglers are fishing in eight-foot-deep water. If you need to fish in 16-foot-deep water, you can pull off another 10-foot length of line to the end of the rod’s butt to fish at 16 feet. However, the ladies who fish with me tend to prefer the shorter rods like the eight footer. “I also like the way these tips are made and the small orange-colored paint on the end of the rod, which makes seeing the bite much easier than a black color. In the summer months, the crappie don’t bite as aggressively as they do in the fall and spring, so being able to see the slightest movement of that rod tip when the crappie takes the bait gives the angler the advantage of setting the hook quickly” Adams explained. “Although the tips of these two rods are sensitive, there’s plenty of muscle in their back ends. These poles enable my anglers to set their hooks and pull the crappie that may be 3/4-pound up to two pounds each into the boat without having to use a net.” Both Whitehead and Adams agree that being on the water at first and last light enables them to fish and catch crappie in cooler weather.

Currently Whitehead’s fishes the B’n’M Duck Commander poles, since they’re some of the mostsensitive and lightweight ones, however, they’re strong enough to put a two pound crappie in the boat.


Important Contact Information Brad Whitehead: 256-483-0834; Email Tony Adams: 334-695-3003; email B‘n’M Poles: 1-800-647-6363; or 662-494-5092

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Top off your crossbow with a trustworthy optic. (Honeycutt Creative photo)

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Selecting the Best


for the Money


Choosing the right hunting crossbow setup is no easy thing. Here’s how to make it easier. One of the best ways to extend your hunting season is by crossing over into the world of horizontal bows. Crossbow hunting has taken off in the past decade, and each year, it accelerates exponentially more. Seasons are opening and lengthening throughout the nation, and more crossbows are being manufactured because of it. So, it begs the question, how do you select the best crossbow for the money? Consider the following advice when buying your next one. FOCUS ON FREQUENCY One of the most important aspects of choosing the best crossbow for the money is gauging how often it will be used. Someone who mostly hunts with a vertical bow, rifle or shotgun might get little use out of a crossbow. Therefore, a hunter who will use one exclusively might have a better reason to purchase a higher-end model. “Someone who uses a crossbow as the exclusive tool they take to the field should look to the higher end,” said Tim Kent, PR representative for

Feradyne Outdoors (, the parent company of Axe crossbows, among other hunting brands. “They want longevity and things that reduce wear and tear. They want the performance advantages.” Higher-end bows are notorious for better durability and longevity. So, someone who is planning to shoot frequently and hunt 50-plus days each year has a greater chance for wear and tear than someone who might only go afield with it a few times each season. That’s certainly something to think about. DRILL DOWN ON BUDGET Of course, budget is another major aspect when buying a crossbow. Consumers should never pay more than they can afford, no matter how much they want something. Always be aware and reasonable. “Someone who wants to dabble in it, or maybe extend their season, but don’t have a lot of time or budget, they could look to a crossbow that’s a 877.314.1237 // // AUGUST 2021 17

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Selecting the Best Crossbow for the Money

little less performance-oriented,” Kent said. “That being said, many of today’s bows — even some with smaller price tags — are doing really well. You can get an exceptional crossbow at a lower price point.”

The Axe Ax 405 (FeraDyne Outdoors photo)

That’s really good news, as hunters can feel confident in their bow, even if it’s along the lower end of the price-point spectrum. Unlike other gear items, in the crossbow market, a smaller price tag doesn’t automatically translate to a shabby product. That being said, maintenance is generally needed more often. “You might see a greater need for string replacement, additional rail lube, bolts, etc.,” Kent said. “Those are some differences in budget restraints. But to me, it’s about the field-use application, how much I have to spend, and that will categorically narrow down which direction to go.” ANALYZE CROSSBOW FEATURES While budget is important, those who want top-end performance features should broaden their search. Generally, higher-end crossbows are faster, and speed plus heavier arrow setups produce more kinetic energy.

The Axe Ax 440 (FeraDyne Outdoors photo)

“Speed also reduces arc within the trajectory,” Kent said. “That helps manage reactions that game animals might have. Speed also helps manage some of that human error.” There can be a point of diminishing return, though. Once you reach certain speeds, the advantages begin to taper off, and other issues creep in, such as being unable to track the arrow after pulling the trigger. Those shooting faster models should consider lighted nocks to better gauge shot placement. Sound is another important factor. In the past, people really complained about crossbows being too loud, especially compared to vertical bows. And a loud bow prompts game to jump the string like no other. The good news? Newer crossbows are much quieter.

The Rocky Mountain RM 415 (FeraDyne Outdoors photo)

“The newer bows also have narrower limb angles,” Kent said. “They’re also shorter, more compact, more maneuverable, and easier to aim because of these new configurations. For instance, the way the Axe is configured, it’s balanced so that the majority of the weight is over the shooter’s hand. It’s not out on the front acting on the furthest point of a fulcrum where all of the movements are then amplified. That same change in geometry has helped to create a system that’s quieter as well.” These newer models are optimized with performance features. Most high-end crossbows have integrated cranking devices, too. These help ensure the bow string is drawn evenly, leading to a more accurate shot. Some of these even have safety features built into them.

The Rocky Mountain RM 370 (FeraDyne Outdoors photo)

Then, factor in additional advantages. Some of the more subtle things go overlooked. Really analyze the features of different crossbows before purchasing one. “It’s just like anything else — You have to put different options in your hands and see what feels right,” Kent said. “Feel the triggers. Do they have creep? Are they crisp? Are they adjustable or not? What type of trigger works for you? Does it have a rail system or not? You have to look at each individual aspect of the crossbow and see what works for you and your budget. A $2,000 bow fits a different budget than a $300 crossbow. But they both get the job done.”

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Selecting the Best Crossbow for the Money

In the Feradyne crossbow family (, the Axe brand is a high-end crossbow line while the Rocky Mountain brand is framed around providing high performance at a lower price point. Of course, there are many crossbow companies out there, such as Barnett, BearX, CenterPoint, Excalibur, Killer Instinct, Mission, Ravin, TenPoint, Wicked Ridge, and more. Choose the one that’s right for you. CONSIDER SAFETY ASPECTS Many people shy away from crossbows due to intimidation. And admittedly, for those who’ve never used one, these can appear to be quite the challenge. That said, after a course on safety and some time on the range, most shooters become comfortable with them rather quickly. Still, it’s important to remember safety, and that begins with how the crossbow is drawn. Generally, models with integrated cranks are safer than those without one. “Different crossbows offer different cranking systems,” Kent said. “You can use a traditional rope cocker, but they might have an additional cranking system that you can use instead of a traditional rope cocker. It’s going to make that process easier.” Not everyone needs a crank, but some might. Those without the physical strength to use a traditional rope cocker might choose a crossbow with a crank. This is the first step for increased safety, and everyone should be safety oriented. “For example, the Axe Ax 405 has multiple safety features built into it,” Kent said. “That way, the cranking system itself has two audible clicks once you engage the sled. Then, you crank it back. If you don’t hear two clicks, it isn’t going to crank back, which is the beginning stage of preventing dry fire. This new cranking device allows you greater peace of mind.

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“What’s cool about this system is you can start to cock the crossbow, and stop at any point during the drawback cycle,” Kent continued. “You can even let go of the crank, and it’ll just sit there. [Which isn’t common among other crossbow models.] There’s a clutch that stops it along any point of travel. It helps eliminate some of the safety issues that have traditionally been in other crossbows.” That transitions into the next step, which is the arrow funnel. Here you engage the nocking with the string. According to Kent, for these bows, it’s another safety advantage because you’ll hear another audible click, ensuring it’s properly nocked. This is another safety mechanism because it helps prevent dry firing and improper arrow launch. As always, it’s important to choose a model that has a traditional safety, effective finger guard to help keep fingers away from the bow string, among other common must-have features. When it’s all said and done, it’s important for prospective consumers to think about their needs and wants in a crossbow. Determine what’s most important and develop a hierarchy of specs and requirements.

Remember the Extras

When budgeting out an amount to spend, don’t forget to save some of that money for the other items you’ll need to get started. Oftentimes, certain crossbow models require specific bolts, of which might be completely specific and unique to that bow. Additionally, make sure the target is rated for the crossbow speed and bolt diameter. Other things to purchase include broadheads, optics, lighted nocks, rail lube, etc.

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Current State of the

Boating Industry BY FRANK SARGEANT

Skeeter/Yamaha combinations are popular with Alabama bass boaters. (Photo credit Skeeter Boats)

If you’ve been in the market for a kayak, pontoon boat or freshwater fishing boat in the past year, it’s no news to you that many models are hard to find. The Covid pandemic, which was terrible for a lot of businesses, was great for recreational industries including boating and fishing. Because boating and fishing allow us to maintain the immunological “bubble” around our close family members, both have been favorite recreations for the past two years. And with lots of time off work for most of us, like it or not there has been lots of opportunity to get out on the water. We’ve even had some substantial stimulus checks land in our laps, and apparently for many, that money went straight into a new or used boat. According to the National Marine Manufacturing Association (NMMA), retail boat sales grew 12 percent in 2020. That equates to more than 310,000 new powerboats sold, a number the boating industry hasn’t seen since the 2008 recession. Retail unit sales of new powerboats in February 2021 were up 34% compared to the same time period last year, NMMA reported. There were also 82,000 new personal watercraft, aka “jet skis” like Sea Doo and Wave Runner, as well as a flood of dedicated tow boats or wake boats 22 AUGUST 2021 // // 877.314.1237

hitting the water. Some companies report backlogs of many months before they’ll be able to fully supply dealer demand. Even more significant is the number of first-time boat buyers. Their increase was reflected in the sales of boats under 26 feet. Last year, the number of new buyers rose for the first time in over 10 years, up 10% from 2019. Among these new boat buyers, the average age also decreased for the first time in 20 years, according to NMMA. Younger people stay in boating longer, so they’re good customers to have, particularly in an industry that formerly saw most of its clientele in the older age groups. And young families expose their kids to boating, as well, bringing more potential customers into the sport for the future. Boston Whaler just reopened a large plant in Flagler County, Florida, which will create 400 jobs due to “unprecedented demand” for their boats, and Johnny Morris, known for seeing where the market is heading, just purchased Hatteras Yachts and will add 500 jobs in Carolina’s Low Country. And there is more good news for the industry,

FISHING site traffic is up 37 percent year to date compared to 2020, including an increase in female visitors (up 18 percent) and younger visitors (up 56 percent for those ages 18-24). More diversity and more youth is always a good thing for a leisure industry. The largest unit sales numbers (50 percent of total boat sales) came from pontoons and freshwater fishing boats. All in all, more than 100-million Americans went boating last year, and the numbers are expected to continue to increase this boating season. How does all this affect local dealers? We talked to the folks at Buck’s Island Marine in Southside, Alabama, about their experience in the past year. Buck’s Island is one of the oldest and best known freshwater boat dealers in the state, located on Lake Neely Henry just south of Gadsden. “We’ve done really well the last two years,” says Angela Britt, Service Manager and 3rd generation co-owner of the facility founded in 1948 by her grandfather, Buck Lumpkin. “Our only problem has been occasional supply issues, but that’s easing up now, too.”

The business has evolved from a straight sales operation to a full service marine dealership with 18 service bays and a staff of eight mechanics and wiring experts who take on everything from engine installation to rigging electronics, trolling motors and Power-Poles. The technicians are certified in both Mercury and Yamaha outboards, and can work on any brand. They also have a burgeoning tackle shop and a strong online sales operation that lures boat customers in from as far away as Florida, Tennessee, and Georgia. Angela says their success is based on the basic philosophy her grandfather had when he founded the business: “Treat people as you would like to be treated and your business will do well.” Buck’s Island has done particularly well during the covid pandemic in selling pontoon boats, likely because they create a “living room on the water” as Angela calls it, a safe space for families to get away and enjoy each other. They stock Crest and Bentley pontoons as well as Skeeter, Falcon and Avid bass boats, and usually keep an inventory of inspected used boats, as well. 877.314.1237 // // AUGUST 2021 23

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Boating Trends 2021

They’ve not missed out on the kayak craze that’s sweeping the nation, either. “We started stocking Jackson and Hobie fishing kayaks and accessories about three years ago and that’s doing really well for us, too,” says Angela. They’ve also added a pro-grade tackle shop which draws many local bass tournament anglers to their business. Some come to buy a pack of plastic worms, take an interest in a boat deal and wind up with a new rig.

Buck‘s Island stocks both new and used boats, though their inventory has been impacted by manufacturer slowdowns in the last two years. (Photo Credit Buck‘s Island Marine)

As with many businesses, Angela attributes a large part of their recent success to a strong online presence. “Being online lets our local customers see us, but it reaches out to customers all over the southeast, too, she said. “We not only promote and sell product online but we also hold regular tech seminars with our experts where boaters can send in their questions and get them answered, and we also sponsor local fishing guides with on-line fishing reports for all the lakes near us, so there’s a lot to attract customers to our site.” Last but not least, Angela says Buck’s Island’s connection to financing makes it easy for customers to buy. “We have a group of banks that we deal with that understand boats and boat loans—a lot of banks don’t. It makes it easy for our customers to get financing if they need it,” she added. Put it all together and Buck’s Island Marine, like many others around the southeast and across the nation, has not only weathered the covid crisis, they’ve found ways to thrive. Learn more at or call 256-442-2588.

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How to get rid of


About 500 years ago, Spanish explorers landed in South America and started naming things. They used their word for armor, armando, and added illo to the end, to name one peculiar-looking mammal. The literal translation is “little armored one.” Before their arrival, the Aztecs called it ayotochin or “turtle-rabbit”. In modern-day Brazil, it’s called tatu-galinha or “chicken armadillo”, but north of Mexico, it’s referred to as the “9-banded armadillo”. The 1850 Texas Invasion There are more than 20 varieties of armadillo found in South and Central America. The smallest is the pink-fairy armadillo at about five inches long, and the largest is the giant armadillo that weighs up to 120 pounds. The 9-banded, or long-nosed armadillo, is the only one found in the U.S. and adults weigh 12-17 pounds. It made its way into Texas through Mexico around 1850. During the Great Depression, some Texans called them “Hoover Hogs” and poor-man’s pork. In my neighborhood, they are called pests, and across their expanded range, they have garnered a variety of descriptive terms. There was an accidental release of captive specimens in Central Florida in the 1920s, and the first documented sighting of an armadillo in Alabama was in Mobile County in the 1940s. Texas and Louisiana were the routes for their eastward migration into Alabama, then into Georgia, and the Carolina’s. They have rooted their way to southern Indiana and Nebraska, and some speculate Canada is next. I saw my first 9-banded specimen on the outskirts of Eglin AFB in Florida in the early 70s. The rustling of leaves nearby got my attention, and I stalked near enough to reach out and touch it. It didn’t seem to notice my slow movements, but then it sniffed loudly, jumped straight up, and took off. It seemed a bizarre-looking creature then, and it’s done nothing to change my opinion of it. HOW TO GET RID OF ARMADILLOS Several decades ago, they created enough holes in my yard that I set a few live traps. I would catch an occasional one, but I couldn’t consistently get them to enter my traps. I studied the issue and ordered some books on trapping techniques and trap construction. I built a wooden box-type trap with two sliding doors called a —Texas Armadillo Trap. It worked reasonably well when I threw some damp soil and a few grubs or worms near the entrance. I increased the dimensions from the one in the book, and it was heavy, but the trigger was sensitive, and I caught a variety of critters, including a whippoorwill.

