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Florida FWC Gathers Input on Spotted Seatrout Regulations

Source: Fishing Wire

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is gathering input on management of the recreational spotted seatrout fishery. You can share your input by taking an online survey at Your input will help FWC better understand the public’s satisfaction and desires related to this popular recreational fishery.


Spotted seatrout is managed in Florida in four unique zones across the state (Northwest, Southwest, Southeast and Northeast).

The status of the seatrout populations within each zone is assessed using a measure of population health known as the Spawning Potential Ratio. Research indicates seatrout populations should be kept to at least 20 percent SPR to maintain a sustainable population. The FWC manages spotted seatrout at a higher management goal of 35 percent SPR to provide a better fishery.

In 2017, staff held a series of workshops related to a draft spotted seatrout assessment. The final assessment results were released in 2018 and suggest the Southwest and Southeast zones are exceeding the FWC’s management goal. The Northeast and Northwest zones are not meeting the 35 percent SPR management goal and may benefit from some management actions.

The results of the survey will be brought to a Commission meeting in early 2019.

management zones map
Management zones graph
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Florida Snook Harvest Comes to a Close in Most Gulf Waters

The recreational harvest season for snook closes Dec. 1 in federal and most state waters of the Gulf, including all of Monroe County and Everglades National Park.

Snook, as well as redfish, remain catch-and-release only in state waters from the Hernando/Pasco county line through Gordon Pass in Collier County (includes Tampa Bay and Hillsborough County) through May 10, 2019, in response to the impacts of red tide.

Snook outside of that area will reopen to harvest March 1, 2019. Anglers may continue to catch and release snook during the closed season.

Season closures are designed to help conserve snook during vulnerable times such as cold weather. Atlantic state and federal waters, including Lake Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River, will close Dec. 15 through Jan. 31, 2019, reopening to harvest Feb. 1, 2019.

Visit and click on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Snook” for more information on snook. Improve data and report your catch on the Snook & Gamefish Foundation’s Angler Action iAngler app at

Source: Fishing Wire

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Another HUGE Bass Caught In Texas ShareLunker Program

AUSTIN – For the first time in the 32 year history of the program, Kurth Reservoir in Lufkin has produced a Toyota ShareLunker entry. Angler Pablo Torres Jr. of Lufkin caught the 13.34 pound, 26 inch Legacy Class lunker in less than 8 feet of water while fishing with his son-in-law at the lake March 25.

Angler Pablo Torres Jr. of Lufkin caught the 13.34 pound, 26 inch Legacy Class lunker in less than 8 feet of water while fishing with his son-in-law at the lake March 25.“At first I didn’t even know it was a fish – it thought I was hung up,” Torres said. “I tightened up and it started swimming, and when it started pulling the line I thought ‘this might be a good fish.’”

“Catching a ShareLunker from Kurth was the farthest from my dreams until I saw it in the net,” Torres added. “When we got it to the boat and it turned to the side my jaw dropped and I thought ‘Oh my gosh.”

Although he has seen and heard of larger fish being caught from Kurth, Torres said being the first angler to enter a Toyota ShareLunker from the lake was a great feeling. He decided to loan the fish to the Toyota ShareLunker program for spawning to contribute to the number of Florida largemouth bass being stocked in his area.

“Kurth is a fantastic lake with a lot of lunkers in it,” Torres said. “[Texas Parks and Wildlife Department] stocks a lot of the ‘Floridas’ in Sam Rayburn Reservoir and other surrounding lakes so this is a good way for me to help contribute to the area. And this fish will be released back to Kurth when they are done with it.”

Todd Driscoll, the TPWD Inland Fisheries District Supervisor for the Jasper district, said he was not surprised at all to hear that the East Texas lake had produced a Toyota Sharelunker entry.

