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About Company Biography

E logo with name over top2_FB copyElite Outdoors Media  (Elite Outdoors)  is a veteran based proprietary located in Central, AL. At Elite Outdoors, we are dedicated to creating the highest quality videos featuring professional bass anglers and other outdoor industry professionals. Elite Outdoors uses innovative video technology to create commercial videos, instructional videos, trailers, TV shows,  live streaming, and more. We offer personalized one on one attention to each of our clients as we collaborate to create an exceptional end product. Elite Outdoors will provide you with the highest quality video, superb audio, voice over, editing, and publishing for you and/or your company.  We are your Outdoor Media Production.

big fish out of livewellOur Focus: Our passion revolves around the outdoors and the outdoor industry – fishing and hunting – it is the place we love to be and the place we are most comfortable at.  Unlike some production company’s, we get what you want; growing up in the outdoors, we know about hunting and fishing and what it takes to get the perfect angle and shot.  We are here to collaborate with you to put your thoughts and ideas on film.

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TTI-Blakemore

TTI-Blakemore is a long time leader in the fishing industry. They are responsible for brands such as: Blakemore Lures, Daiichi Hooks, Mr. Crappie, Real Magic, Road Runner Lures, Stand Out hooks, Team Catfish, Tru Turn Hooks, XPoint Hooks, and more.


 NetBait

NetBait is a soft plastics and jig company out of central Alabama.  They are known for being a leader in soft plastics fishing lures using industry leading technology in the making and coloring of their baits.


 Daiichi

Daiichi, The World’s Sharpest Hooks!


Road Runner Lures

Catching fish since 1958


 Duckett Fishing

Duckett Fishing, the home of Micro Magic the finest series of micro guided fishing rods ever made on this planet.


 Yamamoto Custom Baits

Because what you fish matters


 Orca Coolers

Orca Coolers, Wherever you take it, it can take it!


 Gun Protect

Gun Protect, Corrosion Protection at The Molecular Level


Sportz Blitz Outdoors

Sportz Blitz Outdoors is a half hour TV show that features host Brett Pritchard and Elite Series Pro Greg Vinson. Elite Outdoors is proud to partner with them to provide videography work.

News Latest Posts

Lew’s® American Hero® program honors military veterans

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Lew’s® American Hero® program honors military veterans

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (Oct. 3, 2013) – Lew’s® has officially launched its American Hero® Speed Stick® rod series out of genuine respect for America’s military veterans and with a sincere promise to never forget them.

American Hero is more than just a product line though. It is a program that Lew’s developed as a way to help organizations that support veterans in their return to life after military service, and especially those organizations that use fishing as part of the transitional process. American Hero has already provided fishing gear support to a few such groups, including FOCUS Marines Foundation, Reel American Heroes Foundation and Operation HOOAH.

Lew’s CEO Lynn Reeves says his company’s decision to give back to veterans is probably the easiest one his management team has ever made.

“We have an obligation to those who have served our country, and this is one small way that the folks at our company can say ‘thank you,’” he explained. “I can promise you there is no marketing-driven agenda behind American Hero … our intentions are truly based on wanting to help veterans get an opportunity to enjoy some of the same activities that we have been participating in while they’ve been on duty, such as fishing.

“As many of us who fish recreationally already know, there’s nothing like being in the neutral setting of the great outdoors with family and friends, and having a rod and reel in hand, to refresh the mind and soul.”

A portion of the profits from the sale of American Hero and other specially identified Lew’s products go into a budget line item for the program. Company officials review rod and reel requests from organizations, mostly focusing on those groups that provide assistance to veterans with health concerns.

Steve Kokai, a veteran who also works in the fishing industry, originally owned and trademarked the American Hero brand.

“It was during an unrelated phone visit with Steve that I realized he and Lew’s shared a similar vision as to what American Hero was all about,” said Gary Remensnyder, Lew’s president. “It wasn’t long after that he graciously made the brand available to our company. Steve is active in programs like the Reel American Heroes Foundation of Virginia that helps wounded warriors and veterans of all services, and we consider him a valued ally in our efforts to provide meaningful support to such organizations. We couldn’t have a better name than American Hero for this initiative.”

During the same timeframe as the Kokai discussions, the Missouri-headquartered FOCUS Marines Foundation and Lew’s crossed paths. Part of the foundation’s regular class structure included a fishing activity on a private lake, for which they needed rods and reels. Lew’s was ready to help with this program that assists Marine veterans and Navy corpsmen who are having difficulty in returning to civilian life.

Therefore, it seemed only appropriate that Kokai and Isaac Saldivar, a Marine veteran and FOCUS Marines student, were both present in the Lew’s booth at ICAST 2013 in Las Vegas last July when Lew’s announced its plans for the American Hero series and program.

At the gathering, Saldivar told the group that the fishing outing at FOCUS was the activity that “brought smiles and laughter” to the entire class.

Other FOCUS stories have also since been shared by the foundation. One is from marine Yasmin Garay, who e-mailed class officials after returning home. Her note told about how she had taken a niece and nephew fishing with the Lew’s rod and reel she had received at class, and how her 14-year old nephew said, “You seem alive … not that you were dead before, but it seemed like it.” Her note went on to explain it was a real eye-opener as to where she had been in her life and a motivator to “fix it.”

Last month, Garay received a rare invitation to attend the FOCUS class again and made the return. This time she and Reeves came face to face lakeside during the fishing event. It was an emotional exchange for both as she shared again her family fishing experience, and told him that she has a whole new perspective on life as a result. She followed that with, “thank you.”

Reeves said, “No. I’m the one to say thank you. You had, and have, the hard job.”

“Without a doubt, fishing is one of the favorite class activities here,” said FOCUS Marines Foundation Vice President Ted Kretschmar. “We literally watch it lift a burden from the shoulders and minds of many as they change the focus from whatever their personal concerns might be to instead trying to catch what swims in our lake. The buzzing of excitement continues into dinner that night and beyond.

“Lew’s donation of rods and reels is a great help in the healing process of our students who attend our classes.”

Operation HOOAH (Healing Outside Of A Hospital) is administered by Southern Fishing News and brings 101st Airborne Division wounded warriors to north Alabama for a quality fishing experience with guides. Lew’s has also assisted that outing with tackle donations.

“Reel American Heroes, FOCUS Marines and Operation HOOAH are just three of what I’m sure are a few hundred organizations dedicated to helping veterans through fishing, and we’re pleased to have been able to help each in recent efforts,” Remensnyder said. “We know we can’t help all groups every year, but we’re sincere in wanting to do as much as we can. American Hero gives us the means for providing support.”

AH_rod

The current American Hero product series consists of seven models of rods, including casting and spinning versions. They feature quality IM6 graphite blanks with stainless steel guides and inserts. Handles are EVA split grips, with blanks exposed through the reel seat for added sensitivity. The rods are attractive with their black blanks, shiny stainless guides and colorful red, white and blue American Hero logo. Each model sells for around $69.99 each. They are available now at fishing tackle retailers across the country.

EOM and Hayden Fishing Team 2014 Partnership

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Montgomery, AL, September 3, 2013 – Elite Outdoors Media and Hayden High School Fishing Team are excited to announce a partnership for the upcoming 2013 – 2014 fishing season.

Hayden High School Fishing Team is founded on hard work and dedication. It is one of the largest fishing teams in the state of Alabama. With state and national achievements, they are one of the most highly regarded high school fishing teams in the nation. Their titles and tournaments won over the last three years are just a small part of what they try and teach their young anglers.

Elite Outdoors Media, a Montgomery based company known for producing high definition videos with various Bassmaster Elite Series Anglers, FLW Tour Anglers, and fishing industry leaders like Lew’s, DUO Realis, and the Alabama Bass Trail. The Elite Outdoors Media Partnership with the Alabama Bass Trail to provide live-streaming of weigh-ins will increase awareness to the high level of competition among these teams.