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I’ve placed a wire live-trap in the edge of my yard over the last few years whenever those distinctive holes would begin appearing in my lawn. This spring seemed different. Fresh dug dirt was evident on a near-daily basis. My first reaction was to put fresh batteries in my spotlight and adjust my air rifle sights. After losing much sleep, I had dispatched only one critter. I moved my wire trap to various spots with no luck and decided I needed some help. Trapping or a well-placed projectile can be effective, but so can an electric fence wire placed three to four inches off the ground. I have a friend that used an insecticide specifically for grubs on his entire yard and has had no issues with the hole diggers since. USING A FUNNEL I talked to some guys in a local trapping group and decided to build a new wooden trap with the aid of the grandkids. After discussing some of the finer points of trap placement, we declared war on my yard varmints. We placed the wire trap to what appeared to be a faint trail coming from a nearby swamp. After placing it near the yard’s edge, we put one by six inch boards at each end to funnel the creatures into the opening. The following day we were rewarded with two captive “turtle rabbits”, my first double catch. I decided to place them into the wooden trap to transfer their scent onto the wooden interior. One of the most effective means to attract the critters is by using the smell of another armadillo. Trap placement, using boards, netting or blocks, and natural restrictions are the keys to trapping success. WHAT DO ARMADILLOS EAT? The primary food source of armadillos are grubs, worms, ants, and various insects, but they will eat an occasional lizard or small snake. They are related to the ant-eater and have a long sticky tongue to grab their prey. They feed primarily at night, but will occasionally feed during cloudy days depending on temperatures. They sleep around 16 hours a day and have multiple holes where they go to rest. Recent research has confirmed that they also raid the nests of quail and turkey for their eggs. If you are a hunter like myself, then your concern for your yard might take second place if you enjoy the explosion of a quail covey or having a gobbler answer your call from just over a ridge. Knowing their detrimental effect on the ground bird population might be enough for some to try and reduce the armadillo population on their hunting property, but a word of caution! DO ARMADILLO CARRY LEPROSY? Scientists have concluded that the early explorers brought leprosy onto


This one was rooting early one morning in my neighbors backyard.

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How to Get Rid of Armadillos

the shores of South & Central America with their arrival about five centuries ago. Several researchers have studied the possibility of contracting the bacterium that causes leprosy from contact with an armadillo. Before the visiting explorers, there was no evidence of leprosy, or Hansen’s Disease, in North or South America. Their low body temperature (90 degrees) might account for the bacterium infecting these animals. Studies have shown that in Brazil and other areas where the armadillo is hunted and consumed regularly, leprosy is present at higher rates than the general population. Richard Truman of the “National Hansen’s Disease Program” at Louisiana State University has studied and written extensively about leprosy in armadillos. “Sick animals will likely be picked off by predators and not survive long enough to develop obvious symptoms. It (the bacteria) cannot survive very long outside of a living cell, a couple of hours on a microscope slide, and maybe two weeks in moist soil,” noted Truman. “Fortunately, about 95 percent of us—are naturally immune to it. A person’s likelihood of getting the disease, even with close contact, is slim and rests on variables such as his or her genetic makeup and immunologic strength.” A note of caution: I found reference to three cases in Mississippi that tested positive as early-stage leprosy by one doctor, and close contact with armadillos was the common link. We all know to take precautions when cleaning rabbits, deer, and wild hogs. I would reiterate to make sure and wear gloves and wash up after handling any wildlife. LURING ARMADILLOS TO A TRAP A study conducted by the University of Georgia tested different scents and food to attract armadillos to their traps. They used wire traps with and without bait for their experiment and checked their traps over 1,000 times and only caught 10. The results were that there was no evidence that using dif-

ferent foods or a commercial lure to draw armadillos into a randomly placed trap was effective. Some trappers insist that wooden traps will outperform wire traps, and it may be true, but I recently caught six out of my wire traps in less than a week. The key to success in trapping any animal is trap placement. Finding fresh rooted ground and back-tracking to the entrance or exit trail is essential. Locating a natural constriction or moving logs and other objects to create one will increase your capture rate. In a yard, this can mean simply placing boards or portable fencing to form a V-shaped funnel into the trap opening. There are commercial wooden traps available to trap an armadillo. For an extra $65.00, you can buy a trap that has previously housed a captive animal to deposit its scent into the wood. Other trappers seem to agree that wooden traps that have housed previous catches seem to have a better catch rate than a new unscented one. If you have some spare wood lying around, you can make a wooden version in a couple of hours. I suggest making your trap 12”x12”x32” with sliding doors at each end. They can be scaled up or down to catch a variety of wildlife. It’s relatively easy to remove an armadillo from a wooden box trap. Stand it on one end and open the top door. Using gloves, reach in and firmly grab its tail and lift it clear of the opening. You may want to consult your local fish&game office for the proper disposal of your catch. FINAL THOUGHTS Be sure to peep inside your trap carefully if the doors are down upon your arrival. A variety of critters might use the same trail, so listen closely and carefully peer into the small hole on top to see if there might be a black critter with a white streak down its back.

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How to Get Rid of Armadillos

In a couple of hours with a little spare wood, you can build the perfect armadillo trap.

Recipe and image courtesy of Michael Pendley and Timber 2 Table Wild Game Recipes (

Venison Armadillo Eggs with Cactus Dust Prep: 40 mins • Cook: 2 hours • Total: 2 hours 40 mins A few boards can help funnel an armadillo into your trap opening.

Ingredients • 2 pounds ground venison • 1 pound ground breakfast sausage • 6-8 large jalapeno peppers • 1 block of cream cheese (8 ounces) softened • 1 cup of shredded cheese • 1 pound of bacon • Barbecue rub • Barbecue sauce Instructions 1.

The first night’s catch after setting my trap near a trail entering the yard.

Slice the peppers in half, lengthwise, then strip away white core fibers and seeds (wear gloves). Mix the ground meats and set aside to warm up a bit. Mix the shredded cheese with the cream cheese. Stuff the pepper halves with the cheese mixture. 2. Wrap each pepper half with the ground meat mixture. You want the meat to be an even coating all over the pepper. I like the meat mixture to be about ½ inch in thickness all around the pepper. Dust the wrapped peppers over all surfaces with your favorite barbecue rub. 3. Wrap a slice of bacon around each meat-covered pepper. Smoke at 250 degrees for two to three hours, depending on thickness. As the peppers smoke, baste with barbecue sauce every thirty minutes or so. 877.314.1237 // // AUGUST 2021 29

g n i h c t a C ues for

h s fi d r o Sw

Techniq Built for power; swordfish are very heavy bodied and possess amazing stamina. To land them you’ll need equipment that’s up to the task. Photo courtesy Capt Adam Peeples

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ight N r o y a D



How to target and properly rig for swordfish, day and night One of the best attributes to the northern Gulf of Mexico is it’s incredibly diverse fishery. From the quiet backwaters of its estuaries and tidal creeks, to the deep, blue waters offshore, everything from speckled trout to giant bluefin tuna can be found in this angler’s paradise. The broadbill swordfish is hardly a new face to this scene, but only in recent years has it become the main target of what’s arguably the hottest bite in big game fishing for our area. In the past, swordfishing has generally been considered a “Plan B”, something done at night when there’s nothing else to do and is an added bonus to a trip.. Many boats would send a bait or two out at night, something for a watchman to tend to as the crew slept.

be successful. “When your bait is a quarter-mile beneath you, you won’t want to worry if it is still intact. Taking the extra time to prep your bait for wear will ensure that your offering can withstand the abuse of repeated bill slashes,” Toole said. When it comes to my own personal preferences, I use both strips and whole squid, but a swimming Mahi strip is a huge confidence bait for me. Run the buffet of offerings and you’ll see that all of them work, but your confidence bait will generally perform best. Just make sure it’s swimming straight and not spinning..

Then, in the late 90s and early 2000s, more and more anglers tried their hand at targeting these amazing fish. After countless nights and key notes logged, the consistent reality of the fishery took focus. Catching a swordfish at night was no longer a random bonus catch, but a planned effort.

Your bait’s success will also be determined by the piece of hardware it’s rigged on. Both Peeples and Toole favor the Mustad 7691 hook for connecting and staying tight. This particular model of hook has a closed throat and requires less pressure for penetration.

In addition, In the last few years, daytime fishing techniques along the northern gulf coast have become a finely-tuned science. The overwhelming success rate of fishing deep during the day coupled with the extensive knowledge learned over decades of night fishing, has created a world-class, 24/7 fishery within easy reach. They are a year-round target that offers everything you want in a big game species; reliability, size, legendary fighting abilities and top-notch table fare. Experiencing the thrill of catching these powerful fish first-hand requires a little homework first and a “tune up” in rigging.

I’ve enjoyed plenty of success with the 7691 but still employ the use of circle hooks as well, with the Mustad 39948BLN being my “go-to”. This circle has a very wide gap and ensures a heavy purchase in a sword’s mouth. Leader types and lengths will certainly vary depending on whom you ask. I prefer short, six foot leaders of 300 pound monofilament, attached to 150 feet of 150 pound wind-on leader. The long length of mono gives a tough anchor point for LED lights and floss loops used to attach weights.

TRIAL AND ERROR My first plunge into swordfishing began nearly two decades ago and obviously tackle and techniques have greatly changed since then. Unfortunately, my first experience with a big sword left me heartbroken and heading back to the drawing board. These powerful fish can and will expose every weakness in your tackle.

Peeples also uses a long wind-on leader, but drops to 130 pound monofilament. He uses the smaller monofilament for less drag in the water column and the ability to splice directly into his main line, made of 80 pound, hollow core braid. Toole sticks with a shorter and heavier, 75 feet of 200 pound windon leader but also keeps a short trace leader of 250 pound monofilament. Regardless of leader style, 65 and 80 pound braided main lines are the norm for appropriate strength and their thin diameters.

Being a swordfish addict and a tackle salesman at Sam’s Bait and Tackle in Orange Beach, Al, it’s a never-ending work-in-progress to adapt and learn which techniques and rigging styles will produce more broadbills. This constant trial and error not only leads to higher success rates for myself, but my customers as well. However, as with any type of big game fishing, the true key to success lies in sharing not only one’s own experiences, but by listening to others as well and then evolving from the collective pool of knowledge. With that mindset, let’s get to it and spill the tips and secrets of three “swordfish junkies”.

Reel selection is a matter of finding the best balance of power and speed. Many newer swordfish anglers come into Sam’s Bait and Tackle looking for suggestions on what to buy and through extensive time on the water with different brands, we try to narrow the options down for them. For Peeples, and myself, the reel of choice is the Penn International 70VIS. This two-speed reel offers plenty of line capacity, torque and the necessary speed to stay tight on a charging broadbill. Toole prefers the lighter Shimano Talica 50II. The Talica doesn’t hold the line capacity that the beefier International does, but offers stout performance in a smaller package.

GEARING UP Fishing for swordfish can be as simple or as elaborate as you’d like it to be, but simply putting bait on a hook and dropping it down won’t yield the best results against a fish with a three foot and then some sword on its face. Bait selection for swords is usually pretty easy with squid and strip baits of bonito and mahi bellies being top options. In hindsight, I think it’s easier for me to think of baits I haven’t caught a swordfish on, rather than picking baits I have caught them with.

While many enjoy the sport of fighting a swordfish man-to-man, some anglers opt for electric reels to prospect the deep waters where swords lurk.

Captain Adam Peeples runs One Shot Charters out of Ft Walton Beach, Fl. Peeples will use the full spectrum of bait choices but keeps no secrets when it comes to his favorite. “I prefer a fresh bonito strip over anything. They’re extremely durable and have excellent swimming action,” he said. “Durability at depth is extremely important and a well-rigged bonito strip is a bulletproof bait” said Peeples. Captain Shane Toole, who runs Necessity Sportfishing out of Orange Beach, echoes the importance of rigging baits for abuse and points out that while squid makes up a majority of a swordfish’s diet and is a top pick, it also requires extra care in rigging and proper stitching is paramount if you want to

Rod choice is where the pickiest of sword hunters get even more picky and rightfully so. After all, you’re trying to find a rod that can detect the softest of strikes at depths of over 1200 feet and still have the backbone to do battle with one of the most legendary of gamefish. While some of our customers will look towards custom rod options, I’ve found a great combination of action and power in the Crowder DDS50. This rod has all of the features to look for in a good swordfish rod with quality components and the right amount of sensitivity. Whichever route you go, you’ll want your rod to possess an oversized roller tip like those made by Aftco or Winthrop Tool and sport a bent butt for maximum lift. DON’T “DRAG” IT OUT One of the constant debates amongst experienced swordfish anglers is proper reel drag settings. A popular mindset is that swords have soft mouths and require lighter drag settings than what you might use on marlin or big tunas. Others, like myself, have taken the stance that you either have a good hookset or you don’t, and that using light drag settings may lead to weak pen877.314.1237 // // AUGUST 2021 31

Tackling the Gladiator

etration and actually cause a lost fish.

The prize on deck! The author and his cousin Sean Schmidt with Schmidt’s first Broadbill out of Perdido Pass, Al.

Toole prefers starting heavy to drive the hook home and then easing a bit after the hookset, going back up if necessary. “I set my reels at 30 pounds ‘at strike’ to make sure the hook sets firmly. After the hook is set, we start the fight at no less than 25 pounds,” Toole said.

Photo courtesy of Chris Vecsey

Peeples does the opposite, setting his reels at 18-20 pounds while waiting for bites. “At this pressure, we can set a hook firmly and can always increase the drag gradually through the fight if necessary,” he noted. I prefer my drags around the same settings as Peeples, and will continue to add pressure if the fight drags on without progress. Even with stout settings, anglers need to be ready to experience some of the most intense power in sportfishing. Swordfish will routinely take hundreds of yards of line throughout sounding runs and rapid ascent through the water column, with an occasional series of leaps. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, so pace yourself through the fight.


Wherever fishing takes you, B’n’M has been there.

WWW.BNMPOLES.COM 32 AUGUST 2021 // // 877.314.1237

Managing Wild Turkeys Through Teamwork

THE MILLION-DOLLAR QUESTION; WHERE? Swordfish are very wide ranging throughout the world and almost any deep, natural bottom area where bait gathers can produce one. In the northern gulf, hot spots include the Spur, Steps, Green Canyon and others. These spots are well known and feature the exact kind of bottom topography that will hold bait and trophy swordfish. You could point to many areas on the map but above all, one factor that stands above most others is finding the sword’s food source. “Finding bait is a huge priority” says Toole, who puts his electronics to work while scouring the bottom for optimal spots. “You need a good combination of current for covering water and an ample bait source.” Swords have very fast metabolisms and won’t stray far from what powers them. If you’re not marking bait, chances are, you’re not in an ideal spot. Peeples agrees 100% and neither will put much time into areas devoid of both current and bait. One thing we all agree on is optimal depths to target with 1400-1600 feet being the prime zone. We do catch them shallower and deeper, but the grand majority of swords harvested will come from this zone. DEPLOYMENT OF BAITS Deploying your sword bait or spread of baits is a dance best learned through many cycles of repetition. For night-time swording, I prefer to fish anywhere from three to five lines. These lines are staggered at varying depths depending on the location of thermoclines and lunar phase. On nights revolving around the full moon, I often find more success by spreading my baits deeper, from 200-500 feet and at shallower spreads of 50-300 feet during new moon periods. Deeper baits are fished directly from rod tips next to the boat and shallower baits suspended from balloons or small buoys with the shallowest bait the furthest from the boat. Regardless of moon phases, you’ll always want to position a bait below the thermoclines.

