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Author Archives: Danny Barker

Have you ever caught a Bass in a Clown Suit?  More commonly known as the Peacock Bass, South Florida is the only place in the main land USA that they live. They’re a tropical fish that require warm water to survive.

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I went out to hunt for these unusual looking fish with local guide Chris Licato, AKA “The Swamp God.” Chris is the ultimate guide with a flair all his own; he talked about techniques, locations and presentations all the while giving positive feedback. He never brought a rod or caught a fish.

He’s the kind of guide whose main goal is your enjoyment and experience.  A lot of guides will fish during trips and not surprisingly catch the biggest fish, which is not cool in my opinion. The Peacock Bass are by far stronger and fight harder, pound for pound, than a Largemouth! They don’t achieve the massive size of the ones in the Amazon, but still have the same “Never give up“mentality and could be described as a Smallmouth on steroids!

As the case with the Largemouth, Chris recommends that the fish be released, but with that being said, I believe the limit is two per day. The fish are most active during the warmer months in Florida. ChompGod Check out  Chris at his website, swamp god outdoors   or send him a PM on Chris’ Face book page  for the best times to come.  Chris will provide all the tackle, but if you like bring some of your own, he’ll also instruct you on what to bring and what to wear.   Kudos to Chris for a fantastic fishing trip and for our friendship. I have a new-found respect for these Bass in Clown Suits! I also want to thank Breathe Like a Fish, Bassaholics, Glacier Gloves and California Reservoir Lures, Bozo the Clown Killer Jigs  for their fine products that made this trip that much more enjoyable.

Put this trip on your bucket list you’ll be glad you did… Until next time Stay on Em … CHOMP !!

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Danny Barker

I’m a Calif. transplant living in Ocala, FL. I’ve lived here for the last 6 years. My home town of Sacramento/ Folsom, Ca is where I lived for 40 years. Some of the best bass fishing in the country with the Delta, Clear Lake, Folsom and tons of other outstanding water. I write/moderate for a cool website called the Unemployed Fishing Club Unemployed Fishing Club, I’m also a writer/ Field Editor for North Central Florida Fish Explorer.com. Looking forward to contributing to MLO. Look me up on FaceBook too !

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It was gorgeous day fishing on the Withlacoochee River, Florida, until I hung an expensive swimbait on a tree. No problem, I troll over, reach out and then splash head first into the water. Pop up, swim to the back of  the boat and get back in, a little embarrassed but no worse the wear. Then the bad news sunk in: my $250 .00 pair if RX sunglasses were gone! Lost in a murky Gator infested cove …Gator Withlacoochee

This started my search for another cost-effective way to protect my eyes and give me the polarized effect for seeing underwater. There was no way I could afford another pair of RX sunglasses. I remember running into Ish Monroe at the Live Eyewear booth at ICAST where he told me to check out the Cocoon sunglasses, designed specifically to be worn over prescription eyewear. The average cost was around 50 bucks which was a relief to know. Cocoons are the leading brand of optical quality sunglasses designed specifically to be worn over prescription glasses. All backed by a limited lifetime warranty! PicMonkey CollageG

I’ve been using them now for some time and can give them my two thumbs up review! The new Style Line MX fit perfectly over my eyeglass frames and felt comfortable through out the day. If you wear RX glasses give Cocoons a try!

Danny Barker

I’m a Calif. transplant living in Ocala, FL. I’ve lived here for the last 6 years. My home town of Sacramento/ Folsom, Ca is where I lived for 40 years. Some of the best bass fishing in the country with the Delta, Clear Lake, Folsom and tons of other outstanding water. I write/moderate for a cool website called the Unemployed Fishing Club Unemployed Fishing Club, I’m also a writer/ Field Editor for North Central Florida Fish Explorer.com. Looking forward to contributing to MLO. Look me up on FaceBook too !

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My bait is better than yours … Trophy Hunters wanted: fish this way please. Keep in mind that I fish for fun so some of what I’ll say is naive to a degree. I don’t know the inner workings of the bait making business nor do I know what classifies one as a Big Fish expert. What I do know is there’s a lot of back and forth going on about who made this bait first and people drawing up guide lines for being a true Trophy Hunter. It’s a sad commentary on the sport when we have all this drama and division when you realize we’re talking about fishing.

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Renowned Poet Ted Hughes once said and I agree …

Fishing provides that connection with the whole living world. It gives you the opportunity of being totally immersed, turning back into yourself in a good way. A form of meditation, some form of communion with levels of yourself that are deeper than the ordinary self.

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We need to keep in mind that there’s room for all kinds of baits and fishermen; nothing is cast in stone, nothing is new under the sun. I’m sponsored by a bunch of folks, but it doesn’t stop me from liking other baits or enjoying how one trophy hunter pursues his passion over another. The world has enough trouble occupying our worries, we don’t need any in the sport we love. These are tough times on a lot of people, most of which we never hear about … loss of loved ones, health, jobs, the economy and the list goes on …

My hope is that we can all have fun in this sport we call fishing and not let the noise in the background affect our love of the game. You can draw a line in the sand but you can’t draw one on the water. Stay on Em … Peace!

Danny Barker

I’m a Calif. transplant living in Ocala, FL. I’ve lived here for the last 6 years. My home town of Sacramento/ Folsom, Ca is where I lived for 40 years. Some of the best bass fishing in the country with the Delta, Clear Lake, Folsom and tons of other outstanding water. I write/moderate for a cool website called the Unemployed Fishing Club Unemployed Fishing Club, I’m also a writer/ Field Editor for North Central Florida Fish Explorer.com. Looking forward to contributing to MLO. Look me up on FaceBook too !

