The Cast Away CrankBait Troller Tackle talk video

Posted in Fishing Reports, Tackle, Tutorials on April 18, 2014 by castaway

I haven’t done a Tackle talk video in a while so I thought I’d show you guys a little info about the Crankbait Trollers. This video covers the construction, painting, hardware and one of my secret ways to keep from loosing your crankbaits while trolling. Here’s a video on the Crankbait Trollers:

From the April Angler Magazine

Posted in Fishing Reports on April 9, 2014 by castaway

The Southern Tackle Box by Jim Farmer

April has always been a special month for me when it comes to the outdoors. Growing up in a rural farming community in the middle of the heartland gives me a special appreciation for April and the arrival of spring. The cold frozen ground would finally thaw and everything was changing from haze grey to a fresh color of green. The dark rich freshly plowed farming soil always gave off a distinct smell and the threat of tornadoes were what I remember most about April. Another memory I have of April is the crappie and bass spawn and fishing with my grandparents as a child. My grandfather spend more than 30 years in the Army and survived 3 wars as well as atomic testing in the Bimini Islands when he retired. My grandmother worked at the local armory for years and when my grandfather retired from the military my grandmother retired from the armory. At the time I was still in grade school and my parents worked so my retired grandparents watched me after school and during the summer months. One of my fondest memories I have of the time period is fishing with my grandparents. They loved to pond hop for bass and crappie and we had the green light to fish any of our neighbor’s ponds. My granddad was a well decorated veteran and well known by all in our community. There wasn’t one farmer within a thousand miles that would deny my grandfather access to their property out of respect. My granddad had an old truck with a minnow bucket, a cooler filled with cold drinks and lunch and 3-4 fishing rods hanging out of the truck bed. We would set out in search of spawning crappie in our favorite crappie ponds in April. Granddad would be driving, my grandmother sitting on the passenger side and I’d be right there in the middle flying down dirt roads laughing without a care in the world. Lord, we caught so many crappie and the occasional big ole pond bass along the shallow shorelines with minnows and bobbers; those memories of sitting on the tailgate listening to my granddads stories are forever etched in my mind.
Every year when April rolls around I still have a desire to scour the shoreline for spawning fish in hopes that just one of those fish will bring back a memory of my childhood, long forgotten by time. When it comes to fishing, certain months and seasons drive me to pursue a certain species of fish. As the water warms into the upper 50’s and lower 60’s I start thinking about spawning fish. Whether it’s big female stripers moving up our rivers, driven by genetics or our smaller predatory fish like bass and crappie crowding into the shallows, driven by the same genetics. When these fish are driven to spawn, they are also driven to eat. In the case of a striper, a female can produce up to 3 million eggs and can gain weight in leaps and bounds, after all, she’s eating for 3 million. I believe its relative with size, as the bass and crappie follow suit and have a healthy appetite prior to the spawn. A hearty appetite coupled with these fish getting very territorial during this period provides the angler with a great opportunity to score big in April in shallow water. Not every striper decides to move up river in April, there are plenty of striped fish moving into the shallow backs of our larger creeks in April too. Along with the stripers, the crappie are moving into the shallows, looking for structure in the shallows to perform their yearly ritual. Bass are still moving around the shallows before pulling out to deeper water in a post spawn mode.
Harassment is a great strategy in April and I believe in pestering shallow fish into biting is a valid plan. Every year my wife Lisa and I spend hours paralleling the shoreline with light tackle and smaller offerings like 2-4 inch plastic fluke type baits, small creature baits and little bucktails with lead head jig weights of 1/4 ounce or smaller. We’ve always been able to figure the shallow fish out and 2 colors have always stood out for us, those colors being either chartreuse or plain white. Lisa has become a master with the little white ¼ bucktail and I’m convinced that if there are fish in the area, the little bucktails will get em. Sometimes I use a combination of chartreuse and white with success and other times it may be one color or the other, but generally speaking, if the bite is on you can’t go wrong with those two colors. In April it’s all about shallow aggressive fish and shallow grassy shorelines and areas around docks are a good location for bass in April. Long shallow points, flats and the shallow backs of creeks are a good location for stripers in early April and there should be a few crappie cruising the shallows looking for the perfect spawning areas around structure. With the higher lake levels, the shoreline bite should continue to be great throughout April with some great spring fishing. Good Luck!