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Tackling the Gladiator

money on turkey permits, which part of the licensAccurately the setting baitsspent is simple by using detachable lineiscounters. Weight sizes from ing 12 ounces to two to pounds hold the in baits at these depths. LEDfund. lights requirement hunt turkeys Florida, goes into that placed at different distances along the wind-on leader attract both bait and swordfish and canhunters be purchased in a wide range ofare colors. “Many and NWTF members heavily involved in

raising for thedifferent wild turkey and itsWhereas habitat swordfish by participating Daytime fishing is afunds completely ballgame. rise to in NWTF hunting heritage banquets, whereby a portion the surface at night, they dive deep into the depths during the day, oftenofsusgoes program,” Nicholpending at those depthsfunds withinraised the lower 200into feetthe of cost-share the water column. For sending son said. “Hunters’ purchases of hunting equipment also helps a bait down 1200 or more feet and keeping it tangle free, one of two methods are generally used; wildlife the troll-out method or through the “sled”the method. support conservation Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, which brings federal grant funding

The “troll-out” method is where, when trolling the bait out, the bait is deployed to state wildlife management such as thereel FWC.” while the boat moves at a moderate speedagencies into the current. The is placed just above freespool, to keep a small amount of drag on the line as it is played Through combined effort from the circles NWTF,180 FWC, FFS and and out. Once the desiredthis distance is reached, the boat degrees Florida turkey hunters, the wild turkey population is healthy outward as the bait and weight sink. The outward circle keeps the main line flourishing in Florida. And, if you’re turkey hunter, away from and the bait and the boat is slowly backed downa to position atop then the bait. you must be getting excited because spring turkey season

and the youth turkey hunt weekends are just around the

For the “sled” method, a stationary weight of two to four pounds is clipped approximatelycorner. 75-100 feet from the bait and a large weight of rebar or concrete is attached directly to the baited hook with a piece of bent wire. The rig is then sent straight down and fast. As the weight hits bottom the bent wire will slip off Contact Information of the hook bend and the bait can be retrieved upwards to the desired depth. WildTHE Turkey Cost-Share THE TEASE, FEED AND Program THE HOOKSET State Chapter of thebut National The moment Florida has come, you see a light, distinctWild “tap”Turkey on the Federation rod tip. Some (NWTF) anglers prefer to continue drifting without interaction and let the sword eat Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) when he’s ready. Many, including Toole, Peeples and myself, begin the “cat Florida Forest Service (FFS) and mouse” strategy of teasing the fish into eating.Area This (WMA) involves retrieving the Green Swamp Wildlife Management bait in short, Gulf upward bursts followed by freespooled drops Coastal Plain Ecosystem Partnership after the ensuing strike. The motion is to give the Fish illusion that the sword has killed his prey at Wildlife and Sport Restoration Program which point they will usually eat the bait as it falls. Of course, it’s not always

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Tackling the Gladiator

Tagging and releasing broadbills helps in answering many questions regarding their life cycles and migration cycles. Photo courtesy of Capt Adam Peeples

involved in tagging and releasing them for the Billfish Foundation for research purposes and he received an award from the organization in 2020 for his efforts. As more and more anglers experience success with swords, perhaps more will turn to the option of release to protect the fishery for the future. FUEL UP AND GO A species that was once a “bucket-list” catch is well within range of our coast. As the fishery progresses, more information and tactics are available for the average boater and with proper gear and safety measures, you too can do battle with the true gladiator of the deep.

USING SATELLITE IMAGING TO SUCCEED OFFSHORE Long runs offshore mean sufficient preparation prior. Knowing where to go is the biggest key to success and involves far more than pointing the bow and hitting the throttle. Optimal water conditions, currents, chlorophyll, surface temperatures, etc. all play a heavy hand in locating pelagic fish. Hilton’s Realtime Navigator is a satellite imaging service that helps you answer the question of “where” so more of your time on the water will be spent catching vs fishing. Hilton’s offers the most up to date imagery as well as a large selection of viewing areas.

this easy and more often than not, it will take a series of retrieves and drops to convince the sword to eat. Once the sword takes the bait, the biggest hurdle is burying the hook. Some use the boat’s propulsion to help drive the hook home but I have found this to be counterproductive and resulting in many pulled hooks. An assertive and continuous retrieve of the handle will give the necessary power to set the hook, even at depth. The key is to continue reeling until the drag slips or stalls, meaning you’ve hit maximum pressure and the hook is set. A properly fitted harness like the Aftco Max Force will tip the odds in favor for the angler and allow the use of their body weight to fight the fish. For anglers not accustomed to proper stand-up techniques, bent butt rods allow the angler to fight fish from the boat’s rod holders. In either scenario, the first part of the fight is a battle to stay tight as most swords rise to the surface after hookup and often at speed. Keeping the boat moving forward helps remove slack, just be careful not to move too fast and put unnecessary strain on the angler. THE ENDGAME Landing and dispatching a swordfish can be a dicey situation. More often than not, a harpoon is used to dart a fish as it nears the boat. This will often kill or disable a fish for safer handling boat side. If a harpoon isn’t available, long handled gaffs get the job done, but make sure that the fish is thoroughly worn out before hoisting aboard and a couple well-placed shots with a bat will silence rowdy swordfish. Just remember, swordfish are a highly regulated species and landings of swordfish must be reported to the National Marine Fisheries Service. PROPER CONSERVATION For the recreational angler, broadbills can be harvested if measuring 47 inches and above, from the fork of their tail to the tip of the lower jaw (LJFL). Up to four fish may be harvested on private recreational vessels, but many are choosing a conservative approach. “A single swordfish yields plenty of meat. Even on multiple fish trips, I generally harvest one fish” Peeples said. In addition to guiding and helping anglers catch swordfish, Peeples is also 34 AUGUST 2021 // // 877.314.1237

In regards to the service’s use in hunting swordfish, Hilton’s chart overlays allow you to view the water conditions as they relate to bottom structures you intend to fish. “Hilton’s satellite imaging plays a huge part in my day-to-day success on the water.” says Capt. Adam Peeples with One Shot Charters in Ft Walton Beach, Fl. “Water color, current speeds and direction and altimetry are key factors I look for when swordfishing. Knowing these conditions before heading offshore removes the guesswork and leads to a better experience for my clients.” Hilton’s offers different subscription packages based on the number of chart regions desired and there are many options available. For more information on Hilton’s Realtime Navigator and its services, as well as testimonials from top professional captains and crews, go to

Contact Information Sam’s Bait and Tackle 251-981-4245 27122 Canal Rd Orange Beach, Al 36561 One Shot Fishing Charters, LLC 850-585-9436 Necessity Sportfishing 850 602 2475 Hilton’s Real-time Navigator

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Recipe and image courtesy of Sara at

Grilled Swordfish Prep: 1 min • Marinating: 30 mins Cook: 10 mins • Total: 50 mins

Ingredients • 4 swordfish steaks 4-6 ounces each • 1/4 cup olive oil • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce • 1 teaspoon lemon zest • 2 teaspoons fresh parsley chopped • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper • 3/4 teaspoon minced garlic • lemon wedges for serving Instructions 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.


Place the olive oil, honey, soy sauce, lemon zest, parsley, thyme, salt and pepper in a bowl or resealable bag. Whisk to thoroughly combine. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the marinade for later use. Add the garlic to the marinade and stir. Add the swordfish to the marinade. Cover the bowl or seal the bag, then marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or up to 8 hours. Remove the swordfish from the marinade and scrape off any excess bits of herbs or garlic (otherwise they could burn on the grill!). Preheat an outdoor grill or indoor grill pan over medium high heat. Add the swordfish steaks and cook for 5-6 minutes on each side or until the swordfish is opaque throughout. Brush the reserved marinade over the fish, then serve immediately, with lemon wedges if desired. Call 800.579.5471


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Coyote Hunting at Night

Tips for Predator Control BY JOHN E. PHILLIPS

When coyotes come in at night, they’re not generally spooked by the halo from a hunter’s bright light that’s aimed at a 45-degree angle to the ground.

36 AUGUST 2021 // // 877.314.1237


Coyotes are like cockroaches – you can’t seem to get rid of them. Known as the song dog of the West and romanticized through western writings and cowboy movies as the mystical critter of the Big Sky Country, the actual truth about coyotes is far removed from this scenario. Coyotes are one of the worst enemies of the rancher, the farmer and the hunter and kill livestock like chickens and calves, attack and kill deer, destroy turkey nests and eat turkey eggs and the poults, as well as adult turkeys. No matter how many of these marauders you kill, there will be more to take their places.

you,” Brown emphasizes. “You can put that caller in front of you, take a stand 50-75 yards below the caller and see if the coyote tries to circle downwind. If the coyote does, it will be out in front of you with this set-up.”

Coyotes have been moved into some sections of the East for about three decades. Today many landowners need hunters who can eliminate their coyote problems. “GDO” has interviewed two top nighttime coyote hunters to learn more.

That’s why cattle pastures, power-line right-of-ways, gas line right-of-ways, or fresh clear-cuts are some of the most-productive places Brown’s found to hunt coyotes.

HUNTING NIGHTTIME COYOTES ALMOST ANYWHERE Tad Brown is a project manager for GSM Outdoors and primarily has worked with Hunter’s Specialties as a call maker and a designer for more than 30 years. A predator hunter for 45 years, Brown hunts coyotes at night in four states.

“In Missouri where I live, many of the public-land hunting places will have white crushed limestone surfacing the roads, Brown noted. “When coyotes run down those roads, that limestone reflects the light, making seeing them much easier than when hunting woods’ roads. If you’re hunting in timber, hunt down an old logging road because coyotes, like turkeys and deer, will take the path of least resistance to travel. When hunting in timber, I’ll run my electronic caller some, but then cut it off. With leaves on the ground in dry weather, you can hear that coyote running down the road and through that timber often before you can see it.”

“The advantage of hunting predators at night like coyotes is that’s when they’re the most active,” Brown explained. “However, just like when hunting coyotes in the daytime, you still must be conscious of having the wind in your face and approaching where you want to call stealthily. “When I first started hunting coyotes at night, my light was the moon, since at that time, Missouri hunters couldn’t use lights or electronic calls at night,” Brown said. TACTICS AND EQUIPMENT Knowing that coyotes generally will circle downwind, Brown always puts a second hunter 75-yards behind him, realizing coyotes will respond to an animal or a bird in distress. Brown sets up in wide-open fields and has learned coyotes won’t hesitate to come across a field at night like they will in the daytime. One of Brown’s favorite places to set up years ago was a point of woods going out into a field. Brown and his hunter could spot any coyote coming into the left or to the right of the caller. “During those early days of hunting coyotes, we used shotguns with BB shotshells,” Brown remembered. “I load two Hevi Shot Dead Coyote T Shots in my 12-gauge, 3-inch magnum and make the last shell a 00 buckshot. If I have the opportunity to take two coyotes from one set-up, that 00 buckshot seems to have more killing power at a longer range.” The most-popular coyote rifles at night are a .223 or a .224. In many states today, you can use a light. Brown points the light’s beam about 45 degrees above the ground, calls once or twice, waits 15 minutes and uses its halo to sweep across the area he’s calling to make a coyote or other predator’s eyes shine. You may have more than one coyote come in or even a bobcat or a fox. “Wait until the furthest coyote comes within gun range and shoot it first,” Brown said. “Since the second coyote will be closer, you generally can double-up and take two coyotes. A good shooter can take a coyote at 200 yards, but most of the coyotes we take will be between 50-150 yards or even at 25 yards,” he pointed out. “By hunting coyotes at night, you don’t have to wait very long to get a shot. I’ll remain on my stand for 15 minutes, and if I don’t spot a coyote, I’ll switch locations. When there’s no wind and quiet woods and fields, I’ll usually move at least a mile away from my previous calling spot. But if there’s a wind, and I feel like I’m hunting a productive area, I only may move 1/4- to 1/2-mile away.”

Brown mentions that when hunting coyotes at night, especially in the South during the summer and early fall, you must set up to call a coyote, so that it must cross an opening for you to see it.

HUNTING EASTERN AND SOUTHERN NIGHTTIME COYOTES Brad Biddle of Kentucky has been hunting coyotes for 20 years, mostly during daylight hours because Kentuckians couldn’t use lights years ago to hunt coyotes and only could hunt with shotguns. Once Kentucky allowed hunters to use rifles and lights at night, he began using them. Biddle also enjoys self-filming his hunts. COYOTE METHODS AND EQUIPMENT: “I hunt with the Coyote Light, made by GSM Outdoors, because it has a dimmer on it, and you can mount it on a tripod or your riflescope,” Biddle said. “The light has a spot and a flood feature, you can dim it, and the company claims that you can see a coyote’s eyes out to 800 yards at night. Kentucky has very-few places where you can see 800 yards, due to so many trees and foliage. However, the flood feature will light-up the entire area you’re hunting. I primarily hunt cattle pastures.” Biddle and his friends go to different farms where they have permission to hunt. Just before dark they’ll listen for coyotes to howl and try to pinpoint that howling. “If we don’t have permission to hunt land where we hear coyotes, we’ll ask the landowner for permission to go there after dark and use lights and rifles to take coyotes,” Biddle reports. “We’ve never had a problem getting permission to hunt coyotes at night. Often that landowner will give us the names and the phone numbers of other landowners having problems with coyotes, since they kill calves, goats and any other type of livestock. Any coyotes we take we make pictures of them and send those to the landowners to show the coyotes we’re killing to help their properties.” If Biddle gets a new spot to hunt, he pulls up that location on Google maps and searches for the thickest places on it, since generally that’s where coyotes will be concentrating.

Brown uses the Johnny Stewart remote electronic caller’s cottontail-in-distress call early in the season. Later he likes a bird or a jackrabbit sound, and in the summer, he prefers a baby cottontail or a deer fawn sound.

Biddle explains that, “We have a saying here in Kentucky that, ‘If you’re hunting where there are cattle, you’ll be in coyote country.’ We have plenty of open cattle and horse country. I try and get as close as I can to the spots where I’ve heard coyotes howling just at dark and make sure I have a favorable wind. I like my Johnny Stewart Grim Speaker 2 electronic caller because it has a Bose speaker which is one of the highest-quality speakers for crystal-clear sound.”

“An advantage of an electronic caller is you don’t need another hunter to go with

Biddle usually kills one or two coyotes with this set-up. To hunt that same spot 877.314.1237 // // AUGUST 2021 37

Coyote Hunting at Night -Tips for Predator Control

on another night, he makes sure he has a different wind direction from before and sets-up on the opposite side of the timber or cover he’s hunted from before. “I don’t have 10,000 acres to hunt like western hunters do, so I have to hunt the same 250-500 acre farms every year,” Biddle explained. “I’ve learned that somewhere on each farm will be a core area of coyotes. Rarely do I pinpoint more than one pack of coyotes on each farm. I’ve learned that if I don’t call from the same place with the same wind direction, I can hunt each pack of coyotes several times at night in a year by moving my locations and hunting with various wind directions. Although sometimes I’ll hunt consecutive nights from the same location, I’ll change the sounds in my caller from the sounds I’ve used previously.” In terms of firepower, Biddle likes a Ruger American .22-250 and has a suppressor (silencer) on it, which has changed Biddle’s game of coyote hunting. He mentions that he takes more than one coyote off a calling spot because the coyotes can’t determine from where the sound of the rifle has come. “I use a Vortex 4-12x44 as my riflescope. I’ll generally set-up to harvest coyotes with close shots. In the last five or six years, I don’t think I’ve taken a shot over 120 yards with most of my shots within 60-70 yards,” Biddle said.

Pictured here is Brad Biddle with a coyote he took with his light, rifle and scope.