“This lake has everything it needs to produce big fish – including ample amounts of aquatic vegetation like hydrilla, which covers 30-40 percent of the reservoir,” Driscoll said. “That produces really strong year classes of fish. In addition to a 16 inch maximum limit, we have also been stocking it for years with frequent stockings of pure Florida largemouth bass to increase trophy potential of lake.”

ShareLunker 575 is the fifth Legacy Class entry of the season with the previous entries coming from Twin Buttes Reservoir and Lake Fork.

ShareLunker 575 was transported to the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens where hatchery staff will monitor and care for her in preparation for spawning. Also in the “Lunker Bunker” are the four other Legacy Class entries of the season: Toyota ShareLunker 574, a 13.40 pound largemouth bass caught by angler Austin Terry from Twin Buttes Reservoir March 14; Toyota ShareLunker 573, a 13.06 pound largemouth bass caught by angler Alex Finch from Lake Fork March 11; Toyota ShareLunker 572, a 13.00 pound largemouth bass caught by angler Michael Terrebonne from Lake Fork March 8; and Toyota ShareLunker 571, a 15.48 pound largemouth bass caught by angler John LaBove from Lake Fork March 2.

Texas anglers who catch a 13 pound or larger largemouth bass can loan the fish to the Toyota ShareLunker program for spawning through March 31.

Every angler who loans a 13 pound or larger Legacy Class bass to the Toyota ShareLunker program during the spawning period Jan. 1 to March 31 will receive a Toyota ShareLunker Catch Kit containing branded merchandise and fishing tackle items, a 13lb+ Legacy decal, VIP access to awards programming at the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest, a replica of their fish, and an entry into the year-end ShareLunker Prize Drawing to win a $5,000 shopping spree and an annual fishing license. These anglers will also be entered into the Legacy Class Prize Drawing for a $5,000 shopping spree and an annual fishing license at the end of the spawning period March 31.

The Toyota ShareLunker Program is made possible by a grant to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation from Gulf States Toyota. Toyota is a longtime supporter of the Foundation and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, providing major funding for a wide variety of education, fish, parks and wildlife projects.

For updates on the Toyota ShareLunker program and to view photos of all of the 13-pound-plus largemouth bass caught this season, visit or

John LaBove caught and entered this 15.48lb beauty out of lake Fork! She was weighed and held at the Minnow Bucket until staff arrived, an official ShareLunker Station.

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Mutton Snapper Regulations Change for South Atlantic

NOAA Fisheries announces a final rule for Amendment 41 to the Snapper-Grouper Fishery Management Plan in the South Atlantic.  This rule updates mutton snapper catch limits and fishing regulations based on the most recent population assessment.


  • Regulations will be effective on February 10, 2018.


For commercial fishermen, the final rule:

  • Revises the commercial catch limit.
  • Increases the commercial minimum size limit from 16 to 18 inches total length.
  • Establishes a commercial trip limit of 500 pounds whole weight during January through April and July through December.
  • Establishes a commercial trip limit, during the April through June spawning season, of five mutton snapper per person per day, or five mutton snapper per person per trip, whichever is more restrictive. The purpose of the trip limit is to protect fish that are aggregating to reproduce.

For recreational fishermen, the final rule:

  • Revises the recreational catch limit.
  • Increases the recreational minimum size limit from 16 to 18 inches total length.
  • Decreases the recreational bag limit within the ten-snapper aggregate bag limit to five mutton snapper per person per day.
  • Revises the recreational catch target.

For both sectors, Amendment 41:

  • Specifies the maximum sustainable yield (long-term average catch that can be taken from a population under prevailing ecological and environmental conditions).
  • Specifies the minimum stock size threshold (level below which a species is overfished [population abundance is too low]).

Please see the Frequently Asked Questions below for more information on these actions.

FORMAL FEDERAL REGISTER NAME/NUMBER: 83 FR 1305, published January 11, 2018

This bulletin serves as a Small Entity Compliance Guide, complying with section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996.


Why are the actions necessary?