Chris Kanute, Hayden High School Fishing Coach, says, “Coach Scott Ashley, Coach Patrick Weeks, and I are excited to have the opportunity to work with Elite Outdoors Media for the 2013-2014 season. We as coaches realize that sponsorships are very important in promoting the team and the sport in general and we are committed to working with Elite Outdoors Media to making this year a successful partnership. Rich Redmon has worked with the best of the best in the fishing industry throughout his career and The Hayden Fishing team is honored and humble at the same time to get this adventure started this season.“

“I am extremely excited about this opportunity. I have talked with Coach Chris Kanute on several occasions and have seen his passion for these young men and women he is coaching. His passion for the sport of fishing, growing the youth, and dedication is contagious. We are very honored to be a part of this opportunity to help high school fishing, Hayden Fishing team, and these young anglers grow”, says Rich Redmon, owner of Elite Outdoors.

Bassmaster Classic Field is Filling Up

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — With the conclusion of the 2013 Bassmaster Elite Series, the majority of the 2014 Bassmaster Classic field is now set. Forty-four of the 56 eventual competitors in the “Super Bowl” of bass fishing have been identified.

The remainder of the field will be determined via three remaining Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens, the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship, the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Bassmaster Classic Bracket, the Toyota Bassmaster Weekend Series operated by American Bass Anglers and the Bassmaster Wild Card tournament.

The Wild Card — a new event in the Bassmaster lineup — will be held Dec. 7 at Lake Okeechobee, Fla. It is open to Elite Series anglers and pros who fished three or more Bassmaster Opens this year but failed to qualify through those circuits.

The 56 qualifiers will vie for first-place prize money of $500,000 at the 44th Bassmaster Classic on Alabama’s Lake Guntersville, Feb. 21-23, 2014. Birmingham, which is headquarters for B.A.S.S., will be the host city.

Though the field of competitors is not complete, it is already star-studded and rich in history. It boasts seven former Classic champions (including reigning champ Cliff Pace and four-time winner Kevin VanDam) and seven reigning and former Toyota Bassmaster Anglers of the Year (including newly crowned AOY Aaron Martens).

Texas pro Gary Klein will be fishing his 30th Classic (only the legendary Rick Clunn has qualified for more with 32), and Arkansas will be represented once again — as it has been in every previous championship — with at least one competitor. Stephen Browning and Mark Davis (winner of the 1995 Classic) both reside in the Natural State. And for the first time, three anglers born in Japan will be competing, including 2004 champion Takahiro Omori.

Six of the qualifiers will be making their Classic debuts (Josh Bertrand, Patrick Bone, Rich Howes, David Kilgore, Clifford Pirch and Chris Zaldain). More Classic rookies will certainly come from the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship, the Weekend Series and the College Series Classic Bracket.

Fred Roumbanis of Bixby, Okla., is breathing a sigh of relief. He’s the last of the Elite Anglers to make the cut at this point. One or more of the next three pros in the points ranking could gain entry, depending upon who wins the three remaining Opens. According to B.A.S.S. rules, an angler who wins an Open and fishes all three Opens in a division gains a berth. If he or she does not fish the entire division, or if the winner is an Elite Series angler who is already qualified, the invitation goes to the next Elite pro on the list.

On the watch list are, in order, Jason Williamson of Aiken, S.C.; Boyd Duckett of Demopolis, Ala.; and Brandon Card of Caryville, Tenn.

Here is an alphabetical list of competitors and their hometowns:

Casey Ashley, Donalds, S.C.
Josh Bertrand, Gilbert, Ariz.
Tommy Biffle, Wagoner, Okla.
Patrick Bone, Cleveland, Ga.
Stephen Browning, Hot Springs, Ark. (contingent on his competing in two remaining Central Opens)
Brent Chapman, Lake Quivira, Kan.
Hank Cherry, Maiden, N.C.
Jason Christie, Park Hill, Okla.
Keith Combs, Huntington, Texas
John Crews, Salem, Va.
Cliff Crochet, Pierre Part, La.
Mark Davis, Mount Ida, Ark.
Ott DeFoe, Knoxville, Tenn.
Edwin Evers, Talala, Okla.
Todd Faircloth, Jasper, Texas
Randy Howell, Springville, Ala.
Richard Howes, Oviedo, Fla.
Alton Jones, Lorena, Texas
Steve Kennedy, Auburn, Ala.
David Kilgore, Jasper, Ala.
Gary Klein, Weatherford, Texas
Bobby Lane, Lakeland, Fla.
Chris Lane, Guntersville, Ala.
Bill Lowen, Brookville, Ind.
Aaron Martens, Leeds, Ala.
Yusuke Miyazaki, Forney, Texas
Ish Monroe, Hughson, Calif.
Rick Morris, Virginia Beach, Va.
John Murray, Phoenix, Ariz.
Takahiro Omori, Emory, Texas
Cliff Pace, Petal, Miss.
Brandon Palaniuk, Rathdrum, Idaho
Clifford Pirch, Payson, Ariz.
Skeet Reese, Auburn, Calif.
Dean Rojas, Lake Havasu City, Ariz.
Fred Roumbanis, Bixby, Okla.
Terry Scroggins, San Mateo, Fla.
Morizo Shimizu, Osaka, Japan
Gerald Swindle, Warrior, Ala.
Jonathon VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich.
Kevin VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich.
Greg Vinson, Wetumpka, Ala.
David Walker, Sevierville, Tenn.
Chris Zaldain, San Jose, Calif.

Randy Howell Wins Northern Open

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Photo by Seigo Saito/Bassmaster

RICHMOND, Va. – Randy Howell presented himself with the sweetest Father’s Day gift of all, albeit a day early. He caught 15 pounds, 4 ounces of bass today to overcome a Day 1 culling error and expand his narrow Day 2 lead from 1-4 to more than 6 pounds to win the 2013 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open on Virginia’s James River.

Along the way, he did his best to keep the local economy rolling. The nearby gas stations were certainly happy, as he drove his boat 40-plus miles to the top of the distant Chickahominy River tributary each day, as did many others. Once there, he caught 80 percent of his bass on a wacky rigged Yamamoto Senko soft stickworm. Unfortunately, he ran out of the lures mid-event and had to spend $100 at a local tackle store to restock.

Ultimately, though, it paid off when he weighed in three consecutive limits of more than 15 pounds, totaling 47-11 and beating runner-up Mike Hicks by 6 pounds, 1 ounce. Most significantly, as long as Howell fishes the remaining two Northern Opens scheduled for this year, he will have clinched a spot in next February’s Bassmaster Classic at Lake Guntersville, in his adopted home state of Alabama.

Howell also won a prize package that included cash and a Nitro Z9 powered by a Mercury 225 Pro XS outboard, packaged with a tandem axle trailer, Minn Kota Maxxum 80 trolling motor and Lowrance HDS-7 electronics.

While Howell receives his mail in Alabama, this week he proved that you can go home again. He won within approximately a hundred miles of where he grew up, fishing familiar waters, in front of many members of his family. Indeed, even though the crowd for the final weigh-in at the Ashland, Va., Bass Pro Shops was large, it seemed that just about every other one of them was somehow related to the champ.

He caught most of his bass close to the Walker Dam, separating the upper end of the Chickahominy River from Chickahominy Lake.

“That first day, my partner was throwing a Senko wacky style and I was throwing one on a drop shot,” Howell said. “When he caught a nice one behind me, I changed to a wacky rig, and that’s when I started catching better fish. Over the next couple of days, I fine-tuned my presentation, cut my weight down, and when I caught two 5-pounders back to back, I figured out the spot had the potential to win the tournament.”

This marks Howell’s first Bassmaster victory since April 2004, when he won a reduced-field Elite 50 tournament on Lake Dardanelle in Arkansas. Since then, there have been several times that he’s led after a day or two of competition, but he’s never been able to close the deal. Last year, he led an Elite Series tournament at New York’s Oneida Lake after two days, but only weighed in four fish the last day and fell to Boyd Duckett by 6 ounces. Today, he had two fish over 4 pounds early in the morning, but when the bite slowed, he trusted his instincts in a way he had not at Oneida and it paid off.

“At Oneida I had a gut feeling at 12 o’clock and I talked myself out of it,” he said. “I finally went there with 45 minutes left to go and caught some fish, but it was too late. I feel like if I had gone there when I first thought about it, I’d have won. Today I felt like I had to run back to a spot within a mile or two of the ramp, so I did it, and I culled two times. In the end, I didn’t need it, but I feel good about it and hope that momentum will stay with me the rest of the year.”

