Top Tips for Georgia Bow Season Bucks

Originally Published in Rifle & Rod Magazine.

September in South Georgia brings high school football under the lights, marching band melodies floating on a fall breeze and most importantly – the opening of archery season for white-tailed deer. Every year more people join the elite group of hunters in Georgia that hunt white-tailed deer during archery season. These hunters must fend off mosquitoes, poisonous snakes and 90-degree temperatures, all for a chance at unwary deer that have yet to be educated by other hunters.

Unlike rifle hunting, bow hunting is an entirely different type of adventure. With today’s high-powered rifles, it’s not a challenging feat to drop a deer with one shot at distances of more than 200 yards. Because of the high amounts of energy behind a bullet traveling at such extreme rates of speed, a perfect shot isn’t required for a fast kill. But, with bow hunting, an almost perfect shot at an exact angle is required for a fast, clean kill. Add that with the fact that most archery hunters won’t take a shot of more than 30 yards and you’ve got an unbelievable disadvantage when it comes to trying to kill a deer with a bow versus a rifle.

But, don’t fret just yet, there’s still hope for killing a deer with a bow. Seasoned bowhunting veterans and rookies alike can learn a lot from other hunters. I’ve interviewed a few successful bow hunters from different regions of the Peach State to see what they consider the most important tips they could give other bow hunters.

Jeff Manley from The Rock, Ga. put down his rifle and has been bow hunting exclusively in 1996. Since converting to bow-only hunting, he has taken an average of three or four does a year and usually takes a mature buck once every three years. He was quick to say that he’s passed many 130- and 140-inch (antler size) 8- and 10-points for a shot at something bigger than the Pope-and-Young class buck he already has on his wall.

Jeff said the best piece of advice he could give any bow hunter was preparation. That goes for practicing every day, preparing your clothing well before the season and scouting for the best positions to hang stands.

“I start practicing almost daily in July to be prepared for bow season. With bow hunting is so important to make the perfect shot, and you’ve got to be able to do that even after holding your bow back for several minutes at a time. For that reason,  I try to shoot about 50 shots a day at about 45 to 50 yards. I even practice holding my bow back for several minutes at a time before I shoot so I can get my muscles toned for having to do that in the stand,” said Jeff.

He explained that practicing at greater distances made the shots of 15 to 30 yards he hopes to take in the stand seem that much easier. He explained he almost never takes shots of more than 30 yards unless it’s a perfect angle in an open environment where there isn’t much chance of the arrow hitting a limb and going off course.

Because a white-tailed deer’s number one defense is its nose and the ability to smell danger at long distances, Jeff is also very meticulous about the clothing he wears and how it is stored.

“Before the season begins I take all of the clothes that I’m going to wear and wash them in scent-killing detergent. Then I take several Scent-Lok bags, jumbo Zip-Loc bags work just as well, and I fill them full of leaves, tree bark and plants from the environment I will be hunting. I’ve got one set of clothes I wear for swamps, one set for hardwoods and another set for pines. I want my scent to be covered as much as possible in case a deer does get a whiff of me, it might not spook as bad,” said Jeff.

Jeff doesn’t rely on covering his scent alone to stay invisible to deer, he also will only hunt an area if the wind is right. Bow hunters should always hunt with the wind in their face and the deer approaching from upwind so the hunter’s scent is traveling away from the deer. Jeff said this stand position is a perfect scenario and might not always happen, but hunter’s should strive to position their stands in areas based on the normal wind conditions and only hunt them when the time is right.

“Not only do I only  hunt stands when the wind is perfect to hunt them, but I also walk out of my way to keep from spooking bedded deer with my scent before daylight. I have stands that I could easily pull a four-wheeler to the bottom and climb right up, but instead I walk almost a mile and a half from the other direction to keep from spooking deer I know are bedded close by. If I know there’s a  big buck in the area and there’s so many deer bedded around that I just can’t get in without spooking them, I’ll get there two hours before daylight and climb in my stand and wait,” said Jeff.

