The Angler Magazine | August 2022 | Ohio Edition

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Tim Barefoot

his is the time of year when water temperatures allow pelagics like wahoo, dolphin and tuna to show up right on the beach… so to speak. I live in North Carolina, and every year there are stud wahoo caught “right on the beach.” Here “right on the beach” is the 20to 25-mile area off the beach. For some folks in Florida, “right on the beach” might be that first sea buoy right out of the inlet. In late summer, we have a monolithic water temperature from the Gulf Stream to the beach in the mid 80s. That allows wahoo to follow huge schools of bait wherever they go. This is what we call the beginning of the end… the end of summer. The cigar minnows and sardines come nearshore, and the wahoo follow them as far in as they are comfortable with the water depth, which is usually not much less than 75 or 80 feet. They will eat whatever they want, including live menhaden or cigs pulled around by king mackerel fishermen. We call it the beginning to the end of summer, but it’s also the beginning of a wonderful time of year for me… fall and winter. The cigs and sardines come in. The pelagics follow them for a month or so

until the water starts to cool in mid September. Then the magic happens. When cooling water runs off the wahoo, the gags show up in numbers. It’s all a very beautiful dance. Let’s enjoy every step along the way. I keep talking about the nearshore activity of the cigs and sardines, but the offshore schools are also getting bigger now, and this draws the attention of everything from pelagics to bottom fish. All the grouper and big snappers shadow these schools wherever they go. This is why it’s so important to “find the bait.” Cigs and sardines are not the only thing I’m looking for offshore. I like to find a big stack of beeliners. Wherever you find a big stack of beeliners, you can bet your bottom dollar there are grouper and big snapper directly under them and wahoo and kings around them. August is also a month to consider spending the night offshore. Yes, there are late afternoon thunderstorms that pop up, but overall weather patterns are consistent, and you can fish for days, back to back. Leave in the early afternoon, get where you are going and get acclimated to the setting sun. Anchor up on a pretty piece of bottom and bait, and turn on the lights. This is a “National Geographic moment.” The minnows and squid come to the light, so you can easily load up the livewell before the daylight bite starts. I will close with this: We lost a fishing pioneer and legend last month with Mark Sosin’s passing. Our thoughts, prayers and celebrations go out to his family. See more from Tim Barefoot at






upiter, Fla. is a worldrenowned fishery. In the summertime it’s known for hot inshore snook. Offshore produces an epic sailfish, kingfish, tuna and pelagic bite. There are always fish willing to eat. One of my favorite bites is for springtime blackfin tuna. From March through May, jumbo blackfins migrate down the east coast of Florida. It is not uncommon to catch them anywhere from 20 to 35 pounds. From their deliciousness on the table to their long powerful runs, blackfin tuna are one of my favorite offshore fish to target. They are sure to send you to the tackle shop to get your reels serviced after a productive day of fishing. Blackfin tuna are excellent hunters. Often, they work together to ambush schools of baitfish. They are equipped with massive eyeballs, which are designed for pitch black and low-light conditions. They spend a majority of their time down deep feeding on squid. However, at dawn and dusk, the tunas move higher in the water column to feed near the surface. Be on the lookout for frigates and disturbance on the water’s surface. It’s not uncommon to see them exploding and flying out of the water on a bait ball. I keep an easily accessible casting rod, with a plug or weighted feather jig tied on, for this scenario or in case a school of mahi shows up. Blackfin tuna will often hold to areas with bottom topography like humps, reefs and wrecks. You can find success drifting over areas like these with live bait. Live sardines, pilchards, threadfins and gogs will all work. I prefer live sardines. For me, they have been the most productive bait.

