Mike Stevens – KNEE DEEP

Knee Deep

Stevens knew he wanted to be a Western Outdoor News staffer when he was 17-years-old, and it happened 20 years later. He worked in tackle shops before a stint at the Hubbs Sea-World Research Institute (white seabass hatchery) and later became the social media manager for several major outdoor brands while contributing to WON as a freelance writer. A member of the Outdoor Writers Association in California, Mike’s area of expertise is the Eastern Sierra, but he also feels right at home fishing his local inshore and offshore waters. He lives in San Marcos with his wife, two daughters and son.

Sierra bullets: Opener and beyond
This time of year, with the Eastern Sierra trout opener looming, there are plenty of topics bouncing around in my head that are worth mentioning heading. While a full article could be written on most of them, here are the essential guts on a few that should come in handy.


— At the Fred Hall Show in Long Beach, Mono County Economic Development Man­ager Jeff Simpson said, “I expect everything along the Highway 395 corridor to be ice-free in time for the Opener.” At that point in March, the snowpack was at 158 percent of normal for that point on the calendar. Two years ago (“Miracle Winter”) the snowpack ranged from 180- to 200-percent of normal depending on where it was measured.

— Looking again (a month later) at snow/water equivalents for April 2019 versus April 2017 in the Southern Sierra (which, for these intents and purposes, includes our Eastern Sierra) was at 160 percent of normal for April 3 and 153 percent at that point in 2019. That’s only about a 7-inch difference. So, it’s pretty safe to say you could flashback to your 2017 trips and look at the advantages you had and challenges you faced, and plan your 2019 trips accordingly.

— For me, I went in mid-June that year (and will again this year along with some later trips), and I had to work pretty hard to find biters. When I did, I piled them up and was releasing double-digit numbers of trout over several spots fished. The key that season for my creek success was finding spots that normally get pounded during normal years but were vacant due to the whitewater visual that made it appear unfishable. I’d explore the adjacent holes hidden from casual view, or flooded spots that are normally dry land, and throw Sierra Slammers jigs or Mini Swims into deeper water behind obstructions and small pockets of calm around the fringe of the whitewater. The fishing in those spots ended up being so good, that we’d return to the same holes several days in a row, and it never slowed down. Also, it was primarily brown trout we were catching. Some of those spots were so tight, that my brother and I would alternate every time one of use would catch one, because there was no room for us both to hit it at the same time.

— I’m no fish biologist, but I went ahead and assumed the way-above-average spike in brown trout numbers was due to the high flows and low water temps. Trout don’t have calendars, so, it must have just “felt” like spring there in mid-June.

— Based on the winter we had, you can pretty much bank on any backcountry lake above 10,000 feet to be inaccessible until late May or early June. This could tilt one way or the other based on how the weather is for the rest of April through May, and even if it’s iced out, all that snowmelt could spell questionable trail conditions and getting there could be an issue.

— Mono County will spend $100,000 on fish stocking in 21 bodies of water. Most of them will be in the 3- to 8-pound range, and they are coming from Desert Springs Hatchery in Oregon. That outfit took over as the supplier of “premium” trout a few years ago when Alpers trout became a thing of the past. Desert Springs used to supply the eggs that ultimately became Alpers trout. The DFW will also pepper the area with their own trout, so there will be no shortage of fish to catch at any time this season.

— Saddlebag Lake has been purchased by the owners of Tioga Pass Resort, and Saddlebag will be open this season on a limited basis. The good news is, one of the services that will be available is the popular water taxi that brings anglers from one end of the lake to the other where they can access the 20 Lakes Basin loop. Tioga Pass Resort, however, will not open in 2019 as they continue to rebuild after the damage they took on from the big winter. Speaking of snow, this winter was no slouch as you probably know, and that means we’re looking at mid-June (safe bet) for Tioga Pass to completely open, along with the partial-dirt road-turnoff to Saddlebag.

— Also according to Jeff Simpson, the DFW is going to start mixing in diploid trout in their fish stocking from Conway Summit to Bishop. These are fish that have the ability to reproduce, so eventually it could result in some natural reproduction to go along with all the stocking. Most stocked trout are triploid, meaning they cannot reproduce. The reason for stocking those is primarily because they don’t want them spawning with wild fish in order to protect genetics, and triploid fish grow to stockable size more quickly.