He said he always wears a safety harness while hunting from an elevated stand, and it is extremely important when getting in the stand two hours before daylight.

“I know a lot of people have a big problem with sleeping in the stand, but I hunt from Millennium lock-on stands which are extremely comfortable and almost impossible to fall out of. There’s still the possibility, but you’ve just got to be safe as you can and wear your harness at all times,” said Jeff.

Another seasoned bow hunter, Jeff Horne, originally from Bainbridge, Ga. who now lives in Valdosta, spends a lot of time hunting public land near Bainbridge. He not only hunts public land, but he also kills a lot of deer with a bow on public land, which is a difficult task within itself.

Horne was also quick to say that preparation was one of the most important parts of hunting, especially with a bow on public land that anyone has access to hunt.

Jeff said the first thing and probably the most important thing he does is a year-round process that he can complete without ever leaving the house.

“I spend hours looking at topographical maps.  Looking for particular terrain changes that give me the advantages needed for bow hunting.  The vast majority of my hunting is done on public land and thankfully around Bainbridge there is more than enough for one person to hunt.  This large amount of land can make it hard to narrow down spots sometime and with limited time actually afield, I have to be in the stand when I can go,” he said.

Jeff’s time in the field is maximized by focusing on key features which have been productive in the past for many different reasons.

“When looking at the maps, I look for creeks and other natural funnels for deer, but I also look for spots that are the farthest away from any road.  Most people use the satellite view on Google earth (which shows actual satellite images) but I have found that the terrain layer is very useful as well. Early in the season I look for small ditches that run through big stands of planted pines.  The ditches show up on the map and are a great spot to look for crab apples, which can also be found on old fence rows and firebreaks. I love to hunt big creek bottoms but during bow season I have much better luck hunt in planted pines.  There is a noticeable change in the temperature from a muggy creek bottom to a breezy stand of pines.  There is also usually less mosquitoes and more food for them in the pines during bow season,” said Jeff.

After finding these areas that “should” be productive for bow hunting, Jeff keys in and starts to look for actual signs that deer are in the area. Just because the area has food and is secluded from human interaction, doesn’t necessarily mean the deer are using it.

“Don’t waste your time on spots that are just “pretty.”  With ample land (public) to hunt, I only hunt setups that have it all, bedding, food and water.  Unfortunately, it’s not a perfect world so sometimes you have to pick, and then I revert back to which one has more sign,” he said.

You'll need a comfy deer stand you can sit a long time in. You’ll need a comfy deer stand you can sit a long time in.

Jeff Horne also agreed with Jeff Manley on only hunting a certain area when the wind and conditions are absolutely correct so you don’t mess up your chances at a buck of a lifetime.

“The key here is to only hunt your spots when the conditions are perfect!  As tempting as it is to hunt your best stand opening morning, don’t do it unless the wind is perfect.  The best chance you have at killing a mature buck is the first time you hunt a stand – so it’s worth the wait until everything is perfect until you hunt those best spots.  To add to this it critical that you have a way to get into the stand and out of the stand without being noticed.  This is even more important with bow hunting since you’re much closer to the deer than you would be with a rifle,” he said.

Kevin Cox from Milledgeville, Ga. is an avid bow hunter as well. He also put down his gun for good in 1996 and now only hunts deer with a bow. Like both Jeffs, Kevin likes to control his scent as a main means of camouflage from the deer.

“I keep all my hunting clothes in a plastic container until I put them on when I reach my hunting area. I wash them in baking soda or other odorless detergent and I only wear rubber boots as well,” said Kevin.

He also said he would not hunt a stand if he was unable to reach it without spooking deer or if the wind wasn’t right to hunt that particular stand.

When it comes to finding where the deer are going to be, Kevin said it’s all about food within the vicinity of a bedding area. This is particulary the case with mature bucks when the weather is still very hot.