Chumming is important to bring blackfins higher in the water column. Chunk up pilchards and throw a few pieces out at the bow, mid and stern every couple of minutes. The best chum is live chum. Small- to medium-sized pilchards are your best bet. I throat-hook a sardine and send it out on a free line. The bait will swim down on its own, and you should keep some tension on it. I also drop a live bait on a down rod and wait for the bite as I drift along. Blackfins’ excellent eyesight means they can be leader shy, so I often run a 40- to 50-pound fluorocarbon leader, but will go as light as 30 pounds. A triplehook rig for freelining or a single 4/0 or 5/0 circle hook depending By Ryan Izquierdo on the size of the bait is my hook preference. You can also catch them kite fishing, trolling feathers/spoons, with ballyhoo rigs, cedar plugs, planer fishing, vertical jigging and slow-pitch. Second to live bait, slow-pitch jigging is a fun and effective way to catch tunas when the hot mid-day sun pushes them down deep. My go to jig is a Jyg Pro 240 Gram strike jig. I like to jig anywhere from 200 to 350 feet. Send it down to the bottom over active areas and work your rod up high and let the jig flutter back down. You can change the pace and tempo of your jigging until you find what works. Don’t be surprised to get hit as you are burning the jig back to the surface. I hope these tuna tips bring you success and dinner to share with your close friends and family. Keep on fishing! Check out Ryan Izquierdo’s adventures on his YouTube channel: Ryan Iz Fishing.

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FREEDIVER SPEARS WORLD RECORD CUBERA SNAPPER A massive 137-pound Atlantic cubera snapper speared by a Texas freediver in early June was heavier than the existing IGFA all-tackle world record as well as the Texas state record. It will not, however, qualify for either record because of the method used to catch it. Who cares? The diver, Braden Sherron, a student at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, can rest assured that his monster cubera is one of the largest of its species ever caught by any method. It will likely be the new International Underwater Spearfishing Association’s world record. If approved, it will replace a 122.4-pound fish shot in 2006 off the coast of Brazil. According to a Field & Stream story on the catch, Sherron first encountered the giant snapper while freediving a Gulf of Mexico oil rig about 60 miles out of Port Aransas, Texas. He did not take his shot at the time because he was not equipped to handle such a large fish. A week later, on June 3, he returned to the rig with heavier gear, dove to about 55 feet and put a dart into the fish. Luckily, the cubera wrapped the trailing line up in the oil rig, which kept the fish from diving. While the fish fought itself, Sherron returned to the surface to wait 10 minutes before diving down to secure

By CAM Staff

his prize with two more shots. When Sherron brought his fish back to the scales at Fisherman’s Wharf in Port Aransas, it began making the rounds on social media almost immediately. It truly is an enormous fish, which outweighs the existing IGFA record—a 2007 Louisiana fish that weighed 124 pounds, 12 ounces—by more than 10 pounds. Sherron’s fish also outweighs the Texas state rod-and-reel record of 131 pounds. The only larger cubera snapper research was able to turn up was a 151-pound monster that’s listed as an “other methods” catch by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. That fish, caught by handline out of Port Mansfiled in 1984, weighed 151 pounds. The thing is, none of these other anglers were holding their breath when they caught their fish. Sherron’s catch is absolutely one for the record books. “I would equate it to shooting a 200-plusinch whitetail deer on public land,” he told Field & Stream. “It’s one of those things that happens once in a lifetime, and you can’t believe it when it does.” Check out video of Braden Sherron’s spearfishing on his Youtube channel:

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SPINNERBAIT SEASON UPON US It is truly amazing that over the last couple of decades there had been a noticeable de-emphasis in the longtime prominence in the popularity of one of the very most popular fishing tools in the history of the sport, - the venerable spinnerbait. When fish are at all active, particularly on windier days with a noticeable "chop" on the water's surface, no other horizontal lure has ever out-produced the venerable spinnerbait -in Ohio or anywhere else. The spinnerbait is easily the easiest artificial bait to use and the fundamental favorite for novice anglers to take that next step forward in their angling progress. You just tie them on and chunk them out. They work just as well on spincast (open face ) and spinning gear as they do on your level wind bait caster. Simply match your particular spinner to the depths, conditions, and specific rig you are using at any given time. Experiment with degree of speed and colors that seem to be most productive at any given time.

