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Go Fish, Pets, Places, & Things

Fishing for Holiday Gifts

By Steve Chaconas Shopping for anglers is frustrating. For people on the receiving end, there’s a guaranteed stint in return lines! Choose gifts for on and off the water! Quality, comfort, and durability in a variety of enhanced materials make for long lasting gifts. In 1897 people were tough and clothes were tougher. Filson became legendary to outdoor enthusiasts. Filson’s Lightweight Alaskan Guide Shirt, a multi-seasonal heavyweight, is comfortable with plenty of room for outdoors activities. Midweight 5-oz. cotton twill allows comfortable airflow during activities. Prewashed for shrinkage control, Filson’s Alaskan Guide Shirt feels broken in. Gusseted chest button-close flap pockets are secure. Perfectly placed pleats provide comfort and function. filson.com Give the boot to someone. Comfort and quality are sewn into Tecovas timeless Western footwear, clothing, and leather goods. Better quality and half the price of similar top-quality boots, Tecovas cuts retailer markups with direct-to-consumer pricing. Artisan teams in León, Mexico take over 200 steps by hand making a single boot, sitting on stacked leather heels with rubber end caps. Gift the right pair of boots to suit his or her style or color. They’ll look taller, feel taller and find comfort in their new favorite ultra-soft, hand-burnished calfskin, bovine, or goat leather boots. tecovas.com Fish are wet, you shouldn’t be. For 45 years, Gill has been perfecting outdoors gear for on and off the water. Features and function abound in 2 layers with Gill’s Aspect waterproof and breathable lightweight jacket. A soft touch mesh lining wicks moisture away. A unique hood adjusts securely for boat rides. A fastener pulls the hood away for better views. Gill’s 2-way Vortex Hood Technology streams airflow to keep the hood in place with ventilation. Covered zippers, double cuffs and a shock cord hem seal the deal.  Three outside pockets stay dry.  No…

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Angling for the Ages

By Steve Chaconas Whether a top level pro bass tournament or five boat bragging rights get-togethers, finding a winning pattern is tough. In single day events, it’s all or nothing. Catch as many fish as you can and bring back 5 big ones. However, multiple day top level pro events are much more complicated. There are another two hundred boats chasing the same five fish. To further complicate the process, fishing almost always varies day to day. You must save fish for the next day and learn as much as possible every day. It doesn’t get easier. A recent Bassmaster Open event added more intrigue. Big name pros, some legends, and top regional and local anglers piled into Chesapeake Bay tributaries. These are the toughest events in pro bass fishing. It’s nearly impossible to find a sweet spot all to yourself. Instead, many anglers are fishing the same massive grass beds, trying to find needles in grass edges where the secret bait with the unique presentation will perform for two consecutive fishing days enabling an appearance in the top ten to compete for the $100,000 prize. Winning pro level bass tournaments is nearly a once in a lifetime experience. Winning continues to excite 30 year veteran NJ BassCat pro Pete Gluszek, who has 3 wins under his championship belt. Legend has it that his lead on the final day on the 2007 Hudson River tournament was so insurmountable he returned to the boat launch early and ordered a pre weigh-in pizza! When he saw the Upper Chesapeake Bay scheduled for mid-September, Pete looked to work for another trophy. He considers the Upper Bay his home waters and has been guiding there for three decades. The late summer conditions were very tough, which worked Gluszek’s favor to dial in a particular pattern….

