By Mike Cork 

Fishing through the winter months can be very rewarding for a number of reasons. Cold temperatures keep fair-weather anglers home and hunting seasons lead many anglers to trade lakes for the woods. Winter is also the time of year when most freshwater species group up. The result: more fish for cold-weather anglers. During the coolest months of the year, preparation, research, and the proper tackle can make for memorable fishing trips.

Mike has been bass fishing since he was old enough to hold a fishing rod. He’s a bass fishing writer, and a current member of B.A.S.S., American Bass Anglers, and Bass Life Associates.


Meet EZ Angler Wading Babe Bailey

by Jeremiah T. BagwellJTBagwell1

In our world of endless choices, you can walk down the aisles of any tackle shop, scan the pages of lure catalogs or point and click on any tackle website and choose from hundreds of colors available for each and every lure style. While the power to choose is great, it may serve as a huge and overwhelming distraction to novice anglers.

I recommend that anglers who are fairly new to bass fishing and probably more importantly, new to tournament fishing, keep their color selections basic. You don’t need every single color of each bait ever produced to catch a Bass.

Having fewer colors to choose from in your boat will reduce the time wasted and the second guessing involved with selecting the “right” color. Here are some of my personal suggestions for which colors novice anglers should worry about having in their tackle bags.

Spinnerbaits – My spinnerbait selection, even after 30+ years of Bass fishing, still remains extremely basic. I use white 90% of the time. I think this color best replicates the look of shad and other small fish that Bass are known to eat. Sometimes I mix in a little black or chartreuse but white is by far my first selection when it comes to spinnerbaits.

@BagwellFishing 10aSoft Plastic baits – Whether you are talking about Senkos, Crawdads, Creature baits, Worms or Jerk baits, I would suggest using natural looking colors. Watermelon, Brown, Black and Shad colors are excellent choices that are very effective in a variety of water conditions. These colors will do a great job of matching the forage in just about any body of water on the planet.

Hard Plastic baits – Again whether Topwater baits, Jerk baits, lipless crankbaits or crankbaits with a bill, I would suggest that newer anglers limit their selection to more natural colors that mimic the look of shad, bluegills or crawdads. A couple of my personal favorites are the MS American shad color from Lucky Craft and also Chartreuse with a blue back.

Jigs – Jigs are another bait category that I still keep very limited after all of these years. I use Black/Blue most of the time. I also have a lot of success with Watermelon/Purple and Brown/Orange. It doesn’t matter if you are fishing Gin clear water or the muddiest of rivers, these jig colors will work great.

As you become more and more skilled as an angler, you can add to your arsenal of colors. You can add baits that match a specific forage at a particular body of water you will be heading to. Just don’t let choosing the right color become a distraction. When you notice that having so many colors to pick from is becoming a hindrance, it might be time to scale back a little bit.
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by Melissa Blanco –

There are two basic types of tequila – 100% blue agave tequila and mixto. The 100% blue agave tequilas are distilled entirely from the fermented juice of the agave. 100% agave tequilas are required to be distilled and bottled in Mexico. If your bottle of Tequila is not clearly marked as 100% blue agave, the tequila is mixto and may have been distilled from as little as 60% agave juice with other sugars. Tequila prepared from only agave sugars are made in Mexico, and are marked Hecho en México (made in Mexico).

Tequila is aged in wooden barrels that are more often than not made from oak. As tequila is aged, it becomes smoother, with a woody taste and goldentequi color. Aging may disguise the agave flavor and few types of tequila are aged longer than three to four years. Every distillery in Mexico is assigned a NOM number (which stands for Normas Official Mexicana) to show that the distiller has complied with Mexican Government standards. It also shows which company made or bottled the tequila.

There are 4 general categories of tequila:

· Blanco: Blanco or Silver

Blanco tequila is 100% agave tequila that is not aged or treated with additives. This is the traditional tequila that is clear and transparent and fresh from the still. Blanco – also referred to as white or silver tequila – must be bottled directly after the distillation process. This type of tequila has scent and flavor of the blue agave. It is typically strong and is traditionally enjoyed in a “caballito” or shot glass.

· Oro or Gold

Gold tequila is tequila that gains its color by aging in oaks barrels if it is 100% agave. There is also gold or Oro tequila that is mellowed by adding colors and flavorings such as caramel. This tequila is most commonly used for making Margaritas.

· Reposado or Rested

This is Blanco tequila that has been rested in white oak barrels or vats called “pipones” for at least two months and up to a year. The aging on oak gives Reposado a smooth taste, enjoyable bouquet, and a pale color. Reposado tequila maintains the flavor of the blue agave and is milder to the palate. The demand for Reposado tequilas has grown greatly in the last several years. The prices have increased as well.