“I really key on evening hunts in the early bow season in Georgia. Most mature bucks will get up just before dark and head to their feeding area. Many times in the mornings they are back to bed before light and your chances of spooking them are much greater. With that being said, I try and find the preferred food source of the bucks in September. That is usually agricultural crops like soybeans, corn and peanuts in some parts of the state but mainly soft mass where I hunt in Central Georgia. I key on persimmons if they are available. Crab apples, muscadines and early dropping acorns also. If I had to pick one food source to hunt near, it would be persimmons by a large margin. Bucks love persimmons! Over the years, I have taken more than 10 mature bucks from stands over looking this candy. Two were 5 1/2 years old and several more that were 4 1/2. The key is finding a persimmon tree or trees that are loaded with fruit and are in or near the thickest place you can find,” said Kevin.

He said the difference between mature bucks and younger bucks and does, is that the younger deer will linger further from a bedding area.

“You can shoot deer over the persimmons on field edges, but they are likely to be does or small bucks. The big bucks don’t move far in these warm temperatures. You must find the food that is near the bedding areas and the closer the better. When I hunt mornings in the early season, I try and hunt trails from the food to the bed if there is enough distance between the two. If not, I stay out except on evening hunts when the wind is favorable.,” said Kevin.

With the help of these three bow hunting greats, you should have a lot better understanding of the dedication it takes to kill a deer with a bow. It isn’t a point and click act like rifle hunting, and it takes a lot of preparation. So, get off of the couch and put some miles on your boots so you can get that buck of a lifetime without ever picking up a gun.

Author Drew Hall with a doe he killed with his bow during the 2013 hunting season Author Drew Hall with a doe he killed with his bow during the 2013 hunting season



Alps Outdoorz Crossbuck Pack Review


I’d been the proud owner of a Fieldline Waist pack with a shoulder harness for the past three years, but it just wouldn’t hold all of my hunting gear! I was tired of having to rotate things in and out for bowhunting versus gun-hunting trips because I always managed to leave something important behind. You’d be surprised at how hard it is to shoot a bow without a release and a gun without bullets! My challenge was that I also needed a bag that would easily pack onto my climbing stands for transporting it all in the woods as quickly and quietly as possible.

I found my solution in the Alps Outdoorz Crossbuck pack. It’s a great mid-sized day pack that was perfect for what I needed it for. It provides the size, mobility and organization I need to carry all of my hunting gear with me everytime I go and easily access it from 25 feet up a tree when I need it.

The Crossbuck offers 2080 cubic inches of space, which compares to a The North Face Jester pack if you are unfamiliar with bag sizes. It has one large main compartment and one front accessory pocket in the front which offers dividers for keeping up with smaller items. There’s also a smaller pocket in front of it with a magnetic closure that is great for holding things you’ll need quickly like a map or a range finder. It also has mesh pockets on each size that are the perfect size for Nalgene bottles or quick-access gear like a saw or knife. I was very pleased with the six compression straps that allowed me to not only snug down my pack so it didn’t make any noise on the hike, but also allows me to attach other packs and pouches. I attached my Snugpak Response Pack which I can detach  and carry by itself if I need to. I also attached my Gerber Myth knife and my Bushnell Range Finder. The zippers all offered oversized pulls that were easy to operate even at freezing temperatures wearing gloves.

The only thing I thought this pack left to be desired was gel padding in the shoulder straps. Don’t get me wrong, the padding on the shoulder straps was sufficient for the amount of weight it carried, and I would normally be strapping it to my climber so the straps would be irrelevant anyway. But, after wearing a North Face pack the entire time I was in college loaded with “learning” books, I really missed that comfort the gel straps offered.

The two great things about the pack I loved where the sternum strap and the back pad. The sternum strap is what ensured it wasn’t going to slip off my climber during the hike in, and the back pad kept it from making a lot of noise. It also helped with the comfort when I had it weighted down and not packing the climber. When I got to my perfect tree, I would wear the pack as a climbed and then attach my safety harness to the tree. After that I would screw in a gear hook to hang my pack in arm’s length. Then I would remove my bow hanger from the pack and screw it in the tree higher than the pack. After that I was ready to pull up my bow and sit and wait for the swamp donkey – prepared and in comfort.