— Convict Lake management is kicking in $25,000 for fish stocking above and beyond the standard trout plants the lake is already slated to receive from the state. That means, from Opening Day until Nov. 15, there really won’t be a bad time to target Convict.

— This will be my sixth Opener as far as covering it for WON, and I have noticed a couple trends, and this is regardless of weather. Number one, you don’t have to get out there before the crack of dawn to do well. I’ve yet to hear “the bite was great from 6 to 7:30 a.m. and then it shut off!” It’s actually quite the opposite: “We got here at 6 but got most of our bites between 8 and 11.” Yes, I know you’re pumped and you’re going to get out there rockin’ a headlamp anyway, just don’t feel like you have to.

Also — and this might be upsetting to many of you — bait and trolling rules opening weekend. That’s not to say you can’t catch Fishmas trout chucking minijigs or throwing lures, but when the dust settles and I take a look at the full catch logs (list of the bigger fish caught those days and what they ate) as well as my own notes, generally speaking, bait and trolling does the most damage, and it’s usually not even close.

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We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website Of course, this site contains only a small fraction of the stories that Western Outdoor Publications produces each week in its two northern and southern editions and its special supplements. You can subscribe to the print issue that is mailed weekly and includes the easy flip-page full-color digital issues, or you can purchase a digital only subscription. Click here to see the choice.

The cookie-cutter Fred Hall Show excuse
It was tired in the ’90s, and it’s tired now.

Somewhere along the line, the rules for not attending the Fred Hall Show became the exact opposite of the rules of Fight Club.

For those of you who have not seen Fight Club, there are three rules, and rules one and three are the same: you do not talk about Fight Club.


When it comes to not attending Fred Hall, it seems like many non-attendees feel the need to go out of their way to tell anyone who will listen why they don’t go, and even cast shade on those who do.

Not sure what that accomplishes.

You know how you know when I don’t care about something? I DON’T TALK ABOUT IT. Somehow, it’s possible for me to not attend a dog show without telling everyone why I don’t attend dog shows.

The primary go-to when Show Season arrives is as classic as it is tired: “there are no deals at Fred Hall.”

While there are many angles of attack for taking on that one, I’ll focus on a couple.

For one, it’s simply inaccurate. Anyone taking the time to thumb through our Fred Hall Preview before the show arrives, and later, the Show program can get a good overview of the event, see some of what’s out there, and formulate a basic game plan based on potential “deals” and otherwise.

If there are “no deals,” who were all those people I saw LEAVING the Show when I arrived an hour after doors opened on Day 1 with their arms wrapped around 10 rod blanks or a quiver of combos? Highly likely they had a hit list based on some rudimentary research, checked their boxes, are stashing the haul in their trucks and heading back in for the “freelance” portion of their day. And that’s to say nothing about the forest of flagged rods we in the hands of smiling attendees we see when walking the Show ourselves or manning the WON booth.

And that’s just using rods as an example.

ONE OF THE SHOW’s longest-running “deals.”

I would say I had reached the ripe old age of 17 when I realized I could cover parking and admission to multiple Shows in what I saved in buying line to cover all my fishing for the next year. Think that’s how it WAS back in the good ‘ol days (I’m about to turn 42) and that’s no longer the case? It’s only been magnified several times over here in the fluorocarbon and braid age. I was only buying mono back then, and I have a list of friends I sold the value of the Shows on via that factor alone. In fact, the first thing one of them said to me after his first lap through the Main Hall in Long Beach was, “have you seen the deals on braid and fluoro?”

If you think you should be able to saunter into the Fred Hall Show and get 50 percent off a reel that was unveiled six months ago, that’s just not how anything works. Play your cards right and you may be able to score something extra with the purchase of such an item, but the Fred Hall Show is not a yard sale.

I could go blue in the fingers hammering away at endless specific examples of Fred Hall deals, but I’m not yet given the Pat McDonnell-allotment of column inches. More importantly, it would take away from the treasure-hunt nature of the Show: work the aisles methodically. Leave no stone unturned.

I saw a social media post just prior to a Long Beach Show in which the poster said something along the lines of “Everyone’s fired up about Fred Hall. I’m not going because there are no deals there, and it’s just become a social event.”

Aside from the hilarious irony in the fact that this was a social media post griping about the Show being a social event, I thought about it, and it absolutely is a social event. A GREAT ONE.