  • A population assessment for mutton snapper conducted in 2015 indicated that the population is not undergoing overfishing (rate of removal is too high) and is not overfished (population abundance is too low). However, the assessment update concluded that the mutton snapper population is smaller than estimated in the original mutton snapper stock assessment, completed in 2008.  As a result, the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Councils’ Scientific and Statistical Committees recommended a lower acceptable biological catch (ABC).
  • This final rule modifies management measures and catch levels in the South Atlantic consistent with the lower ABC recommendation.
  • Furthermore, stakeholders and law enforcement personnel have stated their concerns to the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council about overexploitation of mutton snapper when the species is aggregated to spawn. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has received similar comments.  Therefore, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council coordinated with FWC to develop compatible regulations for mutton snapper on the Atlantic coast in Florida state waters and Federal waters that address stakeholder concerns and benefit the mutton snapper resource.

What are the proposed commercial and recreational catch limits?

Table 1.  Commercial and recreational catch limits for 2018-2020 through Amendment 41.

Year Commercial Catch Limit


Recreational Catch Limit

(numbers of fish)

2018 104,231 121,318
2019 107,981 124,766
2020 111,354 127,115

Why is the catch limit for the recreational sector specified in numbers of fish instead of pounds? 

The recreational catch limit is specified in numbers of fish because recreational fishermen report landings in numbers, not by weight.  In addition, the average weight per fish is expected to increase due to the minimum size limit increase to 18 inches total length.  Therefore, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council has concluded that the combination of increasing the minimum size limit and converting the catch limit from numbers to pounds for the recreational sector could increase the risk of exceeding the ABC. 

Where can I find more information on Amendment 41?

  • Contact NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office

By Mail:         Mary Vara

NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office

Sustainable Fisheries Division

263 13th Avenue South

St. Petersburg, Florida 33701-5505

By FAX:         (727) 824-5308

By Phone:      (727) 824-5305


NOAA’s Text Message Alert Program allows you to receive important fishery related alerts via text message (SMS).  Standard message & data rates may apply. You may opt-out at any time.

Text alerts you may receive include:

  • Immediate fishery openings and closures
  • Any significant changes to fishing regulations that happen quickly

Sign up for one or more of the following groups:

  • Gulf of Mexico Recreational Fisheries Related Alerts
    • Text GULFRECFISH to 888777
  • Gulf of Mexico Commercial Fisheries Related Alerts
    • Text GULFCOMMFISH to 888777
  • South Atlantic Recreational Fisheries Related Alerts
    • Text SATLRECFISH to 888777
  • South Atlantic Commercial Fisheries Related Alerts
    • Text SATLCOMMFISH to 888777
  • Caribbean Fisheries Related Alerts
    • Text CARIBFISH to 888777
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Florida Cold Front Could Kill Snook

Jan 18, 2018 West Palm Beach, Fl It’s chilly out there. In fact, it’s downright cold in some of Florida’s typically balmy coastal regions. Whether you appreciate the break from the heat or you are suddenly longing for our typically warm weather, it is worth taking a minute to think about how the weather impacts our snook and other tropical fish.

For many, the current dip in weather immediately reminds us of how badly snook were impacted back in 2010. Luckily, the current weather event is not projected to be nearly as impactful. Back then, we had freakishly cold temperatures for over a week, with drizzling rain and consistent wind. That led to a lot of ‘cold kill’ fish deaths.

So far, this event is shaping up to be less severe for a few reasons. First, it shouldn’t last nearly as long. Water cools much slower than the air, so a couple days of chilly nights and cloudy days is far less damaging than a week or more. It also has been a little cooler for a few days, which might have provided a signal for snook up in shallower waters to skedaddle to deeper, safer waters before the chill sets in.

Another difference between this snap and 2010 is the wind direction, which has a bigger impact on the fish along the west coast. Waters from the Everglades up through the Tampa area are a lot more shallow than on the east coast, where deeper waters – warmed from the tropical Gulf Stream – are right next door to many fish hang-outs.

