Frog Fshing! Time for BIG Summer BASS

  • Summer is here, frogs are breakfast food for big bass
  • Not all frog lures are created equal, learn about differences below
  • Heavy frogs, light frogs – when to use each of these
Plastic frogs have come a long way as an angler bait and they catch fish, big bass, when the summer weeds seem unfishable. LiveTarget photo

By Forrest Fisher

Did you know that bullfrogs never sleep? Some say that’s why big bass never sleep either! With summer water temperatures following the countrywide heatwave this year, the weeds in our waterways are thick and matted. The result is shade for massive bass that wait in ambush for critters that share use of the matted weeds for ease of movement, including frogs, bugs, mice, and the like. So it makes sense that fishing with an artificial frog bait might be a good idea to catch some of the bass hiding in their new weed shadows. Truth is, the biggest bass seem to always be in those weedy shadows.

I discovered “frog fishing” with artificial surface frogs about 60 years ago. As a kid, at first, we baited real frogs, but after we ran out we would head home and try to find more. Into the early 60s, plastic frog lures were invented and we learned how to use them. It was much easier than trying to catch live frogs. Our light rods were flimsy for what was needed, that’s all we had, but the explosion of the fish making their way through the weeds to engulf our plastic frogs was exhilarating. So we used our flimsy rods anyway!

Fishing with fake frogs was noisy, even spooky fishing, but most of the time we lost the fish because of our gear. As we grew older into our teens, my brother and I transitioned to start fishing the frogs with short deep sea fishing rods and wide-spool, open-face fishing reels loaded with 40-pound test Gudebrod braided line tied direct. Those old plastic frogs were very basic and most were only hollow, air-entrapping, plastic caricatures of frogs that floated. They sank after a while.  Today, there are new “super frogs” out there, with many offering a popping action and you might say they are sophisticated frog lures. The new frogs are more durable and are “killer-effective,” the fish seem to love ’em.

Scum Frog designed the shape of the original Trophy Series with single focus to create Topwater Froggin’ perfection. Scum Frog Photo

Among the top choices in frogs, the age-old Scum Frog. At the Scum Frog factory (Southern Lure Co.), they do nothing but design and manufacture hollow-bodied frogs. They are among the originals in the industry and are among the true innovators in the design and development of frog fishing from way back when. They offer a painted trophy series that features 10 new hand-designed colors relying on a proprietary system that digitally patterns the frog color. The Scum Frog Painted Trophy Series is durable too, and was designed to give anglers all of the benefits of many high dollar frog baits at an unbeatable price (under $6). The Scum Frog displaces water, an excellent attractant quality, and is available in 1/2 and 5/8 ounce options (solid brass weights), so casting is easy. The new skirts are made from silicon, they float higher and accentuate the movement action of a live frog. DEADLY. Best yet, these Scum Frogs come with a pair of tough, sharp Owner Hooks perfectly fitted for big bass dentures.

Many pro anglers say that summertime bass yield to the white color frog more than any other. Why? The difference between oatmeal and hominy grits is what I think. Very little, but it seems to matter if you live down south, not sure why. Plus, white frogs allow the angler to see the bait a little better while working it. I like ‘em for visual identification of where they are.

Most frogs offer a two-hook design with extra strong hook points that cozy up to the collapsible plastic frog body, making them weedless. The only thing between you and the fish is your line and if you fish these in thick cover, you will need to check your line often. Use a good, modern, braided line and a positive knot with an extremely stiff rod that will allow you to haul the fish out of the thickest weed cover you might imagine. I like the 60-pound Gamma Torque braided line, you simply cannot break it. Other brands work too, but I think you could tow a tree with Gamma and it is thinner and slicker to cast than most others, this allows greater casting range. Visit:

Another favorite is the “Signature Series” frog from LiveTarget Pro Angler and TV personality, Scott Martin. It features a hollow body frog popper that has become a favorite in the topwater tackle box for many anglers. The frog has a narrow profile with a cupped face that makes this bait unique when you walk it across the surface.

With either of these two frog brands – there are many more, the popper face creates a unique sound message below. “Hello, I’m food, c ‘mon, get me.” It offers a different sort of visual splash attractant message to join with that sound message.

I tried several colors over the years and while I like the white for ease of sight, the natural green frog colors seem to get the biggest hits, especially in heavy, super-thick cover. It is still a mystery how the fish can even see the bait in really thick summer weeds like we have this year.

The acid test for your frog gear? Here it is. Drop a 5-pound anchor in the thickest weeds you can find, then move your boat 30 feet away and see if you can rip that anchor up and out without breaking your line, your rod or the gears on your reel. That is your goal. This is tough fishing for really big bass, but that’s how I measure the gear. If you can’t put a rig together like that, go fish a frog anyway. It is unbelievable fun!

For the frog, don’t forget about frog size and frog weight. The thicker and heavier frogs are for working extra-thick matt and the lighter frogs are for thinner lily pad cover.

If the bass don’t wack it in the weeds themselves, they seem to panic and inhale the lure when the popping action occurs at the weed edge. They don’t want that easy meal to get away. To learn more, see additional color offerings or to buy the frogs described, please visit: and

Have fun fishing!

Fall Fishing for Bass, TIPs from the PROs

  • Fishing in the fall for bass provides primal competition to meet with nature and the biggest fish
  • Baits that trigger a strike are hard to find, but there is one key thing to know, read on
  • Lure balance, hook point quality, color, rate of wobble and wiggle, all are key

LIVETARGET David Walker Signature Tennessee Craw

By Forrest Fisher

Like it or not, winter weather is coming and for bass anglers in the know, that’s a good thing. The fish, all species really, stock up on protein and feed heavily right before the coldest weather arrives. One of my best friends, Russ Johnson, now a 90-year old student of precision speed trolling, offers key advice to catch the biggest fall bass. When the water temp hit the low 50s, he would dust off the frost on his boat and head for the lake with crankbaits that were perfectly tuned. His method? Speed troll them over sharp dropoffs to intimidate bass into striking, and it wasn’t just a strike, it was a SLAM-BAM-GOTCHA. A mega-strike. Big fish hit like that. It seems they wanna stop the boat and head the other way.

Running four lines, two on each side of the boat, one trailing 120 feet back, the other 145 feet back, and using lures that were designed to be crankbait hardware, he would achieve diving depths of 2.5X their rated profile. Lures that were advertised as “dives to 12 feet” would hit bottom in 30 feet or so. The new braided lines with their thin diameter make his method even more effective. The precision manufacture of LIVETARGET lures seem to gain even more than 2.5X when perfectly balanced and trolled. This makes the LIVETARGET lure even more effective for fall bass like no other method I know, but also makes them a “best lure choice” for daytime fall walleye that are also on the binge feed.

