Custom Fishing Rod Builder: Tom Marks

  • Rod length, sensitivity, power, flex…all these factors matter
  • Setting the hook, it’s the best feeling with a rod you helped design
  • Rattlesnake skin and other custom handles personalize rods to the individual

By Bob Holzhei

Custom rod handle options that include rattlesnake skin personalize the custom rod.

“The sensitivity in any fishing rod can be determined by placing the tip of the rod against your throat while another person holds the other end of the rod.  At that point, the person who has the tip of the rod against their throat begins to talk and at the other end, the vibration can be felt,” says expert angler and custom fishing rod-maker, Tom Marks, who vacations and fishes in Florida during the winter months.

Marks has been building custom rods for the past six years. “It usually takes me about 48 hours or three days to build a rod,” says Marks.

“I ask the perspective customer which type of rod they want me to build for them, whether it’s a spin casting rod, an all-purpose rod, and also ask if they are throwing crankbaits, need a worm rod, like to drop shot, if they are skipping docks, tossing jerk baits, Carolina rigs, need a bottom-bouncer for walleye, jig-flipping and pitching, or if they use a frog topwater bait or other top water bait. They’re all slightly different,” stated Marks.

Sanding the guide feet insures a smooth thread wrap and long life for the rod.

“The purpose for which the rod will be used helps me decide on the power and speed of the rod. The power, which is how stiff the rod needs to be and the speed, which refers to how much flex is in the tip, both affect the style efficiency.  Flex is the amount of bend in the upper 1/3 of the rod. The faster the rod, the more sensitive it will feel. For crankbaits, or moving baits which are trolled, a slower rod is sufficient because the strike or bite is much harder. The slower rod helps absorb some of the initial shock of the bite and also keeps the fish from throwing the hook,” added Marks.

Marks custom decorates his precision fishing rods according to customer wishes.  Nylon and metallic threads can be used on the guide wraps, and many other variations.  Marks also uses real rattlesnake skin on the handle and other decorative skins and wraps in the split grip and fore grip.

“I place a decorative thread band 12 inches from the front edge of the handle.  Decorative work might include thread work cross-weaved with multiple colored threads or chevron patterns.  Occasionally I marbleize the colors,” added Marks.

Marks began purchasing his rod building materials after he saw a Mudhole display at an outdoor show, located in Oviedo, Florida.  Mudhole is a Rod Building and Tackle Crafting Company that can provide helpful process instructions and all the supplies for rod building. Visit or call 866-790-RODS.

Charter Captain Tom Marks is right at home with all the gear for making his custom fishing rods in the garage.

Marks explained the steps in building a rod. “After the materials are ordered and arrive, I first take the order out of the package,” Marks replied while laughing.     “First the spline in the rod is found, this is the backbone of the rod.  I take the rod and put tension on it, while rolling the rod. The area of the spine will snap or hop.  The spline is the heaviest part of the rod. The theory is the spline is found in one spot, it provides a keyway for guide location and better angler control later,” stated Marks.

Second, Marks determines what kind of rod he will make.  The handle or grip is put on the rod.  He reams out the handle to fit the blank.  Then Pro-epoxy paste is put on to secure the handle.

Third, the guides are put on after measuring and marking the rod blank for the spacing between the guides.  Mudhole provides suggestions on where to place the guides.  Marks runs a line up and down the tip to insure the guides are lined up.  He also uses a laser beam to insure the guides are correctly aligned.  After the guide are mounted, protective clear epoxy is added.

Fourth, two additional coats of clear epoxy are put on and then 400 grit sandpaper removes any imperfections. Marks then field tests the rod to assure quality.

“If I catch a big fish while testing, I know that particular rod is a real good one,” kidded Marks with a grin.

“Building fishing rods is a great hobby and I never stop learning.  I began fishing with my dad when I was 4 years old, and when I was 10, I really got into fishing and loved it.  I learned from my father how to fish for walleye, since we lived within walking distance of Lake Erie near Derby, New York,” stated Marks.

I tagged along with Marks as he fished with the rod and learned as I watched his fishing strategy from a distance.

“The presentation is the key. The bite is what keeps me interested.  When I set the hook – it’s a great feeling. There’s a rush of adrenaline!  I could fish all day for the bite,” concluded Marks.

For more information: e-mail address –; 716-997-6919.

Here we are testing my new rod, I’m sitting, Tom is demonstrating the secrets to catching bass where we are fishing in Florida. Sure was fun!

Western New York Fishing Forecast for Friday, October 7, 2016

Right now, King Salmon are on the angler menu in Niagara County, New York. Wet Net Charters Photo

Lake Ontario and Trib’s

A few fish are still being caught off the Olcott piers the last couple of nights on the lake side of the piers. While spoons are normal hardware for casting there, it was Rattletraps that made the difference of late. Try skein under a float, too. A few slugs of salmon made it up into the harbor but no further than that according to reports. A few browns at the dam but only early in the morning at first light. Hopefully this rain that is in the forecast for Saturday will trigger some sort of a run in the creek at 18 Mile.

Over in Wilson Harbor, there has been a good bite on northern pike. Try casting spinnerbaits. Wilson Pier is a good spot for browns, too, if we get some water flow coming out of the creek. Maybe this weekend.

If you want to make it out into the lake for some trolling action, the better bite has been out deep for a mix of immature kings and some trout. Spoons are the way to go. Anchoring up at the pier heads in Olcott is another option to try and cast for kings.

Lake trout season ended on Sept. 30.

Lower Niagara River –

Rob Morrison of Ashtabula, Ohio shows off a nice king in Devil’s Hole while fishing with Capt. Ernie Calandrelli of Lewiston.

The kings finally showed up in Devil’s Hole a bit more frequently. Capt. Steve Drabczyk of Lewiston is reporting a minimum of five kings every trip out. Secret to his success if the “magic eggs” that have been cured by his wife, Lisa at Creek Road Bait and Tackle. He uses three-way rigs and bounces bottom to take his fish. According to him he is out-fishing everyone!

The NYPA Fishing Platform is still one of the best spots for a king salmon. Casting spoons, spinners or rattle baits can catch fish, but the best is yet to come. Other shore anglers have been using spoons, spinners and jigs to take a mix of fish, including bass and walleye. Try up toward the Whirlpool area, too.

Some action along Artpark on mixed species. River water temp was down to the 60’s.

Bass fishing continues to be spotty. Some days are better than others.

The south launch ramp at Fort Niagara is closed as of Oct. 3 for some work on the ramp, shoreline and the dock.

Upper Niagara River / Erie Canal – Bass Action

Bass action should start to pick up as water temps start to cool down. Ditto for musky action.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303
p: 716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

Western New York Fishing Forecast for Friday, September 30, 2016


Lake Ontario and Trib’s

A call from Chuck Booker of Amherst reported that there were a few fish caught off the Olcott piers the last couple of nights on the lake side of the piers. While spoons are normal hardware for casting there, it was Rattletraps that made the difference and they produced two kings and a steelhead for Ricardo Davila!

A few slugs of salmon made it up into the harbor, but no further than that according to reports. A few browns at the dam. Hopefully this rain that is in the forecast will trigger some sort of a run in the creek at 18 Mile.

Don’t forget that the King of the Creek salmon contest is being run by “All in the Same Boat Tackle” will run to Nov. 6. There is a boat and a shore category. Call 716-638-4158 for more info.


Over in Wilson Harbor, there has been a good bite on northern pike according to Pastors Dave Emmons and Nate Hlad of Newfane. Try casting spinnerbaits. Wilson Pier is a good spot for browns, too.

If you want to make it out into the lake for some trolling action, the better bite has been out deep for a mix of immature kings and some trout. Spoons are the way to go. Anchoring up at the pier heads in Olcott is another option to try and cast for kings. Lake trout season ends tomorrow until the end of the year.

Lower Niagara River –

Anxious anglers are waiting in force to try and catch king salmon. Capt. Steve Drabczyk reports that he caught three kings Tuesday in Devil’s Hole – the best we’ve heard so far from boaters. Then some Facebook posts went up and Capt. Ernie Calandrelli reported a five for nine day on kings on Wednesday, so it appears to be picking up a little bit. The rain is certainly helping. Treated egg skein off three way rigs is best for the boaters.

The NYPA Fishing Platform is still one of the hotspots for your best chance for a king salmon. Casting spoons, spinners or rattle baits can catch fish, but the best is yet to come. Other shore anglers have been using spoons, spinners and jigs to take a mix of fish, including bass and walleye. River water temp was down to the 60’s.

Bass fishing continues to be spotty. Some days are better than others. Look for the active fish by moving around the river and the green can at the mouth. Live bait like shiners or crabs will work; tubes, too.

Upper Niagara River / Erie Canal – Bass Action

Bass action should start to pick up as water temps start to cool down. Ditto for musky action. The next Niagara Musky Assn. meeting is Tuesday, Oct. 4 at the Eldridge Club, 17 Broad St., Tonawanda starting at 7 pm.

In addition to some reports on the local fishing action, guest speaker will be Jonah Withers with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service talking about the acoustic telemetry project involving lake sturgeon in Buffalo Harbor.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303
p: 716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

Western New York Fishing Forecast for Friday, September 23, 2016

NHF Days are This Weekend!

Lake Ontario and Trib’s

On the eve of National Hunting and Fishing Day activities for this weekend, it looks like there will be plenty of things going on to see and do.