If you’ll recall, the 2010 freeze featured consistent NE winds which blew the west coast tides out and never let them come back in. That trapped a lot of snook in the shallow back country, where they froze by the tens of thousands. If the current winds hold, there might be enough water in the cuts and runs for snook to head to the safety of warmer, deeper waters for a few days.

All that said, there will be cold related fish kills over the next week or so, and many of them will be snook. As usual, you can expect to see more of that along the northern fringes of the snook populations.

Usually, as the trapped snook start to chill, they will slow down and start to swim erratically near the surface, then eventually roll on their side or back and lay still in a stunned state. If it is only a short cold snap and the sun warms water right away, they might survive – at least for a while. But more than likely this leads to death.

As retired FWC snook guru Ron Taylor has pointed out to me many times in the past, many snook that survive the initial cold blast end up dying within a few weeks because their slime coating and/or immune system is damaged, and they are more susceptible to parasites and diseases.

If you are on the water a lot, you will probably see some stunned or dead snook. Here’s what you should do.

First, don’t touch them. If they look dead, they might not be and bothering them in their severely stunned state won’t be doing them any favors. And if they are dead and an FWC officer happens to find out you are grabbing them up, you won’t be doing yourself any favors either.

Speaking of FWC, I was recently reminded that the winter closure in Florida is directly related to weather events just like this. SGF member Capt. Danny Barrow called me after he filmed an episode of “XGEN Fishing Show” with owner Andy Alvarez, and they were talking about snook closed seasons on the show ( A question arose as to exactly why there is a winter closure. A quick call to Jim Whittington at FWC reminded us that the closure was originally put in place because of weather events just like the one we are experiencing. It is illegal to harvest cold-stunned or killed snook, for a variety of reasons (which we hope are obvious to you). To keep FWC officers from having to investigate every snook they encounter in a cooler during an extreme cold snap, it was agreed that the most prudent move would be to eliminate any harvest, making life better for our officers, our snook, and in the long run us snook anglers too.

Back to What-To-Do: Your second move should be to report the killed fish to FWC’s Fish Kill hotline. You can do this by phone (800-636-0511) or online at This is actually better than calling your regional FWC office, even if you know there are snook researchers there. The reason is, the hotline is where the information is consolidated across the state, and that is the source of info that will tell the regional offices where to look for issues.

Finally, this little snap needs to serve us all as a reminder of the importance of logging all of our catches in iAngler, using the app or website (  The 2010 snap is what started the iAngler program in the first place. Since then, the data has been used in stock assessments for a variety of species in Florida, and has branched out to help other fisheries better their understanding of the fisheries (most recently Atlantic Red Snapper). But it only works if we log our catches. It’s free, and it is a superior personal log book for you. Visit your app store and download the free app, iAngler, and start logging ASAP. This will help across all facets of fishery conservation, including how best to respond after a cold episode like this one.

In summary: Keep your eyes open for stunned or killed fish for the next couple weeks. Report fish kills to FWC. And log your catch in iAngler!

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A new Ohio record Lake Trout

A new Ohio record Lake Trout has been

Certified by the Outdoor Writers of Ohio State Record Fish Committee.

The new state record Lake Trout, weighing 26.63 pounds, was caught by James J. Beres of Lorain, Ohio in Lake Erie in Lorain County, Ohio. Beres caught the Lake Trout December 1, 2017, using a JT Custom Crank Bait, by trolling with 20 lb test braided line. Beres’ Lake Trout is 38 inches long and 25.5 inches in girth.

His catch replaces the previous state record Lake Trout which was caught in Lake Erie by Tom Harbison on April 20, 2000 weighing 20.40 pounds and measuring 34 inches long. Ohio’s record fish are determined on the basis of weight only.

