September 6, 2019

Great Music and Monster Striped Bass

Tennessee a great place to visit. This was my first time in Nashville, and it didn't disappoint. I was there primarily for work so I had the evenings to explore. I didn't actually see most of what Nashville is famous for because I spent a lot of time chasing fish. However, I did get to attend a concert at the Grand Ole Opry. Carrie Underwood was the headliner, but I actually enjoyed several of the other groups just as much. There were 12 bands that played, several of which are in the Country Music Hall of Fame. Ricky Skaggs, Mark Mills, Sister Sadie Band and Tommy Emmanuel were some of my favorites. I didn't realize how much I enjoyed bluegrass. I also didn't realize that The Grand Ole Opry is a long-running live radio show.

checking out some history at the Grand Ole Opry.

Ricky Scaggs.

Carrie Underwood.

Aside from the concert, I spent my time after work driving around the different lakes attempting to catch a blue catfish. Although I didn't catch one, I got to enjoy some beautiful views and wildlife. One evening there was a herd of 30-40 whitetail right off the road with several bucks in the group. It was fun getting to see them where we don't have them in Utah.

No catfish, but still a great place to relax after work.

A few whitetail deer.

Of the different restaurants I tried, my favorite was Uncle Buds Catfish, Chicken & Such. I had the "Bayou Platter" that had catfish, alligator and frog legs along with all the fix ins and topped it off with their banana pudding for desert. The food was great, the staff friendly and it's worth stopping by if you're in the area.
The "Bayou Platter".

The last day I was there I booked a trip with Captain Bob Angelo to chase some striped bass. I had been told that the Cumberland river had good sized stripers, but that was an understatement. We started out at 6 am under a heavy fog along the quiet river. Capt. Bob taught me the setup and I helped set out the lines once we got to our first spot. We slow trolled gizzard shad as we saw rising fish long the banks. A few sounded like cannon balls hitting the water as they exploded after bait fish.

We trolled for about 30 minutes before the first fish hit, and there there is no mistaking as the rod bent over and the drag started singing. I grabbed the rod and did what I could to try and slow the run. Luckily I turned the fish before it made it to a downed tree along the bank. I would make a little ground before each hard run. This was the first striper I had ever fought and they have A LOT of fight in them. My forearms burned as I finally got my first glimpse of the fish, and it was BIG! Capt. Bob said we wouldn't catch numbers, but we would catch a few nice fish and that hadn't sunk it until that first glance. Bob netted the fish, and the Boga's told us it weighed 28 lbs!

Bob actually laughed and asked "why I didn't believe me"? I guess the look of disbelief on my face said it all as I gazed at the monster bass in the net. we got a few quick photos and released the fish to grow bigger. What a way to start the day!!

I went 3-5 on the day with the smallest fish going 17 pounds. Not a bad day of the river in my view. I'll definitely be heading back to fish with Captain Bob Angelo. He not only kept me on fish, but he did a great job of teaching me hold to rig, and where/why the bass like to hang out.

Fog hiding the Cumberland River.

28 pound striper.

I thought this branch with all the webs was cool.

19 lb striper.

17 lb striper.

September 1, 2019

Urban Fishing for Snakeheads

The thing that makes south Florida so great, is that you can catch so many species in one place. The freshwater opportunities are often over-looked by anglers because of how awesome the saltwater fishery is. There are species swimming in the canals and pond from all over the world, and one of those on my list is the bulls eye snakehead.

I went out with local guide Larry Jackson (@LarryJackson_Fishing on instagram) to target snakeheads. He knew the local spots and we drove from place to place launching a small john boat into the small lakes. We fishing top-water frogs and hit the banks. Snakeheads like cover next to the banks so they can ambush their prey. The strikes are explosive, but I initially had a hard time hooking up. Once I got it dialed in, I landed my first snakehead. I landed 8 total for the day and probably missed as many. They put up a good tug for their size. If you're ever in south Florida, give the freshwater fishery a try. you may be surprised to see what you pull out.

A Mayan Cichlid was the first catch of the day.

My first ever bulls eye snakehead.

2nd snakehead of the trip.

Final and biggest snakhead of the trip. Nice fish to end on.

August 27, 2019

Ft. Lauderdale Grand Slam

I always enjoy heading down to Ft. Lauderdale. I booked a trip with the Lunker Dog Jeff Maggio to chase tarpon. Jeff is one of my favorite guides and I had a blast with him on this trip. He got me my first Ft. Lauderdale Slam by landing a tarpon, snook, barracuda and a jack on the same trip. We started off sight casting to feeding snook. I messed up a few casts, but managed a nice one to start off the trip.

We switched tactics to get some tarpon and soon had one on that really tested me. I'm convinced that tarpon are the hardest fighting fish there is. the roughly 75 pound fish took me near my limit (I'm so freaking out of shape) during our 25 minute fight. we got the fish to the boat and took a few pictures before the release. Jeff looked at me and asked "you ready for 10 more" seeing how beat I was. He was joking that there are guides that tend to over-promise the amount of fish you'll land on a half-day trip. Even if you hooked that many, I don'd see how someone has the stamina to reel that many in. 

We went to a different spot and landed a few pup tarpon in the 20 pound range. They were very acrobatic and a blast to fight on light tackle. There were a few small horse eye jacks mixed in as we ended the night. Jeff also invited me to do a podcast with him later that week. you can hear the podcast here.
Snook caught while sight casting.

1st and biggest tarpon of the night.

2nd tarpon of the night. 

Horse Eye Jack

Third tarpon of the night.

August 11, 2019

Chasing Clowns

Earlier this year Brandon and I had a work trip that took me to Palm Beach County, FL. we were staying close to a lake that I had researched years ago that held Clown Knifefish. They've been on my catch list for some time but I had never targeted them. I booked a guide to shorten the learning curve and went with Captain Skip and he did a great job keeping us on fish.  While we were targeting Clowns, there was plenty of cool by-catch that kept us busy including Largemouth Bass, Peacock Bass and Florida Gar. The peacocks put up a great fight and are a blast to catch.
We booked a half-day trip and didn't hook up with a Clown until the final hour before heading to the dock. I hooked up and when I saw that I had a Clown on, my adrenaline really started pumping. I could see I didn't have it hooked well so I did everything I could to keep it from jumping out of the water. The fish made a few hard runs before tiring out and coming to the net. I was STOKED!! We all high-fived each other and even had a couple of the home-owners cheering us on after getting it in the boat. Catching any new species is great, but one as unique looking as a Clown was extra special.
After our fishing trip we had some time before our flight home so we headed over to Everglades Holiday Park to take an air-boat ride through the everglades and see an alligator show.  I always enjoy air-boat tours and the different wildlife you see. The Alligator show is always entertaining and something I encourage everyone to do if you're touring South Florida.
we started off with a beautiful sunrise and it only got better from here.

One of the many Peacock Bass landed.

Urban fishing at it's finest.

Brandon with his first ever Peacock Bass!!!

Our only double of the trip with a Peacock and Largemouth Bass.

Small Florida Gar.

Reaction to knocking another species off my list!

Clown Knifefish; Such a unique fish!

Alligator we spotted on our air-boat tour though the Everglades.