Dangers on the River

Two people have presumably died in Big Wills Creek in Gadsden this week. One a kayaker and one a member of the Etowah County Rescue Squad. Every time a kayaker dies the “wear your pfd” post begin, but that’s not the whole story. That’s just the beginning of being safe on the water, especially small flowing water.

The pfd is an essential part of being safe on the water. But it will not necessarily keep you from dying. Think of wearing a pfd like wearing your seat belt. It does mitigate most issues when worn properly but does not give you a license to act recklessly. Take the rescuer in Gadsden, the report said the “One worker was swept up into the current with such force the life jacket was torn off”. The life jacket must be worn properly, tightened up snug to the body, not loose. The pfd will not save you if you are swept into hydraulic like the low head dam or a strainer that can pull you under with the force of the current.

Check out this video for how to on pfd selection and fit:

YouTube Preview Image

Know the conditions and stay off the river/creek when conditions are dangerous. This weekend Big Wills outfitters were closed for a reason. They are a responsible outfitter that thinks of their customer’s safety before the almighty $. Check your conditions and stay off no matter how bad you want to go fishing when the gauges are high! Your probably not an experienced white water kayaker.

Some might recognize the low water bridge on the Flint River, we should not have been on the river!


Know your boat and its limitations and know your skill level. Learn what to do and what not to do if you go over, especially in current.

YouTube Preview Image

Learn the dangers of the river. Low head dams are not to be messed with, they are death traps.

YouTube Preview Image
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

What the Heck Kinda Bass is That??? By: Lance “RedHeron” Coley


What the Heck Kinda Bass is That???

By: Lance “RedHeron” Coley      

Ever find yourself asking that question?   Many people don’t know that there are actually eight scientifically recognized different species of black bass.  While you can’t catch all of them in the state you reside in (although Georgia comes close, being home to 7 of the 8 species), you may find the following informative.  Maybe (if you’re like me), you’ll see it as a challenge to catch all 8 species, learning about each one’s peculiar characteristics in the process.   As a disclaimer, this is based on just my personal experience and research, so there may be some discrepancies.  I am not a degreed biologist/zoologist/ichthyologist, but the field has always interested me.  You could consider me a fairly educated layman, but I do not intend for this article to be an end all, be all for black bass identification/speciation.  I will try to cite some of the more technical information, but the vast majority of this is just knowledge I’ve absorbed over the past several years.

First, a note on identification:  Fish of the same species, like many other organisms (including people), can vary quite substantially from one individual to the next.  Even many of the so-called tried-and-true ways of identifying a fish (such as the presence of a tooth patch on the tongue) are not always true to that individual, even though it may apply in general to the species.  You’ll notice I use words like “typically” and “usually” when describing the characteristics of a certain species.  You have to look at the whole picture.  In other words, do MOST of the characteristics match?  There will always be outliers in the dataset.  Over time, as you catch enough of a particular species and properly identify it, you’ll begin to develop a “search image” of that species in your mind.  Eventually, if you’re diligent, you’ll be able to positively identify the species of the majority of your bass catches with a simple passing glance.  If there comes a point where you have a pretty good “search image” of all species of black bass (or at least all species in your region of the country), and you catch a bass that doesn’t quite “look right”, take some good quality high-def pictures and see if you can ID it later using the technical information provided in various sources (some provided in this article).  If it still doesn’t match, you may have some sort of hybrid.  On the other hand, don’t be too quick to label anything that looks a little weird a hybrid.  As I said, there can be substantial variation among a species.  On rare occasions, there may be no reliable way to identify the fish without genetic testing; this is especially true in waters where there have been documented hybridization (usually between a native species and an introduced species).  So with that said, I’ll do my best to explain how to figure this stuff out.

1. Largemouth Bass.  Micropterus salmoides salmoides & Micropterus salmoides floridanus

There are two recognized subspecies of the Largemouth Bass:  the Florida Largemouth and the Northern Largemouth.  It is very difficult to differentiate between the two subspecies even when they’re side-by-side because most differences are genetic.  Florida Largemouth scales are smaller, they tend to get bigger, etc.  In the deep southeast, there is evidence that largemouth exist natively as an intergrade of the two strains.  Some sources say that there is enough genetic difference for the two to actually be two completely difference species; however, I am unsure at this time what the consensus of the scientific community is on this matter.