Jack Kiser is the long-time Outdoors Columnist for the Record-Courier and " Midwest Outdoors " magazine , as well as Buckeye Angler TV and radio host on PBS, Ohio News Network, and Fox Sports. You may reach him at the Buckeye Angler Facebook site or the new

Here are the four basic categories of spinnerbaits and their most appropriate applications: SAFETY SPIN/ CONVENTIONAL ( Assassinator , Obie's )- arguably the most popular and effective largemouth bait in angling history .Relatively inexpensive , easy to use, and wonderfully versatile in all water depths. Also less likely to snag than other horizontal presentations. I like to affix a plastic trailer on back to bulk-up casting weight , add action, and be particularly effective when the retrieve is " killed " and the bait falls into various cover Some opt for the further inclusion of a trailer hook to ensure more secure hook ups. BUZZBAIT (Lunker Lure, Obie's, - non-swivel equipped surface version that entices savage strikes, particularly in lowlight conditions when expertly worked amidst shoreline cover. Takes a knack, but it's well-worth the exciting payoffs. Particularly effective on bigger fish. IN-LINE (Panther Martin, Roostertail, Mepps)- essential ball-bearing swivel attachment provides useful extra weight for throwing the smaller lures most preferred for the panfish it is more likely intended for, except for its extreme larger versions, which are great for northerns and muskie. The premium swivels also excel in preventing line twist and enabling stable blade action at slower speeds. JIG-SPIN ( Road Runner, Beetle Spin)- best in 1/16 to 1/4 oz. sizes matched to light action spinning gear. Versatile lure can be either conventionally retrieved or jigged vertically through the water column. A reel sleeper for walleye... Get out now and spend just a few dollars to initially cover the spectrum of spinnerbait angling. You younger anglers in particular will much enjoy your initial foray into lure fishing, and that special enjoyment and sense of accomplishment taking that big step forward.

(picture captions : top- a selection of conventional " safety pin " style spinnerbaits of various sizes, skirt colors, and trailer styles. Note the surface- oriented buzzbaits at the upper right. Bottom- a selection of different panfish oriented spinner rigs, most appropriate for crappie, bluegill, perch, rock bass, trout, and white bass. Note the bottom three " Panther Martin in-line types. Photos courtesy BuckeyeAngler MultiMedia .




Captain’s August Report: Lake Erie’s Western Basin It's hard to believe the main season for our beloved walleye is coming to an end, or so we might think. With the massive population boom we are in right now I think the walleye just won’t stop biting. Although, as we head into August, expect fishing for yellow perch to become the mainly targeted species on the west end. Perch will begin schooling up in many of the deeper, open water areas of the western basin. Many areas, hold perch year-round. As you read this there is a good chance that perch are being caught south of Rattlesnake Island, East of Ballast Island and North of the Marblehead lighthouse and around the Toledo water intake and gravel pit area to the northeast of it. If you plan on trying it out, keep your ears and eyes open before hitting the water, but these places should give you a good place to start. Classic perch spreaders and crappie rigs, tipped with emerald shiner minnows are a go-to bait. Shiners are becoming more prevalent and can normally be found at some bait shops so be sure to call around.

hatching out of the mud bottom. This similar style of bite can be found far north along the Toledo shipping channel and north of West Sister Island. Smallmouth will be hanging in the deep water and looking for an easy meal of a tube or drop shot. The largemouth will be in their usual haunts but are getting very pressured by this time of year, so looking for an out of the way spot could improve your odds. Catfish in Sandusky Bay and along the lake shoreline will provide great action from dusk to dawn with shrimp on the bottom. So, as always, cast a line in the western end of Lake Erie and you can expect some type of bite! Give Sea Breeze Charters a call at (877)-616-7780 for your next walleye or perch trip and ask for me! See ya out there, Capt. Jonny Fickert

As for walleye, there are still a few in our neck of the woods. Many walleye this time of year will be caught on the reefs in shallow water on worm harnesses, although this bite can be overlooked, the right day can produce good results. Don’t overlook the deep open waters around the islands for a trolling bite with jet divers and spoons for the fish feeding on minnows or bugs

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Clear Fork of The Mohican River

Trout fishing on the Upper and Lower sections of the Clear Fork of the Mohican River has been possible for the past 30 years, thanks to a stocking program managed by the ODNR Division of Wildlife. The “Upper” begins below the spillway of Clear Fork Reservoir near Lexington, OH and flows through Bellville and Butler, ending as it dumps into Pleasant Hill Lake near Perrysville, OH. The “Lower” has its origin below the Pleasant Hill dam and runs through Mohican State Park until it meets up with the Black Fork to form the Mohican River south of Loudonville, OH.