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Wow! I just hit the elusive 70 mph mark on ole Betsy; that’s what I call my bass boat. How did I do it? Taking a look at my gear and figuring out how much of it was tackle overkill & excess weight.

Listen up, it was actually pretty easy. The first item on my list was to get rid of every bait and tackle box that hadn’t been used in eons. An example would be my Senko boxes; I had in excess of 10 different colors and sizes. What stuck me was that 90% of the time, I only used two colors: the green pumpkin/black flake and the Junebug. Now, those two are the only ones I carry, this process of elimination continued throughout the day.

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The next item on my list was to get rid of two anchors and since I’ve been using the DigIn shallow water anchor system they weren’t needed, all they were doing was taking up space and adding weight. I’m sure at some point I’ll wish i still had them, but for now, the weight had to go!

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Moving on I started looking at how the items in my boat are distributed. After removing all the excess tackle and accessories I re-positioned the rest of my stuff equally on both sides. Here’s the final picture of the tackle that I carry on my boat and, when I’m on the road fishing with someone else, all I have to do is grab my bag … Done!

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A few other tips I used to cut down on weight; I never top off the gas tanks in my boat or my truck, why haul around all that extra weight? I’ll get what is needed for the day plus a little extra. Also, don’t fill your live wells up until you get to your 1st stop. Remember its all about keeping your boat weight down.

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Batteries are a huge weight consideration; get the lightest ones you can buy. I have a problem with this one because the cost of the new high tech batteries are through the roof, some of them going for a thousand bucks, or more, each. Needless to say I’m running the big ole heavy ones!

Take a look at your boat folks and see what your carrying around and how much needless weight it amounts to. With the gas prices being so high, these ideas will save you a ton of money. BTW I very rarely run faster than 50 mph so the 70 mph I hit the other day was only to prove my point, LOL!

Until next time “ Stay on Em” …. Let the picture below be the reason your boat is overweight !

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Danny Barker

I’m a Calif. transplant living in Ocala, FL. I’ve lived here for the last 6 years. My home town of Sacramento/ Folsom, Ca is where I lived for 40 years. Some of the best bass fishing in the country with the Delta, Clear Lake, Folsom and tons of other outstanding water. I write/moderate for a cool website called the Unemployed Fishing Club Unemployed Fishing Club, I’m also a writer/ Field Editor for North Central Florida Fish Explorer.com. Looking forward to contributing to MLO. Look me up on FaceBook too !

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Last year at ICAST Orlando I ran into the guys from Boomerang Tool Company who have this really cool tool called the Snip. It’s a line cutter that’s light and strong; it uses rust proof “Grade 420” stainless steel blades that cut through monofilament, fluorocarbon, and braid, like butter. By far the most convenient line cutter I’ve used.

Specifications

  • Dimensions: 3.25 x 1.25 x      0.75″ (8 x 3 x 1.5cm)
  • Weight: 1.25oz (35g)
  • Jaws: 420 Stainless Steel

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Their other product which was not available at the time of this review was the Grip Pliers but wanted to mention it. This tool is a great general purpose plier and it also has a spilt ring feature on the end which makes changing out hooks a piece of cake. Having been a machinist for 35 years the machine work is top notch! Two more things the jaws are replaceable and so are the carbide blade line cutter . Check out both of these tools you’ll agree that they’re a must have…

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GRIP Fishing Pliers Specifications

  • Dimensions: 7 x 2.65 x .5″
  • Weight: 3.6oz
  • Jaws: Stainless Steel
  • Handles: Precision machined aluminum
  • Always-Ready jaws
  • Replaceable carbide blades
  • cup-to-cup and point-to-cup crimping
  • includes nylon holster
CLIP Tether Specifications

  • Dimensions: 3 x 1.625 x 0.75″ (8 x 3 x 1.5cm)
  • Weight: 1.25oz (35g)
  • Spring: 420 Stainless Steel
  • Cord: 36″ Kevlar™
  • Body: High Impact Plastic

You can buy the bonus pack for $61.85 check out this link …http://www.boomerangtool.com/shop/grip-snip-clip/Until next time….Stay on Em!

Danny Barker

I’m a Calif. transplant living in Ocala, FL. I’ve lived here for the last 6 years. My home town of Sacramento/ Folsom, Ca is where I lived for 40 years. Some of the best bass fishing in the country with the Delta, Clear Lake, Folsom and tons of other outstanding water. I write/moderate for a cool website called the Unemployed Fishing Club Unemployed Fishing Club, I’m also a writer/ Field Editor for North Central Florida Fish Explorer.com. Looking forward to contributing to MLO. Look me up on FaceBook too !

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Another fish makes it safely into the boat and is quickly released, and in a house on the shore, a thumb rises into view from the window. With that, the bass fishing season in Florida has begun. The fish are staging and the males are preparing their nests. You may wonder about that lonely thumb in the window right about now as I did then and therein lies my story.

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A lot of my fishing takes place in areas where houses dot the shoreline and the residents must be pretty well off to afford such awesome water front property. Fancy cars, plus beautiful landscaping, leads you to believe that they don’t have a care in the world. What’s odd is that you never really see any of them fishing, it makes you wonder why?

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This one house with a dock always has nice fish around it and is one of my favorite spots. A while ago I noticed a window with the blinds cracked to reveal what looked like an elevated bed, a crumpled up pillow and nothing else, or so I thought. The fishing comes easy this day and in the process of releasing a fish I notice something out of the corner of my eye coming from the open window. A single arm raised into view and at the end of it, a thumbs up signal.