Distribution and Habitat:
Largemouth exist practically everywhere, native and introduced.  They’ve been introduced so far and wide, I don’t know if anyone could tell you what their original native range was anymore.  I would venture a guess that anything that flows into the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico was the original native range.  Largemouth are habitat generalist…meaning they can be found anywhere from weedy backwater sloughs, to deepwater ledges, to submerged woody structure, and sometimes even in shallow rocky shoals with heavy current.

Hybridization Potential:
There is very little potential for largemouth to hybridize with other bass species.  It is extremely rare, but there have been documented cases of hybridization between Largemouth and Smallmouth, and Largemouth and Spotted bass.

Distinguishing characteristics:
In general, both Largemouth subspecies can be easily distinguished from the other black basses because:
-when closed, the back of the jaw extends well past the back of the eye.
-there is typically no tooth patch on the tongue.
-the dorsal fins are separated into the two fins, whereas on every other black bass, they are connected.
-lateral line scale counts range typically 55-73, with Northerns being on the low end and Floridas being on the high end (I would cite this info, but I honestly don’t remember where I got it from).

Color and markings can vary widely depending on water conditions, but is usually an olive colored back; darker solid, patchy, or sometimes faint or nonexistent lateral line markings; and a white belly.

Patchy line variant.

Solid line variant (notice dorsal fin separation).

Faint/Nonexistent line variant.
Faint-Nonexistent line variant

This one almost looks like a spotted bass, but mouth size and dorsal fin ID it as a Largemouth.
dorsal fin ID it as a Largemouth.

2. Smallmouth Bass.   Micropterus dolomieu

There is some evidence that there may be a valid subspecies:  the Neosho Smallmouth, allegedly only found in the Neosho River watershed of Oklahoma, Missouri, and Arkansas.  There are also suggestions that the remainder of the smallmouth native to the Arkansas/Missouri region are also genetically distinct from their North/Eastern counterparts, and are sometimes referred to as Ouachita Smallmouth.

Distribution and Habitat:
Generally, this is a coldwater fish; however, it can tolerate and even thrive in warmer waters.  They prefer rocky shoals and moving water, but also thrive in deep clearwater lakes.  Native primarily to the MS River basin, northern lakes, and other northeast river systems, they have been introduced to other watersheds as well.

Hybridization Potential:
Known to readily hybridize with Alabama Bass where Alabama Bass have been introduced into native Smallmouth waters.  I believe they can also hybridize with Northern Spotted Bass, but this is less common since the two species coexist naturally.  Both hybrids are known colloquially as the “Meanmouth Bass”.  It is believed that a briefly described species of black bass, the Wichita Spotted Bass found only in the Cache Creek watershed in Oklahoma , was actually a natural hybrid of Smallmouth and Northern Spotted Bass and has therefore been dismissed as a species by the scientific community.

Distinguishing Characteristics:
Smallmouth can be distinguished from the other black basses with the following characteristics:
-when closed, the back of the jaw just barely makes it to the front side of the eye.
-there is often a tooth patch, but many individuals lack it…this is a poor distinguishing characteristic for this species.
-the body is typically shorter and stockier in comparison to the other black basses.
-the two dorsal fins are connected.
-lateral line scale count ranges 68-80 (Mettee, O’Neal, and Pierson, 2001 via www.outdooralabama.com/fishing/freshwater/fish/bassblack/smallmouth/)

Smallmouth color and markings are typically brown/bronze, usually with some sort of vertical striping, but not always. 

Prominant vertical stripes

Non-existent vertical stripes (notice connected dorsal fin)
Non-existent vertical stripes

3. Northern Spotted Bass.  Micropterus punctulatus

For years, it was thought that there were two spotted bass subspecies:  the Alabama and Kentucky spotted bass.  However, recent scientific works have confirmed that the two “strains” are in fact not even closely related genetically (Winston, Carol, & George, 2008).  Thus, the Alabama Bass was named (more on that species later), and the Kentucky Spotted Bass became the Northern Spotted Bass, or simply Spotted Bass.  As mentioned previously, it is believed that a briefly described subspecies, the Wichita Spotted Bass found only in the Cache Creek watershed in Oklahoma, was actually a natural hybrid of Smallmouth and Northern Spotted Bass and has therefore been dismissed as a species by the scientific community.

Distribution and Habitat:
Kentucky spots are native to the MS River watershed, and some other southern coastal watersheds such as the Pearl, Pascagoula, and Conecuh.  They have been introduced in several other watersheds in the southeast and Atlantic seaboard.  Spots prefer to relate to wood debris or chunk rock on a hard substrate (clay, rock, or sand) in or near current; however, they are habitat generalist…meaning they can be found just about everywhere, much like Largemouth.