After Thursday’s storms and Friday’s windy conditions, today there were bluebird skies and barely a lick of wind. That shut down the fishing for many of the remaining anglers. After multiple 16-pound bags were weighed in on Friday, no one other than Howell had more than 12-9 today.

Former tour-level pro Mike Hicks started the day in second place and held that position at the end of the day, although Howell’s big catch widened their gap. He weighed in three limits of Chickahominy River bass that totaled 41-10 to start off the Northern Opens in grand style.

He fished several creeks in the middle section of the Chickahominy, primarily with a black-and-blue Lil’ Hustler Swim Jig and a black Lobina Lures Rico. The key was his local understanding of the tides.

“This is my old stomping grounds, and I know that the low tide concentrates the fish,” he said. “When the tide would get low, I’d fish up around channel swings up against the bank. The bigger fish were up against wood.”

He certainly wanted to qualify for the Classic, as his father did years ago, but claimed he was satisfied with his result.

“To get beat by Randy Howell, the most professional pro on the Elite Series circuit, it’s hard to have bad sentiment about that,” he stated.

Mike Iaconelli, who finished in the Top 12 here in 2011, once again demonstrated his exceptional understanding of tidal water, finishing third with 41-4. He claimed that he lost one or two fish each day that would have made a difference.

“I fished at 90 percent each day,” he said. “At this level, you can’t do that. That’s the game.”

Local Kelly Pratt, who won here in 2011 and finished fourth last year, once again finished fourth. The biggest final day move came from New Jersey’s Pete Gluszek, who jumped from 12th to 6th on the strength of his 12-9 limit.

Nick Leonard of Cincinnati, Ohio, brought in a three-bass limit that weighed 5-13 to climb from second into first in the co-angler division. He credited pro partners Gluszek, Fletcher Shryock and Brandon Palaniuk, as well as an ability to adapt to the conditions, for his victory.

“I just tried to stay consistent,” he said. “I didn’t miss any fish all week, and I used different baits each day. I caught them on a topwater the first day, flipping the second day, and today I just went junk fishing. I caught most of them today on a Senko.”

 

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XCITE BAITS VENTURES INTO THE CRANKBAIT ARENA

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Xcite Baits, long a respected name in the world of soft plastic lures for tournament fishing applications, hereby announces that it has added hard baits to its lineup. The first lure in the series will be the Xcite XB-1, a squarebill crankbait that combines the best features of the competition at a price that few of them can match.

The XB-1 will feature premium components throughout, but its most innovative feature is a weight transfer system utilizing a tungsten ball bearing. The lure remains buoyant, but casts like a rocket.

“The XB-1’s weight transfer system will separate it from the rest of the field,” said Xcite pro-staffer Grant Goldbeck, a Texas-based veteran of Elite Series competition. “There’s nothing better than a shallow-diving crankbait when it’s windy, but with a lot of the smaller baits you give up accuracy when you’re casting in tight quarters, around laydowns and other heavy cover. This one goes straight like an arrow. You can roll cast it and lay it in softly, even from a distance, which allows you to stay back off the cover to avoid spooking the bass.”

Goldbeck also worked closely with Xcite’s designers on a palette of 14 color schemes that cover all possible water clarities and forage possibilities. Eleven of the patterns were developed with the assistance of renowned painter Custom Lures Unlimited. “For years many of us have bought our crankbaits and then sent them to a custom painter,” he explained. “That’s an additional $10 or $15 for each lure. Now you can have a custom product for $7.99”

“I have a squarebill tied on at every Elite Series event,” he continued. “It’s a confidence bait, one that you can use to fill out your limit or win a tournament. You can’t be competitive without one, and this is the best one I’ve ever fished.”

Leading tackle stores and online retailers will begin stocking the XB-1 the week of May 27th

Check out more on Xcite Bait at http://www.xcitebaits.com

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Alabama River’s High Water Leads To Launch Change

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Photo by Eric Lopez/Bassmaster

 

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Rising waters of the Alabama River — already at more than 10 feet above the normal level — precipitated a launch change today for the Bassmaster Elite Series Alabama River Charge presented by Star brite, May 9-12.

Originally scheduled for launch at the historic Montgomery Riverfront on Coosa Street, B.A.S.S. Tournament Director Trip Weldon said with the river continuing to rise, the decision was made today to relocate the launch site for the Thursday through Sunday tournament starts.

“From a safety standpoint, we moved the take-off point to Cooter’s Pond in Prattville,” Weldon explained. “We appreciate the consolidated efforts of Mayor Todd Strange of Montgomery and Mayor Bill Gillespie of Prattville in helping us to make this possible.”

Weldon is confident that, regardless of where they launch, the 100 Bassmaster Elite Series pros are going to boat plenty of bass during the tournament, which is the fifth stop of the eight regular season events in the series.

“Fishing is definitely going to be good,” Weldon said. “It has been a very wet spring, and with the water being high, the fishing has been excellent. Our anglers are going to catch a lot of spotted bass.”

B.A.S.S., now based in Birmingham, Ala., was founded in Montgomery in 1968 by Ray Scott. The birthplace of modern bass fishing, Montgomery has been the site of several top-tier Bassmaster competitions, including the Bassmaster Classic in 1981 and 1982. Most recently, Montgomery hosted three consecutive Elite Series postseasons, from 2009 to 2011, but this will be the first regular-season Elite event on the Alabama River.

“It’s great being in Montgomery because we have such strong relationships here that the people involved were able to assist us with coming up with a plan as good as the original one in a matter of minutes,” said Eric Lopez, director of operations for B.A.S.S. “We appreciate the cooperative efforts of the City of Prattville and the City of Montgomery in facilitating this change.”

The Elite field will compete for a first-place prize of $100,000, an instant-in for the 2014 Bassmaster Classic, and points that count toward a Classic qualification and the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year award.

Fans are invited to watch the launches and weigh-ins. Anglers will launch at 6:30 a.m. CT each day at Cooter’s Pond Boat Ramp, 1844 Cooter’s Pond Road, Prattville, AL 36066.

The weigh-ins, originally scheduled for the first two days at the Montgomery Riverfront Amptheatre, will now be held each day beginning at 3:15 CT at the Riverfront Park Union Station Train Shed [300 Water Street, Montgomery, AL 36104].

 

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Bassmaster Elite Series Event on West Point Lake – Day Two

Photo by Seigo Saito/Bassmaster

Photo by Seigo Saito/Bassmaster

 

LAGRANGE, Ga. — With 24 pounds, 14 ounces of largemouth bass weighed over two days and a Bassmaster Elite Series lead in hand, Aaron Martens had good reason to feel he had a handle on West Point Lake bass.

He felt no such thing. Even as he moved up from fourth place into first on Friday at the West Point Lake Battle, Martens said he was mystified.

“On this place, I’m not sure about anything,” Martens said. “It is one of those lakes that humbles the best of the best, and when you don’t think it will happen, it happens. It’s hard here, so hard.”

From Leeds, Ala., Martens — a six-time Bassmaster winner, including the 2012 Elite Series postseason event — led the Battle by 1 ounce over Greg Vinson of Wetumpka, Ala. Vinson’s 24-13 two-day total kept him in second place, the same finish he had on Day 1.

Tommy Biffle of Wagoner, Okla., was third with 23-3, trailing Martens by 1-11 — the size of one small spotted bass on West Point Lake, and perhaps the size of the fifth fish Biffle failed to bring to the scales for the second day in a row.

One ounce behind Biffle was Day 1 leader Keith Combs of Huntington, Texas. Combs weighed 7-4 Friday, a big fall from his first-day weight of 15-14, but good enough for fourth place. Skeet Reese of Auburn, Calif., took fifth place with a two-day total of 22-10.

Martens said his day was “nerve-wracking.”

“I moved a lot today, running-and-gunning, fished a lot of different spots, fished fast, fished slow,” he said. “I did everything I could.”

Martens said he caught bass on five different baits Friday “just fishing” for postspawners, a contrast to the bedding-bass bite he was on the first day, when he weighed 13-5 for fourth place.

Yet he tried for big bedders. His first stop of the morning was an area with spawning beds, and he caught a 2 1/2-pounder on his first cast. But after that, the beds yielded only small male bass of about 2 pounds.

