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Fishing Reports Catch Photos News & Events

PHOTO COURTESY OF ZERO LIMIT ADVENTURES GUIDE MATTHEW DEROSA VOLUME 22 • ISSUE 264

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Heads Of Cold Steel Winter Steelheading In Upstate New York By Frank Geremski -The Angler Magazine of Upstate NY publisher

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inter steelhead fishing can be chilling, but once you hook into a 10-pound, lightning-fast bolt of silver, your blood will be boiling. The speed and explosion are what lures steelheaders to expose themselves to harsh Great Lakes winters. And there’s more. On Upstate New York’s Salmon River, there are plenty of beautiful, large, lake-run brown trout mixed in. Plus, today’s lightweight protective clothing provides comfort between strikes. The Salmon River in Oswego County, N.Y. (www.visitoswegocounty.com) offers consistent steelhead fishing during the late fall, winter and spring. In fact, the river has runs of trout and salmon from Lake Ontario all year long. With many quality tributaries along its length and a hatchery, this highquality wilderness river once was home to a legendary Atlantic salmon run. Rebounding populations of Atlantics still exist due to restoration projects, but Pacific salmon dominate the scene in late summer and fall. Huge chinook salmon, some heavier than 30 pounds, and coho salmon run up 14 miles of prime spawning and fishing waters each fall. A good number of steelhead (rainbow trout) follow the salmon to feed on the eggs dropped during this legendary fall salmon run. The steelhead feed aggressively during the salmon run, and they remain in this beautiful blue-ribbon river all winter, providing more than six months of explosive action. Winter thaws and early spring rains invite the remaining Lake Ontario steelhead to spawn and join their riverwintering kin. It’s a truly dynamic trophy trout experience. The Salmon River holds big fish. Ten-pound steelhead are commonplace. Fish in the teens are a definite possibility, and persistent steelheaders get chances every year on specimens in the 20-pound range. When salmon first enter the Salmon River in September and October, steelhead and lake-run brown trout mix in with pacific salmon making their spawning run. Both trout species feed on salmon eggs, and just when the salmon die off, the brown trout begin to spawn. Their eggs supplement the steelheads’ diet. Large numbers of giant trout and steelhead winter in the river, with additional fish running up from Lake Ontario all winter and early spring. When they first enter the river, these brightly colored bullets aggressively strike offerings like egg sacks, bright Estaz flies or beads that imitate eggs. Midriver matriculation brings them past the village of Pulaski, where there are about 10 miles of mostly public fishing access to deep holes, runs, rapids and every kind of trout water. Several high-quality tributaries flow in along the way and provide excellent spawning grounds up to what’s considered the upper section of the river. Natural reproduction does occur, and New York state operates a large hatchery on the upper end of the Salmon River. Since the Salmon River is a tailwater, this upper section is fishable all winter and never ices up. With egg availability diminishing, the winter steelhead diet evolves to more nymphs and stoneflies. Fly fishing is effective yet challenging. This section of river is ideal for fighting and landing large fish, with catch and release encouraged. Many trophy steelhead in the teens are photographed for replica mounts, and brown trout in the 5- to 10-pound range are caught regularly, with fish in the teens a possibility. 8

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The Salmon River has a reputation for tight quarters during the peak of the salmon run. Crowds diminish during winter steelhead season. Weekdays bring even less competition. Two very select permit-only resort properties are located on the two best sections of river offering managed access and exclusive riverside lodging. On the upper river, The Tailwater Lodge in Altmar, N.Y. has private southside access to Schoolhouse Pool and the runs and holes above and below. This is the prime wintering spot for a large percentage of steelhead and the best access for ice-free angling. The Tailwater is an Orvis-endorsed lodge, which includes an on-site fly shop, “The Woodshed.” Zero Limit Adventures Guide Service, also Orvis endorsed, has a collaborative relationship with Tailwater Lodge and provides outstanding guidance to this section and the entire Salmon River. They’ll get you dialed into current river conditions and what the fish are feeding on. The Tailwater Lodge’s opulent accommodations coupled with their location on the river and exclusive access make it the Mecca for Salmon River steelheading. This large section of river provides various speeds of current and holding water with ice-free conditions all winter. Tactics for hooking these giants include fly fishing, spinning, float fishing and center-pin techniques. The Angler Magazine highly recommends booking an experienced licensed guide on your first day to instruct you on equipment, fly or bait selection and technique. Allow Tailwater Lodge (www.tailwaterlodge.com) and Zero Limit Adventures (www. zerolimitadventures.com) ease the entry into this elite pursuit. Douglaston Salmon Run (DSR) manages more than 2 1/2 miles of exclusive access in the lower end of the Salmon River where steelhead first enter from Lake Ontario. Early steelhead action can be fast and furious. Winter access is dependent on weather conditions, as the middle and lower sections of the Salmon River get slushy or iced over during mid-winter cold speels. DSR (www. douglastonsalmonrun.com) publishes an accurate and honest daily report that functions as a great information source for river conditions and fish movement. The highly challenging adventure of hooking and battling your first 10-pound-plus Great Lakes steelhead will certainly not be your last. This divine experience will put you in a league of sportsmen who are the only ones to understand this trophy steelhead quest. It’s a feeling like the adrenaline rush of your first buck or sailfish. This heart-pounding adventure on a beautiful river will provide a memory that can be yours forever. To check out the “Men of Steel” video, go to

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12/15/16 3:09 PM


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Editor’s Note: Each month, Coastal Angler Magazine and The Angler Magazine staff search our vast coverage area for photos that will grace our covers. With well over a million readers in diverse coastal and inland markets, our magazines strive for broad national appeal as well as local-level intelligence to put anglers on fish. The cover is different depending on which edition you, the reader, are holding. The following is a little information about this month’s covers.

COASTAL ANGLER MAGAZINE Houma, Louisiana

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The big black drum on the cover of Coastal Angler’s January editions was caught by Banging The Drums Of Jacki Shae, whose south Florida upbringing Houma, La. taught her a love of fishing from an early age. Winter Chrome In On a recent ladies-only fishing trip to the Upstate N.Y. marshes around Houma, Louisiana, Jacki learned a newfound respect for black drum. Local This often overlooked cousin to the everpopular red drum might not be much on looks, but it puts up a heck of a fight and grows even larger than the big bull reds prized by so many anglers. Rumor has it the fish on the cover was caught with one of those kids’ Barbie rods spooled with 30-pound test. With tutelage from their guide Brittney Novalsky, the ladies also did battle with some of the big redfish Louisiana is famous for. Four young women staying on a houseboat and hauling big fish from the Louisiana mud… what more could anyone ask for from a fishing expedition?

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The covers of this month’s editions of The Angler feature a beautiful chrome steelhead Winter Chrome In caught by Zero Limit Adventures Guide Rob Upstate N.Y. Reynolds. The photo was taken by Zero Limit Banging The Drums Of Adventures Guide Matthew DeRosa. The fish was caught on the Salmon River in Oswego County, New York. To learn more Local about this fantastic fishery view this month’s article “Heads of Cold Steel” by The Angler Magazine Upstate New York publisher Frank Geremski. Zero Limit’s diverse team of guides offer tailored trips of a lifetime and expertly fish many tributaries of central and western New York. They can be reached by e-mail via mderosa@zerolimitadventures.com by phone at 585-766-2421, or view their website at www.zerolimitadventures.com. Zero Limit has a collaborative relationship with the opulent Tailwater Lodge www.TailwaterLodge.com in Oswego County. Tailwater Lodge offers exclusive access and wonderful accommodations on the banks of the Salmon River, home of legendary trophy salmon, steelhead and brown trout runs from Lake Ontario. Call Tailwater Lodge for availability and reservations at 315-298-3434. To learn more about Lake Ontario, the Salmon River and Oswego County fishing go to www. visitoswegocounty.com or call 1-800-248-4FUN. Houma, La.

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LADIES DRUM UP ACTION IN THE LOUISIANA MARSH By Jacki Shea

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find myself staying in the strangest places when I go on fishing adventures. But as long as it involves fishing, sleeping on a couch or on the ground really doesn’t matter. On this particular trip, my friends and I found ourselves in a small houseboat on a river in the Louisiana marshes west of New Orleans. It was tiny, there was only one bathroom (picture four girls trying to use one bathroom), and the bed sheets smelled like a man after a long day of fishing. You might be wondering what brought us to such a place, and I will give you two very good reasons: redfish and black drum. Enormous specimens of these two drum species come into the marsh each fall and winter, 20 to 30 pounds to be more specific. If you plan on making the trip to Louisiana to do some inshore fishing, it is not necessary to stay on a houseboat; however, I highly recommend it. When

you wake up each morning, you are on the water ready to fish with your boat tied up next to you. Of the drum family, redfish seem to be the most popular inshore species. Redfish are always a great fight, especially the big bulls. But many anglers seem to overlook black drum, which are sometimes referred to as a “mud donkeys.” It is not an attractive fish, nor is it great for eating; therefore, it is not commonly targeted. This fish does, however, grow the largest of the drum species, and it fights with the same action and power as a bull red. Now that I’ve caught a few, I believe black drum can look very pretty once the Louisiana sun hits those scales just right. Redfish and black drum are thick in the Louisiana marshes all year, but the season for the monsters runs from September to January, when big fish move from offshore into the marsh following migrating baitfish. When the baitfish show up inshore, the big fish won’t be far behind. For bait you can use live or artificial depending on whether you are trying to sight fish or just toss a line out and wait. On our trip, we used a standard knocker rig, with an egg sinker and a hook, and sank split live blue crabs and shrimp to the bottom and waited. The fishing is quite simple when you know where the fish are, although a guide is recommended for those unfamiliar with the waters because it’s easy to get lost in the marsh. Keep an eye out for cold fronts. The cold fronts clean up the water and bring the fish closer to the surface, which makes for perfect sight fishing. The fish also enjoy the cooler inshore water, so they will be more abundant and active. Check out Jacki’s YouTube channel Jacki Shea Fishing for videos of her fishing adventures. Her guide for the Louisiana trip was Brittney Novalsky who can be contacted through www.fishingadventureswithbrittney.com. For more fishing with Jacki Shea, go to

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By Tom Karrow Researcher Tom Karrow assessing fishery health in Abaco with a Bahamian angling guide from the Delphi Club. Photo by Andrew O’Neill

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hen I first started fly fishing in the 80s, the sport was not nearly as popular as it is today. Shops carrying fly tackle were sparse, people with knowledge of the sport were few and far between and getting lessons was nearly impossible. When I think back to those days, recalling the number of flies I lost in trees, the frequent tangles I developed and the shear lack of fish I caught, it is a wonder that I kept with it. Indeed, if it were not for the fly tying component of the sport, I might well have thrown in the towel. I love fly tying; being able to create something to fool fish with is a marvelous achievement. In contrast to my early fly fishing days, today there is a seeming abundance of information on the sport, from equipment, to angling destinations; everyone seems to have some insights. On top of this has been the advent of the Internet, a treasure trove of information and misinformation. The fact of the matter is, fly fishing is not nearly as complicated as it may seem. It is simply a form of fishing that allows for lightweight or nearly weightless “lures” to be used, which without the added weight in the line could not be presented to a fish. In some cases, fly fishing is a far superior method for fooling fish and in others, deep waters for example, far more challenging. When it comes to heavily pressured or sensitive fish, especially those inhabiting shallow inshore waters, I would argue fly fishing can often out-produce other techniques. Being able to imperceptibly drop a fly in front of fish when they are used to loud splashes from heavy lures or live baits can often result in fooled fish. Fly fishing is sometimes called an art, perhaps because of the apparent delicateness of the cast, the manner in which the line travels out over the water, or because many incorrectly, consider it hard. So let me correct this fallacy. Fly fishing is not hard, it does not need to be complicated and it can be very easily learned. If you really want to learn to fly fish, I would suggest a trip to the Bahamas. The weather is beautiful, the waters are stunning, and the people, culture and food are marvelous. The chance of catching fish is very high, as the guides are great instructors and a week’s worth of fly fishing immersion would provide incredible advancement in understanding and skill level. Throughout my travels in the Bahamas, I have met many wonderful guides and visited many top-notch facilities. To highlight one Bahamian guide or lodge is simply impossible. However, when it comes to learning the sport, be honest. When booking a trip to a lodge, perhaps directly or through a travel company like Yellow Dog Fly Fishing or Frontiers International, tell them what you want. Tell them you are a beginner. Tell them you want to learn. Through this strategy, those in the know will put you with facilities and personnel best suited to an instructional 12

