A Traveler's Top Five (for now)

A Traveler's Top Five (for now)

I’ve been to many but not most of the top tournament bass fisheries in the United States – from Okeechobee to Guntersville to Rayburn/Fork/Toledo/Falcon to the Cal Delta to Table Rock and on and on and on. Nevertheless, there are several that I’ve inexplicably missed. For at least a decade I’ve wanted to fish both Clear Lake and Champlain, and nothing has really prevented me from going except too many other options. Champlain has been on the list so long that its spot at the top of the eastern “want list” has been usurped by the Thousand Islands.

Up Goes Frazier

Up Goes Frazier

Georgia pro Micah Frazier claimed his first tour-level win this past weekend on New York’s St. Lawrence River, coming back from 10th after Saturday to claim the crown. Fish fans might’ve been surprised by the location of his first big victory, but anyone who’s been following his career for a while probably knew it was coming. He’s fished three of the last four Bassmaster Classics and barring an epic collapse will fish another one at Guntersville in March.

Katmai Scratch Fever

Katmai Scratch Fever

I’m not a big sightseeing guy. Take me to one of the many wonders of the world, and I’ll give it the Full Griswold, taking it in briefly, nodding my head and moving on. It’s not that I don’t appreciate them – indeed, I do – but I’m an impatient tourist.

Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better

Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better

I owe an apology to the women of Alaska. Heading into my recent trip, I figured that in the most distant and different state, gender roles would be remarkably separated and antiquated. In fact, my experience turned out to be exactly the opposite of that – the women up there are not only every bit as capable as the men, but they have the same frontier spirit and can-do-it (must-do-it?) attitude.

Ward, Take it Easy on the Beaver

Ward, Take it Easy on the Beaver

In the Bristol Bay Borough where I fished last week, float planes are a way of life. As you drive down the road along the Naknek River, you see a bunch of them, and as you’re fishing a bunch of them pass by. Because the road system is highly limited, many schoolchildren actually fly to school each day (except when the winter weather prevents them from going home, in which case they stay overnight with host families).

An Alaskan Fish-Kabob

An Alaskan Fish-Kabob

During my last trip to Alaska, in the summer of 1995, my halibut charter captain used small chunks of cut bait and we caught small fish. Apparently it is common practice among many of the day-trippers to head out to a known “chicken hole,” load the boat with small fish and head back as soon as possible.

The Long Reach of the Elite Series

The Long Reach of the Elite Series

With a few hours between our arrival at the King Salmon, Alaska airport, and dinner at the Bear Trail Lodge, our hosts took me and Keith Combs on a tour of that portion of the Bristol Bay Borough. In other words, we headed 13 miles to the end of the area’s longest road, down to the borough seat of Naknek, which as of the 2010 census had a year-round population of 544, down from 678 in 2000.

Ugly Vibrating Jigs Need Love, Too

Ugly Vibrating Jigs Need Love, Too

I’ve had the same vibrating jig on the deck of my boat since about the end of May. I may have retied once or twice, and I’ve gone through a handful of trailers, but other than that it’s the exact same bait. It’s caught quite a few bass, more snakeheads than I can recall, a couple of perch and two overaggressive blue catfish. I’ve certainly gotten my five buck investment back in multiples, and it’s probably due to be retired, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. I have more confidence in this one lure than any other of its type that I’ve ever owned.

The Search for Specialty Travel Rods

The Search for Specialty Travel Rods

I probably travel by airplane to fish more than the average angler, and I hope to do a lot more of it in the future – ideally to increasingly remote areas. Once you’re committed to flying, especially on regional or charter jets, the chances of bringing a full-sized rod tube decrease substantially. The lodge or charter operator might have quality gear, but if they don’t you better bring some good sticks of your own.

Snakebit

Snakebit

I’ve spent a lot of my time on the water over the last month helping out-of-town friends chase snakeheads, so when I had a free day to fish on Friday I was determined to chase bass only. Nevermind the fact that the mercury was expected to tickle the hundred degree mark, without a lick of wind, I was going all in on Micropterus – at least until I ran out of Gatorade and water.

(Trolling Motor) War — What is it good for?

(Trolling Motor) War — What is it good for?

The pre-ICAST story of note has clearly been about the new entrants into the trolling motor market. That’s an arena that in the tournament bass world has been a two horse race for a few decades, with the Minn Kota Ultrex taking a commanding lead over the past few years. Now, with other companies entering the fray, there’s real competition.