Herding Cats

Catfish are fun to catch, remain active in summer’s heat, and make a great meal.
When I was only about four feet tall or so, my dad and I caught a mess of bullhead catfish on barbecued chicken – leftovers from the previous night’s dinner. I’ve also caught bullheads and other varieties of catfish on worms, grubs, chicken livers, dip bait and cheese. The common element that seems to characterize can’t-miss catfish bait is odor. While catfish can’t see well, they have an excellent sense of smell and the barbels near the mouth, which resemble a cat’s whiskers and give the species its common name, enable catfish to taste and smell food. That makes them easy to catch. And because they like warm water, they can provide a lot of summer fishing fun.
Bullhead Catfish
Bullheads are the smallest member of the catfish family found in our lakes and rivers, and they’re also the most common. There are several varieties of bullhead and most are around 10-inches long when fully grown. But they’re fun to catch, putting up a fairly good fight, and they are excellent table fare, fried with a cornmeal crust or blackened. You can catch them in the shallows of most lakes feeding near the bottom all summer long. I’ve caught a mess of them at noon on a hot day, when other fish just weren’t interested.
Channel Catfish
Channel cats aren’t much bigger than bullheads and are also quite abundant. Like bullheads, they’ll eat almost anything, but natural baits seem best. Small panfish cut into 1-inch pieces work well as do minnows or nightcrawlers. Fresh or frozen shrimp are said to work well. Dunham’s has a selection of baits that are sure to attract the channel cats. Berkley Powerbait chunks in liver, blood or fish scent are irresistible to any variety of catfish. Dip bait is among the most popular for catfish angling, particularly in summer months. Dunham’s carries Uncle Josh dip bits in rotten shad and liver. Also available are tube baits in the same delectable rotten shad and liver flavors.
When fishing for catfish, it’s important that you fish just off the bottom of the lake or stream. That’s where the cats will be searching for food.
Monster Catfish
Catfish angling gets serious when you go after the blue and flathead catfish. These big boys can grow to over 100 pounds, and 25- to 50-pound specimens are reasonably common in a lot of the nation’s river systems and lakes. While they can be found in some smaller lakes, they’re most prevalent in the big lakes. Like other members of the catfish family, they like warm water, so they’re a good species to go after when other fish are lying low in the midsummer heat.
Like their smaller relatives, big cats will happily feast on a variety of live bait, including minnows, crawfish, worms, chicken livers, cut-up panfish or man-made stink baits. Again, the preserved baits and dip baits available at Dunham’s are a sure way to attract the big cats.
Trotline Angling
Many catfish anglers set trotlines at night to catch a mess of cats. The trotline is a long piece of sturdy fishing line with multiple hooks attached to secondary drop lines that branch off the main line. Each hook is baited with some nasty bit that the cats will love. One end is tied to a tree limb or some other sturdy spot on shore. The other line is weighted and dropped into the water. A float can be attached to the anchor end via a piece of line long enough to reach the surface with the anchor on the bottom. An empty plastic gallon-size milk or detergent bottle works well. On streams with trees on both sides, a trotline can be strung between two trees. When I was a teenager I watched some older anglers bait and set their trotlines in Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks. They were using massive hooks and baiting them with cottonseed cakes. They set the trotline at dusk and hauled in some mighty big blue cats in the morning.
Catfish Gear
Dunham’s can provide everything you need to put together a trotline, but most of us like to take our fish on rod and reel. Dunham’s offers a wide variety of heavy-duty rods and reels that are perfect for catfish angling. The Shakespeare Ugly Stik is a favorite of many cat fishermen.
Jim Burrows of Pure Fishing says the Shakespeare Ugly Stik rods and combos are tough enough to land the biggest cats, and Dunham’s has a wide selection of this gear. He also recommends loading your reel with Berkley Trilene Big Cat Monofilament line in 20 lb., 30 lb., and 40 lb. weight. Another good choice that you’ll find at Dunham’s is SpiderWire Stealth Braid line.
A great way to get your feet wet in catfish angling is with the South Bend Ready to Fish Catfish Combo. This all-you-need kit includes a rod and reel, along with a tackle box and some bait that is sure to make any cat sit up and take notice.
-Hook, Line & Sinker
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Where the Summer Bass Play

Those Lunker Bass Aren’t Taking Summer Off. They’re just vacationing in a different part of the lake.
It’s summer, and the world is taking it easy. The cicadas sing, dawn comes early, and the warm sun feels good on your skin. However, the bass that you hope to catch might not be as fond of summer as the rest of us.
Your big bass may be lollygagging in the deep water, lazily avoiding the warm shallows. The bass probably move into somewhat shallower water, say 10- to 20-feet deep to feed, but they’ll be scarce near shore. Unless of course, they’re hiding in the shade of some underwater weeds.
If you’re fishing a man-made lake with underwater structures, count on the bass to huddle near submerged trees or areas that have an uneven lake bottom, such as an underwater gully or creek bed. Fishing in the right place at the right time is key to success when it comes to angling for bass.
Fishing the Deep with Crankbaits
While knowing where to find the fish is important, having the correct equipment is also essential. If the bass are congregating in the deep, you’ll have to use bait intended for deep-water fishing. Today, that most often means deep-diving crankbaits. Matt Jensen of Rapala says the Rapala DT crankbait helped win the BassMaster Classic. “It dives to the specified depth and stays there,” he said. “The DT06 dives to six feet and stays there for the entire retrieve. It’s easy to target fish and be more consistent with a crank bait.”
