Tackle Tips by Berkley®


Capt. Greg Watts

Not All Soft Fishing Baits are Plastic

When I’m fishing for redfish, trout and the other saltwater inshore fish I find live shrimp or frozen pogies are typical “one fish” baits. That is, the fish strikes and the bait is lost. Doesn’t matter if there is a hookup, the strike alone ruins the bait. Anglers were quickly discovering that a single Berkley Gulp! Shrimp was just as good after the first bite as it was on the fourth or fifth.

So just imagine, in the early days of Gulp!, the excitement of inshore anglers as they were catching more fish and not having to mess with keeping their baits alive nor having to toss out unused bait.

Just what is it about Gulp! that separates it so much from live and plastic baits? Well, first of all, Gulp! is water based. Water based also means the scent and flavors contained within are water soluble. Scent dispersion is 400 times that of plastic baits. Gulp! baits literally breathe water. As water enters and leaves the bait it takes with it the strong scent, leaving a virtual Gulp! scent trail in the water.

When Berkley Gulp! was first introduced 15 years ago the general inshore angler was relying heavily on live and frozen baits. Shrimp, pogies and crabs, the mainstay inshore baits, were purchased daily with leftovers discarded and the practice repeated the next day.

To the amazement, and delight, of inshore anglers Gulp! not only was out fishing the tried and true but the unused baits were good the next day, and the day after that and the month after that.

Additionally, Gulp! is almost entirely biodegradable and does not litter the water like other baits.

There is no other bait like Gulp!. Since its introduction, anglers made up their mind not to trust anything else. A look at IFA (Inshore Fishing Association) tournament results proves that professional anglers rely heavily on Gulp! and the top finishers at just about every event are using the bait.

The next generation of Gulp! formula is more potent than ever. Through thousands of field tests over the past 20 years, Berkley scientists have learned a thing or two about what triggers fish into striking. Recent developments have lead the Berkley team to create a new and enhanced Gulp! formula that is now 35-percent more effective than the original.

Gulp! is available in newly, designed resealable packages to protect the integrity of the baits’ shape and Gulp! Alive! in resealable tubs. It offers the most popular saltwater shapes and colors. Shrimp, crabs, eels, mullet, grubs, pogies, sandworms, bloodworms, croakers….the list of shapes goes on and on.

Durable Gulp! is now a mainstay in most tackle boxes and professional and recreational anglers alike have discovered just how great this bait works.

“There hasn’t been a live shrimp or pogie in my boat in years.”

Learn more about Berkley Gulp! Here

About the Author

Captain Greg Watts, fished on the Redfish Tour, and finished in the top 20 in many events. He, along with brother and partner Bryan Watts, was the IFA Team of the Year Winner in 2001, as well as 2001 Championship Winner. Other Career Highlights include:

  • Fished ESPN Redfish Cup from 2003-2009

  • 2001 IFA Championship Winners and Team of the Year

  • 2003 ESPN Redfish Cup Winner

  • 2003 ESPN Championship Winner

  • 2005 FLW Team of the Year

  • 2007 ESPN O’Boy ‘Berto All-Star Champions

Editor Notes: Big R Stores carries the Berkley brand, check with your local Big R Stores for product selection and availability.

February’s Outdoor Column

febraury-in-the-woods-ffsgsWhen the month of February comes around it brings about a transition period between hunting and fishing and, with the warm weather we have had this winter, many of the local ponds and lakes are free of ice and fishing will begin early this year.

Hunters have that one last season ahead as the wild turkey season is just around the corner in Illinois and Indiana. Hunters and anglers alike are reminded to renew their licenses before the seasons begin and Big R Stores are a place to not only get your licenses but also many of your hunting and fishing necessities.

Looking back at the deer seasons always brings about some analyzing of figures to find what the season results show. The final tally for the Indiana seasons were not available at the time of this article but Illinois figures were down approximately 9 percent which is a substantial drop. Given the fact that the crops were out of the field and the weather was pretty decent, the drop in numbers should have hunters concerned.

These figures really stand out since the 2005 season when over 200,000 deer were harvested.

The hunt for antler sheds has now begun as bucks have dropped their antlers and hunters love to hunt for them to give them an idea of what bucks in their area survived the hunt. The hunt for these sheds is sometimes hampered by the fact that rodents gnaw on them to get calcium so their is a race between the shed hunter and the rodents within the area.