If you want to wet a line, the Niagara Bar is still a place to be for a salmon bonanza … if the forecasted northeast wind doesn’t do too much damage to the waters. It looks like a beautiful weekend otherwise and the Niagara Bar is holding mature kings getting ready to run up the Niagara … we hope!

Target the red can at the drop off to take your salmon, using flasher-fly, cut bait or spoons. J-plugs will also work for you. Just get your baits into the fish zone using downriggers, dipsy divers, lead core line – whatever it takes.

Capt. Frank Campbell of Niagara Region Charters took his 20-foot Lund out to the drop and used dipsy divers to take five nice kings by employing spin doctors and flies behind his dipsy divers. It proved to be much better than trying to drift for kings in Devil’s Hole, trying to satisfy customers looking to catch a salmon.

Over in Wilson and Olcott, brown trout are starting to show up in small numbers. Ditto for kings in Olcott. A small slug of salmon showed up in the harbor, but not at the dam yet. There are a few fish around there, but nothing to write home about.

Bass fishing has been better.

Don’t forget that the King of the Creek salmon contest is being run by All in the Same Boat Tackle from Sept. 23 to Nov. 6. There is a boat and a shore category. Call 638-4158 for more info.

There was a good turnout at the special DEC meeting held in Lockport last Monday. For a position paper on this, check out Make your comments by Sept. 30 at

Lower Niagara River –

Anxious anglers are waiting in force to try and catch these king salmon in the last stages of their lives. The NYPA Fishing Platform is one of the hotspots for your best chance for a king salmon. Casting spoons, spinners or crankbaits can catch fish, but the best is yet to come. Other shore anglers have been using spoons, spinners and jigs to take a mix of fish, including bass and walleye.

River water is still 74 degrees.

Bass fishing has been spotty. Some days are better than others. Look for the active fish by moving around the river and the green can at the mouth. Live bait like shiners will work; tubes and Ned rigs will catch some fish, too.

With the NYPA Wildlife Festival going on Sept. 24-25, co-sponsored by the Niagara County Federation of Conservation Clubs, remember that there’s also a kids fishing contest that’s part of the Festival. Just catch a fish in Niagara County and bring it to the scales at the NRAA fishing pond. Lots to see and do from 10 am to 5 pm each day. It’s free and a great family activity.

Upper Niagara River / Erie Canal – Bass Action

A few musky were active the past week, but you really might want to wait until water temperatures come down a bit more before you start putting any heavy pressure on them. Ryan Shea of the Brookdog Fishing Company had been focusing on bass this week, but he still had a couple follows on his fly while casting the upper river areas.

Bass action continues to be fair to good, depending on the day and the conditions.

Be careful around the Canadian boundary and don’t venture across that line without calling in. Abide by the bait regulations, too.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303
p: 716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!


Secret Bass Hotspots for Every Angler

-Mister Twister “Comida” Plastic Worms
-Fish ‘em Wacky-Style

Not even getting older can affect the ear-to-ear smile from friend and book author, Dave Figura, when active fish seems to turn all of us into kids. Figura is fishing (with permission) for golf course pond bass at Peek’N Peek Resort and Spa during a passing rainstorm. All the fish were released. Forrest Fisher Photo

We were all set to fish Lake Erie for black bass from the Dunkirk Harbor access with local Western New York Bassmaster champions, Jim Thompson and Scott Callen, when the red radar weather picture convinced us to stay ashore.

Not being easily dissuaded, especially with raingear in hand, myself and Syracuse Post Standard outdoor columnist and outdoor webpage photo-inspiration creator, Dave Figura, headed back to the Peak’N Peek Resort and Spa where we unpacked our fishing rods anyway. We were like little kids going fishing for the first time, some of you know the feeling. We needed nothing else.

The resort hotel was the premier destination for the 49th Annual NYS Outdoor Writers Association Annual Conference and it is comfortable, secluded, inexpensive and they offer tasty food.


We searched out our tackle and found just what we needed – a few Mister Twister “Comida” plastic worms. It didn’t take long to rig up some size 4/0 Mustad worm hooks and thread the hook through the middle of the worm – suggestively dangling the worm end to end from the middle. That did the trick!

We landed fish after fish from the series of ponds that skirt the 8th hole. Bass after bass. The 5-inch Comida worm is impregnated with salt and also contains 11 grams of bass food – it is a visual attractor AND a scent bait. It was the perfect meal for the hungry bass we found here. Folks can rig it as a wacky worm, a dead-stick standard worm or can fish it drop shot style.

So after years of knowing “Figgy,” I finally discovered that this Cornell University graduate and factual yarn-tale teller, is also a pretty good angler. Figura is excitable and full of enthusiasm when he goes fishing. What fun we shared! He is also a book author, you can look up his last book – “So What Are the Guys Doing?” He shares insights from more than 50 men about the outdoors, family, relationships, sex, work, faith and friendships. It’s a good read and available on-line.

His grin in the picture is proof that fishing fun can begin after 40 – on a golf course! In between golf balls landing in the pond and making both of us think, “Hey, there, cast there, another one just jumped!”, ….please stop laughing – we did too, we realized that the ponds were on the inside dog-leg of the golf hole and what we were seeing was not fish. While we were probably standing in a semi-dangerous place, to be sure, it was very funny for quite a few moments.

We landed 12 fish in less than 60 minutes of casting before the deluge of the oncoming rainstorm forced us in. Unbelievably, we caught smallmouth and largemouth bass from the same waters. All the fish were immediately released after a photo or two. Unforgettable memories.

The Mister Twister Comida worms are inexpensive and available at your local Cabela’s or Bait/Tackle Shop. For a quick look at them, visit:

Share life with others, make new friends in the outdoors, lead by example.

Western New York Fishing Forecast for Friday, September 16, 2016

Bass, King Salmon, Walleye News

Ed Shannon shows up a 30-plus pound Niagara Bar king caught on Kingfisher Charters.

Lake Ontario and Trib’s

An important meeting is being held this Monday, September 19, at Cornell Cooperative Extension Niagara, 4487 Lake Avenue, Lockport, starting at 6:30 pm. If you are a Lake Ontario drifter, troller or tributary fisherman, you’ll want to attend this meeting. Members of DEC will be discussing what their proposed plans are for 2017 when it comes to salmon and trout stocking, based on recent forage base assessments. This is your opportunity to listen to the proposal and voice your concerns.

On September 23, the King of the Creek salmon contest – from both boat and shore – is being run by All in the Same Boat Tackle, 2911 Lockport-Olcott Road, Newfane, through November 6. Call 716-638-4158 for more info or visit

Speaking of salmon, one of the hottest spots has been the Niagara Bar at the drop-off. Salmon are stacked up there like you wouldn’t believe. Captain Mike Johannes of On the Rocks Charters out of Wilson, went 15 for 18 matures last Saturday on the Niagara Bar before the wind picked up and cut the day short. Fish were in 80 to 200 feet of water down 50 to 80 feet on wire divers set on 3 out 160 to 180. Out of the 15 boated, 14 were caught on meat behind large flashers and Twinkie rigs. His best flasher was a white King’s Flasher. He also caught some on white/green Bechhold flashers. When running the larger flashers, a speed of 2.2 to 2.4 is best. They were marking a lot of fish and quite a bit of bait when they were there.

Olcott also has a fair number of fish hanging inside of 80 feet of water according to Wes Walker at the Slippery Sinker. Plugs, cut bait and flasher-fly are working there for matures. They are starting to pick up a few off the piers and some browns, too. Browns off the piers in Wilson, as well, with spoons. Both harbors have a mix of warm water fish. A few trout and salmon have been caught at the dam, but mostly warm water fish have been hanging around.

Lower Niagara River – Walleye Action

Ray Van Horn with lower river smallie with fishing with First Choice Charters.

Salmon numbers are slowly starting to increase for the shore guys. A few have been caught on spoons; some have been caught on spinners. Rattlebaits will also work. NYPA Platform casters are out-producing the boaters right now as far as salmon in the river. That said, the boaters are still doing well on bass and walleye – especially downriver and on the bar. Worm harnesses for the walleye; tubes and live bait for the bass. Captain Randy Lingenfelter reports that fishing has been good with soft baits and crayfish if you still can find them. B.A.S.S. pro, Ray Van Horn, fished on his boat recently, throwing Strike King Soft Baits doing very well. Baby Rage Craw in three inch. They were catching 25 to 30 fish a day. One of his charters caught a 6.5 lb. smallie last week. Several local media were in town last weekend and managed to get some decent smallmouth bass.

The New York Power Authority’s Wildlife Festival, held at the Visitor Center, 5777 Lewiston Road, Lewiston will be September 24 and 25 from 10 am to 5 pm both days. Everything is free! This is the area’s version of National Hunting and fishing day and the event is co-sponsored by the Niagara County Federation of Conservation Clubs. Get ready to have a great weekend!

Upper Niagara River / Erie Canal – Bass Action

Bass are still the best thing to go after with tubes, spinnerbaits or live bait like crayfish and shiners, fished off three-way rigs. Know where you are at all times in the river because there are severe restrictions in Canadian waters – on bait and on calling in before you venture across the line, or is it as you cross the line, or is it when you are in Canadian waters. Not quite sure because we’ve been getting different answers from different people.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303
p: 716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

Fishing Report: Orleans County, New York Lake Ontario, Lake Alice for September 8, 2016

As the hot weather continues the fish occupying those inside waters remain very elusive. Most reports are of those fish diving to the bottom as boats pass by them. The offshore fishing seems to be holding up very well beyond the 28 line with a good mixed bag of fish in all year classes.