Hybridization Potential:
As noted before, there is some potential to hybridize with Smallmouth to form the “Meanmouth Bass”.  It is suspected that hybridization is also possible with Alabama Bass and Shoal Bass.

Distinguishing Characteristics:
Spotted Bass are often called Spots, Kentuckies, Kentucky Redeyes, or just Redeyes.  They are not true Redeye Bass…that is a different species entirely (to be discussed later). Spotted Bass can be identified using the following characteristics:
-when closed, the back of the jaw is usually lined up with the centerline of the eye.
-there is usually a small patch of teeth on the tongue.
-the two dorsal fins are connected.
-although not quite as pronounced as on the smallmouth, body shape tends to be shorter and stockier.
-lateral line scale count is typically 60 – 71 (Baker, Johnston, and Folkerts, 2008).

Spotted Bass coloration and markings are typically light to medium olive back, usually with darker patches within.  These darker patches usually DO touch and blend with the top of the back (but this is not a constant).  A solid to patchy lateral line coloration is present, sometimes with short vertical striping; usually there is a dark blotch separated from the lateral line markings at the base of the tail.  They normally have a white belly with horizontal lines of small spots (the namesake).  Looked at from a distance, these lines of spots look distinctly like faint lateral stripes on the flanks.

Spotted Bass from Pascagoula River watershed (dorsal fin is damaged so it looks disconnected like a Largemouth; but coloration, mouth size, and tooth patch on tongue ID it as a Spot)…notice the faint splotches on the back generally extend up to and connect with the top of the back.
Spotted Bass from Pascagoula River

Spotted Bass caught in the muddy waters of a MS River tributary (almost no coloration, but still has faint lines of horizontal spots on belly and faint blotch at base of tail…connected dorsal fin and small mouth eliminates possibility of it being a Largemouth).
Spotted Bass caught in the muddy waters of a MS

Spotted Bass , typical coloration with textbook back blotches that connect with the top of the back.

4. Alabama Bass.  Micropterus henshalli

As noted above, for years Alabama Bass were considered a subspecies to the Spotted Bass.  After all, they look almost exactly alike. However, the Alabama Bass was recently elevated to species status (Winston, Carol, & George, 2008).  Compared to Northern Spotted Bass, Alabama Bass get bigger and average bigger, body shape tends to be longer and more streamlined, and there are significant genetic differences.  To paraphrase in simple terms my understanding of the research papers I’ve read:  Within the black bass gene pool, Northern Spotted Bass and Smallmouth Bass align in one “group”, while Alabama Bass align with the other 5 species in another “group”.  This makes the two former spotted bass sub-species not even closely related (Near et al, 2003; Harbaugh, 1994; Kassler et al, 2002).

Distribution and Habitat:
Their natural range is also different, and fairly confined, compared to the Northern Spotted Bass. Alabama Bass are native ONLY to rivers that flow into Mobile Bay, such as the Tombigbee, Alabama, Coosa, Cahaba, and their tributaries in Alabama, Northwest Georgia, and Northeast Mississippi.  However, Alabama Bass have been widely introduced into other waters.  This is often to the detriment of other native species of bass because they compete with and easily interbreed with Smallmouth and Shoal Bass, diluting the gene pool.  Alabama Bass prefer wood debris, rocky outcrops, and chunk rock in or near current; however, they are habitat generalist…meaning they can be found just about everywhere, much like Largemouth.  Although they will, they do not seem to relate to sand and gravel as much as Northern Spotted Bass do.

Hybridization Potential:
When introduced into Smallmouth waters, they readily hybridize with Smallmouth forming the “Meanmouth Bass” hybrid.  When introduced into Shoal Bass waters, they readily hybridize forming the “Spoal Bass” hybrid.

Distinguishing Characteristics:
Alabama Bass can be identified using the following characteristics:
-when closed, the back of the jaw is usually lined up with the centerline of the eye.
-there is usually a small patch of teeth on the tongue.
-the two dorsal fins are connected.
-lateral line scale count is typically 68 – 84, which is substantially higher than Northern Spotted Bass (Baker, Johnston, and Folkerts, 2008).
-Alabama Bass have a longer, shallower body compared to Northern Spotted Bass.