From years of coyote hunting, Biddle has learned that a high spot anywhere near the field where he’s hunting is exactly where the coyote will show up. He’ll put his rifle on his Johnny Stewart Quik Shot Shooting Sticks and aims at that little hill, expecting the coyote to show up. “My Grim Speaker call comes with about 10 sounds, but you can go online and buy additional sounds. Right now, my caller has about 150


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Coyote Hunting at Night -Tips for Predator Control

different sounds I can use to call in coyotes, at less than five dollars per sound. The sounds I depend on the most for taking coyotes are the grown cottontail, coy wolf bark howls, male coyotes barking and howling, a coyote locator and a Yellowhammer Woodpecker. Another sound I like is the Johnny’s Ki-Yi that sounds like a coyote’s pup yapping. I’ll sometimes use a baby-fox-in-distress sound,” Biddle explained. Biddle doesn’t use any type of decoy that will cause the coyote to come running in to eat that decoy. He wants his coyotes to be walking or standing still, looking for the animal that’s made the sound. Biddle always hunts with the wind in his face because with a crosswind, there’s a chance the coyote will get behind him without his seeing it and spook. “The wind direction determines which farm I’ll hunt, and which place I’ll set-up,” Biddle said. “I’ll set my caller up to the left or the right side of me. I don’t want a coyote to come in, look at that caller and spot me. With a wind coming in from my right to my left, I’ll set my caller up to the right of me and upwind. I’ve noticed that in the places I hunt, coyotes generally don’t circle downwind. I never let my caller run and run. I’ll play a sound at about one-fourth volume, expecting to see coyotes quickly. Next, I’ll turn it off, wait about three minutes, turn it back on, play it for about another minute and then turn it off. I’ll then start my third sequence, and most of the time the coyote will come in between the second and the third sequences, which is usually about 8 minutes after I’ve started calling.” Coyotes aren’t the only animals that will respond to predator calls at night, and bobcats, foxes and raccoons also may be targets of opportunity. HIGH-TECH NIGHT-TIME HUNTING Chuck Rubac, a military sniper who’s worked with Homeland Security and ranchers with predator problems, is a spokesperson for Photonis, a company that creates night-vision systems. “To take coyotes at night, you must understand the terrain where they live and their habits,” Rubac explained. “You have to be able to distinguish between a coyote and a fox and identify the states’ seasons where you legally can hunt nighttime coyotes with permitted equipment. To successfully harvest coyotes with night vision, you must take time to train with it, understand how to use it and recognize its limitations and benefits.” Rubac reported that night vision amplifies available light as in the moon, the stars and artificial light. Thermal vision identifies anything that reflects heat. “I use both thermal and night vision together,” Rubac said. “I’ll have a night-vision device on my rifle and thermal vision to scan an area.”

difference in color too.” Rubac typically scans a region with a handheld monocular. Then he engages a target with his rifle’s night-vision device. “If I make the shot, and the animal runs off, I’ll be able to track it better with my thermal imaging because blood gives off a heat signature. I use both night vision and thermal vision since each has a different purpose. “If I had to select just one device for hunting coyotes, I’d pick night vision over thermal. If I had the finances to own both types of night optics, I would. My favorite combination would be a thermal binocular or monocular and a night-vision riflescope.”

Contact Information GSM Outdoors: Coyote Light and Johnny Stewart Electronic Calls and Quik Shot Shooting Sticks Hevi Shot Ruger Vortex Photonis

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According to Rubac, nighttime optics have limitations and advantages, with temperature variations dictating which type of night-sighting system is most effective. “If the night’s pitch-black dark or foggy with no ambient, reflective light, then night vision won’t work well. Thermal vision can see through the fog to find a heat signature, even without light. But if the temperature around the critter you’re hunting is about the same temperature as it, thermal imaging will have a hard time distinguishing the critter. Night vision on a moonlit night enables you to see 1,000 yards and distinguish the critters from the rocks.” Rubac mentions that thermal vision can’t distinguish between a javelina and a feral hog of the same size, but a night-vision light and the atmosphere’s reflected light gives you a much-better chance of identifying the species’ differences. “If a small coyote and a grey fox are side by side, distinguishing the differences with thermal vision are difficult, due to their similarity in size and shape and giving off the same heat signature,” Rubac emphasizes. “But night vision will show the

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e c n a r u s n Boat I FAQ BY ED MASHBURN

No matter how careful a boater is, accidents can happen quickly, but insurance can help recovery efforts. 40 AUGUST 2021 // // 877.314.1237

LIFESTYLE When it comes to insurance in general and boat insurance specifically, a lot of misinformation is passed around through conversation and not so accurate internet sources. Good, reliable information can make obtaining boat insurance coverage much easier and even less expensive for boat owners. While no one wants to think about accidents and damage and especially loss to our boats, the fact is that accidents do happen, and accidents can happen no matter how careful and cautious a boat owner is while on the water. And accidents can happen to boat owners even when they are not on the water. And while damage to a boat and loss of a boat is not something boat owners want to think about, insurance can help a boater recover from damages and insurance can provide a great deal of peace of mind for instances of injury to others in case of a water accident. For a good reliable source of information, Ron Davis, agent for Geico Insurance of Mobile, Alabama answers some of the most commonly asked questions about boat insurance. DO I HAVE TO CARRY BOAT INSURANCE? “Marine insurance can vary greatly from boater to boater. Some states require watercraft to be insured in order to register them in that particular state. Alabama doesn’t require boaters to carry insurance,” Davis said. “Also, most lienholders require both liability as well as physical damage coverage on any watercraft financed with their institution. While a boater may not be required to carry marine insurance for their watercraft, having an uninsured accident can be catastrophic for the boater and their family. Marine insurance provides boaters with peace of mind that they have not only protected their investment, but also their family and their assets in the event of a liability claim.” WHAT KIND OF INSURANCE DO I NEED? According to Davis every boater who plans on putting their boat in the water wants to make sure they cover their boat for at least liability losses.

up to $3,000 of coverage per incident. Most other companies do not have this included in their policies,” Davis pointed out. WHAT ABOUT STORM DAMAGE TO MY BOAT? In most cases for an insured boat, the boat will be covered in case of damage resulting from a named storm/ there will be a deductible which the owner will cover which will usually be 5 % of agreed hull value. Insurance should cover damage whether the boat is on the water or on a trailer. WHAT ABOUT PERSONAL WATERCRAFT? When it comes to those small, fast, loads of fun personal watercraft, the insurance needs are just like full-size boats. “Personal watercraft policies are just like boat insurance. Insurance should cover personal belongings, trailers, and liability to cover injuries in case of an accident,” Davis noted. HOW CAN I FIND OUT WHAT COVERAGE I NEED? “Each case is individual when it comes to boat insurance, and we tailor our coverages to meet our clients’ needs. Call us at Geico of Mobile and we’ll be happy to work up an insurance quote. It takes about ten minutes, and there is no cost for the quote,” he said. For Individual Boater Insurance Information: Ron Davis 3766 Airport Blvd, Suite C Mobile, Alabama 36608 251-445-0053

“Some boaters choose to self-insure their boat if they own their boat free and clear. However, causing damage to other boats, property, or bodily harm to others can be financially detrimental to a boat owner. If a boat is financed, you want to make sure that you have physical damage coverage on the boat for at least your loan amount. If a boat is financed and you do not have the proper coverage you could find yourself continuing to pay for a boat that you no longer have in the event of a total loss,” Davis explained. “Even if a boater keeps their watercraft in storage throughout the year, physical damage coverage provides coverage for losses due to weather and even theft while the boat is being stored. We are in the business of ‘better safe than sorry’ and have seen first-hand just how important boat insurance has been to our customers when losses have occurred.” WHAT SHOULD MY INSURANCE COVER- JUST THE BOAT? Much confusion exists about watercraft insurance coverage. It can be hard to know what is covered and in what conditions the insurance will pay for losses. “Typically boat insurance offers coverage for both liability and physical damage coverage on the boat,” Davis said. “There are other optional coverages that are commonly selected such as medical payments for you and your covered passengers, personal effects, coverage for things like fishing gear and equipment and even coverage for fuel spillage. When it comes to boat protection, I personally don’t think there is such a thing as ‘too much coverage’. For boaters who live in coastal areas like the Gulf, coverage for storms such as hurricanes have become one of the most important aspects of a policy.” And a very important part of boat trouble preparedness is towing services. “Geico policyholders can choose to have a towing endorsement on their insurance. Geico policies include towing service through Tow Boat US within the Tow Boat service area. If they are outside of the Tow Boat area, they have


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How Much Does

Stocking a Pond with Bass Cost? BY WILLIAM KENDY

42 AUGUST 2021 // // 877.314.1237

FISHING HERE IS THE SCENARIO. You are an avid bass fisherman. You just built a pond on your property or you have an existing pond but it hasn’t been producing the kind of bass that you hoped it would so you are basically starting from scratch. Your fishing goal for the pond is to produce healthy and big largemouth bass. Maybe even a “wall hanger” trophy. The reality of pond management is that you just don’t dump a few bass and a couple of buckets of bream in the pond and expect to have a first-class fishery. To find out what pond owners should consider in terms of stocking a pond, either for the first time or on the rebound, we talked to Norman Latona, founder and president of Southeastern Pond Management. SEPond services a large part of the Southeast and provides ecosystem analysis, management programs, pond construction, liming, fertilizing, fish inventory assessment, removal processes, stocking of forage and game fish, pond maintenance and more. When it comes to stocking a brand-new pond or re-working an existing pond Latona pointed out that because of improved fish genetics and a better understanding of predator to prey ratios and fish densities, stocking fish can yield high production. “It’s not uncommon to see two or three pounds a year of bass growth particularly the first two or three years but none of that happens by accident,” Latona said. “If a pond owner has high goals in terms of trophy fish production in a new pond, the initial stocking is not an area where you want to scrimp and cut corners.” There are a number of factors that need to be considered, including the size of the pond, its ability to maintain a healthy fish population, the proper “predator to prey” ratios to make sure that the food supply is proportional to the population, the genetic composition of the fish being stocked, the goals of the owner and more. All of those things can influence the cost of stocking. “There are a lot of options and there is also a lot of variability in costs so it is impossible to just give a general cost,” Latona explained. “For example, there are some really cool genetic options available and if you are stocking the cream of the crop in terms of genetics those fish are going to be more costly than stocking standard fish. In addition, stocking density can play a role in influencing costs.” “We tailor a stocking program and take into consideration the stocking density, the time of the year that we stock, the species, fish diversity, genetics and size of the fish that we stock and match those to the 877.314.1237 // // AUGUST 2021 43

How Much Does Stocking a Pond with Bass Cost?

pond due in large part to the absence of predators who may prevent the forage base from becoming established. “We have one shot to stock new lakes when they are predator free and we can accomplish amazing things in terms of forage production in a clean body of water when we take advantage of that opportunity,” Latona noted. “The forage fish get in and they feed and feed and spawn and spawn and just fill the lake up and become an established food source for the predator bass.” In the case of an existing pond where the bass are bigger and more numerous, Latona says that “corrective restocking” to supplement or augment the forage base is sometimes necessary. It makes sense to step up the feeding game a bit and add larger fish or even a different species of forage like tilapia to help beef up the bass. “We restock with tilapia, crawfish and intermediate size bluegill, gizzard shad and we’ve found that the bigger bass grow much more efficiently when they are eating bigger forage,” Latona said.

objectives as laid out by the pond owner so costs can be all over the board,” Latona said. “We spend a lot of time discussing the options and the cost and benefits associated with them.” One of the most exciting options in the fish industry is the creation of “genetic diversity” which combines different traits of subspecies. An example of that is the F1 or “Tiger” largemouth bass which is where a northern bass strain has been bred with a Florida bass. The result is a fish that is less susceptible to winter mortality than their Florida-strain parents. In addition, because of that Florida-strain, they grow faster longer. “You get the positive genetic traits associated with northern bass, aggressiveness and catchability for example and you’re crossing that with the best of the Florida genetics, which is growth rate, top end growth, longevity and other attributes,” Latona said. “Genetic and pedigree breeding of fish is gradually rising to a new level just like it has been done with race horses, cattle and other animals.”

Of course, the older and larger the forage fish are, the more expensive they will be. In addition, the size of the lake and stocking density both affect the cost. Obviously stocking a 10-acre pond is going to cost more than a five-acre pond. Similarly, stocking 200 intermediate bluegill per acre is less expensive than stocking 500 per acre. “We listen to what the owner has in mind and what the goals are and explain that if this is the goal, we need to do A, B, C and D to get there. If the budget doesn’t allow that, let’s tweak and change some things and maybe even adjust the goals,” Latona said. “We try to realistically sort through all of the variables and options and tailor a program that meets the goals and stay within the budget of the client.”


“We used to say that a pound a year was acceptable growth and that was the standard. Now through improved genetics, manipulating stocking densities and other tools we’ve seen that number skyrocket to where we now routinely see, two to three pounds annual growth and, in some cases, even more carrying through year three. We’ve some fish approaching double digit growth at three years of age.” If you want your bass to grow they need something to eat and Latona stressed the point that you can take the fish with the best genetics in the world but those fish won’t do you any good if you introduce them into an environment that has limited forage. “You can take a bass that has the genetic potential to weigh 20 pounds and put it in a bathtub and feed it one goldfish a week and that fish won’t grow,” Latona said. “There are a lot of forage options available to create an ample and diverse forage food supply, depending on the specific objectives and goals of the lake owner. Some of the forage that Latona stocks includes bluegills, golden shiners, crawfish, tilapia, threadfin shad, shell crackers and as lakes mature, fathead minnows, gizzard shad and more. He emphasizes that especially in new ponds, that initial stocking is critically important to the future health of the 44 AUGUST 2021 // // 877.314.1237


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When to Choose a Forestry Mulcher for Wildlife Habitat BY JOE BAYA

For a hunting landowner, managing the property is an ongoing process. There are roads and firebreaks to be built and maintained, timber to be thinned and selectively cut to provide sunlight for forage plant growth, brush needs to be cleared, mid-story growth needs to be dealt with, food plots need to be planted and maintained and much more. While there are a lot of different tools in the land management quiver, one of the premier land management tools is the controlled (prescribed) burn. Controlled burning is a recognized and efficient way to reduce the build-up of overgrown brush and forest “litter” that can result in uncontrollable and destructive wildfires. It can reduce insect populations, destroy invasive plants and the ashes return nutrients to the soil. By opening the forest canopy, sunlight can penetrate the forest floor and help young trees and forage plants grow, providing a food base for wildlife. While controlled burning is a recognized land management tool there are situations where it can’t be utilized. If an area is in a drought situation, a fire can be dangerous. In addition, depending on the location and proximity to urban areas, there may be government restrictions on controlled burning making it unfeasible except during certain times. Additionally, undesirable plants can often become so established that prescribed fire is not the best choice to 46 AUGUST 2021 // // 877.314.1237

terminate them. That is where other tools, such as forestry mulchers come into play. We reached out to Brian Sheppard from Brush Clearing Services, with offices in Georgia and Arkansas to bring us up to speed on what forest mulchers can do and considerations for their use. Since 2005 BCS has provided clearing solutions across a wide range of applications including lot and land clearing, wildlife habitat conservation, forestry mulching, reforestation, hydrological wetlands restoration, right-of-way clearing and more. “We use forest mulchers for various habitat restoration projects, mid-story removal, firebreaks, reclaiming existing roads, food plot creation and expansion and they have become very popular,” Sheppard said. “We’ve seen a lot of the skid steer size machines and they feature better cooling systems, more horsepower and additional hydraulic flow.” While the less powerful forest mulchers are effective and fill a need they are limited to smaller applications which is why BCS runs 300 to 600 horsepower machines that are able to work on a much larger scale. That increased horse-


While small skid steers can run a forestry mulcher for less per hour, more horsepower means the job gets done faster and creates more value for the landowner.

power allows for quicker project completion which equates to greater value for the landowner. “I have learned over the years that you can take a big machine and cut small material with it but you can’t take a little machine and cut bigger material with it. Sometimes you just need bigger machinery with more horsepower to be more productive,” Sheppard explained. “Working a forest mulcher is a very tough environment on equipment especially in the hot summer months and we found that with bigger machinery we have less breakdowns and downtime.” WHEN IS A FOREST MULCHER THE BEST CHOICE FOR LAND MANAGEMENT? Sheppard used the example of a 20-year-old pine stand that has been thinned and has a dense stand of mid-story material in the four-to-six-inch diameter range that is 20 to 30 feet tall and you may have trouble getting fire to burn that back. He also said that in cases where the under-story is big or tall there is the chance that the fire will be too hot and jump over the tops of the trees. “That is where a forestry mulcher will put that mid-story down on the ground and reduce it to a point where you can manage it with fire or herbicide,” he said.

