Pole Cats and Muddy White Rivers

Getting ready to unload the SS250 in another fishy looking section of river. Notice my left foot and the pole where the camera is attached. My foot is holding the pole from rocking back and forth. I later would fix with electrical tape as gasket for a tighter fit.

Getting ready to unload the SS250 in another fishy looking section of river. Notice my left foot and the pole where the camera is attached. My foot is holding the pole from rocking back and forth. I later would fix with electrical tape as gasket for a tighter fit.

I’m aboard yet another SouthWest flight, this time, leaving Little Rock, heading to New Orleans.   I scrambled to get my stuff packed up.  All the sudden, my 2 week fishing adventure/holidays 2015/ New Year 2016 trip is over.   The first week I was here, the fish and the fishing was feeling right.  Then, we got hit with Winter Storm Goliath.  That sorta wrecked the second half of my trip.

Final tally –  1 bite (Huddleston), 3 BIG followers (1 Huddleton and 2 on the Slide Swimmer).    No catches.  Yay.  At least I got to feel the burn of sore wrists and forearms from lobbing the bigbaits around.

This is the confluence of the Cotter Spring and the White River.  It is usually crystal clear.  Winter Storm Goliath wants me to come back to AR again soon.  Sorta cramped the trout fishing!

This is the confluence of the Cotter Spring and the White River. It is usually crystal clear. Winter Storm Goliath wants me to come back to AR again soon. Sorta cramped the trout fishing!

Pole Cat –

I’ve been messing with better ways to shoot video.   GoPro cameras are awesome, but I find them a little challenging to get good footage with, when it comes to filming your day of fishing.   I use the heck out of my GoPros for underwater footage.  They rock for that.  I’m trying to get away from a camcorder style camera in the back of the boat on a tripod.  The GoPro tends to excel at up close, in your face type action.   I don’t particularly care for footage that is shot from a head or chest mounted camera.  You miss a lot of what is going on.

The GoPro, I've found, is great when suspended about 2-3 feet above and 1 foot behind your head.

The GoPro, I’ve found, is great when suspended about 2-3 feet above and 1 foot behind your head.

I ended up with a 10′ piece of 1/2″ conduit, purchased for $2.50 at Lowes.   It miraculously fit perfectly in the seat mount/pedestal mounts in my little Tracker Grizzly aluminum river rig.    I have some refining to do, but the POV (point of view) and accessibility of the camera while fishing was great.

 

You can use the web application to dial in your mounting.  I find myself going manual a lot. I sorta know where to aim it now.

You can use the web application to dial in your mounting. I find myself going manual a lot. I sorta know where to aim it now.

This is what I was looking for.  I want to see the bottom and have more of a bird's eye view.  Yes, I like to fish grass beds, whether I'm trout or bass fishing.  Big fishes like grass.

This is what I was looking for. I want to see the bottom and have more of a bird’s eye view. Yes, I like to fish grass beds, whether I’m trout or bass fishing. Big fishes like grass.

 

You get a much better feel for the river, the bottom, and how shallow it can be, even when there is water running.  I would love to show you what catching a big one from up here looks like!

You get a much better feel for the river, the bottom, and how shallow it can be, even when there is water running. I would love to show you what catching a big one from up here looks like!

I cannot believe how different I am than a few years ago.  It didn't phase me to not catch any fish, and didn't phase me the flood conditions pretty much messed up 50% of my trip.   I have better control of my emotions and expectations.  I am enjoying things and not getting all fussy about nothing.  Amazing.  Thank you yoga.

I cannot believe how different I am than a few years ago. It didn’t phase me to not catch any fish, and didn’t phase me the flood conditions pretty much messed up 50% of my trip. I have better control of my emotions and expectations. I am enjoying things and not getting all fussy about nothing. Amazing. Thank you yoga.

2015 Year in Pictures

Let’s see, the best thing that happened to me in 2015 regarding fishing, was getting the itch to fish again.  This only happened the last few months, and was triggered by my boy, Cameron Smith winning at Lake Hartwell.  I have been looking at various models of boats that can be stored at my house, but also serve as fresh and salt crossover fishing vessels.

2015 was mostly about my career, and getting myself back in the big leagues of software sales.   I started with a new company in March, and it’s been a busy year of travel, new Cities, new Partnerships and new relationships.   I have literally been everywhere in the West, including Alaska and Western Canada.  It’s not horrible, its just hard to travel a lot and be on top of fishing at home.