Alabama Bass coloration and markings are very similar to those of Northern Spotted Bass:  typically light to medium olive green back (often with a bronze-emerald or golden-yellow sheen), usually with darker patches within.  These darker patches are usually smaller and more numerous than on the Northern Spotted Bass, and usually DO NOT touch and blend with the top of the back (but this is not a constant).  A dark, solid to patchy lateral line coloration is present, usually with short vertical striping, and sometimes with significant vertical striping; usually there is a dark blotch separated from the lateral line at the base of the tail.  They normally have a white belly with horizontal lines of small spots.  When viewed from a distance, these lines of small spots appear to be faint lateral stripes on the flanks.

Alabama Bass, subdued markings due to dingy water conditions.

Alabama Bass, lighter and more vibrant markings…notice dark splotches on back generally do not connect to top of back.

Alabama Bass, birds-eye view with textbook back splotches that generally do not touch the top of the back.

Alabama Bass with some unique markings. I do not believe this is a hybrid, simply an extreme example of natural variations in the markings. Oddly enough, almost ALL the splotches on the back extend to the top of the back on this particular individual.

Alabama Bass caught out from under a rock (very dark coloration, but no blue eye markings or white tips to fins, so it’s not a Redeye Bass).



5. Shoal Bass.  Micropterus cataractae

The Shoal Bass use to be considered a subspecies of the Redeye Bass.  However, circa 1999, it was granted its own species because basically it’s just too different than a Redeye to be a Redeye.  Among other significant differences, while the Redeye Bass is a small bass generally confined to cooler mountain headwaters, the Shoal Bass is a much larger fish that can survive and thrive in warmer limestone bed coastal plain rivers.

Distribution and Habitat:
They are only native to the Apalachicola River Basin in Georgia, east Alabama, and northwest Florida. They have been introduced to certain areas in the Altamaha basin in Georgia as well.  They do not tolerate impounded water very well and cannot spawn in impounded water.  Instead, they prefer highly oxygenated water in and around rocky shoals (hence the name).

Hybridization Potential:
They are known to cross breed with Spotted Bass and Alabama Bass where these species have been introduced into Shoal Bass waters.  The hybrid is colloquially referred to as a “Spoal” Bass.  I suspect that a few strange bass recently caught in the Chattahoochee (which has an illegally-introduced Smallmouth population) could be Smallmouth x Shoal Bass hybrids—or “Smoal Bass” if you will.

Distinguishing Characteristics:
Contrary to their former placement as a Redeye Bass subspecies, Shoal Bass are actually a relatively large species.  They probably average larger size and max out bigger than Smallmouth in a riverine environment.  Shoal Bass can be identified using the following characteristics:
-when closed, the back of the jaw typically extends to the back side of the eye (smaller than the Largemouth’s, but slightly larger than others’).
-they typically do not have a tooth patch on their tongue.
-the two dorsal fins are connected.
-lateral line scale counts are typically 70 – 79 (Mettee, O’Neal, and Pierson, 2001 via www.outdooralabama.com/fishing/freshwater/fish/bassblack/shoal/).

Coloration and markings are usually dark brownish olive with darker brown vertical stripes and usually a dark spot at the base of the tail.  Unlike Smallmouth, which are usually brownish all over, Shoal Bass normally have a creamy white belly.

Shoal Bass, typical coloration
Shoal Bass, typical coloration

Shoal Bass with subdued coloration due to stained water.

Suspected “Spoal” Bass hybrid
Suspected Spoal Bass hybrid

6. Redeye Bass.  Micropterus Coosae spp.

The Florida state record is over 8lbs, but this was really a Shoal Bass back when Shoal Bass were considered to be a Redeye Bass subspecies…but nobody has bothered contesting it.  True Redeye Bass do not even exist in Florida.  Even though Shoal Bass have been stricken as a Redeye Bass subspecies, I suspect there are still several subspecies to the Redeye Bass, but none are scientifically recognized as of yet (however, I am aware of ongoing research).  The most popularly recognized subspecies is the Bartram’s bass in the Savannah River watershed of eastern Georgia and western South Carolina; however, I suspect other subspecies of Redeye (or outright entirely different species) in the Santee River basin of central South Carolina (although these may simply be the Bartram’s variety), the Altamaha River basin of central Georgia; the Chattahoochee and Coosa River basins of western Georgia through central Alabama; and the Tombigbee and Warrior River watersheds of western Alabama.  Of these suspected subspecies, the Bartram’s variety is the only one that can tolerate, and even spawn in, impounded water.  All other Redeye Bass require substantial current to carry out their life cycle.  Hopefully, the scientific community will soon confirm or deny my suspicions.