Johnson knew that fall weather can spread the bass out in many waterways, but in the Great Lakes, specifically Lake Erie, he would focus on structure dominant points to find schools of bass segregated by size. Some schools were comprised of 2-pounders, then 4-pounders, and so on. One day we caught limits of bass whoppers that all exceeded 5 pounds. These were smallmouth bass. While doing a video with In-Fisherman TV, Ron Lindner had shared with us that bass are domiciled to their home range on shoals and underwater structure, so we always released these big fish to live and spawn another day. Some of our whoppers some went over 6-pounds.  His favorite fall-time lure color? Tennessee Craw red or orange.

Johnson can get lures like the LIVETARGET Magnum Shad Baitball Crankbait, the 3-1/2 inch model, to hit bottom in 42 feet! He is a master lure tuner. I did not mention his trolling speed, but he is trolling quite fast, in fact beyond your imagination if you are a troller. That detail will remain his secret, but it one other reason why the lure tuning has to be perfect.  Most folks fishing the Seneca Shoal area near Hamburg, NY in eastern basin Lake Erie think he is leaving the area. It’s that fast. 

Other expert anglers know other methods that work well in fall too. Noted professional angler Stephen Browning, a seasoned veteran of the FLW Tour, MLF, and the Bassmaster Elite Series, has amassed similar knowledge of late-season bass behavior that can up any angler’s game right now. Aside from decades of experience on tournament trails, Browning’s degree in Fish and Wildlife Management hasn’t hurt his ability to pick apart various waters and he has advice to share.

LIVETARGET bass pro, Stephen Browning

The first tip? Cover lots of water. And for Browning, that means crankbaits.

“For me, fall is all about chunk and winding and covering water, whether that’s main lake stuff or hitting the back of pockets, coves, and creeks. Crankbaits are definitely key in fall and into early winter,” says Browning.

For Browning, the biggest factor for finding fall bass to crank is water temperature. “I’m trying to search out water temperatures that are 70 degrees or less, because experience proves that’s the point at which fish get fired up for a super fall bite.”

Winning in the Wind

Secondly, he’s monitoring the wind. “Besides cooler water, I’m looking for spots where the wind is blowing a little bit. There’s still a lot of fish out on the main lake and not necessarily deep into the pockets. So, I’m going to look at the wind—see where it’s hitting the banks the best. Bass will utilize the wind to kind of break things up. You can burn down a pea gravel bank or a chunk rock bank and still have the ability to catch fish. And they aren’t always target oriented. In my opinion, they don’t like to hold tight to cover when the wind’s blowing, because it’s going to beat them around. So, I think they do more roaming in the wind—if it’s windy I’m going to chunk and wind,” says Browning.

LIVETARGET Rainbow Smelt

For such windy scenarios and main lake fishing, Browning turns to the LIVETARGET Rainbow Smelt suspending jerkbait—specifically the RS91S, which is 3-5/8 inches long and dives three to four feet, typically in the (201) Silver/Blue pattern, although Browning has been experimenting with the host of new colors LIVETARGET now offers in this highly effective bait.

“It’s kind of a shallower-diving jerkbait, which I utilize for cranking points, rock outcrops, rip-rap, etc. when the wind is blowing. When fishing it, I’m looking for a little bit of visibility… not a lot of stain. I fish it a lot in main lake and main creek areas using the wind and water clarity as kind of a one-two punch. It’s definitely a go-to bait for these situations,” offers Browning.

Browning throws the LIVETARGET Rainbow Smelt on a 6’8” medium-heavy St. Croix Legend X casting rod, Lew’s 7.5:1 Pro TI baitcasting reel, and 10-pound Gamma fluorocarbon.

Another bait Browning utilizes for windy main lake and main creek scenarios is the LIVETARGET HFC (Hunt-For-Center) Craw. “It has a very aggressive action and deflects off of cover, so I can utilize it on steeper rocky banks and really cover a lot of water. In terms of color, it depends on the water clarity and temperature. If the water is stained, a lot of times I’ll use LIVETARGET’s Red (362) or Copper Root Beer (361). The latter has a really nice copper hue to it and kind of a whitish-style belly.

When the water temperature plummets into the 50s, Browning also reaches for the LIVETARGET HFC (Hunt-For-Center) Craw, especially in the Red (362) and Copper Root Beer (361) colors. “The HFC has an aggressive action but is not overpowering. It was designed to randomly dart left and right, mimicking a fleeing craw. In late fall when the water gets really cold it can be a fantastic bait for target fishing for the resident fish that live in the very back ends of creeks and pockets.”

LIVETARGET HFC (Hunt-for-Center) Craw

Water Clarity and Target Cranking

Browning’s advice for those days when there isn’t much wind is to monitor water clarity. “On calmer days water clarity is a big factor. I’m going to go and try to find some stained water someplace within the fishery. The biggest thing about stained water is fish don’t tend to roam as much on you, and they’re going to be more target related—an outcrop of rocks, a laydown, a series of stumps, etc. that will give those fish a place to ambush their prey.”

On those calmer days, Browning will vacate the main lake and main creek areas he fishes when windy and concentrate on the back third of pockets where they have a tendency to flatten out. There, he looks for isolated cover.


“I’m looking for that isolated stump, maybe a log, lay-downs, isolated grass patches, or a lot of times people will put out crappie stakes. Especially when the water’s low, bass will utilize crappie stakes. One of the baits I like for target fishing in the back of pockets is the LIVETARGET David Walker Signature Tennessee Craw. I’ll crank it on 12- or 14-pound fluorocarbon and only get it down to six feet so I can bang it around, which is key to getting good target bites. I’ll make multiple casts to the isolated cover from various angles giving the fish the most opportunities to ambush my presentation. That’s really key—working cover from multiple angles and making sure you spend ample time on each spot,” offers Browning.

LIVETARGET Sunfish Crankbait

When target fishing, Browning is also a fan of the shallow-diving LIVETARGET Sunfish Crankbait—specifically the BG57M (bluegill pattern) and PS57M (pumpkinseed pattern). “The Sunfish Crankbait has a rounded bill, so it has a nice, tight wiggle to it. For me, especially when the water temperature gets cooler, it becomes another go-to bait for target fishing. I think it kind of gets overlooked by anglers who tend to concentrate on shad patterns, but bluegills are a major forage source in fall and year ‘round that bass will really home in on.”

Water clarity dictates whether Browning will choose the Pumpkinseed or Bluegill pattern, as well as the choice between LIVETARGET’s available matte and gloss finishes. “I use the Bluegill if the water is a bit clearer and the brighter Pumpkinseed in stained water. I like using the gloss finish if the sky is cloudy and the matte finish if it’s sunny. So, you’ve got two different colors and two different finishes for a variety of fishing situations.”

In terms of equipment for cranking the LIVETARGET HFC (Hunt-For-Center) Craw, David Walker Tennessee Craw, or Sunfish Crankbait, he sticks to the same set-up of a St. Croix 7’4” medium-heavy, moderate action Legend Glass rod, a Lew’s Custom Pro baitcasting reel with 8:1 gear ratio and either 12- or 14-pound Gamma Fluorocarbon line. “If I’m concentrating on shallow areas, I’m going to use the heavier line – but if I need the bait to get down six feet or more, I’m going to use the 12-pound line,” Browning adds.