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Great equipment meets great Bahamian culture. Photo by Tom Karrow

environment. You want a location that offers everything, lodging and food of course but also equipment, casting lessons, fly tying lessons, safety instruction along with patient and professional guides. One common thread that has become apparent through my research in the Bahamas is the respect that Bahamians have for travelers, specifically bonefish anglers. Bahamians openly welcome tourists, recognizing the importance that bonefishing has on local Family Island communities. Bonefishing on some Bahamian islands provides employment for up to 80 percent of the local population. With that level of economic importance, industry professionalism is critical along with healthy fisheries. In the Bahamas you will find both a high degree of angling knowledge and amazing fisheries. The Bahamas are certainly an excellent place to consider taking a trip and a phenomenal place to learn to fly fish. What I find most attractive about the Bahamas is the shear diversity available. With more than 700 islands, there is something for everyone. And for anglers, old and new, there are always new opportunities to learn from. Tom Karrow is a sustainable tourism scholar from the University of Waterloo. His research focuses on the Bahamian bonefishing industry, centered on the guides and their knowledge, stories and experiences. For more on his research see: http://tomkarrow.wixsite.com/bahamasguide-tek, and follow Coastal Angler Magazine for updates and more. Tom Karrow can be reached at tkarrow@uwaterloo.ca or tomkarrow@ gmail.com. For more Bonefishing in the Bahamas, go to

CAMFISHING.CO

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Elite Series™ Bassmaster Lester Pro Brandon t the rods tha builds all of he Elite he uses on t ment Trail. a n r u o T s ie r Se

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no weight reduction had gone into the components above the handle. The guides were large and weighty. As a result, the rod was annoyingly front-heavy, even when I mounted two of the spinning reels I had tabbed for the task. Lost balance led to lost feel and sense of control over my bait. It took an oversized reel to bring anything resembling “balance” to this rod, and the resultant combo was still cumbersome. “It’s hard to get a rod perfectly balanced without knowing the reel a guy plans to put on it,” said Russ Lane, a Bassmaster Elite Series angler known for his talent for tackle tinkering. Lane wraps many of his rods with Winn Superior Rod Wrap (www.winngrips.com) to give them the same advantages of hand control and comfort that he gets with the Denali Attax rods and other rods in his arsenal already fitted with Winn grips. But at times there’s a secondary benefit to the wrap. “Sometimes adding the Winn rod wrap can add just enough weight to balance a rod,” noted Lane. He faced a formidable “weight-forward” balance challenge with the flipping/pitching rod he uses to punch matted vegetation with soft plastic lures and 1.5-ounce tungsten By Mike Pehanich weights. “I needed to add more weight to the handle,” Lane recalled. As usual, he covered the cork mid-grip of this 7-foot, 6-inch Denali Lithium Flipping Stick (Xtra Heavy) with the ightness” has been the dominant thrust of rod evolution for years. Lightweight guides, skeletal reel seats, split grips… these and other polymer overwrap. Before he added the wrap to the butt grip, however, he developments have served rod builders in their ongoing quest to added Storm SuspenStrips—adhesive-backed rectangles of soft lead that he reduce rod weight and, in turn, diminish fatigue and enhance angler comfort generally uses to add weight to his jerkbaits—to the tapered butt grip. “You can get the balance perfect by adding just enough lead tape over the and feel on the water. Oddly enough, radical downsizing of rod components sometimes produces butt grip before adding Winn overwrap on top of it,” explained Lane. “Balance the opposite of its intended effect if rod balance is significantly compromised makes a big difference when you are flipping those heavy tungsten weights in along the way or when heavier-than-usual lures or terminal tackle enter the heavy cover all day long.” picture. Several seasons ago, a rod manufacturer asked me to road test a new midFor a word from Lester on the benefits of Winn Grips, go to priced spinning rod the company was planning to bring to market. The design team had taken the split grip concept to an extreme, virtually eliminating the mid (rear) grip altogether and adding a very airy foam to the butt grip. However,

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Shown above: Chad Roberson, President of H2O Sports congratulates Danny Amador on his new boat.

hat’s a real mouthful of salutations, but the winner of Coastal Angler and The Angler Magazine’s Boat Giveaway contest is certainly deserving of all three. Danny Amador was drawn as the winner of the 15’10” Cape Craft boat with 75 hp Honda engine and a Coyote trailer. A massive fire at H20 Sports Manufacturing delayed much of their manufacturing, and Danny Amador had to wait until Dec. 9 to pick up his brand new Cape Craft vessel. That’s where the story gets really interesting. Dec. 9 is Danny’s birthday. Yep, and as all December birthday people know it’s always “Happy Birthday and Merry Christmas.” Coastal Angler Magazine would like to salute Danny Amador for his patience in receiving his boat. Unforeseen circumstances can sometimes alter even the best of transactions. Danny Amador’s patience and H20’s commitment to fulfilling the contest award represented the best of our industry. In addition to Danny’s boat, motor and trailer, Chad Roberson, H20 Sports Manufacturing’s President, insisted on

throwing in a free bimini top and invited Danny Amador to pick his favorite custom color for the boat. Good things are worth waiting for. Special thanks to Top Notch Marine in Fort H2O Staff and Danny Amador shown at H2O Sports headquarters. Pierce, Fla. for their assistance in titling this boat to our Florida winner. Once again to Danny Amador: “Congratulations, Happy Birthday and Merry Christmas!”

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UNDER THE SEA

Center s LIONFISH: CAN’T BEAT ’EM? EAT ’EM! SHERI DAYE

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lthough beautiful to look at, the invasive lionfish poses a severe threat to Atlantic and Gulf waters. They are known for having spines that can sting if not handled properly, but the meat is perfectly safe and delicious to eat. In other words, they are venomous but not poisonous. Lionfish is becoming increasingly common on restaurant menus and is even available at Whole Foods grocery stores. Connoisseurs often compare the quality to hogfish – a fine, delicate white meat. The scientific community concluded that home aquarists are to blame. Much like the python in the Everglades, it only took a few released invasive individuals to begin the breeding cycle. Since they are a new and strange looking species, native fish are not consuming lionfish. Yet lionfish are consuming juvenile native species at an alarming rate. Adding to the problem, they also breed at an amazing rate. Females reach sexual maturity at six months and release up to 30,000 eggs every five days. They now cover the east coast of the U.S., the entire Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic side of Central and South America, and can be found between 2 and 1,000 feet deep. The most effective way of hunting them, by far, is spearfishing. Since they have no natural predators, they are not wary which makes them easy to spear. Just handle the spines with care and you will be rewarded with a delicious meal while helping the environment! Lionfish hunting tips: 1. First, you must find them! Unfortunately, they are everywhere—look on reefs, wrecks, sometimes out in the open and often in ledges and holes. 2. Handle them carefully and do not to let the fins puncture your skin. If stung on the hand, remove any rings right away. The best treatment is heat, which breaks down the venom. Heat packs or hot water collected from the boat exhaust can be used. 3. Use the specially designed pole spears (such as Neritic) and use lionfish containers (such as the Zookeeper), which are puncture-proof. These specialty items can be found on the LionfishHunting.com website or your local dive shop.

4. Once back on the boat/shore, place lionfish into cooler and continue to handle with care. The protein-based venom is broken down by heat but preserved by cold. 5. Lionfish can be filleted just like any other fish. See LionfishHunting.com for a good set of instructions with photos on how to fillet. 6. Lionfish can be prepared like any other white-meat fish. Many recipes can be found online. For an impressive presentation, they can even be cooked whole as cooking neutralizes the venom. P. S. The Blue Wild Ocean Adventure Expo, which takes place April 2017 in Ft. Lauderdale, will have a Lionfish Pavilion featuring several exhibitors along with a cook-off event where several chefs will be showing off their best recipes and giving samples. Happy Hunting! Sheri Daye is a world-record holder, host of Speargun Hunter, and producer of “The Blue Wild Ocean Adventure Expo” in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Follow “Sheri Daye” and “The Blue Wild” on Facebook and Instagram.

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SOUTHEAST dad as a kid and has fished almost every day for the past 33 years! Dave will be at the boat show all weekend. Meet Mermaid Kelly Mermaid Kelly is a Professional Mermaid who swam all the way from Florida. She will have a meet and greet and photo op all weekend. She loves to swim and she loves visiting humans on the land. Coastal Fishing Expo The Coastal Fishing Expo will be held all weekend, hosted by Coastal Angler Magazine. Come meet the fishing experts as they teach tips of the trade.

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he Charleston Boat Show is an annual tradition in the Lowcountry. Now celebrating 37 years, the show has expanded with more outdoor space. There will be more than 80 boat brands and hundreds of boats on sale at “show only” pricing beginning Friday, Jan. 27 through Sunday, Jan. 29 at the Charleston Area Convention Center Complex. Meet Wicked Tuna’s Capt. Dave Carraro Capt. Dave Carraro is the captain of FV-Tuna.com on NatGeo’s smash hit show Wicked Tuna. Dave holds a U.S.C.G 100-ton Master License and has an invaluable 32 years of experience with Gloucester Fishing Charters. He began fishing with his

Live Music Outside As part of the boat show celebration, there will be live music outside including Return Of The Mack Duo featuring Chris Dodson and Markie Morantz; Classic Rock, Blues, R & B with Ronnie Johnson and Dale Baker and Saluda Shoals, a musical collaboration between singer/songwriter Henri Gates and vocalist Cassie Verhaeghe. Please visit www.TheCharlestonBoatShow.com for all the details.