Let’s see here, it’s a huge gathering of like-minded folks where local to international exhibitors are cuttin’ it up with outdoorsmen (and women) of all levels in the heart of one of the most important states in the nation when it comes to the sports represented there. This all going down, year after year, at the same point on the calendar, which allows it to stand as the unofficial kick off of all things fishing in the western fishing.

I can think of some other social events in this vein: the ride from the bait receiver to the fishing grounds, the night before the Eastern Sierra trout opener and any time you find yourself in a tackle shop with an elbow on the reel case. Then there’s the straight-shot home after a multi-dayer, every night at deer camp, on the deck of the resort in Baja with sunburns and sore arms and that backyard fish fry you throw because you’d rather your neighbors all eat fish that was swimming yesterday than freeze any.

Social events.

Some of the best things taken from the Fred Hall Shows don’t go home in a yellow plastic bag. Regardless of your outdoor interest, there is someone there that will give you a better understanding of it, make you better at it, cut-down the learning curve associated with it, or get you to try it for the first time. If you think there are no new tricks an old salty-dog like you can learn, you’re kidding yourself.

But by all means, continue skipping it because you can’t get a brand new reel below cost and the beer’s expensive.


THESE GUYS DEFINITELY get the value of the Fred Hall Show as a “social event.”

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We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website Of course, this site contains only a small fraction of the stories that Western Outdoor Publications produces each week in its two northern and southern editions and its special supplements. You can subscribe to the print issue that is mailed weekly and includes the easy flip-page full-color digital issues, or you can purchase a digital only subscription. Click here to see the choice.

Tough Love: trout edition
I wrote a good hunk of practical and next-level tactical intel for the special trout fishing section in the Jan. 25 edition of Western Outdoor News, and I may have just scratched the surface on some borderline-extreme, myth-busting, possibly untrue and definitely opinionated takes of mine that might fly in the face of plenty of stuff that’s generally accepted as common knowledge among trout anglers.

However, when you have a column with your mug shot on top, you can say pretty much whatever you want! So, as I do so often, here are some polarizing takes in quick-hitter form:

You give way too much credit to the intelligence of hatchery trout. When it comes down to it, they are hatched and raised in or around concrete and fed pelleted superfood before riding to your lake in a truck. I’m pretty sure if a glimmer of your gold treble hook is showing through your ball of power cheese, these fish are going to notice. You might check out the book, “ An Entirely Synthetic Fish: How Rainbow Trout Beguiled America and Overran the World .” I don’t agree with it all, but there were a lot of good points made.

The “best colors” aren’t necessarily so. If I asked 100 of you at the Fred Hall Show what the best color of Thomas Buoyant and Panther Martin are, I’d bet my favorite discontinued Kastmaster that 80 of you would blurt out, “red and gold!” and “black and yellow!” You know, they might be, but consider this. I love throwing Buoyants, and for a few years, I forced myself to throw ANYTHING BUT gold/red just to see, and I was convinced very early in the experiment that at least three of them out-produced the one that gets all the love: watermelon, both frog colors and brown trout. These days, I use those, and more, including red/gold, and those colors might not get you the same results. My point here is, take off your blinders. Often times, the “best colors” are just the result of them popping up in reports that land in the right places early in the game, and it just snowballs from there. Apply this consideration to everything.

Two-pound-test is not much different than four. Well, it is when you’re throwing minijigs because jigs weigh next to nothing, and if you need a long cast, 2-pound is going to get the job done. Let’s just take Trilene XL as a baseline example. The diameter of 2-pound is .005; the diameter of 4-pound is .008. Taking jigs out of the equation, if you’re going to try and tell me that a stocker rainbow is going to pass on that Yo-Zuri Pins Minnow or Rooster Tail you’re dragging on 4-pound, only to bite for the guy next to you because he’s flinging in on 2-pound because a trout is going to detect that THREE THOUSANDTHS of an inch difference, I have some oceanfront property in Lee’s Summit, Missouri to sell you.

I PROMISE, fishing for trout can still be fun if you aren’t a “made guy” in a trout-fishing “crew” with an edgy name (with Z’s in the place of S’s) that wears matching shirts and says “slay” a lot. Just trust me on this one.

I KNOW FOR MANY IT’S SACRILEGE, adding terminal tackle like a swivel to your lures, but, go ahead and add a small (but not so small it restricts motion) snap to all your Thomas Buoyants. I always found tying directly to drilled-out hole to be sketchy; light line against a tiny edge, so I bit the bullet and added a Duo-Lock Snap. Later, I read somewhere that the top brass at Thomas Lures also recommended it, so there’s that. It’s fine on Rapalas, too. I’ve noticed no drop-off in bites, and most of all, I’m not finding something to be sketchy.

