Big Changes


Well after a lifetime in my native Tennessee I have moved out of state for only the second time. Things kept going from bad to worse to be honest about it and I decided it was time for a change. After a couple of trips to Florida with my buddy Kris I put everything in storage and drove south.I have no idea if things will work out here anymore than they did in Tennessee but hopefully they will.

So at least for the time being the stories I write and the videos I produce will have a different flavor. While there is plenty of fresh water to fish and critters to hunt I think for the foreseeable future I will concentrate on mostly saltwater fishing. I have tons to learn about what to do in saltwater but that is part of the fun.

I hope everyone stays with me for the adventures coming soon and I want to thank you all for the support of FG over the past years.

Dark Time Stripers


The season for the shallow water stripers is winding down and my friend Gary Hanson wanted to give it a few more tries before they were gone for the winter. Gary catches amazing amounts of shallow water stripers as soon as the water levels and temperatures rise enough for the fish to move into the parts of Logan Martin he calls his home waters. Late season will see the fish leave in a day, where you caught them yesterday in a few hours they are gone for the winter. When this time of year approaches Gary makes as many trips as possible to catch and release his favorite fish behind the spotted bass.


I had the chance to stay with Gary for several days and we headed to see what was going on with the fish on my second night there. Unlike many people Gary fishes for the big spots and stripers at night knowing they are feeding while most people sleep. We spent the first night fishing for bass but the bite was off but while throwing a spinnerbait Gary hooked and landed a 24 pound striper. The next night we tried for bass again with no luck but again Gary caught a striper so we decided to run to a spot that holds lots of fish if they are in the area. When we got there he hooked up first cast and I had one two casts later. The fish were there and we landed five before we headed home.


We used two lures while striper fishing, one was the #18 floating Rapala and the other was a Freedom Tackle Hydra jig head with a white paddle tail trailer. Gary used a casting reel loaded with 20# mono and 7 ft rod, I used a 6 1/2 ft spinning rod with 20# braid. Both of these worked well but I found out I couldn’t throw the big Rapala without constantly getting it tangled in the line. Finding this out I went to the jig and trailer which catches plenty of fish. With the fish in four feet or less of water these setups worked very well. Cast and then slowly retrieve the lure and hold on when one tried to yank the rod out of your hands.


Several days of rain from a hurricane off the east coast kept us from fishing but when it moved out we were at it again. Knowing the fish might be gone we took the chance to run to the striper hole. Only a couple of casts in we were hooking fish and having a ball with some great fights. We landed fish from around 6 pounds to 12 pounds and I lost 2 more, one would have been in the low teens the other close to 20 pounds. We managed 10 fish before we headed to check another spot and we never got back on the fish before daylight shut the bite down.


While this is a simple way to fish the only way it worked was with Gary’s vast knowledge of his waters and the fish. I have caught a lot of stripers but never really fished for them at night or in shallow water. If you have a spot that holds stripers it might be a great idea to head out at night to see what you can do in the dark. Once you find the fish the action can be fast and some of the most fun you can have on the lake.

Be safe and get out there and fish.

Freedom Tackle Hydra Jig

It has been awhile since I have gotten to fish with my friend Gary Hanson down in Alabama. Gary is known for his catches of big Coosa spotted bass and large numbers of stripers all from a flat bottom john boat or canoe. Gary catches so many fish on a regular basis it is amazing at times. Many people would be happy to catch a in a year what Gary sometimes catches in a morning. This guy can fish. Oh and another aside, he does it all without using any electronics just his extensive knowledge of the waters he fishes.

This trip was a bit tough; the weather was very strange because of a system in the Gulf. We were getting a lot of followers that wouldn?t even bump the bait no matter what we threw. On our second night out Gary told me he wanted to try a bait he made using a Freedom Tackle jig he had added a spinnerbait harness to creating a pivoting head on a full since spinnerbait. Not long after tying it on he had a hard strike and a big fish blew up in the river. The front of the boat began to turn as the fish made a run to our left pulling drag as it went. Gary got control after a couple of good runs bringing a nice 24 pound striper to the boat. We got it landed, took a couple of pictures and got her back in the water. Now while this isn?t the first striper to hit a spinnerbait it was Gary?s first and it also came on a lure he had modified.