So, if you’re looking for an inexpensive pack that’s tough and allows you to stay organized and prepared, the Alps Outdoorz Crossbuck Pack is the one for you. It is available in Realtree AP and Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity.

Summer Training Drills for Retrievers

After a long, hard summer of couch napping and snacking, the easy life for my Labrador retriever, Hank, is almost over. The temperature is dropping and the days are getting shorter, and I’m already thinking about whistling wings in the beaver swamps at dawn. Though duck season is still more than three months away, this is the time to get your dog off the couch and back to grind before it sneaks up on you.

Sporting dog breeds will instinctively retrieve anything you throw for them from the day they are born. It’s the bringing it back to you they usually have a problem with. That’s one of the things that they learn in repetition. Most dogs will remember 90 percent of what they learned from the year before, but it’s the manners part they need help with.

So, before I got serious with pre-season warm-ups with Hank, I decided to inquire with a more experienced source. Bob Foster, a partner and trainer at Blowing Springs Kennel in Flintstone, Ga. has been in the retrievers business for a long time. He started out with his own retriever with a goal of a well-behaved dog, and now he’s trained hundreds of other dogs from hunters throughout the United States.

Labrador Retriever “Hoss” with a drake pintail

Bob said they get numerous calls in early fall each year from hunters wanting “tune-ups” on their dogs. By tune-ups, these hunters want their dogs to act the same way at the beginning of the season this year as they did on the last day of the season before – and sometimes better.

“Dogs are hunters naturally. They remember the boat, truck and blinds from the year before. What we are doing is making them remember the rules for those things,” said Bob.

Some dogs need more work than others, but Bob said the number one thing they work on with each dog is obedience, and everything else comes in repetition.

“No matter what the skill level of a dog, their obedience can always be better. You’ll never get uninvited from a duck hunt because your dog won’t pick up a 300-yard retrieve. But, you will if he breaks every time someone blows a duck call or clicks a safety off,” said Bob.

“We set the dog up to where there is a correct and incorrect choice. We will simulate a duck hunt as best as possible from blowing a call, to throwing a frozen duck and shooting the gun. We want to get them every opportunity to do something wrong, then we correct them when they make the wrong choice,” said Bob.

Chocolate Labrador posinig with teal

It might sound strange to give the dog an opportunity to make an incorrect choice, but in a hunting situation there is never a perfect retrieve. A dog will always have the opportunity to move around in the blind, break early on a circling duck or even get tangled in decoys. Without proper preparedness of every scenario, a hunting retriever is destined for failure.

“We start by reinforcing their steadiness. (To only go retrieve a duck or dummy when told to do so) This can be done by simply throwing the bumper and making them sit for extending periods of time before sending them to retrieve it. When they’ve mastered this you’ll move on to live fire with dummies, then live fire with real ducks, depending on the retriever. They need to know that ‘sit means sit, for the rest of your life or until I tell you to move,” said Bob.

Bob said he didn’t like to get hung up on certain drills during training because they all have their place, but he wants the dog to be perfect at short distances before he attempts long distances.

“Don’t get hung up on distance in your training. They need to do it perfect at 5, 10 and 20 yards first. So many people get angry when their dogs are doing great at 50, then just skip right to 100 yards and the dog can’t perform as well. He has to do it perfect small, before perfect big,” said Bob.

Bob said a few minutes in the morning combined with a few minutes in the evening is a whole lot better than entire day on Saturday. Retriever training is a lot of work, and it’s the repetition of the events that the dogs gain the most from.

Since most dogs don’t have an attention span of longer than 15 minutes when learning new skills, Bob said it was useless to become frustrated and try to drag out training sessions. But, he also said that you can usually get 15 minutes of new skill learning about three times a day if you space it out enough. A few tosses in the living room on a lunch break for a young retriever can help implant steadiness in his mind just as well as short throws in the yard can.

“The average person can make an above average duck dog with a just small yard and a few minutes everyday,” said Bob.