· Añejo or Aged

This is 100% agave, aged tequila that has been stored in oak at least one year. It is basically Blanco tequila that has been aged. This tequila is amber in color and picks up its color and flavor from the oak casks in which it is aged. Añejo tequila has a distinctive taste that is picked up from the oak.


Although not a category in itself, it is a special Añejo that certain distillers keep in oak casks for up to 8 years. Reserva is some of the most sought after tequila in the market because of its smooth and complex taste. These tequilas are also among some of the most expensive available.

by Kent Klewein  –

Fly fishing during the fall and winter months can really open the door to some great sight-fishing opportunities for fly anglers targeting trout. Generally, most of our wadable trout streams run low and clear from the lack of rainfall this time of year. If you keep your eyes peeled for trout and wade with extra stealth, there’s always a good chance to sneak up and sight-fish to the biggest trout of your life. With the brown trout moving up many watersheds in preparation for the spawn, and the rainbows or cutthroats aggressively feeding to put on weight for the cold winter ahead, the fall can provide fly fisherman the best trout fishing of the year. My clients and I catch some of our biggest trout during the fall and winter by wading in close to the big trout we’ve spotted and then making precise presentations to our targets. That being said, just because you can see the trout, doesn’t mean they’re always easy to catch. Some days, the trout will make you want to pull your hair out as you painfully watch your flies ignored over and over, as they drift within inches of the trout you’re sight-fishing to. Below are six tips to help fly anglers catch more shallow water trout while sight-fishing during the fall and winter months.

1. Proper Angler Positioning

When trout are holding in shallow water that’s calm and clear, it can make them extremely difficult to catch because the water conditions allow trout to hear and see very well. One of the biggest mistakes I see on the water by novice fly anglers when they’ve spotted a trout holding in shallow water, is they position themselves too far downstream (from the fish they see and want to cast to) when they make their initial presentation. The smaller the angle one casts to a trout, the more precise and accurate the presentation (angle and distance) needs to be. Too long of a cast, and you’ll risk spooking the trout by lining the fish (laying fly line over the back or too close to the fish) . On the other hand, if you cast at the wrong angle, your flies will often not drift close enough to the feeding trout, and will fail to enter the strike zone.

When I’m sight-fishing to trout in shallow water, I always try to approach the trout from the side as much as I can (I get as perpendicular to the trout as possible) without spooking it. Doing so, it makes it much easier for me to present my flies to the trout with my leader only, not my fly line, and I find that I spook far less fish this way. Furthermore, when I approach the trout from the side, it usually decreases the distance of the cast needed to drift my flies in front of the spotted trout. Shorter presentations also improve my ability to lay out softer presentations, and in most cases, I find it much easier to also maintain a drag-free drift to the fish with my flies, because I don’t have to fight different current seams between me and the trout I’m targeting.

2. Approach Slowly and Quietly

Just remember, the closer you get to trout, the more risk you have of alerting and spooking them. For anglers to be successful, they should move twice as slow, and take extra precaution to be as quiet as possible when wading into position. I like to take my time getting into position and then wait an additional couple of minutes before I make my first presentation. I call this the “cool off period” which allows me to continue to observe and keep a bead on the fish that I’ve spotted, but the main purpose is to allow any fish that may have been alerted during the approach to calm down and resume feeding. If you’ve got multiple trout scattered out along a run or pool, sometimes all it takes to ruin your chances at success is spooking one or more of the other fish in the area, which can in turn, alert all of the other fish.

3. Choose the Appropriate Fly Fishing Rig and Fly Patterns for the Water You’re Fishing

It’s really important to match the type of fly fishing rig to the water you’re fishing, and take additional effort to fine tune it so that you can precisely control the depth of your drift. You want to be able to maintain a drag free drift and have your flies drifting in the correct water column at the moment they reach the trout you’re fishing to, in order to maximize your chances of catching the trout. A few inches here or there can make all the difference in whether a trout will eat or not eat your fly. Sometimes, that means going with a dry/dropper rig, instead of a weighted tandem nymph rig. Other times, if the current is faster you’ll have better luck if you use a tiny split shot or a dropper nymph with a tungsten bead. In slow moving water, you may find that a beadless nymph will work more in your favor. The point I’m trying to make here is that choosing the right rig and fly pattern can be crucial for catching shallow water trout, and anglers should read the water and observe the trout’s position before they set the rig up and begin making presentations. I also like to add that I experiment using a Leisenring Lift as my flies approach a trout’s position if a drag free drift isn’t getting the job done and I’ve tried multiple fly patterns…..