Of course Rapala makes crankbaits that run much deeper. The DT Metal 20, for example, will run at 20 feet of depth and can be easily cast 150 feet, enabling a long retrieve in the target zone. As with any lure, you may have to try several different colors before you find a crankbait the fish hunger for.
Scott Ingram of Bomber Lure Co. tells us that their line of crankbaits includes a lot of choices for the bass fisherman. Bomber’s Fat Free Shad® crankbait has won millions of dollars in prize money and comes in both rattling and silent models. It even includes a new version that can dive to 19 feet and work those deep holes in the middle of the lake. Dunham’s stocks a wide variety of Bomber baits.
It Looks Like Dinner
When bass do migrate to shallow water, they usually head for the weed beds. Find a hole in the weed bed and drop your bait there. A bass could be lurking under those weeds, and it might fall head over heels for a nice, fat plastic worm – a long-time favorite for summer bass fishing. The Matzuo plastic worms you’ll find at Dunham’s come with a free pack of worm hooks.
Jim Burrows of purefishing wrote to remind us that Dunham’s carries a number of baits from the Berkley Gulp!® line of live-looking dinner entrees, including night crawlers, minnows, shrimp and more – all with a long history of success on Bass fishing waters. When choosing a worm to tempt a big bass, remember that it doesn’t have to be of the same hue as a real worm. A bright red plastic nightcrawler can look like the perfect meal to our fishy friends.
Rods and Reels
While bait is what attracts fish, a good rod and reel can help ensure you won’t lose the lunker after hooking it. Dunham’s offers some great rods and reels from all the top manufacturers. For big bass, a rod of 6- to 7-feet in length is ideal. The South Bend Shredder is a top choice of pro fishermen. With multi-layer construction, Shredder rods will bend but not break. Abu Garcia rods are also highly favored by bass fisherman. Dunham’s carries the Vengeance, Vendetta and Villain models from that maker, as well as Abu Garcia bait casting reels. And check out the Shakespeare Ugly Stik Rods as well. How can you go wrong with a rod called “Ugly Stik?”
If you’re new to bass fishing and just want to dip your bait in the water to see how it feels, you might want to look at the South Bend R2F Bass combo. It has everything you need to get started immediately, including rod, reel, and even a tackle box with some lures inside that are sure to tempt Mr. (or Mrs.) bass. Speaking of combos, you’ll also find some nice bait-casting combo outfits from Abu Garcia at Dunham’s. In other words, Dunham’s has a lot of gear from which to choose, and there are a lot of bass out there just waiting for you.
-Hook, Line & Sinker
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Tempting Mr. Bass

The right equipment and correct technique can help you land a lunker.
I caught my first bass in 1967 while fishing for northern pike on Canada’s Lake of the Woods. On a slow morning I tossed a daredevil out toward a weed bed and a big fish grabbed it and ran. At last, a good-sized pike, I thought. The fish fought hard, broke water, and I saw a flash of gold. It wasn’t a northern pike. It was a muscle-bound bass, and both he and I were hooked.
I’m a casual Michigan fisherman now, but our waters are chock full of bass, smallmouth and largemouth. Over the years I’ve learned that even a rank amateur like me can catch fish using the right equipment.
Dunham’s is the right place to find the right equipment. I learned that soon after moving to the mitten. And their sales consultants can help you choose gear that works.
I grew up with baitcasting reels and love the Shimano Caenan and Citica reels wound with Seaguar Fluorocarbon line, which is invisible underwater. With fast retrieve, either reel is great for bass, which often strike rapidly moving baits. They don’t like to see a meal escape. Dunham’s offers numerous spinning reels as well. Either style reel is well suited to bass fishing. It’s a matter of what you’re comfortable with.
Jim Burrows of Pure Fishing tells us that Shakespeare® has a new Ugly Stik® GX2™ rod for 2014. With Ugly Tech Construction, it’s warranteed for seven years. “No doubt this will be the winner for the upcoming 2014 fishing season,” says Jim.
Two excellent bass baits that work well with a rapid retrieve are the Rapalo Rippin Rap and the deep-diving DT Series crankbaits. They run below the surface and are favored by tournament pros. Toss them with a light- or medium-action rod of about 7-foot length.
A correct drag setting is important. Too much resistance is an invitation for Mr. Bass to break the line and head south. You can adjust drag by tying on a weight that’s half the rating of your line. If your reel is wound with eight-pound test, a four-pound weight should be able to overcome the drag setting and pull line off your reel. That will allow a hooked fish to make a run but will wear him down.
Let’s not forget worm fishing. When I was a wee lad fishing with dad, I’d grow impatient and wiggle the rod tip. Dad would tell me to sit still, but that doodling would often produce a bite.
Doodling is what they call it today. It’s a worm fishing tactic practiced by some of the best bass fishermen. With a 4 – to 5-inch plastic worm on an Eagle Claw Lazer Wide Gap Worm Hook, wiggle the rod tip for a few seconds, then relax for 30 seconds. If there’s a bass in the neighborhood, he’ll probably take the bait.
-Hook, Line & Sinker
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Memory Walks

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
Do your brain a favor … make walking a part of your regular routine! Evidence that regular walking benefits brain health continues to pile up. If you’re not a walker, this should convince you to start!