Ohio’s state record fish are certified by the Outdoor Writers of Ohio State Record Fish Committee with assistance from fisheries biologists with the Ohio Division of Wildlife. Fisheries biologist Matt Faust from the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s Sandusky Fish Research Station confirmed the identification of Beres’ catch as a Lake Trout.

For more information on Ohio’s state record fish program contact Fred Snyder, Chairman, OWO State Record Fish Committee, 754 Co. Rd. 126, Fremont, OH 43420, phone (419) 332-0777, email

PHOTOS: James Beres displays his new Ohio record Lake Trout.

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A Study On The Impacts of Various Fish Handling Techniques

As avid bass anglers, we all strive to be good conservationists while minimizing our impact on fisheries. At the same time, however, we also want to show off our catches to our friends and family. This leads us to a prominent question that has been at the center of many spirited debates: What, if any, physical impact does holding a bass have on its jaw?

There isn’t much scientific research on this topic, which currently leaves anglers and biologists very little basis for making recommendations. We want to begin to change that.

To gain a better understanding of this issue and learn exactly what’s happening to the jaw when held at various angles, we teamed up with Steven Bardin, a leading fisheries biologist and owner of Texas Pro Lake Management. Bardin, along with two veterinarians, Dr. Casey Locklear and Dr. Steven Mapel, designed and conducted an experiment to help shed some light on things.

The results and correlating imagery were nothing short of fascinating.

Bardin and his team of veterinarians had very specific criteria for this experiment. In order to judge the effects on overweight, trophy-sized fish without actually harming true trophies, they paid especially close attention to the relative weights of each test subject.

“We wanted to mimic the body shape and anatomy of trophy-sized fish,” Bardin said. “In order to do this, we captured fish using electrofishing on a private lake that I personally manage. We then selected the individuals that weighed between 2 and 6 pounds with a relative weight of 100 to 125 percent.

“Relative weight is a body condition score fisheries biologists use to compare the actual weight of a fish to what it should weigh based on its length. These higher relative weight fish are overweight for their length, giving them the appearance of what we would expect a trophy fish to look like.”

Once the test subjects were captured and their relative weight was calculated, Dr. Locklear and Dr. Mapel of Hat Creek Veterinary Services took detailed radiographs of each bass being held in four common positions.

Each fish was radiographed in the order described above to ensure any damage on the jaw would be cumulative based on the potential increase in stress at each position. The veterinarians then examined the radiographs of each position, looking for any noticeable breaks in jaw bones, with an emphasis on the dentary bones that make up the bottom jaw.

What did we see?

Based on the radiographic images, the veterinarians did not observe any broken bones in the lower jaw after being held in any position. After further discussion with the team of veterinarians, they explained that broken bones are not as probable as soft tissue injuries in this situation.

“The excess weight and pressure being applied to the jaw is not resulting in one bone location taking all the stress,” Dr. Locklear said. “Instead, the entirety of the lower jaw bones, joints and other soft tissue areas tend to absorb the stress. The weakest parts of the jaw are actually the soft tissue areas, not the bones.”

What Happens When You Hold a Bass?

The absence of broken bones is certainly a good thing, but were there any other soft tissue injuries that occurred?

“There is very little reference material or studies regarding soft tissue injuries in a bass jaw, so we carefully attempted to isolate specific joints and bone junctions (symphysis) that were potential locations for injury,” Bardin said. “These areas of interest are places where excessive pressure would likely be applied or over-flexion or over-extension of the joint could occur. Potential areas of concern in the lower jaw were found to be the mandibular symphysis, located centrally where the left and right dentary bones meet, and the joints where the angular bones and the quadrate meet.

“The mandibular symphysis is not a joint, but a location where two bones meet with cartilage between them. They are not fused like a human’s bottom jaw, so there is slight mobility in this area. I found that each dentary bone could move slightly, but mobility in this area became much greater as we increased the weight of our test subjects.

