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Al Agnew

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Al Agnew last won the day on April 10

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About Al Agnew

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    Smallmouth Bass Angler

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  1. Al Agnew

    Jet Boat Safety

    If you know how to read water already it will be somewhat easier. Having floated Ozark rivers for a LONG time, I knew how to read water and pick lines to run. What I had to learn was how shallow I could go, and how to turn at speed. Making a turn in a jetboat is totally different from doing it with a prop motor. It's kinda like driving on snow, you have to know how sharp you can turn at whatever speed you're going, and how to steer into your turns when you start to skid out. You WILL skid out in a jetboat, because there is very little to keep you from it...no prop or rudder in the water. I bought my 1652 Blazer with 40/32 Evinrude from Ernie's in Ellington, and he took me out on Clearwater Lake when I bought it to give it a test run, where I first got a feel for steering it. Then, the first time I took it on a river, the middle Meramec, I quickly found a slick log that was across part of the river and barely underwater, from 12 inches deep to 2 inches deep, and ran over it several times, each time at a shallower point, until I felt the boat tick the log, then I knew how shallow I could run by myself. Having one or two other people in the boat, as it turned out, didn't really make much difference in how shallow it would run. I've had mishaps, and the worst ones are always hitting big rocks. I've had two bad ones. The first happened when I was running up a narrow line, and when I got to the top of the riffle I cut toward the middle just a little too early, and caught a big rock which stopped the boat dead, and put a big dent in the bottom. The second was when I tried to turn into a very narrow run along a rocky bank, and the boat skidded sideways on the turn just a bit too much and the back corner hit the rocks, putting a nice hole in it. Other than that, I've run up on gravel bars once or twice when I couldn't make a turn sharply enough, and a couple times I've picked the wrong channel on split riffles and had to try to skim over short spots that were only a couple inches deep. I've had to dig out the gravel under the back end of the boat once in order to get it to float high enough to drag it off the gravel. Only bad thing about hitting gravel like that is that it sucks the gravel up into the impellor and wears it. Also...I believe that your first jetboat should not be a big, go-fast one. The faster it runs, the faster you get into trouble and the less time you have to get out of it. Jetboats hold value fairly well, so my advice would be to buy a smaller, less powerful one to begin with, and later if you think you need to go faster and/or carry more people and gear, then upgrade. I bought my boat in 2007, and have not yet seen a need for anything bigger.
  2. Al Agnew

    Arkansas Smallmouth

    Spring River has long slow pools but also has occasional small waterfalls. Floatable but not always easy. South Fork also has occasional drops over ledges, and tight brushy riffles. I don't think either of them are for somebody looking for calm water floats, to be honest. Most of these two streams would qualify, but those occasional ledges could be a problem. Lower Eleven Point in Arkansas is probably closer to what you're looking for. Middle and lower Buffalo, with rare exceptions, is pretty calm. Lower Kings River is pretty easy. But a lot of the Arkansas Ozark stream stretches are faster, narrower, and trickier than many of the Missouri Ozark waters.
  3. Al Agnew

    Eked one out...

    Was working around the new cabin on the Meramec, but it was just too nice a day not to wet a line at least a bit. I had the boat there, so I drove to the nearest access and put in about 1:30 PM. I wasn't holding out much hope; water clarity was close to eight feet, and that's way too clear. And I knew the water would be cold. Sure enough, temp gauge said 37 degrees. A degree or two can be critical when it gets that cold. I feel like I can catch a few fish at 38 degrees and above, but below 38 it gets really tough. But the pool I planned to fish was open to the sun with a west-facing bluff, so hopefully the rocks would be soaking up a bit of sun and maybe be a degree or two warmer. Still, I just don't have much confidence under those conditions. I figured I might get a few on a hair jig, but for whatever reason, I have more confidence in jerkbaits in ultra-clear water. So I had my hair jig rod and jerkbait rod out. I stopped at a smaller pool that has one spot, about the size of the average living room, that has produced winter fish in the past. It is barely 8 feet at the deepest but has one big log that gives cover for a few fish. I fished the rocks above the log with the jerkbait, nothing. Fished the log, nothing. Right below the log, the water begins to shallow out to about 5-6 feet, and I thought I'd make one cast there in case there was a fish roaming. Bingo. A nice 16 incher. Well, I wasn't skunked. Then I started fishing the big pool. Jerkbaits, nothing. Hair jigs through the heart of the pool, nothing. I mean nothing that even MIGHT have been a bite. More jerkbaits. Hair jigs in slack water at the lower end. Absolutely nothing. The sun was getting low and the wind was getting chilly, so I gave up. But one fish is better than none.
  4. I'm all for gadgets that make life easier, but that wouldn't make my life easier because I'd have to buy something to carry it in. It wouldn't fit in my tackle box system.
  5. Al Agnew

    Do you all know this guy?