He said he’d try the same area again Saturday to see if larger, game-changer females moved onto the beds again. But he’ll also go for the postspawners that helped him to his second-day lead as his best bet to win.

“But I might not catch a fish there again the rest of the week. It may have been a fluke deal. Maybe the wind was blowing just right, and I may have caught most of the good ones out of the school. I don’t know,” he said.

Vinson’s 9-3 weight of Friday was a marked difference from his Day 1 bag of 15-10, even though he worked the same pattern both days.

“I didn’t feel like the places where I caught them yesterday were going to replenish, so I’m really happy I caught a solid limit today running new water,” Vinson said Friday. “I didn’t get the big bite today.”

Vinson again weighed in all largemouth for his five-fish limit. He caught 10 keeper bass Friday, but no hoped-for big bass was among them.

“I kept thinking I would get it,” he said.

Biffle moved up from seventh place to claim third. Happy with his day, he still looked back with regret on two days of being one shy of a limit.

His day started slowly.

“It probably was 9:30 [a.m.], 10 o’clock when I caught the first one,” he said. “I was pretty happy because I knew that meant I was fishing tomorrow.”

Biffle meant he felt assured he’d make the Top 50 cut for Saturday’s competition. As it turned out, he was nowhere near falling out with 23-3. The 50th-place cut settled in at 14-3. Kelly Jordan of Palestine, Texas, took that last spot.

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ABT Bassmaster Classic Media Week

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Ask my wife, my friends, or my parents….in anything I do or have done in life, I dive all in and either do my best of go home.  But every now and then when you find that one thing you love to do, you give it just a little extra love.  Filming the outdoors is that passion for me,  something I give a little extra to be the best I can be at.

Being new to the outdoor industry in this capacity, I was blown away by the recent invitation by the Alabama Bass Trail to come video and do some coverage for the upcoming 2014 Bassmaster Classic that will be held at Lake Guntersville, the 1st stop on the Alabama Bass Trail and arguably the best fishing lake in the country.  Without hesitation, I accepted.  I didn’t know 100% what I would be doing, who with, or how long…I just know that when an opportunity lands in your lap, grab it, get up,  go with it and ask questions later!

936711_592065484146031_2048430121_nTo further sweeten the pot, they were bringing in some of the best anglers in the world.  Angler of the Year Gerald Swindle, Bassmaster Classic Champions Chris Lane and Boyd Duckett, FLW Cup winner and Elite angler Kevin Hawk, tour veteran Randy Howell, BASS Federation Nation Champion and Elite angler Jamie Horton, FLW Pro Casey Martin and some other appearances throughout the week by others.

We stayed at a lodge in Guntersville, the Dream Ranch, and was well taken care of by their staff and Kay Donaldson of the Alabama Bass Trail.   While my role was different than other writers that were there (I’m a videographer for one and as you can tell NOT a writer!), I did get in the boat and did film with most every pro there at some point.  I also spent “A Day with Kay”.  For those of you who do not know Kay Donaldson, I do believe there is no one that is more enthusiastic and excited about the classic being in Alabama than Kay.  After all, she lobbied for it for 4 years.

My role consisted of making a trailer for the classic for the Alabama Bass Trail and whoever else.  A little out of my element because I am use to strictly being in a boat, not shooting shots of downtown, doing interviews of Mayor’s, councilmen, and one random shot of a Chrysler 300 pulling a Ranger z520.

With that a few things I have learned…I love being out of my element and the challenges of filming.  The people of Guntersville are EXTREMELY excited about the classic coming to town and are already preparing, the Angler’s are more than ready to fish the classic at Lake Guntersville, and Kay Donaldson should be sponsored by a cell phone company!913013_335075569928313_1396353069_n

I truly had a blast filming these guys and gal.  Touring Guntersville, talking to the people, seeing the shops (A special shout out to Mosely Monogram’s for their extreme hospitality!), meeting the locals, feeding off their enthusiasm and getting some nice catches on film!  Guntersville is not only a fishing meca, but a place I would like to live.

Though I may be new to the industry, I am not new to fishing.   I will be first to say…Lake Guntersville and the 2014 Bassmaster Classic will be one for the record books.  The place is simply on fire and the people are way to nice for anyone not to enjoy their time here.  I hope to see all of you in Birmingham/Guntersville in February and beyond!

-Rich

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Welcome to the Back Deck!

Let me set the record straight…I don’t write.  I am a decent fisherman, but have proven to be much better at filming fishing than fishing!  However, it was pointed out that it may be a neat thing to write about some of my filming exploits in a blog….so this is the start of The Back Deck..Words from Behind the Camera! 

These past few months I have been slammed; which is not a bad thing at all.   I have been doing a ton of filming with some pro’s before their season starts.  The offseason is a great time for them to do sponsor videos, commercials, etc.  Once the season starts the time on the water is reduced for filming this kind of stuff.

Now that that is done, we move on to the start of the season.  Being based out of Alabama, this season works very well for me.  Starting next month the FLW Tour at Eufuala, then in May we have the Elite Series at West Point and the Alabama River, a PAA wedged in there and a Southern Open at Logan Martin finishing it up.  June is pretty packed as well with some commercials lined up, working with product sponsors, and even a crappie tournament in the mix!  July will slow down a little but only after ICAST in Las Vegas.

So stay tuned for some ramblings from The Back Deck…I hope you enjoy it!

God Bless,

Rich

Bassmaster Elite Series Event on West Point Lake – Day One

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Photo by Seigo Saito/Bassmaster

LAGRANGE, Ga. — By 1:30 p.m. Thursday, that’s how many bass Keith Combs of Huntington, Texas, believed he’d end up weighing in on the first day of the West Point Lake Battle, the fourth event of the Bassmaster Elite Series season. In six hours of casting, he had not had one bite.

Suddenly, “Things just started to roll,” he said.

Combs ended the day leading the tournament after weighing 15 pounds, 14 ounces. He was 4 ounces in front of Greg Vinson of Wetumpka, Ala., who turned in 15-10. Behind Combs and Vinson was the 2013 Bassmaster Classic champ, Cliff Pace of Petal, Miss., who was third with 14-2

“I had some sight fish, I had some flipping fish, I had some fish in the current, I had some cranking fish — and I ran all that stuff and didn’t catch any,” Combs said. “I thought I wasn’t going to catch a fish today.”

Fishless, he re-ran all the same water, trying all his different techniques again and again. His breakthrough was a largemouth off a spawning bed. Then he moved and was able to fill his five-fish limit with smaller spotted bass for about 7 pounds total, he estimated.

His day just got better and better. He saw a largemouth “cruising” and made a cast to it.

“They don’t usually bite, but this one did. It was a 3 1/2. I caught my big one the same way,” he said, “but in a different place.”

His “big one” weighed 6 pounds, 9 ounces and enabled him to cull another smaller spotted bass.

“It just was weird to go through all that stuff one time and not catch a fish, then come back to it again and whack them. I’d say I’m probably the luckiest guy in Georgia right now,” said Combs, who on March 24 won the Elite event on Falcon Lake in wire-to-wire fashion.

Vinson — who less than two weeks ago led the Ramada Quest Elite event for two days running at Bull Shoals Lake — said he’s fishing with confidence and is tapping into his high comfort level at West Point Lake.

“Bull Shoals didn’t hurt my confidence, even though I fell as much as I did,” Vinson said, referring to his fall out of contention on Day 3 after his prime fishing spot filled with floating logs and debris.

“I’m building off Bull Shoals,” he said. “And here, I’m on a lake I’ve spent a lot of time on.”

Vinson said he started his day on the areas and pattern as he’d planned and caught two largemouth, including his biggest, a 4-14. But then the action stopped. He regrouped at about 11 a.m.

“I finally realized that my primary pattern was a bust,” he said. “I went to another deal, totally different, and it worked out. Hopefully I’ve started to build a pattern that could work out.”

In fourth place was Aaron Martens of Leeds, Ala., with 13-5. Fifth place was claimed by Skeet Reese of Auburn, Calif., with 13-0.

The largest bass weighed Thursday was a 6-12. Caught by Tommy Biffle of Wagoner, Okla., it leads the Battle’s Carhartt Big Bass competition for $1,000, plus $500 if the angler was wearing Carhartt clothing. Combs’ bag of 15-14 set the pace for the Berkley Heavyweight award of $500.