“Ok,” I think to myself. Now, I’m getting curious, since very often these home owners feel like they own the water and can be rude. So I want to wait to see what happens before passing judgement. Another fish bites, I land it, and back in the water it goes. Looking directly at the room I see that same arm rise slowly and the thumbs up sign is given again. This same motion repeats throughout the day and on many occasions thereafter.

It wasn’t until sometime later that I spoke to the caregiver and found out the story about the man behind the window. She related that he was very sick and bed ridden. She explained that he loved to fish off his dock and that I had reminded him of a better time in his life.

The caregiver went on to say that every time I showed up he would instruct her to crack the blinds and prop up his pillow. To this day when I catch a fish by his house and see his thumbs up, mine goes up as well. It’s a reminder that sometimes our problems are so small compared to what goes on in the life of others.

This quote is by my fellow fisherman and friend… “Appreciate the water, man. Appreciate how lucky you are to be out on the water, whether you catch a fish or not, you know.” – Mike Long

Until next time my friends enjoy your fishing or whatever your passion is because nothing is guaranteed and we never know when our health will leave us…

Danny Barker

I’m a Calif. transplant living in Ocala, FL. I’ve lived here for the last 6 years. My home town of Sacramento/ Folsom, Ca is where I lived for 40 years. Some of the best bass fishing in the country with the Delta, Clear Lake, Folsom and tons of other outstanding water. I write/moderate for a cool website called the Unemployed Fishing Club Unemployed Fishing Club, I’m also a writer/ Field Editor for North Central Florida Fish Explorer.com. Looking forward to contributing to MLO. Look me up on FaceBook too !

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It was an up and down year for me personally from a fishing standpoint: I lost three out of four double digit bass. However, I caught more fish in the 5-8 lb range than ever.  As the year draws to an the end, I can only look back and say that it’s great to live in a country where we have the freedom to pursue our passions. Thanks to our men and women of our Armed Forces who make this possible!

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I also saw the underbelly of the big bass scene that I never knew existed. Where guys look to tear down people and disrespect one another because of one thing or another. Fishing should be about having fun, sharing our experiences and communing with nature. Nobody’s perfect we all make mistakes, can’t we make our points in a private and decent manner as opposed to a public undressing? I hope so since we have too many fish to catch and dreams to chase. We already have enough trouble in this world without adding to the noise with hate for ego’s sake.

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On the positive side, we have seen lots of huge fish caught and released by a larger group of anglers than ever. Guys are focusing on doing battle with the big girls with an unbelievable line up of new baits and some of the old proven ones. The top big bass anglers are sharing what they know and where they’re catching them as well. 2013 is shaping up to be a banner year, who knows maybe the World Record will fall and hopefully in the USA!

Here’s one of my highlights from 2012… I’m buzzing the shoreline, looking for any signs of fish and I come across a small 12″ male. I watched him for a few minutes and then a big female swims by! The adrenaline starts flowing I grab my Senko rod and make a cast, she stands her ground. After a few more cast with no response, I change to a White jig with a curl tail worm. She starts to get annoyed, then starts to elevate, lightly picks it up by the tail and swims off. SWING nothing but air, she’s mine now, the next cast with no worm trailer she just crushes it and the fight is on! In the livewell she goes moments later. I do all the measuring, weighing and a quick photo session. She went 10.3, 26 inches long. Watching it all happen is such a thrill but the payoff is the release knowing she’ll spawn and live to fight another day.

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As we reflect back on 2012 and look forward to 2013, lets all do our part in keeping the sport fun, handling our fish properly and respecting the outdoors. Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, until next time “Stay on Em “!

XMAS

Danny Barker

I’m a Calif. transplant living in Ocala, FL. I’ve lived here for the last 6 years. My home town of Sacramento/ Folsom, Ca is where I lived for 40 years. Some of the best bass fishing in the country with the Delta, Clear Lake, Folsom and tons of other outstanding water. I write/moderate for a cool website called the Unemployed Fishing Club Unemployed Fishing Club, I’m also a writer/ Field Editor for North Central Florida Fish Explorer.com. Looking forward to contributing to MLO. Look me up on FaceBook too !

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George Perry & His Record Catch

Photo Credit: Augusta Chronicle, Sunday, May 28, 2006

“I just ate the World Record Bass tonight and it was good!”

Who did this? Soon after he caught that infamous fish and it was certified, George Perry’s record catch went into the frying pan. Before the advent of catch and release (C&R) back in the early 70’s, it was almost always catch and eat.

Let me say I release all my fish, but are we doing more harm than good now with the C&R mentality? Some studies seem to bare this out coming to the conclusion that lakes have become over populated with small fish and have actually hurt the bass from growing bigger. So what’s the answer? Maybe we should start taking some of the smaller fish home. One of the major problems is that some will become the victims of ridicule for keeping fish.

I’ve always felt if someone wanted to take his limit of keeper bass then that was just fine. It seems the answer is to take the right fish home and let the big fish go after a quick picture and measuring. It’s safe to say that the number of really big fish in a given body of water is relatively small. So it only makes sense to release them to spawn and fight another day. One point here is there’s no need to be mean or rude to someone who does decide to keep a trophy fish. I’ve see guys get beat down verbally and bashed, so all we can do is try to instruct folks on the merits of releasing the big girls, and in a positive manner.