The Upper section is stocked annually with 7-9” brown trout while the Lower section gets 12” rainbow trout each year. The reason for the difference in species and size is due to water temperature differences. Water in the Lower can get warm to the point of that survival of the trout is doubtful. So, the rainbows are stocked in the fall at the legal harvest size of 12” for a Put-and-Take fishery. Water in the Upper has temperatures that remain cooler than those of the Lower. Barring exceedingly hot summer conditions, many of the 7-9” browns stocked in the fall can survive the summer warm up and remain to grow in the river for multiple years. Thus, the stocking program for the Upper is designed as a Put-Grow-andTake program. The brown trout that manage to survive multiple seasons can grow to 20” and more. ODNR has always intended the trout stocking program to be one where fish were meant to be harvested once they grow to at least the minimum 12” length. There are, however, many anglers who have come to appreciate the opportunity to maintain an ongoing trout fishery through catch and

release on both the Lower and Upper sections of the Clear Fork. The optimum season on both sections of the river span mid-autumn through early summer. This is when the trout are most active and healthy, mostly due to lower water temperatures and good oxygen levels. When fishing for rainbow trout in the Lower CF, the name of the game is typically low and slow. Nymph patterns and streamer patterns drifted close to the bottom will produce takes. But always be ready to switch to a dry fly if you see fish rising to bugs on the surface. When targeting browns in the Upper CF, understand that they are a more aggressive feeder than the rainbows. They will chase an offering many feet as opposed to the rainbows who prefer that you put the fly right on them. But keep in mind that they are more easily spooked than the rainbows. Depending on the season, the type of insect and aquatic animal activity present at that time and various other factors, the brown trout can be lured to strike at dry, wet, nymph and streamer flies. So, get ready for some cooler times in the near future that will usher in another season of trout fishing on the Clear Fork River. We’ll see you out there! Article by: Dave Radomski - Mohican Fly Fishing Guide Services. email: Phone: (419) 544-0946







North Central Ohio Lakes and Rivers. Knox County is home to countless streams, small lakes, and tributaries located on the western side of the Muskingum watershed conservancy district – an area of over 8,000 square miles of land, 20% of Ohio, that all drains into the Muskingum River. The conservancy district oversees creation and management of dams and reservoirs to address flood issues, water conservation, and recreational opportunities in this area. As a result, this section of the state has a host of great fishing holes to explore! One and a half miles North of the village of Fredericktown off State Route 95 is a truly hidden gem for fishing aficionados: Knox Lake – a sprawling 469-acre reservoir and wildlife area built with a focus on fishing and enjoying the wild outdoors. This lake is perfectly scenic, secluded and peaceful with many shady coves just right for dropping anchor and settling in for an afternoon on the water. With average depths ranging from 12’ to 24’ the lake offers marshy areas with natural cover for fish including submerged stumps on the north side as well as deeper, open water near the dam on the southern end by the marina. Both sides offer ramp access and tie offs. Just one of many features of note: the marina off Buena Vista Drive offers an accessible transfer system to aid wheelchair users with getting in and out of kayaks and canoes. The site also offers ample handicapped parking and paved paths to the water. Fisherman can expect to hook catfish, crappie, and a few other species, but the lake is most known for its exceptional population of largemouth bass, ranking highly in the state for regular catches of 15 inches or more! Recently, the dam underwent a significant renovation to protect the area and ensure future generations will be able to enjoy all that Knox Lake has to offer. While the affect on the fish population was inevitable, there is evidence that the lake has already begun to rebound and should come back even better than before thanks to good management practices and a robust foundational environment.

you may have to do some networking to get on the water -but it will be worth it! Local bait and tackle shops and gas stations along the way will keep you stocked up with live worms and minnows and other supplies that are critical to a great fishing trip. Just ask and you’ll learn of many more of the area’s fishing havens than have been mentioned here! Article courtesy of Allie Fisher from Outlaw Marina, 12259 Anchor Dr, Howard, OH 43028 740-392-2925

