Fishing with Captain Joe Testa

Capt. Joe Testa, owner of No Fish Left Behind Fishing Guide Service has been fishing since he was a little kid. “Fishing for me is more than a business, it’s a passion and a pursuit. I love to catch fish, and I love to help other people learn how to catch fish. One of the keys to helping people catch fish is having the right equipment. That’s where Okuma comes into the picture. We started using Okuma rods and reels and fell in love with them right away. A rod and reel combo in the Helios series weighs around 10 ounces. These lightweight combos are super sensitive and yet have the ability to land big fish.”

Capt. Joe has two locations where he likes to guide. Inland lakes in Michigan for walleyes using super aggressive techniques, and The majestic Lake George in upstate New York where he focuses his efforts on beautiful smallmouth bass and monstrous lake trout.

“This past summer we expanded our repertoire on Lake George when we started jigging for lake trout in deep water. We used spoons and plastics and found the Helios 7’ MH spinning rod paired with a Helios HSX-30 spinning reel to be the perfect tool for the job. We caught a lot of nice fish, including some fish that had to push the ten to twelve pound mark.”

“The baits we used were pretty basic. Our most successful plastic was a 4-5” minnow style bait on a 1 oz. Old Fart Lure jighead. With lake trout, your two best colors for plastics are white and white! We used Garmin’s LakeVu HD ultra maps to find key areas to fish – mostly looking for humps coming out of deep water.  We scouted for humps that topped out at 80-90 FOW often with 100-130’ of water around them. Often the key was to scoot around the humps looking for fish and drop down right on top of them. If that didn’t work, we would work the edges of the hump where active lake trout were trapping bait up against the rocky bottom.”


When it comes to catching big fish Capt. Joe loves using the Okuma Helios rod and Helios spinning reel.

The Helios 7’ MH gave me a super lightweight rod with a lot of backbone to set the hook in 100 feet of water and the Helios HSX-30 reel’s super smooth drag performed flawlessly when a big trout would peel off a pile of line as it dove for the bottom. We love to expose clients to Okuma rods and reels because we believe in their products.”

“We would love to expose you to these products if you are ever in the Lake George area and want to tangle with a big Laker!”

Joe Testa

No Fish Left Behind Fishing Guide Service

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New Okuma Cold Water Pro Rods A Premium Solution For Copper And Wire

As the waters of Great Lakes have become cleaner and more clear, top anglers are fishing more and more copper and wire lines in order to draw strikes. Many hundreds of feet of copper line gets heavy, and is best fished on rods designed specifically for the task. Offering a premium solution for copper and wire lines, Okuma Fishing Tackle has introduced the Cold Water Pro rod series.

Cold Water Pro Rod

Premium construction includes aluminum reel seat and triangle shaped fore grips.

Cold Water Pro rods begin with a lightweight, yet extremely durable 24-Ton carbon rod blanks with moderate actions for trolling. The build then focuses on components that deliver maximum strength. The guide system features ALPS heavy duty stainless steel guide frames with Zirconium inserts for durability. The tip guide is a premium swivel roller tip to prevent tip wraps and kinks with wire line. Fully-loaded reels get heavy, so machined aluminum reel seats offer ultimate security when running and fishing. Collectively, the component set is purpose-driven for wire line fishing.

The handles are comfortable EVA. Fore grips are shaped triangular to help prevent twisting in the hand when cranking. The rubber gimbal butt cap positions the rod securely in rod holders when running and fishing, yet remains comfortable when working the rod around the body when fighting fish.

A swivel, roller tip manages wire lines better than traditional rod tips, helping to prevent kinks and tip wraps.

A swivel, roller tip manages wire lines better than traditional rod tips, helping to prevent kinks and tip wraps.

Cold Water Pro trolling rods include three, medium-heavy power models. The primary difference between the CWP-WL-802MH, CWP-WL-902MH and CWP-1002MH is rod length, being 8-, 9- and 10-feet in length, respectively. The actions are all moderate/moderate-fast and designed for 30- to 45-pound wire.

Cold Water Pro rods carry an MSRP of $189.99 and are backed by the Okuma Limited Lifetime Warranty.

The Fish’n Crazee Show’s TCS Rod Review

Okuma 3

Okuma delivered their latest OKUMA TCS series rod and Helios reel combo / set up for us to look into within many of our Fish’n Crazee Adventures. Well like the other Helios Series we have used successfully this series delivered too. Firstly know the reel speed you want, the series we tried was an 8.1:1 ratio simply to measure the difference between the 7.3:1 on the other models and yes the difference is clear… there is limited slack on any fish looking to surge towards you once hooked or attacking a bait with this reel. You can pick up the slack faster and regain control in many situations. Along with all the engineering qualities that are on offer looking at from fishing point of view this is one work horse reel.