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This next area is something that needs to be examined as well, and that’s how we are handling these bigger fish. All too often we see folks bouncing big fish off the boat deck, taking pictures of them on the ground and just generally not treating the fish with care. The Pro’s and Tournaments circuits preach the merits of C& R but what message does it send when you see them culling fish on the bottom of the floor or flexing their jaws on the weigh in stand? Look we all need to do better myself included, we all want to protect the resource and educating folks is the way to go.

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Selective harvesting on certain lakes can be a good thing and will no doubt help the big bass population grow by providing more forage. One way of looking at it is instead of releasing that 2-3 pounder and it becoming the next big fish in the pond, it may be the reason we’re not catching 10 pounders, food for thought. So until next time “Stay on Em “and maybe taking a few of them rats home for the family or friends will produce future giants.

Danny Barker

I’m a Calif. transplant living in Ocala, FL. I’ve lived here for the last 6 years. My home town of Sacramento/ Folsom, Ca is where I lived for 40 years. Some of the best bass fishing in the country with the Delta, Clear Lake, Folsom and tons of other outstanding water. I write/moderate for a cool website called the Unemployed Fishing Club Unemployed Fishing Club, I’m also a writer/ Field Editor for North Central Florida Fish Explorer.com. Looking forward to contributing to MLO. Look me up on FaceBook too !

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Another day comes to a close and my arm is hanging on by a thread. It seems all you hear about are the big swimbaits and the huge fish they catch. Surprisingly you also see lots of smaller fish with huge baits hanging from their mouths as well. On the flip side, small baits catch small fish and I’ll suggest that they also catch more than your fair share of giants. We just don’t hear much about it because it’s just not sexy enough to say you caught a DD on a Drop Shot as opposed to a huge swimbait. The key to catching big fish is “be versatile.” While fishing for big fish one day with a large bait and not having any luck,  I decide to throw a little drop shot worm down and BOOM she bites first cast.  There are just times when you have to downsize even when trophy hunting. Yes you will catch a bunch of small fish, but then you might also be rewarded with a monster!

One of the big obstacles for many fishermen is the cost of these Big Bait. Some go for as much as $85.00 a piece. Make no mistake, you will catch huge fish with these baits given the time and opportunity, but keep in mind that you can find alternative big lures that will be just as good and won’t break the bank.

Last week I was throwing a big 7” jerk bait by a company called Deadliest Katch that is priced around $6.50 and stuck a really nice fish. Look around at some of the big Musky baits and some of the other companies that make oversized lures at a reasonable price.

Now back to the small bait tactics. I would venture to say that big fish eat tons of crawdads which are normally small in size. Bass eat a lot of frogs as well, and they’re usually on the small side too. There’s no shame in saying I caught that Toad on a 6” FX Soft-Shell Craw RoboWorm or a hand poured Fringe worm by your local worm maker.  Have an open mind and don’t get locked in to thinking, “if I don’t have the hottest, I’m out of the game,” because you’re not! The big fish will eat what your throwing whether it’s a 10” top of the line swimbat or a small jig.

Gary Dobyns West Coast Tournament legend and rod maker spoke to our trophy bass club and related a story about catching a 12 lb fish on Folsom using a small worm that he had just bite off to make it smaller.

Big Baits… Big bass, small baits… Big Bass. Yes, it happens more than we think!

Until next time… Stay on Em!

Danny Barker

I’m a Calif. transplant living in Ocala, FL. I’ve lived here for the last 6 years. My home town of Sacramento/ Folsom, Ca is where I lived for 40 years. Some of the best bass fishing in the country with the Delta, Clear Lake, Folsom and tons of other outstanding water. I write/moderate for a cool website called the Unemployed Fishing Club Unemployed Fishing Club, I’m also a writer/ Field Editor for North Central Florida Fish Explorer.com. Looking forward to contributing to MLO. Look me up on FaceBook too !

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A huge bass just swam by and all I can do is marvel at its beauty. We moved to Florida six years ago and I thought this is going to be power fishing at its best! It’s a flippin’ paradise with all kinds of wood, pads, grass and more weeds than you can shake a stick at.

There was another side to the fishing landscape that I had no idea existed; sight fishing. It involves fishing crystal clear spring fed rivers with a constant 72 degree water temperature year round. This really appeals to me, although I still love the classic in your face style of fishing that Florida is known for.

Classic FL Water…

Spring Fed River..

 

 

 

Think of sight fish every day you go fishing, you may say WOW that would be so cool. Being able to see the fish you’re attempting to catch is awesome, but therein lies the problem; if you can see them, they can see you as well. So it becomes a cat and mouse game of trying to fool a wary prey. It requires light line, light tackle, stealth and coming from the proper angle. Which also means everything has to go right from the beginning of the battle to the end. If you have a weak link in your plan, you’re toast. Retying is critical, the line has to be top notch, your rod and reel has to be in great shape.

You’ll only have one chance, if you’re lucky enough to get the fish to bite in the first place. It can become a real source of frustration, watching huge fish after huge fish swim by and literally swim away from your bait. The key is to find a fish that’s on the prowl for a meal; you’ll know when you spot these active fish by how they act. They’re more relaxed, focused on one thing and that’s eating what you’re presenting, whether it’s a jig, swimbait or even a drop shot.

Its one of the most exhilarating moments is watching a huge fish finally inhale your bait! Then watching every head shaking move a bass can make. The clarity of the water allows you to see all the action from the top to the bottom. One of the biggest observations I’ve made is that we are missing a lot of bites; fish have come up and inhaled my bait without the slightest tap, pull or even the appearance of having taken the lure.

