UPCOMING EVENT: Rayovac FLW Series - 2015 - Lake Erie

Wrangling ribbonfish

Catching live bait usually means that fun is right around the corner for kingfish anglers. However, with ribbonfish, the fun starts long before you head offshore. For most, ribbonfish are flat, frozen baitfish that you unwrap, thaw and load up with stinger hooks. For those who fancy gathering fresh ribbons, however, the lively, lanky baits can provide as much sport as the kingfish they'll someday tempt. Officially named Atlantic cutlassfish and known colloquially as "silver eels," ribbonfish are a ghoulish lot with slender, bladelike bodies, narrow heads loaded with formidable teeth and an aggressive nature rivaling that of the predators for which they are prey. Ribbonfish often turn up in cast nets, usually thrown for menhaden, but bait-seeking anglers capitalize on their ferocity by employing hook-and-line tactics that are as fun as they are effective. The biggest concern with the aggressive ribbonfish is its menacing choppers, which make short work of monofilament. Long-shank 2/0 hooks will suffice, but adding 6 inches of No. 3 wire will minimize bite-offs. Pre-made wire rigs with barrel swivels for attaching main line and snap swivels for hanging hooks work fine. Fish these rigs on medium-action 6 1/2- to 7-foot spinning outfits with 8- to 20-pound main line and 30- or 40-pound monofilament leaders. Look for ribbonfish in estuaries, commercial and cruise ports and anywhere you find deep water with muddy bottoms. Ribbons prey on smaller schooling baits, and anglers often find them by watching for slender, silver figures leaping across the surface. Cunning predators, ribbonfish will corral baits next to piers, jetties and seawalls, so keep watch near structure. When the fish don't show, probe the area with chrome or blue Rat-L-Traps to locate your quarry. Anglers can catch ribbonfish along jetties, piers and seawalls by casting Rat-L-Traps or by setting up a night-fishing rig with fluorescent lights, miniature light tubes attached to wire leaders and shrimp pieces.Helpful for ribbonfish location is a fluorescent light tube connected to your boat's main battery, via alligator clips and hung from the stern. The light attracts small forage fish, which in turn draw in the ribbons. Once you've located the fish, toss out your rigs baited with thumbnail-size chunks of fresh shrimp, mullet or previously caught ribbonfish. These opportunistic and often cannibalistic hunters quickly sniff out the chow, but clipping mini light tubes to hook shanks increases visibility in dark water. After a productive night of ribbonfish angling, conclude by preparing your baits for freezing and storage. Start by mixing a brining solution, which toughens the baits for freezing and prevents them from turning to mush when thawed. In a large cooler, combine two 1-pound boxes of baking soda, three 3-pound boxes of coarse Kosher salt (not iodized) with a 5-gallon bucket of seawater and an 8-pound bag of ice. Fill the brining solution to just above the cooler's drain plug and periodically add ice to maintain a chilly slush. Don't overdo it, as too much ice will form a solid sheet over the baits and prevent brining. Leave the ribbonfish in the brine for 8-12 hours - any longer and the solution will damage baits. You can cover the baits in plastic wrap overlaid with aluminum foil, but vacuum-sealed food storage sleeves yield optimal results. If you freeze two ribbons per sleeve, leave about an inch of space between them for thorough freezing. When it's time to thaw ribbonfish for rigging, just lay them on the deck for a few minutes. You'll find it's easier to rig a firm bait than one that's completely softened, so don't rush the thawing process by soaking your baits in warm water.

Tags: tips-and-techniques  david-a-brown 

/news/2015-08-27-top-5-patterns-from-lake-erie-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Lake Erie Day 1

Taking off this morning, the FLW Tour pro from Erie, Pa., knew the day’s north wind would keep him from making a long run to a big-fish spot close to his home. However, keeping it local and fishing a little past Pelee Island to the west delivered a solid second-place catch. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-27-rhode-cracks-23-10-for-erie-lead

Rhode Cracks 23-10 for Erie Lead

Jared Rhode played his cards and the gamble paid off better than expected, as the pro from Port Clinton, Ohio, took the day-one lead at the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie with a limit catch weighing 23 pounds, 10 ounces. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-27-hunting-erie-s-brown-fish

Hunting Erie’s Brown Fish

It’s going to be an Easter egg hunt on Lake Erie, but at least the great lake will behave a little better during the final Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event than it did during practice. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-26-smallmouth-slugfest-on-tap-at-erie-

Smallmouth Slugfest on Tap at Erie

Florida pro Glenn Browne leads the race with 492 points, largely due to his win at the previous divisional event on Lake Champlain. Following well within striking distance are Canadian pro Cory Johnston (484 points) and Louisianan Gerald Spohrer (483), who found his way into the Northern Division quite incidentally. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-17-top-10-patterns-from-lake-dardanelle

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Dardanelle

Jason Lieblong, who won the Rayovac FLW Series Central Division event on Lake Dardanelle, devoted most of his time to fishing reed lines with a mix of chatterbaits, frogs and Texas-rigged worms. He also caught fish by dragging a Texas-rigged 10-inch worm past brush piles in 6-8 feet. Lieblong amassed a three-day total of 46 pound, 3 ounces. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-15-lieblong-dominates-dardanelle-rayovac