“When you hold a bass by the lower jaw, you usually place your thumb onto, or to either side of this symphysis, and your fingers fit directly behind it. So in some of the holding positions, you put excess pressure on this area. Professional angler Gary Klein, who I asked to observe the experiment, mentioned he has actually caught fish in the past that had a visible separation of this symphysis.

“In regards to joints, we identified the joint between the angular and quadrate bones as a major concern. This is not the only joint where soft tissue injuries could occur, but it is one the primary joint that controls the opening and closing of the mouth. Essentially, this joint is where the lower jaw meets the rest of the skull. It appears this would be the joint that actually has the greatest likelihood of over-extension.”

Are these soft tissue injuries dangerous or life threatening?

“Due to a lack of industry research, we honestly don’t know how an injury like this affects a fish, nor do we fully understand the recovery period for these injuries,” Bardin said. “For humans, spraining an ankle, dislocating a shoulder or any other soft tissue injury can take a much longer time to repair and recover from than a clean break of a bone. In fact, these injuries can increase the potential for reinjury and, in many cases, cause further instability.

“Fish with these soft tissue injuries will likely swim away and appear completely normal. The questions become: How does a soft tissue injury in the jaw affect the ability of the fish to properly capture forage? Is the injury more likely to reoccur in the future? Does the fish feel the effects of the injury long-term or possibly forever?”

What Happens When You Hold a Bass?
(Photo: Steven Bardin)

It’s also important to understand the impact that the fish’s size had on a potential injury. According to Bardin, there was definitely a correlation between the two.

“It did appear that there was a direct correlation between the size of the fish and the probability of a soft tissue injury,” Bardin said. “The jaw of the largest fish we radiographed actually made an audible ‘pop’ when it was placed into the exaggerated vertical position. Following the study, this fish also had visible laxity in the mandibular symphysis that I would consider to be abnormal. This damage was not observed in smaller fish nor did they have the same pliability in the jaw that the larger fish did.”

The use of a fish grip or hanging scale

What Happens When You Hold a Bass?
(Photo: Steven Bardin)

“I personally use a hanging fish scale with a clip when weighing fish on my electrofishing boat,” Bardin said. “I’d never want to do something that has a negative effect on my clients’ fish. Thankfully, we found that in most positions, a fish grip or hanging scale with a clip was beneficial because it was difficult to put additional pressure on the fish’s joints while holding them vertically. The clips actually act as a pivot point, so as the fish move on the scale, it takes much of the pressure and force off of the jaw.”

Important takeaways from this study

  • Larger fish do require an increased emphasis on proper fish handling, by supporting their weight with a second hand.
  • Applying too much pressure to soft tissue areas can cause damage. Many state agencies claim anything greater than any angle that deviates 10 percent or more from vertical or horizontal has the potential to damage the jaw.
  • Holding fish with a fish grip or by a hanging scale is beneficial.
  • The recommendation that it is acceptable to hold fish horizontally with a second hand supporting its weight or completely vertical is still valid and supported by our research.
  • Holding fish vertically with the weight of the fish being placed on the jaw in an exaggerated fashion is not acceptable.
  • Injured fish will likely swim away and appear completely normal.
  • Long-term affects of soft tissue injuries are currently unknown.

What’s next?

What Happens When You Hold a Bass?
(Photo: Steven Bardin)

As an industry, we certainly need to expand this research by looking at both the short and long-term effects of possible soft tissue injuries to the jaw. How does this affect feeding and the ability of these fish to compete? Do the fish have a lifelong injury or higher potential for reinjury?

In the meantime, it’s important to do everything we can to care for these trophy bass for the short time they’re in our possession. Although the fish may swim away normally, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and handle these fish the best way we know how.