For many in the field of 100 pros, Day 1 of the Battle was a lot rougher. It took just 10-6 to get into the Top 12 in Thursday’s standings. Sixty-nine pros weighed five-fish limits.

 

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Bassmaster Elite Series Comes Home To Montgomery, Ala

Greg Vinson, a local favorite and native of the Montgomery area.

Greg Vinson, a local favorite and native of the Montgomery area.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The Bassmaster Elite Series has never been to Montgomery for a regular-season event, but the May 9-12 Alabama River Charge presented by Star brite will be like a homecoming.

Elite Series owner B.A.S.S., now based in Birmingham, Ala., was founded in Montgomery in 1968 by Ray Scott, a lifelong resident of the Capitol City. The birthplace of modern bass fishing, Montgomery has been the site of several top-tier Bassmaster competitions, including the Bassmaster Classic in 1981 and 1982. Most recently, Montgomery hosted three consecutive Elite Series postseasons, from 2009 to 2011.

But Montgomery has never seen a regular-season Elite Series event, when 100 of the world’s best bass pros launch their high-tech, wrapped rigs and put on a four-day show that attracts thousands of fans. At the March 2013 season opener in Orange, Texas, 33,650 people turned out over four days, setting a new Elite Series attendance record.

“Montgomery area fans have a chance to challenge Texas for the record,” said Trip Weldon, B.A.S.S. tournament director and native of Montgomery.

“We’ve always had super fan interest for Bassmaster tournaments in Alabama, and Montgomery has the perfect setting for a big event like the River Charge,” Weldon said.

This week the Elite pros are on West Point Lake in LaGrange, Ga., for the season’s fourth event. As soon as it’s over, they’ll head to Montgomery for their May 6-8 practice time for the May 9-12 competition days.

Several of the newer Elite pros have never been to the Alabama River, but many of the others are veterans of the fishery known for feisty spotted bass as well as largemouth bass. Elite pro Paul Elias won the 1982 Classic on the Alabama, and he placed seventh in the 1981 Classic, also on the Alabama. Seven-time Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Kevin VanDam won each of the final two postseason events in 2009 and 2010 on the Alabama River, clinching the Toyota Trucks Bassmaster Angler of the Year titles for those years in the process.

The most recent Elite pro to win on the Alabama River was Ott DeFoe, the postseason champ of 2011. He bested Edwin Evers by 5 ounces in a head-to-head final round of a three-day elimination competition.

“I have not been back since I won, and I’m definitely looking forward to it,” DeFoe said. “I have good memories of the time I spent there, and I’m ready to get back and do it again.”

By “it” he means hook more of the spotted bass he weighed in for his first Elite title.

“Where I live, we have Kentucky spots,” said DeFoe, 27, who calls Knoxville, Tenn., home. “The spots on the Alabama River are definitely a lot meaner, no doubt about it. They’re very aggressive and strong.”

He said he’ll be looking for one key condition: “If you have current, they bite. If you don’t, they don’t.”

DeFoe noted that a May trip to the river vs. the late July 2011 postseason means that the bass might have more tricks up their fins. “Like always, we will have to adjust to the conditions we find when we get there,” DeFoe said.

The Elite field will compete for a first-place prize of $100,000, an instant-in for the 2014 Bassmaster Classic, and points that count toward a Classic qualification and the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year award.

Fans are invited to watch the pros kick off the Alabama River Charge presented by Star brite each day at 6:30 a.m. CT at Montgomery’s Riverfront Park (200 Coosa St., Montgomery, AL 36104). Anglers return to the park to weigh their catches beginning at 3:15 p.m. CT at the Riverfront Park Amphitheatre on Thursday and Friday and at the Riverfront Park Union Station Train Shed on Saturday and Sunday.

While the pros are on the river, fans can enjoy the Bassmaster Elite Series Expo, which will open at noon Thursday-Sunday. All Bassmaster fan activities are free and open to the public.

 

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Greg Vinson Works Himself Into Bassmaster Elite Series Lead — Again

Photo by Gary Tramontina/Bassmaster

Photo by Gary Tramontina/Bassmaster

BULL SHOALS, Ark. — After a biting-cold Saturday morning running his boat on Bull Shoals Lake, Bassmaster Elite Series pro Greg Vinson could well have been running a line in his head from an old children’s verse: “Saturday’s child works hard for a living.”

It didn’t help that the fishing was hard, too, on Saturday, the second day of the Ramada Quest.

“I can’t tell you what a grind it was. The bite was really slow,” Vinson said on stage after he weighed in 13 pounds, 8 ounces.

He finished his work day with a two-day total of 30-5 and the Ramada Quest lead for the second consecutive day, but by only 3 ounces ahead, instead of the 1-pound lead he had Friday. The angler right behind him was Casey Scanlon of Lenexa, Kan., with 30-2.

How hard was Vinson’s day?

“To put it in perspective, at 12 o’clock I had four fish that might have weighed 6 pounds,” said Vinson, who’s from Wetumpka, Ala. “I had two keeper largemouth and two keeper spots. That was really working on my mind. At that point of the day, I was thinking about just making the Top 50.”

Vinson turned it around when he hit on a key adjustment — which he wasn’t about to share.

“I caught a 4, a 3 and a 2 1/2 in the last couple of hours. And I caught them a little bit differently than the way I caught them yesterday. At that point I was excited about saving the day — but I was a little upset with myself for not making that adjustment sooner.”

The 4-pounder was “barely hooked,” and he had to play the fish with patience and precision.

“At the time I still had two spots in the livewell, and I knew what a difference that fish would make,” he said. “I was so nervous the whole time I fought that fish. I’ve never taken so long to land a fish, but I knew it was important to take it slow. It felt like 30 minutes, but was probably only a couple of minutes.”

The lack of wind and spotty water color within the one area Vinson was working forced him to make the crucial adjustment.

“The least amount of wind makes all the difference for me,” he said.

The Alabama pro ended up with a five-fish limit of largemouth after he landed his final largemouth of the day with 15 minutes of fishing time remaining. At about 2 1/2 pounds, it allowed him to cull his one remaining spotted bass.

“That was huge,” he said. “It was the difference between leading and not leading.”

Vinson’s job isn’t over. With two more days of Quest competition remaining, Vinson has Scanlon to worry about. Scanlon brought in 15-5 Saturday to bump up his two-day total to 30-2. He climbed from seventh place into second.

Scanlon said he’s caught his limits early two days in a row. He went through 30 keepers Saturday (and about 25 or so Friday) before he was satisfied with what he had swimming in his boat’s livewell.

“Both days I’ve quit fishing the ‘good stuff’ at about 10 o’clock,” he said. “I ran some new patterns and figured out one more that’s pretty easy to catch keepers, but it’s probably worth only 13 pounds.”

His fish are prespawners, he said. They’re in deep, clear water, he said, and he’s making long casts to prevent spooking them.

Also on Vinson’s heels was Cliff Pace of Petal, Miss. Pace ended his Saturday competition 7 ounces behind Vinson. The 2013 Bassmaster Classic champion, Pace weighed 14-12 for 29-14 over two days. Pace held in third place, which is the same as his first-day finish.

“[In] these clear lakes, it’s so important to fish the conditions of the day,” Pace said.

“Today I had to slow down and pick things apart, be very methodical,” he said.

Fourth place was taken over by Terry Scroggins, who inched up from sixth place with 29-9. In fifth place was Pete Ponds of Madison, Miss., with 28-6. Ponds made a clean break from a first-day tie with two other anglers at 18th place.

The pros are after a first prize of $100,000 and an instant-in for the 2014 Bassmaster Classic. They’re also are earning points toward a Classic qualification. The top pro in points at the end of the eight-event regular season will win the coveted Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year title.

Vinson won the $500 Livingston Leader Award Saturday. A Bassmaster Elite Series Supporting Sponsor, Livingston Lures offers the award to the angler with the Day 2 lead.

The largest bass of the day was weighed by Ish Monroe of Hughson, Calif., but at 5-4, it wasn’t enough to tumble Kentucky pro Bradley Roy’s 5-6 of Friday. Roy remained in line for the Quest’s Carhartt Big Bass prize of $1,000 plus a $500 bonus if the angler was wearing Carhartt apparel.