POWERBAIT WORKS. Does it ever. But, if you find yourself in a cove lined with bait dunkers all deploying some variation of the stuff, try something different and/or new to set yourself apart from the gauntlet. BaitPro is an up-and-comer (but coming on strong) doing some exciting stuff in the doughbait space. Give them a Google for a good place to start. You can also add a Lil’ Corky Bait Floater to your rig to give it a different visual profile. That’s right, replace that bait ball with a bait snowman and hang on!

THAT $500 ROD AND REEL COMBO isn’t doing you as much good as you think. Yeah, it’s nice, fun to fish, and you can probably feel a trout exhale on your jig with all the space-aged materials and what not. But if I’m fishing nearby with my Daiwa Presso/Fuego combo (or one of several set-ups I own with an even lower street value) and you limit sooner than me, it’s not because of your $500 set-up. You’re just better.

THROW AWAY YOUR SWIVELS, unless you use them for trolling. The classic floating bait rig has always been a main line through an egg sinker, then tied to a swivel, then a leader tied to the other side of that swivel, then to a hook. Instead, swap the swivel out for a Carolina Keeper and eliminate two of the three knots (which are the weak points of any rig). So it’s just your 2- or 4-pound line coming off your reel running through the whole deal, and you can also change the “leader” length in seconds.

SINCE I’M ON THE SUBJECT, I never understood the whole 4-pound main line to 2-pound leader thing. If it’s going to break at 2 pounds, what purpose is the 4 serving? It all comes down to more knots to tie.

FOR AN ELEMENT OF COMPETITION resulting in glorious, tangible winnings, check out @STOCK_TRUCK_CHASERS_TOURNEY on Instagram. It’s new and growing, and each month of trout season is a new “online tournament” in which you can fish when and where (in SoCal) you want. At the very least you’ll get to keep tabs on the aforementioned trout slaying crews slugging it out.

HEY! GUYS ARE STARTING TO THROW JIGS ON FLY RODS! Norman MacLean and Rusty Kreh are watching from long-rodder’s Heaven. They would like you to stop.

THEN AGAIN, ERNEST HEMINGWAY threw garden worms on a fly rod, so, there’s your argument. He’s also your WMD if anyone suggests you’re not a man because you own a cat.

STILLWATER NYMPHING is starting to become more pre­valent in SoCal lakes on a semi-underground level. Norm and Rusty do approve of that.

THERE’S NO SHAME IN BAIT DUNKING. Not in trout truck country, anyway. I used to look down upon dunkers over 14 years of age, but now I’ll even mix it in if I just want to get bit when it’s high noon and slow. But you’ve got to wear it as dorkily as possible. I like to see how many consecutive times I can cast, hook and land a trout while lying flat on my back (my record is five), or if I’m upright, every hook-up is punctuated with a flawless Michael Jackson kick. “Serious-bait-angler-face-guys” need not apply.

I RAN ACROSS A DISCUSSION on the internet the other day where SoCal trout anglers were discussing which was a better fish — the Calaveras rainbow or Nebraska Tailwalker. One guy (who I do know and would agree with most of this list) apparently made a groundbreaking point with the group when he said “Calaveras fish bite right out of the truck.”

’Twas a line that will live in infamy.

I SUPPOSE I should have mentioned this at the beginning, but each of these points are best absorbed when read individually, then rereading the first one before moving on.

A BIG PART of the magic and joy in fishing for stocked trout comes as a result of the fact that… well… they’re dumb. PHOTO COURTESY CHRIS NORBY

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We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website Of course, this site contains only a small fraction of the stories that Western Outdoor Publications produces each week in its two northern and southern editions and its special supplements. You can subscribe to the print issue that is mailed weekly and includes the easy flip-page full-color digital issues, or you can purchase a digital only subscription. Click here to see the choice.

2018: Lessons learned
There’s always a long list of topics swirling around in my head that I think could make a decent column one day in greater detail, but I’m not quite there yet in terms of information at hand and the angle of attack I’d take. There were a lot of those this past year and most of them fit the “revelations” genre, epiphanies, or things I straight-up didn’t know existed until 2018. What follows is a few of them, along with the bare minimum of context for various reasons:

There’s a Christmas tree “hunting” season. Really, there is. For sure in NorCal, and I can only imagine where else. They issue tags and close the season when the harvest limit has been reached and everything. If you cut one out of season, are you a “poacher?”