Distribution and Habitat:
Redeye Bass inhabit rocky shoals, primarily in the mountainous headwater tributaries of the Mobile, Apalachicola, Altamaha, Savannah, and Santee watersheds.  This is typically a headwater fish, preferring cool, clean, often shallow water over rocky substrate.  Larger specimens may relate more to woody debris, weeds, and deeper water, but almost always near substantial current.  Redeye Bass have been stocked with some success in portions of the Tennessee River watershed and a handful of small streams in western states such as California and Arizona.

Hybridization Potential:
Smallmouth Bass and Alabama Bass introduced in the Savannah River watershed are hybridizing with the native Bartram’s variety there.  There is also suspected hybridization between the Alabama Bass and Altamaha variety Redeye in portions of the Altamaha watershed.  There is no other significant hybridization occurring that I am currently aware of, but the potential for hybridization is always increased in waters where a non-native bass species has been introduced.

Distinguishing Characteristics:
They do not get very big…kind of like what a Brook Trout is to the salmonid family.  However, the Altamaha variety tends to grow somewhat bigger than the others, and the Bartram’s bigger still.  “Bigger” is a relative term here as even the Bartram’s would be considered a small fish by most sport fishermen.  The Redeye name is a bit of a misnomer, as they do not necessarily have to have red eyes.  Many species of black bass can have red eyes, especially during the spring spawning period.  Redeyes often have red/orange/rusty fins, usually with white tips.  The back of the eye almost always has a bluish rim.  Body coloration ranges from olive to brown, sometimes with bluish tints.  Body pattern can be almost non-descript to very vibrant vertical bars with spotted bass-like horizontal lines of spots on its flanks.  This fish seems to have many different color variants, especially from watershed to watershed, making me suspect the different subspecies.  These fish also have the following characteristics:
-when closed, the back of the jaw usually extends to the centerline of the eye.
-they usually have a tooth patch on the tongue.
-the two dorsal fins are connected.

Redeye Bass, Coosa River basin variety (sometimes called Coosa bass).  Largely nondescript body markings on some specimens like this one, while some have Spotted Bass like lateral markings (making it necessary to use the white fin tips and/or blue eye markings for positive ID).  Vibrant red eye present during spawning season.  White tips on tail fin are evident.
Redeye Bass, Coosa River basin

Redeye Bass, Altamaha Basin variety.  More descript body markings.  This fish was taken in winter, and therefore doesn’t really have a red eye, but it does have white tips to anal and tail fins.  Notice the faint “diamonds” on the back that interlock with the faint lateral line splotches.  Also, distinct lines of spots on the flanks, make the Altamaha variety look particularly like dark-complected Spotted Bass. 

I personally have never caught the other suspected subspecies. A buddy of mine caught this one. A “Bartram’s Bass” variant…overall lighter coloration with very prominent vertical bars.
A Bartram's Bass variant
Photo courtesy Andrew Taylor.

7. Suwannee Bass.  Micropterus notius

There are no recognized or suspected subspecies.

Distribution and Habitat:
The Suwannee Bass can only be found in the Suwannee River, Ochlocknee River, Aucilla/Wacissa River, and Wakulla/St. Marks River watersheds in north-central Florida and extreme southern Georgia.  It is unclear to me if they are native to all of these rivers…some say they are only native to the Suwannee River watershed and were introduced to the other mentioned watersheds.  They usually prefer the limestone shoals and spring runs often found in the rivers of north central Florida.  While I believe the clear spring runs are preferred, they will live in tannin-stained “blackwater” as well.

Hybridization Potential:
I am not aware of any hybridization involving Suwannee Bass.

Distinguishing Characteristics:
They do not get very big.  They resemble a dark-complected Shoal Bass, but they are much deeper-bodied…almost panfish like.  They can be identified with the following characteristics:
-when closed, the back of the jaw extends to the centerline of the eye.
-they typically have a tooth patch on the tongue.
-the two dorsal fins are connected.

Coloration and markings are typically very dark olive with almost black vertical bars, often with a bright turquoise shimmer to it (especially around the cheeks and belly).  The eye often has a red coloration.

Suwannee Bass, taken from tannin-stained “blackwater”.
Suwannee Bass

Suwannee Bass, taken from ultra-clear spring run.

8. Guadalupe Bass.  Micropterus treculii

There are no recognized or suspected subspecies.

Distribution and Habitat:
With all the black bass species variation in the southeast, the Guadalupe Bass is a bit of an outlier, native only to a few rivers in Southeast Texas on the Edwards Plateau (also referred to as the Texas Hill Country).  Habitat preference is comparable to Northern Spotted Bass.