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NORTH CAROLINA

By Nick Carter

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he tragic death of a dedicated husband and father just before Thanksgiving in Georgia should serve as a reminder to all outdoorsmen that lanterns, space heaters and campfires, when improperly handled, can be just as dangerous as a loaded rifle propped against the wall with the safety off. Brandon Carter, 36, of Oconee County, Ga., was killed Nov. 20 when an electric space heater ignited a fire in the small wooden cabin he was sleeping in at his rural Georgia hunting camp. Carter’s father-in-law Steven Momberg was

badly burned attempting to rescue the man, who was trapped inside the cabin by flames that blocked the only door. It was a nightmarish scenario that could have taken place at so many makeshift hunt camps that spring up on timberlands across the Southeast. While gun safety is at the forefront of most hunters’ minds, fire safety tends to be an afterthought, even with all the highly flammable fuels and paraphernalia necessary to the camp experience. The tragedy occurred around midnight after the two men had retired to separate buildings. Carter’s cabin and Momberg’s trailer shared a long, covered front porch. They were nestled among more than a dozen other stick-built wooden cabins and campers of BigEye Hunting Club. The blaze began in Carter’s cabin and spread rapidly in high wind. Momberg woke to the sound of ammunition popping and intense heat. With propane canisters exploding around him, he tried in vain to rescue his daughter’s husband. When a 4-wheeler parked near the door erupted in flames, Momberg was thrown into the yard. He then ran to a nearby house where the residents called 911. By the time responders cut a firebreak, the blaze had consumed five structures, two trucks, the 4-wheeler, three golf carts and everything in and around the buildings. The two men were the only hunters in camp that night. The tragedy highlights the importance of multiple points of egress, whether it’s a second door, a trap door in the floor or windows unblocked by bars or AC units. Basic fire safety equipment like smoke detectors and fire extinguishers are inexpensive peace of mind. And just being cognizant of things like not overloading electrical outlets, not burning lanterns and gas heaters indoors, extinguishing campfires, clearing flammable debris from around structures and how fuel is stored can make camps safer. On the Sunday morning before Thanksgiving, Carter’s newly widowed wife Tammi woke her two children—Chase, 10, and Bayli, 9—to tell them they would never see their father again. “It helps me to think there’s something we can do to help, something good that can come of this,” she said, “even if it’s just to let other daddies know so this doesn’t happen to their families.” A GoFundMe account has been set up for the Carter children to ease the long-term financial burden they will surely feel with the loss of their father, the family’s primary breadwinner. Donations would be appreciated at https://www. gofundme.com/trust-for-brandon-carters-children. To donate and/or learn more, go to

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JANUARY l WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA

Cover Photo taken at the head of the Tellico River in Western North Carolina by Aaron Kephart

www.theanglermag.com/western-nc Like us on Facebook at The Angler Magazine Western NC

For editorial comments, articles, photography, advertising and all other inquiries please email debra@theanglermagazine.com


MURPHY AREA MOUNTAIN LAKES Lake Hiwassee January Forecast

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By Shane Goebel

anuary is here and it’s time to put those awesome Christmas fishing gifts to good use, and there’s no better place to start than on this excellent Western North Carolina reservoir. Currently, the water temps are hovering around 58 degrees. The water clarity is clear in the main lake area, and the backs of creeks are slightly stained. Water levels on Lake Hiwassee are extremely low, about 36 feet below June’s water levels. Lake Hiwassee Striped Bass: Stripers have been on the move and should remain in this pattern for the next few months. We’ve been picking up most of our fish in the backs of creeks early in the morning, using free lines and planer boards. Big lively bluebacks and gizzard shad will work the best for this scenario. As the sun gets up, try working deeper water along creek channels that hold bait. Keep in mind that this can all change if very cold weather moves in. Stripers will then

seek warmer water and stay very shallow. Spotted Bass and Smallmouth: January and February can bring on some coldwater temperatures that will slow these bass down, but that doesn’t mean they won’t eat. We catch some very large spots and smallmouths this time of year. Look for these fish to move a little deeper in the water column. Search around rocky points and just off shallow humps around the lake. Of course, live bait works best, but deep diving crank baits and trick worms on a drop shot are always great techniques for some big Hiwassee bass. Walleye: If water temps continue to fall, these walleye should remain shallow. Look for these fish from Ramsey Bluff boat ramp all the way up the Hiwassee and Nottely rivers and in the backs of Beaverdam and Persimmon Creek. Try slow trolling shallow running crank baits and planer boards with small bluebacks in low-light hours. Once you’ve

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marked fish, you can also try jigging small jigs 6 to 12 inches from the bottom. Although the weather may be very cold, January is a fantastic month for catching some very big fish on this lake. So dig out your long johns and winter coats, and give Big Ol’ Fish Guiding Service a call. Let us put you on some of Lake Hiwassee’s best trophy fish during the fishing trip of a lifetime. And, for all your bait and tackle needs, go check out Hughes General Store in Blairsville, GA. They carry ev-

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erything you need for a successful day of fishing. Now bundle up, hit the water, and go “get your fish on”! Good luck! Shane Goebel is co-owner of Big Ol’ Fish Guiding Service & a member of The Angler Magazine Fishing Team fishing Lakes Hiwassee, Chatuge, Nottely in Blue Ridge, Western NC & North GA. He can be reached through his website at www.bigolfish.com, or at 828-361-2021 or 1-844-4-ANGLER


MURPHY AREA MOUNTAIN LAKES Winter Fishing On Far Western Mountain Lakes

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he cold has finally arrived (it is 21 degrees outside as a write this), and with it comes my favorite time of year to fish for bass on Hiwassee, Chatuge, and Apalachia lakes. We typically catch more fish per trip, on average, this time of year than at any other, and fish will weigh more during the next couple of months than they will at any other time. There is just something about cold water that fires up the magnum spots and trophy smallmouth. What constitutes productive winter water temperatures for me? My personal favorite water temp range is anywhere from 42-52 degrees. While I have caught fish in water as cold as 36, and Northern anglers routinely catch bass through the ice, it seems that the bite really slows down below 42. There is a combination of factors that make mountain and highland reservoirs unusually good in the winter. First and foremost, the fish tend to be shallower in the winter than at any other time of year. I think another huge actor is the winter drawdown. While the sight of 50 feet of barren lake bottom, from the shore to the water’s edge, is not the most aesthetically pleasing vision on earth, it certainly provides the fish with fewer options in terms of cover and structure, which naturally makes them a bit easier to locate and catch. All of that exposed lake bank also leads to runoff when we get winter precipitation, which puts some water color into our normally crystal clear lakes. I think another reason the winter months are so productive is that the fish are exceptionally predictable. Once you figure out what works on a given body of water, under a given set of conditions, you can then run that pattern for years and years under similar conditions. Finally, the fish tend to group up this time of year, and once you find them you can often catch a bunch without moving. I employ a wide range of baits to catch winter fish, depending upon water temperature and clarity. I typically start out with the following baits tied on: a hair jig that I make myself, a silver buddy or spoon, a mid-depth crankbait, a rattlebait, and an Alabama rig. I love the hair jig just about anywhere: points,

By Aaron Kephart

underwater structure, bluffs, creek channels, etc. I like the silver buddy in the same places. I keep the middepth crankbait and the rattlebait tied on for shallow fishing, and if there is water color those are often the only two baits I use all day. The Alabama rig was phenomenal when it first came out, and although it doesn’t produce like it did when it was first introduced, it is still a killer on suspended winter fish. These baits are just my preferences: I have also had considerable success on a jig and pig, jerkbait, dropshot, float and fly, fish head spin, swimbait, and several other baits this time of year. Clients often ask how to dress to stay comfortable for a day of fishing. First and foremost, watch the weather, and plan ahead. I will fish with morning temps in the single digits, and I don’t get cold. However, I won’t go in high winds and low temps. Some of our most productive days are when it is actually snowing (as long as it is not laying to the point where it will make pulling a boat dangerous). Snow actually almost acts as an insulator and seems to warm up the surrounding air a bit, and a 38 or 40 degree rain can be exponentially more miserable than a snowy day. In terms of clothing, the key is to layer. If you ever get cold, you will never get

warm again; however, if you can stay warm from the start you will have an enjoyable day. I will give an example of what I am going to wear tomorrow (the forecast is for light winds, a temperature in the morning of 17 degrees, and a high of 40). I am going to start out with some thin liner socks, a pair of heavier wool blend socks over those, and a good pair of insulated Gore-Tex boots. I will have a polypropylene, wicking base layer on, with a fleece base layer over that. I will wear jeans and a hooded sweatshirt, a thin fleece jacket, and a Gore-Tex rainsuit over it all to keep the wind off when I am running between spots. I use a fleece neck

gaiter (it is simply amazing - what a difference one of these makes), a quality hat or toboggan, and gloves. I prefer gloves thin enough to fish out of, but that can still keep my hands warm. Experiment until you find what you like. In terms of location, winter fish set up differently based on water temps, water clarity, different lakes, and even different parts of the same lake. Generally speaking, however, deeper populations of fish like main lake and secondary points, and main lake bluffs. I also catch a ton of fish on creek channels and river channel bends, and sunken roadbeds are winter hotspots. I would like to offer a couple more points before I close. First and foremost, always fish with someone else in the winter. If you fall out of a boat with a bunch of layers on, getting back in on your own can be almost impossible, especially after the shock of the cold water. Also, keep a full change of clothes in the boat in case you get wet. Finally, make sure your boat is in good shape before you leave the house, and especially look for weak batteries and frozen steering or throttle cables. If you would like to learn some tactics for catching some big winter bass, call Aaron Kephart with Mountain Lakes Guide Service at 865-466-1345, or visit us on Facebook @mountainlakesguideservice. We are Murphy, North Carolina’s premier trophy spotted and smallmouth guide service, and I would love to put you on some winter giants!

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MURPHY AREA MOUNTAIN LAKES Lake Chatuge Report

F

By Darren Hughes

ishing has been pretty decent out here lately. With the colder temperatures and much needed rain, the fish have been in some tricky transitions; however, we have been catching some great fish shallow to deep in the water columns. The key is to locate where the bait is, then work those areas. Currently, Lake Chatuge is 8 feet below full pool. Water clarity is clear in the main lake and the creeks, and rivers are stained due to the recent rains. Water temperatures are in the mid-50’s. Spotted and largemouth bass have been very active, and we are catching some nice-sized fish. You can still find these bass schooled up all over the lake from shallow to deep. Focus on shallow humps and points around the lake that hold a lot of

bait, then work your way out to deeper water. Most of the creek mouths and rivers have been holding some nice fish. Pulling planer boards and free lines with live bluebacks will work great for covering good ground and catching quality fish. Watch for an early morning top-water bite. Casting jerkbaits, spoons and spooks will also produce quality results. This bite should get even better in the up-coming months. The hybrid bite has also been pretty good. These hard-fighting Western North Carolina hybrids have been on the move and headed for the mouths and backs of creeks in search of warmer water. Pulling planer boards and free lines with live blueback herring should land you some nice fish. Vary your lines behind your boards. Set your bait about 20

feet behind your outside boards along the banks and 30 to 40 feet on your inside boards. Keep your free lines around 80 to 100 feet behind the boat and maintain your trolling speed at .5 mph. It’s also a great idea to set out a few down lines as you troll. January fishing on Lake Chatuge is always exciting. The bigger fish start feeding more aggressively, and for us, it’s a great time of year for some great top-water action. Remember, live bait on this lake can be the difference between a successful day of fishing and a horrid one. Hughes General Store in Blairsville, GA carries a wide range of bait and tackle--it’s the best place around for quality live blueback herring. We also carry ethanol-free gas and have 4 WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA

JANUARY 2017

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some of the best hot, made-fromscratch biscuits in North GA. For guided fishing trips on Lake Chatuge, Hiwassee and Lake Nottely, or questions about the bait shop, call Darren Hughes at Hughes General Store. And whether you’re a seasoned angler or just starting out, give Chatuge a shot for some of the best spotted bass and hybrids in the area. Good luck, and get hooked! Darren Hughes is the owner of Hughes General Store & Bait Shop & a member of The Angler Magazine Fishing Team. He is also a guide with Big Ol’ Fish Guiding Service. Contact him at (706) 745-6569 or www.bigolfish.com


SWAIN COUNTY

Know Your Place! By Ronnie Parris

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now your place! At some time in our lives, I’m sure everyone has been told this. Maybe it was a teacher, or a boss, or a parent. Usually, when you’ve heard this, it was a bad thing. When I tell you to “know your place,” I want it to be a good thing. I’ll bet if you ask any outdoorsmen if he has a special place that he goes when life seems too hard and it feels like you are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders, he or she will undoubtedly say, “yes”. You need somewhere you can go and let nature heal the pains you are feeling. Four years ago for a 4-month span, I had to deal with the loss of my brother, then, within weeks, a close friend was taking a load of logs to the sawmill when his breaks gave out and his life was taken. In only a few months, one of my best friend’s son was lost to a jetski accident. With all this, coming in such a short period

of time, I could hardly bear the pain and the loss I felt. I really don’t know if I would have been able to stand it if I hadn’t had a place to escape to. Whether it’s a trout stream way back in the woods, or a secluded place on the lake, or a hardwood ridge, you just need somewhere to go to try to make since of things and figure out how to heal and move on. The term “healing waters” has a lot of meaning for me, just a place to let the water carry your problems away. I love fishing, I do it for a living, but sometimes, it’s not about catching fish, but just being out without all the distractions and letting things slow down till you can get a handle on them. I am probably one of the luckiest guys around, as I have been blessed with a wonderful family, who is always there in my time of need. Also I have, without a doubt, been blessed with some of the best friends a man could possibly have.