With the last of the Lake Ontario Derbies and Tournaments over for this year, the activity on the big lake will start dwindling as that portion of our fishery takes a rest over the fall and winter.

With the waters of Lake Alice still registering in the 80’s, tributary fishing is still a ways off yet. Lake Alice fishing seems to be best for Bluegill around the Waterport Bridge area and then Bass in all of their deep water locations.

Rain today and into tomorrow should help to drop water temperatures slightly, but not enough to make significant change in the present conditions.

There is a slight cool down coming next week, but I’m not sure that it will change conditions that much.

From Point Breeze on Lake Ontario, the World Fishing Network’s Ultimate Fishing Town USA and the rest of Orleans County. We try to make everyday a great fishing day in Orleans County.


Buffalo Black Bass on the Big Bite!

Drop Shot Rigs are Snag-Free Key

When giant bronzebacks begin to gather on Labor Day weekend for their fall feeding binge, look to fish the bottom, the top and in-between for fun and thrills with leaping bronzebacks. Forrest Fisher Photo

For most folks, Labor Day marks the end of summer fun and back-to-school for kids. In a sense, some say it’s a sad time, but if you’re not yet ready to store the boat and hang up the fishing rods, taking an hour or two away from the grill can provide a most enjoyable fish-catching time.

Black bass, both largemouth and smallmouth, while not particularly vulnerable to easy hook-ups, usually do often provide the ultimate gift of a ready connection when the offering of the angler is placed right and is irresistible.

buffaloblackbass2My grandson and I are anglers that usually fish artificial lures and plastic bait imitations for nearly every species. On this day, we decided to make a switch to live bait and direct all of our efforts to catching smallmouth bass near Buffalo Harbor in Lake Erie.

We visited Tony’s Bait and Tackle on Niagara Street in Buffalo for two dozen live crabs, the cost was only $7. Affordable fishing! We also purchased some size 2 hooks and ½ ounce sinkers that we planned to fish drop-shot style using 8-pound Stren monofilament. Simple fishing style, usually is snag-free and the rigs don’t cost much even if you do snag up or break off your sinker on the plentiful zebra mussel farms that cover the bottom of Lake Erie shoals.


The crabs were lively and not very big, about 2 to 2-1/2-inches long or so, but they were of the hardy variety and two dozen of the fleeting critters fit comfortably into a small container with a nice containment cover provided by Tony’s Tackle free of charge.

We tied up our rigs using a Palomar knot for the hook, then taking the down line and putting it back down through the upside eye of the hook so the hook point always pointed up. This is key to hoking the fish first time and every time.

The sinker was tied on 15-18 inches below the hook and we were set to fish. Using light 6-1/2 foot long Carbon-X graphite rods (IM7), we had good sensitivity and feel with the bottom in 30 to 35 feet of water.

We headed for the Number 2 buoy on the NOAA lake chart, locally known as Seneca Shoal, only to find the area was being worked pretty hard by at least four charter anglers with a full crew. We steered clear of the pack and move southwest toward Myers Reef where we found a nice rock pile with serious hooks in 37 feet of water.

We deployed the new MinnKota Ulterra electric bow motor and returned to the spot, set the automatic anchor lock on the unit and rigged up a live crab (through the tail) for the drop-shot rig.

buffaloblackbass4On the very first drop, my grandson lowered his rod tip to allow the crab to appear helplessly falling to the bottom and then lifted gently. Wham! “Fish on!” he yelped. “This is a big one!” His drag was screaming to protect the line and he was being patient with not forcing the fish to the top. It took about two minutes before the hefty smallmouth went airborne twice, then quietly surrendered to a hand lift, belly style. Fun.

On our way out, we had realized that we were signed up for the last day of a summer bass contest and there was even more anticipation and excitement added to our Labor Day journey. The contest was at Bison City Rod and Gun Club in Buffalo, New York.

This fish tilted the Normark digital scale at 4-pounds even. We flipped on the live well and aerator, and the first cast of the day already made this adventure on the water a huge success. You see, my grandson has Lyme disease and he is still fighting to find energy and remission from the nasty Lyme bug. This fish, however, had brought the biggest smile – ear to ear, that I had seen in a long time. Good medicine!

We caught seven more hefty bass from that one rock pile before the fish seemed to be tired of watching us lift their buddies of the bottom. The biggest fish was 5 pounds -1 ounce, a fatty.

Because the drop-shot rig with live bait allowed us to hook all the fish in the jaw, not the gullet, we released all the fish where we caught them and only keep the two largest for the weigh-in at the contest.

The end result was a first place and third place finish! Ah, the difficult labors of Labor Day! These proved to be fish-filled fun for the both of us. The switch to live bait was new for us and it also provided a baseline we may have forgot always using lures, there is something about scent from live bait, movement from live bait, and for the understanding between predator and prey, when the prey is live bait.

A membership to the view of the underwater community that we will respect and cherish for all time. We observed catch and release from nearly every boat. Nice to see cooperation and respect for the fishery like that!

Share life with others, make new friends in the outdoors, lead by example.

“Show Me”- Quest for Personal Best Bass

Ozarks – Part III


“What goes around comes around.”

Many people believe in that statement and follow a path in life that subscribes to that way of thinking. To a certain extent, it worked for Scott Pauley and me during our recent visit to the “Show Me” State in and around Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri. Pauley, who is contracted out by the state’s Division of Tourism for promoting its fishing resources (hint, hint I Love NY people), visited Niagara USA a few years ago on his way back from attending the Outdoor Writers Association of America conference in Lake Placid. He enjoyed a couple of days of fishing, including some pretty darn good bass action on the Niagara Bar, during his September stop-over. He offered to take us out with the hopes of showing off his home state. More on that a little later.

We ended Part II by checking in to Holiday Shores Resort (, located between Osage Beach and Lake Ozark. We unpacked the Tahoe and headed over to the Tropic Island, a 75-foot luxury yacht that offers 90-minute narrated cruises around the lake at a nominal fee. Captain Omer Clark runs a tight ship and the trip was very informative ( Back to our temporary home at Holiday Shores. What was cool about this place was that we had our choice of three different floors for sleeping options.


We were up bright and early to meet up with Marjorie Beenders and Kyle Stewart for breakfast (at Stewart’s, of course, for another cinnamon roll and a pork chop breakfast) for a recap of what we had experienced so far and plans for what was yet to come . Of course, they were happy the trip was going well, but it’s what they expected. They had much pride in the area, as well as the state. They couldn’t wait to “show me” more.

Off to Lake of the Ozarks State Park (, the state’s flag ship park at nearly 18,000 acres. Not only is it the biggest, it is also the most popular as far as visitation is concerned. I’m still amazed that there is no fee to enter any of the state parks in Missouri. A total of 12 hiking trails are available. That’s not all though. The park offers up a self-guided aquatic trail, mountain biking options and equestrian trails for those that like to ride horses. The park also has boat rentals, public ramps and docks. Fishing is always just a cast away.

Inside the park was another attraction we needed to see: Ozark Caverns. This one was entirely different than the Bridal Cave. There was no internal lighting (we had to carry lanterns on the tour) and we couldn’t take anything extra into the caverns (like wallets or cameras) due to the threat of White-Nose Syndrome (WNS) spores being carried out and transported to another area. WNS is decimating bat populations throughout the continent. Since it was first discovered in Howes Cave in New York in 2006, more than a million bats have already died. It’s important to become informed on the issues.


The tour itself was very interesting, featuring an impressive “angel shower” – one of only 14 in the world and the only one in the United States open to the public. The “angel shower” pours a never-ending stream of water out of appears to be solid rock and into a bath tub made of calcite. The source of the water, despite some intensive research, has not been discovered. For more information on the caverns, call 573-346-2500.

After we left the caverns, we took a quick tour around the park and visited the Swinging Bridges of Brumley – a historical attraction off the beaten path. We actually caught some of the locals doing some “bridge jumping” (not recommended) as we drove across the 400 foot long antiquated structure. It has stood the test of time, an early adaptation to the construction of Lake of the Ozarks back in 1931.

Not knowing how far we were from any kind of a gas station (and with our gas gauge flashing an early warning) we used Onstar to locate the nearest petrol store to avert any kind of embarrassment. Technology can be wonderful. Onstar sent the Tahoe directions immediately to the navigation system and we were filling up within five minutes. We were closer to civilization than we thought. Tip: check the gas tank!

We hit a couple of wineries during our stay, finding many of the selections to our liking. Shawnee Bluff Winery ( in Lake Ozark offered a great view overlooking the lake with an indoor tasting room and bistro that was pleasing to the palate. There were several other wineries in the area, too – a great way to break up the trip.

While golfing didn’t fit into our itinerary this time around, the area offered up some amazing courses. If you enjoy hitting the little white ball around, you’ll want to check out this region for sure. The only golfing we did was at Sugar Creek for a quick round of miniature golf. Even those courses are elaborate, giving us the option of two different 18-hole courses. ( As we’ve been saying all along, fun for the whole family!