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By Jim Root –

Jim Root

Jim Root

If you’re like most people you’ve probably heard stories of how legendary the smallmouth bass fishing is in NY. From Ontario, Erie, St. Lawrence, Oneida, Champlain, Cayuga, Susquehanna, you can find yourself hooking up with smallmouth in the 5-7+ pound range on every trip if you know what to look for, what to bring, and what to expect. Come unprepared, however, and you will leave with a coldness in your heart as deep as those lakes.

1. Go Big.

Forget everything you’ve been told about smallmouth fishing. Our fish are a different breed. Ask anyone who’s ever caught one here and you’ll learn quickly that these brown fish have a serious attitude problem. The real fight won’t begin until the fish can see the boat. With that in mind, you want to leave your medium light spinning rod and four-pound-test fluorocarbon line at home. These fish require a different strategy, and heavier game plan. Your three main baits are going to be cranks, tubes, and drop shot.

I prefer to use a 7 foot, medium heavy spinning rod like my Dobyns Champion Series 704SF. This is a great rod because it affords you the sensitivity you need to feel when you’re getting bit, but packs plenty of backbone to allow you to have some input while reeling in the fish. Lighter rods will leave you at their mercy. This rod, combined with 10 or 12 lb Seaguar InvizX, will let you horse those fish a little more. It will also let you work a tube if you choose. However I prefer the Champion 734C for that, with the same line. For my cranks I use a 765CBGLASS. Not only is this a great rod and useful for many different depths, it’s strong enough to fight those bigger fish and still have the give in the tip that you need when throwing cranks.

2. It’s Nautical.

These lakes are known as much for their big waves as they are their big fish. Make no mistake, the weather here can get gnarly in a real hurry and you need to know that ahead of time. Weather Underground has a wave forecast area on their website (see a sample for Lake Ontario here) and it would be very wise to check that before heading out. If you’re running the new Ion series from Humminbird, you can actually access the internet through your graph, which will allow you to have unlimited access to that weather data. It should also be noted that 3 foot waves here are very common. I know from my time fishing Southern lakes like Douglas, Santee Cooper, or Smith Mountain, that that is considered extreme by most people. Be sure your mechanicals are in good working order, that you have a good case for your phone to prevent it from leaking. I prefer to use my SLXtreme by Snowlizard because it will not only keep my phone dry, but has additional battery supply that will fully charge my iPhone 5 twice if I need it to. It also has a solar panel on the back to keep it charged in an extreme situation. For personal protection, I highly recommend either a Stormr Strykr or Fusion rain suit. Even when it’s not raining, the waves will pound you and you’ll need to stay dry to fully appreciate your trip.

3. They’re aggressive.

These fish don’t play around. Gary Dobyns told me he couldn’t believe just how easy it was to catch them. Drag jim roota tube, wiggle a worm, or rip a crank, and as long as you’re near the fish, they’ll eat it. Look at your map and try to find any kind of isolated structure or shoal and start there. At Erie, for instance, there’s a huge shoal offshore outside of Dunkirk where you’ll often find many anglers stacked up. Get used to being close to other boats and be friendly. There are TONS of fish for everyone, so treat the community holes like a community. My favorite baits are listed below and in order of preference:

Bass Attacker Bass Snax, designed by me specifically for fishing smallmouth up north.

Big Bite Baits Tube, Road Kill (dip the skirt in chartreuse).

Rat-L-Trap Knock-N Trap Series in either Sexy West or Chartreuse Flash.

When you drop shot, you’ll want to use a minimum of a half ounce Elite Tungsten weight, tear-drop shaped for ultimate maneuverability around rocks, and you’ll want 3/4 ounce if the waves are over 3 feet to allow you to maintain constant contact with the bottom. You’ll want to pair that with a 1/0 Trokar hook. This is key because you’ll drastically reduce the number of fish you lose with this hook, and it will allow you to nosehook bigger baits when you go looking for bigger fish. When using the tube I prefer a wide gap Trokar hook, with a pegged 1/2 ounce Elite Tungsten weight, and I rig the tube Texas.

For my Trap I use a modest gear ratio reel, something like a 6:3:1 or a 6:6:1, and flutter it up and down by raising the rod tip from 7-12 and reeling on the fall. This is a dynamite presentation and can be deadly on smallies.

Some other suggestions: Rapala DT10 Hellsinki Shad, Lucky Craft Sammy, Carolina Rigged Big Bite Bait Lizard Green Pumpkin.