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Fishing is Better with Kids

By Steve Chaconas Kids are the future. Pretty much sums up every peek into the future. Without kids, there’s no future. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is sold on this concept and is putting money on it. Bass tournaments attract large numbers of the general fishing population and are the most organized fishing group in the sea. Getting the biggest bang for their conservation buck, fisheries biologist Dr. Joe Love is delivering a message and the goods to promote fishing conservation and youth involvement. The MD DNR incentive program, The Director’s Black Bass Conservation Award (DNR is looking for a new name) provides a black bass conservation award. It’s not a cash award, rather the Department is putting up $1000 in equipment purchases to support conservation during bass tournaments, divided between two groups every year as long as the budget allows. In addition to allocating the award, Dr. Love is spreading the word to show this is available. He reiterates this is supply based…no check…no prizes…it’s an award to provide supplies to enhance or improve the survival of bass during tournaments. But the DNR’s offer comes with a catch. To hook kids on fishing, tournament directors who apply for this award need to include youth fishing, kids under 16 years of age, as part of their tournament. And Dr. Love says, as with all DNR permitted tournaments, participants must take “bass class” and answer questions based on videos. Graduates receive an email certificate. Love says tournament directors need to meet the following criteria. Tournament director or co-director applicant is a resident of Maryland; tournament participants have a Maryland fishing license, at most 49 boats; and at least 50% of angler participants who are between 16 and 25 years old, ages inclusive. Tournament Directors can apply on-line (dnr.maryand.gov/fisheries) or contact Dr. Love….

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Two Heads are Better Than One

By Steve Chaconas Swimbaits have been used in saltwater for decades and now bass fishing has brought them to the top tacklebox drawer. From tiny 2.5 inch Sassy Shads to 16 inch Roman Mother Chaser Swimbait, ranging in price from 40 cents for small soft plastics to $1200 for handmade wooden baits, there are various sizes, colors, weights, and materials being tossed around the country. The old Sassy Shad was more of a limit catcher, not a lunker lander. Swimbaits are growing in size and popularity and are being manufactured and hand poured. Bass Cat/Yamaha Bassmaster Elite Series pro Mike “Ike” Iaconelli says they’re a year-round lure and work everywhere, matching the hatch in size and color for all seasons, water temperatures, cover, and fisheries. However he says fish need to see it, so it’s better in moderately stained to ultra-clear water. Ike says these lures have drawing power, that is, usually the biggest fish in the area will come a long way and out of heavy cover to eat it. “When fish see it from a long way, they’ll come to eat it regardless if they’re hungry or not.”  Noting the size of prey, Ike’s expectations and confidence rise when knowing stocked trout or larger baitfish are present. Preferring the solid body Berkley Powerbait Power Swimmer with Powerbait scent in various sizes, Ike says slits on the top and bottom allow for several rigging options. The boot tail thumps and wiggles, and the body rolls side to side. When seeking minimal tail movement, he goes to the smaller 3.5” Missile Bait Shockwave swimbait. This bait will run deeper and is very effective in the clearest water. Open hooks aren’t weedless but hook up percentages are higher. Ike uses two heads. One has a 90 degree line tie, the other…

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Something in the Water

By Steve Chaconas Lake Anna anglers have been wary of the blue green algae that’s been spreading over the 13,000 acre lake, one of the largest freshwater inland reservoirs in Virginia.  For the last four summers, swimming has been restricted as Cyanobacteria, a harmful algae that causes skin rashes and stomach illnesses, dangerous for children and animals, has been covering shallow coves of the recreational lake. The Department of Health has issued notices to steer clear of contact with the blooms, warning swimmers to “avoid discolored water or scums that are green or blueish-green because they are more likely to contain toxins.” The Lake Anna Civic Association (LACA) is launching a pilot Cyanobacteria Mitigation Program. It addresses causes of the harmful algae and the elimination of it. Long-term solutions are based on prevention and that points to reducing nutrients, primarily phosphorus and nitrogen, entering from the watershed or from deposited sediments. A mix of runoff input from urban or agricultural areas is a big challenge as Anna has 200 miles of shoreline. Runoff from nearby farms and homes overloads the lake with nutrients allowing algae to flourish. In addition to the effects on humans and pets, algae can cloud the water creating more turbidity blocking light to other aquatic vegetation. To address nutrients flowing into the lake, experts have created a plan to reduce nutrient loading in each basin and provide substantial water quality improvement, especially in sections where nutrients remain high.  Watershed Management Best Management Practices (BMP) include street sweeping, catch basin cleaning, buffer strips, and filtration systems. Hydrogen peroxide-based treatments are also considered a BMP. Chemical treatments are fairly low cost and can offer immediate solutions to treat visible outbreaks, but still can be up to $1500 per acre and also used for spot treatment of outbreaks. Estimated…