Hybridization Potential:
A large portion of the Guadalupe Bass’ range has been infiltrated by artificially stocked Smallmouth Bass.  The result was the replacement of both species with the fertile Guadalupe X Smallmouth hybrid in many of these watersheds.

Distinguishing Characteristics:
In coloration and markings, they can be very similar to Northern Spotted Bass and even Redeye Bass.  They are not a very large bass species, comparable to Northern Spotted Bass in size.  The following characteristics can be used for identification:
-when closed, the back of the jaw typically extends to the centerline of the eye.
-they typically have a tooth patch on their tongue.
-the two dorsal fins are connected.

The following photos show the wildly varying coloration and markings of the Guadalupe Bass. All of these were caught in the only river that I’m aware of that still holds pure Guadalupe Bass (I think).


Baker, Winston H., Carol E. Johnston, and George W. Folkerts. “The Alabama Bass: Micropterus henshalli (Teleostei Centrarchidae), from the Mobile River basin.” Zootaxa 1861 (2008): 57-67.

Harbaugh, J. M. “A Cladistic Analysis of the Centrarchid Genus Micropterus Using Morphometric Characters.” M. S. Thesis (1994), Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama.

Kassler, T.W., J.B. Koppelman, T.J. Near, C.B. Dillman, J.M. Levengood, D.L. Swofford, J.L. Van Orman, J.E. Claussen, and D.P. Phillip. “Molecular and Morphological Analyses of the Black Basses: Implications for Taxonomy and Conservation.” Black Bass: Ecology, Conservation, and Management American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, Maryland (2002).

Mettee, Maurice F., Patrick E. O’Neal, and J. Malcolm Pierson. Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin. Birmingham, AL: Oxmoor House, 2001.

Near, Thomas J., et al. “Speciation in North American Black Basses: Micropterus (Actinopterygii: Centrarchidae).” Evolution 57(7) (2003): 1610-1621.

Outdoor Alabama: Share the Wonder. “Fish in Alabama: Black Bass: Smallmouth Bass.” Alabama Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources. Web. 18 February 2011. <www. outdooralabama.com/fishing/freshwater/fish/bassblack/smallmouth/>.

Outdoor Alabama: Share the Wonder. “Fish in Alabama: Black Bass: Shoal Bass.” Alabama Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources. Web. 18 February 2011. < www. outdooralabama.com/fishing/freshwater/fish/bassblack/shoal/>.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Fishing tournaments and Fishing Rodeos

Fishing tournaments and Fishing Rodeos aren’t the same thing.








I see a real surgent in fishing tournaments in the world of kayak fishing. I at first thought this was a good thing, so many people fishing tournaments and connecting with other people of the same mind set.








But I believe there is something really lost when you stop having rodeos and just have tournaments. You do not get the camaraderie like you do at rodeos. You don’t have the time at night when you are camping together and sharing stories around a fire.







It was just a few years ago it most people were doing Rodeos and having a kayak fishing tournament was a foreign thing. Am I speaking out against tournaments? Not at all, but I am advocating all of these groups that have sprung up to have rodeos and not just fishing tournaments.









Cooking and sharing is a great way for people to connect.







Great times are always had at a Rodeo!

So this year as everyone gets busy fishing don’t forget to put together a real get-together so everyone can join in on the fun.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

New V-Eight PFD by Astral Buoyancy

This vest has been redesigned for 2015 and it’s on my list. I loved this vest when I looked it over, especially the high back and breathability. $120


YouTube Preview Image
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Old Town Predator XL Kayak

Let me first say I really like this boat, the integrated console concept is the future of kayaks. This boat won ICAST boat of the year and ICAST best of show for a reason. They will be available in October 2014.

This is a BIG Boat! Here are the specs:

  • LENGTH 13′
  • WIDTH 36″
  • SEAT WIDTH 21″
  • LEG LENGTH 48″
  • BOW HATCH 16.5″X 10.5″

A few pictures of the boat:

DSCF1104 DSCF1109 DSCF1108Don’t get hung up on the minn kota option of this kayak. It’s a awesome boat without the motor.

To get a real good look at this boat go here: http://predatorkayak.com/xl/


YouTube Preview Image
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Less than a week to ICAST 2014!

Less than a week to ICAST 2014! What is that you might ask?

The International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades, better known as ICAST, is the world’s largest sportfishing trade show annually hosting 10,000 members of the global recreational fishing industry. ICAST is produced by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), the sportfishing industry’s trade association, which looks out for the interests of the entire sportfishing community.