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2017 HUGE Bass Championship Presented by Yamaha Underway


Presented by Yamaha

Press Release

Jupiter, Florida October 3, 2017 The HUGE Bass Championship is comprised of 64 anglers. Anglers are currently fishing to catch that long lunker bass to advance them to the next round in this head to head length contest. All anglers will be video measuring bass on a custom tournament Release Ruler. With $1000 on the line for first place we are excited to see what these anglers reel in. The tournament lasts from September 30, 2017 until December 22, 2017.

There are prizes for the top 3 anglers in the head to head bracket. There are also 6 other categories to fish for.

  • HUGE Bass Champion – Longest Measured Bass of the Tournament
  • Most Bass Caught Overall – The angler that catches the most bass (17” min.)
  • Longest Combined 3 Bass – The angler that has the longest 3 bass combine
  • Longest Bass per Round – The angler that measures the longest bass per round
  • Most Bass per Round – The angler that catches the most bass per round
  • WEE Bass – The Angler that measures the smallest bass

The Anglers in the HUGE Bass Championship live in 13 different states and Canada. They range in age from 10 to 60 years old.   In order to create the most level playing field the states with the most comparable size bass were grouped together and then drawn at random to fill the 64 angler bracket.   All of the anglers most follow a few simple guide lines while posting video measurement of their catch. With the ruler being uniform and specific to the event it makes the measuring process simple and easy.

All tournament updates can be found on the HUGE Bass Championship Facebook Group.

Last minute Sponsorships are still available please contact

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Summer Muskie Tips

Don’t forget to pick up a Musky Ruler. Click Here to order yours.

Dr. Jason Halfen

Musky activity peaks in late summer, as warm water temperatures drive these apex predators to feed opportunistically on abundant natural forage, and to aggressively chase anglers’ baits. Full-time musky devotees frequently drop their paychecks on custom topwaters and giant multi-blade bucktails, study the moon and sun charts, and target trophy waters to get their summer musky fix. Then, there are the rest of us: anglers with families and jobs, who split limited fishing time among several different target species swimming in convenient locations. For us, the musky bug has yet to take complete hold. Nevertheless, we still enjoy the chase, and revel in its success as we lift muskies from the big Frabill net, snap a quick photo and send Esox back to the depths. How can we enjoy consistent summer musky success, without devoting our entire existence to catching them? For me, modern technology levels the playing field, and puts summer muskies in the boat when I’m not chasing river smallmouth, cleaning the cabin gutters or pulling the kids on the tube. Here are four “tech tips” to help you hoist more warm weather muskies this season.

2. Use your eyes, too. Nothing beats visual confirmation of the new micro-spot that you’ve just identified electronically with your fish finder. One of the most powerful and versatile tools in my fish finding arsenal, for both soft and hard water, is my Aqua-Vu HD 700i underwater camera system. A high-definition perspective on the underwater world, courtesy of Aqua-Vu’s high quality optics, allows me to fish with confidence, knowing that I am indeed targeting the right areas for the right fish. Beyond using the Aqua-Vu camera to probe structure, I frequently rely on the same system to confirm the identities of fish that sonar reveals in these same areas. On many of the lakes I frequent, muskies rely on young panfish and related species for summer forage; visually identifying snack-sized sunnies and crappies with my Aqua-Vu camera tells me that the buffet is set for Esox.1. Pick your spots. First, get away from the shoreline. You’ll encounter more quality summer muskies on mid-lake structure than you will back in the shallow bays where you found them in the early part of the season. I gravitate toward humps and bars out on the main basin, and rely on the wind to help me pick my spots. Prime locations are long bars that run perpendicular to that day’s prevailing wind. Barren sand bars will be, you guessed it, devoid of fish. Rocks for cover are good. Weeds are better. Sprinkle a few big boulders along a weedy bar or concentrated right on its tip, and you’ve got a winner! A modern fish finder equipped with side-scanning sonar technology is your friend here, eliminating dead water and putting you on prime musky spots, faster.