“If your dog learns in small increments just a few minutes a day, before you know it you’ve got a three -year-old dog that is perfect hunting, perfect in the house, and perfect everywhere you go. That’s what you’re looking for in a gun dog,” said Bob.

Another great method to teach steadiness is to take your dog to the park or area where there are ducks or geese. Nothing drives a retriever crazy like real live birds. Make your dog sit beside you while you watch them and correct him when he breaks. Clap your hands loud or use a blank gun if you are in an area that permits it. You’ve got to give the dog every opportunity to make a mistake so you’ll know he’ll be steady in the duck blind. Live birds are one of those things that are just hard to stimulate, and though you aren’t shooting at these ducks, your dog is learning obedience, and everything builds from that.

Make sure your retriever gets plenty of water while training, especially in the summer.

Though training is always what the owners want worked on at tune-ups at Blowing Springs Kennel, Bob said overweight dogs were also a major issue.

“Our literally biggest problem at our kennel is overweight dogs. It’s not just because it’s the off season. Most of it is because they feed their dogs too much. When it comes to feeding, it is our recommendation when you are feeding dog food, it needs to be meat based. If people weren’t around and there were just dogs in the wild. If they came across a corn field, they aren’t going to be tearing the stalks down to eat. Their primary diet should be meat,” said Bob.

Bob explained a healthy dog is an animal that when you run your hands down its side, you can count every rib. You wouldn’t want to be able to see every rib in passing, but if you can’t count touch each one with just a light rub, chances are your dog is overweight.

“We don’t recommend to feed the amounts on the back of your dog food, because they are in the business of selling more dog food. Each dog is going to be different, and you’ll just have to figure out how much is right for your dog. We have two nine year old chocolate labs with identical activity levels, but one eats more than the other. Dogs are like us. When you change a dog’s diet, you will see a difference in a couple of days. Dogs will lose weight and gain weight quickly,” said Bob.

Whether you decide to train your own retriever, or have a professional do it for you, don’t wait until it’s too late. It takes a lot of time and effort for a good duck hunt, just like it does a good retriever. To contact Blowing Springs Kennel for dog training or your next retriever puppy, check out their Web site at or give Bob a call at (423) 413-2314

Dog Trainer Bob Foster and retrievers.
Dog Trainer Bob Foster and retrievers.

Bass Fishing Lake Talquin in the Summer

The temperature is rising and the summer-time bite on Lake Talquin in Florida is just as hot. While, the shallow water bass bite can become almost non-existent during the summer months, there’s another technique that will fill livewells with fat largemouths faster than any other time of the year. Anglers used to think that bass just didn’t feed as much during the summer months, but recently tournament anglers have found out otherwise. Largemouth bass actually continue to feed aggressively, but they just follow the bait fish out of the warmer, shallow water into deep, cooler water in the summertime.
Tournament angler Clint Brown of Recovery, Ga. knows better than anyone how to find schools of big fish and fill a livewell in a matter of minutes. For the past two years he’s won first place in points in the Media Bass division on Lake Seminole, and he even finished third against some of the top pro anglers in the country in the October 2010 B.A.S.S. Southern Open on Lake Seminole.
Clint likes to start his mornings searching for largemouths keying on shad on flat shallow points of the lake near deeper water. Tournament anglers often refer to these areas as “main lake points.” The bass will follow the shad from the deeper water to the shallow points and feed until the sun begins to warm the water.

Clint Brown Lake Talquin bass
Angler Clint Brown holds another hefty largemouth caught on a main lake point in the early part of the day. After a short-lived early morning feeding, the bigger bass follow the bait fish to the deeper portions of the lake near the river channel.