A recent study from The Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois involving 120 sedentary people aged 55-80 found that walking increased the size of the hippocampus, a critical area of the brain for new learning and creating long-term memories. Participants of the study had not engaged in more than 30 minutes of daily exercise in the six months before of the study; they then took part in exercise groups for a year. Half of the participants walked three days a week, starting out 10 minutes per day and increasing to 40 minutes per day as their fitness levels improved. The other half did stretching and toning exercises for the same amount of time.
Participants were assessed at the start of the study, at six months into the study, and at the end of the year for spatial memory, fitness levels, and levels of a brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), an essential fuel for the growth of new neurons in the brain. They were also given brain scans to track physical changes.
The assessments showed that fitness levels for the walking group improved more than in the stretching and toning group. The walking group also had an increase in the size of the hippocampus. Spatial memory and levels of BDNF increased in both groups, but only the walking group was found to have increased the size of the hippocampus. Studies have shown that had the participants continued to be inactive for the year, their hippocampus would have shrunk by one to two per cent, while walking just three times a week boosted their memory and increased the size of their hippocampus.
While this study concentrated on walking, it is believed that any aerobic activity could offer the same benefits. If you can’t get out for a walk due to weather conditions try walking on a treadmill.
If a knee injuries get in the way of your walking routine, try weight-lifting. A study conducted by scientists at the University of British Columbia focused on women ages 70 to 80 with mild cognitive impairment. They found that after six months of exercise, either walking or weight training, the women performed better performance on cognitive tests than they had before. It is interesting that while both exercise groups improved almost equally on tests of spatial memory, the women who had walked showed greater gains in verbal memory than the women who had lifted weights.
So get out there and walk … you’ll build strength and memories!
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Dr. Dunham’s Cabin Fever Cure

“I’ve got cabin fever, it’s burning in my brain. I’ve got cabin fever, it’s driving me insane,” sang the Muppets in their 1996 blockbuster, “Muppet Treasure Island.”
Well, in truth the movie may not have achieved blockbuster status, but most of us won’t soon forget the “Cabin Fever” song. Perhaps because it hits close to home.
Cabin fever has been recognized as a very real affliction for almost 100 years. It results from being confined to one place for an extended period of time. It’s exacerbated by inactivity. The usual result is extreme irritability and feelings of anxiety. It often strikes in winter when many of us shun the cold and curl up on the couch for the duration.
The most obvious cure is getting outside and interacting with the rest of the world. For those of us whose favorite activities include things like gardening, swimming or hanging out at the beach, the winter world may seem foreign and forbidding. But winter sports can be invigorating and entertaining. And there’s no better cure for the ills of cabin fever than the crisp air of a January day.
Did we hear someone say it’s too cold to play outside? Well, that’s only true if you’re not dressed for outdoors. Today’s winter clothing is light yet warm, so there’s no need to fear the frigid air, and bundling up need not cramp your style.
Winter Games, Out and In
Once you’re dressed for the occasion, the possibilities for winter entertainment are almost unlimited. Those who appreciate a good workout might try cross-country skiing or snowshoe hiking. Snowboarding and downhill skiing can provide a good amount of exercise as well, and few thrills compare to that of racing down the side of a ski slope at speed.
Ice-skating and sledding are a bit less taxing than skiing but can be just as much fun, particularly for the younger set. Most towns have a good sledding hill or two, and winter afternoons will likely find a happy group of kids enjoying the ride downhill. Ditto ice skating rinks or frozen ponds. You can find them everywhere, and there’s always something special about tracing lines on the ice as gentle flakes fall from a moonlit sky.
Of course you can invent your own winter games. When I was a kid, a zillion years ago, we would play football in the snow – on our knees. That required only a small parcel of land, which was all that was available in the urban area where I was raised. But while the playing field was small, the games were big.
For those who hanker to get out and do something but would prefer to minimize the strenuous part, there’s always ice fishing.If you’d prefer to fish on open water, some fast-moving streams in Colorado, like the South Platte River, offer winter fly-fishing.
On days when it’s just too cold to go out, try changing your indoor routine to relieve symptoms of cabin fever. Table tennis, a popular indoor sport, is a great way to stay active. There’s also billiards, air-hockey and Wii games that are played in front of the television. Some games, like Wii Grand Slam Tennis, mimic outdoor summer sports and can provide a pretty good workout. Or for a top-notch workout do some cardio and resistance training to get ready for swimsuit season.
Getting Away From It All
If you really have to get out of town to cure that cabin fever, then get out of town. There’s a winter resort in the U.S.A. for any winter sport you can think of, and accommodations range in price from very affordable to lavish and expensive.
Looking for something novel? Durango Mountain Resort in Colorado offers ski biking. Another Colorado attraction, Ouray Ice Park, offers ice climbing in the Uncompahgre Gorge. In Alaska you can try dogsledding. Skijoring, which is popular in Minnesota, is a melding of dog sledding and skiing.
What’s that you say? You want to get away from the cold? Then head south or west to Florida, Arizona or California. Caribbean and Mexican vacations can be very affordable. There’s always somewhere where one can find a bit of summer in the throes of winter.
A Cure That’s Sure To Work
But you don’t have to leave home to defeat the winter doldrums. Why not organize a winter Olympics for the neighborhood? And your event doesn’t have to focus on winter sports. Playing softball in the snow is a hoot, as is Frisbee golf. Picnic games like a three-legged race are even more fun in the snow.
Plan a post-Olympics tailgate with plenty of hot chocolate, some hot dogs or pizza, a blazing fire pit and some marshmallows to roast.