Besides software, I spend a lot of time working on surfing. I’ve gone from 9-10′ boards down to 6.5 and 7 foot boards.  It’s a quantum leap in effort required to paddle and catch waves.  It takes superior strength and agility to get on your feet, make quick pumps and fly thru sections on a shortboard.  I love it. It’s been a worthy challenge and I continue each swell to learn and progress.

Here goes:

Corbina happen and most people don't realize they are there. I'm trying to figure out how to catch these buggers on fly rods.

Corbina happen and most people don’t realize they are there. I’m trying to figure out how to catch these buggers on fly rods.

They weigh 2-3 pounds and eat sand crabs at the surf line

They weigh 2-3 pounds and eat sand crabs at the surf line

My saltwater fly fishing tackle box. Crab eaters and little baitfish clowsers

My saltwater fly fishing tackle box. Crab eaters/sand crab patterns and little baitfish clowser patterns.

 

I have a 'trout eater' scene in my living room. It keeps my mind in the game

I have a ‘trout eater’ scene in my living room. It keeps my mind in the game

 

DCIM103GOPRO

Xmas 2015 in Cotter, AR.  Staying at my parents’ place:  The Rainbow Bridge Lodge in Downtown Cotter, Arkansas.  That is my little boat parked under my second story bedroom window.  The White River is <1 min drive from here, and Cotter is home to many big brown trout.

 

 

 

Dry Run Creek underwater shot. My nieces and nephews wacked 'em.

Dry Run Creek underwater shot. My nieces and nephews wacked ’em.

My boy Cameron Smith breaking the 'ice' so to speak. We have both banged our heads against the wall with tournament fishing. Cameron has stuck with it, and won the ABA Nationals for the West on Lake Hartwell. The best news is he earned an invitation to the Lake Hartwell in late April 2016. Cameron is going to win again on Lake Hartwell.

My boy Cameron Smith breaking the ‘ice’ so to speak. We have both banged our heads against the wall with tournament fishing. Cameron has stuck with it, and won the ABA Nationals for the West on Lake Hartwell. The best news is he earned an invitation to the Lake Hartwell in late April 2016. Cameron is going to win again on Lake Hartwell.

 

 

Mick Fanning and Kelly Slater, after a killer heat at Lower Trestles. I consider Trestles sacred water.

Mick Fanning and Kelly Slater, after a killer heat at Lower Trestles. I consider Trestles sacred water.  When the World Surf League makes a regular tour stop in your backyard, you know you are blessed with good surf.

 

The 11" Triple Trout in 3 Dot Olive w Pink sides. Whitmer made me this a few years ago now. Wow, what a killer bait.

The 11″ Triple Trout in 3 Dot Olive w Pink sides. Whitmer made me this a few years ago now. Wow, what a killer bait.

 

I love watching seams, billowing water, vortexes, eddies, etc.

I love watching seams, billowing water, vortexes, eddies, etc.

 

The very corporate Matt Peters. I had a friend shoot some posed photos for my LinkedIn profile. Find me at www.linkedin.com/in/southernswimbait

The very corporate Matt Peters. I had a friend shoot some posed photos for my LinkedIn profile.

You care to get a flavor of what I do in the corporate world?  Follow me on LinkedIn:  www.linkedin.com/in/southernswimbait

I’m oddly content and pleased about where I am in life. I am not married, I have no kids, which makes me a unicorn in some respects.  I continue to enjoy living a normal life that doesn’t revolve around boats and fishing gear.  I got into yoga over a year ago, and cannot say how much yoga has helped me.   Yoga has opened my body and mind up to all sorts of new and healthy activities, practices, people, and disciplines.  I have made many new awesome friends thru yoga.  Let me be clear, I suck at yoga, but nobody benefits from it more than a guy like me.    I highly encourage those of you who need something physical, spiritual and awesome to do during the week to check out yoga.   Vinyasa Power Flow is my favorite.  I love energy and positive energy and how contagious it is.

I plan to fish more in 2016 and keep perpetuating this blog.  I have Southern Trout Eaters #2 on my plate, and let me just say….it’s complicated.   I just don’t have time to do it all.  However, as the Jay Z song goes, 40 is the new 20. I have high hopes for a productive, fun and positive 2016.  I am only 19 according to Jay Z.   There is plenty of time to fish still.

Happy New Year.