Of course a deer can drop its antlers anywhere but logical places include water areas where they lean over to get a drink and a side of the antlers drop off. Areas where deer jump fences and look an antler are also good as are deer trails through the woods where deer travel and catch an antler on a tree branch and lose it.

Look for sheds in your hunting areas, you might be surprised at what is running your area that you haven’t seen.

If you are lagging behind in cleaning your fishing equipment, time is fleeting! I clean all of my own reels and lures. This is the time to get your tackle organized in your tackle boxes. There is nothing worse than to go on your first fishing trip and find that your tackle is in the same condition and in the same mess as it was last fall. I like everything in its place when I go. New tackle is coming into our stores right now so get in a get the first picks.

Remember to attend some of the big fishing shows close to you to kill the cabin fever you might be experiencing. Many people within the area like the Indianapolis Boat, Sport and Travel Show at the Indianapolis State Fairgrounds February 17-26.

10 Spectacular Fishing Spots In Indiana & Illinois


As the temperatures continue to rise, it’s a great time to pack up the cooler and head out to the lake to fish. Ready to make memories on the lake by catching dinner with family and friends this season? Cool waters, boating adventures and spectacular scenery are just a short drive away. Take advantage of these top fishing spots found only in Indiana and Illinois:

Best places to fish in Illinois

  1. Clinton Lake – Near Clinton, Illinois, this 4,900 reservoir is perfect for fishing, camping, and duck hunting. Clinton Lake is located an hour’s drive outside of Springfield. Here you’ll find plenty of crappie, hybrid striped bass, largemouth bass, walleye, and white bass. There are six boat launches, a canoe launch, and a white sand beach located around the perimeter of the lake. An equestrian trail is also available for those who love horse riding.
  2. Crab Orchard Lake – Are you all about bass fishing? Drive three hours south of Springfield to Crab Orchard Lake for some of the biggest bass in Illinois. There are 6,965 acres for all things fishing, boating, and swimming. Spend the night and eat your day’s catch at one of the two campgrounds located at the north end of the lake.
  3. Lake Shelbyville – As one of the deepest major lakes in Illinois, Lake Shelbyville is perfect for boaters and all things water sports during this time of the year. Besides the main channel, dozens of coves around the lake make for the perfect fishing hideaway. This is a great location for families, with available full service marinas, resorts, and campgrounds. Cast your fishing reel, and you’re sure to catch carp, black crappie, freshwater drum, walleye, and white and yellow bass.
  4. Apple Canyon Lake – Nestled in the top northwestern border of Illinois, Apple Canyon Lake is a vacation community with a long list of nice-to-have amenities. This includes a clubhouse, golf course, marina, pool, and private airport to sustain the residential and resort community residing around the lake. Tiger muskie, catfish, walleye, bluegill, bass, and crappie are abundant here. Apple Canyon lake is consistently praised for its water clarity and quality.
  5. Banner Marsh – Whether a boat or a bank fisher, you’ll be able to catch a variety of fish within the 5,524 acres of Banner Marsh. Largemouth bass, northern pike, walleye, smallmouth bass, crappie, redear, channel catfish, and green sunfish swim within the over 200 clear water bodies located in the marsh. Located alongside the Illinois River, Banner Marsh is only a quick hour and a half drive from Springfield.

Best places to fish in Indiana

  1. Lake Monroe- Located only 10 miles from Bloomington, this reservoir is the largest body of water in Indiana with 10,750 acres of water surface. There are over 30 species of fish, including largemouth bass, black crappie, and even monster blue catfish. When you’re not searching for fish in the water, try spotting an eagle flying in the sky.
  2. Lake Lemon – Lake Lemon is home to a diverse range of wildfire. A mix of eagles and heron, beavers and muskrat, and a variety of fish, such as largemouth bass, crappies, and bluegill, call this ecosystem home. It’s a great location for those residing in Bloomington, as it is only a 30 minute drive from the state’s capital city. Take a break between catching fish and spend a few hours sailing the lake alongside Indiana University’s Women’s Rowing Team.
  3. Tippecanoe Lake – The deepest natural lake in Indiana, Tippecanoe Lake is located in north-central Indiana. It is lush with striped bass, white bass, spotted bass, and catfish.
  4. Clear Lake – A popular summer getaway for Hoosiers, Clear Lake is a resort town in the northeastern corner of the state. Go to the lake and you’ll have access to yacht clubs, beaches, and water skiing, on top of the great fishing. Clear Lake is known for its extremely large sized crappie and bluegill, as well as northern pike, bass, and perch.
  5. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore- The 15,000 acres of national lakeshore run along the southern coast of Lake Michigan. The park contains beaches, sand dunes, marshes, and great fishing spots. This time of year, you can catch the tail end (no pun intended) of the spring’s smelt, along with a plentiful amount of salmon, trout, bluegill, pumpkinseed, bass, and yellow perch. After catching your fill of fish, pay a visit to the famous singing sands along the shore.