4. Know where you are

Lots of our lakes have different rules depending on where you are. Know that different laws apply if you’re in Canada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and it’s particularly important to know that there is NO catch and release for bass in St. Lawrence County; meaning that you can only target bass during bass season. A quick call to the local DEC office will let you know of any special regulations to your area. It’s also important to know that you can’t use lead sinkers, and that there are specific Alabama Rig laws in many different bodies of water, or that you can only have 4 fish per man in your livewell while in Pennsylvania and fishing Lake Erie.

5. Install a second BILGE pump

Not just because you’ll want a backup. You may actually find yourself in situations where it’s necessary to run two bilge pumps. I can’t stress to you enough how severe this weather can get. Nor do I want that to dissuade you from coming. I simply want you to be prepared so you can fully appreciate your time here. There are few places on the planet where you can catch a 7 pound largemouth, and a 7 pound smallmouth on the very next cast. It’s well worth visiting, but like anything else, preparation is the key!

Check out more of my tips and reviews at!

By Vincent J. Hytry

Vincent J Hytry

Vincent J Hytry

Winter is here in southeast Wisconsin and that means it’s time for ice fishing. With the early ice upon us, the focus is on panfish and to find these fish you must think shallow, real shallow (1.5-5ft).

The search for panfish begins by looking for protected bays, channels or back waters off river systems and if they contain green weeds, wood or other cover it’s all the better.

Once you find these areas you need the right tools to catch panfish and for me that starts with a good shallow water rod and reel. I prefer a 3′-3.5′ long ice rod matched with a good spring bobber – St. Croix makes a great ice rod and spring with a flat line reel to help prevent line twist.

I like to spool up with 2-3lb fluorocarbon line.. I like to use a high-quality tungsten ice jig such a Fiska from for various reasons. These jigs keep a smaller profile than lead and don’t require a small split-shot to keep the right line tension. In addition, they come with “sticky sharp hooks”.

Some of my go-to jigs for panfish are the Epoxy and Metallic series both from Fiskas. The Epoxies work great for all around use, tipped with Berkley Gulp Fish Fry or a couple of spikes. The Metallic series, especially the faceted round ball head, is my go-to when fishing shallow with plastics such as a GoJo or Versamite from J&S Plastics because they have a longer shanked hook, which caters to plastics.

Many anglers frown on using flashers in shallow water, but I use them to my advantage since it’s always good to know if you even have fish or cover below you. A lot of anglers have trouble in shallow water detecting their jig or and around cover, in which case you need to change your settings by either switching over to a narrow cone angle (if you have a dual beam transducer) like the 9° on my Marcum LX5 and then turning up the gain until you can see your jig as a little blip on your flasher.

Once you have your rod, reel, area and sonar ready it’s time to find fish and the key is to keep moving until you find them (a.k.a. the art of hole hopping). Drill 15-20 holes right away and spend 2-3 minutes in each one until you find where the fish are then start drilling more accordingly.  This may be the most important thing about locating and staying on panfish…you rarely ever sit and wait you must go to them!


Home of Fiskas:

Home of J and S plastics:


B.A.S.S. disqualified two anglers who tussled following Day 2 of the Lake Toho Bassmaster Southern Open tournament on Lake Tohopekaliga, Fla. Ish Monroe, and Keith Poche, were disqualified from the Open based on an investigation of an incident. Additional penalties for both anglers may be imposed pending the outcome of additional investigations that are ongoing. Based on the initial investigation supported by witness accounts Monroe was arrested and charged with battery.

 Monroe’s Statement:

I wanted to take a moment to issue an apology to B.A.S.S., the fans of the sport, my sponsors and the industry that supports professional bass fishing and the sport as a whole. I want everyone to know that the last thing I intend to do at any time is shed a bad light on the industry that has afforded me the opportunity to do what I love.

I reacted poorly in the situation after the collision and the subsequent verbal altercation that ensued.  Arguments happen on the water in our business a lot, but I took it a step too far in putting myself into my competitor’s boat when provoked. Although I did not strike him, I know that I stepped over the line with an unwanted touch, and regret doing so.

I am a passionate, competitive person, and that drive is what has helped me be successful on and off the water. But, as can happen, there are times that competitive nature can get carried away as it did on Friday. To make it perfectly clear, I am not making an excuse for the way I reacted, I just want everyone to know that I care deeply about the sport, and doing very well in tournaments.

I wish to offer my sincerest apologies to the organization that has provided me a venue to perform, the sponsors who have provided me the equipment and resources with which to pursue my career, and the fans of the sport who provide the audience for all of to perform for.