 

 

Mann’s Reel N’ Shad

Keep it simple.  I am intrigued by swimming worms and swimming fluke baits, as they relate to swimbait fishing.  Swimming a fluke style bait is sorta kinda glide bait fishing to some extent.   There’s a randomness and glide of swimming fluke baits that makes them special.  Think about how the Scrounger Head, and Aaron Martens have pretty much validated that swimming flukes flat wear ’em out.  Now transition to the Head Spin.  Fluke influenced.  Very critical to rig your Fluke or swimbait PERFECTLY on your Head Spin.  Otherwise is runs funky or doesn’t look good.   The fluke + Head Spin of course won the BassMaster Classic in 2015 on Hartwell.  A blueback herring lake.  The Head Spin swims but also has a glide to it as it sinks and falls.  It has to do with the Fluke on the back.    The Little Dipper is an excellent trailer for the Head Spin.

My first exposure to the Scrounger was back in the day, Pacific Ocean in about 1990 out on the Dana Wharf fleet.   Saltwater calico bass fishing w 4″ curly tail grubs and Scroungers.  My first exposure to the Head Spin, was in 2005, in Atlanta, GA.  It was a local company and I read fishing reports for days trying to integrate into the Southern bass fishing scene.  I would credit Ryan Coleman for dialing me into the bite more like in 2007.  I hired Ryan to show me Lake Lanier.  There was a BassMaster Open coming to Lanier that year (Which, Ryan would WIN!).  He showed me how to slow roll a Head Spin over brush piles.  Later, folks like Brad and Bob Rutherford preached to me about the Head Spin for places like Hartwell.  Which is ironic because that is where Casey Ashley just won the 2015 BassMaster Classic — Lake Hartwell.   Head Spins have their place for suspended fish, herring eaters, spotted bass, largemouths, and any fish truthfully.  The underspin is a fundamental truth of fishing it feels like to me.

How many influences do you see here? Alabama rig and adding a 2nd blade/flash .... Then I've got a Little Dipper, from my Okeechobee affair w swimming worms. Then You have Fish Head Spin with is a unique swimbait in it's own right. Underspins, like spinnerbaits and inline spinners get bit.

How many influences do you see here? Alabama rig and adding a 2nd blade/flash …. Then I’ve got a Little Dipper, from my Okeechobee affair w swimming worms. Then You have Fish Head Spin with is a unique swimbait in it’s own right. Underspins, like spinnerbaits and inline spinners get bit.

So WTF does that have to do with the Mann’s Reel N’ Shad?  Watch this bait swim.  Watch it hop.  The straight reel, this thing has a sweet little wiggle fluid drive swim.   This is a “Do Nothing Swimbait” if I’ve ever seen one.  This thing looks lethal to me, on spinning gear , or casting gear.  There is a 3 3/4″ and and 5 1/4″ models which is cool.  The small one is definitely spinning gear time.  7′ M or MH Spinning pole and some 10-15# braid with a 10# floro leader.  Bang goes the dynamite.  This thing is part senko, part fluke, part glide bait, and part swimmer.  I just appreciate the simple yet super fishable and fish catchyness of this bait.

I have to admit, I haven’t fished a fluke on a standard roundball jig head enough.  I haven’t fished a fluke or fluke style (meaning V or U shaped body when looking at bait head on), that don’t have a swimming tail enough.   The swimming tail takes away from glide.   The tail straightens the swim into a more uniform flow/engine.  Fluke baits with a simple little fork tail (or no tail, ie Sluggo) don’t swim thru the water.  They glide.  The swimbait world is all blown up on, glide baits.  Glide baits are something so simple but something we (well, me certainly) are just scratching the surface with.  I’m so f@cking blown away on the Slide Swimmer 250, there’s no other way to put it.  I got like 5 bites by MAGNUM brown trout in the span of like 2 days.   It was sick and wrong.   There are particular reasons it’s so good.  I can kill it, stall it, etc that is very conducive to fishing current.  The Slide Swimmer 250 kicks f@cking ass in current.  Fishability.   Net net, anything that ‘glides’ like a fluke rigged with a light lead head will catch fish.   Try a 1/16 or 1/32 head on a Zoom Fluke sometime.  It’s stupid how good that thing fishes (and catches).  Mid-Strolling.  Have you ever heard of that technique?

The video is of the 5 1/4″ version in guess what color?  Hartwell Special/Blue Glimmer.  You know somebody knows what time it is when they name something like that.  This bait has blueback herring eaters written all over it.  Likewise smallmouth and spotted bass.  From creek fishing, to fishing steep walls / shade lines…boy …. this thing is super simple but looks effective.