Just a few miles west on the other side of town on Waterford Rd, nestled among the trees and rolling hills is the Kokosing Lake Wildlife Area. The lake is the result of damming the North branch of the Kokosing river in 1971 by the Army Corps of Engineers. The 160-acre lake is shallow with a maximum depth of about 10 feet, so it is limited to electric motors and gas motors 10 horsepower or less. This ensures that fisherman can enjoy every inch of the water with no competition from watersports enthusiasts and large wakes. Expect to catch crappie, largemouth, bluegill, bullhead, and channel cats of considerable size. Kokosing campground is right on the lake making for a nice getaway spot. Easily walkable shoreline, picnic tables, and pavilions make for a well-rounded outdoor destination. One more worth mentioning is Apple Valley Lake in eastern Knox County just off State Route 36. Although it is located in a private community, Apple valley lake can not be skipped when discussing great fishing spots around the area. Known for its excellent bass fishing, weekly catch and release tournaments are held on Tuesdays and Thursdays as well as two annual bass fishing tournaments. Competitors regularly report some of the highest bag weights in the area. The Fish and Restocking club closely monitors the health of the lake and manages annual restocking efforts. The 511-acre lake averages 30-foot depths with maximum depths over 65 feet near the dam. Boats are limited to 21’ 6” or less, pontoon boats can be up to 28’ in length. Outboard motors are limited to 300HP. Multiple ramps, picnic areas, and two marinas in the area can supply necessities. Because access is limited to property owners and their guests

13285 Netherland Road, Fredericktown, Ohio 43019





North Central Ohio Lakes and Rivers. Kokosing and Mohican Rivers – Great Canoeing, Great Fishing The Kokosing Rive was probably Ohio’s first water trail for good reason. It is a beautiful river that runs clear most of the year. It has sandstone cliffs and is usually flowing through remote forests and farmland. It can be shallow in spots but has some deep pools that hold good numbers of catfish, smallmouth and rock bass. When the water is flowing strong in the spring it has some pretty good rapids including one or two class III spots. Our family spent so much time playing at one of the rapids that we told everyone the big rock there was named after us. You can stop in at Kokosing Valley Camp and Canoe for canoe and kayak rentals (and snacks). From their put in spots or the state launch areas you can do a 1 or 3 hour trip.

easier to catch in low light or at night. Saugeye can be caught with twister tail jigs, jerk baits and swim baits. The Stripers are being caught with chicken liver on the bottom. Thanks to The Island Trading Post in Mifflin, Ohio for help with the fishing reports. Steve Philpott

The Island Trading Post

One stop shop and unique store for all your shopping needs, groceries, live bait, frozen shad, fishing poles and tackle, handmade crafts, sodas, DVDs, firewood, ice camping stuff, clothing, automotive, toys, lottery, pull tabs, head shop, Delta 8, 9, 10 products and more. Come in and check out The Island Trading Post.

The Mohican is a canoers dream. You hardly ever have to get out and walk through a shallow spot. The fishing is good if you get out early before rush of canoers coming from Loudonville. The Loudonville area has become a vacation mecca with plenty of entertaining distractions when you’re done fishing. Stop by Shipley’s Loudonville Canoe Livery (and Tavern) for a canoe or raft rental and a cold beverage later. The river gets a lot quieter farther down stream as it approaches the intersection with the Kokosing to start the beginning of the Walhonding River.

60 Maine Street, Mifflin, OH (419) 908-4041

Mansfield area - Pleasant Hill and Charles Mill Lakes Pleasant Hill Lake has a big hill that rolls down to the beach. I remember it being like a mountain when I was a kid. It is a great place to swim and spend a day. The fishing options are good at Pleasant Hill. In the lake you can catch crappie, bass, big catfish, saugeye and muskies! Below the dam is popular for saugeye also, especially in the colder months. Charles Mill Lake is a great place to catch catfish, crappie, bass, saugeye (above and below the dam) and hybrid striped bass! The striped bass and saugeye are usually in deep water in the hot days of August and are

LOUDONVILLE Canoeing, Kayaking, Rafting, and Tubing on the Mohican River from downtown Loudonville. 3 & 7 mile trips. 424 W. Main St. Loudonville, Ohio 44842 • 419-994-4161

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Summit - Portage - Mogadore area August is one of the best months of the year for trophy largemouth bass fishing in the Summit, Portage County area lakes. It can be an exciting time anywhere in Ohio from top water hits to mid range and bottom bites, bass are very active at this time of the year. Top water lures with the splashing and popping especially in the morning and evenings will produce some great action! The spinnerbaits near docks cannot be forgotten about as well. And of course, the Texas rig is always a favorite. Bluegills and catfish are active right now also in the area. Mogadore and Nimisila lakes are both producing bass near heavy cover. Assistance with this report courtesy of Pro Angler Ron Slater (N.p.a.a.#808) Call Ron @ 330-780-3652 or email bassfisher273@