Another side trip was to Tour L’Osage Caviar facilities, a subsidiary to Osage Catfisheries, Inc. Founded by Jim Kahrs in 1953, the caviar side of things blossomed because of the declining wild sturgeon populations in the Caspian Sea. In 1981, the family began paddlefish production – a fish found abundantly in the lake – and started its “paddlefish ranching program” in 1984.

“Aquaculture is a huge part of our business right now,” said Steve Kahrs, part of the next generation of family running the show. “We have 32 different species of fish that we offer to aquariums and research facilities around the world. You can see some of our fish in Bass Pro and the aquarium in Scottsdale, Arizona, to name but a few.”

The icing on the cake, so to speak, was the final fishing trip courtesy of Pauley. Big Ed Franko, Lake of the Ozarks fishing guide ( and co-owner of Bass & Baskets Bed and Breakfast in Lake Ozark ( with his wife, Deb, also offered to help take our little group out in the morning before the sun chased us indoors. It was going to be a hot one!

bestbass5We met at Big Ed’s lakefront accommodation and boat dock. Pauley was already there. We hopped on board and within five minutes we were fishing. Laurie Calvert from Oregon City, Oregon, was the first to create excitement with hauling in a four and a half pound largemouth – her first fish ever! She was bouncing a rubber worm along the bottom. Her husband, Joe, will now have to include her on future fishing outings!!

Everyone caught fish for the few hours we were on the water. Crankbaits, swim baits and rubber worms were the three most popular enticements. It was near the end of our trip when my rod doubled over while drifting a rubber worm in 25 feet of water. Several times the fish stripped out line. Finally, after about a five minute battle, we pulled in a hefty six pound largemouth – a personal best. What a great way to end our trip, after exploring a new area and making new friends along the way. That’s what it’s all about. We can cross the Ozarks off of our bucket list, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be back for some more fun in the sun and on the water.

Be sure to check out the Ozarks Convention and Visitor Bureau’s website at; 1-800-FUN-LAKE.

Western New York Fishing Forecast for Friday, September 2, 2016

Contest Winners, Methods, Lures

Lake Ontario and Trib’s

Scott Foster (left) of N. Tonawanda, NY caught a nice 15 lb 13 oz Brown. His father, Earl Foster (right) of Wilson, NY did a little better with a 17 lb 4 oz Brown that took over the lead in that division. Both fish were caught on Bay Rat Stickbaits and weighed in at Wilson Boatyard Marina. It was a great fishing day for the Fosters! Photo LOC Derby.

The LOC Derby is starting to wind down, ending on Labor Day. Grand prize leader for the $25,000 is still the 33 pound, 13 ounce King Salmon weighed in by Richard Clark. To make the leader board, you need a fish better than 30 pounds, 3 ounces! There’s a new brown trout leader out of Wilson as of this week. Earl and Scott Foster of Wilson, a father-son fishing team, were fishing out their home port trolling Bay Rat lures when they scored on two dandies – a 17 pound, 4 ounce fish for Earl and a 15 pound, 13 ounce fish for Scott. Bigger fish are still out there! Go to for details.

Salmon are stacked up on the Niagara Bar right now according to Captain Matt Yablonsky of Youngstown. Flasher-fly, cut bait, plugs and spoons will all catch fish. The same will work for you off Olcott where you have the option to target staging fish in 30 to 120 feet of water or go deep for a mixed back of salmon and trout. Same baits mentioned earlier will work in close; primarily spoons offshore. After recent rains jacked the CFS in 18 Mile Creek to 175, we did see a few pier casters hook up with salmon at night by casting Cleo’s out into the lake. A few browns are being reported, too. The best is yet to come.

Another successful Fish Odyssey is in the books! Grand prize winner in the Adult Division was Matt Dunn of Newfane with his 31 pound, 5 oz. pound salmon. In addition to his $4,000 Grand Prize check, he also won $500 from the Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association for the largest salmon caught by a LOTSA member and $100 for big salmon of the day. Dunn won the Grand Prize in the drawing at the awards ceremony at the Newfane Town Hall. Other divisional winners were Dennis Stabler of Lockport with a 17 pound brown trout; Patrick Barber of Niagara Falls with a 17 pound, 5 ounce lake trout; Nick Calandrelli of Lewiston with a 25 pound, 10 ounce carp; Dave Muir of North Tonawanda with a 6 pound, six ounce smallmouth bass; and Steve Majka with a 12 pound, 10 ounce walleye. Some outstanding catches came to the scales, a tribute to the local fishery. In the Junior Division, it was 5 year old Alyssa McGrath of Niagara Falls winning the Grand Prize with a 10 ounce panfish. She won a $100 Cabela’s gift card, a nice plaque, a rod and reel and tackle box.

Other winners in their respective divisions were: Alex Heath of Sanborn with a 26 pound, 13 ounce salmon; RayLee Peterson of Home, PA with a 9 pound brown trout; Abigail McGrath of Niagara Falls with a 4 pound, 13 ounce smallmouth bass; Matthew Kelsey of Attica with a 13 pound, 7 ounce carp; and Ethan Brolinski of Lewiston with an 8 pound, 7 ounce walleye. Take time to remember the person that we honored this year – the late, great Jeremiah Heffernan, a local charter captain who did much to promote the local fishery.

Lower Niagara River – Walleye Action

The walleye bite has been pretty consistent for some; not for others. In the Niagara River Anglers Associations Lower River Walleye Contest, some 25 contestants were vying for some decent cash prizes. In the end it was Steve Majka who had the hot hand with two fish totaling 13.86 pounds. Majka also caught the big walleye in the Fish Odyssey at 12 pounds, 10 ounces at the mouth of the river, power trolling an orange and gold worm harness to take his biggest walleye ever.

Hook N Look has taken fishing and scuba diving to provide new levels of learning and outreach to anglers on the Outdoor Channel. Photo Credit:

Back to the NRAA event, Mike Fox of Lewiston reeled in 12.07 pounds of walleye for second place; third place went to Capt. Steve Drabczyk of Lewiston with 11.87 pounds. Big fish for the contest went to Charlie Hoy with an 8.07 pound ‘eye. More than $1,000 in prizes were given out to the winning anglers. We mentioned Nick Calandrelli’s 25 pound, 10 ounce carp and that was caught in the lower river too, while fishing in the NRAA contest with a worm harness. It was caught on the Jackson Drift.

Bass fishing on the Bar has been spotty, but the lower river has been pretty good. Kim Stricker of Hook ‘n Look TV Show on the Outdoor Channel was on the water Tuesday to take some dandy smallies around Lewiston and film a show that will air in February. The cool thing about the show is that it includes underwater footage that takes you into the world of the fish and pinpoint specific holding areas. They will also talk about the importance of current.

Upper Niagara River / Erie Canal – Bass Action

Bass – both smallmouth and largemouth – are available for boaters and shore-casters. Finding holding areas like flats or deep holes will be key to success. If you do venture into Canadian waters, make sure you call in to notify the Canadian authorities of your intentions to fish. Worms are the only live bait you can use and they can NOT be in dirt. It’s a pretty painless process, but they do mean business if you violate the rules over there. Sheepshead seem to be everywhere, from both boat and shore. Softshell crabs are the best bait for those, but they have also been hitting tubes

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303
p: 716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

Western New York Fishing Forecast for Friday, August 19, 2016

10 year old Adam Flachbart of Fairview Park, Ohio, fishing with his dad, landed this 14 lb 5 oz Brown Trout while casting a Yo-Zuri crankbait from the Olcott Pier in Niagara County, New York. The youngster won the youth award for that species in the Summer LOC Derby. Picture courtesy of LOC Derby

Lake Ontario – King Salmon & Steelhead Action

It will be a busy weekend in Wilson, Olcott and the Fort Niagara areas. It happens when the calendar aligns properly – three different fishing derbies on the same weekend, giving you nearly $100,000 in cash and prizes – if you get into all three contests.

Just another friendly reminder that you have to be in it to win it and the odds are better for these contests than they are for the state lottery!

Wes Walker at The Slippery Sinker sends word that the mature king salmon are starting to stage off Olcott in 50 to 100 feet of water as they start to darken up color-wise. Any lure that will get them to strike out of aggression – J-plugs, cut bait and flashers, flasher-fly rigs, or magnum spoons – will work on any given day. This is a time when you can catch them outside of the preferred temperature zones, too.

Out deep, a mix of immature salmon, the occasional mature and steelhead will show up in the top 60-70 feet of water over 350 to 500 foot depths. Standard or super slim sized spoons are the preferred trolling bait.

Perch and rock bass are being caught in the harbors at Wilson and Olcott. Largemouth, smallmouth and pike are also possibilities. Over in Wilson at the state park, some work around the launch ramp should be completed by Friday for the LOC Derby, but it might take an extra day or two so be prepared for a secondary option for launching.

Eighteenmile Creek has good water flow after recent rains. It was 87 cfs on Wednesday morning, blowing out duck weed and triggering some fish to hit.

First up on the contest calendar is the Orleans County Rotary Derby, currently running through August 21. Yes, it ends this Sunday. The current leader for the Grand Prize is a 30 pound, 14 ounce king salmon reeled in by Julie Schaeffer of Sligo, Pennsylvania – well within reach. Top steelhead is a 14 pound, 1 ounce fish caught by Robert Griffith of Akron, Ohio. Jessie Pepper of Rochester has the top lake trout with 16 pounds, 12 ounces and Patrick Pullinzi of Hamlin is the leading brown trout catcher at 15 pounds, 7 ounces. The Lake Ontario Counties Trout and Salmon Derby – the Fall Return of the King event that runs for 18 days – starts on August 19 and will be offering up over $70,000 in cash and prizes including $25,000 for the largest salmon weighed in. Go to for details.