Topwaters Too

When targeting the backs of pockets and creeks with grass, Browning urges anglers not to overlook the efficacy of employing a chunk-and-wind topwater routine.

“The LIVETARGET Commotion Shad is a hollow-body shad style topwater bait that has a Colorado blade on the back end. It’s a real player in the kind of broken-up grass you find way back in pocket flats. During the fall, adding this bait to the chunk-and-wind crankbait program can really pay off. It comes in a couple of sizes, but I like the 3-½ inch in Pearl Ghost (154) and Pearl Blue Shad (158). The spinner makes a gurgling sound when you retrieve it like you would a hollow body frog, and it’s great for working over grassy areas,” offers Browning.

LIVETARGET Commotion Shad

For gear, Browning throws the Commotion Shad on a 7’6” medium-heavy, moderate action St. Croix Legend X with a Lew’s Tournament reel geared 8.3:1, and 50-pound Gamma Torque braided line.

Parting Advice

While monitoring water temperature, wind conditions, water clarity, and the amount of visible sunlight are all huge factors for finding fall bass in main lakes and creeks as well as pockets and coves, Browning suggests anglers stay tuned to another of nature’s cues: bird behavior.

“Watch for the migration of shad, which have the tendency to move to the very back ends of the pockets in fall, but also know, as mentioned, that bass are feeding on bluegills and craws in lots of other locations. You can really eliminate a lot of water and fish more productively by keying in on bird behavior. They’re going to tell you where the baitfish are. Could be a Blue Heron sitting on the bank eating bluegills or picking around on crawfish, gulls, or all sorts of other birds either on the main lake or back farther in coves. Really pay attention to where the birds are. It’s definitely one of the small details that gets overlooked by a lot of anglers.”

ICAST Helps to Make Fishing More Fun

With the “Slow-Roll Shiner,” the Injected Core Technology (ICT) from LIVETARGET has produced the ideal paddletail swimbait, offering realistic action and appearance. The Inner-Core matches the appearance of a thin profiled Shiner, while the Exo-Skin generates a hard-thumping action that vibrates and moves the whole body. The result is a life-like lure that creates a subtle yet enticing rolling action.

A big benefit of being in the fishing business is attending the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades, better known as ICAST. Held in Orlando each summer, ICAST gives a preview of all the new fishing equipment, tackle, marine and outdoor products that fishermen everywhere are going to see very soon and want, perhaps, even sooner.

Of all the new, interesting and innovative products – there are many, my favorite is always the new fishing lures. Every year there are literally hundreds of new lures or variations to current lures. Some lures are futuristic, some are perfectly shaped and colored, some are changed in other ways – many of them have anglers dreaming of catching a fish with every cast. The new lures and variations are that convincing.

Not too many anglers can resist trying out these new lures. Every year I stock up on more than I should, but they all look so good and some turn out to be valuable additions to my tackle box. If you don’t try them, you will never know if they would work for you or not. Beside, trying them is part of the fun!

Last year, I stocked up with 18 of the new LIVETARGET swim baits. Most of them were in the larger sizes and had very different actions than what I would have thought. The old adage is, “Big fish like Big meals,” and that means…throw Big Baits. Sometimes that is true and sometimes it isn’t, but the LIVETARGET swim baits proved that adage true for me. When fishing them in farm ponds, it seemed that they attracted the larger bass time after time. A crank and drop retrieve was magic on most days.

The Ghost Tail Minnow has a unique tail design that creates action to emulate the movement of a small minnow while helping the bait track straight while swimming or in the current. Click the picture above to see a video on how to use this new bait.

This year at the ICAST show, LIVETARGET once again caught my “Angler Eye” with their innovative Injected Core Technology (ICT). I have not had a chance to test these just yet, but they just look like they are so good, I already have that magical feeling…that they will catch fish, especially the Slow Roll Shiner and Ghost Tail Minnow. While you never know until you get one to the water, I will be finding out very soon. Even the names of these lures are catchy!

David Gray,

Lifetime Fishing Lessons 101: Lures…How to Pick ‘Em

When anglers fish with new lures, they try them for a reason. This angler used this lure for the first time, a Mister Twister Tri-Alive Plastic Nightcrawler, to catch several post-spawn bass like this one.

  • What lure should I buy?
  • What color, what size, what brand?

By Forrest Fisher

Catching many fish lately?

LiveTarget Lures has won many awards because their lures catch fish. The lures we use need to appeal to us anglers too, so we will choose to use them. Would you buy this one? Click for more.

No? Do you wonder why not?

Ask yourself this question, “Am I happy with my lures, baits, sizes, colors?”

If you’re not catching fish, then you know the answer to that question. As an outdoor writer that has fished with many of our country’s most successful pro anglers, I can share with you that these guys know the basics like not many others.

The bass pro’s know how to cast, which rods, reels too, line options and the last maybe the most important thing, which lures to use. Questions is, which lures are those and why?

I asked Rick Clunn this question during a big tournament on a reservoir near the University of Alabama many years back.

Rick said, “You gotta use the lures that you have the most confidence in.” Of course, I was not going to stop there, so I asked, “What is your favorite lure, Rick?”

Some say the RC Freak is Rick Clunn’s hottest lure, it dives when retrieved and comes in three models and many colors. Look good for you to try it out? Click for more.

He said, “Well, it changes from time to time, but the lures I use are the lures I like and the lures I like, I catch fish with. Sometimes you catch a fish on a lure you never thought would work, but you have it, so on a slow day, you try it. Surprised, you find it works. You keep a mental note. A “positive vib” for that lure. Your knowledge grows of when to use that lure, where, why, how to retrieve it. In the end, I only fish with the lures I believe work for me. The lures I like are the lures that catch fish because I honestly believe they will catch fish. My confidence grows.”

I replied, “So Rick, how do I tell a listener on my radio show which lures to buy, which lures to use, what colors and all that?” Rick looked up, smiled, then answered, “You might tell them to go to the tackle store and walk around. Talk the proprietor. Talk to the other guys in the store. Listen to them. Then go walk around by yourself keeping in mind what you learned. Then pick a lure or two that you like. It might be the color, size, whatever it is, that lure will probably catch you lots of fish. You had a start and rationale to believe in it. You will use that lure. Time in the water is a big thing. That’s how you tell them the straight story, hope that helps.”

To learn more about what lures Rick Clunn likes these days, visit: It’ll help you develop a background for the passion Clunn shares with us by his own lure designs.

Three color worms, the 6 1/2″ Tri-Alive® Nightcrawler from Mister Twister is a straight tail worm that comes in 15, three-layer color combinations. Do you like the color? Remember, it needs to appeal to you too, for you to use it. Click for more.