“Fuel load reduction” comprises a large amount of BCS’s business because of the risk involved in not removing this material, be it standing or lying on the ground. The years of huge forest fires that have occurred in the west are largely because of the excessive “fuel load” that has accumulated because of the lack of under-story and mid-story management. “We are seeing a lot more state and federal contracts that are written specifically with fuel load reduction and even from private landowners who recognize that the mid-story is high up and they could do more damage than good by running a fire,” Sheppard said. Sheppard pointed that another area in which forestry mulchers contribute is in creating and maintaining firebreaks. “We can go in and initially open a firebreak up to 20 plus feet wide, so it’s going to create a road or trail access as well as a break,” Sheppard noted. “But you need to use either a heavy fire break plow on the back of the dozer or a heavy offset plow on a tractor to make sure the break is plowed dirt.” “If you leave that mulch there for any length of time and it isn’t plowed, it will be all dried out and will be a tinderbox and a fire is going to burn right across,” he said. 877.314.1237 // // AUGUST 2021 47

When to Choose a Forestry Mulcher for Wildlife Habitat

In addition to facilitating firebreaks utilizing a forestry mulcher can be effective in re-claiming roads and minimizes soil disturbance and erosion. According to Sheppard, in order to have a good road system there has to be sunlight hitting the roads to dry them out. If it has a lot of vegetation encroaching on it and a lot of shaded areas there are going to be constant wet spots and they are going to become wet holes or ruts. “Where the mulcher is really good is at widening these roads and getting them daylight and it can also create some edge effect if you widen them out to between 20 and 30 feet on either side. That way you can maintain the edge with a rotary mower or herbicides,” Sheppard said. Utilizing a forestry mulcher instead of a bulldozer or even a tractor for mid-story removal isn’t as harmful to root structure of the trees that are to be kept. If those trees are in poor health to begin with you run the risk of substantial collateral damage. “Whether we are removing the mid-story or getting rid of some invasive species that are trying to take over, by using a forestry mulcher we are reducing the chance of root and soil disturbance and we don’t impact those trees that much,” Sheppard said. FORESTRY MULCHERS FOR FOOD PLOTS While forestry mulchers can do a multitude of tasks sometimes there are situations that push their limits. Sheppard says that expanding food plots that have encroaching vegetation is relatively easy. If you have an area that you want to make into a food plot and have ag ready, if the trees are bigger than about eight inches in diameter forestry mulchers may not be your best bet.

“In some cases, the mulcher isn’t going to work for new food plots if you are talking about bigger trees. You are going to need to stump it and root rake it because if you leave all those stumps in the ground it is going to take several years before you are going to be at a point where you can run any kind of ag equipment there,” Sheppard noted. Regardless of how careful and mindful you are of the environmental effects, mulching and using heavy equipment does affect the ecosystem and wildlife. Sheppard pointed out that there are two major considerations in any project. “Number one is to minimize environmental impact so we want to be sure it’s dry enough so that there isn’t a lot of soil disturbance that can damage plant communities,” Sheppard said. “The second is the timing of the year in terms of the effect on wildlife, like ground nesting birds and to minimize wildlife mortality.” “In a perfect world it would be nice not to run any mechanical equipment from mid-March to July 1st,” he said. “But that is going to depend on where you are in the country, what you want to do, the weather and it can be a narrow window of opportunity.” Sheppard stressed that anyone managing their property for timber, wildlife and recreation has to do their homework, work with a forester or a biologist, come up with maps, determine objectives and establish a time frame as to what you want to do when and by whom. He also stresses that you need to have “boots on the ground”. “You can look at aerial photos in Google Earth all day long but everything is different in the woods,” he advised. “Once you get out there and start walking and look at everything, you can determine what is going to be the best things to do at what time of year for a particular project.”


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Land Financing Interest Rates BY WILLIAM KENDY

Alabama Ag Credit is affiliated with the over 100-year-old nationwide Farm Credit System and is a stockholder owned cooperative. That means that when someone obtains a loan with Alabama Ag Credit they become a stockholder of the association and a portion of those earnings is returned to them through the AGC patronage program, as determined by their board of directors. At closing you make a one-time Alabama Ag Credit stock purchase and that stock ownership entitles you to share in the co-op profits, lowering your loan’s total interest cost. When your loan is paid off, the cost of the stock is refunded to you. In other words, when you borrow from Alabama Ag Credit, you become a stockholder and part owner in the cooperative, entitling you to a portion of the earnings (patronage) when the association does well financially. The more you borrow, the bigger your share of earnings. Alabama Ag Credit doesn’t sell its loans on the secondary market like a lot of other financial institutions. When you have a 20-year loan with Alabama Ag Credit, it owns your loan for 20 years and that loan stays with them. As part of the farm credit system one of AAC’s missions is to service rural Alabama and provide financing for people who want to buy acreage, be it 20 acres for a homestead or more acreage. While it specializes in financing rural and farm land they can finance a residence as long as it is outside of city limits and meets other Farm Credit System requirements. 50 AUGUST 2021 // // 877.314.1237

One of Alabama Ag Credits popular financial products is their 20-year fixed rate loan with a 15% down payment. For rural homesites, the standard is a 15 year loan with 15% down. At AAC, the terms of a land and rural residential loan, such as interest rate and down payment, depend on the applicant’s unique underwriting factors and a number of components, including credit, financials, loanto-value, the type of property, the length of term, the market conditions and other factors. One of the things that differentiates Alabama Ag Credit is that they have a complete sheath of services which makes life easier for the customer and ensures a shorter buying and closing process. For example, one of those benefits that AAC offers is that it has its own appraisal department, which results in a shorter turn-around time for the whole transaction and is also economical. Alabama Ag Credit is headquartered in Montgomery and has nine offices across the state.

Alabama Ag Credit Land Finance Rates (7/10/21)

AAC has terms up to 30 years with rates between 3.75% to 4.95% depending on the fixed rate period. Contact: 800-579-5471

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1-800-I’M-READY (467-3239) 4500 Hwy. 77 • Southside, AL 35907 877.314.1237 // // AUGUST 2021 51

BY HANK SHAW Photos by Holly A. Heyser

Venison Pasties Prep: 45 mins • Cook: 50 mins Resting Time: 3 hours • Total: 4 hours 35 mins Ingredients Dough • 500 grams bread flour, about 17 ounces • 2 teaspoons salt • 120 grams duck fat, lard or rendered beef fat, about 4 ounces • 120 grams butter, about 4 ounces • 175 milliliters cold water, about 6 fluid ounces Filling • 1 pound venison, diced • 1/2-pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced • 1/2-pound rutabagas, peeled and diced • 1 large yellow onion, chopped • Salt and black pepper to taste Glaze • 2 eggs, lightly beaten • 2 tablespoons milk or water Instructions DOUGH 1. Mix the flour and salt together. Add the two fats, and work them into the flour with your fingers until everything looks like a coarse meal. Pour in the cold water and knead for several minutes, until you get a smooth dough. 2. Squeeze off 10 equally sized balls of dough. Set them in a plastic bag and put that in the fridge for 3 hours. FILLING 1. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. That’s it. In this case, you put raw ingredients into the pasty and they cook as the dough cooks. I either do this, or add a premade filling as I mention in the headnotes above. Whatever you use, use the recipe above to give you a sense of how much filling you will need. MAKE THE PASTIES 1. You can do one of two things. You can roll each ball out into a disk, which is traditional, or, do what I do and use a tortilla press to flatten out the balls into perfect disks every time. It’s a great hack! 2. Set filling in each disk and close them into halfmoons. Press the edges, and try to get any big air pockets out. Crimp the edges as shown in the video in the text above. Set each pasty on a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 360°F. 3. Whisk together the glaze and paint each pasty with it. Bake your pasties for 50 minutes or so, taking a look about 40 minutes in -- if they are not browning well, up the temperature to 400°F for this final bit. Remove and let cool on a rack for at least 5 minutes before eating.

52 AUGUST 2021 // // 877.314.1237


A Simple Fried Fish Sandwich with Tartar Sauce What makes a good fried fish sandwich? It starts with the fish, which for me needs to be firm, white and lean. Cod, snapper, haddock, walleye or rockfish are ideal. And it needs to be either grilled or fried. Breaded, as in this case, is easier, although a good beer battered, deep-fried fish sandwich is damn tasty, too. Buns? Anything from good rye bread to hamburger buns to hoagie rolls will do, but I am partial to poppy seed Kaiser rolls. Resist the urge for good, crusty bread: It’s so sturdy that the force you need to bite through it will smash your fish fillet. As far as accompaniments, I gotta have lettuce and tomato, for greenery, crunch, acidity and sweetness. And everything’s better with a slice of bacon. That leaves the sauce The Big Daddy of sauces for a fried fish sandwich is tartar sauce. Only I hate store-bought tartar sauces, so I make my own. Too hard? Not so. A tartar sauce is basically mayo with a little mustard and some chopped pickles, plus a random onion product, hot sauce and salt. Easy-peasy. Prep: 20 mins • Cook: 20 mins • Total: 40 mins Ingredients Fish

• • • • • • • • • •

4 to 6 strips of bacon 4 skinless fillets of rock cod or other bass, seabass, walleye, etc. Salt 1/2 cup flour 2 eggs, lightly beaten 3/4 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)

Tarter 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 fixins’ 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! 877.314.1237 // // AUGUST 2021 53


Storm’s New “Go TO” 360 GT Shad Lure

The new Storm® 360GT Searchbait® Shad lure features a wide, exaggerated thumping tail action with a slight body shimmy. It pairs a lifelike, single-ball rattling jig head with a realistic, phthalate-free soft body with 3-D holographic eyes and toe-in boot tail delivering action and vibration at any retrieve speed to drive big bass nuts. Available in ten colors in ¼ and 3/8-ounce weights. Suggested Retail Price: $4.99

AFTCO Announces Stax AIRoMesh® Performance Shirts

This hooded fishing shirt is made of the most breathable material you can get in a shirt and it features a quarter zip to help regulate airflow when out the water and front pouch to keep your favorite bag of lures, tools or odds and ends. It offers antimicrobial treatment for odor control, AFBLOCK UPF 40 sun protection and is quick drying and moisture wicking. Suggested Retail Price: $55.00

The Outrigger Fish and Game Vacuum Sealer This unit can seal, game, dry food, meat and steaks with marinade and fish, which because of its high moisture content, can be tricky, the key is it’s adjustable and dry moist modes. This compact vacuum sealer comes standard with a removable digital scale capable of weighing up to 70 ounces. It is compatible with 12V DC or 110/120V AC power sources. Suggested Retail Price: $99.85

Rocky Mountain Offers New RM-400 “Black” Crossbow Kit”

The RM400 black crossbow is built on a precision-molded one-piece black stock and features a rock-solid 195-pound limb system that cocks to a narrow 14.5 inches wide and delivers an arrow down range at 400 feet per second with 135-foot pounds of kinetic energy. The package includes a 4x32 scope, RM Quiet Crank, three crossbolt side quiver, three Carbon Express bolts and more. Suggested Retail Price: $329.99

Stay on the Water Longer with Huk’s Rogue Wave Fishing Boot

Built for all-day comfort these boots feature an 8mm thick molded EVA footbed for underfoot cushioning and support, GRIP-X outsoles for unbeatable traction, a durable rubber and neoprene upper and weigh only 38 ounces per pair. It is available in grey, Huk blue, white and with the camo options of Mossy Oak Hydro Standards, Storm and Mossy Oak Bottomland. Suggested Retail Price: $85-$95.00 54 AUGUST 2021 // // 877.314.1237


Safely and Comfortably Hunt from Lofty Heights

The Primal Treestands 22’ Mac Daddy Xtra Wide Deluxe Ladder Stand is a durable, rock-solid stand that offers comfort and stability when high up in a tree. Its extrawide, flip-up mesh seat and foot platform are large enough to get comfortable, allowing you to stay alert. The Grip and Jaw and Truss Stabilizer systems allows your stand to be locked tight to the tree from ground level. Suggested Retail Price: $219.99

Upgrade and Modernize your Bolt Action Hunting Rifle

The AB Arms MOD*X GEN III modular aluminum rifle chassis system turns your traditional bolt action rifle into a tactical firearm. Systems are available for Remington Model 700, Howa 1500, Weatherby Vanguards and Bergara B14 Short-Action rifles in different configurations. It serves as an efficient modular foundation on which tactical accessories can be added depending on the operator’s needs. Suggested Retail Price: $549 - $599.00

Shimano Introduces New Saltwater Reel

The New Shimano TwinPower SE spinning reel features Infinity Drive technology that ensures smooth and powerful winding.and increased cranking power under load when a stubborn fish refuses to give ground. It is available in five different sizes from the 4000 series (which features a 6.2:1 gear ratio that recovers 37 inches of line per revolution) up to the 14,000 level for the beasts. Suggested Retail Price: $479 - $619.99

Lowrance Elite FS Combines Power and Ease of Use

The Lowrance Elite FS series combines the newest fishfinding tools with a more affordable display that is easier to use and install. It comes with a whole “suite” of tools, including high-resolution Active Target™ Live Sonar and Active Imaging™ with Lowrance CHIRP sonar, preloaded C-MAP Contour+ Fishing Maps, Integrated wireless, NMEA 2000® and Ethernet connectivity and more. Suggested Retail Price: $749.99

Heritage Manufacturing New “Barkeep” Revolver

This single-action 2 .68-inch-long barrel six-shot .22 caliber revolver is compatible with an interchangeable .22 WMR cylinder. It features fixed open sights and has several grip options to compliment the standard black oxide or case-hardened frame finish. It weighs in at 26 ounces which makes it handy as either a compact “kit gun” out in the field or even as a concealed weapon. Suggested Retail Price: $180.30 877.314.1237 // // AUGUST 2021 55

Don’t Let August Heat Keep You from Fishing

August is known as the”Dog Days of Summer”, but that doesn’t mean the fish quit biting just because of the heat.