The third event kicks off on Saturday, August 20 – the 40th Annual Greater Niagara Fish Odyssey Derby honoring the late, great Capt. Jeremiah Heffernan. The prize structure has been increased for this year’s history-making contest, including $4,000 for the Grand Prize. There are categories for salmon, smallmouth bass, walleye, carp and trout. The winning catches in each of those categories will be placed into a hat at the Captain’s meeting in Newfane. The winning pick earns the Grand Prize. Last year it was young Nick Perri, winner of the Brown Trout Division winning the top prize. The best part of the Odyssey is that kids fish for free in a special Youth Division. Lots of great prizes will be handed out – whether you catch a fish or not! Sign up at or at any of the registration outlets. Get out there and have some fishing fun.

Also on Friday, August 19, is the inaugural “Reelin’ for a Cure” event out of Olcott.

Lower Niagara River – Walleye Action

Walleye action has increased a bit, just in time for the NRAA walleye contest on Sunday. Worm harnesses or yellow sally flies rigged with a spinner and a worm, fished off three way rigs is the best approach. Mike Heylek and the Niagara River Anglers Association will be holding the annual lower Niagara River walleye contest on August 21. There will be a guaranteed $500 prize structure no matter how many people are in – $250 for first; $150 for second; $100 for third. 100 percent cash pay back from the $20 entry fee and $5 big fish category. Best two fish, total weight. Scales will be open all day at the Lewiston Landing until 2 pm. The picnic and awards will also be at the pavilion at Lewiston Landing – pizza and wings from Mr. B’s. You can check the NRAA website ( and the Facebook page Niagara River Anglers for details, or stop in at Creek Road Bait and Tackle. If you fish in the contest, make sure you are registered for the Greater Niagara Fish Odyssey Derby set for August 20-28. Just ask John Walaczak! Bass action has also picked up a bit, but you do have to work for them. Crayfish and shiners top the list of preferred baits. Expect to catch a few sheepshead or silver bass, too.

Upper Niagara River / Erie Canal – Bass Action

Bass is still the primary focus for drifters and casters with live bait working the best, fishing off three way rigs for drifters. Casters are using tubes, drop shot rigs or stickbaits – the same artificial lures that worked for the fishing pros a few weeks ago. Strawberry Island is always a good spot to start, at the head of the island or just east of the island. In the west river, bass action can be good, but remember that is mostly Canadian waters – follow the rules. The head of the river in the current is also a good spot to target bass and the occasional walleye. Sheepshead are showing up regularly.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303
p: 716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

Western New York Fishing Forecast for Friday, August 5, 2016

Lake Erie bass fishing can be unbelievable at times, especially when you fish with Captain Frank Campbell

Lake Erie – Walleye and Bass

Closest consistent action for walleye continues to be off Sturgeon Point in 70 feet of water. While trolling worm harnesses or stickbaits are always an option off planer boards, downriggers or diving planes – like Dipsy-Divers, some anglers prefer to use the very basic approach of a three-way rig, bouncing bottom with a worm harness trailing.

Capt. John DeLorenzo of Niagara Falls has been focusing between Sturgeon Point and Cattaraugus Creek in 68 to 73 feet of water to take limit catches of ‘eyes. The recent northeast winds did shut things down a bit and he only had 8 fish on Wednesday. Orange and chartreuse are the best colors, but firetiger does well, too. His basic set-up has the distance from the three-way to the worm harness at 3 feet. His front rods will have a 5 ounce drop weight; the back rods a three ounce weight to avoid tangles. GPS ground speed is normally around 1.3 mph, using his trolling motor to supply the speed he needs. Bass action has been a bit tough. Deeper has been better on the outside of reefs and shoals. Crayfish and shiners; tubes and drop-shot rigs. Start in 25 feet of water and work out.

Lake Ontario – King Salmon, Steelhead

After a hard east-northeast blow last weekend, the lake is just starting to settle back down and resume with some of the great salmon and trout action we’ve seen this summer. Anglers are still experiencing tackle-busting salmon inside of 150 feet of water, starting in 60 feet of water at first light according to Wes Walker at The Slippery Sinker. Meat rigs, flasher-fly or spoons will all take fish, but some days you do have to work harder than others.

Browns have pushed inside of 50 feet of water and the leading youth catch in the LOC Derby was Adam Flachbart of Fairview Park, Ohio with a 14 pound, 5 ounce brown trout, caught off the pier in Olcott on a Yo-Zuri crankbait! Walker also reported a few jack kings came from the pier after the lake rolled over following the storm. Now it’s back to the normal catch of bass, perch and a few crappies. Ditto for warm water fish over in Wilson. Out deep, the 23 to the 26 north line continues to be productive on steelhead and teenager kings. It was actually tougher fishing in the 450 to 500 depth range due to some cold water upwelling.

Niagara County led the charge once again in the Summer Lake Ontario Counties (LOC) Trout and Salmon Derby held July 1-31. Grand Prize catch came from Olcott and Wilson both – Chad Fenstermaker and Mitch Shipman of Ohio were fishing out of Olcott, but ended up north of Wilson in 205 feet of water when a 31 pound, 7 ounce salmon hit their raspberry shadow Moonshine spoon 90 feet back of their dipsy diver set on No. 2. Chad reeled the fish in – his first salmon on his first Lake Ontario fishing trip – to take home the $10,000 check. First place in the salmon division was Larry Wills of Lewiston with a 30 pound, 15 ounce king salmon caught out of Wilson on a purple Warrior spoon – 40 feet down over 400 feet of water. First place brown trout was Guy Witkiewitz of Ontario, NY with an 18 pound, 14 ounce fish caught east of Irondequoit Bay. Second place came from Wilson when Thomas Gies of Michigan reeled in a 17 pound, 6 ounce trout while fishing with Capt. Dan Evans of Lone Wolf Charters. It hit a Moonshine Ice Shadow spoon 45 feet down over 220 feet in front of Wilson. In the Lake Trout Division, Ephriam Burt of Watertown bested Bob Turton on Sanborn with a 24 pound, 3 ounce fish from Henderson harbor. Turton’s Niagara Bar laker tipped the scales at 23 pounds, 7 ounces. He was using a green Kwikfish to take his local trout. Top steelhead came from Niagara when Wade Winch of North Tonawanda hauled in a 17 pound, 10 ounce fish from Wilson. He was using a slide diver, back 185 feet on a No. 2.5 setting over 180 feet of water with a purple Dreamweaver spoon as bait.

Next derby on the calendar is the Orleans County Rotary Derby, set for August 6-21. The Slippery Sinker and the Boat Doctors in Olcott are both registration points.

The inaugural Reelin’ for a Cure team tournament – focusing just on the ladies – will be held out of Olcott on August 19. Get those teams together and plan on fishing! For more info contact Stephanie Pierleoni at 481-6388 for more info. Greater Niagara Fish Odyssey registrations are now online at and at area registration outlets.

Canadian Open Bass Tournament (Lake Ontario) – Congratulations are in order to Capt. Joe Fonzi of Gasport who placed third overall in the Canadian Open last month out of Kingston, Ontario, on Lake Ontario, with a three day catch of 64.50 pounds. He caught 19.5 pounds, but with a penalty for one dead fish. It may have cost him second place. Day two he reeled in 19.85 pounds of bass, sitting in 8th place. On the third day, he brought in the big bag of the tourney, a five fish total of 25.65 pounds, anchored by a 6.75 smallmouth that was big fish for the day. Steve Boris of London, Ontario, won the tournament with over 67 pounds of bass. Big fish of the tournament was caught by Darren Izumi, son of Canadian legend Bob Izumi, with a 7.2 pound fish. Secret to Fonzi’s success was a drop shot rig approach in 18 to 28 feet of water with goby imitation plastics, running about 27 miles to his favorite fishing hole. He attributes his successful runs to his Ranger 621FS Fisherman that handled the 3 and 4 foot waves admirably and his Cabela’s fishing gear that helped him to deal with the adverse conditions.

Lower Niagara River – Sturgeon Caught!

After a lake roll-over resulted in some great bass fishing at the mouth of the river last Sunday (according to Capt. Steve Drabczyk of Lewiston), those fish scattered and it was a struggle for anglers fishing in the Lower River Fishing Challenge to benefit Cystic Fibrosis, part of the second annual Charity for Children event held Monday and Tuesday.

Moss is no longer an issue, but finding bass and walleye during the dog days of summer was definitely a “challenge” as the name suggested. The most bass any one person caught was Tim Kolb with 5 on Monday; 7 for Dean Hale on Tuesday. Only a few walleye were caught and trollers that hit the lake did produce some salmon and trout on the Niagara Bar. Top salmon catcher on Monday was Jim Weber of Newfane; Tuesday it was Adam Thomas of Amherst with Beneficial Soil #2 – who also won the individual title for the overall contest with 1,305 points. He was fishing with Capt. Mark “Sparky” McGranahan. In the end for the team title, it was Capt. Jim Gordon of Appleton leading the Team event for Beneficial Soil #1 (Frank D’Amico, Joe Manz and Rick O’Brien) with a total of 3,320 points.