That’s a sure cure for even the worst case of cabin fever.
-Fun For All Ages
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Jigging Your Way to a New Way to Fish

As fall turns to winter and the lakes begin to freeze, that doesn’t quite mean fishing season is over. With some slightly different equipment—as well as your winter clothing—you can keep fishing all the way until spring. In case you’re new to the sport, have no worries. With just a few additions to your tackle box, you can be jigging your way to a whole new way to fish.
In order to get the proper setup for ice fishing for the first time, it’s recommended by Jim Burrows of Pure Fishing that fishermen get an ice fishing rod and reel, an ice auger, which drills through the ice, a skimmer to remove ice shavings and a depth finder. It’s also helpful if you can go out with someone who’s experienced in the sport for some extra guidance.
“If you know someone who does go ice fishing, I would suggest talking to them for guidance and possibly an invitation to join them,” said Burrows.
When searching for a great brand for your new rod and reel combo, Burrows also has some recommendations that are all available at Dunham’s.
“My preferences with regards to my ice combo include combos from Shakespeare, Berkley and Abu Garcia or rods from Fenwick paired up with reels from Shakespeare, Pflueger and or Abu Garcia,” explained Burrows.
In addition to the tools required to actually catch the fish, John Vander Sloot of Shappell and Eagle Claw also recommends that fishermen get a 5-gallon bucket for carrying everything as well as a sled, like the Shappell Jet Sled, for effortlessly getting everything from one end of the lake to the other. Also, while a shanty can be a very helpful (and warm!) tool, they aren’t required.
“A person can stand over their fishing hole or sit on a bucket,” explained Vander Sloot. “But a shanty is nice, especially if one is going to fish for an extended amount of time. They block the wind, making the day of fishing more enjoyable.”
With ice fishing and walking around on a lake, fishermen, especially those who are inexperienced, need to take a little extra precaution. If you’re worried about thin ice, Vander Sloot recommends the Ice Spud, which is a pole used for testing thin ice. However, as Burrows describes, it’s best to avoid areas that may look like thin ice altogether.
“I would recommend staying away from black ice, which is usually an indication it is very thin,” he said.
With some slightly different equipment, awareness of one’s surroundings, and a friend with some experience, fishing can be in season every month of the year.
-Hook, Line & Sinker
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Pan Perfect

Kids and panfish just seem to go together.
I was a wee lad of eight and fishing with my dad for the first time on Lake Puckaway in southern Wisconsin. We’d been on the lake for two hours, and hadn’t seen a fish. I was thinking that fishing wasn’t for me. Then my bobber plunged under.
“Lift your rod,” dad said. I pulled it up and felt a tug and a wiggle. “Now reel it in, he urged.”
Hands trembling, I cranked my reel, and soon saw a bright gold flash, then a squirming yellow perch. My heart racing, I ma-neuvered my prize catch into the boat. Just like that perch, I was hooked.
I don’t think any of us could forget our first fish. And chances are, it was a panfish: a bluegill, sunfish, perch, crappie, bullhead or any of a number of small fish found in lakes and rivers.
Some varieties, like bluegills, sunfish and their close relatives are easy to catch because they hang out near shore, bite readily and aren’t fussy about bait. Bottom dwellers, like perch and bullheads can require more effort. All can provide many hours of fun.
The Rod and Reel
When angling for panfish, use ultra-light equipment for best enjoyment and sensitivity. Eric Guider, who supplies Shimano products for Dunham’s, says the Shimano AXULSA Ultra-light Spinning Reel combined with an FX 5½-foot Ultra-light Rod is perfect for panfish. It’s easier to feel fish bite with a short, light rod, and you-get more fight out of small fish when using light equipment.
Shakespeare offers a wide selection of tackle designed for both young and old when panfish are the goal. Their Kid’s Combos are great for wee ones, and Ugly Stik combos are ready for action. Pflueger Microcast and Trion combos are good choices as well. You’ll find all of them at Dunham’s.
Fishing With Live Bait
Some fishermen won’t angle with live bait and contend fish are more likely to swallow the hook because the meal is tasty. Some research suggests that’s not true. And when fishing with children, live bait can be a plus, because it gets results.
A worm looks tasty to most little fish, although crappies and rock bass in some waters prefer minnows. In general, it’s best to use bait that’s native to the area, since it’s probably a staple of your prey’s diet.
A baited hook hanging from a bobber is usually the best way to catch bluegills, sunfish or crappie. Use a small bobber that won’t spook fish, and a number 6 hook a couple of feet below the bobber. If the fish are less than hand sized, a number 8 hook might be better.
Scott Ingram of Lindy Fishing Tackle suggests rigging a Thill Premium Slip Float on your line below a bobber stop. When you need to change depth, you can move the stop up or down, and a slip bobber lessens the chance of spooking fish when casting. It works great with both live and artificial bait.
A bottom rig – a split-shot sinker, swivel and hook – dragged along the lake bottom often attracts perch and bullheads. Angling for these guys with a bobber works too if you gauge the depth of the water and fish near the bottom.
Fishing With Artificial Bait
Some fishermen prefer to go after panfish with artificial bait. And some have no choice, since live-bait fishing isn’t allowed on certain waterways.
Jim Burrows of Pure Fishing believes the right kind of artificial bait can be as effective as live bait and points out that artificial bait won’t die. He even uses them when he takes his grandchildren fishing.