With many of whom I have shared countless hours on the water. When I lost my brother and my buddy lost his son, another thing that was a saving grace I think, for both of us, was that we both had a grandchild come into our lives. Nothing in this world fills the hole of a broken heart like a child who wants nothing but to be loved. Without this, I don’t know if I could have made it. This is not the kind of article I set down to write, but I thought maybe it could help somebody, or maybe it just helped me to write it. So I’ll close by saying next time someone tells you, “you better know your place,” tell them you already do

Ronnie Parris is the Owner and Head Guide of Smoky Mountain Outdoors Unlimited-Fontana Lake Fishing Guides, headquartered in Bryson City, North Caronina, heart of the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains. (www.smounlimited.com)

FLY FISHING AT TWILIGHT

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he title to this article could be a bit misleading. One could think the contents of the article are probably about techniques and tactics that we use to fool trout in the waning light of day. For lack of a better title on my part, it’s actually about fly fishing through the later parts, or winter, of one’s life. The time period is about the time you wake up one morning and realize heck, I can’t see or hear a darn thing anymore and farther on in years. For us fly anglers, roughly about 50 years old or so is when trying to see how to get that tiny tippet through the eye of the hook starts being an impossible feat without some kind of aid. If you were lucky enough to start fly fishing at a younger age the hardships of getting into your senior years and fishing aren’t as tough. In other words your hands and feet already know what to do when casting, wading, tying on flies, drinking etc… I meet a lot of folks on the river and in the fly shop that have just

By David Hulsey

retired to the mountains and want to learn how to fly fish. Believe me, at 65 you’ll have a long road to hoe to get started and enjoy the process. Not to fear though, you really can “teach an old dog new tricks” especially with a few gadgets and good information. First and foremost, get you some kind of vision aid such as reading glasses or those neat little magnifiers that attach to the brim of your fishing cap. I use Costa Del Mar polarized sunglasses with readers built into the lenses. They are a Godsend. Fly threaders, that are much like a needle threader, allow you to preload the tiniest of flies onto the gadget and stick your tippet through a much larger hole to get it on your

line. Some fly boxes even have these threaders built in. C and F fly boxes have some models available. Learning an easy knot to tie with stiff fingers can also help. I’ve used the simple improved clinch knot for over 40 years and it’s done its job admirably. Quality waders and boots will make your life so much better. Breathable waders and felt soled boots with spikes will help you stay upright in the river. Old hips and knees don’t need your feet to be sliding around on the bottom of the river. Look at the Simms company for these, you won’t be disappointed. A wading staff will also aid in movement around on the river. Get two zingers, one for your staff, and one for the long handled net you

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JANUARY 2017

are going to buy to keep you from bending over to net a fish. Dropping either into the river ain’t good, especially when they float away. A simple fold up chair and a doormat can make getting into your gear a heck of a lot easier and cleaner. If you’re like me, when you bend over you can’t breathe so anything to speed up the process can make it a lot less painful. Lastly, picking spots to go fly fishing shouldn’t include the use of ropes, parachutes, life jackets etc., please choose wisely. Areas with the road fairly close to the water, with an absence of big shelf rock and bowling ball sized stones in the river, go a long way to ensure you’ll be back another day. Pebbles and sand are much easier to wade through. Stop by Southern Highroads Outfitters in Blairsville Ga. for the latest gear to make your days on the water safer and more enjoyable! Or give us a call at 706-781-1414 to book the guide trip of your life. WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA 5


BRYSON CITY

Winter of “What To Do” By Dale Collins

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inter has finally shown up, and fortunately, the rains have as well. Many anglers put the coffee on, pop a top, or whatever, and chalk it up as fly tying weather. While some do tie flies on these days, the fishing remains great. This is a great chance to break out that GoreTex you got for Christmas. Still yet, for many, this is a season to learn new strategies to use in the coming spring. Moving into April there are some fantastic chances to attend a few shows. Below are some details on a few across the South. If you are in the area near any of these venues, be sure to come by and say hello! Buckeye United Fly Fishers Show Cincinnati Ohio February 4th – This is a one day show. It is not exactly located in the South, but from parts of Tennessee and Kentucky this is close. The BUFF group does a great job of lining up speakers and vendors for a short and really sweet

6 WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA

one-day expo. Tuckaseegee Fly Shop will be attending for the second year. The Fly Fishing Show, Atlanta Georgia February 3 - 4 – This is the largest showcase of the fly fishing industry under one roof. With that said, it can be overwhelming. Casting demonstrations and speakers will be on hand here as well. Topics will be wide ranging from fly presentation to approach for regions of the Pacific Northwest to southern tailraces.

JANUARY 2017

Texas Fly Fishing and Brew Festival, Plano Texas March 11-12 - What could better than fly fishing and craft beer under one roof? The ticket to the show gives you access to a wealth of fly fishing knowledge that caters to the beginner, all the way to the avid traveling angler. Ticket also includes tastings of many craft brews from the South. Industry reps will be in attendance, along with Tuckaseegee Fly Shop, to showcase

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the best of fly fishing in the South. Fly Fishing travel will be showcased as well. Everything is bigger in Texas, this one won’t disappoint. Virginia Fly Fishing and Wine Festival, Richmond Virginia April 8-9 – With a pinky finger held out, fly fishing and wine just work. It seems like every week a medical association of some sort reveals a study about how a glass of wine per day keeps you healthy. Many people fly fish for the same reason! Some of the biggest names of the sport will be on hand to share their knowledge and experience. Tuck Fly Shop will be in attendance to help showcase the fantastic fly fishing opportunities that exist in Western North Carolina. Dale Collins is Co-Owner of Tuckaseegee Fly Shop Located in Bryson City NC. For the latest news, fly selection, shuttle info, or stream flows, drop by or call (828) 488-3333

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FONTANA LAKE Winter Fishing By Capt. James McManus

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e are all well fed by now, turkeys are almost gone and firewood is getting used up as I write this. It is tempting to just hang around the fire this time of year, but if you can get your boat to the lake the fish will generally reward you with some great action. Smallmouth in particular are really active and there can be whites, spots and walleye joining the party, invited or not. Our fish will school in 30-80 feet of water, sometimes in large bunches, but often 15-20 fish groups. Most bait will be lying low, slowed by the cold so the predator fish have easy pickings. For this reason you have to generally slow presentations to mimic what’s happening and the colder weather makes live bait ef-

fective when artificials don’t seem to work. I still like to throw small jigs and flukes but watching a cork slowly disappear off a rocky bank ain’t too bad either. You haven’t heard too much about the floating fly lately, but it is still a good option now. If the fish are oriented towards the banks we like to throw right at the waterline and walk it down the slope, all the way under the boat. Often you will need to raise the rod and let out line rather than constantly bringing line in as the jig or bait falls. Unless you mark suspended fish they will generally orient towards the bottom. Remember the smallmouth are under siege here from the spots so, as they prepare to spawn in a month or so, treat them gently and release them. Keep the spots if you want to eat a few, they are better tasting anyway. Also, this is time of the year, when you may be the only boat on the wa-

ter be sure to tell someone your plan and where you will be fishing, what time you expect to be back and, at a minimum, wear an inflatable belt or flotation devise. The new belts are really nonintrusive and offer a degree of safety should you slip on icy decks and head overboard.

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JANUARY 2017

I like to carry a bic lighter so that if I were to go over and was stuck for some reason, I could start a fire - it gets real cold, real fast, especially if you get wet. Happy New Year, dress warm and enjoy what God has provided, later, Capt. James.

WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA 7


By: Dustin Stanberry

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Winter Stonefly Dry Fly

s we continue deeper into winter, much of the area is beginning to feel the icy grip of Jack Frost. Although most of the trout’s diet continues to be subsurface, during warmer periods there can still be some dry fly action to be had. The small winter stonefly becomes more active through the colder months and on warm winter days when the highs reach into the 30 to 40 degree range, these insects can become quite active. These winter stoneflies, like all other stoneflies, climb out of the water and hatch into adults. Areas around bridges and rocky sections of a river are good places to start looking. They can become quite dense in areas and the trout begin to feed on them very heavily. They do not travel far from the water and during periods of heavy activity I will see them all over my equipment and hands. If there is snow or ice around during a hatch, they can be easily located as they will contrast

with the snowy environment. They are black in color to help absorb heat from the sun, so areas where there is a significant and consistent amount of sunlight is where you’ll find them. These little stoneflies are quite fun to watch scurry around, and to watch the trout feed on them can be quite beautiful. Since they don’t generally fly around a lot, they aren’t landing on the water and generating an ambitious rise from the trout. Instead, the trout will have a more delicate take like a sipping behavior. All winter long, small black nymphs can be good prospecting patterns, as the stoneflies are always in the water. I like to use black Copper John nymphs in 16-20, black Pheasant Tail nymphs in 1822 and black Hares Ear nymphs in 16-20 during the winter to imitate these little stonefly nymphs. Credit for this fly can be given to Brad Befus. I believe his original pattern was intended to be a Yellow Sally

imitation. I have changed the tail, body and thorax to imitate better, the winter stonefly. This pattern has been in my box for over 10 years and

has served me quite well through the colder winter months. Tie a few and keep them in the winter load out. Best wishes and tight lines!

Photo by Dustin Stanberry

Hook: Tiemco 200R, #18-20 Thread: Giorgio Benecchi’s 12/0, Black Tail: Black Micro Fibbets Rib: Uni-Flexx in Black Body: Black Superfine Dubbing Wing: Medallion Wing Sheeting in Adult Stone (Tie in at hook eye, pulled over hackle, and tie off behind thorax.) Thorax: Black Superfine Dubbing Hackle: Dark Dun Visual Indicator: Tulip Paint in your choice of color. I prefer white or orange. Without the puff paint, this fly can be very hard to see. The fly is designed to sit low in the water so using a puffy paint over a post works very well.

Dustin Stanberry is an instructor at Biltmore Fly Fishing and Sporting Clays located in Asheville, NC. 8 WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA

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JACKSON COUNTY – TROUT CAPITAL OF NC MEND…MEND…KICK…MEND

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t’s January, Happy New Year! I hope the holidays were good to you. The beginning of the year gives most of us a chance to organize the fly box, add some new equipment to the arsenal, and get excited for the new year to come. All this preparation is great, but one of the most important things you need to do, when either dry fly fishing or nymphing, is to be sure you have a good mend and are drag free. What is the MEND? “The act of moving your fly line during the drift, to create a specific presentation on the fly.” While there are many different types of mending, I would like to discuss implementing a good drift, to my first time fly fishing clients. Most of the people I talk to who have never fly fished before, always say to me, “isn’t that hard to do?” and “I think I would wrap the line around my body while trying to cast the line.” While they are telling me how hard they think it is, they always bring their arm back and forth in a motion that looks like 3-4 false casts. I explain that there is an application for

By Eddie Hudon

that type of casting, however, what we would do is a more simple approach. For all my first time fly fishing clients, I like to introduce them to nymph fishing. I begin by explaining what we are trying to achieve, when casting the line a little upstream, letting the current take the line and indicator down stream. Once the line is in front of them, I explain that the flies we are using are just about to reach the bottom, and we don’t want to disturb the indicator or flies. This is where we need to mend the line upstream and get a good drift. Without it, chances of catching a fish are minimal. At first, they cast and try mending, most of the time, too soon, or they move the flies and indicator. After a few failed attempts, they always say, “here, show me.” So I proceed to explain what I am doing while I go through the motions. About 75% of the time, I catch a fish. Now they are believers. Because they are new to the sport, they never follow a routine. I tell them to just keep it simple and repeat a drag free drift, CAST, follow your line, throw a MEND, another

mend, kick out some line, and a final MEND. Somewhere in that routine, we end up hooking into a fish (providing I have the right fly, correct depth, and the perfect weight). Once they repeat, and have success, their confidence grows. I then, step back and let them go, especially on the set. Oh my goodness, in the beginning they usually just pull the line up-

stream. After we have been together for an hour, they are setting down stream like a pro. It’s so much fun when it all comes together. (By the way ~ the woman are easier to teach because they listen. The guys, well, are “guys”) I hope to see you on the river. I know you will be catching more fish, MEND away!