ICAST is the premier showcase for the latest innovations in fishing gear, accessories and apparel and is the cornerstone of the sportfishing industry, helping to drive recreational fishing product sales year round.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Bamaspot’s Shoal Bass Adventure

YouTube Preview Image
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Jackson Cruise Fishing Setup

I was asked to show the setup on my Jackson Cruise. I bought this boat back in the summer before they began making the Cruise in the “Angler” Version so my boat will differ than some of the Cruise boat now being made. I chose the cruise as my boat of choice because it gave me the open space of a Coosa but better tracking and lower profile of the cuda. I think of it as a cross between the Cuda and the Coosa. It has the best of both boats in my opinion.

To begin with, I use the center hatch to store my waterproof camera, nothing else goes in there but the camera. It’s quick access but keeps it protected.


Next is my painter, or tow rope. It is a necessity when river fishing. It’s a rare time when you never have to leave your boat and whenever you leave the boat the painter is the first thing you grab. Mine in the picture is kind of a small diameter to what I usually use.


If you want to learn more about a painter check out Kreekn from Big Willis Outfitters youtube video.

YouTube Preview Image


One bungee cords that run across the front of the Cruise I added some wiffle golf balls. I did this for two purposes, it raises the bungee off the deck of the boat so you can slide your paddle underneath very easily. Additionally ii is a holder for my fishing rods, it keeps them between the two and pointed straight ahead where I want them to be.


I added paddle holders to both sides of my kayak. The newer Cruise has paddle holders now but mine did not come with any. These are simple bungee cords ran under the handle to a j- hook that I added. I did this because I only had to drill one hole for each paddle holder. It works very well and holds the paddle and a stake out pole in place and easily accessible.


DSCN0311 DSCN0310

I added a fish grip to keep fish in the boat. An old microphone cord works pretty well.


Carrying tackle on-board for me consist of 4 waterproof plano boxes that go underneath the seat and a bag of plastics that I tie off and place at my right foot. I really like them being there as they are so convenient.



I store my essentials such as wallet and keys in a dry box in the bag behind the seat. This makes them readily available in case the game warden happens to show up. Of course that has never happened while kayak fishing.


Soft sided cooler to put my drinks, snacks and lunch in. Tied down with the bungees, so it doesn’t get away.


I added the ram balls and the Zooka Tubes to hold two fishing rods. They work pretty well and without the need for a bungee to tie them off like on the rocket launchers.

DSCN0318 DSCN0317

On the right side of my seat is a pair of high quality pliers. I use these to remove hooks, cut line and etc…


My trust Foxworx paddle. Hand made in the U.S.A.


My anchor system was added to give addition control. It consist of a clothesline reel mounted inside the kayak, and the line runs around the left side and out a hole, through the mini clam cleat and through eye pads and out the back of the boat. It works quite well and I have been well pleased with it. In the picture below is a grapple anchor, I use this in the saltwater only. In the rivers I use a drag chain.

DSCN0328 DSCN0325

All components were added with pop rivets and marine goop.


Inside the kayak I always carry a dry bag and a spare paddle. In the dry bag is a change of clothes, first aid kit, multi-tool, duct tape, fire-starter and toilet paper.

DSCN0330 DSCN0331

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Fox Worx Kayak Paddles

From time to time there comes along a product that is a notch above the rest. I get asked from time to time about my kayak paddle. The reason being I think is my paddle is so different from what guys are use to seeing.

A couple of years ago Jacky and myself went to Shoaliepalooza in GA. While on the flint river fishing for shoal bass I pushed off a rock with my paddle and heard a pop. I knew that wasn’t good but kept on fishing. Well upon further inspection the shaft of the paddle had crack all the way around. I tried to fix it with super glue but figured it wouldn’t last. I was right. eventually the whole blade broke off.

Fishing 003


Now I was pretty disappointed to say the least, this was a big name brand fiberglass shaft paddle, and it wasn’t to cheap. I sure wasn’t going to by one of those again. So I began to search for something better.What did I find? I found a company that builds you a paddle, just the way you want it and for the same money as those factory made paddles made by the big companies.

Fox Worx canoe and kayak paddles based out of Bainbridge NY. Their kayak paddles use basswood shafts that are sealed with epoxy and polyurethane and are available in regular and small diameter. The paddles are 2 piece with an aluminum ferrule that is feathered neutral. I bought their “Splash” model that comes with a colorful paddle; they come in lengths from 210 to 250cm or over 250cm for a small charge.