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Branded

By Steve Chaconas Branding is a key component in every marketing plan. Some products are so well branded they become the default name in a category. The competition tries to create a generic label to break the branded lock on the market. Kleenex becomes tissue, Coke becomes cola, Scotch tape is reduced to tape. It’s no different in the fishing business. Fishing is brand oriented. Anglers want to know exactly what pros use to win tournaments. Anglers want to know details down to the hook, line, and sinker. In fact, many anglers think pros fish with prototype lures not available to average fishermen. Worse yet, it’s been common practice for anglers to use a lure, only to give credit to their sponsor equivalent or no credit at all. This practice has been exposed by co-angler presence and media coverage, but still happens. The industry has coined generic lure categories to remove inadvertent advertising for competing products.  Winners can keep their bait a mystery using generic names, while the actual lure company goes without credit. Around 2004, pros were winning with a new lure.  Chatterbaits brought immediate angling success and were on the deck of nearly every level of tournament angling. Demand was overwhelming for the original designer who struggled to meet orders. Tackle makers pounced with lookalikes. Legal action stopped most, but astute intellectual property attorneys encroached without infringing on patents and a new category was created, the bladed jig. As the water cleared, ZMan emerged as the sole proprietor of the Original Chatterbait. While wins came with the Original Chatterbait, unsponsored anglers credited their success to the nondescript bladed jig label, denying Chatterbaits of their due respect. While imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, it doesn’t pay the bills. As the Chatterbait led the way in the…

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The Annual “Oh no, not another tie!” Column

By Steve Chaconas Dude, don’t get Dad another tie! He might wear it…only when you’re in town or when you mention it. He really dreads having to tie one on for you! It’s Father’s Day, put a bit of thought into gifts for the guy who was always thinking of you! Let Dad know he’s legendary. Long pants or shorts? Back Country’s Stoic Zip-Off pants perform during cool hikes up mountains and warmer jogs down. Comfort and performance are achieved with a breathable, quick dry poly spandex blend with 4 way freedom of movement stretch. Moisture just drips away with the DWR treatment. Zipped off, 5-inch shorts have a leg up on comfort.  Closing the leg bottom is a cinch. For a perfect fit, use the integrated belt. backcountry.com No matter the activity, Sitka’s long sleeve Hanger Henley will become Dad’s all around favorite. Comfort meets design, with technologies like Insect Shield and Polygiene® Odor Control, prevent the outdoors from bugging Dad and keeping him smelling like a rose, no matter his activity. A quick-drying lightweight Polyester/Spandex blend provides comfort and stretch. Stylish 3 button design is built tough for comfort and performance. sitkagear.com Take his favorite swim and hiking shorts, add polyester mesh draining pockets, and Dad will appreciate Filson’s Gline Canyon multi-use shorts. Nothing short about Gline Canyon’s 8 inch inseam. A no-rust plastic snap waist closure stays snug. Thigh cargo pocket, with a hidden key clip, zips for security. Practical clothing since the Gold Rush, Filson’s new Gline Canyon shorts are quick-drying, have an elastic waistband, and can be worn with a belt. filson.com Keeping Dad cool and clean, Gill’s XPEL Tec Hoody blocks harmful sun rays with 50+ UV and a hood for maximum protection. Thumb loops keep the shirt over the wrist. The comfortable lightweight…