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WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA 9


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RIVER REFLECTIONS

A Worthy Effort

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ow that we’re solidly settled into the winter months, I’m pretty selective about my fishing days. It seems that the older I get, the less enthused I am about having chapped lips or feeling my core temperature slip below anything other than toasty. Instead of being out on the water I lean on my memories and ramp up my anticipation for spring. Recently, my thoughts have been on my Dad. He passed away just over 5 years ago. The glue of our relationship, when I was younger, was our shared love for Boston sports teams. He was one of the hardest working men I ever knew and he didn’t have a lot of time for recreation or hobbies. At times, he worked three jobs just to sustain our home. A sacrifice that, honestly, I didn’t fully appreciate until I became a father myself. In addition to his hard work out of the home, he also ensured there was always some work to be done at home too. Each summer, he would order a huge load of timbers that filled the back half of our driveway. We had to cut, split, stack and dry all of it before my Summer Vacation could really begin. All I wanted to do was to go fishing but darned if there weren’t all these chores to do! Then, before winter, we had to move the entire payload of prepped firewood from our backyard into the garage. This ensured that the wood could stay dry through the harsh New England winter and keep us from having to trek out in the snow to get it. My Dad grew up in a very different environment than I did, which is a credit to him. He grew up in the tough neighborhoods of Charlestown, MA back in the 50’s and 60’s. I, on the other hand, had a wonderful childhood. I was surrounded by nature and was blessed with the ability to roam freely without fear of getting into any trouble. The home we moved into when I was five is still the same home I visit today when I go back to see my Mom. The reason I share all of this is to let you know that fishing and being

By Matt Mittan

in the great outdoors was about the furthest thing from my Dad’s life experience that there could have been. Me on the other hand, I’d go off for days on end with friends on camping and canoeing expeditions. If I didn’t have work to do, I was out

seasoned guide. He defined the camp schedule of chores. He assigned the tent, food and gear locations. He even laid out our plans for fishing the lake the next morning and how we would direct my Old Town’s path around the small body

Berkshire Mountains in western New England

fishing. Heck, even my High School Yearbook says “Gone Fishing” under my picture. So imagine my surprise, when I was about 16 or 17 years old, when my Father told me he wanted us to go on a camping, canoeing and fishing trip to the Berkshire Mountains of western New England. I remember thinking at the time that it must have been some kind of joke. My second thought was that I’d have to be watching out for him the whole time. The only time I had ever seen my Dad with a fishing pole in his hand was when he was getting on to me for leaving them in the back of his car. And I had never even contemplated the possibility of him being in the bow of my canoe, never mind casting from there. But he meant it. He wanted us to do this. So I agreed to the adventure. Once we settled into our campsite, alongside a small lake in the high country of Massachusetts, my Dad immediately took charge and adopted the self-appointed role of

of water. I found it rather amusing at the time and remember going along with it, even though he was way out of his league. I appreciated that he had jumped so far outside of his own comfort zone to spend some time with me, in my world. Our first morning out, he was up and ready to hit the water early. He wanted me to hop up in the front of the canoe so that he could push off the shore and steer the boat. I had to draw the line there. No way I was starting my chilly morning with an uninvited dip in the drink. As we paddled across to the opposite shore, a Beaver slapped his tail on the surface warning us to alter our advance toward where his home was. But my Dad insisted that the fish were on that shore. So we continued. Not a minute later, a sudden thrash of the water and a thunderous crack that echoed across the lake slapped down not two feet away from our right side. We nearly capsized. My Dad, harking back to his teen, tough-guy years, shouted

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JANUARY 2017

out words I had never heard him utter before that moment, as he swung his paddle around with lightening speed into a defensive posture. The whole scenario still makes me chuckle to this day. After a couple of minutes, his adrenaline came down and we both had a great laugh at it. But I can still see the way he turned back at me and didn’t say a word. He didn’t need to. There was a look from him that let me know that he knew this wasn’t his world. But there he was. With me. His son. After that encounter, he threw up the white flag and asked me to lead the way the rest of the trip. It was a glorious thing for a teen son to have his Dad defer. I believe that was the moment me and my Dad’s relationship started to evolve to becoming man to man friends, beyond just Father and Son. We continued to be closer and closer as friends over the next 20 plus years, until his death in 2011. To this day, that trip with my Dad warms my heart as one of my best memories with him. As awkward, clumsy and uniformed as his effort was, it was a beautiful gift he gave me. It was my Father’s love for me and his desire to reach me at a time of my life when I may not have wanted to be reached by my Old Man, that inspires me to make the same effort with my own Son’s today, even if I have to go outside my own comfort zone and meet them where they are. It’s a worthy effort that can make a lasting difference. It did for me. Thank you Dad.

Matt Mittan is a long time broadcaster in WNC, an entrepreneur and USAF veteran who has fished all around the world. He can often be found aboard his classic red Old Town canoe in search of mountain Bass. Matt currently has an insurance business, partnered with AFLAC, providing benefits and tax solutions for area businesses. Email MattsFishingDiary@gmail. com with story ideas or feedback. WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA 11


MOUNTAIN WATER STEWARDSHIP

Recreation Depends on Clean Water By Dave Russell

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illions of Americans enjoy recreation Creek. Since 1995, Ross Creek has been designataround water, whether it is a picnic by ed as impaired by the EPA and NCDENR Divia lake, fishing at a stream, kayaking on sion of Water Quality. Stormwater best managea river, or swimming in the ocean. Pollution in the ment practices (BMPs), stream enhancement and water can be a threat to our health and the health conservation of the stream riparian corridor will of our family and friends. Clean water in streams improve the water quality in Ross Creek, through and wetlands means cleaner water downstream reducing stormwater runoff and filtering runoff where we live, work, and play. Consider that each through soil prior to entering the stream. year about 33 million Americans go fishing and about 19 million people go paddling in kayaks, The goals of the Ross Creek Stormwater Imcanoes, rafts, or standup paddleboards. provement Project are: RiverLink works hard for clean water. It’s one of the cornerstones of our mission. The Ross Creek • Provide treatment of stormwater Stormwater Improvement Project provides one originating from roofs, parking lots example of how we accomplish that mission. Ross and roadways Creek begins its journey to the Gulf of Mexico in • Installation of a vegetated wet swale and the mountains of Chunn’s Cove just to the east of stream bank enhancement at St. Luke’s Asheville. It flows into Kenilworth Lake, then into Church, to provide treatment of runoff, the Swannanoa, the French Broad, Douglas Lake, reduce erosion, and reduce flooding the Tennessee, the Ohio, the Mighty Mississippi • Installation of Wetland and stream and into the Gulf. How many fishing lines are in the water along that course? improvements at Lakewood Dr. and Waverly Dr. in Kenilworth, to Ross Creek is an urban stream, absorbing runoff from Tunnel Road, provide treatment of runoff, reduce erosion, and reduce flooding one of Asheville’s main thoroughfares. Every drop of oil, every cigarette • Provide expanded educational opportunities for the community butt, every piece of trash tossed out a car window flows downhill into Ross • Place “Flows to Waterways/Don’t Pollute” placards on storm drains

Trusted in the Industry. Rooted in the Community.

Cleaning up Ross Creek might seem like a small drop in a very big bucket, but just imagine if RiverLink and similar organizations were able to do this for every tributary of the French Broad. For every little stream in the watershed … the country! When looking at making charitable donations, consider an organization that works for improved water quality. It’s a gift that pays dividends now and long into the future.

Dave Russell is the Volunteer Services Manager at RiverLink, 828-252-8474, Ext. 11, or dave@riverlink.org. To find out more about RiverLink and its many programs championing Western North Carolina waterways, visit http://riverlink.org.

“Come see me after a hard days fishing”

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(828) 277-6700 www.flemingchiropracticcare.com

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BURNSVILLE AREA

Common Misconceptions About Streamers By Ethan Hollifield

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treamer fishing is a technique that every angler seems to have an opinion about. Often I find, as a guide that it is also one of the most misunderstood methods of fly-fishing I’ve ever come across. The popularity of fishing with streamers, and with the expansion of fly design over the last few years, has seen with it more and more anglers using the technique, but unfortunately not maximizing their opportunities with it. I’m not going to cover every single facet of using streamers (there’s a myriad of great information out there on tackle, flies, etc.) but I’ll try to cover some lesser-known facts to improve your streamer game this upcoming year. A streamer can be one of the most versatile tools in your arsenal of flies. The combination of retrieves is almost endless, but more often than not, I see many anglers doing the same mundane “strip – pause- strip – pause” rhythmic presentation that sometimes might not be the most effective. You have to take into account how your stream-

er is acting underwater instead of just chucking it out into a run and “hopping” the fly rather than hunting the fly. I find that short, erratic strips in which the fly line is being

pulled by your stripping hand less than an inch at a time in most cases can lead to more strikes. Stripping a fly too quickly/too much can often times put the fly in a position in the water column where a trout never even has a chance to see it. Visualizing what your fly is doing underwater does wonders to see how your streamer actually behaves. Try casting it out into shallow water where you can see your fly, and take note of what it does during different retrieves to help you decide the best way to cover water with it. I try to keep my streamer colors very simple. As a general rule, I fish lighter colored and smaller streamers in clear water conditions and darker, sometimes larger patterns in stained water. Many anglers have a misconception that, when the water is muddy, they have to throw a flashy bright colored fly, and this couldn’t be further from the truth. Darker patterns with beefy profiles throw off a silhouette that stands out in colored water better to the fish. If I had to pick three colors to base a streamer off of, I would choose white, black, and olive which will cover most situations an average angler will run into. Streamers have a well-deserved reputation for hooking into larger than average fish on any given river. Maybe the most misunderstood part of streamer fishing is that you’ll always hook into a monster brown or rainbow every time you venture out on the water. I can’t tell you how many 7-8” fish have tried to take a whack at a streamer that is almost as long as they are, and it happens more often than one would think. Streamer fishing for big fish (and in general) takes a lot of dedication and patience. I can promise that hooking into a large trout with a streamer will often require many fishless hours and some frustration on the angler’s part. However, I can also promise that

watching a fish swim out of cover to chomp on your streamer will be a memory that will last a lifetime. Ethan Hollifield is a native North Carolinian from Spruce Pine. While earning a degree in Parks and Natural Resource Management from NC

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JANUARY 2017

State, he was a member of the threetime national championship-winning bass fishing team “BassPack”. Ethan currently guides for Stonefly Outfitters in Burnsville, North Carolina.

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BREVARD AREA

January Fishing in Western North Carolina By J.E.B. Hall

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inter is a favorite time of year for many Asheville area trout anglers. With the colder temperatures that Western North Carolina is known to experience in January, the crowds disappear from trout streams, and big fish come out of hiding. While some fish can be taken on conventional fishing gear, winter is where fly fishing really shines. The tiny insects that the fish feed on during colder months are best imitated, and presented, with a fly rod. Most fly selections will feature hook sizes ranging from size 18 on the bigger end, all the way down to size 26 on the small side. That size range does change in periods of high water following heavy rains. During these events, big stonefly imitations and streamer patterns prove to be more effective in the increased flow. For the dry fly purist, winter offers some of the most consistent hatches of the year. Small winter stoneflies are present on most days,

as are midges. Warmer days will see micro sized caddis flies. Light rain and snow typically mean that Blue Wing Olive mayflies will be on the menu. Like any winter activity, weather can make, or break an out-

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ing. Anglers should pick their fishing days wisely, looking for warmer, high humidity days, as opposed to the blustery, blue bird variety.