Because fish are unpredictable critters that can go into a funk at the slightest change in weather, it’s good to have a variety of artificial baits on hand when you’re angling for panfish. Matt Jensen of Rapala says any of their ultra-light series of hard baits is a good choice. If crappie or sunfish are lurking, he suggests you try Blue Fox Vibrax baits. They’re proven performers.
There are many ways to catch panfish, and your Dunham’s sales consultant can help you choose gear that’s best for you and your family. I can’t wait to get out to some of the local lakes with my granddaughter again this summer, and she’s as anxious as I am. Landing game fish is a thrill, but introducing a youngster to the joys of fishing is equally rewarding.
-Hook, Line & Sinker
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Hook, Line, and Simple

Finding the right fishing gear has never been easier.
by Tony Wilson
When the ice melts and the leaves return to the trees, it’s time to get back out on the lake and land that trophy lunker. For beginning anglers and veterans alike, though, it takes a combination of having the right equipment and knowing the lake and its inhabitants to be successful.
Should you fall in the beginner category, have no fear. There is plenty of gear at Dunham’s Sports to get even the most inexperienced fisherman the tools needed for fishing season. Companies like Rapala, Shakespeare, Abu Garcia, and Eagle Claw ensure that all fishermen are geared up from the season’s start to its finish.
“The Rapala brand is a great way to start,” said Matt Jensen of Rapala. “Rapala has all the essential lures, tools, and knives to help new anglers gear up for the season. For an angler who is new to fishing, the best thing they can do is to work with a sporting goods manager to ensure that they start out purchasing products that are simple and easy to use.”
John Vander Sloot of Eagle Claw, echoes similar advice, though he advises beginners to start small. There’s no need to get the top-of-the-line gear unless you have top-of-the-line experience.
“My best advice for someone who is going to purchase gear for the first time is to start on the low end of the pricing scale,” Vander Sloot explained. “Dunham’s does a great job of carrying entry level combos (rod and reel purchased together) that can get a person into the sport at a reasonable cost.”
Scott Ingram of Pradco, which produces products like Yum soft baits and hard lures like Hula Poppers, Jitterbugs, and Pop R’s, advises shoppers not to be intimidated by a large selection, similar to one you’d find at a Dunham’s.
“When you walk into a Sporting Goods store, such as a Dunham’s, the fishing department can be overwhelming,” Ingram explains. “This is a great place to start the learning experience. Never be afraid to ask questions. You will be rewarded when you hit the water.”
When selecting fishing equipment, the options may seem overwhelming. There is a variety of different types of rods, reels, lines, lures, and tackle boxes, and each is meant for varying levels of fishing experience.
“In today’s environment, selecting the proper equipment to start fishing has never been easier,” said Jim Burrows of Pure Fishing. “Dunham’s Sports carries a large selection of combos, covering every need from Ultralite combos for pan fishing to 6’ or 6 1/2’ light, medium, or medium-heavy combos for walleye, bass, and northern fishing.”
When selecting a rod, anglers will see that some are plastic, some are graphite, and some are fiberglass. But what’s the difference, and what makes one better than the other? According to Vander Sloot, the differences in material will increase with the price of the rod.
“When an angler steps up in cost they will start seeing rods made out of graphite,” Vander Sloot explains. “While fiberglass is tougher and more durable, graphite is lighter and more sensitive to the action that is going on with the line.”
As far as how to select a quality line, there are a few different choices. According to Jim Burrows, a monofilament line is the most popular. Monofilament lines, like Berkeley’s Trilene XL, is a solid choice for open water and Berkley’s Trilene XT for dirty water with obstructions like dock poles, weeds, large rocks, and the like. A fluorocarbon line is better for clearer water. It reacts with light, making it virtually invisible to fish.
Finally, braided lines, like Spider Wire, are known for their near indestructibility. So you have the rod, reel, and tackle — but how exactly do you catch fish? There are plenty of different techniques, all reliant on water depth, outside temperature, and weather, to name a few. But one key, according to Burrows, is to just tag along with someone who has that experience.
“For a person who has never fished or may not have fished since a child but would like to, there are several ways to approach it,” said Burrows. “First I would recommend trying to find a friend or family member who fishes and ask to go with them. This approach will allow you to talk with them and to use their knowledge to assist you in picking out the proper equipment to meet your needs.”
“My best advice is to simply be on the water,” Jensen added. “An angler cannot catch a fish from the cabin, but time on the water will help anglers learn more about where they are fishing.”
It doesn’t just take the best rod and reel — it takes the most patience, experience, and ability to learn about the sport. But by asking questions with the insightful staff at your local Dunham’s, you’ll need to make room on your mantle.
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Trolling for Trout

Here’s How To Catch Trout In Open Water During The Late Season
By Al Raychard
(reprinted from NBS Outdoor)
Okay, here’s a question for you. True or false, trolling lakes and ponds for trout is strictly a springtime tactic? True, you say? Well you’re wrong. Just like I was until I learned otherwise about 10 years ago.
A decade or so ago, I got a phone call from a charter boat captain and friend of mine who operates on trout- and salmon-rich Lake Ontario in upstate New York, a few hours drive from my home. “Are you free a couple days this week?” he asked.
“I can be,” I answered, “but what for? It’s deer season. I thought you’d be out chasing whitetails.”
The captain told he normally would be, but he tagged out during archery season. Although his chartering duties were officially over until spring, late season was his personal favorite time to troll for trout.