Deckhands get seasick. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, two of the three on the same trip (along with over half of the passengers). God bless ‘em, turns out they are men, not machines! They were younger guys, but deckhands nonetheless. It made me feel less bad about feeling it a bit myself.

“Full rack bendo!” I can’t think of anything I’ve heard on a boat make me laugh as much as that one. Captain Wes Flesch on the Options would yell that every time he would drop down a Sabiki rig and come up with five mackerel on as many hooks. It was really in the delivery — as if it fired him up just as much as landing a tanker seabass — and I can’t really do it justice here.

Vegetarian hunters exist. Indeed, they’re out there. Good for them. I still don’t think I’ll hear of a vegan hunter any time soon, though.

Fishing for rockfish can be fun. Braid has scaled down the size of the rods, reels and tackle needed to fish for them, and feeling the tap, tap, taptaptap of a 10-inch fish 200 feet deep is very cool. Thanks braid.

Top-level bass anglers are obsessed with the idea of calico bass. I got to work with a bunch of them at an event out at Kentucky Lake in Tennessee — I’m talkin’ the household-name BASS, FLW and Major League Fishing guys here. When they heard I was from Cali­fornia, most of them grilled me on all things calico bass.

Trailcameras are being used for fishing purposes. I’m not sure how widespread the practice is, but it’s definitely happening, and it’s actually quite genius. That’s about as far into that as I would like to get into because I am not interested in winding up in a hole in some corn field.

Stock-truck-chasing trout anglers are still convincing themselves they need a $250 rod. Eastern Sierra trout fishing arguably occupies the top spot on my preferred brand of fishing list, and I’ve still yet to think to myself, “You know what? I really wish this $70 Daiwa Presso was better at (insert rod function here).” Multiply that by 100 if I’m chasing stockers on local lakes.

Having a column topic blatantly ripped off, rewritten and passed off as an original thought on a website actually felt kind of cool once the steam stopped spewing from my ears. Glad I helped you hit that deadline, buddy.

Charismatic megafauna” is a great term for dealing with anti fishing/hunting folks. I first heard it from Steve Rinella on the MeatEater podcast and it basically means the wildlife that most people tend to care about above all others. If there are stuffed animals or calendars made of them, they fit the bill, which is why the ignorant masses knee-jerk to saving every last sea lion but couldn’t care less about a salmon. Ever see a kid lugging around a Tickle-Me Salmon?

Public Land laws, history, battles and madness is one of the most fascinating fall-down-an-Internet-rathole and read-all-you-can topics I have ever been exposed to. It’s a huge deal in our western states, and I couldn’t join Backcountry Hunters and Anglers and support the front lines fast enough once I became even a little informed.

That seasick deckhand trip was loaded with first-timers, and the thought that most of them might never get on a boat again bums me out. Maybe a public service announcement needs to go out urging charter masters to opt for a cushy summer outing rather than a late November 3/4-day if you have a boat full of rookies.

“Florida likes fishing” was something I heard an industry mentor originally from Cali­fornia say at an event in his new home state. I think what brought it up was, I was boarding his boat and realized I didn’t have a Florida fishing license yet. He then gave me a web address, and I bought one ON MY PHONE while we grabbed some live bait. I did the same thing in the backseat of a Jeep on the way to Kentucky Lake, so apparently Tennessee likes fishing, too. I imagine many more states also like fishing, and I wish mine did more.

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We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website Of course, this site contains only a small fraction of the stories that Western Outdoor Publications produces each week in its two northern and southern editions and its special supplements. You can subscribe to the print issue that is mailed weekly and includes the easy flip-page full-color digital issues, or you can purchase a digital only subscription. Click here to see the choice.

My Lottery Lake
Whenever I fish with this one dude, the outing inevitably evolves into long philosophical discussions about anything, and sometimes, about nothing. Sometimes, they will occur over email, and he recently sent me a fun one.

If I won the recent billion-dollar lottery, and could do whatever I wanted with any Southern California lake in terms of rules, species, limits, etc. what would I do? He listed several fisheries: Dixon, Wohlford, Poway (we’re both from North County, San Diego) and Irvine, as examples.


HAPPIER TIMES AT IRVINE LAKE — Brady Garrett of Long Beach with a torpedo trout out of “The Vine” before it shut down.