Example , I tossed my drop shot along a grass island one day and as I get a little closer there’s  a 5 lb sitting in the current about 10 ft off the weed bank. This fish had picked off my bait swam out and I never felt a thing until the final moment of setting the hook! It makes you wonder how many big fish, including what may have been a personal best, we have missed and not known it.

So as you can see, it’s not as easy as one might think and the frustration of watching schools of 5-10 lb’ers swim by lazily will drive you nuts. Then on the flip side the excitement of a big fish turning and heading for your bait is heart pounding experience! A 7 pounder lived on a particular cypress tree on the river; it took me 2 years before she finally fell for a Senko. Talk about determination. Curse or blessing you be the judge ….

Finally after 2 years she bit !!

Until next time….Stay on em!

Danny Barker

I’m a Calif. transplant living in Ocala, FL. I’ve lived here for the last 6 years. My home town of Sacramento/ Folsom, Ca is where I lived for 40 years. Some of the best bass fishing in the country with the Delta, Clear Lake, Folsom and tons of other outstanding water. I write/moderate for a cool website called the Unemployed Fishing Club Unemployed Fishing Club, I’m also a writer/ Field Editor for North Central Florida Fish Explorer.com. Looking forward to contributing to MLO. Look me up on FaceBook too !

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I’m going on that fishing trip of a lifetime. When I retire I’m going to travel. When I have the time and so on and so on. One of the most influential person I ever met was a guy I knew for only a week. He had a machine shop that our company was interested in buying. His name fails me right now, but its not relevant to his story, we talked shop and we talked about fishing. He talked about finally being able to retire so he could go on a fishing trip he had dreamed of for so long. I was in my late 40’s and could relate to his eagerness to fulfill his trip. I found myself feeling the same way and thinking, “Yes, when I retire”

Fast forward one week. I’m in the machine shop office and I answered the phone. It was my new found friend. This would be the second time I ever talked to him and it would be my last. He started by saying hello, then went on to say, “remember that fishing trip we talked about? It’s not going to happen.” When I asked why he began to cry and he explained that after some routine tests he had the prior week, they found some spots on his lungs. Cancer was found, a date was given, and all I could do was listen. He said, “It’s not fair Danny. I worked my whole life to be able to fish and do all the things I dreamed of. It’s not fair, Danny.” His voice crackling again. My words of comfort didn’t come easy and I’m sorry was all that I could say. He said, “Don’t wait. The time may never come so do what you love now. Make time and find a way because nothing is guaranteed.” His words still ring in my head and the life he planned after he retired was gone.

This one brief encounter with a man I barely knew changed my whole outlook and what I would do regarding living in the moment. I’m not going to tell everyone about my own health issues and problems because we all have a story to tell. I decided at 56 that I would step away from my job of 38 years and pursue my passion for Bass fishing plus some other things on my bucket list that I loved. My kids were all gone and I didn’t have the responsibility of raising a family plus my wife was very supportive and still enjoyed her work. My short-lived friend from the machine shop passed away shortly after that phone conversation 16 years ago and his story stayed with me all these years.

I guess my whole point is don’t wait, do what you love, pursue your passions. Life is too short and things will get in the way. I’m not saying quit your job, but don’t put off that fishing trip or that day on the water with a friend, child, son, daughter. The time may never come when you retire or when you have the money. Until next time my friends, enjoy the great outdoors, don’t wait !

Danny Barker

I’m a Calif. transplant living in Ocala, FL. I’ve lived here for the last 6 years. My home town of Sacramento/ Folsom, Ca is where I lived for 40 years. Some of the best bass fishing in the country with the Delta, Clear Lake, Folsom and tons of other outstanding water. I write/moderate for a cool website called the Unemployed Fishing Club Unemployed Fishing Club, I’m also a writer/ Field Editor for North Central Florida Fish Explorer.com. Looking forward to contributing to MLO. Look me up on FaceBook too !

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“I just caught my first 10 lb’er!” Those are the words anyone who fishes for bass longs to say! It’s a bench mark all bass fishermen and women strive for. Well, Joe Everett has smashed through that barrier and beyond! Here’s a little background info on Joe so we’ll have a starting point…

Joe Everett is a surfboard builder for PureGlass and lives in Southern California. He’s a family man and one of the premiere Trophy Bass Hunters in the world. His passion and drive to catch the next world record fish is beyond belief. He lives near a private lake called Mission Viejo; it’s a private lake that has the potential to produce the record fish. Each year his pursuit starts in February and runs into early May with a schedule that would kill any normal human being. A typical day starts by being at the gate by 5 a.m. which is three hours before it opens at 8 a.m. Then, he spends sun up till sundown on the water followed by working a full shift and finally he heads home to get just a few hours of sleep. Repeat this cycle for 70 plus days in a row and you will know what it’s like to walk in this man’s shoes.

Joe’s 18 lb’er….

My first thought on this blog was to have Joe take us through the day he caught his PB (personal best) fish which was an 18 lb’er. It became clear that wasn’t the story that needed to be told. You see, Joe has yet to catch his PB. In some ways Joe’s an enigma, hard to explain, driven by his passion for catching the WR (World Record) or one in the 20 lb range. He’s caught so many documented huge fish, yet he still feels the best is only a cast away. Joe told me the story of fishing 5 days in a row on a single fish that could have been a WR and the toll that it took on him physically and emotionally. The fish was never caught, but within a few moments of giving up on that fish, he proceeded to catch a 17 lb’er nearby on his third cast, which would affectionately be called Knot head!