I accepted his fishing invitation. When I arrived boat-side a couple of days later, the morning sky was overcast and the temperatures had yet to push the mercury above the 40-degree mark. A steady breeze wind was blowing creating a chop on the lake outside the bay that made it feel even colder. It looked like it could snow at any minute. It was my first time trolling for trout this late in the year, and as I stepped aboard I asked, “Are you sure about this?”
“Of course I’m sure. It’s a perfect day. Simply a perfect day.”
By the time we arrived back at the dock later that morning, I was a convert. The captain knew what he was taking about —the oft-overlooked late season is a prime time to troll for trout. During our excursion we boated several lake trout measured in pounds rather than inches and several football-shaped brown trout. We repeated the success the next day as well. Since that trip I’ve been a diehard fall trout fisherman, giving up several days of my beloved deer hunting each year to get on the water and troll a line or two. I’ve used trolling tactics to catch not only late-season lake and brown trout, but rainbows, brook trout, and various hybrids as well.
Looking back now, I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised. Fishing for trout by various means, including trolling big lakes, ponds, and reservoirs has been a passion most of my life and I like to think I know as much about the various species and how to get them on the line as the next guy. Perhaps I didn’t. Perhaps I just didn’t take time to think about it, but whatever the case, trolling for trout during the late season makes perfect sense.
And why not?
Late-season fishing conditions in many ways are the same as early spring fishing conditions, the period when trolling tactics are most popular and productive. As they do in the spring, most lakes and many large ponds containing trout populations stratify in late fall. Fishermen refer to this as “fall turnover.” Without getting into the technical jargon, this basically means that water temperatures and oxygen levels are pretty much the same throughout the lake until the surface freezes for the winter, and trout are free to go just about anywhere they want to find food. Very often this often means close to shore and in places they might not be available at other times of year.
The important thing to remember is that the turnover has a major effect on a given body of water, stirring up sediment on the bottom often giving the water a dirty or off-color look and increases turbidity. As a result oxygen levels actually decrease during the process and fish turn off from feeding. This period of poor fishing conditions, when the turnover is taking place, lasts from 1 to 2 weeks, depending upon such factors as wind and air temperature. Once the fall turnover is complete, though, water clarity improves and oxygen levels rise quickly; fish go on a late-season feeding frenzy in preparation for winter.
Clearly, timing is critical when fishing the late season. Trolling generally is a waste of time during the actual turnover period because fish are not aggressively feeding due to poor water conditions. Once the turnover is complete, however, up until the first freeze — that’s when you want to be out there wetting a line. That’s when the trout aggressively are back on the feedbag. Because the turnover occurs in different geographic regions at different times, unless a fisherman knows a particular lake extremely well, keeping in touch with local fishery biologists, bait and tackle shops, lodge owners, and fishing guides is the best way to learn when the turnover is expected to begin, is underway, or is complete.
The fall turnover isn’t the only reason why late season can be such a productive time to get out there and troll a line or two. Several trout species, including brook, brown, and lake trout spawn in the late fall and early winter. This means they’ll be found in relatively shallow water, from just below the surface down to 20 to 30 feet or so, in areas where they are not normally found during the summer.
Another reason is food. At the same time that the fall turnover is ending, and trout’s instinct and urge to feed is increasing, dramatically, baitfish including smelt, dace, and various shiners and other minnows have moved from deep water to feed on plankton, zooplankton, and small aquatic invertebrates found closer to shore or the surface. Most also travel or congregate in large schools for protection, all of which make them more readily available to hungry trout.
Where to find the late-season action.
Despite conditions that allow trout to go practically anywhere within a given body of water, certain areas offer the best opportunities for success during the late season. The mouth of tributary rivers, streams, and creeks are good bets. These runs not only draw trout species that spawn in the fall or early winter, but the consistent flushing of nutrients into the lake in these areas attract and hold schools of baitfish and provide a safe haven at the same time. Edges where fast currents meet the lake, foam lines, edges of sand or gravel bars, and drop-offs where the shallow tributary drops into the lake can be especially productive.
Some lakes, ponds, and reservoirs lack tributaries that are large or deep enough to serve as spawning areas for trout. In these cases, trout will use gravelly shorelines, even sandy beaches to complete their spawning ritual. A fly, lure, or bait trolled through these areas can be extremely productive.
All fish relate to structure. Boulder-strewn shorelines, rocky points, underwater ledges, ledges that drop into the water, drop-offs along the shoreline, submerged river or creek beds, the areas and channels between islands, even the edge of mid-lake shoals and sandbars all are potential hotspots for late-season trout action. This is especially true along windward shores and areas where wind is breaking the surface. Wind action not only forces baitfish and feed to these locations, but the rippled surface provides additional cover and a sense of protection to schools of baitfish and trout alike.
Especially if you’re unfamiliar with a particular body of water, consulting lake-contour and -depth maps can make or break your outing. Besides illustrating the lake’s general shape, including points, coves, and public boat launches, these maps also show tributary inlets, islands, shoals, and depth contours. Lake maps are available for download from most fish and wildlife department websites. They’re also available at local tackle shops. (Note: not all of these maps are intended for navigational purposes.)
Trolling tactics.
One advantage of trolling is that it allows fishermen to cover a large area without wasting time fishing empty or unproductive water. Unless you’re catching fish or getting a lot of strikes, it makes little sense to spend much time in one area. In most cases during the late season, trolling off a particular river or creek mouth or along a rocky shoreline once or twice should produce some action if fish are present. If nothing happens, move on.
