National Walleye Tour Round 1 with Okuma Pro Dan Hassevoort

         Okuma Inspired Fishing and Savage Gear Pro Dan Hassevoort is gearing up for round one of the National Walleye Tour in Sandusky, Ohio on Lake Erie. The National Walleye Tour is the top stage in professional Walleye fishing and Okuma Pro Dan Hassevoort knows what it takes to be competitive fishing against the world’s top anglers.


Okuma Pro Dan Hassevoort

Okuma Pro Dan Hassevoort

Radio: So Dan where is your head at right now just before you leave for a tournament of this magnitude?

Dan: Well, right now it’s all about getting the right gear together to be prepared for anything at this time of the year. You could find yourself jigging on the reef systems for spawning females or trolling deep water for the big females that already moved off the reefs. It’s all about timing and you have to assess the situation once you get there. My trolling arsenal is composed of the Okuma Cold Water Low Pro files CW-354D paired up with the Okuma Dead Eye Trolling Rod DE-CBR-861-MT.

Okuma Cold Water Low Profile Line Counter Reel

Okuma Cold Water Low Profile Line Counter Reel

Radio: Why is this particular trolling combo so important to you and your fishing?

Dan: You need a rod that is versatile so you can be pulling planer boards and crank baits at one moment and then change up to lead core or snap weights. The DE-CBR 861-MT allows me to do all of that. The Cold Water Low Profile CW-354D gives me the perfect retrieve speed to get those big females in without horsing them but not taking too much time to allow the Walleye to work itself free. The low profile has enough line capacity to hold up to three colors of lead core which is more than enough to target the deep water tournament winning walleyes.

Okuma Cold Water and

Okuma Cold Water and

Okuma Inspired Fishing Pro Dan Hassevoort is a former 2008 FLW Angler of the Year so winning is nothing new to this angler.

Radio: I understand that you like to jig deep reefs.  What is the best program for jigging the reefs?

Dan: I like the Trio 20 paired up with the 7 foot Dead Eye Jigging rod DE-S-701-MFT – I like the longer rod because I can vertical jig this rod and  it gives me a good casting range for throwing cranks baits or Savage Gear Fat Vibes over the top of the reefs.

Savage Gear Fat Vibe

Savage Gear Fat Vibe

Radio: What kind of baits will you be using at this tournament?

Dan: Well, with the water being as cold as it is now I think crank baits will probably be the ticket. Trolling the Savage Gear 4 Play on lead core will be a go to bait along with the Savage Gear Manic Prey. If I am fishing on the reefs the Savage Gear Fat Vibes are pretty effective along with the Sand Eels on lead head jigs.

Savage Gear Fat Vibe

Savage Gear Fat Vibe


Savage Gear Sand Eel

Savage Gear Sand Eel

Savage Gear Manic Prey

Savage Gear Manic Prey

Radio: Lake Erie is home to some of the biggest Walleyes in the country, so Dan, what is it going to take to win an event against the world’s top anglers?

Dan: Well my target weight for two days of competition for five fish is going to be 40 to 45 pounds which is a difficult task but that’s what it is going to take to win this event along with some long runs across some brutally rough water.

Dan Hassevoort

Dan Hassevoort


Dan Hassevoort has been on the Okuma and Savage Gear Pro Staff for a couple of years now, and has made us very proud up in the Midwest. 



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

For more information on the Komodo reels that Jacob is fishing, please join us at


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.

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.

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.


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 or on my Facebook Page


My number is 508-269-1882 or 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


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.


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.


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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Winter “Steelhead-ing” in the Real Northwest


Article by: Jeffrey Goudreau



For those of you that know me, I am normally living in the far north fishing for northern pike, lake trout and other northern trophies.


But recently I have moved to the Pacific Northwest of Canada on the Skeena River watershed to learn a new fishery and get out of my comfort zone a bit. The fishing here is open water year round and offers anglers interested in Steelhead, Salmon and other trout a heavenly playground to explore with trophies of all species. A bit different than the -50 degree winters I have been used to for the past while. A welcomed change!

The days are short here now. Typically I am at location for first light to maximize my days on the river. The day’s low temps are ranging from 0 to -5 degrees Celsius and a high of + 4 Celsius. The rivers are at their lowest of the year and allow an angler to learn all of the nooks and crannies before the spring floods the banks. So my strategy is to collect as much data during this period to allow me to map all pools, runs and areas that will be used for holding positions by salmon and steelhead later in the season.