Vinson’s Day 1 bag of 16-13 remained the frontrunner after two days for the event’s Berkley Heavyweight Award of $500.

The Ramada Quest continues Sunday with the Top 50 who made the Day 2 cut. The field will whittle down to the Top 12 for the $100,000 championship round on Monday, one day later than usual in a four-day Elite event because the planned start on Thursday shifted to Friday when severe weather hammered northern Arkansas.

 

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Greg Vinson Adjust to Changing Conditions

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Photo by Gary Tramontina/Bassmaster

BULL SHOALS, Ark. — The wind blew harder, the water level rose and its temperature dropped, but Greg Vinson figured out the changing Bull Shoals Lake fishing conditions to lead the Bassmaster Elite Series Ramada Quest. The Alabama angler finished 1 pound over Skeet Reese and less than 2 pounds over 2013 Bassmaster Classic winner Cliff Pace.

Vinson weighed in 16 pounds, 13 ounces Friday, the event’s first day after stormy weather delayed the planned start on Thursday. Reese turned in 15-13, and Pace had 15-2.

The post-frontal northern Arkansas bass stumped several pros — 16 of 100 didn’t weigh in a five-fish limit — but Vinson used the change from the early-week practice period to his advantage.

“I knew conditions were going to change, and things worked in my favor with the water level and weather,” said Vinson, who is from Wetumpka, Ala.

Vinson, protecting his advantage, was cryptic about the pattern he hit on and how the lake’s clear water influenced what he did.

“I hope it’s a pattern that will continue to produce throughout the tournament,” was all he said. “We all are always trying to guess what the fish will do when conditions change.”

Vinson weighed one smallmouth and four largemouth, a mixed bag that was not uncommon on the first day of the Ramada Quest. His first keeper — a 4-7 largemouth he caught in the first 10 minutes — was his largest of the day. His final keeper, which he landed about noon, was his second largest at about 4 pounds, he estimated.

“The first keeper and the last keeper were the keys,” he said. “As well as we caught fish last year, a 4-pounder was like gold. To have two in one day, that’s awesome.”

Vinson was referring to the 2012 Quest on Bull Shoals. Stained water and postspawn bass pushed the catch rate high, but lunkers were rare.

As quick as the 4-7 bit Friday, Vinson said he had to work “a long time” for another keeper (15 inches for largemouth and smallmouth bass, and 12 inches for spotted bass). His nerves were tested.

“Then I caught a spot that measured, and that calmed me down,” he said.

One pound behind Vinson was Reese, the 2009 Bassmaster Classic champ and 2007 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year. He also adjusted to the changes.

“I felt that with the conditions the way they were this morning — everything I learned in practice was pretty much thrown out the window,” said Reese of Auburn, Calif.

“The water temperature dropped 6, 8 degrees, and probably 10 degrees in some areas, and the water came up a couple feet,” Reese said. “I caught a couple of fish early, and that keyed me into a pattern that paid off. I had a limit by 9 o’clock — the best morning I’ve had all week.”

Reese said he caught 12 to 15 keepers throughout the day.

“There were two patterns I thought would be prevalent, and one of them I didn’t even do,” he said, playing it close to the vest, just like Vinson.

Pace of Petal, Miss., weighed 15-2, putting him in third place and 1 pound, 11 ounces behind the leader. Tied in fourth place at 14-15 were Jason Christie of Park Hill, Okla., and Randy Howell of Springville, Ala. Terry Scroggins of San Mateo, Fla., finished his Day 1 in sixth place with 14-14, 1 ounce behind Christie and Howell.

Those anglers are Top 5 leaders on Day 1 of the competition for a first prize of $100,000 and an instant berth in the 2014 Bassmaster Classic. Pros also are after points to qualify for the 2014 Classic and for the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year trophy.

Friday’s leaderboard was tight almost throughout the standings. Midfield hit just shy of 12 pounds. One pro in that group was Kurt Dove of Del Rio, Texas, who weighed 12-0 after a most unusual day: He pulled off what he called a “grand slam.” In the first 20 minutes in one area and on the same lure, Dove hooked into a smallmouth, a largemouth, a spotted bass and a walleye (the latter was not a catch he could weigh-in).

Bradley Roy of Lancaster, Ky., brought in the largest bass of the day, a 5-6 largemouth. The 5-plus-pounder leads the Quest’s Carhartt Big Bass competition for $1,000, plus a $500 bonus if the angler is wearing Carhartt apparel.

The Ramada Quest continues Saturday and extends to Monday — still a full four days after the original starting date of April 18 was delayed due to high winds and a line of severe storms that moved through Arkansas. Now the entire field of 100 pros will compete Saturday. On Sunday, the 50 who made the Day 2 cut will return to Bull Shoals Lake for the third round. On Monday, only the Top 12 will be in contention for the top prize of $100,000.

 

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Bassmaster Elite Series Event On Bull Shoals Lake Postponed

 

Photo by Gary Tramontina

Photo by Gary Tramontina

 

BULL SHOALS, Ark. — Strong storms heading straight toward Bull Shoals Lake early Thursday morning forced B.A.S.S. officials to postpone the start of the Bassmaster Elite Series Ramada Quest.

Instead of beginning on Thursday at 6:15 a.m., the Ramada Quest will begin Friday at the same time. A full four days of competition will extend the tournament to Monday. The entire field of 100 Elite Series pros will compete Friday and Saturday, and the Top 50 who make the cut will continue on to Sunday. Only the Top 12 will advance to the final round, now set for Monday.

“Severe storms west of Bull Shoals are going to train through here this morning,” said B.A.S.S. Tournament Director Trip Weldon, on site at Bull Shoals Lake Dock.

Weldon said he’d been watching the weather closely Wednesday and was awake and tracking conditions since 2:30 a.m. Thursday.

“Oklahoma [directly to the west of Bull Shoals] got hit. Here on the docks we’re already having gusts of wind close to 30 mph. The safety of anglers, staff and fans is of paramount importance. Lightning, rough boating conditions and heavy rains are conditions we take seriously,” Weldon said as lightning flickered in the still-dark skies.

Eilte Series pro Charlie Hartley, waiting on the docks for his turn to pull his boat out of the water, said he was disappointed.

“We’re missing a great bite today. And we didn’t fish in practice for the bluebird skies we’ll get tomorrow. Today would have been a power-fishing day. Tomorrow will be like a practice day as we turn to different techniques,” said Hartley, who is from Grove City, Ohio.

Reigning Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Brent Chapman of Lake Quivira, Kan., described his feelings in one word: “Frustrating.”

“It is what it is,” he said, “but this lake doesn’t get rough. The safety concern is there, I realize that. But they’ll bite today. I guess I’ll go get started re-rigging for postfrontal conditions. Under bluebird skies, the bite gets tough.”

For 12 of the Elite pros, the postponement was a familiar experience. On March 24, the Top 12 finalists in the Rigid Industries Falcon Slam on Falcon Lake had a forced day of rest when a wind storm hit Zapata, Texas, the tournament’s host city. The championship round was postponed until the next day.

Looking on the bright side, Hartley said that once the weather system passes through, he could pursue his new fishing love.

“I’ll go trout fishing,” he said, excited about the rainbows he’d been pulling from the White River on lightweight spinning gear. Although the pros were banned from Bull Shoals Lake Thursday, other waters are open to them.

The third event of the Bassmaster Elite Series season, the Ramada Quest offers a first prize of $100,000 and an instant qualification for the 2014 Bassmaster Classic. All participating anglers earn points toward securing a Classic berth. The top points’ earner will win the prestigious Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year title at season’s end.

 

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Rising Water

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by Greg Vinson

Courtesy of Lake Martin Magazine

Lake Martin view

 

For most anglers in the Southeast, March stands out as one of the best times of the year to catch big bass in the shallows. There are several reasons that big fish are generally more catchable at this time of year. One of the primary reasons is the spawn. Bass will occupy shallow water areas to make nests. Prior to the spawn, the fish are already preparing and moving shallow, feeding heavily to build body mass that will carry them through their spring ritual. Much like a deer hunter knows that the best time to kill a big buck is during the rut, a bass angler knows that the best time to catch a giant bass is during the spring when the big bass are hungry and defensive.