    Hey, I'll try not to bloviate...although now I'm wondering if Gavin's alter ego is Whitesnoop😁😁. Just want to say that I certainly am open to new tricks, otherwise I wouldn't be spending hours upon hours making, modifying, and testing lures in the pond by the house. But when it comes to shallow running crankbaits, I keep going back to vinyl skirts. Flysmallie is right, it works for me, and others' mileage may vary. I'm not sure whether it makes any difference on deeper running lures that the fish are looking sideways at or down at, but a skirt of any kind on the belly hook is darned effective on shallow runners that they are looking UP at.
  6. Al Agnew

    Do you all know this guy?

    There is a vast amount of difference between putting something on the back hook and putting it on the belly hook, both in the action and profile of the lure and in the amount of tangling of the skirt. Put it on the back hook and you have essentially a long, jointed lure that the fish sees as a body that's wobbling and a skirt well behind the body that's waving, with a very narrow "waist" between body and tail. Put the skirt on the belly hook, and the fish sees it as a waving mass of "tentacles" growing out of the body itself, and if the fish is looking up at it, the skirt obscures the body to some extent. Two very different looks. I don't add skirts to the back hook of crankbaits, but do often put a feathered treble on the back. I am not convinced it makes much difference between a "bare" deep diving crankbait and one with a feathered treble "tail" to the fish, though.
  7. Al Agnew

    Do you all know this guy?

    Geez, Chief, I've been fishing these things for something like 45 years now. I've tried all the skirt materials I could find. They all get tangled, but the silicone gets tangled worse than the vinyl, period, when using my lures. And when a skirt gets tangled, the lure doesn't run right...the tangle usually puts more skirt bulk on one side of the hook, and suddenly the lure is running off to one side. So I have to take the time to untangle it to get the lure running straight again. You're right in that the amount of material in the skirt makes a big difference, but so does the bulk of the collar. You can either have a bulky collar and fewer strands,or a smaller collar and more strands. I prefer having more strands. The new skirts that have collars, instead of the silicone ones that just use that rubber ring, don't get tangled much, you're right about that. But the other problem that I have with them is that the collar is too loose on the hook. It tends to rotate, and the strands don't rotate the same, so they get bunched on one side and make the lure run off to the side. The ones that have very thin strands and use the rubber O-ring do get tangled much worse than vinyl. The vinyl in the ones Chief posted of mine look a little tangled because the skirts haven't been warm or wet for a while, they tend to straighten out when wet. Wiggle Warts are workable with skirts, but the wobble of the Wart is far wider than the waving of the skirt, like I mentioned above. Will they catch fish with skirts? Of course. But it bothers me to see the skirt barely waving at all while the lure is wobbling like crazy above it. The lure that I've found works the way I want it to the best is the Rebel Deep Wee Craw, as long as the skirt isn't too thick. Second best is the Norman Middle N. And the best medium diver, like running about 3-4 feet, is the old Lazy Ike. The Midge and Baby Lucky 13 both run about 1-2 feet, and my homemade ones will run anywhere from 6 inches to 3 feet deep, depending upon exactly what shape the body and front end is. You can hold your rod tip a little higher and reel a little slower, and make these shallow runners into wake baits. In clear water and bright moonlight, they can be killers after dark used as wake baits. The two homemade ones of mine in the photo Chief posted are typical of the ones I make, but I often experiment with the body and front end shape to see if I can change the action a bit. Maybe we ought to take this whole crankbait discussion to the general fishing board. I'm really picky about my river crankbaits, probably a lot more than I need to be, but I've spent a lot of time fooling around with them to try to make them a bit better. If I have time tomorrow I'll take some photos of the ones I'm currently modifying and using.
  8. Al Agnew

    Winter Time Planning

    One of the interesting facets of Treehouse was that he'd do anything for anybody he knew, but he absolutely hated people using "his" gravel bar unless they were staying at his place or renting his canoes. At the time, there was a big gravel bar in the V where Huzzah entered the Meramec, and it was part of his land. He figured he owned that gravel bar, and was notorious for coming down and running people off it. Probably came close to getting into several fights over it, and you didn't want to mess with him. These days, Huzzah Creek enters the Meramec nearly a quarter mile upstream from where it did back then, and the old channel is almost completely hidden at the river, and has a little pool a ways up it which is all that's left of the old Huzzah. So the Huzzah has eaten up a lot of acres of Treehouse's land...I don't know what the law is on whether the land to the old channel is still owned by the family or whoever owns it now. So the gravel bar of contention is long gone.
  9. Al Agnew

    Do you all know this guy?