Up here there are two ways to fish big steelhead…Spey…And non-Spey.

I am not a purist of anything really. I try to avoid adopting this mentality because I feel as though it limits your life’s experiences and ultimately your trophy count once you’re on your deathbed. I once was walking downstream to my lodge room, after fishing on one of the best Arctic Grayling rivers in the world, with an amazing 50 fish plus day with multiple fish over 25 inches. I came across this guy that was casting dry flies. I asked how his day was going. He said, “lost a small one…but on the dries” as though that last bit was to be more meaningful than the fact that he was skunked, while on the best river in the world, for the species we were both after. I had a beer with the guy later and debated this topic. He wouldn’t budge and held steadfast to the idea that a dry fly caught fish was a better fish in some weird way. And I realized the downfall of stubbornness in anglers that night and will always remember this as a life lesson of what not to become. You do what it takes to get the fish in the net. Gear, bait, fly or bow and arrows. You learn to be efficient with any tactic and you learn how fish react and move in all conditions. Period.

Lately I have been working on learning the tributaries of the Skeena River. It is one of the best wild steelhead and salmon fisheries in the world. I’m finding fish ranging from 23 inches to 37 inches and on the hunt for a true 40 incher. The average weight seems to be 8-11 lbs and the fish are what seem to be majority summer run fish, full of color. There are silver “fresh-ies” lurking about in the mix and new runs beginning at the lower portion of the rivers in higher numbers now.

Typically I am working walking pace water or tailout sections of a pool floating pink worms, egg patterns, beads and various jigs. The key is to have a decent expanse of this water condition. The smaller slips of water don’t seem to have fish in them or at least not for long during this period. They are congregated in larger numbers together in areas and are getting ready to spawn presently. Within just a few weeks this will begin here and most of the rivers will shut down for spawning.

I’m using two different Okuma rod and reel combos. A T40x TX-C-1092ML with a low profile Cedros and a Guide Select Float Rod GS-S-1363FR with a Trio 30S. The float rod allowed me to work my floats much easier at far distance than the T-40x with its extra length and was a smooth rod for hook sets and action. Awesome feel with big fish spooling out line. The T-40x allows for me to feel all strikes and to move big fish out of the heavier current. Also a very smooth rod. I’m super impressed with these rods and will be grabbing some larger sizes to deal with the larger salmon entering the rivers in upcoming months.

Lessons learned since getting onto the big “steelies” up here… Do not forget your net or you will spend most of your time warming your hands while you should be fishing…There is no substitute for good quality gear when dealing with big trophy fish and numbers. Enjoy life while you have it and are healthy!!



Bait Fishing For Trout- Tips and Techniques

When it comes to bait fishing for trout whether it be here locally in one of our many Southern California lakes, or fishing in the High Sierras, there is specific proven method for “bait and wait.

For decades I have been a big fan of the Okuma Avenger Baitfeeder reels, especially the model 20. When coupled with an Okuma SST rod you have a combination that simply cannot be beat in either price or performance.

The Avenger 20 Baitfeeder is perfectly matched for 2 to 4 pound monofilament line. There are two things to remember about trout. First, they can be line shy which is why lighter line and fluorocarbon have become more popular when fishing for these critters. The second thing to remember is that with newer lines comes renewed faith in breaking strength. Where our concern for breaking off fish urged us to go to 6 pound line in the past, modern lines have incredible breaking strength. I have personally landed a number of double digit trout on 2 lb. line. You have to play the fish a little longer on lighter line in order to tire them out, but then again, the battle is half the fun!

So why do I like Okuma Baitfeeder reels so much? Trout tend to be lazy at times and furthermore need to be given proper time to eat the bait. Before the advent of bait runner type reels, we used to screw loose our drags so that when the fish picked up the bait he could swim with it and not feel any pressure. Key to remember was to screw the drag back down before setting the hook. Too often either excitement would over-take sensibility or the angler forgot to reset the drag, or else hastily set it too tight, both resulting in lost opportunities.