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J.E.B. Hall is a full time fishing guide for Davidson River Outfitters in Pisgah Forest, NC. He is the author of The Southern Appalachian Fly Guide, and has contributed to a variety of magazines and blogs, including Southern Culture on the Fly and Fish Alaska Magazine.


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The Mighty Musky

The Fish Of 10,000 Casts By Aaron Motley

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ome anglers call them the fish of 10,000 casts. I know I feel that way! Muskies live in many rivers and lakes in North Carolina. These fish are the apex predators of their waters. This makes muskies fun to fish for using extra large flies or large conventional tackle to imitate the suckerfish, trout, or any fish smaller than them living in the habitat. Lake James, Lake Adger, Cheoah Lake, French Broad River, Nolichucky River, and Saint John’s River to name a few. In all these bodies of water, muskies like structure and places to ambush prey. Drop offs, deep holes in a river, and confluences where baitfish gather, are places to concentrate fishing time. Musky will spawn sometime around February. Fishing for them prior to

spawning can be very productive because they are trying to add on weight before they begin their spawn each year. Water clarity and levels are always something to think about prior to planning your next trip musky fishing. Some gear an angler will want, or need, to catch and release these unique creatures are a really big net, stout long hemostats, fly or lure retriever, boat, 10 or 12 weight fly rods, floating line, sinking lines, large arbor reel, and some 8-14 inch flies. Other helpful tips are learning to make figure eights at the side of the boat to hopefully entice a last chance strike. For the fly angler, making sure you strip set upon a strike from muskies. How an angler connects their line to the fly is also something to experiment with. Some use steel wire or Rio Wire Bite, fluorocar-

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bon and monofilament from 40 – 80 pound test with swivels and quick clasp rated for these fish. These fish do not run like redfish. What they lack in running, they adequately make up in power by thrashing, rolling, tail walking, and throwing your fly. Fighting these fish may not last a long time, but they are intensely powerful fights for a short amount of time. Time and patience, tons of casting, several beers, and one moment will make catching one musky a fish to be remembered for a lifetime. Also makes a great fish story! Come to Hunter Banks Fly Shop in Asheville, NC or Waynesville, NC and let us help you get started musky fishing on the fly. We can also help in learning to tie flies for muskies.

Aaron, a graduate of Brevard College, is the day-to-day Operations Manager at the Waynesville location of Hunter Banks. His waterfowl hunting addiction supports his fly tying addiction. He has learned his fly-fishing craft from many mountain “fishy” people and pursues large trout, bass and musky on a daily basis. He teaches others to do the same. Get in touch with him through Hunter Banks.

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LAKE LURE

Adjusting Tactics For Cold Weather Fishing By Michael Yelton

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ith cooler temperatures here in Western North Carolina, fly fishing tactics for trout will change. The wintertime can concede some great trout fishing, but what worked in the fall won’t necessarily be as successful during the winter. Not to say that you have to reinvent the wheel but where you fish, what you fish, when you fish, and how you fish, will play a big part in your success on the water. It’s one of my favorites times of the year to fish just because most of the “fair weather” anglers stay inside and you have the river all to yourself. When you’re picking what water type to fish during the winter, there are a couple of things you’ll need to consider. First and foremost, bug activity slows down during the wintertime. This, in turn, is going to affect where trout are going to hold. The productive pocket water that held trout during

summer and fall will not hold near as many fish. Why? Because there are not enough bugs coming off to keep the fish there. The more productive water is going to be your slower, deeper troughs and pools. Why? Because that’s where most of your bug activity is happening. Wintertime fly selection plays an important role as well. Matching the hatch to what is happening is a good place to start. If midge are hatching, then it wouldn’t be a bad idea to throw a midge pattern. Same thing goes for BWOs. Attractor patterns are even more crucial to your wintertime success. Eggs, worms, stoneflies, and mops are all attractor patterns that will move fish to eat even when cold-°©‐water temps have them lethargic. Trout tend to hold deeper during the winter so flies that cut down through to the mixing zone are just as important. A great wintertime standby is an egg fished with a zebra midge.

During these cooler months, the days are shorter and your window of primetime fishing gets smaller. So there is no need to be on the water at the break of dawn. The ideal time to fish is midday. 10am to 3pm is usually going to be when the fish are most active, due to the rise in water temperature. Bug activity is usually highest during this time frame, which makes for happier fish, as well. Since the fish are holding deeper and more lethargic, nymphing is usually going to be the more productive method during the winter months. Tightline nymphing, dry dropping, and suspension devices can all produce at these times. When deciding which method to use, let the conditions dictate that decision. What are your current flows? How deep is the water? What is the clarity of the water? Let the answers to these questions help make your decisions. Good Luck

Tony Brooks with a wintertime Rainbow and if you have any questions on the subject feel free to go to Michael L. Yelton can be reached at The Granddaddy Fly Fishing Experience, LLC located in Lake Lure, NC by email at info@granddaddyflyfishing.com, by phone at (828) 980-3554, or at his website at www. granddaddyflyfishing.co

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By Michael Lewis

ell, if you have a boat in the water, you’ve got it made. Because most people can’t get their boat in the water when they draw down Lake Lure, you may not have anyone out there to compete with. The bait fish can’t get back up into the creeks, because the creeks are just little trickles of water, so they have to stay out of the drop offs and ledges and they bundle up. The bass don’t have to look very far for food. If you find the baitfish, you can pretty much use any lure you want, as long as, it looks like a minnow, LOL. The important thing is to slow down when you’re fishing. When it’s cold, they don’t like to go very far, very fast. A jig or a spoon will keep the bait in front of the fish longer and a drop shot rig might work even better. The main thing is to get out there. One of my favorite things to do when they lower the lake is to take pictures of the creeks. You can really learn a lot from the pictures on your

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phone, especially if you are fishing a lake that has been lowered and is now full again. You can see all the logs, stumps, and rocks that are under the water when the lake is lowered that you can’t normally see except on your depth finder and you have a much sharper image with the photo than you will with your depth finder. So you really learn a lot if you pay attention to what it looks like when the water’s down. The good thing is, the water is still running in the river above the lake. The trout in there are still hungry and there are several other streams and creeks around the area to explore. Give me a call and don’t forget to take a child fishing and watch them smile! Michael Lewis can be contacted at Lewis No Clark Expeditions in Lake Lure, by phone at 828-223-0269, on his website www.lewisnoclark.com, or by email at lewisnoclark@aol.com


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ith the sport of fishing growing and more anglers on the water, there seems to be more information available. All of this information, paired with the quick access to it using smart phones and social media avenues, can make us a lot more productive on the water. Becoming a better angler is great, but it could all be in vain unless we do our best to protect the resources we so greatly love. Knowing how to safely handle and release fish is just as important as being able to catch fish. Below are a few tips that will help any angler become a better steward of the water. Tip 1: Minimize the time taken to fight the fish. There are scenarios that require lighter line or tippet. More often than not, this leads to fish being broken off, but if not, this can be the cause of undue stress on the fish. In general, the lighter the line or tippet, the longer it takes to land the fish. Just like humans, fish build up lactic acid during a fight. If not revived properly, this can lead to an injured or dead fish. Using the heaviest pound test possible for your particular situation can minimize the time it takes to land a fish and can have a huge impact on the health of the fish when released Tip 2: Always handle fish with a wet hand. Virtually all species of fish are covered with a protective mucus membrane. This membrane does quite a few things for the fish. It allows the fish to move through the water with less drag, but more importantly, it protects the fish from diseases, fungi and parasites. Handling a fish with a dry hand removes this protective barrier, and the fish becomes highly susceptible to waterborne diseases and parasites. Wetting your hands before handling the fish will help prevent the removal of the membrane. With

this in mind, a net with a rubber bag can be a great tool for the job. Using a net to cradle fish while removing the hook will greatly reduce the possibility of injury to the fish. We will still need to use wet hands to handle the fish, but minimizing contact can be crucial. Tip 3: Properly reviving the fish before it is released is the next step in safely handling fish. Regardless of species, all fish need to be revived until able to swim away under their own power. The best way to do this is to place the fish in the water facing into the current and firmly, but not squeezing, hold the fish by the base of the tail until it can swim away on its own. Letting go after a good kick of the tail under the assumption that the fish is ready can lead to the demise of the fish. If the water is cold, you need to be ready to keep your hands submerged until the fish is ready. I wear wool gloves most of the winter when fishing. I take the gloves off to handle the fish and replace them once the fish is released. This is also the reason I like a jacket with good water-tight cuffs. Tip 4: Correctly holding fish, especially large fish, can be especially important. Never squeeze a fish. If the fish seems unruly, try turning the fish upside down. This will disrupt their equilibrium and give you a moment to handle the fish without struggle. When it comes to handling trout, you never want to “lip” the fish. This practice may be acceptable for bass, but even bass can be injured this way. Cradling trout and other fish with two hands is the best method. A great way to hold fish is one hand firmly gripping the base of the tail and the other hand supporting the fish from underneath toward the head. Be sure to keep your fingers out

of the gills. Handling a fish by the gills can cause serious injury and will usually lead to a delayed mortality. Tip 5: Hold the fish close to the water. This way, if the fish struggles, it will only fall a minimal distance. Dropping a fish even a short distance to the water can cause serious injury and possibly death. Keeping the fish in the water until the moment of the photo is also critical. It is a good idea to walk through the operation of a camera with the other anglers in your party. This way, if there is any question about how to operate the device, it is taken care of beforehand. Tip 6: Know when to leave the hook embedded. At some point every angler will be faced with this decision: do I cut the line or try to remove the hook? Generally, if you are asking this question, the line should be cut. If the hook is embedded too deep or around the gill area, it’s generally best to cut the line. In most cases, fish have a greater chance of survival expelling the hook on their own as opposed to the angler digging around and trying to remove it. Tip 7: De-barb your hooks. There are benefits to de-barbing fish hooks. One of the most important is it’s easier to remove from the fish. Yes, if we de-barb the hook, it is easier for the fish to throw the hook. It requires more line management and skill to keep the fish connected. Another benefit to de-barbing is that in the event you foul hook yourself or another angler, it is easier to remove. These are just a few tips to handling fish safely. Hopefully you find them helpful and I can assure you that the fish will appreciate your knowledge. For more fish handling tips, go to

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TIPS FROM A PRO

FRESHWATER WINTERTIME CRAPPIE FISHING

BRANDON LESTER

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very year as my bass tournament season comes to an end, I start thinking about crappie fishing. I like to take a break and let the competitive flames refuel a bit. When the calendar strikes November and water temperatures dip into the 50s in Tennessee, I take several days to go crappie fishing. These fish make really good table fare, they are also very fun to catch, especially the big ones like you find in winter. I am well aware of how good crappie fishing is in spring. But for the way I fish for them around home, fall and winter are when you can really fill the livewell.