For those unfamiliar with Lake Talquin, Clint suggested first taking a good look at a topographic map of the lake to locate the best locations to start fishing. After looking at the map, Clint also uses his Lowrance HDS-10 side-imaging sonar and GPS to find the key areas in the larger general areas he’s found on a topographic map. He is able to see the fish in these areas and as soon as he gets a fish on, he immediately marks it on his GPS so he doesn’t lose track of his position while trying to unhook the fish.
Clint likes to search for feeding bass by throwing a Strike King Fat-Free Shad crankbait which should run about 6 to 8 feet deep. This fast-moving bait is a great search bait because it covers a lot of water in a short amount of time. The Fat-Free Shad is shaped like the shad that the bass are feeding on and has a wide wobble when pulled through the water which creates the look of a fish swimming. Since the water on Lake Talquin is usually stained, Clint likes to throw a bright color like Fire Tiger to help the bass see the bait.
“Talquin doesn’t ever really clear up, it always has a sort of stain to the water. That’s why it’s really important to throw a bright color on cloudy days and first thing in the morning when it isn’t really bright. But, I normally just stick the bright colors all day,” he said.

Lake Talquin bass caught on crankbait
Angler Clint Brown removes a Sexy Shad crankbait from a lunker largemouth’s mouth.

During extended periods without rain, the water clarity will sometimes clear more than its usual summer stain. When this is the case, Clint throws a more subtle color like Sexy Shad.
“I like this color because it has a more natural look, but it also has the chartreuse stripe which helps grab their attention from a distance,” he said.
You probably aren’t going to find a school of fish on every point you try in the morning, but Clint explained that when you do, it’ll be a memorable experience.
“Usually, when they are in a school on a point, you’ll catch one on every cast when you find them.”
After using the crankbait to find the schools of fish, Clint will slow down and try to work the school over with a slower bait to catch any fish he might have missed with the crankbait.
His go to bait for this is a Carolina-rigged plastic worm. Unlike Texas-rigged worms when the weight and the worm are touching, Carolina-rigged worms present the hook and worm away from the weight which is just above a swivel and then a leader of about four to five feet before the hook is tied. The idea is the heavy weight bounces along the bottom making a bunch of noise and getting the fish’s attention, and then a lazy worm comes floating by at a slow pace which causes a reaction strike.
“I always throw a heavy lead, usually a 3/4-oz. to keep in contact with the bottom, I’ll use lead instead of Tungsten because you tend to get hung up and break off a lot, and lead is less expensive than Tungsten weights,” said Clint.
When Carolina-rigging Clint uses a 20-lb.  fluorocarbon main line for sensitivity of it with a 15-lb. monofilament leader because it gives a little bit of stretch with the fish. A 4/0 offset Gamakatsu worm hook finishes off the business end of his Carolina rig.
“If the fish are actively feeding, I like a big worm like a Zoom Ole Monster, but when the bite is tough I will downsize the hook to 2/0 and throw a Big Bite Baits Kriet Tail worm, because it’s smaller and has a sort of finesse tail that tends to get you some good bites when they are finicky. As, far as colors are concerned, I like June Bug a lot. But most any dark color worms are good on Talquin,” said Clint.
After trying the main points for a couple hours each morning, Clint usually moves on to the main river channel to fish the ledges. Most of the lake will be between eight and 11 feet deep, but the main river channel that runs through the lake will be around 30 to 35 feet deep. Clint explained there are several good places to start looking for fish in the channel.

Lake Talquin bass
Even after being pulled from the depths of the river channel, the big bass still put up a good
fight right up to the boat.

“Depending on what’s going on, they can be in two different places on the main river channel. It twists and turns all back and forth on through the lake, the best fishing places are on the bends or where there is a point. If the channel makes a big swinging bend, the best place is the outside bend. But, if it is sharp curve the best place will be on the inside,” said Clint.
If the bass are feeding they will be sitting on top of the hump, which is right next to the main river channel. This hump will come up to about 8 to 9 feet deep and you should be casting in about 11 feet of water to find them feeding. If they aren’t actively feeding the bass will suspend just off the hump in about 15 to 17 feet of water and will most likely be relating to some type of structure or contour change.
When trying to catch the fish in this deep water, Clint says you’ll need a deep diving crankbait that dives 20-plus feet. He says he tries to position his boat in 25 to 30 feet of water and make long casts past the channel so when the bait gets to the channel it will already be down into the strike zone. Clint said it is important to use a light line like 10-lb. fluorocarbon to help get the crankbait down as fast as possible and keep it bumping the bottom.