Knot Head

Go figure 5 days of playing cat and mouse with the beast and only 3 casts for the door prize which, to anyone else, would have been the fish of a lifetime!  So, another season will close and in Joe’s mind the elusive fish, the one 20 lb’er that he seeks most, will have to wait. In the meantime, he racks up DD fish which have only become obstacles in his quest. A few folks will question his game but no one can question his drive and passion for the sport! Looking from my position his following is huge and wishes him nothing but the best. I asked Joe how much longer can you keep this up. He replied, “It’s complicated Danny. There’s so much that goes into this game it can take a toll, but being a good provider, husband, and family man is what I want people to know about me.”  He went on to say that when the day comes to end this pursuit it will all be over because it’s an all or nothing proposition for him. The number one piece of advice Joe gives to anyone who is chasing the dream isn’t about a magic lure, specific technique, or even time on the water. It’s “Believe in Yourself.” So what started out as a blow-by-blow on how Joe caught his PB turned into a look beyond the headlines and into the man….trust me folks I only scratched the surface. Until next time …STAY on Em !

Danny Barker

I’m a Calif. transplant living in Ocala, FL. I’ve lived here for the last 6 years. My home town of Sacramento/ Folsom, Ca is where I lived for 40 years. Some of the best bass fishing in the country with the Delta, Clear Lake, Folsom and tons of other outstanding water. I write/moderate for a cool website called the Unemployed Fishing Club Unemployed Fishing Club, I’m also a writer/ Field Editor for North Central Florida Fish Explorer.com. Looking forward to contributing to MLO. Look me up on FaceBook too !

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Do you need an extra boost winding in your next big fish or crankin your favorite bait? Well a new company on the scene called Hawgtech has just what you’re looking for!

Hawg Tech Carbon Fiber Reel Handles

While talking to Steve Parks at the Strike King Booth during ICAST I ran into the guys from Hawgtech. We struck up a conversation and that’s when I found out about their after- market reel handle. Mike Slipy (co-owner) pointed out it’s not your everyday handle, it’s manufactured from carbon fiber plate stock then CNC (computer numerically controlled) machined to produce this high-tech handle which virtually fits all baitcasters. Carbon fiber is 5x stronger than steel and is extremely light; you’ll also notice that the handle is longer giving you more leverage. Also unique are the cork grips which give you a nice soft feel and are light as well. The Hawg Tech handles were easy to install, be sure you look in the small built-in box for the new hardware.

Easy Installation

After using the handles on my Revo SX and Shimano Castaic for just one session I knew that these handles were going to be a great addition! Here’s a couple of nice fish I caught while putting the new handles through their paces, loved the feel and extra leverage.

      

Hawg Tech is up and running they’re officially open for business. Check out their website and the FaceBook page as well.  

Here are the spec’s:

  • Ultra-lightweight carbon fiber reel handle.  25 grams.
  • 94mm length for maximum cranking torque (typical = 80-90mm)
  • Four ball bearings for optimum smoothness.
  • Cork grips provide attractive, comfortable cranking
  • Premium components:
  • 3k, twill carbon fiber
  • highest grade cork available.
  • ABEC5, stainless steel bearings
  • T6061 aluminum.
  • U-40 sealant and bond epoxy.
  • ReelX lubricant

Pros: Light weight, strong, comfortable, extra leverage and stylish

Cons:  The hardware was somewhat hidden.

Two thumbs up review…..

Until next time, Stay on Em !

 

Danny Barker

I’m a Calif. transplant living in Ocala, FL. I’ve lived here for the last 6 years. My home town of Sacramento/ Folsom, Ca is where I lived for 40 years. Some of the best bass fishing in the country with the Delta, Clear Lake, Folsom and tons of other outstanding water. I write/moderate for a cool website called the Unemployed Fishing Club Unemployed Fishing Club, I’m also a writer/ Field Editor for North Central Florida Fish Explorer.com. Looking forward to contributing to MLO. Look me up on FaceBook too !

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Imagine that you have just caught the Fish of a Lifetime and now have a huge decision to make, do you keep the fish, or do you release it? This subject comes up from time to time about C&R  (Catch and Release) of a Trophy fish and what to do about capturing the moment in the form of a Skin Mount, or a replica. Along the same lines of Mike’s recent article titled “Are you prepared for a record catch?” I’d like to reinforce  some of his major points and add that all these measures are very important along with, do you want a mount made of your big fish? If you’re a C&R fishermen then it’s a replica ,if you decide on a Skin mount then the fish will be used to produce the trophy mount. It’s a personal choice that only you can make and you have every right to do what you want to do with your trophy catch. With the advent of good quality fiberglass reproductions, along with a good picture of your catch and measuring all the dimensions then, I would suggest that this is the way to go.

Plus here’s the kicker, the fish gets released for another angler to catch someday and also gets to reproduce for years to come. The merits of C&R are well documented with numerous cases of guys catching the same fish time and again. I have a replica of my PB ( personal best ) 14.63 lb’er hanging in my den and every morning I wake up I get to relive that day knowing she could still be swimming around Folsom Lake, Ca.

Along the same lines there are times when we see folks keeping a huge fish and not releasing her for one reason or another. Emotions can run high on both sides of this situation, remember it’s not against the law to keep any fish caught by legal means. All we can do is promote with good sound advice and not be judgmental. So in conclusion lets educate, promote and leave the next generation with a chance to enjoy the sport that we all love.

Until next time…Stay On EM !

Danny Barker

I’m a Calif. transplant living in Ocala, FL. I’ve lived here for the last 6 years. My home town of Sacramento/ Folsom, Ca is where I lived for 40 years. Some of the best bass fishing in the country with the Delta, Clear Lake, Folsom and tons of other outstanding water. I write/moderate for a cool website called the Unemployed Fishing Club Unemployed Fishing Club, I’m also a writer/ Field Editor for North Central Florida Fish Explorer.com. Looking forward to contributing to MLO. Look me up on FaceBook too !