Lieblong Dominates Dardanelle Rayovac

Having lead the event for two days, the pro from Conway, Ark., carried a 14-ounce lead into the final round. After weighing a limit of 12 pounds, 2 ounces on day three, Lieblong closed the door with a tournament total of 46-3 and a 2-pound, 2-ounce margin of victory. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-15-smith-takes-co-angler-title-at-dardanelle

Smith Takes Co-Angler Title At Dardanelle

READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-15-dardanelle-midday-update-day-3

Dardanelle Midday Update Day 3

READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-14-lieblong-holds-on-to-lead-at-dardanelle

Lieblong Holds On To Lead At Dardanelle

Current events proved perplexing for Jason Lieblong, even though he retained his lead at the Rayovac FLW Series Central Division event on Lake Dardanelle. The pro from Conway, Ark., topped the day-one leaderboard with 19 pounds, 10 ounces, but saw his second day’s productivity slip to 14-7 for a total weight of 34-1 and a 14-ounce lead going into the final round. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-14-top-5-patterns-from-lake-dardanelle-day-2

Top 5 Patterns From Lake Dardanelle Day 2

Arkansas pro Jason Lieblong held on to the top spot in Rayovac FLW Series Central Division action on Lake Dardanelle with 34 pounds, 1 ounce. Flipping plastics and a jig produced all of his fish. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-14-dardanelle-midday-update-day-2

DARDANELLE MIDDAY UPDATE DAY 2

READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-13-lieblong-leads-on-dardanelle-with-19-10

Lieblong Leads on Dardanelle with 19-10

Rising water brought increased current to Lake Dardanelle, and Jason Lieblong leveraged this dynamic to take the lead on day one of Rayovac FLW Series Central Division action on this Arkansas River impoundment. He brought in a limit that weighed 19 pounds, 10 ounces. In the early hours of his day the pro from Conway, Ark., alternated between backwaters and main-lake banks in an effort to determine where the fish were most active. Once the sun gained altitude and harsh light had pushed the fish tight to cover, he committed to the bank. “I just put the trolling motor down and went fishing and found some fish on your obvious stuff like laydowns and grass. I even caught some in open water with no structure whatsoever,” Lieblong says. “I found a little current, and that’s key.” READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-13-top-5-patterns-from-lake-dardanelle-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Lake Dardanelle Day 1

Arkansas pro Jason Lieblong took the day-one lead in Rayovac FLW Series Central Division action on Lake Dardanelle with 19 pounds, 10 ounces. Flipping plastics produced all of his fish. Here are the details of the rest of the top five. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-13-dardanelle-midday-update-day-1

Dardanelle Midday Update Day 1

The warm, sunny conditions that greeted Rayovac FLW Series Central Division anglers at the morning takeoff on Lake Dardanelle will continue through the afternoon. The light early breeze has increased to a 5-10 mph wind - a welcome factor as daytime temperatures approach 90 degrees READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-13-up-and-down-on-dardanelle

Up and Down on Dardanelle

Tournament fishing inherently has its ups and downs, but Rayovac FLW Series Central Division anglers are getting a concentrated dose of this angling truism on Lake Dardanelle. An Army Corps of Engineers impoundment of the Arkansas River, Dardanelle has seen its water level fluctuate with recent rains and the Corps’ efforts to moderate this flow. Dam releases have pulled the lake down enough to reposition fish. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-05-competition-fuels-reyes

Competition Fuels Reyes

Case in point: Jason Reyes, the Walmart FLW Tour pro from Huffman, Texas, who’ll make his second Forrest Wood Cup appearance next month on Lake Ouachita. Finishing 23rd in the points, Reyes posted his best season in nine years of Tour competition, but his description of meaningful moments goes beyond high finishes and a championship berth. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-22-thrift-flirting-with-second-aoy-title

Thrift Flirting with Second AOY Title

Bryan Thrift can’t say for certain what baits will sit on his front deck during the final Walmart FLW Tour event of 2015 on the Potomac River, which is set to kick off this Thursday, but he’s quick to say what will not join him – the memory of his 2010 Angler of the Year title. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-09-starting-strong

Starting Strong

Zack Birge likes to play the numbers, and right now the math is looking pretty sweet for him. With two events remaining on the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour, the Blanchard, Okla., pro has essentially sewn up Rookie of the Year honors, and he’s currently sitting in fourth place in the Angler of the Year standings. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-08-top-10-patterns-from-the-james-river

Top 10 Patterns from the James River

Flipping isolated clumps of spatterdock produced the winning fish for Canadian pro Cory Johnston at the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event on the James River. Adapting to the week’s extreme high water was critical to bagging the winning total of 46 pounds, 14 ounces. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-06-johnston-rises-from-sixth-for-the-win

Johnston Rises From Sixth for the Win

Cory Johnston’s bucket list just shrank. After a couple of close finishes, the pro from Peterborough, Ont., finally bagged his first Rayovac FLW Series victory with a winning total of 46 pounds, 14 ounces at the Northern Division opener on the James River Saturday. “I’ve always wanted to win one of these,” Johnston says of his accomplished Rayovac career, which hadn’t included a first-place finish until now. “I’ve won some other tournaments; I’ve been second (in Rayovacs) two times and my brother (Chris) has been second two or three times. So to win this really feels good.” Fishing the Chickahominy River — a major James River tributary — Johnston got off to a lukewarm start, as a 10-pound, 9-ounce effort left him with a 27th-place showing on day one. Regrouping for day two, he formed a new game plan borne of a revelation that came early on day two. READ MORE »