Lake Talquin Bass fishing diagram
An above view of the river channel shows how bass will position themselves on different parts of the channel depending on whether they are actively feeding, or just suspending in the afternoon.

“Sometimes, if you can’t cast that far, then you just can’t catch them. You want to get your bait on the bottom and keep it there for as long as possible, If your bait hits the bottom for 30 yards, you are more productive than having your bait in the strike zone for only ten yards if you make shorter casts,” he said.
To make long casts like this, you’re going to need a pretty stout rod with a good backbone. Clint suggested a 7-ft. Canoe Creek Glass Cranking rod which has a lot of backbone. He said it really helps him make those 50 and 60 yard casts.
After finding the fish with the crankbaits and working the area, Clint said he will immediately turn around and work the area again with a Carolina rig worm just like he would do in the shallow water.
“That’s how we find most of our fish,” said Clint.
There’s one more place on the ledges the fish might be, and it’s one of the most difficult bass on the lake to catch. While, some anglers would just pack up and go home after casting to a bass with everything in the tacklebox with not even a nibble, but Clint’s figured out there’s another method sure to make the big fish bite.
Sometimes the bass won’t be feeding right on top of the hump or suspended just off it in the channel either. Occasionally , when there is no current at all on the lake, the bass will suspend a about 6 or 7 feet off the hump and it’s hard to keep the bait in their vicinity very long. When the fish get stubborn like that, Clint likes to use a method he calls “Stroking the jig.”
“When they suspend like that over the humps, I like to rig a 1/2-oz. jig with a big trailer like the Big Bite Baits Fighting Frog and use a big flipping stick rigged with 20-lb. fluorocarbon. I’ll let the bait drop to the bottom then rip it off the bottom about 6 or 7 feet and let it fall on slack line. If you get it close to them, they can hardly resist it,” said Clint.

Lake Talquin Bass fishing river ledges diagram
A side view shows how Tournament Angler Clint Brown positions his boat so he make long casts past the channel to keep his bait in the strike zone longer.

“Stroking the jig” might not be the most productive way to pull the fish in the boat, but it could help you put a winning fish in the livewell when everyone else has already given up.
However you decide to attack the largemouths, you probably aren’t going to go to Talquin and wear them out on our first outing. But, with the help of this seasoned pro, you’ll be a lot better off. If you don’t have a full day to spend on the lake, Clint said the bite on the ledges really picks up in the evening and you can catch them cast after cast when they start feeding heavy as the water temperature cools.

Glaring Similarities: A Polarized Sunglasses Buyer’s Guide

My Costa Del Mar Blackfin sunglasses suddenly decided to have a cracked lens after three years of dedicated service. I’m not even sure how it happened, I just put them on one day and their was a hair line spiderweb across the inside of the lens, you couldn’t even feel it if you ran your fingers over it. I wore them anyway for a couple days until it really started to bother my eyes and I called it quits. Yes, I know I can send them back for a replacement lens, this is the third time I’ve gotten them back for frame repairs, pretty sure I just got new frames every time. I was completely satisfied with my service, but it was less than $20 with shipping to get them fixed without lens damage, we are talking about almost half the cost of the sunglasses themself to get it fixed now. Yes, I do understand the lens are the most expensive part. I’ve done a lot of sunglasses research over the past month trying to find a new pair, and I’d like to share my experience.

The first thing I did was go to Wal-Mart (I do hate going there also) and grab a pair of the $5 Berkley polarized sunglasses from the fishing aisle. You have to get lucky to find them in the winter, but they keep them stocked in the spring and summer. These are good looking sunglasses. Black frames, smoke lens and good polarization. Keep in mind I was testing these polarized lens in south Georgia pond water, not the deep blue sea. I do realize there is a little bit of difference, but yes for $5 you can get a pair of perfectly fine polarized sunglasses. Yes, they do feel cheap, and yes they probably won’t last longer than a couple months and they don’t feel durable at all. But, you can see through the glare on the top of the water with them, and they won’t cost you a lot to replace. I keep a back-up pair of these in my tackle box usually, when my friends or brother don’t take them.