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What a HOT, Humid day on the water today in North Central Florida! After my morning coffee wore off around noon it was time for something else to pick me up. Here’s where the folks from Reel Adrenaline Energy Drinks come into play. Reel Adrenaline Energy Drinks may be the first custom designed energy drinks specifically for fisherman.

I met Stephen Fill along with Amber Block at ICAST where they introduced me to their new product and gave me a few samples to review. Stephen stated that the drinks have B vitamins, taurine (organic acid involved in muscle and eye function), caffeine, glucuronolactone (derived from sugar), sucrose and glucose (sugars), it’s offered in two named versions: Big Game and Light Tackle.

The light indicates the sugar free version. Both are citrus flavored, with the regular version having 112 calories and the sugar free version having just 5 calories. The drink was designed for the fishermen in particular, but also divers, surfers, snorkelers, boaters, and others who love the water now have a tasty flavorful drink.

I’ve always loved the taste of lemon/lime and the drink reminded me of it. Next time you’re on the water and need a refreshing boost check ’em out.

Here’s the website link, or you can follow them on Facebook.

Pros: Great way to stay alert on the water, refreshing taste

Cons: Still a little hard to get, but they’re working on getting some distributors lined up!

Two thumbs up Review!

until next time…..”Stay on em”

Danny Barker

I’m a Calif. transplant living in Ocala, FL. I’ve lived here for the last 6 years. My home town of Sacramento/ Folsom, Ca is where I lived for 40 years. Some of the best bass fishing in the country with the Delta, Clear Lake, Folsom and tons of other outstanding water. I write/moderate for a cool website called the Unemployed Fishing Club Unemployed Fishing Club, I’m also a writer/ Field Editor for North Central Florida Fish Explorer.com. Looking forward to contributing to MLO. Look me up on FaceBook too !

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One of many huge Bass caught and released by Mike Long.

The second half in the quest for the next World Record Bass continues. Big name players, like Joe Everett and Mike Long, have been logging some big fish as have a number of everyday folks. All of them, chasing the dream.

Most believe that the next World Record will come from Southern California, most likely a Florida Strain bass feeding on a high protein diet of planted rainbow trout, which are small trout stocked as an easy catch for the weekend anglers. Given that scenario one would expect that a Florida strain bass could grow into a huge fish, say in the 16-18 lb range, but still is a far cry away from the 23 lb’s needed to clearly break the world record. So, what is the “X” factor that will propel a bass to reach such a staggering size? The simple answer is genetics. When we look at our own species we see a number of folks that are small or average. But, occassionally, we see the anomaly in the norm.

Joe’s 15.14 lb’er caught and released right out of the shoot this spring!

The Wilt Chamberlin’s or the Shaquille O’Neal’s are rare, but they do exist.

Mike Long points out that two other factors are needed to produce these massive fish in his story about the 20 lb bass he landed. One, the availability of pure protein food like stocked rainbow trout or other bait fish in abundance. Two, areas of the lake that offer deep water access for the fish to go and be comfortable.

Joe Everett spends his early season days chasing the World Record at a pace that would kill any normal human being. The same factors are all in place when he’s hunting the big bass, but his main focus is sight fishing, which offers the best chance because of the oversized condition of a spawning bass.

Folsom Lake, CA 15.12 lb’s caught and released this year by Hal Tacker with son Dustin during a tournament!

So a huge fish during the spawn, when it’s at the largest stage of its life cycle, or one that has just eaten three 1 lb trout, could possibly reach that dream weight. Of course, the odds are low that a bass will reach that size when all these necessary factors are considered, however big bass hunters like Mike Long and Joe Everett are hot on the trail of that elusive of fish.

The nicknames of their catches are legendary: The infamous Dottie (a well-known fish caught by Mike), and Knot Head (caught by Joe), show us that it can happen. So as the season moves in to the 4th Quarter, we all will cheer for all the World Record chasers, from the well-known to the average Joe, that every cast he/she makes will be his personal best or maybe “Andre the Giant”! Until next time…. Stay on Em !!

Danny Barker

I’m a Calif. transplant living in Ocala, FL. I’ve lived here for the last 6 years. My home town of Sacramento/ Folsom, Ca is where I lived for 40 years. Some of the best bass fishing in the country with the Delta, Clear Lake, Folsom and tons of other outstanding water. I write/moderate for a cool website called the Unemployed Fishing Club Unemployed Fishing Club, I’m also a writer/ Field Editor for North Central Florida Fish Explorer.com. Looking forward to contributing to MLO. Look me up on FaceBook too !

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From the West side to the East side in search of Trophy Bass, what’s the difference? This was going to be my challenge when 6 years ago we decided to move to Florida to be near my oldest daughter and grandson. Having caught my personal best, a 14.63 lb bass, on Folsom Lake in California and numerous other big fish from Clear Lake and the Delta, I felt like my luck was pretty good in California.

Most of the folks I hang with know the whole story about my PB bass. In fact, I think some of them are getting tired of hearing it. (LOL) I’ll tell ya’ll the story some time.

Swimbaits are a tool to target huge fish, but by no means are they the only way. One of my favorite baits in California was a Lucky Craft Pointer 128 or the 100 with an extra long feather  on the back treble hook, which gives the bait a big profile and  some additional action. Some other baits that worked well were the Basstrix, 3:16 Mission fish, Hudd 68’s and, one of my all time favorite baits, the Senko. All these baits shined at one time or another, so how would the move to the East coast be different from the West coast?