To increase your odds of success, troll when the conditions are ideal. Because trout stay relatively shallow this time of year, overcast days, moderately windswept days, and early and late in the day when the sun is at a low angle are the best times to be on the water. Action is still possible on clear days, when the surface is calm, and even when the sun is high, but you’ll probably want to troll deeper water in these conditions.
Trolling speed is another consideration. Water is much colder in the late season, in the 40s or just above freezing in many locations. Consequently, trout are more lethargic and less willing to chase food over long distances. “Slower” is the operative word. Without the benefit of a boat-mounted speed indicator or electronics that indicate how fast a boat is moving, judging trolling speed is tricky. Many trolling enthusiasts use rod-tip action as an indicator. Generally speaking, the faster the trolling speed, the faster the tip will vibrate, bounce, or “work” in a back and forth motion. Others watch the shoreline for clues about how fast they’re moving. As a rule of thumb, late-season trolling speed should be comparable to a brisk walk — just fast enough to move the offering through the water. When in doubt, select a speed that feels or looks right depending upon rod action or the shoreline, and maintain it. Most anglers tend to troll too fast. If no strikes occur, slow down a tad. Experiment until you get it right.
Also important to keep in mind is that baitfish typically stay close to shore, usually within 50 to 60 feet or so, often much closer. This is where you should troll, because this is where the trout will be. One of the largest brown trout I ever caught, a football-shaped beauty tipping the scales at more than 6 pounds, was taken so close to shore I could have tossed a stone into the trees, and my throwing arm has never been great. On another occasion, I trolled along ledges that dropped into a favorite lake and hooked several rainbow trout measuring in pounds rather than inches. I was using a 9-foot fly rod and trolling flies, but the main point is that we were so close my rod tip was just a few feet from the ledge. There are exceptions, but typically during this time of year, the closer to shore and structure you work a fly, lure, or bait the greater your chances of success.
Besides staying close to shore, baitfish seldom travel or school in deep water during the late season. Typically they school in less than 20 feet of water. Whenever possible, troll parallel to the shoreline and navigate around points, and into coves and other likely locations. Navigate in a slow “S” pattern to swing and vary the speed of the offering and give it a more lifelike action and appearance.
Unless planner boards are used, stagger your lines when trolling. In some jurisdictions, fishing with more than one line is illegal. If that’s the case in your location, troll directly off the stern with 30 to 40 feet of line. But if you are allowed to fish more than one line or when you’ve got several anglers trolling together, work one line on the shore side of the boat 50 feet back, a second line on the outside at 60 or 70 feet, and a third off the stern at 25 to 35 feet in the boat’s wake. This setup greatly reduces the chances of tangling, especially when navigating around points and in other tight situations. Staggering lines in this way also leaves plenty of room to play fish once they’re hooked.
Finally, unless you are a purist fishing strictly flies, lures, or bait, start the day off fishing different types of offerings at the same time — for example, try a fly on one line, a flashy wobbling spoon on another, and perhaps bait or a deep riding lure on a third. This will put offerings at different levels increasing your chances of locating fish and identifying the right level to troll. One type of offering may also produce more action than the others and clearly indicate which type you should use.
One reason trolling is so enjoyable this time of year is that much of the action is close to the surface, or at least in relatively shallow water as compared to the summer and early-fall angling periods. This means downriggers, lead-core lines, and other gear used to get to deepwater bastions aren’t required to achieve late-season success.
For spinning equipment, any medium-action rod will do nicely when trolling lures or bait. Reels should be loaded with 6- to 10-pound test line with a snap swivel on the end to allow natural movement through the water. For trolling flies, fly rods from 8 1/2 to 9 feet designed for 6, 7, or 8-weight lines are good choices. Fly reels should be loaded with plenty of backing, with sink-tip or full-sinking lines and extra-long (20- to 25-feet) leaders made of 6- to 8-pound test monofilament. Leaders of this length provide a greater break between the fly line and fly and help the fly ride better through the water. In all cases, reels should have a smooth, reliable drag and set; they ensure that line won’t release when trolling, but are light enough to allow a fish to run during a strike.
For flies, any pattern that resembles the predominant baitfish in a given lake should produce action on late-season trout; if you’re not sure, check with local bait and tackle shops. Often, these establishments will have local patterns tied to specifically imitate local baitfish. If not, you can depend on the standards (such as the Grey Ghost, Black Ghost, Nine-Three, Supervisor and Mickey Finn) tied on extra-long hooks or in tandem to produce results.
The list of productive late-season trout lures is long, but perennial favorites include the Acme Flash King, Kastmaster, Phoebe and Little Cleo in 1/6- and ¼-ounce sizes; Williams and Mooselook Wobblers; the classic Vibrax and Pixee spoon from Blue Fox; any shallow-running offering from Rapala and Yo-Zuri; and spinners from Mepps and Panther Martin.
Much of the appeal of late-season trolling is the ability to experiment with different lures in multiple size and color combinations. Don’t hesitate to give your favorites a ride through the chilly water! Get out there and troll a line or two before winter finally takes hold and you lose that opportunity for awhile.
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Hooked on Bass

They say that once you’ve hooked a bass, you’re hooked on bass fishing for life.
The popularity of the sport suggests that old bass-fishing aphorism has a lot of truth to it. Contributing to the sport’s popularity is the fact that bass fishing doesn’t require a lot of travel or money. You can probably find a good bass fishing spot nearby, as the big fresh water fish is plentiful in our lakes and rivers. And some basic equipment can have you fishing with little money spent.