From a castability point of view it takes a little getting used to measuring the type of lures and weights you wish to throw. You almost feel like you want to throw every lure with this set up as its pretty lightweight. However crankbaits & some moving baits need to be thrown on the right style rods that Okuma offers along with a slower retrieve ratio reel ( 5.4:1 Komodo or 6.6:1 Helios TCS). You need the forgiveness of a softer action rod for the crankbaits you wish to throw and also need a stiffer faster action for jig or worm fishing so make sure you pair up right for the right results. I did find that the higher speed reel with topwaters and some moving baits was a slight adjustment in cadence because of the higher speed which was great because you don’t have to work it as hard since the reel picks up the slack pretty well.

Luck would have it while we trying our best to get a review done with the bass market in mind we managed to hook many other species including Stripers, Hybrid Bass, Catfish. One particular case was a 20lb flathead catfish thought a jigging spoon would make a nice snack… with 12lb line the rod and reel combo handled the fight with ease, the TCS drag tired the large fish out and after a few smooth surging runs , we landed , photographed and released the fish! ( see attached pictures)… So that being said it should handle a lot of your bass fishing objectives

Okuma 2

Compare if you must however if you looking for a reel that is comfortable, small in the palm of your hand for all day use and less fatigue due to its lightweight design you pretty much have dynamic combination along with the TCS rod for the application you want…. In comparable class you will get every dime in value and the results will speak for themselves.


By Xavier Tiberghien ( Host of “The Fish’n Crazee TV Show”)

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.

Locating and Catching Monster Blue Catfish

by Capt. Scott Manning

Each Spring, I get tons of calls, emails and messages from social media from people wanting to catch a monster blue catfish. It seems to be on everyone’s “bucket list” of big fish. Blue catfish fishing continues to increase in nationwide popularity because of high numbers of fish to be caught and the opprotunity to catch a true monster.

Each year; catfish tournaments like the Cabela’s King Kat and the Monsters on the Ohio attract thousands of anglers all across the US. Blue catfish in the 100-lb. range are popping up all over the US; especially in the Tennessee, James and Mississippi River basins.

Capt. Scott Manning hoists up a giant blue cat

Blue catfish favor water temperatures between 68 and 82 degrees, but they can also thrive in cooler waters. Most waterways in the US hold large numbers of blue catfish with the James, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas and Missouri Rivers holding the true giants.

Finding and catching blue catfish is as simple as locating the food source such as gizzard shad and skip jack herring. Once you do this, you’re able to narrow down specific areas to look for like structure, river bends, drop-offs, ledges and current seams. Big catfish eat and eat a lot; so if your not locating massive schools of bait fish move on. My motto is “Find the Birds – Find the Bait – Find the Fish.”

A team effort help land this big blue

Big blue catfish like current and will be located in and around structure, curves in the river, deeper holes, scour holes and eddies close to shore out of the main current. Blue catfish are extremely opportunistic and will use these river features as ambush spots. They’ll feed on live bait and/or cut bait. There are anglers that swear by the effective use of store baits such as chicken livers, Ivory soap or beef hearts that might tempt you, but nothing works consistently better than freshly caught bait. I use gizzard shad and skip jack herring, and on ocassion live bluegill. Gizzard shad can usually be located in warm water coves out of the main waterway and skip jack are often caught below dams on crappie tackle. Make sure whatever bait you use is legal in your state or region. Blue catfish will investigate anything with a strong odor and fresher bait is always better.

Blue catfish can be caught almost anytime of the year. As water temperatures start to increase into the high 50’s and 60’s the bite will increase. Springtime is an excellent time to target big blue catfish all the way up to the spawn in mid-to-late June when the water temperature reaches 70 to 75 degrees. The the post spawn in mid-August all the way through the fall is an excellent time as well.

Stout tackle is a must for these big fish. I use Okuma Battle Cat rods and Okuma Solterra reels spooled with 40-lb. or 50-lb. monofilament line. I use a simple carolina rig with a 6- to 8-oz. bank sinker and an 80-lb. mono leader. My hook of choice is usually an 8/0 circle hook or a 10/0 Octopus hook. I change hooks and leader line often to ensure a realible rig when that big fish strikes. It’s the little things from your bait to the knots on your terminal tackle that add up to big results with big blue catfish. Be ready because you never know when your going to hook that fish of a lifetime.

The most important thing is just get out there, fish and be safe on the water. Always wear your PFD when or around heavy current and let someone know where your going to be on the water.

Check out this video of a big blue being landed on the Tennessee: Tennessee River Monsters


Preparing for Battle: A Captain’s Formula for Tackle and Rigging for Shark Fishing

By Capt. Rich Antonino

I love shark fishing. I’ve gotten very efficient at it over the course of about 500 sharks. Most of those are released to get even bigger. I’ve learned a lot over the years, from preparation, finding them, chumming for them, catching them, releasing them and staying safe.

