Getting Dialed in with FLW Pro Jacob Wheeler

As the bass season kicks off around the country, you want to be ready to go as you hit the water.  Be it casting large swimbaits, working bedding fish, or finessing a shoreline, you want to be ready when you make that first cast.  Getting your reel dialed in is key. Here is a great little video of FLW Pro and Forrest Wood Cup Champion Jacob Wheeler explaining how to get the internal breaking system on your new Helios and Komodo reels dialed in for the season.  There is nothing like making that first cast right to the spot you want, and nailing that fish of a lifetime.

 

For more information on the Helios TCS reels that Jacob is using, please join us at http://www.okumafishingusa.com/product/view/reels/baitcast-reels-low-profile/helios-tcs

For more information on the Komodo reels that Jacob is fishing, please join us at http://www.okumafishingusa.com/product/view/reels/baitcast-reels-low-profile/komodo

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Target Big Fish on Makaira Popping Rods

By Capt. Rich AntoninoLarge Catch

 

There is nothing quite like hooking a fish and saying to yourself “is this fish too big to EVER land?”. That is the game that we play every day off of the coast of Massachusetts when targeting Bluefin tuna on spinning gear. It’s not fishing for rookies. It’s the type of fishing that can be equated to big game hunting, but with a spinning rod, not a gun. I’ve been doing this for a living for a decade and I have seen some of the greatest improvements in tackle heavily influenced by our efforts and experiences.

First, don’t bring a knife to a gun fight! When we see a school of Bluefin tuna feeding, there are times when 500lb fish are feeding alongside 100lb fish. The gear that can handle a 100lb fish will crumble under the battle that a true giant will unleash. As a field tester for Okuma, I’ve pushed tackle past its intended uses and through its comfort zone. I’ve broken enough reels and bent enough rods to know what works and what doesn’t. I’m proud to say that the Okuma Makaira popping rods are the real deal. They can handle whatever you throw at them.
How big is too big? 305lb Bluefin tuna? This fall, we landed an 82” beast on a Savage Gear Sandeel. That is the biggest that we have landed so far, but that’s not the part of the story that is important, nor shows how good the rods are holding up. We landed that fish in 65 minutes while fishing in 500’ of water. That is to say, we KICKED THAT FISH’S BUTT HARD AND FAST! This is where quality tackle and experience plays a huge part in fighting these fish.

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The best example of fighting a fish came several years ago, when a customer hooked his first tuna on spinning gear. He wanted to fight the fish solo. He had plenty of experience using light tackle for striped bass and bluefish, so he knew how to use drag to fight a fish. His battle took 85 minutes and the fish was….62” long and about 135lb. It was a great fish, but… I told him that if he knew how hard he could push his gear and had the experience of fighting a big fish like that; he would have landed it in about 15 minutes. He didn’t know what he didn’t know. After hundreds of tuna, I know what you have to do to land these fish.
The right rod. The right reel. Strong braided line. Perfect knots. The right hooks/hardware. And more people to help you fight the fish. This is what you need…
Have the right rod with enough backbone to lift that fish during a tuna’s famous “death circle”. The Makaira Popping rods are affordable (about $219) and tough enough for this. I have no doubts as I have tested them harder than probably anyone on Earth. A 7’6” rod is great for casting and doesn’t give up anything when it comes to fighting a fish around the boat.

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Fight the fish with enough drag to stop it in a reasonable amount of time. It’s not uncommon to fight a fish with 30+ pounds of drag coming off of the reel, and then palm the spool to increase the drag and turn the fish’s head. If you have never held a spinning rod using this much drag, try it. Use a “Cush It” to lessen the stomach/groin pain from the butt of the rod, or use a gimble. Remember that 30lb of drag running away from the boat is a different feel than 30lb pulling straight under the boat! When that fish is under the boat, never let the line hit the boat and watch the angle of the line to the rod to avoid “high sticking” which will usually snap the rod right about the 3rd guide… Your pulling power is best from “5 to 3” on the “universal clock”. To maximize this technique, think “get one crank”. You’ll hear the best captains yelling “get a crank!!!” over and over. Short strokes gain line. Remember that. Each crank is 4’.. When that fish is buried 50’ under the boat, you only need 12 cranks to land it.. Even better…get 24 half-cranks quickly. When that fish’s head turns, DON’T LET UP!
I have used many different reels to target these fish, but the list of appropriate reels to target the biggest fish is very short. Okuma is adding one to the mix that I am happy to say I have tried and successfully vetted on these big fish. It is with an early prototype reel that we landed our biggest fish to date. I fished a later prototype and it was markedly improved. I’m sure that the latest version will be even better. When it is introduced, another giant Bluefin tuna reel will be on the market. I’m excited about this reel. If you are using a reel that isn’t appropriate, you will either ruin it, you’ll lose your fish, or you’ll fight the fish for much, much longer than necessary. The rule of thumb with tuna is that “the longer you fight it, the greater your chances of losing it are” (that’s the opposite of shark fishing, but that’s another story).
100lb Guide’s Choice hollow core line from Tuf-Line. There is no room for backing; you fill the entire spool with it. You’ll have more than 400 yards of line on your reel…and you may need it all! Splice a nine foot 100lb fluorocarbon leader into the end or end it with a loop and use a windon leader. You do not want any knots connecting your leader. No discussion here. Period.
We end our line with a Palomar knot to a Spro power swivel/split ring to which we attach our lures. Once again. No discussion. This is how it’s done. We have never broken this connection.
Finally, you want help. We no longer let guys fight fish for more than 20 minutes. If you can last longer than that, you are not fighting it hard enough. There are times near the end of the battle when we are fighting the fish for one minute shifts, just like hockey. We fight these fish so hard that it becomes a team effort while landing it. Remember, it’s the thrill of the chase, the hook up, and the battle as much as it is the excitement of finally landing it.