Like many of you, I have a tackle box full of lures of all sorts. Probably, there are hundreds that I carry with me to fishing trips, but in truth, I only use about 5 or 6 of this myriad of lures in my carry-around collection. Why the others that probably tilt the scales at about 25 pounds? I tell myself I need to exercise too!

Lure form, lure function, and lure attraction – all make up that special tackle box we all carry around in our mind.

Some anglers say, “My tackle box talks to me.” If you have that kind of tackle box, you are already catching fish.

If not, listen to what Rick Clunn says. It was nearly 30 years ago that Rick Clunn shared that lure advice with me.

Guess what, for some reason, my tackle box talks to me these days.

The contents, at least some of the contents – the lures,  smile with whisper tracks of memories formed from hungry fish smacking my lures.

The trail of teeth mark impressions always seems to be in the form of a smile.

I release most of the fish I catch. Sometimes I think the fish might somehow know that.

Maybe in the cosmos of fish, they are talking back with me.

Hey, whatever works.

You know where to start.

Top-Water Popping Frog is Bass-Killer

It's all about visual surface distrubance, underwater sound waves and your reaction time!

By Forrest Fisher

Deep hook sets are common with the new LiveTarget popping frog.

Some of us white beard anglers of today grew up fishing surface frogs 60 years ago.

At first, we baited real frogs, but after we ran out, plastic frogs were invented in the late 50s and we learned how to use them fishing with short, deep-sea fishing rods and wide-spool, open-face fishing reels loaded with 40 pound test Gudebrod braided line tied direct.

Those old plastic frogs were so very basic and mostly were only hollow, air entrapping plastic caricatures of frogs that floated. They sank after a while. Today, the new “best frog” out there has a popping action and it is much more sophisticated, more durable and is killer-effective. Gotta love some things about the word “modern.”

Vicious strikes are the norm when you fish frogs near weed cover.

Personally designed as a “Signature Series” product by LIVETARGET Pro Angler and TV personality, Scott Martin, the Hollow Body Frog Popper has become a personal favorite in my topwater tackle box.

The frog is new in that it has a narrow profile and cupped face that make this bait special when you walk it across the surface.  Special in that the face creates a unique sound message below…”Hello, I’m food, c’mon, get me,” and it offers a different sort of visual splash attractant message to join with the sound message.

I tried several colors and up north, the frog colors worked best for me, especially in heavy, super-thick cover, though it is still a mystery how the fish can even see the bait in thick weeds. Toemayto or Towmahto it is not, it seems to matter.

Color seems to matter in places you fish, but related cover may affect color choice.

Down south in Florida, summer time Florida bass yield to the white frog LiveBait color more than any other. Why? The difference between oatmeal and hominy grits is what I think. Very little, but it matters if you live down south.

The two-hook design is not unique, but what is unique are the extra strong forged hooks that embrace and provide stealth cover for the soft collapsible body of the frog.  Their extreme sharpness provide deep and sure hook-up. The only thing between you and fish is your line and if you fish these in thick cover, check your line often, use a good, modern, braided line and a positive knot with a stiff rod that will allow you to haul the fish out of the thickest cover you might imagine.

The proof is in the live well. Click the picture for the full video and the source of the pictures used for sharing this effective new lure.

The acid test? Here it is. Drop a 10-pound anchor in the thickest weeds you can find, then move your boat 30 feet away and see if you can rip that anchor up and out without breaking your line, your rod or the gears on your reel.

For line, I like 60-pound Gamma Torque, I simply cannot break it. Other brands work too, but I think you could tow a tree with Gamma and it is thinner than most others to allow longer casts. Visit:

For the frog, one last thing: best of all, these new LiveTarget Popping Frogs are available in two sizes for working extra thick matt or thinner lily pad style cover. 

If they don’t wack it in the weeds themselves, they seem to panic and inhale the lure when the popping action occurs at the weed edge. They don’t want that easy meal to get away. Visit:

Fun fishing!

(Author Note: Photo’s are recaptured with permission from attached Scott Martin video.)

Take Advantage of the Goby Invasion

  • LIVETARGET Goby Paddle Tails and Curly Tails perfectly mimic the Real McCoy
Round goby image courtesy of Shedd Aquarium

Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON (February 22, 2018) – Round gobies have forever altered the ecology, and the angling landscape, of the Great Lakes and connected waterbodies. Since their discovery in the St. Clair River in 1990, these invasive stowaways from the Black and Caspian seas have become key players of their local food webs. Indeed, round gobies are among the few fish that consume undesirable zebra and quagga mussels, themselves transported to the Great Lakes within the same ballast tanks that harbored the first goby colonists. At the same time, gobies have become established as integral components of many gamefish diets.


LIVETARGET Goby Paddle Tail

Smallmouth bass are among the Great Lakes gamefish that have benefited dramatically from the goby invasion. Indeed, a study of Lake Erie smallmouth bass demonstrated that while crayfish were the primary foodstuffs of smallies before gobies appeared on the scene, bronze bass rapidly converted to munching gobies – as often as three-quarters of the time – once the invasive baitfish became abundant. Moreover, juvenile smallmouth bass grew longer, and faster, once gobies became their primary forage base. A similar preference for gobies is now established within other Great Lakes gamefish, including brown and lake trout – a fact that savvy anglers can exploit to enjoy bigger, more consistent catches.

LIVETARGET offers highly refined, purpose driven solutions for anglers chasing gamefish that feast on gobies with their soft plastic Goby Paddle Tail and Goby Curly Tail baits. With an unparalleled combination of biomimetic size, shape, profile, color, and action, LIVETARGET goby-inspired baits stand ready to help anglers put more fish in the net.

LIVETARGET Goby Paddle Tails are staggeringly accurate artificial representations of the Great Lakes smallmouth bass’ preferred forage. These intricately designed soft baits include three-dimensional anatomical features, including dorsal, ventral and pectoral fins, gill opercules and eyes.

LIVETARGET Goby Curly Tail

Goby Paddle Tails have internal weights ranging from ½ to 1 oz,, helping anglers to mimic the behavior of living gobies by maintaining close bottom contact as baits are worked back to the boat. A slow drift or drag across the bottom brings the bait’s paddletail to life, providing strike-eliciting action and vibration. After the bite, the Goby Paddle Tail’s premium hook keeps bass pinned tight, putting more bronze bombers in the net. The LIVETARGET Goby Paddle Tail is available now, in seven ultra-realistic color schemes, with MSRP $13.49 – $14.49 for a pack of three pre-rigged baits.

The LIVETARGET Goby Curly Tail shines when conditions call for a more lively presentation, or one where the bait swims methodically along the bottom. In these baits, the anatomical precision of the LIVETARGET Goby body is united with a robust, high action tail for enhanced vibration and lifelike swimming action. As with their Paddle Tail counterparts, LIVETARGET Goby Curly Tails are available now, in three lengths, three weights, and seven premium color patterns with MSRP $13.49 – $14.49 for a pack of three pre-rigged baits.