BY CHRIS BLANKENSHIP Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resources

It does mean you may not be able to target your traditional favorite saltwater species. It’s that time of year when you go fishing for whatever is biting and in season. Fish that typically can be cooperative during the summer heat are Spanish mackerel, white (sand) trout and ground mullet. If you’re lucky, you may be able to land a pompano or two. The traditional way to target Spanish mackerel is by trolling near the beach. Of course, the way you troll for Spanish depends on the current sea conditions. If the seas are relatively calm, you can try trolling at five to seven knots, pulling an array of spoons, speck rigs or a combination of them at different depths. Halco and Clark spoons are the go-to lures for most people, but you can stop at one of the tackle shops in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores and find out what the successful anglers are using. You want to troll the lures at different depths to try to determine the strike zone for that day. The tackle

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shops can outfit you with the planers and leaders needed to deploy your lures in the best pattern. Trolling is a great way for the young or inexperienced anglers on the boat to have a blast. Along with Spanish mackerel, they will catch ladyfish, hardtails (blue runners) and bluefish. On Dixey Bar you may tie into a bull redfish as well. It is usually constant action, which helps to keep young anglers’ attention. With the boat moving, you also get a breeze that helps keep everyone on the boat a little cooler. In August, Spanish mackerel will tend to school along the front beach, the lower end of Mobile Bay, and Dixey Bar east of the Sand Island Lighthouse, and that provides an excellent opportunity to cast into the school and hook these toothy fighters. Ease down the beach or lower end of the Bay, looking for birds diving or the Spanish creating a froth on the surface of the water as they zoom through schools of baitfish. When you find a school of Spanish on the surface, cast a spoon, a modified speck rig or a Gotcha lure into the school and hang on. I modify the

FROM THE COMMISSIONER speck rig by rigging it with 30- or 40-pound monofilament or fluorocarbon leader to make sure the Spanish doesn’t bite through the line. The key is working the bait through the school as fast as you can. If using a Gotcha lure, watch out for those treble hooks as the fish flop around in the boat. When I’m not in the mood for trolling or if the south wind makes it too rough near the beach, I head inshore and target white trout, the speckled trout’s smaller but delicious cousin, and ground mullet on one of the numerous inshore artificial reefs. White trout prefer inshore habitat with shell or rock bottoms. Because of the water temperature, the fish will be deeper in August, so look for the inshore reefs in deeper water and the gas platforms in Mobile Bay. Unlike specks, white trout will readily take cut bait or squid, but you can also try plastic lures with attractants, like Gulps and Powerbaits. For added enticement, cut a half-inch strip of Fish Bites and add it to the hook. If you find the fish, you can fill a cooler quickly. Ground mullet may be hanging out on rock or shell bottom, but they also can be found in the deeper sandy areas, like the West end of Dauphin Island. Go with Gulp or Powerbait lures with a strip of Fish Bites added. Pompano are mostly going to be in deeper water during this time as well. If you’re fishing the surf, walk the beach until you spot some of the darker water and cast into those deeper spots with sand fleas, ghost shrimp or pompano jigs tipped with Fish Bites. Here is a little pompano secret: In August the pompano are pretty thick on the sand bars in the extreme lower end of Mobile Bay between Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines west of the ship channel. Remember, before heading out, be sure you have the proper saltwater fishing

license. Speaking of licenses, all Alabama fishing and hunting licenses expire on August 31, so be sure to renew your license when they become available in late August. You can purchase a license at or on the Outdoor Alabama app. With the new license year, the popular hard card licenses will have a new variety of wildlife, conservation and nature scenes to choose from. The public has been quickly purchasing these hard cards to maintain full sets of these beautiful collectors’ items. The easiest way to obtain a hard card license with the new scenes is to purchase a license online and click on the link to purchase a hard license. Buyers can choose one or all six of the cards at $5 per card. License purchasers who use retail outlets can also obtain a hard license. For those who want to get a hard card after a license has already been purchased, go online and use the “Replacement/Additional Hard Card” link to purchase any or all of the six cards. The hard licenses will be mailed to buyers within 10 days after the purchase. If you plan to hunt or fish before you receive your hard card, be sure to keep a paper copy of your license or have it available on your smartphone. Currently, 32 license privileges are eligible for purchase as a hard card, including annual hunting and fishing licenses for residents and non-residents, state duck stamp, Wildlife Heritage and bait privilege licenses. Trip licenses, lifetime licenses and no-cost privileges are not included in this feature. Be aware that you can also donate to the conservation of wildlife, fish and native habitat by rounding up your purchase when you buy a license. Those few additional cents add up and contribute greatly to our programs to keep our state’s great outdoors vibrant and thriving.

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The Facts about Supplemental Reservoir Stocking Stocking a 35,000-acre reservoir with 100,000 fingerlings will likely result in the addition of one five-pound bass per 5,000 acres (3,800 football fields) in 7-10 years! Biologists with the Alabama Division of Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries routinely receive requests to stock largemouth bass in public waters. Unfortunately, anglers often misunderstand the effectiveness of stocking which can lead to unrealistic expectations.

BY CHARLES “CHUCK” SYKES Director of the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF)

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Many assume that stocking is a simple and inexpensive way to increase the number of bass in a reservoir, when nothing could be further from the truth.

FROM THE DIRECTOR Most anglers already know bass are prolific spawners that lay thousands of eggs in a single nest every spring. This excessive production of offspring is nature’s way of overcoming poor survival of baby bass. A typical largemouth bass lays 6,000 – 8,000 eggs per pound of body weight. However, few of these fish will survive to reach one year of age. Within the first few days some die in the nest from fungal infections, fry are eaten by small predatory fish, and fingerlings are eaten by all sorts of species, having been abandoned by their male guardians. If they are fortunate enough to be alive at the beginning of winter, only those that exceed six inches in length will have a better than 50/50 chance of surviving to spring. Life isn’t easy for baby bass. Even after bass reach maturity, their annual survival rate is only 60 – 65%. With such high mortality, stocking even huge numbers of fingerlings is unlikely to produce enough catchable adults to fill the livewell of a bass boat. In addition, it’s important to understand that stocked fingerlings – even if survival is high – have simply displaced the same number of naturally spawned fish. The net gain is zero when fingerlings are added to populations that are reproducing successfully. The number of fish a reservoir supports is determined by environmental factors and nutrient levels. This is often easiest to understand if thought of in terms of a garden plot. Suppose you have a 50-foot row of pole beans that yielded a one-bushel harvest in 2020. Would it be possible to produce two bushels in 2021 simply by planting more seeds in the same row? No, the yield is dictated by the fertility of the soil, just like the yield of a fishery is dictated by the fertility of the water. Adding more seeds, or fingerlings, will not increase yield. Although stocking won’t increase the number of catchable-size bass in reservoirs, under certain circumstances, introduced fish with desirable genetic traits can persist in a population, contributing their genetic material over a lifetime. However, simply increasing the percentage of Florida genes in a bass population doesn’t result in more big fish. For example, the average contribution of Florida genes is virtually identical in fish from Guntersville and Smith (32 – 34%), yet anglers must fish five times longer to catch a bass over five-pounds from Smith. This is because good fertility, forage, and habitat is far more important than genetics.

produce the superior LMBF1 offspring. There were no pure LMBN for the stocked fish to breed with. Finally, it’s important to understand that management techniques commonly used in farm ponds do not work in reservoirs. Reservoirs are far more complicated and can’t be manipulated like small ponds. Water quality and nutrient levels in ponds can be improved. Balanced farm ponds have two to four forage species and a single predatory species. Reservoirs can have more than 10 times the number of forage and predatory species, and interactions between them are very complex. Most importantly, fish biomass in ponds can be totally eliminated through renovation practices, allowing managers to start with any combination of species or genetics they desire to achieve certain goals. None of this is possible in reservoirs. Since 1974, Alabama has stocked approximately 18 million LMBFla into all its popular bass fishing reservoirs with little, if any, measurable improvements in performance. Recent advancements in genetic research have helped to explain some of these disappointments and have helped us reset the expectations for our program. Therefore, Alabama is beginning to invest more heavily into genetic exploration. Simply supplementing the existing bass, which on the surface seems logical, in reality is very costly and unproductive. In reservoir management, as with management of most natural systems, there is never a single silver bullet to fix a problem. Predator/prey cycles fluctuate in a reservoir just like they do in the woods, causing peaks and valleys in productivity. Therefore, good managers play the long game. Wildlife and fisheries management isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon.

, g n i t n u H , e s Defen cal i t c a T , g n i t o Sho

The goal of most early Florida bass (LMBFla) stocking programs was simply to establish LMBFla because of their perceived genetic superiority. However, in most cases, the LMBFla subspecies didn’t do well when stocked outside its native range. Success stories were the result of the first-generation offspring of a pure LMBFla and a pure Northern bass (LMBN). These offspring are called F1’s (LMBF1) and are often more aggressive, faster-growing fish. The natural production of LMBF1 only occurs when adequate numbers of pure LMBFla (stocked) and pure LMBN (residents) are in the population. Alabama’s LMBFla stocking program was one of the first in the nation but didn’t have the success that some other states enjoyed, which puzzled our biologists for years. However, DNA testing discovered that bass native to Alabama were actually complex hybrids with genetic ancestry from three distinct lineages. No LMB populations anywhere in Alabama represented only one strain. Alabama’s native hybrid LMB shouldn’t be confused with the LMBF1 hybrid. The performance and genetic composition of the two are very different. The LMBF1 is a first-generation hybrid, while Alabama’s native LMB has ancient hybrid ancestry from multiple lineages. Genetically speaking, these are the fish version of a mutt in the canine world. This explained why stocking pure LMBFla in Alabama reservoirs failed to

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Long Guns

Make sure to clean the metal surfaces of the scope, base and rings after a wet day afield.

I couldn’t believe what I saw! I had loaned a friend one of my favorite rifles, a Ruger Model 77, for his first deer hunt a few weeks earlier. When he brought it back to me a couple of weeks later and I opened the gun case, I found some splotches on the gun barrel and bolt handle that were obviously rust. “Where did that come from,” he asked incredulously. “We had a rain shower the last afternoon but I wiped the rifle down with my bandana before I put it back in the case for the trip home.” The rifle, evidently not fully dry, sat in its gun case in his closet at home until he brought it back to me. I was not happy but it was my fault.

BY CRAIG HANEY Photo submitted by Craig Haney

Living in Alabama with the often wet weather we have during hunting season, I should have made sure that I made sure my rifles and shotguns were weatherproofed before the season. Also, I broke my rule about not loaning my guns. The problem with hunting in the rain is that guns don’t just get wet on the surface. The water will run into the receiver, under the forearm, or inside the trigger guard. Once your gun is weatherproofed, it will still

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happen but it does protect much of your gun and will make cleanup easier. Here are some weatherproofing tips for your hunting guns. STOCKS Many of the rifles and shotguns in today’s marketplace have synthetic stocks and forearms which do not need any special treatment. The guns without the synthetic stocks and forearms do need protection from rain and snow. I have a couple of hunting rifles that after owning them for a few years I replaced the wooden stocks with synthetic versions and have been happy with the change. If you do not want to replace your wood stock, then apply a good coating of a wax product such as Birchwood Casey Gun Stock Wax to the stock. Take the time to work the wax into the wood on the outside of the stock, including where the receiver meets the stock, where the recoil pad joins the stock and on any exposed interior wood such as the barrel channel of the stock or forearm. Wood that is not protected can wick moisture and damage hidden parts of the gun.

THE GUN RACK METAL SURFACES There are a great number of quality lubricants that will do an excellent job on your firearms protecting them inside and out. These include Birchwood Casey Barricade Rust Protection, Break-Free CLP, Gunslick Gun Seal, Hoppe’s #9 and Outers Metal Seal. These products will penetrate, displace water and provide 100% waterproofing. The liquid types are easy to apply to surface metal with a soft cloth while the aerosol versions are easy to reach the hard to get at places. Make sure to protect the bore of your rifle or shotgun so you do not have a rusty bore or chamber. Both the Birchwood Casey Bore Runner Shotgun Brush or the Outers Tico Tool are fuzzy cleaning rods which give full surface protection. The fuzzy, caliber-specific swabs by both companies are also quick and easy to use for your rifle. An overlooked place is the forearm/barrel latch on the inside of a shotguns’ forearm. If these aren’t checked after a wet day afield, the latch can rust impeding the removal of the forearm. OPTICS These days not only rifles have optics but many turkey hunters are also using scopes. Whether on rifle or shotgun, the base and rings and metal barrel of the scope need protection like the other metal parts of the gun. It is important to protect the lens from the cleaning product as some chemicals can damage the lenses coating ruining the effectiveness of the scope. Drug stores and optical shops sell lens cleaner and optical cleaning cloths. Also prepackaged cleaning cloths with cleaning fluid added to them are available and handy to carry. Do not use your shirttail or a bandana to clean your lens as they will eventually ruin the coated lens of your optic.

BE PREPARED When I am hunting, I carry with me a small zip-loc bag with a 1.7 oz bottle of Flitz, Rifle, Gun and Knife Protectant which is easy to apply, if rain is threatening, to the metal surfaces using a small Flitz Microfiber Cloth. I also carry several small prepackaged lens cleaning cloths as well. The cleaning cloth is handy not only for my scope lens but my eyeglasses and binoculars as well. If you did not have any protectant for your external parts of your gun on a rainy day hunt, you can use a paper towel to get a little oil off your vehicle’s dipstick for your gun’s protection. AFTER THE HUNT After a long day’s hunt where rain or high humidity is involved, it is easy to convince yourself to put off cleaning your gun until tomorrow but you need to do it right away in order to protect your investment. After a wet hunt, take the time to break down the gun and clean with a clean dry cotton cloth and lube all the parts. Be sure to consult the owners’ manual when breaking down the gun to be sure you proceed properly. A great product to have handy is a can of compressed air which is used for cleaning computer keyboards. It comes with a small diameter extension tube which makes it easy to get into small places. Once the moisture is removed, use an aerosol spray lubricant to coat the parts. If you were using a soft gun case before and after your hunt, make sure it is not damp as this can rust a gun quickly. When using a hard case, also check the interior for dampness before placing your gun into the case. With proper care in cleaning and weatherproofing your hunting guns and optics, you should get many years of service.

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FInding the Most Stable

Fishing Kayak

In the right kayak, anglers can even use a fly rod while standing.

KAYAK STABILITY- STANDING OR SITTING So, let’s review a little basic information about boat construction, whether we’re talking about aircraft carriers, cruise ships, bass boats or even kayaks: Weight on any watercraft is best located low in the hull. Too much weight in a high position makes any boat hull unstable. When a boat, let’s say a kayak, is not stable, it just feels “tippy” and quite often, an unstable kayak will “turn turtle” and make the angler into a swimmer.

BY ED MASHBURN Photos by Ed Mashburn

In general, the weight placed in a kayak, and that means the person sitting in the kayak, is more stable when the person is sitting on the bottom of the hull as if in a sit-in kayak. Lowering the center of gravity makes any boat more stable and less likely to tip over.