The next night was tough again; we fished hard for several hours with no results. It seemed everything in the river had lockjaw even with a front coming in which should have had the fish feeding. Before we left Gary wanted to check one more spot which holds good stripers. He dug around in his tackle box and handed me one of the Hydra jig heads from Freedom Tackle along with a soft swimbait trailer. He told me if there were stripers in the spot we were about to fish they would hit this combo before they hit anything else. I tied it on while Gary tied on a large jerkbait, another favorite of the stripers.

His first cast he landed a nice fish while I looked at him a little dubiously. ?They will hit that bait just keep throwing it.?

I did and two casts later caught a nice striper around 7 pounds. Then Gary landed another 8 pounder a couple of casts later I hooked up and landed one just a bit bigger. After Gary lost another good fish they slowed down and we only got short hits but ending with five stripers made our night. I got a good look at fishing combinations Gary uses regularly that really produce fish, they work, period. Gary made a good point, by changing and adapting not only did we catch fish but our moods changed, too. We were tired and down because of the lack of action but suddenly not only did we have fun catching fish but our moods changed. We were still tired but the mood in the boat was much better. I guess the lesson is to stick with it till the end to save a trip and go home happier than you might have.

The point here is you can use a simple jig head to create a versatile lure and catch good fish. Freedom Tackle has a tagline that says ?create and conquer? and Gary sees it as good advice to modify their jigs in ways that enhance his ability to put fish in the boat. While adding a soft plastic to a jig is by no means rocket science it is extremely effective when done with a quality jig head. The jig modified into a spinnerbait is more of a true ?creation? but still relies on Freedom Tackle?s Hydra head to build a lure that works.

Here are the lures we used to turn a bad trip around. Yes we fished hard for three nights and most of the fish were shut down because of the weather but persistence and the willingness to change paid off. I do believe had we not gone to the lures we did we would have gone home with fewer fish. We threw a number of lures which produced nothing over a 3 night trips but caught good fish on the Freedom Tackle lures. This was also the first time I have fished these baits and I will say they proved they catch fish.


The Accidental Elitist

I use several forms of social media to keep track of what is going on and to see what my friends out there are doing in the outdoors. Posts come in regularly about good deer, pigs, elk, bears, limits of ducks, geese and the like and almost all of these are followed by congratulations which are all well deserved. Catch a good bass or walleye, find a big trout willing to hit and people will repost these sharing them with others showing the luck and skill of the folks getting a chance to enjoy what we do. This is all well and good and as it should be but here is the rub. Let me preach on.

Recently the topic of small game hunting has been an ongoing subject of discussion among many people I know which got around to me making an observation. Pretty much all of the social media from Twitter to forums have a running theme and I am sure it is not done on purpose. I would go so far as say many don?t even realize it goes on. When people post a squirrel or two, maybe a limit of rabbits or a few quail they took and are proudly sharing with their friends??crickets. They aren?t told good job, the pictures aren?t shared, they seem to be passed over as not worthy of notice since they aren?t a glamor species high on most people?s list.

Part of this I think stems from new hunters being brought into hunting these days going after big game species and bypassing the small. There are many out there now that have never been in the woods after a squirrel or tried to stalk a rabbit so perhaps the accomplishment of taking them is overlooked. I am not saying that being lucky enough to start out after deer or turkey is a bad thing; I am saying that the thrill and appreciation of hunting small game is being lost to it. When I was six or seven years old I was happy to tag along look for whatever was being hunted or fished for I was not getting to shoot big deer or turkeys. When I started hunting on my own I still went mainly for small game learning my skills and what it takes to be successful as a hunter. The other side of this is those of us who mentor these new hunters are maybe a bit guilty of teaching them that the glamor animals are the ones that count the most. Most would never intentionally do this, but the fact of how we introduced them to the sport leaves a mark.

I also see it in what I mentioned earlier, in posts online. People now seem to disregard the little guys in favor of the big and cool and I don?t think most realize it. When that big turkey or deer pops up it is an automatic action to praise the person that had the luck. Same with fish, as I type this I am watching a stream of congrats going out to a good friend for his bass while someone that caught a smaller species is ignored.

I hope this helps people remember that everything we harvest, big or small, by someone new or a veteran of the sport, deserves a well done. Please let the people that enjoy the other types of fishing or hunting know you are proud of what they did just as we all do for the ?cool? critters. Again I believe many of us, including myself at times, have become accidental elitists and that is something we never meant to be. From the kid out there shooting a pest with their air rifle to the person that took a big squirrel with a .22, they are just as proud as any of us and that is why they shared it. It isn?t always about the biggest deer or heaviest fish but it is always about letting folks know you are proud of what they accomplished.


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