The unparalleled design features of the LIVETARGET Goby Paddle and Curly Tail baits are matched only by the simplicity of the presentations needed for their effective use. Living gobies spend the majority of their time sitting atop their pectoral fins on the bottom, hopping and darting from one rocky perch to another. Savvy anglers deliver LIVETARGET Gobies on long casts and let them settle to the bottom. A series of short hops, delivered with twitches of the rod tip, brings the soft plastic LIVETARGET Gobies to life with subtle wobbling body motion and active tail vibration that elicits strikes from nearby bass, trout, and other goby-munching Great Lakes predators.

LIVETARGET Gobies also have a place in your walleye arsenal. Many a walleye feasts on native darter species, which, aside from their more svelte profile, appear quite similar.

LIVETARGET Goby Paddle Tail and Curly Tail baits perfectly mimic the size, shape, profile, color, and action of their living counterparts. When fishing the Great Lakes, or any other northern waters where invasive gobies or native sculpins abound, LIVETARGET gobies are the best choice for enhancing your catch rate.


ABOUT LIVETARGET: Since its launch in 2008, LIVETARGET has grown into a full family of life-like fishing lures that Match-the-Hatch™ to specific game fish forage, with over 750 styles and colors of lures for fresh and saltwater fishing. The lures feature industry-leading designs in realism and workmanship that closely mimic nature’s different baitfish species. Headquartered in Ontario, Canada, LIVETARGET won ICAST Best of Show awards in the hard and soft lure categories in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2017. 



It’s Christmas, let the good times Roll…and Rattle! Hang on!

  • Mission Critical ADVICE in the story that follows
  • Step-by-Step Technique that will WORK FOR YOU
  • Click the Image to the right to go right to…
The LIVETARGET Yearling Rattlebait 65 is Chad Maloy’s go-to tool when conditions call for downsizing.

Ontario-on-the-Lake, Ontario (December 23, 2017) – Recent years have witnessed explosive growth in our understanding of the hardwater walleye. As more anglers tread familiar and exotic walleye waters, our repertoire of productive techniques for everyone’s favorite Perciformes has expanded rapidly. Gone are the days when we were limited to set lines dangling sucker minnows along weedlines, hoping for a random bite or two as the sun tucked behind the trees. The most successful walleye anglers have adopted a power fishing approach, running-and-gunning with big baits and aggressive presentations; a mobile mindset that has been rewarded with more and bigger fish.

Ground Zero for this hardwater walleye revolution is the lipless rattlebait. A mainstay of open water anglers throughout North America, the lipless rattlebait is just as deadly when presented through an eight-inch hole. Wait, better make that a ten-inch hole, because when you fish lipless rattlebaits to their full potential, you’ll need that extra space.

The LIVETARGET Golden Shiner is the gold-standard of lipless rattlebaits for hardwater walleyes.

There is no better way to shorten the learning curve on a new technique than to pick the brain of an expert. North Dakota-based angler Chad Maloy, past president of Fargo-Moorhead Walleyes Unlimited and a veteran of the Masters Walleye Circuit, is a lipless rattlebait specialist, bringing trophy walleyes topside using ice fishing’s hottest presentation on both sides of the international border. We asked Chad to help direct budding rattlebait warriors along the path to success, and he did much more: Chad provided a veritable roadmap that is guaranteed to help you catch your first lipless rattlebait walleye this season.

Maloy is a big believer in LIVETARGET lipless rattlebaits, which he fishes throughout the hardwater season. “I use LIVETARGET lipless rattlebaits all season long. They do an awesome job of locating and attracting the most active fish in an area, and turning those fish into biters.

“First of all, LIVETARGET rattlebaits have an infinite dive curve. They can literally be fished from shallow water, less than a foot deep, to the deepest section of the lake. That allows me to target walleyes with lipless rattlebaits all season long, and at all hours of the day.”

Money where his mouth is. On the left, Chad Maloy hoists a Leviathan walleye he fooled with a LIVETARGET Golden Shiner Rattlebait.

What is the most effective way to present the lipless rattlebait through the ice? Maloy continues, “I start out dropping the lure to the bottom. There have been times when it never gets there because it’s intercepted. If that doesn’t happen, I give it a few very long and aggressive rips to the lure, which sends out a shock wave of sound and vibration.”

That shock wave, easily audible to anglers on the ice, originates from LIVETARGET’s unsurpassed internal rattle system. “What I have witnessed over the years, landing giant walleyes from Devil’s Lake in North Dakota to greenbacks from Lake Winnipeg, is that the rattles in LIVETARGET rattlebaits are unlike any other. They have a special, effective sound that others don’t…and it’s killer!”

LIVETARGET Golden Shiner Rattlebait in Glow White. (Photo courtesy of Target Walleye)

Let’s get back to that hole in the ice.

Once Maloy rips his LIVETARGET rattlebait to call fish in, he starts paying close attention to his electronics, watching for, “any blip in the water column.

It’s not uncommon for larger fish to be anywhere from bottom to 3 feet below the ice. I see a promising mark, I bring my lure right above the fish and try to seal the deal with one of three different moves. First, I get the lure to shake, activating the rattles without making large vertical moves. Alternately, I imitate a fleeing baitfish by giving the bait shorter rips.

My ace-in-the-hole is to slowly lift the lure an inch or so, then drop the rod tip quickly to throw slack in the line. This makes the lure freefall, and shimmy dramatically on the fall. All that’s left to do is set the hook and enjoy the ride!”

(Grab a pen and notepad, because what Maloy just said is mission critical. Let that rattlebait fall with zero resistance to maximize the flutter. With even a touch of tension on the line, the shimmy is marginalized, even negated.)   

Setting up shop over the biggest, most aggressive walleyes on your favorite frozen lake is no time to break out the whippy noodle rods, either. Thirty to thirty-six-inch rods with a medium to medium-heavy power rating are preferred. Consider the St. Croix Mojo Ice (MIR36MH) while hole-hopping, or the Frabill Bro Series 30” Large Walleye/Pike Combo for fish house operations where lateral space is limited.

The ridiculously accurate LIVETARGET Sunfish Rattlebait is a threat to weed-walleyes. Yes, walleyes eat more juvenile panfish than meets the eye. 

When it comes to line, a stout braided line like 10 lb. test Seaguar Smackdown, tipped with a leader of 15 lb. test Seaguar Blue Label 100% fluorocarbon, will bring lipless rattlebait walleyes topside. Rather than joining the braided main line to the fluorocarbon leader with a typical Double Uni or Alberto knot, use a small swivel instead, which will further reduce line twist with the added benefit of being easier to tie in bone-chilling winter walleye weather.