F-14 Tomcat Midnight Fire

Posted in Sea Stories on March 19, 2014 by castaway

When I think back to all the “near death” experiences I faced, I realized that there has to be a higher calling for me b/c I should have bit it a long time ago. The way I figure it, God has a plan for me and my work isn’t done here. Maybe it’s teaching a man to fish? Lord knows I’ve done my share of that. Jim Farmer

Being in the Navy for over 20 years and working around fighter jets including the flight deck of a carrier for a good part of my career provided some “near death” experiences for me. For some, death wasn’t near, but it was the outcome. In a fighter jet community, we faced danger on and off work. Unfortunately alcohol caused just as many deaths as the work.

The one incident that stands out in my mind was way back on a dark night in 1990 in Miramar, Ca. I was an electrician on F-14 Tomcats and one of my jobs was to run tests on the engines of the jet. It was the middle of the night and I was getting ready to start the engines to run some tests on one of our junkiest jets, aircraft number 213. I had a ground crew of about a dozen men that were waiting to do checks 10 feet below once I got the engines up to speed. Once I was in the cockpit, I closed the canopy of the jet and started in on my checks before starting the engines. We had problem after problem with the checks and I should of abandoned the event but I decided to press on. I needed to open the canopy back up to talk to a ground crew guy and realized the canopy wouldn’t open. No biggie, we just needed to service the canopy with some nitrogen so it would open back up. I decided to keep going, full knowing there was no way for me to get out of the cockpit in an emergency but I kept right on going.

Once all of my checks were done I started to crank up the left engine. It wouldn’t light off. It would be like flooding your car. We had plenty of gas but the 25,000 volt spark plug wouldn’t light the JP5 jet fuel in the combustion chamber of the motor. This is what is referred to as a “wet start”. I’d experienced them before so it wasn’t that big of a deal. After about 3 attempts to start the engines, fuel was running out the tailpipe of the engine and creating a good sized pool of fuel under the jet. It was the middle of the night so no one really realized how much fuel was under the jet. I made one final attempt to start the engine, cussing as I went. The fuel finally ignited but there was so much fuel in the engine and on the ground, it created a big explosion with a giant fireball which lit up the whole flight line. I looked down at the ground and saw everyone running from the fire like roaches when the lights come on. I quickly realized I was on fire with no escape. I could feel the heat through the canopy and no one was around on the ground. I knew there wasn’t much time before I was completely engulfed in flames and my chance of survival was dropping fast. What I didn’t know was that my ground crew was running to get our big Halon fire extinguishers to put out the blaze. I looked at the ground through the flames and saw a big cloud of white smoke moving toward the jet. It was the halon being sprayed from 3 different directions to douse the flames. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so relieved in my life as the flames subsided and the big base fire trucks showed up. They got the canopy serviced and I was able to climb out of the jet on wobbly legs to live another day.

F-18 Hornet High Power Nightmare

Posted in Sea Stories on March 19, 2014 by castaway

When I think back to some of the scariest moments I’ve had during my military career, the scariest wasn’t about me or a situation I put myself in, but a situation I put my son in on a hot Louisiana summer night.