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However, sitting low on the bottom of the hull is uncomfortable, and this low sitting position makes fishing almost impossible. So fishing kayaks must make compromises to allow anglers to sit and stand in a much better fishing position. Modern fishing kayaks have hulls designed to allow anglers to sit and fish with maximum stability and stand and fish with reasonable stability. Modern kayaks do a very good job of maximizing stability. STABILITY VS. SPEED When it comes to fishing kayaks, two of the most important elements in all kayaks are the two opposite points which are speed and stability. To tell the truth, no kayak made for fishing is both fast and really stable. The elements that increase a kayak’s speed decrease the kayak’s stability. Wide is good for stability. Kayaks which are built wide in the thirty inch and greater range tend to be much more stable for anglers. Wide kayaks allow anglers to sit higher and to stand for fishing,

PADDLE FISHING However, being wide is bad for speed. Kayaks that are fast and easy to paddle or pedal through the water tend to be narrow kayaks. Sometimes, anglers need a kayak which allows them to move across wide spaces of water to reach feeding fish way off in the distance. Fast kayak hulls tend to be easier to move and require less effort from the angler. Fishing kayak hulls designed for stability tend to take advantage of certain elements that boat designers have known for a long time. Keels, which are the projections which run the length of the boat from front to back tend to make the boat track better and also make the boat less liable to tipping to the side. Also, hull elements called chines, which are basically edges where sides meet bottom also create more stability. Many fishing kayaks employ keels and chines to increase stability while not diminishing speed too much. Many fishing kayak hulls have double chines which create a tunnel hull. This is a very stable construction, and tunnel hull kayaks allow anglers to stand and fish with great security.

make recovering the kayak and getting back aboard much easier and safer. A LIST OF KAYAKS MADE FOR STAND UP FISHING This is by no means a complete listing of kayaks built to have great stability for fishing, but these are kayaks that we have personal experience with and which we can vouch for their steadiness while being used for fishing. • • • • •

Kajun Custom K 12- tri hull design, adjustable seating and can be rigged as tandem, 34 inches wide, 12 feet long Hobie Pro Angler- 12 feet long, 36 inches wide, Mirage pedal drive Perception Pescador Pro- 32 inches wide, 12 feet long keel, adjustable seating Pelican Catch 120- 11 feet, 8 inches long, 34 inches wide, adjustable seating Hobie Mirage Outback- 34 inches wide, 12 feet long, adjustable seat, Mirage pedal drive

Of course, these keels and chines also make the boat harder to move through the water. Outriggers, custom or ready-made, are the ultimate kayak stability creating elements. These outriggers attach to the hull of the kayak and have floats of some sort on the outboard ends of the outrigger supports. A kayak with outriggers is very stable and outriggers can turn a very fast but tippy kayak hull into a super stable platform. Of course, these outriggers complicate the basically simple structure of a fishing kayak and they require attachment points on the kayak hull, and they make paddling much more difficult. GENERAL EFFORTS TO INCREASE KAYAK STABILITY For any kayak angler in any kayak, there are some things which can increase the stability and security of the angler when on the water.



First, lower the seat. Many modern sit on top fishing kayaks allow anglers to raise or lower the kayak seat. The higher seat positions allow better casting and better seeing for fish, but the lower seat positions are more stable. Perhaps the most important thing any kayak angler can do to increase stability and safety when fishing is to be honest about her or his balance. For instance, I know that my sense of balance has really gotten shaky recently, and so I don’t stand much when I’m fishing now. If the angler has good balance and can adjust when the waves and boat wakes make the kayak rock and roll, then standing and fishing is a good idea. But for those of us who can’t adjust to boat movement as quickly or as well, then keeping the angler’s bottom in the seat creates the most stable position. Know the water conditions and adjust the fishing to fit the conditions. If the water is flat and wind and tide are not making rough conditions, then standing or sitting in an elevated seat position is fine. But when the waves start to break and the water gets rough, then standing and fishing can be tough no matter what kayak is being used and how the hull is built. And while it really shouldn’t need to be said, when anglers are standing to fish or fishing in rough water, the PFD should be worn. If a standing angler loses balance and goes over the side, even in shallow water, a PRD will

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Gulf Coast Fishing Outlook

Redfish will be abundant throughout inshore waters this month and can provide excellent sight fishing opportunities.

We are past the midway point of the summer, but the fishing and weather is still hot. Throughout our region the options are endless both inshore and offshore.

in the 4-inch range and jigheads in 1/4-1/2-ounce weight hitting the target, but bring plenty of extra tails! Leader sizes should range from 15-40 pound in either monofilament or fluorocarbon.

Through the inland waters of Mississippi and Alabama, this is a fun time to play the “run-n-gun” game. Many species of baitfish will be moving in the open waters of Mississippi sound and Mobile Bay. Feeding gamefish and diving birds will point you to the action. Speckled trout, redfish, Spanish mackerel, jack crevalle and others will be the usual suspects but other bonuses like cobia and tarpon will make appearances as well.

For fly anglers, these surface blitzes are as good as it gets. Larger baitfish patterns imitating menhaden will score big and for fish feeding on glass minnows, clousers and surf candies will get the job done. On most fish, 8 weight outfits will do but for big jacks and bull reds, 9-10 weight gear is preferred for throwing bigger flies and beating bigger fish quickly. On the terminal end, 12–20-pound leaders are the norm with tippets of 20- or 30-pound fluorocarbon. When Spanish mackerel or bluefish are thick, a short piece of light wire can be added.

Needless to say, it pays to have lots of options in gear on board for everything big and small. Light to medium spinning and baitcasting gear will handle the majority of opponents. For those bruiser jacks or tarpon that show up, a heavy spinning setup comes in handy.


“Matching the Hatch” leads to success in these scenarios. Glass minnows, menhaden (pogies), sardines and threadfin herring will be common forage. Hardbaits usually are the preferred lure route for chasing open water blitzes. Larger twitchbaits, like the Mirrolure Mirrodine XL and Yo Zuri 3D inshore twitchbait are popular choices. Topwater lures like the Heddon Super Spook, Mirrolure Top Dog and Rapala Skitter Walk generate explosive strikes near these feeding frenzies. Soft plastics can be used as well with natural colored paddletails

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While running around and looking for surface activity, keep your eyes out for debris, crab trap buoys and channel markers. August is a top month for tripletail and there are some trophy sized fish around. Both lures and live bait take tripletail consistently. Top lures include the DOA shrimp, Matrix Shad and Vudu Shrimp. A large, live shrimp under a float is time tested and rarely gets refused. While open water tripletail can be taken on light gear, tackle choices should remain sturdy enough to pull slab tripletail from heavier structure. Off the beaches, tarpon will still be available in decent numbers. Floating live baits like threadfin herring, menhaden and bumper (crazyfish) will draw bites from silver kings. Big swimbaits like the Hogy

FISHING OUTLOOK Protail work well when casted to rolling fish. Inshore along the ICW and working grassbeds and flats into the Florida panhandle, speckled trout, redfish, flounder and others will keep rods bent on most days. Topwater lures, shallow diving jerkbaits and soft plastics like the Slick lure will appeal to most flats’ species. Covering water while throwing multiple lure and bait options will locate the action.

groceries in the fish box. Be sure to check your state’s regulations on deep water species prior along with federal rules. Summer isn’t over yet! The weather is warm and the crowds are easing. There’ll be many perfect days to hit the water this month.

Further offshore around nearshore wrecks and platforms, king mackerel will be in abundance. Trolling with deep diving plugs and spoons will take fish reliably, but for larger fish, bump trolling bigger live baits like blue runners and even smaller bonito pays off. Use your depthfinder to look for larger schools of bait. Kings can be taken in open water but will be far more common on structures holding an ample food supply.

Important Contact Information

Further east, from Orange Beach to Panama City, calm weather windows will put great bluewater action within easy reach. Fishing areas like the Nipple, Elbow, Steps and Squiggles will produce pelagics like wahoo and mahi mahi consistently. The new Okaloosa county FADS will be busy spots as well through fall. The period around the full moon in August is also a prime time to target white marlin along the 50 and 100 fathom lines. Pulling small ballyhoo and smaller trolling lures in conjunction with teasers like squid chains and small dredges will generate strikes from feisty whites. For novices wanting to cash in on the nearshore billfish bite, talk to your local tackle shops for info on what’s hot and where to go. It’s also important to subscribe to a satellite imaging service like Hilton’s Realtime Navigator to monitor optimal water conditions and other fish producing factors.

Tight Line Charters Orange Beach, Al Capt Andy Mckinnell 251-233-0251

A solid backup to trolling offshore is deep dropping for tilefish and deepwater groupers. Structures in 500-900 feet will produce these tasty bonuses. Prime baits of whole squid or fresh-cut bonito strips will put the

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Pier & Shore Fishing Outlook

August often brings great conditions for a topwater speckled trout bite.

Bubble rigs can be particularly effective this month when fashioned with a small crappie jig, or two inch long piece of brightly colored rubber tubing. The cycle of life is quite evident this month along the sandy, white beaches of the Emerald Coast. This is the time of year when the warm, green Gulf waters of summer (now in the middle 80s) teem with life of all kinds. From juvenile finfish, to crabs and other invertebrates, young-ofthe-year sea creatures not only bring the promise of future generations, they provide sustenance for the present generation of forage and game fishes. Competition to eat, or be eaten is fierce, even on the miniature side of things as a myriad of species mingle and feast in the surf zone. BY DAVID THORNTON Photos by David Thornton

Our weather pattern is decidedly tropical, as overnight thundershowers are fueled by the latent heat contained in these tepid coastal waters. A diurnal pattern of morning coastal thundershowers with hints of light offshore landbeezes, and afternoon

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seabreezes that give rise to inland thunderstorms, are the norm. The power of the sun drives this cycle, even as the days become noticeably shorter by the end of the month. For Alabama anglers, the annual cycle of their fishing licenses expiring (August 31st) is another example of the end of summer being just around the corner. We are quickly approaching the peak of what is forecast to be another busy hurricane season. Even weak or undeveloped tropical systems can disrupt our ordinary weather and water pattern for days. Let’s hope and pray this year is not as disruptive, or destructive as last year! CRAB, WADE, FISH, PIER... August is also prime time for vast numbers of pregnant female blue crabs (spongecrabs) to move toward the shoreline in the north central Gulf of Mexico during calm spells. Once the blue crabs lay their eggs, they provide hours of fun and food for people who like to wade the shoreline

FISHING OUTLOOK to scoop them up for bait or food. When their billions of eggs hatch, the surfzone buzzes with life for weeks as the tiny larvae (zoeae) grow quickly into miniature free-swimming crabs called megalops. They provide a rich food source for millions of juvenile finfish from sardines to pompano and other jacks. Many of those become forage themselves for larger gamefish like ladyfish, mackerel, bluefish or redfish. Anglers plying these same shores with a variety of lures (from spoons, to plugs and jigs) can cash in on the melee. Pieces of shrimp still work, but are often quickly nibbled away by the smaller fish without so much as a twitch of the rod tip. Synthetic baits like Fishbites “Long Lasting” formula stay on the hook much longer in hope for a stray pompano or redfish to find. Often that may be all that is needed on a hook to catch fish! The morning high tides will usually bring gamefish closer to shore for a flurry of early action but this usually subsides soon after the sun rises. So, larger fish are most often found farther off the beach along sandbar drop-offs or cuts as the day gets brighter. Then, late in the afternoon, as the tide is falling and shadows lengthen in the water, these same gamefish often move toward shallow water to feed around rip currents. This can be an especially productive time to cast one ounce silvery spoons for anything from ladyfish to blues, spanish mackerel or speckled trout. Speckled trout are much more prevalent in the surf from the Fort Morgan peninsula and Dauphin Island in Alabama, to the Mississippi Sound coast and barrier islands. And even more so in the back bays and inlets. Gulf beach pier action reflects what is going on within the surf zone, but larger predators lurk south of the longshore sandbar. Bottle-nose dolphin, sharks, tarpon, jack crevelle, “bull” redfish, and king mackerel usually rule the day around the end of these piers. Often, baitfish (sardines, herring, anchovies and scad) are pressed toward (even under) the pier as they seek escape from the large and medium sized predatory fish like Little tunny (bonita), bluefish, ladyfish, blue runner (hardtails) and spanish mackerel. Mackerel are the primary target species, and may be caught with a variety of baits and lures. Anything that resembles the baitfish on site should work well, but “small” is often on the menu. Bubble rigs can be particularly effective this month when fashioned with a small crappie jig, or two inch long piece of brightly colored rubber tubing. The splash of the bubble on the surface gets the attention of nearby gamefish, especially during calm periods when they may be otherwise inattentive. (see GDO mag March 2020)

bays. Cedar Point Pier (at the eastern end of the Mississippi Sound next to the Dauphin Island bridge) is a renowned fish catching location in Mobile County Alabama. Quickly rebuilt after being demolished by last fall’s hurricanes, the pier sports plenty of lights that shine on the water. Panfish, like sand and silver seatrout (white trout), croakers, silver perch (sweet trout), and Southern kingfish (ground mullet) are mainstay catches but the pier also offers speckled trout, redfish, flounder, sheepshead, black drum and more. The pier store is fully stocked with bait, food and beverages. Tackle, baits and methods may vary, but this location offers boatless anglers access to inland coastal waters at an affordable price. Similar piers are reopening along the Mississippi Sound after being damaged or destroyed by hurricane “Zeta” in late October 2020. Still others, like the Bob Sikes Fishing Bridges in Gulf Breeze and Pensacola Beach Florida survived nature’s onslaught. In fact these bridges offer some fine daytime fishing options this month for mangrove snapper and spanish mackerel along with many other species. As does the seawall and jetty at Alabama Point along the west side of Perdido Pass in Orange Beach, AL. The keys to angling success this month lie in knowing what your particular venue has to offer. Then watching the weather pattern and trying to put yourself and your bait or lure in the right place at the right time. Anticipation about what is likely to occur with the tide, wind, and water, and how those parameters affect the most cooperative species, should result in plenty of August action as you enjoy these great days outdoors.



Of course live bait (LYs, “finger” mullet), or even fresh dead baitfish (cigar minnows) can be very effective at times too. And even four inch long diving plugs have their place in the pier angler’s tackle bag, especially to weed out small spanish mackerel or other minipredators. Each has its time and place in the tackle box of a savvy pier angler. FIND YOUR NICHE Many anglers opt to beat the oppressive daytime heat by fishing at night. Cut bait or crabs may produce “bull” redfish, large black drum or bluefish around the passes into the Gulf but more likely is the bycatch of catfish, ladyfish, rays and small sharks. Still, plenty of action to be had though and a great way to avoid sunburn! Another alternative is to fish the lighted docks and piers in the back

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457 Dauphin Island Parkway “At the Loop” Mobile, AL 36606 877.314.1237 // // AUGUST 2021 67

REGIONAL FRESHWATER Fishing Outlook BY ED MASHBURN Photos by Ed Mashburn

Bass in the grass- weeds will hold many bass in the heat of summer.

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LAKE TALQUIN Jeff DuBree of Whippoorwill Lodge tells us that anglers on Lake Talquin in August should be looking for stripes. There are some big striped bass here and they seek out the cooler water of spring-fed creeks that feed into the main lake.

WILSON LAKE “The hottest month of summer sometimes makes fishing challenging on the Tennessee river lakes, “ said Captain Brian Barton who specializes in using live bait for multiple species. “When possible, make your excursions early or late in the day or even at night.”

Stripers when found will bite on swim baits, white bucktails and big Zara Spooks.

“August is very good for flathead cats- At night after 10:00 is usually the best bite, but rain or current can produce good flatheads at any time,” he added.

In particular, many striper anglers look at Ocklawaha Creek and its springs for hot weather striper fishing.

The tailrace to Hog Island is a good starting point. Start your search early in the day in 12-16 feet of water then move deeper as the sun rises.

Bass will be in deep water near the creek channels and wherever shad are schooled up. Using heavy spoons and deeper running spinners like the old Little George spinner are effective for the deep water bass. Bream will still be solid around the edges. Try fishing crickets around the docks and other shade-producing shoreline structure.

Anglers should look for log jams and big trees in the water. Flatheads love wood cover.