Using the Okuma Avenger 20, which by the way is the perfect size and is the only reel of its kind made by any reel manufacturer, everything is preset. Set your drags perfectly and loosen the bait feeder mechanism to its lowest setting which allows line to come off the reel freely when a fish picks it up. All you need to do then is simply turn the handle and set the hook and you are ready to fight your fish!


Lightning and Super Trout Fin & Feather

I often fish at the Palmdale Fin & Feather Club where I have been a member for the last 6 years and rely faithfully on this set up: A #6 or #8 Mosquito type hook, bullet weight ranging from 1/16 to ½ oz., small bead and Carolina Keeper. The reason for this type of set up is that it allows for the length of your leader to be shortened or lengthened on the fly in accordance to where the fish are holding.

Here is how you rig it. First, slide the bullet weight or sliding egg sinker on to your line. Next, slide on the small dark colored or clear glass bead (optional). I like this little addition as when you cast your line and it hits the water, when the weight slides against the bead it makes a slight “clicking” sound which often attracts fish. Many times I cast out using this method and get bit instantly. Following the bead pinch and slide your Carolina Keeper onto the line. By simply pinching the keeper and sliding it up and down the line, you can quickly adjust the length of your leader. Finally, tie on your hook, that’s all there is to it.

Now, what do you put on the end of the hook (kind of important right)? There are two methods that work with single hooks, both which work very effectively. Live bait (night crawlers) and Berkeley Mice Tails. Realizing that there are other manufacturers who make similar baits, the reason for the Berkeley brand is that they float. This is very important as bait which sits on the bottom of the lake won’t get bit no matter how bright the colors. Speaking of colors, best combinations for the Mice Tails are pink tail / white head, orange tail / chartreuse head, orange tail / white head and white on white.

When these artificial baits first came out, the tendency was to thread your hook right through the head. This still works okay, but my friend Dave showed me a better way which seems to get more action. Try threading your hook through the “neck” of the Mouse Tail right below the head. Doing this allows the bait to float off the bottom head up, tail down and will bounce up and down with the current.

If your preference is to fish the “bacon” as my buddy Jason affectionately refers to night crawlers, then remember that presentation is key. In order to present a night crawler to a trout in such a way that he will want to eat it, you will need 2 proper tools, a worm threader and a worm blower. Some people like to use the whole worm, but I prefer to use half and then the dark half of the worm as opposed to the lighter half. Call me superstitious, but another friend Big Fish Mike (I know, I have a lot of friends who fish), showed me this method on Lake Crowley the first time we ever fished there. Let me tell you, it made a big difference.

Once you have broken the worm in half, carefully thread it onto the worm threader by inserting the threader just behind the worm collar (this is the light section of the worm just about in the middle which divides the two halves of the worm) and thread it out the section that you have just cut. Once you have threaded your worm onto the hook this allows for air to be injected into the night crawler with the needle pointed at the un-cut end. There are many chambers in this section of the worm all which will hold air insuring that your bait floats off the bottom. Again, fish are not attracted to bait lying at the bottom of the lake.

Some anglers choose to tip the hook with either a salmon egg or even a bright colored Power Egg making it similar to the Mice Tails. Either way, one last important ingredient is to add a strong scent to your bait. Garlic, corn and anise are all commonly used attractants. The boys at Bite On have developed an old family recipe that I swear gets bit 10 to 1 over all other bait attractants. Try their Garlic, Crimson (Garlic with a red tint which helps in stained water) or Maize scents.

The final thing I will touch on is what to do with your rod once you have cast out your bait. You don’t want to miss that bite you have been waiting for all day, so to that end I like to put the odds in my favor by having both a visual as well as audible indicator. When the fish picks up the bait aggressively and starts swimming away with it, the audible part comes by way of the sound the Okuma Avenger 20 makes as line is singing off the reel. However, trout don’t always bite like this and in fact, sometimes swim towards shore rather than away from it. This is where a strike indicator comes in handy.

Strike indicators are easily made with simple household items such as an old wine cork or even an empty Easter egg left over from the kid’s big hunt last year! Simply attach a paper clip or small piece of wire to the egg or cork which will allow it to hang from your fishing line. Once you have cast your line and the bait has settled to the bottom reel up all of the slack and then set it into your rod holder (no need to hold the rod in your hands). Be sure to lift the Baitrunner mechanism at the back of the reel which allows for the line to come off the reel without resistance and now gently hang the strike indicator on the line about in the middle of the rod. When the fish picks up your bait and starts to swim away with it, before line starts coming off of the reel you will see the strike indicator pull up. Conversely, if the fish is swimming towards shore the indicator will begin to fall down.