    Yep, I was doing it by the early 70s, and I surely didn't invent it, I was shown it by a guy that was about 30 years older than me, and he'd been doing it for a long time. I didn't know of anybody outside our little group that was doing it on Big or Meramec, but I soon found out that people were doing it on the Big Piney back then. I've experimented with the belly hook skirt on all kinds of lures, and probably know about as much about how and why it works as anybody. The old vinyl skirts were always what we used back then, and for the lures we were using them on, they WERE the best, and still are. The reason for that is two-fold. One, the collar of the vinyl skirts is just the right amount of bulky. The old rubber skirts, though some in other parts of the Ozarks much preferred them, were a little too bulky in the collar to give the right action to the lures we used. With all the skirts you can get these days, they are still not as good, because the living rubber or silicone skirts with the little rubber rings for collars aren't quite bulky enough, and the ready made skirts that you can buy for spinnerbaits and such are a little too bulky in the collar. They are all usable with a little tinkering. But the second reason that the vinyl skirts were the best was that they had the right amount of stiffness. The old rubber ones and the living rubber or silicone ones these days are a little too limp. The reason this is a problem is that the strands get all tangled up much more quickly around the hook points and just tie themselves in knots. Like this guy, I still have a supply of vinyl skirts, and have found a place or two to get new ones as well. I still use them more than the other materials, but the problem with them is that they aren't available in all the cool colors that the new skirts have. Jerry gave you one reason why the skirt on the belly hook works--hiding the hooks--but it's not the only reason, and probably in my opinion not the biggest reason. I learned this a long time ago from a video fishing lure commercial on one of the early fishing shows. The advertisement for a particular crankbait at the time showed underwater footage of the bait running through the water, and of several big bass hitting it. What was eye-opening was that the bass didn't all just engulf the whole lure, even though their mouths were big enough to do so. Instead, some of them were coming up to the lure and with some precision biting ONLY the swinging belly hook, which was unadorned on those lures. Hmm, if a swinging hook was an attraction, a swinging hook with a skirt on it should be much MORE of an attraction. This has been borne out in all my experience, in that nearly ALL the fish I catch on these lures are hooked only on the skirted belly hook. The rear hook is almost unnecessary, and in fact I sometimes remove it. It's not a magic trick. As was mentioned above, it is perfect for the old Midge-oreno AND the old Baby Lucky 13. In the old days the guys in our group used it on the Midge, but the guys I knew elsewhere in the Ozarks did the belly hook skirt thing with the Baby Lucky 13. The principle was the same with those two lures. They were originally designed as slow-retrieve, shallow-running crankbaits and not topwaters the way many fished them. Without a skirt, they had a very wide, erratic wobble, almost like they were swimming in big zig zags. But put the skirt on the belly hook and it tamed that erratic, super-wide wobble into what was still a fairly wide wobble, but one that was much more uniform. The skirt acted as a balance point. I went for many years only using a skirt on the Midge, and began making my own Midge type lures when it became difficult to impossible to find the commercial version. But my brother actually was the first I knew to try it on a different lure...he put one on a 1-Minus, and it was very effective. Soon everybody in the area was using a skirt on the 1-Minus. Well, I got to figuring that if it worked on shallow runners like my Midges and the 1-Minus, it should be really effective on deeper runners. But experimentation showed it killed the action of many deep divers. With the Midge (and the Baby Lucky 13), the skirt actually waved or wobbled as much or more than the body of the lure...the lure was making the skirt wave. But with most lipped lures, including the 1-Minus, the lure wobbled more than the skirt. The skirt just kinda vibrated as the lure wobbled up there above it. I didn't like that look, I wanted the skirt to at least wave as much as the lure wobbled. So I began to experiment. I bought a lot of crankbaits, and even tried to make some, that dived deep but would wave that skirt widely. I finally found that, like Jerry, it made a difference if the skirt collar was up close to the eye of the hook, instead of down by the bends like we always put it on the shallow running baits without lips. That's the only innovation of his that I've not seen, that v-shaped piece of wire to hold the skirt collar up close the eye of the hook. I solved that problem a couple of different ways which I won't go into now. But mainly, the skirt only works on lipped crankbaits the way I want it to if it's fairly sparse, and it only works really well on a couple of them that I've found. I've done some other modifications to other crankbaits to make the skirt work better, including removing the rear hook and changing the placement of the belly hook. It's not magic, like I said before, EXCEPT on those old shallow runners. I still fish my homemade version of the Midge religiously--if the water temps are in the mid-50s or higher and the water clarity is less than 5 feet visibility, I guarantee you I'll be throwing one until the bass tell me they don't want it. And I wouldn't dream of throwing it without the skirt. It's produced as many big smallmouth over the years as any lure I use. But on deep divers, I use several without skirts as much as I use the one or two that work well with skirts.
  10. Al Agnew