That was the big question.

The first thing that hits you when fishing in Florida is WEEDS, WEEDS, and more WEEDS. Then the fact that most of the water you fish is shallow — at the most 8 ft deep. If you find depths of 12 feet, it’s a miracle. Honestly, it was a huge adjustment and still is to this day.

I knew that Flippin heavy matts, pads, and weeds were going to be something that would come into play. My friend Danny Miller created a new  weight for punching through the heavy cover called Miller Punchin weights. These weights by far have made fishing for me in the thick cover possible where just getting a bait in front of a bass is such is tremendous challenge. Then it was on to the topwater weedless frogs, birds, and skinny dipper-type lures, which were very productive as well. Now it was time to figure out what kind of swimbaits I could use that were fairly weedless and the 3:16 mission Mission Fish did the trick. As I started using larger lures, my fish catches went down. It was almost like the fish were intimidated by our big California-sized baits. To this day, the biggest bait I’ve used in Florida is the Hudd special 68; it is the only one I can get them to eat.

The learning continues. I’m always looking for new weedless-type swimbaits and rumor has it Hudd has something in the works. Fishing on the East side of the United States is a work in progress, but I’m having a blast!!

I’ll keep ya posted, oh BTW the fish love the West Coast drop shot — it has accounted for fish up to 9 lb’s …

Until next time,

“Stay on em”

Danny Barker

I’m a Calif. transplant living in Ocala, FL. I’ve lived here for the last 6 years. My home town of Sacramento/ Folsom, Ca is where I lived for 40 years. Some of the best bass fishing in the country with the Delta, Clear Lake, Folsom and tons of other outstanding water. I write/moderate for a cool website called the Unemployed Fishing Club Unemployed Fishing Club, I’m also a writer/ Field Editor for North Central Florida Fish Explorer.com. Looking forward to contributing to MLO. Look me up on FaceBook too !

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You’ve just caught that trophy bass the adrenaline is flowing and your thinking about getting the perfect shot. Relax for a moment take a deep breath put your fish in the livewell, your whole focus now is on the health of your fish. Look, what I’m hoping to do is get folks thinking about how we care for and handle our fish after we catch ’em. Let me say first that I, for one, need to do a better job! There’s been lots of talk about holding a very large fish by the mouth with just one hand and possibly breaking the jaw. I would suggest it would apply to any fish if you’re flexing the jaw outward. The best case would be to support the fish with two hands-one in the mouth and one under the belly. I still think if you hold the fish with one hand and let all the weight hang straight down, you’ll be fine so long as you don’t torque the jaw. One would venture to say that many of the Pros on tour are the worst offenders. How many times have you seen the guys holding the fish in air while shaking a fist after a win or near win? It isn’t just the everyday fishermen who are to blame; we all need to do the best we can to protect the resource.

Along the same lines, in an effort to get a picture we often just lay the fish on the ground or on the bottom of the boat to get a shot. It would be better to have a cheap tripod and a camera with a timer always ready to get the picture you want. This will help a bunch by keeping the fish from losing the protective film they have on their bodies and get a better shot. Sometimes it’s just hard due to one thing or another to properly care for the fish you’re going to release. Most of you guys know what I’m trying to convey. I’m not pointing any fingers at anyone because I’ve done all these things myself, but I’ve been thinking more about this subject lately. Let’s all try harder when it comes to fish handling and caring for the fish we all love to catch and release…..

Stay on ’em!

Danny Barker

I’m a Calif. transplant living in Ocala, FL. I’ve lived here for the last 6 years. My home town of Sacramento/ Folsom, Ca is where I lived for 40 years. Some of the best bass fishing in the country with the Delta, Clear Lake, Folsom and tons of other outstanding water. I write/moderate for a cool website called the Unemployed Fishing Club Unemployed Fishing Club, I’m also a writer/ Field Editor for North Central Florida Fish Explorer.com. Looking forward to contributing to MLO. Look me up on FaceBook too !

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Hi folks, MLO asked me to check out some of the new swimbaits at ICAST since he wasn’t able to make the trip this year. There is a ton of new stuff coming out with good selections from Castaic, Optimum, River2sea and Jackall. These are only few; you could find a swimbait company down every isle. Below you’ll see some of the baits from the show.

On a side note, have you noticed a lot of the new hard swimbaits are just a bigger version of a Rippbait? They’re starting to crossover; swim baits are becoming large ripp baits and vice-versa. Swim baits used to be these huge 12” trout baits and now you’re seeing small swim baits that are only 3-4 inches. The lines are closing on the difference between the two baits. One case is point is Lucky Craft and Optimum which are forming a team to produce a new line of small, soft swim bait which is a killer looking product. Stay tuned …..Here’s some pictures from the show…

 

 

Danny Barker
Trophy Bass Hunter
Writer/Blogger/Field Editor
Fish Explorer.com Writer/Field Editor
UFC Writer/Moderator
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Danny Barker

I’m a Calif. transplant living in Ocala, FL. I’ve lived here for the last 6 years. My home town of Sacramento/ Folsom, Ca is where I lived for 40 years. Some of the best bass fishing in the country with the Delta, Clear Lake, Folsom and tons of other outstanding water. I write/moderate for a cool website called the Unemployed Fishing Club Unemployed Fishing Club, I’m also a writer/ Field Editor for North Central Florida Fish Explorer.com. Looking forward to contributing to MLO. Look me up on FaceBook too !

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