Trout season is just now starting here in the southland and before you know it the Sierras will be back in business, God willing and the snow falls this year of course. Wherever you wind up with a line in the water put these quality Okuma products and techniques to use and catch that wall hanger!

Article by Brett Edmondson, Santa Clarita, CA
Submitted November 2015

Q&A With Okuma Pro Jeremy Starks

Five Questions answered by Okuma Pro Jeremy Starks on Bass Fishing in the Fall

426C9D0E-3870-4416-8E82-D0CA1002652FOkuma: What is your favorite technique for targeting Fall bass?

Starks: My favorite technique for fall is crankbaiting. The baitfish are grouping up and bass are not far behind. There are few things better that will help you on your next trip out.

Okuma: What type of cover/location do you look for first thing in the morning in the Fall?

Starks: If I’m on a river I look for two things to start the day. Current and creek mouths. This is a great time to fish below locks or damns on a river. Bass are relating to the bait and not necessarily to cover. So I can just fish open water with a crankbait and find bass schooled up on the bait. I use this same technique on creek mouths.

Okuma: What type of tackle setup or setups do you have on the deck in the Fall?

Starks: My tackle setup is pretty simple this time of year. I have three or four rods set up for cranking. I throw a squarebill and a small shallow running crankbait on an Okuma Helios 7′ med action and a Helios reel. For my medium and deeper diving baits, I use an Okuma C3-40x 7’6″ medium casting rod paired with a Komodo 5.4:1 reel.

Okuma:  How much, if at all, does your strategy change in the afternoon vs. the morning when fishing in the Fall?

Starks:  One of the great things about Fall fishing is the time of day doesn’t change the fish much. I tend to fish the same types of areas both morning,afternoon and evening.

Okuma:  Any specific tips you can give for targeting Fall bass?

Starks:  There are a few things that have helped me be more successful in the Fall. I try to match my bait to the size of the baitfish. On dark days or early morning I will use a brighter bait or even chartreuse. Fishing open water, the further you can cast the longer your bait stays in the strike zone. That’s where my Okuma reels come into play. I can get more distance than with any products I’ve used in the past.

Great Lakes Trolling Tactics For Early Fall King Salmon

by Capt. Jeff Thomas

The end of summer means cooler nights and the beginning of staging King Chinook Salmon on the Great Lakes this Fall. This time of year is when deep trollers look forward to targeting these majestic creatures of the deep. Anglers switch gears to different trolling tactics and lure presentations to entice these fish to strike.

Up to this time of year King Salmon have been temperature sensitive (38 to 56 degrees) and follow bait schools. Around the end of August, males show up first in 80 to 200 feet of water, and then a few weeks later the females come in. Day by day more and more show up in the shallower, warmer water (62 to 72 degrees). With this transition the Kings start feeding less and become more aggressive and attack lures.

2015-08-31 21.12.22Light conditions play an important role in getting a few additional bites during your day on the water. Pre-dawn and first light the Kings are usually swimming throughout the water column. Placing your lures at different depths accordingly – starting with just a few feet off the bottom – will put your lures in the strike zone. At this time lures that glow such as Michigan Stinger spoons, J-plugs and attractors (e-chips and Spin Doctors) with flies generate hits.

As the sun peaks over the horizon, less glow and more flash is key. During this time, the fishfinder will start showing less suspended fish and indicate more on the bottom. This is when you want to lower your spread so your down riggers/lures are 5 to 15 feet off the bottom and wires/dipsies are lowered (lengthened) as well. Also, lure selection when it’s lighter will require changing lures from glow to more color and flash in appearance. Lures that are shinny and/or bright with red, orange, yellow such as the Silver Bullet (J-plug), Triple Red E-chip w Attommik series fly, “Pretty Girl” yellow E-chip w Atommik series fly and “Hog Wild” Michigan Stinger spoons get the attention of these staging King Salmon.