Then I decided I’d look for a little better pair, but didn’t really want to go back with Costas. The true reason is I have a kid now and a lot of other stuff to spend money on. I was helping a friend move and another guy helping was wearing a nice pair of shades which I actually thought were Maui Jims. They had a really detailed looking tortoise shell frame and amber lens. He informed me they were from a company called Fielding Outdoors which was actually located in Thomasville, Ga., the same town as me. I did some homework and actually got in touch with Fielding and they gladly sent me two pairs to try out. This is when I found out Fielding’s big thing is camo sunglasses and they are some jam up shades. The camo pattern is similar to Max-4 but blends well most anywhere. The lens have a multi later coating with scratch resistance and 100% protection from harmful rays with a UV 400 rating. They call their frames TR90 Performance frames. They do offer rubber coating on the legs and an embossed logo, and the Berkleys are just straight slick plastic with a sticker. I will sum these frames up as twice as strong as the Berkley’s and almost as sturdy as Costas. But, keep in mind that these are also about $50 for a pair, one quarter of the cost of Costas. And the best part about Fielding sunglasses, is their warranty. They have an unlimited lifetime warranty. The warranty card states that if they are “stepped on, driven on, fallen on, shot up, dropped – or otherwise accidently destroyed, we will repair or replace them, no questions asked!” You do have to activate your warranty within 30 days of purchase. And they don’t cost $75 for lens replacement! The polarization on these lens worked great also, and with a little extra wrap around on the frames, it kept the back light out more and were more comfortable to drive in. The best method of contact to purchase a pair of Fielding Sunglasses is through their Facebook page linked here. (Tell them I sent you)

And almost as if it was meant to be, I received an e-mail about Salt Life sunglasses being released just as I was about to write a polarized sunglasses buyer’s guide. I got in touch with Salt Life, and they set me up with Bimini Bay Outfitters, who has the exclusive license to manufacture the sunglasses under the Salt Life brand. They also sent me a pair to demo. I’ll start by saying these were the nicest sunglasses I’ve ever put on. The frame material is a lot denser than the Costas and the hinges and all the components seem to be higher quality as well. This is probably because Costas are made in Taiwan and the Salt Life lens are made by Zeiss in Italy. I’m not sure if you’ve heard of them but they are only the most famous name in lens in the world with more than 160 years of experience in premium optics.

There are several key things which make the Salt Life-Zeiss lens stand out. First, they offer “true color recognition,” which means even though I have copper-green lens, I still see everything in its natural color. When you put these on in bright sunlight, it just makes you smile. No glare, and no color alteration. The Zeiss lens coatings (similar to the Costa blue that is so popular) are vacuum sealed to prevent delamination. So, they can’t scratch up like the Costas. They also have an AR-5 back-coating which prevents glare from the back of the lens if any light were to sneak in around your frames. Since, I got the Captivas, it was almost impossible for that to happen. These lens didn’t allow me to see any deeper in the water than the other polarized lens, but overall there was a quality you could feel when you put them on. These retail for $199 at Salt Life’s web site. but you can get them on Amazon for about $10 less.

So, to summarize my story. You cannot take photos through polarized lens to show how well they work, I tried. But, I could see no giant difference in polarization qualities except for color variances between lens. They all cut the glare off the surface and allowed me to see the fishies swimming below. If you need a quick pair of polarized sunglasses, or wish to buy a new pair every few months, pick up a pair of Berkleys at Wally World for $5 in the fishing department (sometimes on an end cap).  If you’d like a pair that look good, are sturdy and reliable and also have an apocalypse-proof return policy, go with the Fielding Sunglasses. If you want to look and feel like a movie star/professional angler, you’ve got to go with the Salt Life sunglasses. But If you do nothing else, go to the store and try on a pair of these alternate brands before you purchase the same ole thing as everyone else. You won’t regret this decision. I hope this helps some of you make an informed decision about your purchase.