The surprise catch of the contest would have been Gary Hall’s 5 foot sturgeon that he fought for a half-hour before losing it at the side of the boat when the hook came out. Quite a thrill!

The 11th Annual Bass Contest to benefit Independent Living of Niagara County will be held at Fort Niagara and the Three-F Club on August 7. Contact 284-4131 Ext. 146.

Upper Niagara River / Erie Canal – Silver Bass Time

Best fishing has been along the east side of Strawberry Island for smallmouth on crayfish, shiners or tubes. The inside of the Strawberry Island horseshoe has been closed due to nesting bald eagles. Bass action has been consistent, but you can catch sheepshead and silver bass from boat and shore if you are using live bait like crayfish or shiners.

In the Erie Canal, the kids will be flocking to the Wide Waters Marina in Lockport on August 13 from 10 am to 2 pm for a special free derby that is open to the public.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303
p: 716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog

Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

Smallmouth Changes in Wind for Missouri Anglers

Trophy Fish, Regular Fish, Fun Fishing and Healthy Fishery is Goal

Many anglers consider the opportunity to catch a bragging-sized smallmouth more important than the ability to take fish home to eat. If you have an opinion about proposed changes to Missouri smallmouth bass and goggle-eye (rock bass) regulations, visit and share your thoughts with the Missouri Conservation Commission.

At their regular meeting on June 24, the Missouri Conservation Commission heard a staff presentation that leads me to believe that change is in the air for smallmouth bass anglers.

The presentation covered research conducted in recent years, including surveys of angler attitudes about the possibility of more restrictive harvest regulations on smallmouths and goggle-eye.  The goal of these changes would be to increase the average size of fish available to anglers.  The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) began looking into this at the urging of the Smallmouth Bass Alliance.

MDC conducted basic field research on the food habits and ecology of smallmouths from the 1960s through the 1980s.  In the 1990s, they studied how far smallmouths move and the types of habitat they use.  Seven years ago, MDC began exploring how increased length and reduced creel limits would affect the size distribution of smallmouth populations.  After this work was done, the agency held open-house meetings and on-line surveys to gauge angler support for a tentative set of recommendations for regulation changes.

For many years now, the statewide length limit on black bass, including smallmouths, has been 12 inches.  The daily limit has been six black bass – largemouth, smallmouth and spotted, in aggregate.  In recent years, however, MDC has been conducting trials of 15- and 18-inch length limits for smallmouths within Smallmouth Management Areas (SMAs) consisting of parts of 11 streams.  At the same time, anglers in the SMAs have been limited to one smallmouth daily in their aggregate limit of six black bass.

During the study, MDC conducted periodic electrofishing samples on the affected areas of the streams.  It also sampled portions of the streams where the more restrictive regulations were not in effect so they could compare results and determine if the experimental regulations were having the desired effect.  Streams included in the experiment were Big Big Piney, Gasconade, Elk, Jacks Fork, James, Little Platt, Meramec, Mineral Fork, Osage Fork of the Gasconade River and Joachim Creek.  The resulting data suggest that the more restrictive length limits did increase the number of larger fish.

In addition, MDC imposed an 8-inch minimum length limit on goggle-eye – also commonly called rock bass – in some streams with the same goal – determining how this affected the size structure of goggle-eye populations.

Based on these data and angler attitudes, MDC Fisheries Division staff say they are developing recommendations that include:

  • Maintaining the 12-inch minimum length limit on smallmouths and daily aggregate limit of six black bass for most streams in the state.
  • Instituting a 15-inch minimum length limit and a daily limit of one for smallmouth bass on most of the streams where more restrictive regulations have been tested.
  • Placing a statewide minimum length limit of 7 inches on goggle-eye.
  • Extending the SMA boundaries on the Jacks Fork, Big, Meramec and Big Piney rivers.

MDC’s Fisheries Division Staff decided not to recommend more restrictive harvest regulations on smallmouth bass on the Current River, where tournament anglers expressed strong objections to the idea.  They also decided to recommend discontinuation of the restrictive smallmouth harvest regulations on the Osage Fork SMA, because data suggested it was not needed there.

These changes would affect only smallmouth bass in the SMA’s.  A minimum length limit of 12 inches would remain in effect for largemouths and spotted bass.

Also during the June 24 meeting, the Conservation Commissioners seemed to like the idea of the changes.  Consequently, MDC Fisheries Division Staff expressed their intention to develop a formal proposal for the Commissioners’ consideration at their upcoming meeting on August 26.

Many smallmouth devotees will hail the proposed regulations as long overdue.  Those who want to catch and keep up to six smallmouths of at least 12 inches daily will still have streams where they can do so.  Those who think the chance to catch a trophy smallmouth is more important than taking fish home will have places to follow their bliss, too.

The Conservation Commission encourages anglers who have preferences in this matter to visit, and express those preferences.  If the commissioners vote to approve the proposed regulation changes, there will be a period for comments afterwards.

If they receive no comments or hear nothing that changes their minds, the regulation will go into effect March 1, 2017.

Fishing Report: Orleans County, New York – June 22, 2016

Erie Canal Rebuild in Progress, Bass Bite is On at Lake Alice

Lake Alice (Waterport Reservoir) offers plenty of rod-buster largemouth bass like this fooled on a Senko Worm fished along weedbeds adjacent to a deep drop-off. Forrest Fisher Photo

To start off, the Erie Canal from Middleport to Brockport will be shut down starting June 27th to drain that portion of the canal.

There are two major repairs that need to be made; one at the culvert overpass at Culvert Road and the other is a culvert wall at Hulberton.  The repair at Culvert Road will be a temporary fix and the permanent fix will be done after the close of the canal season.  When the temporary fix is completed the section of canal between Middleport and Albion will be reopened and the section between Albion and Brockport will remain closed until the permanent repair is completed at Hulberton.

On Lake Alice, anglers are doing well on some nice Largemouth bass casting spinners along the weed beds.  Perch, Bluegills and Rock bass are being taken in 15 to 20 feet of water.

On Lake Ontario, the Spiney Water Fleas are just starting to show up, but not in any great numbers as of yet.  Anglers report show that fishing seems to be good between the 25 and 26 lines, with very good catches of both Steelhead and Salmon.

The Summer LOC Derby starts on July 1st and runs through the end of the month. 

From Point Breeze on Lake Ontario, the World Fishing Network’s Ultimate Fishing Town USA and the rest of Orleans County.  We try to make everyday a great fishing day in Orleans County.


Tournament Fishing for Everyone

Hobie Bass Open 2016 at Kentucky Lake
Skilled Kayak Angler Field Growing Quickly

Matthew Scotch, fishing from his personally customized Hobie PA12, uses a jig-worm rig to fool another of several largemouth bass he caught in Kentucky Reservoir during the Hobie Bass Open 2016. Forrest Fisher Photo

Kayak Anglers from over 30 states and Canada gathered at Kentucky Dam Village State Park with the opportunity to test their fishing skills on the legendary reservoir fisheries of Kentucky and Barkley Lakes.  Their goal was to win big cash and prizes, with the top spot also earning an all-expense paid trip to represent Team USA for the 2016 Hobie Fishing Worlds – an event that is moving from China to Louisiana, USA, for 2016.

The 2-day fishing event was held this weekend, June 4-5, 2016, with the official tournament headquarters and weigh-in held at the Kentucky Dam Village (State Park) Lakeview Pavilion, just off U.S. Highway 641 in Gilbertsville, Kentucky.

The tournament protocol for weigh-in does not kill one single fish.  It is a Catch, Photo and Release format of fishing and measurement process.  Called “CPR Fishing” in a trademark name fishing tournament process invented by Mike Christopher, anglers work to catch their 3 largest bass (largemouth, smallmouth or spotted bass are allowed) each day in the Catch Photo and Release system.  Simply said, the angler with the largest total inches over the 2-day event will win the third annual Hobie Bass Open.

Software programming mastermind, Michael C. Christopher, is the inventor of the unique iAnglerProgram that allows Catch, Photo and Release (CPR) fishing to work. CPR fishing is the leading edge for future tournament fishing format and it makes data available for research and conservation studies. Most important, it allows fish to be returned alive on the spot, to the area the fish were caught from. Forrest Fisher Photo

What is unique here is worth mentioning.  None of the fish are needed for a physical weigh-in, as they are released alive, moments after being caught.  Above that, they are released right back to where the angler caught them.  Angler proof is provided on digital records.  No damage to the fishery!  No damage to spawning fish.  No dead fish at the marina weigh-in location.  Fun for all.  Clean system.  Clean process.  Clean rules for sustaining tournament angler events into the plans for a green future.

Many say we should mandate all tournament fishing to this manner of no-kill fishing conservation!  Everyone has fun and the fish live –this is with consideration to tournament fishing.  As many do enjoy an occasional fish fry on those non-tournament days.

Steve Barga, a local Kentucky Lake bass pro, often uses some pretty wild and large artificial baits to catch the biggest of bass in this large inland waterway. Forrest Fisher Photo


Why is this important?  Because on a busy and popular waterway, there are as many as three of four tournaments each weekend day.  Hard for the fish populations to survive in that kind of possible continuous live-well habitat.

Also unique, Hobie pays out 100% of entry fees!  The entry fee payout is divided appropriately with one place for every 10 entrants.   There were over 100 entrants in this contest this year.  It is growing quickly from 33 the first year, to 78 the second year to 108 this year, with only a $125 entry fee.