Beginners

Think about this bait for kids or for somebody who is new.   Good enough to cast, retrieve, and sorta gets the feel for jigging a bait with a rod, reel, and line.    You set them up with the Mann’s Reel N’ Shad , they are gonna be stoked.  Floating down a creek or fishing small water?  The 3 3/4″ version looks killer.  Great colors.   Mann’s surprises me from time to time.  I try to keep an open mind and never be snooty about baits, companies, and techniques.  That sort of arrogance has cost me a lot of money!   If you know what you’re doing this bait is sorta a new ‘indicator’ bait / approach.  One of those specialty baits you have rigged up on a shad bite/herring bite where fish are suspended, chasing bait, on steep stuff,  or need to probe the depths.

We’ve got a lot of tools to pick from.  This one definitely will help you keep it simple.  And might be a good suggestion to some beginners or something you take on a trip w you where you need to put some newbies on fish. Mann’s Bait Company is about as OG as you can get.  I think about Hank Parker and those Gold Colorado bladed spinnerbaits he won the Classic with, and I think of Paul Elias and the big ole deep dredge crankbaits.  I have to say, the 1-Minus series has caught me a lot of fish.   Anyway, Mann’s has some good baits, at a good price and seems to be hanging tuff.   I imagine they’ve sold 1 or 2 umbrella rigs too?!?!?!

MP

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manns-reel-n-shad

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HogFarmer Baits Hair Jig

It’s officially June 1st. I think it’s safe to assume there are fishes on the ledges out on the TN River.   I’m no ledge fishing expert, but here is what I know:  You have to have multiple tools in your toolkit, once you locate a school of fish.  The fish get tuned into your bait after you hook 3-5 fish.  You have to switch it up to keep getting bit.

The hair jig is one of the oldest school baits you can throw these days. I fished round headed hair jigs with Uncle Josh Pork Frogs on the back on Bull Shoals lake in the late 80s/early 90s time frame.   I know they catch fish. I hammered fish on the hair jig.

Scott Schauwecker and HogFarmer Baits are legit.  Scott sent me a bunch of his HogFarmer Umbrella Rigs.  Something I intend to show and share.  They are killer and are exactly what I like in umbrella rigs.  His hair jig came to my attention recently, and I took some time to cast it and feel it and film it.  Hair jigs have a different vortex.  They have a real glide to them as they fall thru the water.  They fall on a different plane than rubber/synthetic skirts.  The hair jig has a consistent size and shape vs. rubber that tends to ‘squid’ and distort.   It’s got a great shad/baitfish profile that just works. It pulses along as it swims.  The hair moves and pulses, but it’s far less dramatic than the swim of rubber skirts.  Hair has a natural flow in water that is more subtle and quiet, but nice and bulky and sleek.

HogFarmer Hair jigs are made with synthetic bear hair, krystal flash, and real bear hackle feathers.  The colors are legit.  Lemon Shad reminded me of a good TN River threadfin shad color, with the chartreuse stripe.  I like the 3/4 ounce. I would suggest he make a 1 and 1.5 ounce baits too!  I like ’em heavier than most.

Trailers/Customizations

Definitely you can cut the hair, thin it out, or create a tail.  I’m fairly certain a good trailers for a bait like this are: Keitech’s, BassTrix, Skinny Dippers, Big Hammers, Straight tailed Worms split down the center, Flukes, or Senkos.   The added bulk will give you more weight, more swim, more glide, etc.  The heavier your jig head, the better your trailer swims on the fall/sink.  Unless you are looking for glide, in which case, lighter tends to be better than heavier.

Stroking

Hell yes.  Rip this bait off the bottom and let it fall back.  That is the #1 application of the HogFarmer Hair Jig that I’d have in mind. I’d find a school of fish and use this as one of my tools to fire up the school, and show them something fresh and new.  I find switching from Big Hammer to Omega Remitz Football Jig to Magnum Speed Worms and then Umbrella Rigs of course.

Swimming

You should definitely swim a hair jig like you would any other swimbait you fish mid water column.  Whenever you find fish and need to show them something fresh or just explore how big a bait they’ll eat or really try to dial them in…Hair jigs are super old school.  The theme reminds me of “Ken’s Vortex” conversations.  The hair jig has a different footprint and vibration than rubber jigs and it swims and glides different.  It gets bit.