I will now begin to move forward, repair the damage to my boat, as well as apply my competitive nature to doing the best job I can on and off the water.  I realize that this incident has put a bump on my career path, but with the ongoing support of my sponsors, my friends and family – and the fans of bass fishing – I will return to the path I have long hoped I would travel.

Thank you all for your time.

Ish Monroe


Now is the time to mark your calendar for the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades, better known as ICAST, the world’s largest sportfishing trade show. Produced by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), the trade group that represents the sportfishing industry, ICAST will be held July 14 – 17, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla.

From buyers to media to exhibitors, ICAST annually attracts more than 11,000 representatives from the international sportfishing community to conduct business, network with industry leaders and see the latest innovations in gear, accessories and apparel. This past November, ICAST was recognized by the Trade Show News Network as one of top 25 fastest growing trade shows by attendance in the U.S.

For the third year, ICAST and the International Fly Tackle Dealer show (IFTD), the fly tackle-specific show produced by the American Fly Fishing Trade Association (AFFTA), are co-locating in the Orange County Convention Center on the same days and the same show hours.

“ICAST is the premier showcase for the fishing tackle industry and the only one-stop-shopping opportunity to look at everything in recreational fishing, all under one roof,” said Trade Show Director Kenneth Andres. “However, with the addition of several new events and a full schedule of business development seminars, ICAST should be the “go to” destination for everyone whose business involves recreational fishing. There are more opportunities now than ever before to see gear, apparel and accessories as well as expand your business network.”

New Events in 2015
Three new events have been added to the ICAST schedule. On Tuesday morning, July 14, for the first time, ICAST, in partnership with Fishing Tackle Retailer, is hosting a product demonstration day called ICAST on the Water on Lake Tohopekaliga (Lake Toho), the largest lake in Osceola County and a prime bass fishing location. ICAST is partnering with FLW to host an industry bass fishing tournament prior to the ICAST On the Water event. Also on Tuesday morning, Florida Sportsman is partnering with ICAST to host a golf tournament of which a portion of the proceeds will go to KeepAmericaFishing. On Tuesday evening, July 14, after the New Product Showcase preview reception, ICAST is partnering with WFN: World Fishing Network to host a concert of which a portion of the proceeds will go to support KeepAmericaFishing.  

“Last year, we tested the waters with a golf tournament that turned out to be very popular with exhibitors and attendees,” said Andres. “Now we have four new events that help to reinforce what ICAST is all about: seeing product and building your business network. If ICAST isn’t on your 2015 calendar, it needs to be.”

A New ICAST Website
To better serve exhibitors and attendees alike, ASA has launched a new, upgraded ICAST web and mobile site. The new site features streamlined navigation with easy-to-find information for exhibitors and attendees alike. International attendees are going to find the new site much easier to use because the streamlined text makes language translation so much more effective. The mobile version is an even more streamlined version that contains the core content that exhibitors and attendees alike can use pre-show and on the show floor.

Other show highlights include:

New Product Showcase and Preview Reception: Sponsored by Fishing Tackle Retailer, more fishing products are unveiled during the ICAST New Product Showcase than anywhere else in the world. The New Product Showcase is the premier venue where established manufacturers and entrepreneurs alike debut their latest innovations in fishing gear and accessories. Hundreds of new products will make their marketplace debut and compete for Best of Show honors in 24 product categories this year. Industry buyers and media serve as judges to rate the new products and cast their votes.

State of the Industry Breakfast: Just before the show floor opens on July 15, ASA will host the traditional State of the Industry Breakfast. Tickets are required.

Chairman’s Industry Awards Reception: On July 15, ICAST will host the Chairman’s Industry Awards Reception where the New Product Showcase “Best of Show” awards are presented. All ICAST and IFTD attendees are welcome to attend the awards reception held at the convention center.

Expanded Business Conference Sessions: In order to meet the business needs of our industry, the business sessions are evolving into a “must attend” part of the trade show. This year’s seminars focus on a wide-range of topics, with a particular focus on buyers and the retail sector, but the sessions have a lot of information for all attendees and exhibitors. The sessions are free to all badged ICAST and IFTD attendees. The sessions are held during show hours – July 14 – 17, in Room 209A, the Orange County Convention Center.

Registration and Housing Coming in February
Registration and booking housing is available through the ICAST website in one easy-to-use process. ASA has arranged special ICAST discounts for attendees with partner hotels that are conveniently located near the Orange County Convention Center. Complimentary shuttle service is provided to and from the convention center.

Keeping Up on Social Media
ICAST can be found at, on Facebook at, and on Twitter @ICASTShow and #icastshow.


Release information presented by ICAST