Back to the baits… “I normally carry two sizes of LIVETARGET rattlebaits, size 70 and size 60,” said Maloy. “If we have had a severe cold front I will use the smaller size 60, and if the fish are on the chew, I use the larger size 70. During the later part if the ice season, when the fish are very aggressive in advance of the spawn, I will also start with size 70.

“The first lure I rig is a LIVETARGET silver/blue Golden Shiner Rattlebait. I would guess this lure has put more Manitoba Master Angler walleyes on the ice for me than any other lure. The size and shape of the lure will match the hatch of several baitfish, including shad, but certainly is a dead ringer for a golden shiner minnow. The paint and finish are extremely realistic, and the lure produces lots of flash and contrast. And did I mention the sound? The rattle output is deadly, and unmatched by anything else on the market.”

“My second choice is the LIVETARGET Yearling Rattlebait 65. The Yearling Rattlebait mimics the appearance of a baitball of minnows, but with the action and sound of a rattlebait. An equally productive alternative is the LIVETARGET Sunfish Rattlebait. Its three sizes bracket perfectly around the sizes of the Golden Shiner. These three baits: the LIVETARGET Golden Shiner, Yearling, and Sunfish Rattlebait have produced the biggest hardwater walleyes of my life.”

The LIVETARGET Yearling Rattlebait 65 is Chad Maloy’s go-to tool when conditions call for downsizing.

While LIVETARGET baits are widely recognized as having the most anatomically accurate, 3-dimensional designs and incredibly detailed, lifelike finishes, there are times when a hint of other-worldly glow will help to close the deal. Maloy remarks, “When water clarity is low due to sediment or tannic stain, I turn to the four glow colors in the Golden Shiner family. Unlike most hyper-bright glow lures, these LIVETARGET patterns offer a subtle hint of glow, and have been excellent the past two seasons.”

Welcome to the future of hardwater walleye angling, produced by a decade of refinements in baits, tackle and presentations. Fold the family of LIVETARGET lipless rattlebaits into your walleye repertoire this winter, and let the good times roll…and rattle!

ABOUT LIVETARGET: Since its launch in 2008, LIVETARGET has grown into a full family of life-like fishing lures that Match-the-Hatch™ to specific game fish forage, with over 750 styles and colors of lures for fresh and saltwater fishing. The lures feature industry-leading designs in realism and workmanship that closely mimic nature’s different baitfish species. Headquartered in Ontario, Canada, LIVETARGET won ICAST Best of Show awards in the hard and soft lure categories in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2017.

Fluoro is NICE ON ICE

  • While fluorocarbon’s been available for decades, anglers are just now taking note of its superiority for ice fishing

By David A. Rose

Surprise walleye are often part of the fun when fishing for smaller perch and crappie.  Here are some thoughts to help win the battle.

My thoughts often turn wistful when I step onto a frozen lake these days. It’s not that I’m sentimental from four-plus decades of ice fishing the waters near my home in Michigan’s Northwest Lower Peninsula, but it’s more a recollection of the fish I caught as a kid and my absolute astonishment of how I was even able to fool a fish into biting with the makeshift equipment I used back then. My rods were literally wooden dowels — nails pounded in at one end to wrap line on and an eyelet screw twisted in as a guide on the other. To call them anything but a stick would be elaboration. My jigs were more like crudely-painted blobs of lead sporting dull, rusty hooks. And the line connecting the two? It was whatever heavy, stiff monofilament a kid could afford. Detecting a strike with that snarled line, let alone just attempting to get my offering down through the hole chopped with my grandfather’s handmade spud, was by far the most frustrating part of the day.


But a lot’s changed from those days of me dragging archaic gear onto the ice within a sled made from an old wooden crate secured to a pair of short downhill skis; nowadays I’m toting a Frabill flip-over shanty full of graphite rods and ice-fishing-specific reels, sonar with GPS and mapping, Aqua-Vu underwater camera and a super-sharp auger to slice the ice and quickly bore holes. But even all that technology I have in tow is not going to help me catch more fish if I don’t have one simple, yet critically important piece of the fish-catching puzzle: high-quality line made for the brutal conditions of ice fishing. Thank goodness, the choices are getting better by the year. And fluorocarbon line is getting noticed more and more as the go-to for catching more fish through the ice.

To know then what we know now

Seaguar AbrazX Ice affords the sensitivity to see your lure bob on a spring-bobber. (Legend Black ice rod image courtesy of St. Croix Rod)

Seaguar introduced the initial spindles of fluorocarbon into the United States just a few years before my first-ever ice fishing trip – in 1971, to be exact.

During this timeframe, there were only two types of line ice angers would even consider: braided Dacron and monofilament. The former was used mostly on tip-ups or for jigging in extremely deep water, and the latter everything else. Overall, it’s probably a good thing angler’s didn’t understand the advantages of fluorocarbon for ice fishing as catch and release was rarely practiced during this era and fish populations could easily have suffered.

The line’s benefits?

Fluorocarbon is very dense in its makeup. It’s more compressed because the fluorocarbon resin, which has more fluorine atoms and less hydrogen, packs more mass into the same space. This means it’s as close to neutral buoyancy as line can be, and, a great choice for vertical personations. It also has less stretch due to its denseness, which is crucial when it comes to getting good hook sets; especially when using the light-pound-tests lines needed for proper presentations during the winter months. And less elasticity makes it much more sensitive, to boot, not only allowing anglers improved feel, but the actual fish strike is telegraphed through a spring bobber or super-sensitive rod tip better.

Using line with such a thin diameter as fluorocarbon is key when using tiny jigs for panfish and the like. Not only is thin line less visible — which fluorocarbon is much more translucent than monofilament to begin with — it also your gives your offering a more natural presentation. Consider the minuscule aquatic insect’s fish forage on most this time of year. Not only do they waggle wildly on their own, they also waft about in even the most minute water currents. Thick, rigid line doesn’t allow lightweight lures to drift naturally and weary fish will turn tail without as much as taking a second look.

“The evolution of fluorocarbon line has been amazing,” says Troy Peterson of Mr. Bluegill Guide Service. “There was a time when I only used it as a leader because line on a reel would come off coiled like a Slinky, and worse, stay that way. But fluoro is so much softer now, and when spooled onto an in-line reel there is absolutely no looping or line twist.”

Lipless ice fishing lures, such as this LIVETARGET Sunfish Rattlebait, perform to maximum capacity tethered to Seaguar AbrazX Ice.

The Wisconsin ice-fishing guide’s preferred line is Seaguar’s AbrazX Ice, which is offered in 50-yard spools of 2-, 3-, 4- and 6-pound test. The same manufacturer’s Blue Label is another great choice, and is offered in higher-pound tests.

“And it’s not just AbrazX’s softness and thin diameter, but its abrasion resistance [2X’s more than any other] that really sets it apart,” Peterson adds. “The bottom of a hole is rough and will shred inferior line as a fish swirls below the ice. But since I started spooling with Seaguar, my clients have lost less fish at the hole from being cut off.”