At the time I was more than chest deep in my military career and stationed at a small air base south of New Orleans along the Mississippi river. Physically and mentally I was at the height of my game. I was strong and I had a hand in just about everything I could qualify for in our Fighter Attack squadron. I was a certified Physical Fitness Instructor for our squadron, I was an assistant to our squadrons Urinalysis Program Advisor and I was also a Drug and Alcohol Program Advisor and answered only to our squadrons Commanding Officer. As far as the jets went, I was qualified to do just about everything on the F-18 Hornet Fighter jet but fly it. I had worked my way into a Full System Quality Assurance job which basically meant that I could inspect and sign off on any maintenance done to the aircraft, some very critical maintenance that involved flight safety items. I was responsible for all the squadron audits and inspections and my job was to make sure the squadrons maintenance department followed the rules. There was a lot of responsibility that came with the job and I needed to be mentally focused at all times. One of the qualifications I held in the squadron, and probably the most dangerous was an engine high power operator, which meant that I was qualified to start and run the engines at a higher power settings from 80% to full afterburner. Sometimes our jets required engine testing before, during and after maintenance had been done or an engine had been changed out. There were only a couple of us that were qualified to do this engine testing and at high power engine settings as it was a very danger job.
On this particular week night, my son Derek and I were home after a day of school and day care for him and a long days work for me. I was a single parent at the time and it was just Derek and I living in a little house just outside the main gate of the base. I could be at work in 10 minutes if necessary, and sometimes it was necessary. The phone rang around midnight and Derek and I were sound asleep at the time. It was the squadrons maintenance department and they were in a bind. It seemed the engine guys were troubleshooting a problem with an overheating engine compartment, most likely caused by a bleed air leak. Bleed air leaks were very tough to troubleshoot but it was a system that could cause the aircraft to wind up in a flaming heap so it was something that was very serious and dangerous. Bleed air is basically super heated, highly pressurized air that is bled from the combustion area of the engine to be cooled through heat exchangers and used for environmental systems like air conditioning and such. The bleed air lines were well insulated and ran along the inside of the engine compartment. There were joints and couplings in the lines and sometimes these joints would become unseated and spring a leak. The heat sensors in the engine compartment would warn the pilot that his engine compartment was getting hot and if it was not addressed quickly a fire could soon start. The pilots procedure was to shut the affected engine down and fly home on the remaining engine, declaring a single engine emergency. Needless to say, it was pretty serious to have a bleed air leak.
Our squadron Maintenance personnel told me that they had no choice but to call because at the time I was the only guy holding a engine high power certification and they desperately needed the jet early in the morning for a mission. They thought they had the bleed air leak fixed, but needed to run the engines at high power to make sure. My job was to run the affected engine at high power settings and try to duplicate the discrepancy. If I couldn’t duplicate the discrepancy, my job was done. I would sign off the aircraft as fixed and safe for flight. The only wrinkle in the plan was my son Derek. I couldn’t leave him at home alone, as he was only around 10 years old at the time. I told the maintenance chief that I would drive out to the squadron and do it but only if Derek could come along. The chief agreed. I told the chief to have the guys get the jet ready for a high power engine run, which consisted of towing the aircraft out to a remote area, usually at the end of a runway, called a “high power pad”. It was generally well marked and had a big thick metal ring anchored down in the middle of an open circular area with a jet blast deflector along the edge to deflect and dissipate the very dangerous jet blast caused by the engines at high power settings. The jet had to be positioned perfectly, tied down with a very heavy chain, chalks and smaller chains to hold the aircraft back during testing. Once the aircraft was set up and ready, I would ride out to the high power pad in a work van with Derek and a hand full of maintenance guys. Derek would stay in the van with the windows up and hearing protection on while I ran the engine at higher power settings for a while and if all went well, we’d be back home in an hour.
I woke Derek up and explained what we were doing. He was used to the military life and was familiar with what I did, our aircraft and our maintenance team. For him, it was like being awakened to a trip to Disneyland. He loved to see the jets and for a 10 year old kid to see his dad in a jet in full afterburner in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night was pretty crazy I’m sure. I got to the squadron and went into maintenance control to review the aircraft logbooks and familiarize myself with the aircraft. We had 12 aircraft total, and every one was different. They all had there little ghosts, hick ups and histories of years of maintenance. I chatted with the maintenance guys to find out what maintenance was done to the aircraft to fix the problem. Once we got all the formalities out of the way, we loaded up in the maintenance van and we were all on our way down the taxiway to test the aircraft that was waiting at the high power pad. When we pulled into the pad, there were several ground crew guys standing around waiting to assist in the evolution. The aircraft was chained and ready to go. We all exiting the van except for Derek who I instructed to stay in the van no matter what. I told him that it was very important that he DO NOT leave the van under any circumstances. The van was parked about 100 feet from the jet at the edge of the pad and we left the dome light on so I could se Derek at all times. I did a thorough walk around with my flashlight and scoured the aircraft and area for anything that might cause a problem. My plan was to start the right motor, which was the good motor, and then start the left motor which was the motor to test. Once I got all of the systems on line I would start running the left motor at higher settings and try to duplicate the problem. Sometimes I would really have to put the big GE 404 motors through their paces to figure out a problem so I warned the ground crew to keep on their toes. As I climbed into the cockpit ejection seat I looked over at the van and saw Derek staring out the passenger window with his oversized cranial and hearing protection on. The maintenance guys would all be scouring the engine compartment for leaks as I put the engine through it’s paces so I needed to keep a close eye on Derek as well as the instruments and engine parameters.