As fishermen, we all anticipate the late winter warming trends that are a precursor to the spring spawn. Longer days and warmer daytime highs lead to an overall warming trend in the water temperature. The conditions are set for waves of large fish to migrate from their winter hideouts into the shallows. Some of the most important lessons I’ve learned over the past several years have to do with the importance of both weather and water conditions. How they impact the location and mood of the fish at this time of year can determine how successful your day on the water really is.

One of the conditions we frequently deal with at this time of year is changing water level. Most reservoirs in the United States were originally built for flood control, navigation, or power generation. Whether it’s a private company like Alabama Power in the case of Lake Martin, or a government agency like the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on some other Alabama reservoirs, that entity is responsible for regulating the water level on the lake at a given time.

Many reservoirs across the country experience a winter drawdown to prepare for heavy spring rains that most years will allow the lake to fill back to normal; otherwise, the heavy runoff could cause catastrophic flooding. Winter drawdown levels vary from lake to lake. I’ve seen some, like Logan Martin, that may fall only a few feet, while others, like Lake Douglas in the Tennessee Smoky Mountains, will be drawn as much as 50 feet or more. In all cases, the water level will typically rise at a somewhat steady rate, according to a schedule that’s predetermined by the entity that controls the dam.

One of the cases of rising water that we see most often at this time of year is based on that predetermined schedule. Bass in a reservoir that has a steady rising water level after a winter drawdown will often begin moving shallow as soon as the water begins to rise. As the lake level continues to steadily rise, the largemouth bass will continue to move in with it and occupy whatever cover is available.

When a reservoir is rising at a steady rate, water color remains more constant as a whole. For me, there is a big difference in my rate of success when fishing water that is “stained” versus water that is “muddy.” When fishing rising water that is only stained, I can keep my bait selection more natural, and I can fish at a slightly faster pace, knowing the fish have a wider range to see and attack my bait.

The other case of rising water that we see on reservoirs, and especially rivers, is a sudden impulse of water that comes with a heavy storm system. In this case, water levels can rise a few feet in short time. This can be a much more daunting task to take on when you are establishing shallow water patterns in the spring. The area where you found a good group of fish last week or even just a few days ago is possibly going to be much deeper and have much more color than it did before. The questions most of us will ask ourselves are whether these fish left and should we leave; or did they just change?

As a general rule, largemouth bass will typically move up with the water level eventually. I have seen them stay in the zone along the bottom that they were in prior to the system. The only difference is that the area they are in is 6 feet deep instead of the 4 feet it was prior to the heavy rain. Most often, this is the case right after the water level comes up. Once the water level has been up and possibly continues to rise, the fish will often move to the next available flooded cover. It’s often difficult to locate them again if you don’t have a well-defined line of cover to follow, because the amount of area available has increased with the newly flooded terrain.

I’ve found that once the water level has risen quickly, it’s a task to relocate the fish if they were in a flat open area. There just seems to be too much more space for them to occupy, and they seem to scatter. I prefer to look for a steeper sloping shoreline, where the fish did not have to move much laterally to follow the rising water. Often the steeper sloping areas have more hard cover, like rock, for the fish to “cling” to as well.

Water that is rising fast typically will have much more stain to it and quite possibly will be muddy, because the higher flows associated with runoff from heavy spring rains can move more material from the surrounding terrain. Different creeks can muddy up more quickly, depending on the makeup of the watershed, but generally, the further you move back into a creek, the muddier the water will be immediately following a heavy rain. Again, I like to fish stained water but avoid water that looks like chocolate milk.

I adjust the color selection of my baits and the type of bait to the water color at this time of year. The fish are typically more aggressive right now, so I want a bait that they can see or they can feel regardless of the heavily stained water. My first choice would either be a spinnerbait or a crankbait, because I can fish them at a fast pace when compared to other baits. Covering water quickly helps me establish where the group of fish may be or what the potential pattern might be. Once I’ve identified a good area or a good pattern, I can try other baits like a jig that I think might catch the larger fish.

When the water is high, rising and heavily stained, I will choose a spinnerbait or crankbait that has either chartreuse or some red or orange, so my bait is more visible to the fish. I also will choose a spinnerbait or crankbait that has more vibration, so the fish can feel my bait coming and be ready to attack. Jig and trailer combinations will be black/blue, black/chartreuse, or brown/orange; the most visible colors in dirty water.

Late winter/early spring can be an exciting time to catch bass in the shallows, and learning how to adjust your tactics with changing water levels can only help in your quest to stay on ‘em. Wherever you are fishing next, pay attention to the trend in water level and be confident in the changes you make, either to your location or your presentation. The fish will tell you when you’ve got it right.

 

Greg Vinson is a full-time professional angler on the Bassmaster Elite Series and PAA tours. He lives in Wetumpka and grew up fishing on Lake Martin.

Spring Transition

Conquering the Spring Transition

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By Brian Adams

There is one simple burning question we all face when winter fades away and the weather begins to turn in our favor.  Where are the fish?  We have just spent the last couple months hunkered down in the artificial heat waiting for the temperatures to climb above stupid cold so we can get the boat on the water without worrying about frozen guides and numb fingers.  Once the day comes though, what do you do?  The fish are just beginning to feel the effects of the weather change and slowly migrating to their spring nesting areas.  Bradley Roy, the 2010 B.A.S.S. Rookie of the Year and the youngest person to ever qualify to fish the Elite Series has taken time out of his busy schedule to educate us on the migrating habits of those little green fish we love to chase.

When getting on the water for the first time in late February, early March, it is important to try and understand the mind frame of the bass when we attempt to locate them.  “The spring is all about the spawn.  Bass have been lethargic for most of the winter, but in many lakes they are now making transitions toward the spawning areas and feeding up in the process.”  Bradley explained, “Bass are trying to prepare for several weeks without much food, because while spawning they won’t have a regular diet.  Anglers need to pay close attention to creek channels this time of year; the bass as well as the baitfish will use these as travel routes in and out of the spawning areas.”

With any trip, setting a game plan is the key to a successful outing.  Choosing productive areas is not always as easily said than done, but Bradley offers up some advice to help narrow down our search, “Main creek arms are always my favorite because they usually offer defined creek channels that will lead in and out the spawning areas, but at times pockets that are directly off the main lake on the north side of the lake will warm up faster and can lead to some awesome early spring fishing.”  This includes main staging areas along the way, “I do feel that earlier in the migration bass like to stop on secondary points that are near a channel. If you can find one that they are using you will usually find several fish there and have a chance to catch a really big stringer of fat pre-spawn bass.”

Obviously location and understanding the bass’ travel habits is key to locating and catching fish early in the year, but knowing when they will begin to move is just as important.  Like us, temperature and conditions will play a key role in their decision making process.  Bradley has a solid theory on when they will start their transition, “In most cases bass will remain in their winter haunts until the water temperature reaches 50. Every lake is different but I believe this is the temp they start thinking about making a move. They usually transition in steps as the water temp rises meaning it won’t be all at once. They usually spread this migration out over the course of a month.”

Not all lakes are created the same.  Different areas of the country will offer a wide range of options.  Some lakes will be cover and structure heavy, where others will be void of any visible stopping points for bass to take shelter.  The question we have to ask is, how much does this affect the migration in general, “To me it doesn’t matter what the available cover is, you just have to decide what that particular lake has to offer. If a lake has grass the bass will certainly use that to move in and out of spawning areas. They will start on the deeper edges of the grass then move in as the water warms. Remember the one thing they need to spawn is a hard bottom, so when looking for a spawning area, keep that in mind.”  Bradley goes on to break this down even more,”stumps and laydowns are usually one of the last places they stop before actually spawning. Without a doubt my favorite early pre-spawn cover is docks, particularly floating ones, rock bluff or steeper banks that the channel touches, and secondary rock points. “One last bit of advice, which I actually thought about saving for myself, is something most of us may not have even considered, “Floating docks can be a great place to catch big female bass, especially if you are on a body of water where the water level is fluctuating.  They know that a dock will rise up and down with the water so they can just hang out there instead of having to move in and out on a shallow bank.”