20150831_143609-2Speed plays an important role this time of year as well, such as varying your trolling speed. Changing your speed varies your lures action which can trigger a bite where as a consistent speed can turn away a fish. Another tactic to generating a hit is to change the leader length of your flies from the attractors. The shorter the lead such as 17″ to 23″ will cause the fly to become more erratic while a longer lead of 28″ to 38″ will give the fly a more pulsing action.

In addition to leader length, varying boat speed of 1.7 to 2.8 mph and using “S”-curves while trolling will also help you dial in what the fish want. If you find you are getting hits on an outside of a turn on a wire/dipsy then you can assume your lure had picked up speed and raised in the water column. The same theory holds true for the other side, such as if you get a hit on an inside turn on a wire/dipsy in which the lure slowed down and also lowered in the water column. This knowledge will help you know if you should be going faster or slower and if your lures are traveling at the right speed and depth.

Each day the Kings are getting closer and closer to the point of returning to the stream where they were born. Action, speed and lure selection is critical to attracting the King Salmon to bite and catching a fish if a lifetime.

Jeff Thomas is part of the Finders Keepers fishing team out of Wolcott, NY.

Choosing a Catfish Combo

By Capt. Scott Manning
Okuma Pro / Professional Guide / Outdoor Writer
Licensed US Coast Guard Captain

Catfishing tackle has progressed a long way over the past few years.  We have access to so many well crafted products that picking a rod/reel combo can be a daunting task. Okuma Fishing Tackle has removed the guesswork with the Battle Cat Rod series accompanied with a Coldwater line counter reel.


As a professional guide who puts a lot of demand on his equipment; I can say this combo is legit. They fish better, feel better and handle the big catfish with ease whether drifting or anchor fishing.  They are not too bulky which makes them kid friendly and strong enough for any tournament or seasoned angler. They come in both casting and spinning models in 7′ 6″ and 8″ lengths.

The reels come in both right or left handed models with various sizes. I prefer monofilament fishing line; but have had success with braided line as well. An excellent choice for rod holders and/or planer board fishing techniques. My fishing gear has to be made with quality materials, tough, and user friendly.  Being a multi-fish / multi set-up combo makes these Okuma products a staple of my guide business.

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The Battle Cat rods are also sensitive for fishing livebaits, but have enough backbone to pull the big brutes out of heavy structure. With this combo you can feel if something isn’t right, so you don’t need to pull the bait every 10 minutes to check it. The more patient you are and longer your bait is in the water, the more fish you’ll catch.

I use both J-hooks and circle hooks with great success with these combos as well. I often mark fish I see on sonar on my Humminbird GPS and then move upstream and anchor off. Using the Coldwater line counter reels, I can present baits at precise distances downstream to the fish. If I’m drift fishing I can strategically place baits at different depths to target both bottom feeding and suspended catfish.

Hopefully, you will get out and try these combos. Trust me you will not be disappointed with the quailty or feel of this gear.  Always remember to let someone know where you are on the water and be safe.

Everything That You Wanted To Know About Shark Fishing But Didn’t Know To Ask

As a charter captain, I make a living taking people fishing. I don’t really care what species they want to catch; I fish for them all. One common thread amongst fishermen is “I want to catch something big!”

Is this big enough? It’s almost 16 feet long and weighed 560#!
Hooking something like this is one thing….landing it is another story altogether. Not getting killed getting it in the boat is a skill. Releasing big sharks is where having experience and a really broad comfort zone comes in handy.

Let’s talk about releasing sharks today, as most of the shark fishing we do is catch-and-release. Rule Number One: Don’t get killed. Don’t get maimed. Don’t get wrapped up and pulled overboard. Be as kind to the released shark as possible. Catch him again sometime. Get some experience with someone who is good at it before going out on your own. Being comfortable wiring a shark to the boat is important. YOU ARE THE QUARTERBACK. You call the shots. The angler is an extension of your mind. If you remember only one thing make it this: The battle isn’t over until the shark swims away and the line is back in the boat.

Do not relax, nor let the angler relax, until that happens. So often the leaderman grabs the snap-swivel and the angler high-fives someone, relaxing. Celebrating. Wrong! The second that the wireman grabs the line, the angler should back off on the drag a little (lever drag is best) and get the rod away from his body, keeping the line tight from the rod tip to the wireman’s hand. I scream when I feel slack line hit my hand, arm, or head. If that shark runs away before we can cut it, that slack line can wrap around a body part and be deadly.