I fired up the APU and cranked up the right engine and brought the big jet to life. Everything was good on the right engine so I started the left engine and got everything warmed up for some serious high power engine settings. The crew on the ground gave me the “all clear” and I made a quick check with Derek who was still looking out the passenger window. I pushed the left throttle up to the 80% stop and I could feel the thrust of the jet pulling the heavy chains and the aircraft lurched forward. The feel of the thrust from underneath me was a feeling like I’ve never experienced before. I’ve often wondered what would of happened if a jet were to get loose and snap the big chains while high powering. I gave the ground crew the signal that I was going to run the engine up to higher settings. This is where the most dangerous part comes in. The intake in the front of the aircraft becomes a giant vacuum at higher power settings and anyone within 15 feet of the intake during this time would be sucked up, chewed up and spit out the back of the engine in ragged pieces. Anyone around the back of the aircraft that wandered into the exhaust area would be blown into the jet blast deflector and thrown hundreds of feet from the area. All of our maintenance guys were well trained and know exactly where to be during any given time. I pushed the throttle to the 100% stop and scoured the instruments for anything abnormal. The aircraft lurched forward even more and I could feel the pressure on the holdback chain from the cockpit. The throttle was just a half inch away from busting the first zone of afterburner and I made one final check on Derek before really tearing into testing this engine. My thought was that I would rather find out if the jet was going to break on the ground than have it break in the air and crash it into a school house. I pushed the left throttle into afterburner and felt the extra thrust provided by the afterburner stage as the blue and white flame lit up the night all around the aircraft. I looked at Derek and I could see his eyes as wide as silver dollars as he looked back at the tailpipe flames reacting from my throttle motions. I pushed the throttle forward to full afterburner and left it there in order to heat the engine quickly. I quickly checked with the ground crew through hand signals to make sure everything was going well during full afterburner. I got a quick thumbs up and did a quick check on Derek who was still in the window watching intently. I jerked the throttle back to idle and then quickly pushed it back up to afterburner to simulate in flight conditions and hopefully duplicate the problem if it wasn’t fixed. I really put the engine through it’s paces and if it was going to heat up my job was to make sure it happened on the ground. After 10-15 minutes of running the engine at different power settings I had the engine in full afterburner and watched my ground plane captain walk to the rear of the aircraft, out of site of my view. It made me very nervous not to have a ground guy around within plain site. I pulled the throttle back to idle in order to get someone’s attention and the ground crew guy came running out of the dark, giving me the signal to run the engine back up. As I did he ran back into the darkness and I was left alone with the engine at high power.
Out of nowhere my left “LH BLEED AIR” red flashing warning light comes on in the cockpit. Anything that is red and flashing in the cockpit means “warning”, and is a serious problem. Yellow flashing lights mean “caution” and is some thing that might be livable, but red means big trouble. Just to add to the dilemma, I also get an oral tone in my headset which is referred to as “Bitchin Betty” and she tells me I have a big bleed air problem in the left engine area. I did a quick check of the rest of the engine data to make sure the engine wasn’t overheating or operating out of perimeters. When I looked out of the canopy and on the ground for any sign of maintenance people it was dark and no one was around. I didn’t know if there was an actually fire back there in the engine bay but when I looked at the maintenance van, the door was wide open and Derek was gone.
I can say this about that split second in my life; it was the most gut wrenching, uncontrollable situation I’ve ever been in. To this day it’s hard for me to relive that moment in time. Within a split second I chopped that motor to the “OFF” position and raised the canopy to climb out of the jet as quickly as possible. I jumped down onto the ground from the canopy ledge which was a good 8-10 feet and ran to the back of the plane. There was a crowd under the jet and I could see Derek right there with the crew, under the engine area. I nearly came unglued. I yelled at everyone including Derek who was looking up at me from a kneeling position. I asked Derek why he left the van and he said that the maintenance guys were waving him over to help. They were actually giving hand signals to each other because of the deafening sound and Derek mistook a maintenance hand signal for a “forget everything your dad said and come over here under the jet”. Basically the jet was still broken so it was back to the drawing board for the mechanics and it was back to bed for Derek and I. I told Derek that never again would I do such a stupid thing and he got a good grounding for not listening to his dad. I think I got a few grey hairs that night.