Kayak fishing is the ability to grab a small plastic boat, a life jacket, A rod and a small tacklebox and hit the water. For me, it was a way to experience a life I’d only dreamed of previously. As a young boy I’d spend many summers with trips to my Uncle Paul and Aunt June’s house on the Grand River in Ohio. We would spend the days canoeing up and down the river while stopping to fish at fishy looking spots. Years later I stumbled upon a nice 14ft kayak with a one of a kind custom paint job and I knew I was home. That Kayak reunited me with my childhood love of being on the water and nurtured the deep connection to the water I’d been searching for my whole life. I was hooked after my first adventure. Kayak fishing now consumes my life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way! Today my kayak is rigged with electronics and everything but the kitchen sink to ensure safe and successful big water adventures while kayak fishing on Lake Erie!! If challenge and thrills are what you’re after, whether it’s for walleye, smallmouth or perch, nothing beats Lake Erie for kayak fishing.

LakeErie ErieKayak Kayak Lake Fishing Guided Fishing Guided Chuck Earls - (216) 296-

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Lake Erie Kayak Fishing Guided

Adventures Chuck Earls -- 216.296.9157 216.296.9157 Chuck Earls | Chuck - 216.296.9157 | Chuck EarlsEarls - 216.296.9157

We spend 6+ hours off shore chasing LakeLegends! Erie Legends! Take home your catch We spend 6+ hours off shore chasing Lake Erie Take home your catch let it swim for another day,choice the choice is yours! Seeon you the water! or let or it swim away away for another day, the is yours! See you theonwater!




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By Will Schmidt

Your Grouper Grounds


inding new spots to fish has been one of the biggest issues facing us since… well, since fishing started. For years inshore fishermen have used satellite views to find points with cuts, oyster bars and other features that can be seen from above in the shallows. The good news is offshore anglers can now take advantage of similar imagery to make finding new spots feel like you’ve got it made in the shade. High-definition relief shading like that in the new Garmin Navionics Vision+ package gives anglers insight into spots they would have never known about unless they just stumbled across them. There are countless examples of offshore spots where I’ve marked and caught fish without knowing that just a few hundred feet away were even better looking spots. It’s hard to know every ridge or well-defined bottom feature, so getting a view of what is down there can be extremely beneficial. Of course, not all

spots that look good hold fish, but it’s a start. Once you find something of interest, spot lock trolling motors make it easy to move and drop baits to see if anyone is home. For larger areas, such as long ridges, sometimes trolling makes a bit more sense to cover more ground. When chasing bottom fish such as grouper, there are a few techniques that work well. Downriggers and planers with jig heads and large paddletail baits work well, but I find deep diving plugs to be even better. There are a host of deep divers out now that provide an accurate depth to which they will dive. The Nomad DTX Minnow is one of my favorites. It is deadly on grouper and does double duty with its high-speed capability for chasing pelagic species as well. I also love the fact that they come rigged with single hooks versus treble hooks. The key is to just graze the sandy bottom next to the rocks to get the groupers’ attention. They have keen sight and will charge out quickly to grab a meal, and the bonus is you start with them already away from the rocks. Just a few hundred feet away The great thing about using highfrom where the author has definition relief shading and trolling marked and caught grouper for grouper is you might have one is a massive ledge that holds even more fish. spot that quickly turns into four or five locations to drop baits in a relatively small area. Sometimes the spots are within a few hundred feet and sometimes farther. Regardless, this technology is a game-changer, and by covering new ground quickly it can make finding new productive spots much easier. Will Schmidt is a seasoned tournament angler who has been writing about fishing from more than two decades.