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Fishing on Empty

By Steve Chaconas “Gas prices are so high, a guy tried to siphon gas out of a Tesla, NASCAR cut laps to semi-circles, and hitchhikers are giving lessons.” High gas prices are no joke to bass fishermen. The sudden gas price jump might sink their tournament season. Bass fishing tournaments draw regional anglers competing for bragging rights to a few thousand dollars. The top local tournament trail, Potomac River Battle Series, hosts 10 events annually. There’s been chatter about some not fishing due to expensive gas.  Tournament Director Ed Dustin says his trail, is mostly a working man’s league comprised of self-employed or small business owners. He says they have the flexibility to schedule fishing, but also can raise rates to account for rising gas prices. Anglers working for someone else, like government employees, are taking a hit.  He thinks participants are cutting practice days. Overall, if gas keeps going up, he expects a lot of boats up for sale. Traveling pro angler, Frank Arthur is on the road a lot. Sponsored by Comprehensive Nursing Services Inc., he began his season shortly before the big spike in fuel prices. His first stop, the TBF Nationals on Lake Conroe Texas, cost $500 to drive from Maryland. Leaving his truck in Texas, he caught a flight home for a few days. Returning to Texas he fished his event and drove home at an increased cost of $650. Fuel sticker shock has Frank contemplating fuel savings, like driving his boat slower during practice days and the truck slower on the highway. He looks for the cheapest gas and fills the truck and boat. He’s aware many are putting off tournament fishing for a while as added costs broke already thin budgets. Some boaters are ready to take a seat as a back of the boat angler due…

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Catching Technology

By Steven Chaconas In early competitive bass fishing, the playing field was level. Fishing gear, lures and boats were evolving. Tournament destinations were undisclosed until arrival. Tackle boxes were limited by weight, and horsepower was restricted, lifted in the late 90s. The early 150 hp standard went to 175, to 200, to 225 and has mostly settled on a Goldilocks 250 hp. Boats can only be so big and remain good fishing platforms. Hooks got sharper, lines stronger and lures more lifelike. Rods are so sensitive you can feel the price tag with them.  Reels cast a mile and retrieve at lightning speeds. Trolling motors put boats on a spot and keep them there. In shallow waters, Power Poles deploy anchors to keep boats perfectly still to target shallow bass. Electronics evolved as well.  Simple flasher units were effective, sending sonar beams to be interpreted by anglers. Bottom hardness, vegetation, trees, rocks, or mud could be discerned by color brightness. Humminbird’s early liquid crystal diode screens advancements interpreted sonar signals into more easily read 2-dimensional images. Then came GPS and contour maps. The big 3, Humminbird, Lowrance and Garmin fought over the bass fishing market. Humminbird’s side imaging set the bar, followed by 360 degree sonar. Recently, Garmin achieved dominance in forward scanning units. Seeing fish swimming around caught the eye of tournament anglers who rose to the top with their mastery of this technology. Pros and weekend anglers found the huge advantage of locating and targeting previously unnoticed bass. These unpressured fish could be identified and hunted down, identified by size, and followed until caught. This game-changing technology is also changing angler attitudes. There’s skill in catching fish, but also in maximizing the effectiveness of these units. Fishing is morphing from Opie and his dad Sheriff Taylor walking down…

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Worm Replication

By Steve Chaconas Moving hundreds of pounds of the soft plastic lures I’ve collected over the past 40 years around to get better organized – the worms were put into buckets, 4, 5, 6 & 7-inch. Straight tail curl tail, cut tail and odd combinations of every tail combination. There were creatures, grubs, centipedes, craws, stick worms, and technique specific baits, like Ned rig, Neko rig and drop shot baits. While sorting through these, many were scented, my tackle storage room had the aroma of a department store perfume counter. Garlic, licorice, and coffee scents at first were distinct, then they combined to smell like the dessert section in an Italian restaurant.  I recognized an old bait from the days of finesse fishing made famous in California by legendary pro angler, the Godfather of Finesse, Don Iovino. He introduced the bass fishing world to brass and glass doodling. For 50 years, the California pro pioneered innovative fishing techniques around the country. His peers recognized his trail blazing and innovative deep water fishing methods and inducted Iovino as a charter member into the International Fishing Hall of Fame (IFHF). His soft plastics cover the finesse fishing spectrum across the country. Sifting through soft plastics, new and old, a handful of some original Iovino baits, in several sizes and colors, were uncovered.  Giving them a try, these 50 year old baits worked very well! I wondered out loud whether different sizes, color pattern variations and floating plastic could revive a lost bait from the tackle box of days gone by. When I began to bass fish in the 60s, there were only a few companies making worms. Mann’s and Crème lures were the most popular and they were hand poured. That is, the heated plastic was poured into open cavity molds. They were very good, but…

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