The Fish
Before thinking about bass fishing, think about bass. Two varieties are common in U.S. freshwater: smallmouth and largemouth. Smallmouth were originally native to the central states, while largemouth lurked in central and southeastern states. However, both have been introduced to most of the nation. Both are similar in appearance and have large mouths, although the largemouth’s yap is a bit bigger. While smallmouth rarely exceed 17 inches, largemouth grow to 26 inches.
Bass travel in schools. So if you catch one, you’ll probably catch more. When bass feed, it’s usually near the bottom of the lake or river. Whether they hang out in deep water or shallow depends on temperature. They’re likely to feed where the water temperature is 60° to 75° F, and they frequently congregate near weed beds or underwater structures.
The Rod and Reel
If you’re new to bass fishing, don’t invest in fancy equipment. You can catch fish with a basic outfit. The Zebco 404 spincast fishing combo is inexpensive and well regarded. The bargain-priced Quantum Vibe Series Spinning Combo features a graphite reel and two-piece rod. The South Bend Ready-2-Fish Bass Spinning Combo is a good choice as well.
Not as basic as these but still affordable is the Shakespeare Ugly Stik® rod, fitted with a Pflueger Trion spinning reel. This medium action rod is suitable for a number of bass fishing techniques.
The Bait
Most bass fishermen prefer artificial bait. There are plenty from which to choose, but plastic worms and tubes are most popular. Plastic worms are self-explanatory; tubes resemble a minnow moving through the water. You won’t find either appetizing, but bass will.
The Texas Rig
Texas rig bass fishing with plastic worms is very popular. The hook is shielded by the worm, so it won’t snag on underwater plants or debris.
For this rig, you need a size 3 or 4 hook and a plastic worm. You also need something to weigh the line and bait. Brass weights are better than lead for obvious environmental reasons. A ¼-ounce weight will work for most conditions, although in calm, shallow water, some fishermen go lighter, and heavier in deep, choppy water.
On bright days, a light colored worm works best; if it’s cloudy, choose a dark color. For murky water, select bright colors; the Berkley Power Worm is a good choice.
To assemble the rig, slide the weight onto your line, then tie on the hook. Hold the worm in one hand and push the hook into the end of the worm with your other hand. Push the hook through and out, so that about ¼-inch of the shank is covered. Pull the hook until the eye is right up against end of the worm. Turn the hook so the point is facing the worm and push the tip into the worm until it almost protrudes from the other side.
A tube bait can be Texas rigged in much the same way. A 4-inch tube is usually good for bass fishing. Color choice is dictated by conditions, just as with worms.
The Carolina Rig
The Carolina rig is useful in water with poor visibility because it allows for plenty of action; fish can spot it readily.
The main difference between the Carolina and Texas rigs is the location of the weight. To make a Carolina rig, slide a ½-ounce weight onto the line then tie on a swivel. Attach a leader of 1 ½ to 3 feet to the swivel. The shorter it is, the easier to cast. But long leaders are better in deep water.
Tie a size 3 or 4 hook onto the end of the leader, then hook the worm as described above for the Texas rig.
The Wacky Rig
The wacky rig is simple, and the bait reacts with a lot of action, so it’s another solution for low visibility. To assemble a wacky rig, position the point of the hook so its shank is perpendicular to the worm and run the hook through the exact center of the worm until it protrudes fully.
The Drop Shot Rig
This rig ties the hook into the line 6 inches to 4 feet above the sinker. It’s meant for deep water, so the position of the hook will depend on where the fish are hanging out. Insert the line into the hook’s eyelet from the side opposite the point, tie a palomar knot, then push the line into the hook from the other side. Pull your line through and tie on a 3/8-ounce bell-style sinker.
Your equipment is in order, so it’s time to head for your favorite lake or river and drown that bait. And don’t forget to take a youngster. Every kid should learn to fish.
Okay, Let’s Fish
The key to successful fishing is presenting the bait in a way that makes it look like a tasty meal.
Bass are stationery fish for the most part, so you have to bring dinner to them. Cast your bait just beyond where you think your lunker may be lurking: 10 feet past that sunken tree stump or mass of vegetation. Before you begin to retrieve the bait wait 20 seconds.  If the bait’s splash spooked the fish, they’ll have time to return. Then retrieve slowly, providing action by moving the rod tip and alternating the speed of your wind.  When fishing a Carolina rig you may want to stop intermittently. When fishing a Texas rig, a steady retrieve can sometimes produce the best results.
Drop shot rigs are well suited to fishing over structures, like sunken boats or the remains of trees and buildings at the bottom of man-made lakes. All underwater structures are favorite hangouts for bass, and the drop shot lets you position your bait just above them.
Whether you’re fishing the drop shot rig on a structure or on the bottom of a deep lake, you should give the bait 20 seconds to settle after your cast. Then, after retrieving it a few feet, let it rest for a few seconds. While it’s resting, wiggle it just a bit by moving the rod tip. Retrieve it a couple of feet and let it rest again. Give it a few wiggles, then repeat. Continue until the bait is back at the boat.
Whatever type of rig or water you’re fishing, when you feel the slightest nudge on the line or see the line move in an unexpected way, set the hook immediately with a quick lift of the rod top. Don’t give the fish time to reject the bait. Setting the hook doesn’t cost you a thing. Failing to do so will cost you a fish.
-Hook, Line & Sinker
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