Catfish will be in eight to ten feet of water close to the main river channel, and they will bite on a variety of live baits. Cut shad is very effective. LAKE SEMINOLE According to seasoned angler Jody Wells who spends a lot of time on the water at Lake Seminole, the bream will still be on the beds somewhat in August, and anglers can have a lot of fun with them by using crickets and red worms. Bass will be deep in August, but topwaters, especially frogs, fished near hydrilla beds in seven to ten feet of water can be very good early and late in the day. Wells advises anglers in search of bass to look at ledges and sandbars in deeper water. The bass will follow the schools of shad, and by fishing deep with soft plastics, anglers can usually find bass eager to bite. Colors are variable, and he tells anglers to use whatever color soft plastic they have faith in. Hybrids and stripers will be schooling in August. Folks looking for some hard-pulling fun should look for working birds and schools of shad on their electronics. If the shad are found, the big fish will be near. There are lots of two to four pound hybrids, stripes, and white bass at Seminole.


LAKE PICKWICK Although summer heat can make fishing tough, the crappie on Alabama’s big lakes will still bite. Veteran captain and guide Brad Whitehead tells us that a good way to find crappie in August is to set the boat up with a spider rig. Multiple rods increase the chances of locating the best concentrations of crappie.

“Spider rigs with lots of rigs using crank baits and minnow-tipped jigs can be good. Anglers should try hot colored crank baits- pink and orange crank baits can be great,” Whitehead said. For bass anglers in August, the key will be fishing early. There will be a good top water bite, but as the sun gets higher, shad go deeper, and the bass will follow them. “Later in the day, try big plastic worms fished on ledges in the 15-20 foot depth,” Whitehead added.

“Try to fish during peak generation- usually during late afternoon. Late in August, the thermocline will start to disappear, and then fish will be scattered all over the lake,” Barton said. White bass and hybrids will be chasing shad below the dam, and watching for feeding birds over schools of shad being pressured from below by stripers can be very productive in August. LAKE WEISS “August is a tough time, but if you can stand the heat, you can still catch some good fish,” says Weiss lake guide Captain Lee Pitts. Pitts fishes Lake Weiss year-round, and he has some good advice for anglers who want to catch fish on the northeast Alabama lake. “We still have very good bass fishing in shallow water in August. We’re fishing water in the three to five foot range,” he said. “Anglers should look for wave action and dam-produced current to find actively feeding bass.” As the sun gets higher, anglers should move off the banks and concentrate on docks and blowdown trees that make shadow on the water. Crankbaits and jigs worked in and around the dark shadows can be effective. “Try buzz baits in silver and shad patterns. Spooks and Chug-Bugs can be great on early mornings and cloudy days. In mid-day, work jigs and Texas-rigged worms on ledges. Try pumpkin-green colors,” Pitts added. LAKE EUFAULA “There will be a good early top water bite. Frogs and spinner baits fished around shallow water cover will be strong. Fish the lily pads early,” says Captain Sam Williams from Hawks Fishing Guide Service. Many anglers at Eufaula will want to look for created trash piles in 18-25 feet of water for bass holding close to the structure. Deep running crank baits and jigs work well around the deeper structure. Williams pointed out that Willow fly hatches can produce some really good bream fishing and anglers need to be aware that some big bass will be close to the feeding bream because they’ll be feeding on the bream that are feeding on the willow flies. Crappie anglers on Eufaula will want to fish the creek and river ledges. Night fishing around bridges and causeways and other light-producing structures will be best.

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Regional Freshwater Fishing Outlook

“Catfishing is always good at Eufaula. In August, try jug fishing with cut bait for some really good catfish action,” Williams added.

from for this August’s bass bite. Anywhere along the main channels of the lake will be good where the grass is thickest.

MILLER’S FERRY “In August, the crappie bite will be more of a river ledge, main creek channels situation this month,” advises Joe Dunn of Dunn’s Sports. Anglers looking for slabs should spend time bottom bouncing jigs and live minnows in 18 feet of water or so. This bottom bouncing technique works best when the lake is having water moved through it when the dam is pumping water.

Captain Jake Davis of Mid-South Guide Service says that August will provide the start of flipping season for big bass in thick grass. Anglers can start their fishing day off by fishing topwaters-frogs are good- and then switching to flipping and punching heavy grass. When it comes to color choice Davis said the choice is limited. “Black, black, and black. The bass can see the black frog overhead easier than any other color,” he noted and pointed out that the Pro-Z Tree Frog is a very good top water frog for Guntersville.

When the dam is moving water through the lake, crappie anglers should try deep vertical jigging over tree tops in river channels. Trolling multiple rigs can be very strong in August with both jigs and Road Runners can be very good when the water is still with little current from the dams. Crappie anglers should look for shad which will be higher early in the day, say four to six feet deep, and then move deeper as the day goes on. Bass anglers at Miller’s Ferry in August should look mostly for moving water and use crank baits, Carolina rigs, drop-shot rigs, and underspinner baits around ledges and creek mouths. A good early morning bite can occur around grass. For most kinds of angling at Miller’s Ferry in August, Dunn advises us that moving water and good current is crucial. LAKE GUNTERSVILLE Bass anglers should have a wide range of fishing techniques to select

When the top water bite slows, anglers can still catch lots of bass using Tightline Jigs Legends Muscle Crawler jigs with Missile Baits D. Bomb trailers. Let the heavy jig punch through the weed cover to the shaded areas where the bass will be holding. Panfish anglers can fish the backs of channels along grass lines to find some good bream fishing. SIPSEY FORK Randy Jackson from Riverside Fly Shop points out that terrestrials will be the best bet for fly anglers in August. Ant patterns, crickets, and grasshopper flies will work well because that’s what the trout are seeing at this time. Streamers can be good in August. The streamers should look like small shad which are in the river now. Cloudy days will work best for trout in August, and the clouds may help



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Regional Freshwater Fishing Outlook

hold the temperature of the air down a little, too. Anglers should look for beds of coontail moss in the river which hold immature bugs for the trout to feed on. The coontail moss grows all along the river waters, but it grows thicker farther down the stream. MOBILE/TENSAW DELTA “One of the hottest months- it can be excruciating- we’re sure not in fall yet,” says Mobile-Tensaw Delta Guide Service guide Captain Wayne Miller. “In August, it’s by far the month of main river fishing. A few deeper lakes off the rivers are OK, but the fish will be deeper.” Grass lines along the Causeway can be good, but up the rivers, bass will be holding close to clay banks and wood cover. In August, the bass congregate in schools, and they orient to shad schools on the main rivers. Miller advises anglers to bounce from point to point in the big rivers. Anglers may hit three or four points which have no bait and no fish. But when the big schools of shad are located, the bass will be there. Also, Miller says that the tide state makes a big difference in current in the rivers, and current is important. If you can fish an outgoing tide, the bite will be better. Shad pattern crank baits will be very effective when the bass are schooled up and working shad. Panfishing on the Delta is slow in August. Crappie will be as deep as they can get, and not very active.

Important Contact Information Joe Dunn Dunn’s Sports 334-636-0850 33356 Hwy 43 Thomasville, Al Capt. Lee Pitts 256-390-4145 Capt. Brian Barton 256-412-0969 Capt. Sam Williams Hawks Fishing Guide Service 334-355-5057 Capt. Brad Whitehead 256-483-0834 Capt. Jake Davis Mid-South Guide Service 615-613-238 Captain Wayne Miller Mobile-Tensaw Delta Guide Service 251-4557404 Jeff DuBree Whippoorwill Sportsman’s Lodge Lake Talquin 850-875-2605 Jody Wells- Lake Seminole 850-269-2420 Tony Poloronis Outcaster’s Bait and Tackle 631 Hwy 98 Apalachicola, FL 850-653-4665 Randy Jackson Riverside Fly Shop 17027 Hwy 69N Jasper, AL 256-287-9582

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Damon Howell shows off his largemouth bass

You didn’t see it coming. Neither did the fish.


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Jake Markris and his pair of gobblers

Joe Ferrell with his snapper.

Jack Armstrong and his big guns of reds!

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Alex Mashburn from Chandler, Arizona caught several bass from a Baldwin County private pond- without grandpa’s help.

Ava Alford, 15 from Northport, AL




Chatwin Summers, 6. Here he is with his First Deer, 2021. The deer was harvested in the Alabama Delta region.

Tristan Spath with his trophy bass




Silas Foster 4, smiling with his catch.

Sebastian Mashburn caught his first bass with minimal help from his dad. Alabama bass like to play with Arizona kids it seems.




Luke Loftin of Spanish Fort with his two nice red snappers

Chip Stokes first buck. 6pt, Coneuch County AL.

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Advertiser Index A-Team Fishing Adventures . . . . . . . . 3

August Speckled Trout BY WILLIAM KENDY

Alabama AG Credit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 Alabama Farmers CO-OP . . . . . . . . . 80 Alabama Liquid Fertilizer . . . . . . . . . 57 Bay County Amory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 Bay Transmission . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 Bluewater Yacht Sales . . . . . . . . . . . 73

B’n’M Poles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Brush Clearing Services . . . . . . . . . 28 Buck’s Island Marine . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 Camper City . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 CCA Alabama . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66 Clutch Products . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 Coast Safe & Lock . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67

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Even though the weather can be just flat out hot, August is still a good time to pursue speckled trout. I went back to some past issues of Great Days Outdoors to seek out expert tips for catching specks both inshore and from the beach. THE INSHORE HOOK-UP Guide and Captain Bobby Abruscato of A-Team Fishing Adventures out of Mobile is a big fan of fishing for speckled trout with live bait under a cork. “Fishing live bait under a cork offers the angler two big advantages,” Abruscato said. “First it allows him to cover ground to locate the fish. Secondly, it is a very natural presentation of a bait that has been caught up in a tidal current.” He points out that these advantages are lost if the bait can’t drift so it is imperative that you are fishing where there is a current and that the reel allows the line to get out. When the weather turns blistering hot Abruscato fishes deep water structure and uses a slip cork rig with special attention to the current movements and force which may necessitate utilizing tight lines. “Slip versus popping cork allows for the bait to reach the lower third of the deep water column,” Abruscato said. “Typically, when the current is moving harder than normal I find that the fish are down current from the structure. On normal days they tend to stay near or up current and in slack tides they are spread all over.”

When it comes to bait, Abruscato will fish live shrimp under a popping cork early in the morning in shallower water. When he goes deeper, he uses live croakers. SPECKS FROM SHORE Just because you are stuck on shore doesn’t mean you can’t cash in on speckled trout. David Thorton is a recognized Gulf Coast expert when it comes to fishing from pier and shore. He pointed out that speckled trout generally like slightly moving water in medium to low light situations. “That means early or later in the day are generally going to be the best time to fish for them along with those periods when clouds and thunderstorms obstruct the sun,” Thorton said. Nighttime fishing along lighted docks or piers can be very productive.`` Speckled trout feed on shrimp, finger mullet, menhaden, pinfish, minnows, croaker and even small crabs. In the artificial lure category, Thorton has some recommendations. “Good options for wading fishermen are hard twitch baits like the MirroLure 52M sinking series, Unfair Lures’ Rip N Slash 90 or Yo-Zuri Pin’s Minnow, “ Thorton said. “Soft plastics like a Fin-S or Zoom Zluke in a four inch size on a ¼-ounce leadhead jig work and topwater lures like the Heddon Zara Spook Junior, Rapala Skitter-Walk or Mirror-Lure work well at times of low light or calm water.”

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Beanpole and the Loch Ness Monster “Well, just be in the park Friday night,” said Chuck. “That’s the next full moon.” Chuck and Ralph paid for their coffee and quickly slipped out the door. Once outside, their conversation picked up.

BY JIM MIZE Ronnie’s diner was quiet for a Wednesday morning. Chuck and Ralph sat hunched over coffee at the counter. I was reading sports in a corner booth and Ronnie was wiping the counter for the umpteenth time when Beanpole strolled in. “Hey guys,” Beanpole said to no one in particular while sliding into the booth. “What’s up, Beanpole?” I asked. “Just thinkin’ about stuff,” said Beanpole. Usually that response sends me running for the door. But not much else was going on so I asked, “What stuff?” “You think there’s a real Sasquatch?” “Let me guess . . . National Geographic special?” “No,” said Beanpole. “I just heard some states were starting to sell hunting licenses for them.” “Well, let’s just say I’d be glad to check in all those hunters who get one.” “How about the Loch Ness Monster? They have photos of it.” Chuck and Ralph had spun around on their stools to follow our conversation. Chuck gave Ralph an elbow and jumped into the conversation. “Hey, did you guys hear about that thing they saw out at the State Park? Said it looked like a miniature version of Nessie,” said Chuck. “I hadn’t heard about that,” said Beanpole. “Oh, yeah,” added Ralph. “Since the park closes at dark, people aren’t there to see it. But I hear that if you sit on the dock during a full moon, it will cruise right through the swimming area.” “Man, I’d like to see that,” said Beanpole.

“Nah, that tale about a Loch Ness Monster sounded like a bunch of baloney,” said Beanpole as Ronnie was filling our coffee. “Hey, Ronnie, have you seen Chuck and Ralph today?” asked Beanpole.

“Hey, does your boy still have that remote-control submarine?” asked Chuck.

“No, and I doubt we will,” said Ronnie. “The deputy came in early and said they were locked up at the county jail.”


“What for?” I asked.

“Well, here’s the plan. We slip out to the State Park Friday night and set up in the cove by the swimming area. Then, we take an inflatable pool toy I’ve got that looks like a miniature Loch Ness Monster and tie it to your boy’s remote-control submarine. Once we see Beanpole out on the dock, we swim Nessie right by him. We should be hearing Loch Ness Monster stories in here for the next ten years.”

“Well, the story is a little fuzzy but here’s what the deputy thinks happened. It seems that a couple camping at the park had slipped into the swim area after dark for a little skinny-dipping. Not long after they started, a monster came swimming up to the dock. The lady screamed and they both took off running. The park ranger was making his rounds and saw two streakers heading back to camp yelling about lake monsters. He aimed his spotlight at the swim area, saw the monster, fired a couple rounds, and the monster blew up.”

When Friday night rolled around, Chuck and Ralph sat hidden in the bushes looking at the swim area just as the sun set. An hour after dark, Chuck noticed some ripples around the dock. “You think Beanpole’s swimming out to the dock?” asked Chuck. “Nah, probably using his kayak. It’s so low to the water you wouldn’t be able to see it” suggested Ralph.

“So why are Chuck and Ralph locked up?” I asked. “The park ranger caught them coming out of the woods shaken up by the commotion and holding a remote control. He had the sheriff come down and they both got arrested.” “What did they get them for?” asked Beanpole.

“Let’s get the show on the road then,” said Chuck.

“Trespassing at the park after dark and inciting a riot.”

So, they pointed their Nessie float and submarine toward the dock and started it swimming. It left a wake visible in the moonlight. The suspense built as the contraption got closer and closer to the dock. You could almost hear the theme from Jaws being played by cicadas as the tension mounted.

“Did they ever catch the streakers?” I asked.

Chuck and Ralph stifled guffaws as Nessie closed in. But from their side of the lake, what happened next wasn’t entirely clear. It could have taken two minutes but seemed to happen all at once. The woman’s scream came first, followed by two or three gunshots, a lot of splashing, another gunshot, and then quiet. Beanpole was already sitting in the booth at the diner Saturday morning when I arrived for breakfast. “Did you go out to the state park last night?” I asked.

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“The park ranger said that he couldn’t run that fast. Plus, he wouldn’t recognize them with their clothes on.” Ronnie went back in the kitchen and we sat quietly sipping coffee. “You know, Beanpole, it’s a good thing you didn’t fall for their prank. You could have been mixed up in all this.” “I was just thinkin’ that,” said Beanpole. “On one hand, I’d hate to end up in jail over a Loch Ness Monster scam. But on the other hand, you have to admit, that must have been one heck of a show.” JIM MIZE still baits one line for Nessie. You can find his award-winning books of humor at

Ron Davis

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