It works the same way when fishing laydowns. I look for laydowns on vertical banks that have a good-sized trunk. If they have a big trunk, I know there is a good-sized treetop out in the water. If they are there, I will see them on my SideVision. Once you find fish, cast exactly where they are or just beyond them, not 3 feet to the left or right. If you miss a crappie’s strike zone by 6 inches, you’ve missed it by a mile. Make the cast, count your bait down to the desired depth and reel just fast enough to maintain that depth. No jigging, nothing fancy, just a

Crappie stack up in large schools this time of year, at it’s not hard to catch them if you know what to look for. Crappie always hang around cover of some type. The two key pieces of structure on my home water are boat docks and laydowns. There are a few docks that seem to always hold fish, but I like to hunt for them with my Raymarine electronics. I turn on SideVision mode and start searching. Crappie will be in big schools, and I might go down a line of 50 docks with only one dock holding the mother lode. To see how big they are and to make sure they are crappie, I will put an Aqua Vu camera down there and check them out. Most of the docks I fish are floating, and the magical depth is normally at least 20 feet of water under the dock. The crappie will normally be suspended under these docks anywhere from 8 to 15 feet down, depending on the water clarity.

slow reel. My favorite jig head is a 1/32-ounce ball-shaped jig head with a good sharp Mustad hook, but I will go up to a 1/16-ounce if the wind is blowing or I’m fishing deeper than normal. Any soft plastic minnow imitation in the 2-inch range with a straight tail will work. Stay away from twist-tail grubs for this method because they cause your bait to rise too much. I use a S721 MHX rod built with supplies from Mud Hole Custom Tackle, including a Winn grip. It is 6-foot-long, super-sensitive and has the perfect action for controlling small baits. I team it with a 1000-size spinning reel and 4-pound Vicious Panfish line in fluorescent green. The green line helps me detect light strikes. These tips will help you all the way up until crappie start moving shallow to spawn. These fish are fat and healthy this time of year. So get out and have some fun this winter.

Get more tips from Lester at

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Surprising Winter is the Best Planting Time

I am often asked when is the best time to plant fruiting plants. My answer is usually the same; the best time is 20 years ago or today. The second best time to plant is during the winter months. Plants are dormant, and can be easily shipped and planted with no stress on the plant because there is not a lot of maintenance once the plant or tree has been planted. Simply dig a good hole, water thoroughly

at planting, and take the rest of the winter off. Even though there are no signs of growth above ground, the root systems will have time to get adjusted to their new location and begin to initiate new root growth. There are plenty of advantages of growing your own edibles. First of all, you know what has been done over the course of the growing season from a chemical stand point. Second, the fruit just taste

better coming out of your home orchard versus buying fruit from the grocers that have little to no flavors. Thirdly, it is good for your soul and you will feel more connected to the environment and nature. Whether it is an apple tree, muscadine vine or a blueberry bush; now is the time to plant. Let’s Grow Together. Greg Ison, Ison’s Nursery and Vineyards, 800733-0324, www.isons.com

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estled in the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina, Jackson County is home to the Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail and its centerpiece, the Tuckasegee River, which dissects the county as it flows north to Fontana Lake. The “Tuck,” as it is known to the locals, is a beautiful tailwater trout fishery used for the 2011 USA Fly Fishing Championships, in which the Gold Medal was won by Team USA member Logan Egan. The most popular time to fish the Tuck is during the delayed harvest (DH) fishing season from Oct. 1 to the first Friday in June each year. During this time frame, the Tuck is a catchand-release fishery with artificial-lure, single-hook restrictions. This stretch of specially regulated water runs about 5.5 miles outside the small towns of Dillsboro, Sylva and Cullowhee. The boundaries of the DH are marked by signage on the banks. These regulations appeal to fly fishers and spin fishers alike. You will not only see anglers stripping streamers, drifting nymphs, and casting dries, but you will see a fair number of spinner fishermen taking good numbers of brook, rainbow and brown trout. Jackson County receives an annual stocking of 92,800 trout, the most in the state of North Carolina. In October and November 2016, the Tuck DH section was stocked with 19,600 trout. Rainbow and brook trout made up about 80 percent of this number, and the other 20 percent were brown trout. Normally, trout reach 12 inches in length before making it into the Tuck, but anglers should expect to see, and potentially land, some trophy-sized trout on any drift or presentation. Many anglers wade the river, and drift boats are also popular. Stream flow is controlled by Duke Energy, which posts three days of release schedules on their website, www.duke-energy. com under the Nantahala link. Duke Energy has also provided boat ramps on Old Cullowhee Road and North River Road that many drifters use while floating the Tuck. South River Road is a popular area for anglers and guides due to the number of pull-offs that parallel the river and make accessing the river easy. Access to the Tuckasegee is great compared to some other rivers in the area, but there is some posted private property. Be sure to avoid it. The Tuck is also part of the North Carolina Mountain Heritage Trout Waters program, which allows anglers to fish with a special three-day license that costs only $5. Many anglers opt to purchase a regular fishing license with a trout stamp since the fee is fair and it gives access to almost all the state’s trout waters. A non-resident can purchase a 10-day fishing license and trout stamp for $33 or an annual fishing license and trout stamp for $51. The Tuck DH runs very close to downtown Sylva, yet its beauty catches most first-time anglers off guard.

In fall, the red, yellow and orange leaves dancing on the trees highlight the contours of the surrounding mountains. A bald eagle might closely judge your fishing skills, watching for its opportunity to show you how it’s done. Winter brings cleansing and the occasional snowfall, in which many local anglers find solitude chasing trout on tiny midges. Winter fishing pressure is minimal, which makes it a great time to land a large trout if you’re willing to test your mental toughness wading in cold water. Spring comes to life with budding trees and insects hatching, signaling the coming summer. Anglers spend late evenings on the Tuck sight casting to rising trout honed in on larger dry flies and emerger patterns. Spring evenings can be very peaceful, since most anglers have broken down their rods by 6 p.m. and are headed to the local brewery or one of the many unique restaurants or food trailers in downtown Sylva or Dillsboro. There is a list of local restaurants and breweries at www.mountainlovers.com, or just ask local fly shop employees for their recommendation. In 2016, the North Carolina General Assembly proclaimed Jackson County the Official Trout Capital of North Carolina. Jackson County is home to 4,600 miles of trout streams with a good mixture of hatchery supported streams and wild streams. Check out www.NCTroutcapital.com for more information. Jackson County was also the first to have an officially designated Fly Fishing Trail, which highlights 15 different streams and rivers for any angler to test their skills. Many have taken the challenge of catching and releasing trout or smallmouth bass in each location. There is a map that gives detailed information about each stream, directions, and the type of fish anglers can expect to catch. More information is available at www. flyfishingtrail.com. If you are looking for a fishery with plenty of trout and the opportunity to catch a 25-incher, the Tuck is for you. It is relatively close to Atlanta, Knoxville, Charleston and Charlotte. The Tuck is just an hour west of Asheville, N.C., and it is at the base of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Blue Ridge Parkway. This makes for a nice and easy weekend retreat, or it can be a popular destination for longer stays due to accessibility and other local attractions. Come and experience North Carolina trout fishing at its best! Shannon Messer owns Appalachian Flies and manages and guides at Blackrock Outdoors Orvis Authorized Fly Shop at 570 West Main Street, Sylva NC 28779. Contact him at 828-6314453 or appalachianflies@gmail.com.

North Carolina’s Tuckasegee River, A Southern Gem By Shannon Messer

For more fishin’ on the North Carolina Tuckasegee River, go to

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FISH & FISHING

A DIFFERENT APPROACH MARK SOSIN

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t’s commonplace today, but more than a halfcentury ago few anglers even thought about it. The late Dr. Webster Robinson wanted to catch either a sailfish or striped marlin on a fly rod while casting from a boat that was out of gear so that the fly was not being trolled. Working with his skipper, Capt. Lefty Reagan, these angling legends fathered the concept of teasing a fish. They reasoned that if they could raise a billfish on a hookless bait, capture its total attention by keeping the tasty morsel just out of reach, work the fish within casting range and substitute a different offering at the last minute, the mission would be successful. I knew both men well and listened intently as Web Robinson described the process to me in detail. He even gave me a copy of the fly he used. Teasing ranks as an extremely effective technique for countless species in a variety of situations. Working on sailfish or marlin on the offshore grounds is just one phase. Sometimes known as bait-andswitch, it’s nothing more than using a live bait, dead bait or a certain artificial to excite a fish enough so it will eat the lure or bait you want it to devour on the tackle of your choice. Very light tackle enthusiasts often tease their quarry into striking so that the line doesn’t break on the initial contact. I’ve teased countless species from sharks, albacore and tuna to striped bass, redfish, barracuda, amberjack, snook and many more. Let me share a couple examples to show you how effective teasing can be. Using a spinning outfit, I rigged a plastic worm exactly the same way as I would for largemouth bass. Pacific sailfish normally don’t include plastic worms as part of their diet. We teased one with a bonito belly and, once the boat was out of gear, I cast the worm. My partner yanked the teaser out of the water and the fish inhaled a plastic worm faster than you can read this.

I met a man who showed me beautiful flies for offshore species. When I told him I could catch a sailfish on a cigar just as easily as with one of his flies, he laughed at me. We were shooting a television show in Panama, and late in the day Capt. Karl Anderson asked if I had a cigar. He rigged it with a leader and hook, attached it to a flyrod and waited for a sailfish to show in the trolled teasers. We stopped the boat, Karl yanked the teaser away from the fish, and I cast the cigar. Within seconds, the sailfish crashed the cigar, went airborne, and all you could see was tobacco showering through the air. As Karl put it, that’s no longer theory. Teasing fish opens a broad new dimension to the sport. As an angler, it allows you to hook fish on all types of tackle using any bait or lure you choose including cigars and plastic worms. Try it and you’ll become hooked on the technique just as I am.

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FLY FISHING

CASTING FOR REDFISH: BEYOND THE DOUBLE HAUL

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t is well-known that the double haul and the back cast are essential for fly fishing for redfish. Here are three more casts I believe are very important when targeting winter reds with a fly. Fly Repositioning Cast This cast is wonderful when you need to recast a fly to a redfish that refused it or when you missed your target. It works best when 20 or more feet of line are outside the tip-top. It is essential to the success of this cast to not rush picking the fly line up off the water. The key is to load for the back cast by beginning with the rod tip close to the water and slowly lifting the line off the water. Then wait to feel the rod load on the back cast. Once you feel the rod load, make a forward cast, allowing the fly to hit the mark. I’ve witnessed far too many fishermen rush to recast, and in doing so, miss their target on the second cast. The Quick-Cast For The Short Game When sight casting, you will need to execute some short, quick accurate casts. The short cast is one of the most difficult casts to make because a fly rod made for short casting has yet to be built. When red fishing, unless I know I’ll be making long casts, I keep roughly 40 feet of fly line stripped into a line management basket (a bucket if fishing from a skiff) and 20 feet of line outside the fly rod’s tip-top. The first 15 feet of the belly section of the line will easily load the fly rod with minimal false casting. Place the fly between the index finger and thumb of the hand not holding the rod. If a redfish is spotted at close range, make a back cast while at the same time releasing the fly from your hand and cast to the redfish.

Master The Cross-Wind Cast The wind blows where redfish live. The most difficult winds to a fly flinger are the cross-wind and the following-wind. Both are guaranteed to give the angler fits. The best cast for these challenging situations is the Belgian cast, a very quick cast that when executed correctly presents the fly under challenging conditions. The key is to make an extended side-armed back cast, followed by a high extended-arm overhead cast that will provide the angler distance when working in a big wind. A word of caution: The side cast may produce the painful problem of a fly imbedded in the angler if the wind is blowing toward the casting arm. Put It To The Test When targeting winter redfish, the fly angler will be presented with many different casting situations depending on weather conditions. It’s important to understand and execute each of the casting techniques discussed. Once mastered, a trophy redfish is only a cast away! Conway Bowman caught this 41.65-pound IGFA fly-caught world record redfish out of Hopedale, La.