Last but not least, is how fluorocarbon comes off a reel in extreme air temperatures. Superline tends to hold water, which will freeze up quickly. Monofilament may expand once you’re in a heated shanty and fill the gaps in the wraps and come off with a jerky motion rather than nice and smooth. Fluorocarbon’s compressed nature keeps it water free and with less condensing and expansion. No more wondering

While fluorocarbon’s been around for a while, anglers are just starting to take note of its superiority when ice fishing. Soft, less stretch and a thin diameter… That’s the modern-day fluoro.

More than likely, the next time I step foot on the ice I’ll once again be in wonderment of how, as a kid, I was even able to fool a fish into biting with the crude equipment I had. I guess I’ll just chalk it up to dumb luck. In the meantime, I’m planning on upping my catch rate by spooling fluorocarbon.

Resistant to abrasions at the hole is just one reason Mr. Bluegill (aka: Troy Peterson) prefers fluorocarbon line when ice fishing. (Photo courtesy of Troy Peterson)

Big Cash for Eastern Lake Erie Walleye Anglers – Southtowns Walleye Association Tournament

  • Hot Walleye Bites, is it YOUR TURN?
  • CHANGE Lures, Speed, Turn Radius, Time of Day You Fish
  • CHECK Colors, Leaders, Hooks – Control Hand Odor Scent
Catching big walleye during tournament time is about making changes to adapt your style to the fishery of the day. Learn from what the lake offers each day.

By Forrest Fisher

Many anglers in the Northeast USA and especially in Western New York, have a preference for Lake Erie walleye fishing.  Many of them are ready for Southtowns Walleye Association (SWA) Tournament action that will begin very soon. 

Walleye fishing is center-stage over the first few weeks of June, especially June 10-18, when many anglers will be entered in the 33rd annual Southtowns Walleye Association Walleye Tournament.  This is a 9-day/1-fish tournament where the single biggest fish wins. That means any lucky angler can win.

BIG CASH PRIZES: SWA offers cash awards for the top 200 places, with the top 10 places winning big money.  The top prize can be as much as $8,000 in cash plus prizes.  Last year, Jim Horbett took 1st place with his 11.63 pound walleye.  See Bob Fessler or Don Mullen for info, or call 716-462-9576, or visit to enter, but do it soon, as registration is closed after the tournament begins.    

The Lake Erie eastern basin walleye resource is healthy and getting bigger with local spawning stocks that can also include migratory western basin fish, which may begin to arrive when summertime is imminent.  We’ll have to wait and see if the area will receive some hot weather to make that west to east migration happen before the tournament ends.

Moving around, making changes, searching the shallow water, the mid-depths and deep water – out there, look for suspended fish in the top 25 feet, these changes can be the key to finding an isolated school of walleye whoppers.

POST-SPAWN WALLEYE:  Local walleye anglers already know that the fish are around and are here in good numbers after the last few weeks of spring fishing. The males that have been caught at night are beautiful fish in the 3 to 7 pound range, not prize winners, but freezer fillers, or are perfect for pictures and catch and release fishing fun.  As the season evolves after the area experienced a very rainy May, the larger females will be recovering from their post-spawn doldrum period and will be hungry. 

The fish will be deeper during the day, but at night, will be feeding in the shallow upper water layer offshore, and also, some fish will be very near to shore during the early part of the tournament (at night).  This fishing can be hit or miss, but if you don’t try it, you’ll never know.

EARLY START:  If you have been fishing like many do, early riser at 330AM, trailer hook-up, travel and launch before sunrise, lights on, lines in, great bite and then suddenly, NO BITE.  What happened?  Simple to figure out if you think about it.  Most of the fish have been on the feed all night, especially during full moon or bright moon periods.  They’re done eating! 

Notice I said, “most of the fish.”  So don’t give up, there will be isolated schools that have yet to feed, but think about night fishing once or twice during the tourney.

Spinner-Worm Rigs are often a top choice for local area anglers, but color, blade shape, bead size and boat speed can make a sound (noise) difference that matters. Willow leaf? Colorado? Indiana blade? Copper? Nickel? Brass? Pick on and vary from there.

LURE OFFERINGS:  What about your lure offerings?  Well you never know what will work until you try, but most anglers use shallow running sticks or spinner-worm rigs and weight the lines to reach the fish at whatever their level, usually 15 to 25 feet from the top.

COLOR & LIGHT PENETRATION: Colors matter for some of us, though not sure the fish care much of the time, but the variable with color is light penetration. If the fish are on the feed, wham!  There will be fish on your line no matter what you are using.  If not, check your lure for action, assure your leaders are healthy, hooks too, then get out there.

The rest of the time when the goggle eyes are not on the feed, you may have to provoke them.  By nature, walleye are night predators, but most anglers in SWA fish daytime. Maybe some anglers are getting old?  Nahhhh!  We just like to see the hooks and jawbones we need to avoid burying in our hand with natural light.

Matching bait offerings to forage options can produce instant fish on the line. Color matters in shallow line sets.  Don’t be afraid to change to something nobody else is using! Old lures can work today too.

BIG FISH CONSISTENCY:  Anglers that win the prize for most fish and biggest fish are often the same anglers year after year.  Reasons why may be widely varied, but not for them. Winning anglers are adaptive.  They change lure style, lure size, color, shape, and they consider all their tackle box options.  Get creative, know what you have in your tackle box.  Know to change your boat travel orientation with wind direction.  Turn more, turn less, swing wide and slow, or wide and fast, but change.

AVOID NO-CHANGE: Be careful not to get into that same “catch-no-fish” pigeon hole that happened once or twice last year or that last time that you never told anyone about.  If you are fishing with the same lure and using the same technique at the same speed and wondering what’s going on, you know it’s time to consider CHANGE.  Explore a bit. Get creative. In your heart of hearts, you know when something needs to change, so do it.   

THINK ABOUT CHANGE: Should you change WHEN you go fishing?  Start at 3PM instead of 3AM?  That’s your call, but what you change is up to you when you’re not catching fish.  Fish move, water temperatures swing with wind shifts, eddy currents push forage to new locations, creek outflows can attract or repel forage and predators, take advantage of these things. Talk with others.  After all that, there is one more thing, keep it simple so you can do it again.  Write it down if you have to, add it to your logbook.  Keep a logbook. Update after every trip.  You will not believe what you learn from your own notes a week from today.

The Rainbow Smelt Banana Bait from LiveTarget Lures offers another option for lure selection.  It made some novice anglers feel like old pro’s last year. It has wiggle, wobble and a sound-making shake.  When it’s time to CHANGE, you will know.

MAKE YOUR OWN CHANGE: Look at a lake map, study your sonar map, evolve to get smarter with each trip on the water and rationalize what is going on, or you can call a best friend that seems to be catching fish!  It’s really up to you to discover the new methods that will work for you. 