Purchase from Tackle Warehouse

Purchase from Tackle Warehouse

 

 

The Deps Slide Swimmer 175 Blue Back Herring

slide-swimmer-175-blue-back-herring

slide-swimmer-175-herring-tail

 

This may be completely “duh” to some people, but I am still acquiring my arsenal of glide baits and learning how to properly fish them in all sorts of places.  The Deps Slide Swimmer 175 is a killer medium sized swimbait that is going to catch you quality and quantity.  If I lived in Georgia and fished the Blue Back Herring bite, I would be all about the Deps Slide Swimmer 175 (SS175) in the Blue Back Herring color.  This bait is 7.5″ long and weighs 3 ounces.   It fishes like a a ‘fluke’.

herring-eaters-blue-back-slide-swimmer-deps

Herring Eaters

May – June tends to be awesome time for the herring eaters.  I think the bite goes thru the summer, you just have to adjust and fish thru crowds and the heat.   Fish this thing on a medium 8′ swimbait rod, 65# Braided line (direct tie) and a 200 or 300 series 7.1 or 6.3:1 low profile reels.

top-herring-slide-swimmer-butch-brown

Applications / Approaches for Herring Eaters with the Slide Swimmer 175 Blue Back Herring:

Docks-Fish the seawalls in between docks and long runs of seawalls anywhere you can find them. Especially early morning bite.  Cover water with the Slide Swimmer.  You can have a lot of fun high sticking with braided line and really pumping your bait upward so the glide breaks the surface.   Then stall it out and let it just die.  Or just parallel good sections and fish it slow and steady, sorta spinner bait style.

The Slide Swimmer is an amazing bait.  I don’t care how you fish it.  You can really jerkbait/fluke style fish it.  So around certain docks, you could even pitch it into open slots and fish it out and draw out a biggun.   I would stall it around shade spots, and just use it pull fish out from under floating docks.  Fish the windy / outer side of anything if you get the chance.

slide-swimmer-175-side-profile

Points-I would fish the Slide Swimmer 175 Blue Back Herring like a mad man on places like Lake Murray or Clarks Hill.  I would run and gun as many red clay points and just good rocky points I could hit.   I would spin around and fish way offshore those points. I found fishing over grass that was 15-12 feet deep with a Triple Trout a really good way to catch quality fish on Clarks Hill.  I think the Slide Swimmer 175 would do some real damage on the herring lakes if a guy knew where the fish were.  Herring eaters are hard to find and stay on.   You gotta be able to fish up shallow then pull off the point, fish ontop, fish double fluke rigs, etc to pull ’em up.  The SS175 is going to be another tool in your tool kit.

Red Clay

Red Clay

clarks-hill-red-clay

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Notice, the 175 next to the 250 Slide Swimmer.  The 250 has fins on the belly, the 175 does not have those same fins.

Notice, the 175 next to the 250 Slide Swimmer. The 250 has fins on the belly, the 175 does not have those same fins.

 

The Tail of the 175 vs. the 250 Slide Swimmer.  More of a Cleaver than the 250s tail.

The Tail of the 175 vs. the 250 Slide Swimmer. More of a Cleaver than the 250s tail.

BrushPiles- I always think of Ryan Coleman from Flowery Branch, GA when I think of brush piles.  I hired Ryan to take me fishing on Lake Lanier.  He took me to some brushpiles and showed me the how they do it with the FishHead Spin over the brush piles.   It was really cool to see how Ryan had the brush pile game down.  I told him we’d be shot for cutting down a tree in California.  I would suck at creating brushpiles.    But if you know where there are brush piles, I would fish this bait over those brush piles, like you would your Zara Spook or GunFish.

Brush pile revealed by low water.  Clarks Hill 2008.

Brush pile revealed by low water. Clarks Hill 2008.

Laydown Trees of course, too.

Man Made Structures – Whatever you do, DO NOT fish this bait around dams, big concrete pump houses, around bridge pilings.   You will probably get your arm broke!

Smallmouth/Spotted Bass – Because this is a ‘medium’ sized swimbait, it makes it extremely attractive to guys who hunt big smallmouth. And spotted beasts. Spotted bass that eat herring are different than largemouth that eat herring.    All I know is, the SS175 is a great selection when you have spotted or smallmouth basses on your agenda.

Saltwater –  The BlueBack Herring is descendant the saltwater run herring.  Herring are a great bait offshore in Southern California. I plan on feeding some calico bass, white sea bass, and yellowtail some Slide Swimmer 175 this summer.

 

 

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slide-swimmer-tackle-warehouse-screenshot