For More Fly Fishing with Bowman, go to

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FISHING AND DIVING

The Maldives

By Capt. Terry Fisher

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t had been 20 years since I had boarded a followed by fishing. The Maldivian government live-a-board to fish and dive. My friend, Capt. is famous for it’s eco-friendly approach and Wayne Hasson, president of Aggressor and serious application to fish conservation. The Dancer Fleets, invited me to accompany him to government’s prohibition of net and long-line the Maldives for a world-class fishing and diving fishing for commercial purposes has sustained the expedition. Over the years, Wayne and I have abundance of fisheries. Commercial fishermen use fished and dived many exotic locations, including line and pole, preventing by-catch of species other waters of the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Pacific than their main target, which is tuna. Sport fishing, and Atlantic. This was my first visit to the Indian therefore, has thrived. Among the game fish found Ocean. are giant trevally, barracuda, wahoo, dorado, A three-leg flight from Miami through New yellowfin tuna, sailfish and marlin. Bonefish and York and Dubai landed us in Male, the small, permit inhabit the flats. bustling capital of the Maldives. Upon arrival, There are many charter fishing operations Wayne and I quickly cleared customs and were in the Maldives. I had numerous opportunities to assisted by a friendly and helpful crew of the be transported to beautiful sand beaches in the mother ship. We were transported aboard a ‘Dhoni’ middle of the Indian Ocean to fish for bonefish, (dinghy) by water, to lush accommodations aboard giant trevally, jack crevalle and other species. the Maldives Aggressor. This live-a-board vessel While sailing to new dive sites, we used a ‘Dohni’ boasts a full-service galley, huge salon, 10 guest to troll and catch tuna, sailfish, wahoo and dorado. state rooms and decks for relaxing, sunbathing, At night aboard the Maldives Aggressor, we dining under the stars or just getting away for bottom fished for grouper and snapper. some private time. This luxury yacht offered all Trolling, spinning, fly-fishing gear, including of the comforts and amenities of a five-star, land- lures and fly presentations are basically the same as based property with toilets, lavatory and shower we use in the states. Diving various locations and facilities to satisfy the most demanding guests. seeing up close the numerous species that I would This voyage, Dive with the Owners Week, fish for was an added and educational bonus. provided me the benefit of being surrounded Perfect water clarity offered a vast array of marine by a number of crew, divers and fishermen, life at every dive destination. representing more than 10 different countries. The Maldives is a nation of islands. It is also For information on this trip of a lifetime, visit the “Honeymoon Capital” of Europe and parts www.maldivesfishing.com or www.aggressorfleet. of Asia. Temperatures range from 77 to 86. There com. Contact Capt. Terry Fisher of Cape Coral, are 26 atolls with 1,190 islands. One island boasts Florida’s Fish Face Charters at fishfacecharters@ a rainforest. Only 209 of the islands are inhabited yahoo.com. with a total population For more fishing in the Maldives, go to of only 400,000. Tourism is the leading industry,

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A

ll tournament anglers want to win. The questions are: How bad do you want that win? How much are you willing to sacrifice? How much are you willing to put on the line chasing the big win? The answers aren’t cut-and-dry or crystal clear. Most tournament anglers I know are perfectly content competing at the club and local level for beer money. But don’t underestimate the will of those guys either. I recently competed in a Deerpoint Team Trail event with Travis Poole in which a win would have been a few hundred dollars for us to split. It was low threat, low entry fee and big fun. You’d think that given the conditions that day, any sane man would’ve stayed at home. Approximately 4 inches of rain fell that day, the wind blew and lightning popped around our heads all day. Still, most guys that entered the event that morning brought their catch to the scales in the pouring rain hoping to claim the prize. The weather didn’t seem to dampen their desires one bit. They wanted it bad enough, at least they did that day. For the professional angler, the weather is just one of many elements they must fight to stay in the game. Family, sponsorship obligations, mechanical problems and financial burdens are just a few of the non-fishing issues that require an angler to do a gut-check nearly every day. All these things must be tended to before the angler can even set out to find fish for a coming event, and he’s usually a one-man crew. Some of the top touring anglers have support networks taking on some of this for them, but rest assured, they didn’t get there with them. Stories from many of the top pros sound the same, tales about sleeping in the cab of their trucks for weeks on end, dining on peanut butter day after day, selling possessions off to fund the next event, and practicing in horrible weather because they only have two days to figure out unknown waters. If there was one thing I could define that separates the successful tournament angler from the others, it’s this: he wanted more. The guy in this picture is my friend Johnny Nguyen. He is a great example of what I just described. I can’t tell you how bad he wants it, but I can tell you he possesses at least one critical element for fishing success: the undeniable, unflappable, hard-core love for the sport. No tournament here, just him out fishing on a day he probably shouldn’t have been. But there he is, doing what he loves. Some get it, others never will. Randy Cnota is the co-publisher of Coastal Angler/The Angler Magazine’s Panama City/Forgotten Coast edition.

For More fishing with Randy ‘C-Note’ Cnota, go to

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hose of us who live life outdoors know it’s not always sunny. It can get downright ugly, and many times the best bite of the year is on the leading edge of a nasty front. With good foul weather gear, wind and rain should never stand between anglers and feeding fish. Pelagic Gear, a company founded on and devoted to the ocean lifestyle, has developed a line of gear that guarantees anglers will stay happy and dry, no matter what Mother Nature sends rolling in. Pelagic’s Dri-Flex Lightweight Jacket is perfect to throw in the bag for those dewy mornings or windy evenings when there’s a slight chill. Pelagic’s DRI-FLEX fabric provides the comfort of a lightweight jacket while protecting you from the elements with water repellant technology. When it’s time to take protection from the elements up a notch, anglers shouldn’t get caught on the water without

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Pelagic’s Hurricane Jacket. For more than a decade, this 100-percent waterproof outerwear has been the choice of hardcore captains around the world. It was designed specifically for the harsh conditions of the marine environment with technical features that cater to the needs of anglers. With welded zipper technology, reflective hex-safety patches and a moisture-wicking liner, the Hurricane Jacket keeps anglers dry and shielded in bad weather. And then there are those times when you need protection all over. Pelagic’s Stormbreaker Foul Weather Jacket and Bib are a full barrier to the elements. The suit is made of a lightweight PVC that is 100-percent waterproof, yet comfortable to wear. Again, it was designed specifically for anglers, with a loose cut for optimal maneuverability and plenty of ventilation. This is also the perfect rain barrier for the traveling angler. It is lightweight and packs easily, so an angler never has to leave the docks without the full protection from harsh conditions. Good foul weather gear is essential to every angler. When it comes to selecting protection from the elements, it makes sense to choose gear designed specifically for fishing. Any outerwear will do if the mission is a stroll through the park. Pelagic Gear’s line protects anglers and keeps them fishing in the kind of brutal conditions only found on open water. To learn more about the Pelagic Lifestyle, go to

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FITEC CAST NETS Fitec International has been providing the very best cast nets available to anglers for over 50 years. They are the world’s largest manufacturer of cast nets and their products are in stock or online with all major retailers and distributors where cast nets are sold. The superior quality in their handmade nets gives anglers the fun and performance they deserve while out on the water. Hold a Fitec net next to a competitor and you will see there is no comparison. Fitec’s Super Spreader and Ultra Spreader cast nets are simply the best! Fitec offers four distinct categories to ensure you are able to get the net you need. The patented EZ throw cast net is designed with a disc feature that is perfect for the novice. The RS, or Recreational Series, is designed for shallow waters or for the person who wants a lighter net. The SS, or Sport Series, nets are designed with a 1-pound per radius foot weight system and are the No. 1 selling cast net in the country. Finally, the GS, or Guide Series, nets are designed for the serious angler, built with the highest quality standards and the fastest sink rate. Fitec values your business. They go to work every day with you, their customer, in mind. Their mission is to “bring innovative quality products to customers, with drive and passion every day.”

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Seeking to become the leading and most comprehensive manufacturer of all things diving and fishing, Hammerhead Spearguns has made another addition to its lineup of gear. They are proud to announce the launch of the Dentex NT, a utility glove so durable yet flexible it’s almost like having a second skin on the hands. The Dentex NT comes with an ANSI Cut Level 5 and Puncture Level 3 and is woven from Hammerhead’s signature red Dentex fabric, but now it has a Sandy Nitrile coating on the palm and fingers, giving it increased resistance to heat and chemicals, plus additional grip. The Dentex NT is also known to be extremely pliant, molding seamlessly into your hands, so no clumsy mitten-hands here. You can even pick up a penny while wearing them! The wide range of things you can do with the Dentex NT gloves is staggering. You can use them not just when you fish or handle tricky, spiny sea critters but also when doing repairs or squaring off with hazardous materials. Welding a piece of metal to fix your boat? Piece of cake! Filleting tuna? Sure thing! Changing lines and hooks? Say goodbye to line abrasions and getting pricked, stabbed, or poked on your fingers. Sharp tools and hot objects no longer pose a threat to your valuable hands.

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While many docks along the Florida coastline buckled to the force of Hurricane Matthew this fall, widespread reports from boaters and anglers indicated that docks utilizing ErgoDock technologies held up considerably better. With the damage and debris left in Matthew’s wake, the resilience of ErgoDock proved significant—not only because of its strength, but because of expected durability against future hurricanes that routinely batter the coast. The ErgoDock difference is its inherent structural augmentation. ErgoDock is designed to provide a matrix that evolves the dock into a single structural component instead of a succession of individual parts like most marine docks are constructed. Independent tests report that ErgoDock significantly outperforms all other dock options in comfort, safety and customization. ErgoDock’s unique texture, for example, enhances safety with a far more slip resistant material than wood or composite decking. The ErgoDock surface also is designed to allow more “give,” increasing comfort and safety by easing stress on ErgoDock owners’ feet, back and joints while also mitigating any potential injury from a fall. ErgoDock prevents deterioration, therefore reducing the need for maintenance. Its products adhere with an impervious membrane to seal all decking materials and are self-draining, to prevent UV or water degradation of existing decking or concrete surfaces. “Our purpose was to create a material that far outperforms all other dock options when it comes to safety, comfort, customization and longevity,” said Kent Weisenberg, founder and CEO of ErgoDock LLC. “There is nothing like it on the market. ErgoDock is a multi patent-pending marine surfacing system that is revolutionizing the dock design and repair industries.” Weisenberg, the sole named inventor on 28 U.S. and foreign patents, added, “We passionately pursue improving the world’s infrastructure with green technology. ErgoDock surfaces are made of sustainable materials that fight the depletion of our environment.” ErgoDock products can be used in various stages of a dock’s life whether for preservation, safety, aesthetics or for any combination of the three. Still want that traditional wood dock look? ErgoDock offers ErgoWood Decking, which is select-treated wood that is pre-dried and then encased in ErgoDock’s patented SafeTread material and prevents deterioration from sun and water while increasing a dock’s life by as much as 10 years over current decking materials. “Add it all up, and ErgoDock products represent a major leap forward in dock design and repair,” Weisenberg said. “We want people to know that there is another option out there–one that comes with ergonomic elegance and represents a resilient, safe and viable option that contractors will want to offer their customers.”

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PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT XTRATUF CAMO-LINED LEGACY BOOT Designed to keep fishermen sure-footed on the water, XTRATUF’s Camo-Lined Legacy Boot is the ideal boot for fishing in the elements. An interior camo lining and XTRATUF logo that are visible when the boot is rolled down adds a pop of color to XTRATUF’s classic performance boot. Not your typical rubber boot, the Legacy is triple-dipped to create a seamless coating of rubber that further strengthens an already watertight material, thus sealing the boots and making them impervious to fish oils and chemicals. The soft, pliable and lightweight neoprene latex rubber gives the Legacy boots unparalleled comfort and flexibility. The hand-laye r e d construction allows for flex and strength at critical stress points on the boot. A signature chevron outsole design and unique rubber compound provides maximum surface contact for ultimate traction and stability in even the most severe fishing and work conditions. These 100 percent waterproof boots will keep the warmth in and the cold out when the temperature drops.

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The Angler Magazine-Jan. /Western North Carolina