After each tourney, I’ve always shared what was working for me and my friends in the boat with others.  It’s what every fishing club is all about.  It’s why some friends share their secrets during the tournament.  It’s how many anglers invent their next new change, by combining what they do with others that have shared to create a new approach.

WALLEYE TRACKING STUDY: Lastly, a new research initiative on Lake Erie – east to west and USA to Canada, that started in 2015 uses acoustic telemetry to track walleye movement. Researchers are studying the west-to-east and east-west fish migration that affects the New York walleye fishery.  A $100 reward can be yours if you catch one of the walleye that have a tracking device, just call DEC (716-366-0228) and report each tagged fish along with returning the internal acoustic tag.

Good luck on the water!


Inshore Canals & Flats for Saltwater Fishing Fun

  • Snook, Redfish & Tarpon Highlight Spring Action
  • New LiveTarget Swimbait Lures are Killer Baits
  • Use Light Line, Strong Leader
  • Incoming Tide = Angler Advantage
The new Swim Bait that has caught fire with guides and everyday anglers that fish saltwater for snook, redfish and other species, is the LiveTarget Scaled Sardine, shown here. Just throw it in and reel it back, it sinks about one foot per second until you start the retrieve.

By Forrest Fisher

Winter has not been the same this year anywhere in the country.  Minnesota lost much of their ice by early March, Tennessee and Kentucky bass and crappie fishing turned on early, and in Florida, the steady rise in water temperatures on both the Gulf and the Ocean has led to non-stop action for many anglers.  Fun fishing!

Fishing with a fishing mentor and local veteran of the Florida saltwater fishing, Jim Hudson, I have learned so much about the nature of fish habits, baitfish preferences, lures that feeding fish prefer, line color, lure color, hook size and little things that make the difference between fish on the line or no fish at all.

The short spring snook season started on March 1 and runs through April, with the size limit in Florida waters regulated by location.  In southwest Florida, the slot limits for snook is not less than 28 inches and not more than 33 inches, with a one-fish daily bag. 

Jim Hudson says, “Slot limits for speckled trout have allowed a resurgence in Florida trout numbers and even the smaller fish will slam a swim bait, making for fast and fun fishing action.”

Hudson took the time to teach me about lines, leaders and lures, using little, lightweight jigs for speckled trout, surface baits for redfish and swim-tail lures for snook.   On my first mid-morning cast toward a dock on the canal system near Ponce de Leon State Park, my LiveTarget lure hit the water and I didn’t even move the lure one-inch when a gutsy snook slammed the bait.  He thrashed all around the dock and I had trouble keeping him out of the pilings there, but the 7-foot St. Croix rod and Daiwa reel held up their end and I was able to bring the fish to the boat where Jim carefully slipped his rubber-coated (no harm) under the spirited fish.  We released the slick fighter to grow a bit bigger for next year.

The hot lure was a LiveTarget scaled-sardine swimbait, new last year, it swims just like a real live fish bait.  It’s soft and lively, is the right color, and offers a snag-free design with an above-body hook point location.  The heavy, strong, Gamakatsu EWG (Extra-Wide Gap) hook makes it perfect for big saltwater fish, but as most saltwater flat anglers know, even smaller saltwater fish will slam a big bait.  I use this rule though, big fish like big baits – they hate to waste energy.   See this video on how a bass fishing pro describes the many features of this exciting new lure:

I picked up the two sizes that come in this color pattern, a 3-1/2 inch model (½ ounce) and the bigger 4-1/2 inch model (1-ounce) that casts into the wind with no problem.  With a unique “oscillator-design” tail, they both swim like the real thing.  I tie the lure direct with a Uni-Knot from a 4-5 foot long length of 20-pound fluorocarbon leader that is fastened to very thin 10-pound test braid with a Double Uni-Knot.

For more about this hot bait, there are two videos and more technical info about product description from our friends at Tackle Warehouse:  My basic descriptions end with, “They work.”

For more about how to tie the Uni-Knot, visit our knowledgeable fishing friends at Salt Strong in this well-done video:  Salt Strong offers many excellent fishing tip videos and a “How-To-Fish” training course that is among the best I have ever viewed.

Some of the “smart-angler” folks use the FG-Knot to tie their braid to the fluorocarbon leader, but I have always used the Uni-Knot because it is easier to tie, though the FG Knot is smaller in physical size.  This might be important if you fish with a Reaper fishing rod, which offers a high-performance rod guide that enables truly long casts and you want to keep the knot friction to an absolute minimum.

Jim Hudson has used the same LiveTarget swimbait lure for fast action along the saltwater front and hooked into other species.   Hudson adds, “Don’t be afraid to add a little red color from a magic marker near the throat section of any lure when action is slow and the water is super-clear, this can make a difference.  Then just rub a little fish-scent over it to hide any offensive odor.”

Local anglers and many guides use a cast net to capture live pilchards and pinfish, then tail-hook the live bait with a circle hook and toss into the incoming tide current with the same line-rod-reel rig.  This set-up will usually fool even the most finicky fish and the circle hook prevents gut hooking so the fish can be released unharmed.

Using the LiveTarget swimbait lures also allows the fish to be released unharmed, since the EWG hook is set around the jawbone of the fish.  Kayak anglers, boat anglers or wading anglers can effectively and successfully throw this bait.  In the salt, you could get a new arm-stretch and rod-bend very soon.

The mullet color in the LiveTarget swimbait lure is especially made as an easy-to-catch forage species for several larger predator species such as Redfish, Snook and Tarpon.

Right now, the redfish are schooling, the snook are moving into shore-fishing canal zones and under the piers at night, and the sheepshead have been schooled and active for about 6-7 weeks now.

Releasing the little ones….fishery conservation measures have allowed the Snook fishery across Florida saltwater zones to regain their predator prominence with slot limit and bag limit regulations. Jim Hudson Photo

The sheepshead prefer live bait shrimp pieces fished off a 2-hook chicken rig or a simple red-head jig hook.

For redfish, switch your swimbait to the new LiveTarget mullet color and hang on.  This is a species-focused bait color that can tear up a tight fish school.  Fish on the feed will race to get the bait first.  On the right day, action like that is in the memory book for all time.

Local tackle shops carry the bait if you need it right now, but sometimes they might not have the favorite colors you want.  When fishing the Gulf of Mexico southwest Florida, I always stop in to Fishing Frank’s Bait & Tackle on Tamiami Trail in Port Charlotte, Florida.  The staff submits copy to four different periodicals each week! They also sponsor a radio show and are in the swing on where to go and what to fish each day. 

If you can’t find your “right color”, then hop on-line and head for our friends at Tackle Warehouse: 

“Big swim baits catch big fish, big fish will not waste energy feeding 20 times when they can feed once and be done,“ says Jim Hudson.  He ought to know, this Georgia native, now Florida resident, catches more fish from the salt than anyone I know.  Anglers in the know, share with others that want to learn.  Hats off to Hudson, since I always want to learn.

Tight lines.