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them carefully when dog-day temperatures peak. Fish are fighting for their lives with every ounce of their strength on the end of a line. The stress can kill them when water conditions are less than ideal. That, along with blazing hot sun on the back of the neck, is enough reason to strike out in search of a more appealing environment when it gets hot. My 11-year-old son and I recently spent a couple days on the headwaters of North Carolina’s Nantahala River at a place called Standing Indian. Standing Indian Mountain tops out at close to 5,500 feet, and its slopes feed the river with plenty of cold water from numerous headwater branches. This area, upstream of the U.S. Forest Service’s Standing Indian Campground, is off of U.S. 64 west of Franklin, N.C. The Nantahala at Standing Indian bears little resemblance to the big whitewater river it becomes downstream near Bryson City. In its headwaters, there are about six miles of public water that might be 20 feet across in the wide spots. It’s a great little stream for folks who enjoy slinging dry flies on a four-weight fly rod for pretty little rainbow and brown trout. The fishing wasn’t exactly stellar the two days my son and I fished in mid-June. There were thunderstorms each night, so the river was a little high and stained. My son is also new to a lightweight fly rod, and overhanging rhododendron and river birch are hardly easy terrain for a beginner. Still, we managed to catch numerous gorgeous rainbows slinging a dry-dropper rig with a small Pheasant Tail fished beneath a yellow Stimulator. There were little yellow Sally stoneflies in the air, so our selection of dry fly matched the hatch. Good small-stream browns in the 14-inch range come from this stretch of water pretty regularly, but all we caught were rainbows with a couple measuring maybe 10 or 11 inches. That’s a pretty good fish in terms of little By Nick Carter wild trout streams in the Southeast. We considered our mission accomplished returning to a riverside campsite each evening. While my son might not be old enough to appreciate it, the cool mountain rout anglers have two options when it comes to deep summer. They can air and bedding down to the gurgle of the creek were the highlights of the trip. either hit tailwater fisheries, where dam-controlled flows provide stable The air temperature was easily 20 degrees cooler than back home, and I don’t year-round water temperatures, or they can seek out high-elevation know if I’ve ever slept better. headwaters, where both fish and angler find comfort in rhododendron-shaded For information, check out Nick Carter’s book “Flyfisher’s Guide to creeks with water conditions perennially perfect for little wild trout. North Carolina & Georgia.” It’s available on Amazon or by Big fish and big hatches of tailrace trout fishing are certainly appealing. contacting the author at However, anglers should play fish intended for release quickly and handle







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ass are on the move in deep summer. Throwing search baits, especially topwater, is one of the best and most fun ways to find groups of feeding fish. A style of lure that was created a long time ago but still works wonders today is an old-school topwater popper. You can throw this just about anywhere around rocks, grass, wood, docks and in open water to get bites. When the weather gets hot and more people get on the water, getting fish to commit to a surface lure is sometimes almost impossible. What I like to do is put away the bigger topwaters like walking baits or Whopper Ploppers and take out a smaller Pop-Rstyle bait. There are a few reasons this bait gets more bites in the right situations. The first is it’s smaller and quieter. A smaller profile and less noise is sometimes what these finicky fish want. I have seen many situations when throwing a big noisy topwater won’t get a single bite, but throwing a popper in the same area makes fish eat. Another reason popper-style baits are very good is the speed at which you can work them. There are many topwaters that require highspeed retrieves. With a popper, the slower you work it the more it drives them crazy. I vary my retrieve and see what the fish are feeling, but usually I’ll pop the bait subtly a few times and vary the action to make it look like a dying baitfish. Then I’ll let the bait sit for a few seconds before creating another movement. This absolutely drives them crazy. One last reason poppers are deadly is that feathered rear treble hook. When fish are feeding on tiny baitfish or bugs, the feathered treble makes them bite. Sometimes even the small profile of the bait is still too big for them, but they come up and see the feathers and eat those instead. Fishing the right rod and reel with a Pop-R makes a huge difference in landing fish. You want a rod with a good amount of bend because you don’t set the hook. Instead, you just reel into them. I use a 13 Fishing Defy Black 7’ cranking rod. For the reel, you want something that is able to cast a light lure as far as possible. You also need one that will pick up the bait fast for another cast in case a fish misses or you spot surfacing fish. I use a 13 Fishing Concept with an 8:3 gear ratio. I spool it with 30- to 50-lb. Seaguar Smackdown Braid. Next time you get on the water, pick up a popper style lure like a 13 Fishing Poppy McPop Face and see how deadly it can be in the summer months. Tyler Woolcott is a professional tournament angler and guide. Check out his website at




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