4. Get your Mojo on. Technique-specific rods are all the rage. I admit to having rods in my walleye collection that I only use for rigging, others only for corking, and still others for each of a variety of jig-based presentations. My musky rod collection, however, relies on a “generalist” rather than a host of specialist rods. The rod that I reach for, every time, is my eight-foot Mojo Musky (MM80MHF) from St. Croix Rod. Relying on a generalist rod doesn’t mean that I have to compromise on features or functionality. Whether I’m slow rolling a spinnerbait through the weeds, going over the top of the weeds with a Cowgirl, or riding the waves with a topwater, my Mojo Musky handles each presentation with the precision and toughness that summer muskies demand. The Mojo Musky’s eight-foot length allows me to transition into a figure 8 with ease, and the modest weight of the rod doesn’t leave me fatigued after chasing muskies for the day. A hidden bonus? At eight feet in length, this predator powerhouse still fits in my boat’s rod locker, making it convenient to store in the boat all the time, until the Esox hour arrives. My Mojo Musky is an important, final component of my hi-tech solution to the summer musky puzzle.3. String ’em up. Your line and leader are the most intimate, and most critical, connections linking you to your quarry. Stringing up with that cheap black Dacron line collecting dust on the baitshop’s shelf is a recipe for failure. And that 50’s-era wire leader designed to prevent bite offs by toothy Esox is also a significant health hazard to a hooked fish, slicing into flesh and scraping off protective slime during the fight. Twenty-first century technology, championed by passionate, conservation-minded anglers, provides solutions to both of these problems. First, spool up with a modern main line, like Seaguar Threadlock, a 16-strand braid engineered for amazing tensile and impact strength. A smooth casting line that effortlessly peels off the reel, Seaguar Threadlock features a hollow core, enabling quick attachment to an advanced leader material, like the 100% fluorocarbon Seaguar AbrazX Musky and Pike leader. Advanced by innovators in the musky fishing community, AbrazX Musky and Pike leader is highly abrasion resistant and delivers exceptional tensile and knot strength. While providing successful Musky fishing experiences to the angler, Seaguar Threadlock and AbrazX Musky and Pike leader also have Esox’s welfare in mind, allowing fish to be landed quickly in summer’s heat, and with far fewer leader-induced injuries than ever before.

Summer musky prime time has arrived. This is the time of the season with the musky can truly be an “everyman’s fish”, as for these few weeks, complete devotion to all things Esox is not necessarily required for success. Use these tech tips to level the musky playing field, and be sure to smile for those musky “grip-and-grin” photos that are destined for your desk at work and your social media profile. Those memories will keep the musky flame burning bright until summer returns next year!

About the author

Dr. Jason Halfen owns and operates The Technological Angler, dedicated to teaching anglers to leverage modern technology to find and catch more fish. Let your learning begin at


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Atlantic Cobia Rule Change

New Minimum will be 36-inches

NOAA Fisheries announces a final rule to change the following management measures for Atlantic Cobia (Georgia through New York):

increase the recreational minimum size limit

reduce the recreational bag limit

establish a recreational vessel limit

establish a commercial trip limit

modify the recreational accountability measure


The management measures will be effective September 5, 2017.


For the Atlantic cobia recreational sector, the minimum size limit will increase from 33 inches fork length to 36 inches fork length.

The recreational bag limit will be modified to one fish per person per day, or six fish per vessel per day, whichever is more restrictive.

The rule will also modify the accountability measure for the recreational sector. If the recreational and total catch limits (commercial and recreational combined) are exceeded, NOAA Fisheries will reduce the vessel limit, and if necessary, shorten the following season.

For the Atlantic cobia commercial sector, the rule will implement a commercial trip limit of two fish per person per day, or six fish per vessel per day, whichever is more restrictive.

This final rule is the result of Framework Amendment 4 recommended to NOAA Fisheries by the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic Fishery Management Councils.

These actions are expected to reduce the likelihood of exceeding the recreational and commercial Atlantic cobia catch limits in future years.