These anglers have formed a brotherhood among themselves, with perhaps the best part of this event, the technique hiding strategies, the sharing of secrets yet to be told and the clamoring applause when someone wins with all of this concentrated talent.

The Hobie fishing tournament format allows ordinary working-class folks to fish for big prizes in kayak rigs made by any manufacturer and let’s face it, anyone can win with a little luck.  After looking at several manufacturer kayaks though, the Hobie stands alone for quality.  They are durable and stable in the water.

Popular rods used included St. Croix, Shimano, Loomis and Daiwa, with reel assortments that included Garcia, Lew’s and Shimano among the popular models observed.  Braided line choices were 20-30 pound text Power Pro, Sufix 832, Seagar Smack-Down and other brands.  Fluorocarbon leader attachment lines in use included Fusion, Berkley Golden and Seagar.  Some anglers used all fluorocarbon or all braid, others were quite simple with straight monofilament of 6 or 8-pound test; get the lines in the water!

Lure choices in the boats included jig/pig rigs, diving crankbaits, plastic worm rigs, floating frogs and simple jig rigs.  Placing the right lure in the right place did the usually expected thing, anglers caught fish.

The early morning bite was shallow on both days, with brighter skies moving the fish offshore to creekbed edges in deeper locations.

Through all the fishing with kayak anglers fishing all along the 100+ mile impoundment, hi-speed bass boats went running by at 60 mph and the fish didn’t seem to mind.  The kayakers use elevated tail flags in hi-visibility colors to assure they are noticed by the anglers in the big rigs.  It seems there is a new kid on the block.

The Hobie Bass Tournament Team includes Tournament Director, A.J. McWhorter (black shirt) – Kevin Nakada (center) and Morgan Promnitz (right) – both tournament administrators, verify angler fish and data submissions for accuracy. Forrest Fisher Photo

The anglers I talked with on the water all seemed to enjoy these two simple things: peace and quiet.  Unlike many other popular bass tournaments we watch on TV, there was no ranting or raving, just simple anticipation, positive tone talk with us on the camera boat circuit, and the anglers even shared what they were using with us.  I found this uncanny and enjoyable.

I found myself secretly pulling for every angler we stopped to talk with.

When it was all over, the 3:00 p.m. tournament ended bell had sounded, anglers needed to be in line to turn in their personal picture puck.  Tournament director, A. J. McWhorter, working with associates, Morgan Promnitz and Kevin Nakada, reviewed the accuracy and status of the considerable data collection submitted by the anglers and organized using the software created by Michael C. Christopher.  With the winners about to be announced in the Kentucky Dam Lake State Park Pavilion Center, the gentle rumble of good-natured tale-telling quickly turned silent with anticipation.

My heart was hammering at a bit higher rate for one of these lucky anglers.  This was exciting.  There were some wide-eyes across the angler audience, anticipation was higher for some, even youth anglers are part of the mix in a separate youth division.   There was also a few anglers with that savvy, veteran face that reflected many years of long sunshine exposure and much fishing experience.  It is a view that we still call the “confident look,” it exudes proper mental preparation and the knowledge that all is ok, win or not.

Some angler’s fish in this tourney for the pure fun and the enjoyment of being committed to this brand new, leading-edge style of tournament fishing, others are here to do just one thing, fish to win.  Both types get along and there is an obvious air of humility and detailed information sharing in the angler zone when the fishing competition has ended.

The winners are totally humble and gracious. The winner of this tournament event this year was a fine fisherman, his name is Ron Champion.  With 57-1/4 inches on day 1 and 51-1/2 inches on day 2, Champion tallied 109-3/4 points for 1st place cash of $3,500.

Matt Scotch with 108-3/4 points came in second, earning $2,350, while Jay Whalen took third with 106-3/4 inches for $1,500.  Cash payouts went through tenth place to Lucien Gazelle, from Michigan, with 97-3/4 inches for $125.


All of the anglers said they will be back next year.  We are watching the future of modern fishing unfold with these Hobie angler tournaments.

Hobie Bass Open at Kentucky Lake Dam Village

Tournament bass anglers no longer need to spend $80,000 for a hi-test fishing rig with the technological advent of sophisticated, lightweight material that has allowed foot-powered fishing boats that fit into the back of your truck or on top of your compact car, to create a brand new world of affordable fishing for bug bucks or simple fun – tournaments too. Photo by Christina Weber

June 3-5, 2016 – Epic Bass Fishing Event

If you are a kayak angler and you fish for big bass, you will want to be sure to check out the third annual Hobie Bass Open.  Presented by Marshall County Kentucky Tourism and Kentucky Dam Village, the classic event will take place at Kentucky Dam Village State Park, June 3-5, 2016.

The Hobie Bass Open will be one of a series of qualifying events in the United States and Canada for the 2016 Hobie Fishing World VI Tournament.  The winner will not only take home the crown, cash and prizes, but will also be invited to join Team USA at the World’s next fall, all expenses paid!

Anglers are invited to register for the event by logging onto  There is an adult division and a youth division.

The event is conservation oriented and may be setting the accountability checkpoint pace for the way all bass tournaments might be run someday using catch, photograph and release (CPR) rules.  Tournament anglers measure and photograph their top three bass during each of the two days, to be scored by total aggregate length.  Eligible species include largemouth, spotted and smallmouth bass on human-powered kayaks.   No electric motors are permitted in this one.

There are not many tournaments that pay out 100% of the entry fees, but this one does.  That means big bucks for the top anglers.  For non-competitor visitors, there is much to watch and learn from these professional kayak anglers.  Above that, visitors and families will find there is a “Hobie Fun Fest” event held simultaneously from Kentucky Dam Village Beach.  Hobie invites all competitors and the general public to bring their family and friends to join in the festivities that will be held Saturday and Sunday, June 4-5.  The Hobie Fun Fest is FREE and adventurists who enjoy kayaking will discover the incredible opportunity to demo the many forms and sizes of Hobie kayaks, including those cool, new SUP’s (Stand-Up Paddleboards) that you can fish or catch a few comforting sunrays from.  Even elder retirees are saying that these new craft are comforting to them because they offer warm thermal sun ray heat and exercise at the same time.  Check ‘em out here.

There will be raffles and prizes, food and fun, plus media coverage and a look at big fish catching techniques to be shared by onlookers and competitors.  The 1st and 2nd place finishers will qualify for the 6th Hobie Fishing World Championship.  Along with the prize money, the overall winner will collect top prize money plus free airfare, accommodations and entry fee covered courtesy of Kentucky Dam Village and Hobie Cat Company.

Questions about the tournament location and facilities, contact Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park, Gilbertsville, KY, 42044; phone: (270) 362-4271; web link:

Competitors with questions can contact Hobie tournament supervisor, Morgan Promnitz, at

Tournament Sponsors include Lowrance, Power-Pole, Ram Mounts, YakAttack, Fugoo, Daiwa, St.Croix Rods, Bassin’ Magazine, Marshall County Kentucky Tourism and Kentucky Dam Village.


Smallmouth Bass GIANTS are Biting in Buffalo Harbor

Dave Mull caught and released this nice 6lb-7oz smallmouth bass taken in Buffalo Harbor – note Buffalo City Hall in the background. Hefty bass like this one are the norm at this time of year in the City of Buffalo harbor waters of Lake Erie.

Old friend, Dave Mull, took the drive all the way from Paw Paw, Michigan, to test the chilly, 43 degree, Buffalo Harbor waters of Lake Erie.  The reason was simple: BIG BASS are in their customary, pre-spawn, feed cycle.

Fishing Eastern Lake Erie within sight of Buffalo City Hall with guide Jeff Draper, Mull joined forces with Ray Lynch from Realtree and Charlie Puckett of Flambeau Company to search for the giant bass known to be found here during the month of May.

The recent 35-40 degree mornings made fishing a bit chilly, but this crew came prepared with the proper weather gear.  If the fishing was uncomfortable, some of the catching made up for it!

While Mull said the smallmouth were a bit finicky, the trio still caught nine chunky bass, including a personal best for Mull.  The monster smallmouth tipped the scales at 6 pounds – 7 ounces!  Mull is a distinguished outdoor media professional and is digital editor for Midwest Outdoors Magazine and Television and director at Inner Viking Media Services

New York State Department of Environmental Fisheries Biologists report that the best Lake Erie smallmouth bass fishing of the entire year is in the spring near rocky reefs, harbor waters and tributary streams.  The bass caught can make for great fun because the bass are concentrated in those areas, catches of 40, 50 and even more numbers of fish in one outing are not uncommon.  With some of the largest bass caught in spring, anglers do travel from distant places to catch the trophy of a lifetime.  New York now offers a special trophy bass season to support the recreational angler interest in the big bass fishery.

The last five state record smallmouths have come from Lake Erie, with the current record standing at 8 lbs., 4 oz.  Anglers can enjoy this early trophy bass season on Lake Erie, which runs from the 1st Saturday in May until the 3rd Saturday in June, when the regular bass season opens.  During this early season, there is a one fish limit and 20″ minimum size requirement.  The bass are feeding on smelt and emerald shiner forage found in these locations where the water warms up early.

Local anglers concentrate fishing with tube jigs dragged on bottom and flutter tail jigs cast and retrieved (swimming style) near gravel rubble in 10 to 25 feet of water.  Deep diving stickbaits that swim near bottom are also effective.