From the March Angler Magazine

Posted in Fishing Reports on March 15, 2014 by castaway

The Southern Tackle Box By Jim Farmer

Well, it’s happened again. The finish line is within sight. After a winter that will certainly go down in history as one of the very worst, there are signs of warmer weather and spring approaching. At last glance the jonquils in the back yard have begun to bloom and I notice that the sun is staying up just a bit longer these days. Now I’m sure we’ll see our share cold fronts blasting through the south this spring just to remind us that old man winter is still alive and kicking to our north. That’s fine, just give me a few warm sunny days in between cold fronts so I can enjoy some spring fishing.
Things are shaping up to be a banner spring for some shoreline striper fishing. The lake is very near full pool and the bait is still plentiful. I’ve been netting Blueback Herring from my dock and there have been plenty in a variety of sizes. Last night under my dock lights there were schools of large mature 6-10 inch Bluebacks circling under the dock lights. The night before last, the bluebacks were very small and rolling under the lights by the thousands. March and April are months that shallow water fishing is at its finest and some of our biggest fish will be lying in wait along the sundrenched shores waiting on a meal of big juicy protein packed Blueback Herring. Our lake stripers are starting to warm up and get back to business, and business is eating bait. The shad die off is winding down and the stripers are starting to get very aggressive when finding a meal. Scores of Blueback Herring are cruising the shoreline in search of warmer water and a food source to prepare them for their spawn later this spring. The herring are feeding along the shore and the stripers are right there with them. Sometimes stripers will lie in wait on a warm afternoon in just a few feet of water just off the shore just waiting for a big fat Blueback Herring to make the mistake of swimming in front of him. With a quick lunge and an open vacuum mouth, dinner has been served for a hungry striper.
With this scenario of striper feeding in the spring, my plan of attack involves planer boards. The planer board is the one piece of gear that can get your bait right up against the shore without the boat being too close to the shore. Pulling Blueback Herring behind planer boards along the shore is a great way to increase your chances for a big strong spring striper. As these big stripers start to warm, they start flexing some muscles that have been dormant for a few weeks as their metabolism slowed in the coldest part of winter. They are like bulldogs in the spring and they really can make the drag scream. For this reason you really need to have your gear ready for some hard pulling fish. I like to start gearing up my leaders to 15-17lb test fluorocarbon with a good octopus hook at the end of a 6-8 foot leader and a 25lb test mono main line. You may want to use this time of year to re-string some reels if your gear has been through a long hard winter of abuse. Having new line on my reels eliminates the worry of break-offs when the drag starts peeling at breakneck speed from a big hungry striper.
So here’s the plan; make sure your gear is in good working order and you’ve got a good set of planer boards. I prefer Cast Away reversible planer boards. Head down to your local bait shop and pick up a few dozen Blueback Herring and head to the lake. Take one of those herring and put it on a hook and run it out 30-60 feet. Hook up the planer board and troll along the shore at .5 to .8 mph and keep that planer board just a few feet off the shore. If you do this in March and April, there’s a good chance you are going to wind up with some exciting spring fishing and some great striper memories. Get out and enjoy the warmer weather and some spring planer board fishing!

Jim Farmer is an avid fisherman and is the owner of Cast Away Bait and Tackle, a custom tackle shop located just off the shores of Lake Lanier in North Georgia.

Bald Ridge Report 3-1 through 3-11

Posted in Fishing Reports, Tackle on March 12, 2014 by castaway

The creek is clearing up and the fish are starting to heat up also. We’ve been concentrating most of our efforts to bass fishing of late because I’ve trailered the big striper boat back to the boat garage for maintenance and to prepare it for the summer striper trolling season that will kick off in a few more months. Right now we’re plinking away at bass with smaller tackle in shallow waters as the bass enjoy the warmer shoreline temperatures and start relating to shallower structure in lieu of the upcoming spawn. We have been using our new little Bed Bugs with 1/8 and 1/16 ounce egg heads and also our little 1/4 ounce Ultra-Spin with a 3.75 inch Twitch bait in a pearl white, blue iridescent pearl or chartreuse over white has worked the best. Here’s a few pics and video from the past few trips out.
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Bald Ridge Bass Report 2-23-2014

Posted in Fishing Reports on February 23, 2014 by castaway

Today we decided to troll some deep diving crank baits on some heavier gear (6lb test) and targeted depths of 20-30 feet clipping points. We wound up with 6 bass and 1 striper today. We didn’t take any pictures yesterday but we took a few pictures today. Great day to be on the lake. Here’s a couple pics from today.

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