 

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Get out there and have fun; in the offseason, fire away with all of your questions and I’ll be happy to help. During the season (late May – early December), I’ll see you on my boat where you can get the best lessons in person! I can’t wait to see what 2016 has to offer and you can find me at www.blackrosefishing.com or on my Facebook Page

(https://www.facebook.com/Black-Rose-Fishing-105895832818219/)

My number is 508-269-1882 or captain@blackrosefishing.com. We target Bluefin tuna from New Hampshire to Rhode Island and offer full lodging/fishing packages for anglers or whole families.

For more information on the Makaira family of rods, please visit http://www.okumafishingusa.com/product/view/rods/saltwater-1/makaira-abalone

 

Tennessee: River Monsters, Myths & Great Destinations

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Blog by: Captain Scott Manning

For over 100 years, myths and legends have flourished along the banks of the Tennessee River of monstrous creatures that live in their muddy depths. In the 1800s, tales of river monsters abounded throughout the river system, including a legend in which anyone spotting the creature was cursed. In the mid-1900s, the most popular legendary river creature became “catzilla,” a species of catfish that reportedly grew to the size of Volkswagen Beetles at several dams along the Tennessee River. There are some reported photos of monster catfish over 500 pounds during the 1900’s that seem to back up these claims.

 

What lurks beneath the placid surface of the Tennessee River ? Are there monsters in our midst? Newspaper accounts indicate divers, while cleaning out the intake to a local power plant, had to be rescued from the murky depths by EMS crews. Found floating and unconscious, they reported catfish so large that one of the divers was sucked into the giant bottom-feeders mouth, only to be spat out. The most common bait shop story states that a dam repair man goes down to check for cracks in the dam. He sees a gigantic catfish that could swallow a Volkswagen Bug whole. He comes up from the murky depths of the lake and never is a dam repair man again.

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However, the largest catfish in North America are blue cats, and the world record blue catfish caught in in 2011 weighed 143 pounds. While many of the world’s largest freshwater fish are located outside of North America, several large species can be found in area rivers, including blue catfish and flathead catfish. An angler better have stout tackle when doing battle with these beast. A Okuma Battle cat rod teamed with Okuma Coldwater reel will do the job just fine.

The Tennessee River, covering more than 650 miles in the south ranks at the top of most catfish & striper anglers “Bucket List”. The Tennessee River is formed at the confluence of the Holston and French Broad rivers on the east side of Knoxville, Tennessee. From Knoxville, it flows southwest through East Tennessee toward Chattanooga before crossing into Alabama. Watts Bar Lake is a reservoir on the Tennessee River created by Watts Bar Dam as part of the Tennessee Valley Authority system. Even today, it remains one of the top catfish destinations in the US. Cabela’s King Tournament Trail holds a annual 2 day super event here each spring. Located about midway between Chattanooga and Knoxville, the lake begins as the Tennessee River below Fort Loudon Dam in Lenoir City, Tennessee and stretches 72.4 miles to Watts Bar Dam near Spring City, Tennessee. The Clinch River connects to the main channel of the lake at mile 568 near Southwest Point in Kingston, Tennessee. The partially navigable Emory River connects with the Clinch near the TVA’s Kingston Steam Plant just upriver from the meeting with the Tennessee. Including the Clinch and Emory arms, Watts Bar has 722 miles of shoreline and over 39,000 acres of water surface. Minor tributaries include Poplar Creek, Caney Creek, and White’s Creek. The lake contains several large islands, most notably Thief Neck Island, Long Island, and Sand Island.

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Fort Loudon Reservoir, located on the Tennessee River at Knoxville, is the uppermost in the chain of nine TVA reservoirs that form a continuous navigable channel from there to Paducah, Kentucky, 652 miles away. Fort Loudon is a popular recreation destination, known for boating and monster catfish. The tailwater area immediately below the dam is an excellent site for viewing a variety of waterbirds, including herons, cormorants, gulls, osprey and bald eagles.
The reservoir is connected by a short canal to Tellico Reservoir on the nearby Little Tennessee River. Water is diverted through the canal to Fort Loudon for power production. The canal also offers commercial barges access to Tellico without the need for a lock. Barges passing through the Fort Loudon lock carry about half a million tons of cargo a year.

Area attractions include the Oak Ridge Atomic Museum of Science & Energy, Dollywood Theme Park and Gatlinburg. In May of 2014, The Animal Planet TV Show filmed Season 7 episode 1 of Finding Bigfoot. That particular episode is still one of the highest rated watched shows in the world. World-famous Big Ed’s Pizza in Oak Ridge is a must-eat location as well as Calhoun’s BBQ on the river. I recommend Oak Ridge, Lenoir City, Kingston and Harriman as motel destinations with plenty of places to eat and not far from numerous boat ramps; such as Caney Creek Marina, Ladd Landing, Concord Marina and Tom Wheeler Park.

So if chasing legends or real world monster catfish is on your “Bucket List”; then East Tennessee and the Tennessee River system is a Can’t-Miss destination. Feel free to call Captain Scott Manning (865) 680-7672 for information ranging from area sites to guided fishing opportunities. Bring the kids; this is one of the most beautiful places in the world.

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