Let’s talk today about getting ready, with regard to the gear that you’ll need. We’ll get into the other topics at another time.

I fish on the East Coast, north of Cape Cod, and the sharks we see are typically 200-lb-plus blue sharks. We have seen them pushing 500 lbs. however, and we usually see at least one more than 300 lbs. on every trip. The  Makos we see are typically 85 to 90 inches long and 220 to 300 lbs. They can reach more than  1,000 lbs. in the Northeast. Threshers are usually 200 to 400 lbs. Porbeagle sharks are commonly 300-plus lbs. Yes, we have good sized sharks regularly. Since we often catch 10-20 sharks in an outing, having backup gear and extras is very important.

That being said, I wouldn’t recommend fishing 80-sized reels here as most sharks would be outmatched by them. We have fished Okuma Makaira 50’s and 50-wide 2-speed reels since they were created. They are the perfect reel for this task as they are small enough to give proper battle to the average shark, but they have the guts for any monsters that come our way. We match them up to the Makaira XH Trolling rods. I feel that once again it’s not too much, but enough. I think that attitude fits sharking well – I have enough “just in case.”

What happens if you hook that monster? It’s going to take a ton of line, so be ready. We spool our reels with 600 yards of 100-lb. test Tuf-Line Guide’s Choice hollow core as backing on the reel. Then we splice 200 yards of 100-lb. test mono into it. Like I said – “just in case”. Most sharks won’t get you into backing. On several occasions, however, we’ve needed every bit of backing because a giant tuna took a bait or because that monster mako came into the slick. Extra line equals extra time to get ready (to chase it if you have to or to tire it out if you can’t chase it).

Holding onto a rod with a big shark on the line is tough, so we use a variety of harnesses to make the battle easier. For big fish, we use a Black Magic Fishing Harness. You get to use your whole body to fight the fish. We also use a general gimble belt for smaller sharks and quicker battles. We also use the Cush-It rod butt cushion for more active battles.

For leader, safety is an issue. I like to use wind-on leaders (400-lb.mono). We can reel in the entire leader, getting us within “release distance” to the shark safely. We crimp on a 4/0 snap swivel to the end of the leader. Then we connect our 9-ft.  single-strand 174-lb. or 240-lb. wire leader to this snap swivel. Our hook of choice is a 16/0 circle hook underneath a 13-in. octopus skirt.

Why do we set it up this way? We catch and release a lot of sharks, so quickness and ease is important. Circle hooks do their job by hooking the shark in the corner of the mouth..We cut the wire and leave the hook—it falls out within weeks as they are cheap hooks (never had one break). We cut the wire off as close to the shark as possible and just tie another hook on using a haywire twist. This way, we can catch 5-6 sharks on one leader without having to re-rig. Once it’s “too short”, we start with another 9-ft. leader.

Wearing sunglasses is very important at this stage – when the wire is cut, sometimes it will snap back towards the boat. Spitting blood one day, my mate wondered where it was coming from. It came from his cheek! The wire had pierced his cheek completely. It could have been his eye. Always wear glasses!

Now that you have the rig set up how do we keep the bait at the right depth? We use cheap water balloons and we keep extras in our pockets. Blow them up and tie them onto the line at the right depth. If you are using 8-oz. of lead or less, you can get by with only one balloon. We use these balloons because they tear off of the line easily and because they are so cheap. Speaking of sinkers – we use electrical tape to tape weights onto the wind-on leader just above the snap swivel. It doesn’t bother the line and they are easily removed if you ever want to switch them off.

Our chum is frozen into 4-gallon buckets. We take the cover off of the bucket and invert the bucket into a milk crate box. This way the chum flows out nicely as it thaws and is easily reused if there is any left at the end of the day.

If we are going to keep a shark for the table, I prefer to harpoon them, but a flying gaff is also good. You need a straight gaff to secure the tail as you tail rope it. This is one of the most dangerous parts of the battle that I’ll go over in another article.

If you do keep a shark, we find that the best knife to use is a serrated knife. Serrated knives cut through the skin the best and they maintain their edge very well. They are the best at removing fins, jaws, and head.

In addition to the chum, we have a multitude of different baits that we use. It is nice to have a variety on ice, but an old standby is the rack of a locally caught fish. Sharks are used to scavenging around fishing boats, so having local selection often works. We hook the rack in the tail and hang it that way under the balloon or along the side of the boat.

Hopefully this will give you an idea of how we prepare to target sharks.

Best of luck out there!

Capt. Rich Antonino owns and operates Black Rose Fishing Charters. For more information or to book a trip, visit his website at