    Winter Time Planning

    Just checked...Treehouse died in 1990 at the age of 72...the documentary was produced in 1989.
  11. Al Agnew

    Winter Time Planning

    Yes. Quite a while back. That documentary was made a long time ago...I'll have to ask Tom Shipley when it was made the next time I see him. It was published on Youtube a year ago, but I think it was originally made back in the 1980s or 1990s. Certainly Treehouse looked that old when we spent that night with him, and that was back in 1983. The Scotia Bridge in the documentary was still the old wooden bridge, and it's been a concrete bridge for 30 years or so.
  12. Al Agnew

    Winter Time Planning

    Treehouse was really a character. One time a buddy and I were going to float the entire Courtois Creek from up at Cub Creek down to Scotia, where Treehouse lived and had his canoe rental. We drove into the area the night before, planning on seeing if Treehouse would shuttle us the next morning, but we were going to spend the night at an MDC campground across the creek from Treehouse's place and up the road a ways. Just before dark, here came Treehouse in his old beat up truck into the campground. We were the only ones there, since it was the middle of the week. He told us the weather forecast was for big storms, and it wasn't a good idea to stay in that campground, since the little creek flowing through it was prone to flooding and we might be stuck in there half the next day. He said, "Why don't you men come and stay in my campground. Ain't nobody there now and I won't even charge you." So we did, and he must have wanted somebody to talk to, because as soon as we set up camp, he came down with a big cooler full of beer and told us stories half the night...and wiped out the whole cooler of beer.
  13. Al Agnew


    I guess the main problem with college football (and basketball to a somewhat lesser extent) is that the best kids want to play for the best teams, so once a team gets a national championship or two and gets a reputation of being a contender every year, it gets real easy to recruit top talent. Is Saban the best coach in college football? Who knows, because he always has the top or at least very close to the top talent. Which old coach was it that said that Jimmys and Joes always beat Xs and Os? How many times are we going to have to watch the national championship game include Bama and Clemson, anyway? And the other two that look like they'll be in the hunt are Michigan and Notre Dame, two more bluebloods that I basically get tired of seeing, even though both have been somewhat down in recent years. At least we hopefully won't be subjected to Ohio State again. But for all that, it's still way more interesting than the NFL. I will continue to torture myself as a Mizzou fan...this year is a perfect example of what it's like. Recruiting rankings within the SEC always near the bottom, but somehow they end up with some kids that are better than their star rating and who play as hard as they possibly can (if not always as smart as they can) and turn out to be pretty good...and then bad luck and stupid stuff happens and the season never turns out as good as it looked like it could have been. They should be a 10-2 team this year and could have conceivably beaten Georgia and been 11-1, playing for the SEC championship. But horrible ref calls, a monsoon, a quarterback who was a head case for a while, injuries to a couple of key players, stupid penalties at terrible times, weird play calls at terrible times, and a secondary that's just now beginning to figure things out, and they lost two games they should have won easily. But at least it's not Tennessee, who always has excellent recruiting classes and it looks like they're going to become a real power again, and then they tank.
  14. Al Agnew

    Winter smallmouth

    Kinda skipped right over the fall bite and went directly to winter. So yeah, I'm ready. They should be where you expect them to be by now. I've been tying hair jigs, and switching all my lure boxes to my winter selections.
  15. Al Agnew

    C’mon over to the Darkside

    Good thing I count in my head if I ever fish with Gavin. I only count bass, but count all bass I catch (when I'm counting...I don't count every trip like I used to because I don't keep records like I used to.) Went for a while this afternoon, taking a break from working on the cabin. Easy to count...5 largemouth and a bonus crappie, no smallmouth. I think a lot of guys would be surprised at how many fish you DO catch on a decent (not great) day of fishing an Ozark stream. I've fished with several guys and kept count of the fish we caught in my head, and when I asked them at the end of the day how many they thought we caught, they have always underestimated, often by close to half.

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