For more information: visit:

Map is courtesy of NYSDEC (

2016 Lake Erie Sport Fishing Outlook Once Again Good News for Anglers

Photo by Forrest Fisher

Western Basin Lake Erie News – Walleye and yellow perch bag limits announced

COLUMBUS, OH / Ohio DNR– Lake Erie anglers should experience another year of diverse fishing opportunities in 2016, according to Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

Lake Erie walleye and yellow perch fisheries are managed through an interagency quota system that involves Ontario, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio. Each jurisdiction regulates its catches to comply with quotas and minimize the risk of over-fishing these species. Quotas for the upcoming fishing season are determined through consensus agreement by these jurisdictions through the Lake Erie Committee of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, which were just recently announced for 2016.

As a result of the 2016 quota allocation, the walleye daily bag limit is four, and the yellow perch daily bag limit is 30 per angler in Ohio waters of Lake Erie until April 30. The daily bag limit will be six walleye from May 1 through Feb. 28, 2017. From March 1, 2017 through April 30, 2017, the daily walleye bag limit will be four. A 15-inch minimum size limit is in effect during the entire season for walleye. The yellow perch daily bag limit will be 30 from May 1 through April 30, 2017, with no minimum size limit. Lake Erie anglers can find walleye and yellow perch bag limit information at ODNR offices, in special publications at bait and tackle shops and at

Ohio walleye anglers will catch fish mostly from the 2014 and 2013 hatches, with some fish from the 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009 year classes. Additional fish from 2007 and 2003 will also be harvested by anglers. Walleye from the average 2014 hatch will range from 15-18 inches, while walleye from the 2013 hatch will be between 16-20 inches. Fish from the 2003 and 2007 hatches are likely to carry most of the Central Basin fisheries, and a good number of these walleye will be over the 26-inch range. Large walleye from strong hatch in 2003 will continue to provide “Fish Ohio” opportunities (greater than 28 inches), with this year class nearing the size that may give Ohio a new state record walleye. Additionally, in 2016, anglers should see a number of smaller (less than 15 inches) fish from the excellent 2015 hatch. Anglers are reminded of the 15-inch minimum size limit and encouraged to release these fish with as little handling as possible so they can contribute to the fisheries in future years.

Yellow Perch
Expect good perch fishing in 2016, with improving numbers of fish in the Western Basin and the largest fish in the eastern areas of the Central Basin. Perch anglers should encounter fish ranging from 7 to 13 inches from the 2014 through 2008 hatches this year, with major contributions from the 2014, 2011 and 2008 year classes. Fish from the average-to-better hatches in 2007 will contribute fish in the 10-plus inch range. “In 2015, yellow perch fisheries flourished in the eastern portions of Ohio’s Lake Erie, and we expect this trend to continue into 2016,” said Tyson.

Black Bass
Smallmouth bass fishing in 2016 is expected to be fair but improving. Smallmouth bass catch rates decreased in 2015, when compared to 2014, but are still the highest observed since the mid-1990s. Smallmouth bass should be an excellent size (14 to 22 inches and weighing up to six pounds). The best fishing for smallmouth bass will continue to be in areas with good bottom structure, which is the available habitat across much of the entire Ohio nearshore and islands. Continuing the trend from previous years, largemouth bass fishing should be excellent in 2016. This emerging fishery is producing high catch rates and some large fish in nearshore areas and harbors across Ohio’s Lake Erie. All black bass (smallmouth and largemouth) must be immediately released from May 1 through June 24. Beginning June 25, the daily bag limit for bass will be five, with a 14-inch minimum length limit.

Steelhead anglers should enjoy another year of great fishing in 2016 in Ohio’s Lake Erie open waters and in tributaries. Peak summer steelhead action on Lake Erie can be found offshore from June through August between Vermilion and Conneaut, with catches measuring 17 to 29 inches. Most Lake Erie anglers troll for steelhead in deep waters using spoons with divers or downriggers until fish move close to shore in the fall. The daily bag limit remains at five fish per angler from May 16 through Aug. 31, and two fish per angler between Sept. 1 and May 15, 2017. A 12-inch minimum size limit is in effect throughout the year.

White Bass
White bass continue to provide excellent seasonal fishing opportunities in the Maumee and Sandusky rivers and in the open lake. The 2016 catch will be dominated by fish from the 2012 and 2010 year classes. A few fish from the 2007 hatch could be as large as 16 inches. Anglers should focus on major Western Basin tributaries during May and June and nearshore areas of the open lake during the summer. There is no white bass daily bag limit or size limit.

Other Species 
Bays, harbors and main lake shorelines offer excellent fishing for panfish, as well as occasional northern pike and muskellunge in vegetated areas.

Anglers are reminded that fishing conditions on Lake Erie can change hourly, and adjustments are often necessary to improve success. Anglers should take into account factors such as water temperature, cloud cover, water clarity, boat traffic, wave action, structure, currents and the amount of baitfish in the area. Anglers are also reminded to carefully monitor Lake Erie weather and to seek safe harbor before storms approach.

Updated Lake Erie fishing reports are available at or by calling 888-HOOKFISH (888-466-5347). Information is available from ODNR Division of Wildlife staff from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays at the Fairport Harbor station (440-352-4199) for the Central Basin and at Sandusky Station (419-625-8062) for the Western Basin.

Information on the ODNR Division of Wildlife’s Lake Erie research and management programs, fisheries resources, fishing reports, maps and links to other Lake Erie web resources are available at

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at



A former United States president, a noted bass fishing educator, and one of the most innovative designers of soft plastic lures will join the current 59 members when they are formally inducted into the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame in March. During their fall meeting, the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame Board of Directors honored former President George H.W. Bush, Billy Murray and Gary Yamamoto at the Hall’s annual induction dinner.  The event took place at the DoubleTree Hilton in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Thursday, March 3.

“While serving as both the Vice-President and as our President, George Bush took exceptional interest in fisheries, water access and conservation issues.  President Bush is also a pretty good angler himself according to fellow Hall member Ray Scott,” said BFHOF Board president Sammy Lee.  “Billy Murray has helped thousands of bass anglers find more fishing success through his involvement with the Bass Fishing Institute and his idea for a traveling “Hawg Trough”, and Gary Yamamoto continues to develop some of the best baits out there.  Yamamoto is an accomplished angler in his own right.”


Gary Yamamoto Yamamoto, founder of Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits, is credited with numerous innovations in the design and manufacturing of soft plastic lures.  His Senko is one of the most important lure developments in recent years and his other creations, including the Hula Grub, are mainstays in anglers tackle boxes the world over.  A very successful professional angler in his own right, Yamamoto sponsors numerous pros in the United States, Europe and Japan, and is also publisher of Inside Line Magazine.


George H. W. BushThe 41st President of the United States, George H.W. Bush had a major and positive impact on sportfishing in general and bass fishing in particular during his term in office.  As Vice President, Bush played a key role in the passage of the Wallop-Breaux amendments to the Sport Fish Restoration Act, which generates more than $650 million per year for sportfish restoration, access and other fishing and boating projects.  In 2014 he received the inaugural Keep America Fishing Lifetime Achievement Award for his lifelong personal commitment to recreational fishing and conservation of America’s fisheries and wetlands.  During his term as President, Bush established the first national policy goal of “no net loss” of wetlands, he established 56 new wildlife refuges, restored 3 million acres of wetlands and signed the Clean Air Act reauthorization that required cleaner burning fuels. A personal friend of Ray Scott, Johnny Morris and other leaders in the sportfishing industry, Bush used the “bully pulpit” of his office to promote recreational fishing.


Billy Murray Billy is the twin brother of fishing legend Bobby Murray.  While his brother is best known for his tournament prowess, Billy was making a name for himself behind the scenes within the industry.   Murray has been all over the bass fishing world.  In 1975, Murray formed and organized the Bass Fishing Institute, a forerunner of today’s Bass University.  Murray traveled the country with a select group of anglers educating tens of thousands on bass fishing.  As part of that effort, Murray created a 30-feet long traveling aquarium commonly referred to as the “Hawg Trough.”   Those aquariums are still used today and are a common part of the fishing world.  Murray, an employee of PRADCO for almost three decades, also was instrumental in designing many of today’s popular lures.  In addition, he served as cameraman/producer for 10 years on the “Fishin’ Hole” show in its early years of becoming the longest running outdoor show on television. In the 1990s, Murray, along with his brother Bobby, starred in their own television show “The Guys,” that aired on ESPN.

About The Hall of Fame — The Bass Fishing Hall of Fame is a nonprofit organization dedicated to all anglers, manufacturers, tackle dealers, media and other related companies who further the sport of bass fishing. In February 2013 the board of directors announced the completion of a decade-long, exhaustive quest to secure a permanent home with the selection of Cullman, Alabama as the future site of the Hall – and what will now be the International Bass Fishing Center. The IBFC site will be constructed as a joint project with the City of Cullman, Cullman County and the City of Good Hope – a project that includes an adjacent civic/convention center, all of which will be housed on the 110-acre parcel known as the Burrow property. The Hall will enjoy a dedicated 30 acres of the property, which will include ponds, gardens and an aquatic-education center. The entire project is estimated to cost in excess $17 million with structures that will encompass 101,000 square feet. Dependent on fundraising efforts, the BFHOF Board hopes to break ground in fall 2016. Support the BFHOF by becoming a member. Call 888.690.2277 for more information.