There is one cruel trick Mother Nature loves to play on us; regardless of the time of year, and that is the sudden frontal change which may occur.  Later in the year, these changes may not seem to affect the bass as much, but during the earlier months, it can be heartbreaking, “Frontal changes will often time’s slow the bite drastically this time of year. These pre spawn fish are very sensitive to weather, moon phases, water level, etc. because these are the things that are telling them when to move toward spawning and when to stop and wait for a while.”  This is something Bradley has experienced multiple times in his young career, “in my experience if you have a warming trend and the bass are on the move, let’s say you find them on a secondary point in the outer third of a creek and then a front comes through. I don’t believe the bass will go back out toward the main lake, instead I believe they will just camp out until things improve. They will certainly be harder to catch but they are more than likely still there. This can sometimes play to your advantage, although they may be harder to coax into biting, the areas will sometimes keep them more localized”

One question I have always wondered was, does cloud cover affect the bite differently during the late winter / early fall than it would at any other time.  “You will notice this time of year that a lot of your bigger bites will come in the afternoon sun. So I know that warming water is important. I always like a nice sunny day with a small amount of wind for pre spawn fish. But don’t hate too much on cloud cover, it actually can drastically improve your morning bite, if you have cloud cover overnight it will help keep the heat down and your overnight temps won’t drop as much.

Bradley_Roy3smKnowing where to find the bass is just half the battle.  Bait selection is a crucial ingredient to bringing everything full circle and filling your live wells.    With the abundance of choices on the market, Bradley narrows it down to his 5 main offerings, “This is my favorite time of year for one reason, because in most cases you can leave the finesse stuff at the house. This is a home run time of year, not only are the fish ready to bite; they also weigh more than they will at any other time. I have five baits that I won’t go fishing with out in the pre-spawn, a Taylor Man’s Spinnerbait, a Taylor Man’s Hawg seeker jig, a suspending jerkbait, a lipless crankbait and a Berkley Hollow Belly Swimbait.   With these baits I can cover all the forage for this time of year, all depths, and all of these baits are big fish baits.”

Regardless of the time of year, there is never a guarantee every trip will be a successful one.  We will have days we can’t buy a bite and others where it seems they are jumping into the boat.  Late winter and early spring can be a very fickle time for any fisherman and for those who have made the choice to pony up some cash in the hopes of angling glory; we may actually dread these first couple of months of the.  Knowledge is a key component to becoming a successful angler at any level and a better understanding of our prey can mean the difference between cashing in or crawling home.

Photos courtesy of  Pro Fishing Management

 

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Suspended Baits

by Greg Vinson

Courtesy of Lake Martin Magazine

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Fishing jerkbaits slowly under the surface can be a very effective Lake Martin technique in January exceptions, of course, when we have an unusual warming trend followed by a low-pressure system. In that case, fish may feed more heavily than on the average winter day. Otherwise, water temperatures are going to be at their lowest point in January. Bass, like other fish, are coldblooded creatures, and their body temperatures are going to be equivalent to their environment (the water). Water temperatures are typically at the coldest point in January in our part of the country; therefore, the metabolism of the fish is going to be much slower at this time of year.

The metabolism of the predatory fish is slow, but the metabolism of their prey is much slower as well. In fact, it is not uncommon to see “shad kills” at this time of the year due to the cold water temperatures. Some shad will completely die off, while others will flutter through the water column in a confused state, perhaps on the brink of death. This is Nature’s way of culling the herd, and in most reservoirs, there are plenty that survive the winter to solidify the forage base the next season.

Various species of fish respond to cold water temperatures differently, according to their tolerance for the conditions. Most species of bass are tolerant to a wide range of temperatures. Because their metabolism is slower during winter, they don’t have to feed as much to survive, but they do have to feed at some point, and this may be the best time to take advantage of their opportunistic nature.

One of the best ways to capitalize on the conditions at this time of year is by using suspending jerkbaits. Consider the fact that by mid-January the bass are used to feeding on slow-moving prey, such as shad affected by the falling water temps. Another consideration is that most fish are suspending in zones of the water column that are the most suitable from one day to the next, especially in clear water like Lake Martin. Keep in mind that fish in cold muddy water will hold much tighter to cover and can be especially difficult to catch. I would recommend something other than a jerkbait in that type of situation. Truth is, I would avoid cold, muddy water if a solid jerkbait bite were a possibility somewhere else on the lake.

By using a suspending jerkbait, it allows you to do two things. First, you can control the speed and action of the bait depending on just how cold the water is. You want to mimic the activity level of the shad. Second, you can adjust the depth at which the bait will suspend. Here are some of the techniques that I have used in the past for success at this time of year.

The greatest characteristic of a suspending jerkbait is just what the name implies. You have the option to leave the bait in one spot as long as necessary before moving it again. At this time of year, the length of time you allow the bait to pause is going to be most critical to your success. It is my nature to fish fast, so I want to find out what is the least amount of time I have to allow the bait to sit idle before imparting more action. The faster I can fish, the more water I can cover.

I’ve heard of guys allowing a jerkbait to sit as long as 30 seconds before moving it again, but for an ADD-type angler, that’s way too long for me. Ten seconds is about the longest amount of time I will allow the bait to pause, and trust me; it feels like 10 minutes. As with other baits and presentations, it’s important to experiment with the amount of time the bait rests, as well as the amount of action you give the jerkbait when you move it. Somewhere in there is the perfect combination for success; miss it by much, and you will be left wondering if there are any fish in the lake.

Different models of jerkbaits respond differently to the jerk pause retrieve, so it’s important to have a variety of offerings. Some of the most popular models on tour are the Megabass Ito 110, Ima flit, Lucky Craft Pointer series, the new Spro McStick and the Smithwick Rogue. The first four I mentioned have weight transfer systems that allow for better casting distance initially and then aid in the suspending action on the retrieve. The Rogue doesn’t feature the weight transfer system, but what it lacks in design for casting it makes up for in action on the retrieve. Each of these baits has a slightly different action from the other when jerked, ripped, or pulled. In almost all cases, I want my bait to “walk” from side to side at some point during the retrieve. Sometimes, the bite is better when the bait walks repeatedly, and other times I may only want it to walk once or twice during the entire retrieve.

Finding the right combination of action and length of pause when jerkbaiting is critical, but to maximize your success, you want your bait to run at the correct depth. Suspended bass typically bite best when a bait is worked over their heads as opposed to running beneath them in the water column. This allows some leeway when finding the right depth in which you want the bait to run. In other words, you want to keep your jerkbait running at or above the depth where you think the fish are hanging out. The best guideline is to see at what depth the majority of the fish are appearing on your sonar. I like to keep my bait within 5 to 10 feet of that depth.

The average jerkbait will usually run about 3 to 5 feet out of the package on 12-pound test monofilament line. To get the bait to run deeper, switch to fluorocarbon line first; and then, downsize the pound test. Downsizing the pound test actually means you will be using a smaller diameter line. Smaller line cuts through the water more easily, much like a filet knife would cut more easily than a hatchet. Another trick that works well at increasing running depth is the addition of larger size hooks to the bait. Jerkbaits are very sensitive to weight, and sometimes a slight change in the overall weight of the bait can affect the running depth. In years past, prior to suspending model jerkbaits, anglers added lead wire or rubber core sinkers to the front hook on their jerkbaits to get them to suspend or even sink slowly.

On the other hand, sometimes you may want the bait to run shallower than designed. In this case you would want to stay with monofilament line and increase the diameter. The larger line will not cut through the water as easily and will keep the bait higher in the water column. This is an effective technique for keeping the bait above a submerged grass line or just fishing it in shallower water. Keep in mind that anytime you adjust line size, type or weight on the bait, you will also change the action somewhat. Be careful not to “kill” the action of the bait, because fish are willing to come up to eat the bait if it has the right action.

Many anglers consider January to be one of the most difficult times of the year to catch fish. This is most likely in part because the fish are not feeding as aggressively due to low metabolism. With a jerkbait and the right combination of action, pauses, and running depth, you can capitalize by catching some nice chunky wintertime bass.

 

Greg Vinson is a full-time professional angler on the Bassmaster Elite Series and PAA tours. He lives in Wetumpka and grew up fishing on Lake Martin.

 

 

Dog Days Are Over

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Rabbit Heart

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