Here is pictures of mine when it was new:


So your thinking a wood shaft on my kayak paddle, won’t that be heavy? I will tell you NO! At 38oz it’s almost the same as a fiberglass shafted paddle. Durability? You better believe it, I have put my through the wringer, I have not babied this thing at all and it hasn’t missed a beat. Done everything I have asked of it.

Take a look at the pictures of the paddle now, you can see the scratches from floating all the rocky rivers. But the scratches are just superficial, the blades are as stout and true as the day I got it.

Fishing 005Fishing 004


 I love this paddle, the feel of a wood is so much better than aluminum or fiberglass. It’s never hot or cold. Go check them out.






Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Kayak Bass Fisherman switches to Salt

When people talk about saltwater fishing most people immediately have visions of Louisiana.. I’m not a saltwater guy, pretty much a bass fisherman and that’s it. I dream of 5lb smallmouth.

I recently had a chance to return to the saltwater to fish, but it’s in a location that probably not on many peoples radar scope, South Mississippi. Woke a 3am, 15 minutes later I was headed south. Stopped on the way in Hueytown to pick up my buddy Mike (The one that talked me into this salt stuff) By 5am we were headed south again.

We rolled into Shepard State Park at 10am on fire to setup camp and get on the water. Shepard is a nice place although it could use some work and could use some pest control for the mighty brave raccoons.

Fishing 022

Not long after we got there the rest of the crew showed up from the morning fishing adventure, sadly the news wasn’t good. Fishing had been tough that morning and the temperatures had been close to freezing that morning. Not what we wanted to hear but still we were ready to persevere.


So by 1230 we were on the water ready to wear the fish out. Somebody forgot to tell the fish! This was a new place to me although we had passed it before. The bite was tough and very few came to hand, although what did make it in the cooler were nice ones. No one had the skunk; even I managed a dink flounder. Mike caught his best red to date and Matthew caught a nice red also.








The evening was spent around the campfire with hamburgers and hot dogs  Steve was nice enough to bring us enough firewood for two nights! Mike cooked up a peach dump cobbler in the Dutch oven that was spot on for some hungry fisherman. That’s one nice thing about camping when you go on these fishing trips is sitting around the fire talking fishing and learning new things.











Day two we were met up with Steve at the boat launch. Mike had been here before but for the other three of us it was all new. The setup was perfect, it was an area that had not been affected by the recent influx of freshwater, the winds were nonexistent and the current was moving. That’s pretty much where it ended, it wasn’t meant to be. I did more paddling than I did fishing, recent dredging in the area may have affected the fish. Maybe it is just too early? I caught one legal flounder.

Fishing 033Fishing 023


So we all pulled out and loaded up to fill our bellies. I had an idea for the perfect place to go for that all though I had never been there. So we pull in to Bozo’s Seafood Market and Deli. You give your order to a lady at a back-corner table. She writes it on a white paper sack, which she plops on an adjacent counter. You help yourself to a soft drink from a cooler or the soda fountain and browse the seafood market in back or the shelves of spice mixes. Then you pick up that same sack, now filled with fresh seafood, or perhaps a po’boy, and eat at a paper-towels-equipped table against the opposite wall. It doesn’t get any more down-home.

bozo-po-boy bozo-counter







After lunch we had a new plan; and we headed to the new launch point. It was not meant to happen, we arrived to discover the wind had picked up and was now blowing a steady 15 mph. The place we had in mind was in the wide open and there was no protection from the wind.

After a 5 minute discussion on what to do we decided our only option was to back up and punt. A new location with wind protection in mind was decided and off we went again. At the new location it was confirmed that we made the right choice, wind was being block, somewhat and the water was looking good. Fishing the rest of the afternoon everyone scored. Not too bad for a place that none of us had been to before. By the time I decided to head back toward the truck I soon discovered that I was the only one still on the water. I think everyone else was done for! Arms like jelly if you know what I mean.

Fishing 015

We said goodbye to Steve and headed on back to camp. Cleaned up and headed to town for some good food cooked by someone else! We ate at the Country Gentleman restaurant. Good food if you are ever in the area!

While we didn’t kill them we all still had a good time, I think we are just a wee bit early for the fish to move up into the bayous. I think the recent influx of freshwater and cold temperatures has set back the movement of fish into the shallows by a few weeks.

To fish the saltwater there is not that much to invest; your bass rod and reels will work fine in the bayous. Tackle to fish with is a minimal investment too.

You might say why MS when I can go to LA? A MS out of state saltwater license is only $34.29 for a year compared with Louisiana at $90.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off