This is the most dangerous part of the battle. I tell the angler and wire cutting mate the following: “If the shark goes nuts after I grab the line, I may yell ‘NO’ and throw the wire away from me and let the shark swim away. We can always reel it back in. Not a big deal. We’re going to release it anyways and it’s all about the battle. It’s better to tire the shark out on the rod, away from the boat than to deal with an angry shark boatside where it can do some real damage.

This leads me to the following observation: “If I can keep its head above its tail, I can control the shark.” The second that he shark goes horizontal or gets its tail above its head it is time to throw the line in and start over. You will be amazed at how fast a shark can whip its tail around and hurt you.

It’s all about the rigging. We fish primarily with “Makaira 50’s and 50-wides”. Our mainline is 100# Tuf-Line and we put 500-700 yards on the spool and top it with approximately 150-200 yards of 80 or 100# mono. (we do a lot of Bluefin tuna fishing and the line reflects the possibility of hooking into a giant, giant tuna…so we want line capacity and power…a 500 pound tuna is not a 500 pound shark…it’ll take 800 yards of line against 40 pounds of drag without stopping.. the extra line buys us time to clear the deck and chase a fish like that.)

But I digress. We end our topshot with a bimini twist to which we attach a 20-foot long wind-on leader of 400# mono. We have this so we can reel the shark right to the wire leader. It is the safest way to do it. WE NEVER WRAP LEADER AROUND A GLOVE. EVER. We end the windon leader with a 4/0 snap-swivel. It’s a huge snap-swivel and to that we connect an 8’ single strand 174-195# wire leader attached to a 16/0 circle hook.
We use this rigging for the following reason. The wire man grabs the snap-swivel with one hand (it’s big enough to grip) and the wire rests on his other (gloved as well, obviously) hand. Lifting with one hand and using the other hand in this manner “eats” up about 4 feet of leader. The shark will be right below the lower hand…

The “cutting” person can then easily slide a pair of wire cutters straight down the wire to the shark’s jaws (or until he gets too spooked) where he can easily cut the wire. Biologists have told me than non-stainless hooks rust out within a couple of weeks. Since circle hooks penetrate the corner of the mouth 95%+ of the time, the sharks leave with a temporary piercing and are not much worse for the wear.

We also do a lot of sight fishing.. This is where we bring out the spinning gear. We use the same gear that we’d use for tuna, but we use 100-150# windon leaders and a shorter wire leader to allow for casting of baits. Of course, you can’t cast wire through the eyes, so that’s the reason for the shorter leader. When we’re casting at sharks… we use “breakaway” hooks. I prefer using 4/0 closed eye Siwash hooks from Gamakatsu.

I’ve never broken a hook on a shark UNTIL I WANTED TO… That is to say, they are very sharp hooks that hold well…so you set the hook immediately when the shark takes the bait. Using up to 20 pounds of drag, I have yet to bend one of those hooks. However, when we get the sharks boatside, the leaderman is able to grab the snap-swivel and can pull on the wire leader, bending the hook out of the shark’s mouth in one quick, relatively easy motion. If you are fishing without a mate or with inexperienced anglers, this is a great way to do it. It’s very safe and minimizes exposure to the sharks boatside. If the hook is straightened out, you can put it back in shape with a pair of pliers. Of course, it’ll weaken after a couple of sharks, but you’re going to release them anyways, so what’s the big deal if the hook breaks on a shark you’re going to release anyways?

We typically catch blue sharks in Massachusetts. North of Cape Cod, they are typically 225-300#, while they are a bit smaller south of Cape Cod. We have caught them approaching 500#. They are real monsters at that size. Catching 10-25 sharks in a day is quite typical, so we have a lot of experience catching, fighting, and releasing these sharks. Because it is a catch-and-release fishery for the most part, making sure that they survive the battle is important, thus the use of circle hooks. Keep following for the next shark fishing article: “What to do if you’re going to keep and eat a shark…”.

See you on the water! If you’re interested in fishing Massachusetts for sharks, tuna, stripers, or any other fish, take a look at us at or call Capt. Rich Antonino at 508-269-1882. His email is and he is able to answer any questions that you may have about shark fishing, fishing in general, or Okuma fishing gear.