It was Irvine Lake that really got my wheels turning, because that actually is a lake that needs to be back up and running, with or without a billion-dollar investment. During the quick brainstorm session, I found myself taking the best, or at least the coolest or most unique attributes of some of the lakes I already cover on a weekly basis for WON.

As for species, I want it all. Come to think of it, that’s exactly what “The Vine” had. Stocking of quality trout (including some alternate species to spice things up) and catfish, resident monster blue cats, thriving panfish population, and it was a real sleeper largemouth spot. As for striped bass, I like the idea, but I think my official response in the email was “maybe if someone smarter than me didn’t think they’d screw everything up.”

Stocking? I’d go for private stocking of quality trout like they do at Dixon, Wohlford, Poway and so on. But, rather than plant nothing but 2 to 5 pounders on average with some trophies mixed in, I would back off on some of the biggest fish and replace them with smaller two-to-a-pound little guys. For example, swap that 7-pound tanker out for 14 small guys. That’s for you swimbait guys, bass candy baby, and if they’re not eaten, they might still fill out some kid’s limit.

Trout stocking days would not be published, at least not the actual day. I’d do it how the DFW schedule works: post the week the lake will be stocked but not the day. Sorry trout-truck chasers, Irvine Lake brought to you by Stevens/Western Outdoor News is going to be a level playing field. You want to go to the closest cove to the stocking location on stock day, tee off on jaded trout just off the truck and pop off on the Internet like you accomplished something, you’re going to have to do it somewhere else!

Speaking of the location at which trout are delivered, I’m taking my billions and getting creative with that. If possible, I’ll have it one night after the lake closes. I might even have a net-pen barge out in the middle of the lake that new arrivals can “cure” in prior to release mid lake ensuring even distribution throughout the lake. Catfish can be stocked in the same place every time because they holdover from one season to the next, and new batches of catfish aren’t immediately “slain” in half like a trout plant is.

Silverwood Lake is in my area of coverage, and one of the most productive fishing locations for all species therein is the Marina Dock. It costs a couple bucks for access to it, but it always seems well worth it and by God I want one on my lake. I want a big, gnarly angular one that perhaps serves as the border around the marina itself. It should have built-in rod holders like the one out at Willow Beach, and trap doors like they have at Henshaw so you can fish right through it. Also, mix in a few shade structures for the scorchers, lights for night fishing, basically, full-featured but just short of having a Ruby’s Diner on the end.

Dude (his name’s Brady Garrett by the way. You may have read some of his features in WON’s saltier special sections and supplements) suggested one day per week for kayaks and float tubes only. I’m down with that.

He asked about boat restrictions, specifically, higher end bass boats. I stalled for a minute on that one but ended up saying glitter boats are welcome, but I’d have some serious speed restrictions and monster no-wake zones. Rental boats available would be those nicer Lund boats they have at Diamond Valley Lake, maybe a pontoon or three and a couple upgraded sleds with pedestal seats, a trolling motor and maybe even a reasonable Lowrance Hook unit (since anyone can figure out how to use it).

Garrett also suggested a day per week with no fishing, a breather. I went with it. Billionaire me can handle the loss of revenue, and it would create a perfect setting for my aforementioned exotic trout-stocking practices.

Of course, I’ll have a tackle shop, maybe a café or at least an area where food trucks can come in and set up shop.

Oh limits! Standard limits on trout, catfish and panfish. But, I might get slightly medieval when it comes to largemouth. Dixon Lake recently changed its limit from five bass to two. As much as I hate seeing bass on stringers, I think that’s reasonable. A little herd thinning can do the biomass some good, even with all that Vitamin T swimming around as an added food source.

I remember reading something in Field and Stream when I was a kid about turning your old Christmas tree into pond habitat, so we’re going to do that, too. Every January, free admission (or, I don’t know, free something) when you bring in your tree so I can haul them out in the pontoon and sink a pile of them in various featureless locations on my lake. That’ll give you crappie guys something to vertical jig over as well as some reduced-pressure offshore bass habitat – that you’ll be able to can find with the Lowrance Hook units aboard the deluxe rental boats.

That should do it.

That was the easy part.

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We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website Of course, this site contains only a small fraction of the stories that Western Outdoor Publications produces each week in its two northern and southern editions and its special supplements. You can subscribe to the print issue that is mailed weekly and includes the easy flip-page full-color digital issues, or you can purchase a digital only subscription. Click here to see the choice.

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