Gear up for your next fishing adventure in Illinois or Indiana with rods, reels & other fishing essentials available at BigR.com. Not sure where to start? Consult with a friendly professional at your local Big R store who can help you pick and pack all the necessities to make your trip as big and memorable as the fish you’ll catch. Don’t forget the bait!

11 Pike Fishing Lures That Will Make You Look Like a Pro


Whether you are fishing for bass, trout, or any other type of fish, selecting the correct lure is extremely important! Picking the perfect lure can be tough. There are many factors that go into the decision. It is essential to know the type of fish you are targeting as well as the depth of the water that you will frequent. This will help determine the specific size and color of the lure you need. The more resemblance that the lure has to fish bait, the more desirable the lure will be to the pike.


This type of lure works at any depth in the water, fast or slow. They are versatile enough to catch any size pike. The chrome finish on this lure gives it a natural baitfish look, which helps attract more fish to the line!

Berkley Gulp! Shaky Shad

Pikes can be picky at times so consider trying a soft, plastic lure. The Berkley Gulp! has a dark, natural bait color, which will work best if the pike are biting slow.

Pikeboy Single Colorado

Pike are generally aggressive, so it helps to have a durable lure. This type of lure is made with heavy-gauge wire and high-end components. Stick with a basic natural color, such as black, to give it a sharp silhouette.

Original Rapala Floater

This 7-inch silver lure is great for catching big pike. This lure is universal in different depths of water. Big pike are not always caught in deeper water, and some of the heavier fish can even be found in the shallows!

Musky Mania Jake

This lure is not unlike most common baits. The Jake works best in waters as low as 16 feet down. To get the most out of this bait, roll in the line a bit. That little bit of movement that you create is all that it can take! You want to expose the sides of the lure to maximize the flash that it gives off.

Musky Innovations Bull Dawg

Bull Dawg lures are a little bit on the pricier side, but have a long life expectancy. This versatile bait runs at any depth and speed. It is a soft plastic that is about 9 inches long.

Original Dardevle Spoon

This oldie but goodie is considered one of the most effective all-around fishing lures. It is a spoon shape lure that is irresistible to pike! The spoon bait is a curved piece of metal with a flat edge that resembles a spoon and wobbles as it is pulled through the water.

Bomber Long A

The Bomber Long A has a slender look that catches a wide variety of fish, from salmon to trout! It was designed to match the technique and look of bait that the bigger game fish tend to seek out. This hard, floating, plastic bait also features a tight wobble action and the quick-twitch action that catches the big fish’s attention.

Booyah Pike Spinnerbait

With the durable Vibra-FLX wire frame, this lure can stand up to powerful jaws. It is ready to battle with the toughest pike!

Mepps BD5TSBLP-W Double Blade Aglia

This bait features a dual blade, which increases the blade color intensity as it spins through the water. This bait is easier to use in weeded areas and various other areas that can be filled with obstacles. The different blades are polished and plated with a tough finish to give it a bright flash underwater.

Northland Fishing Tackle Bionic Bucktail Jig

The hand-tied buck tail skirt on this lure imitates the favorite meals of the pike. The steel hook gets those short striking biters! This bait is designed for deep water or casting off in shallow waters that consist of weeds and brush.

Check out BIG R’s wide selection of fishing supplies for all types of fishing experiences! They offer a variety of products for nearly every fish species and technique. Their fishing lures come in all different styles, sizes, and colors, all starting at $1.49!

Whether you are fishing for bass, trout, or any other type of fish, selecting the correct lure is extremely important! Picking the perfect lure can be tough. There are many factors that go into the decision. It is essential to know the type of fish you are targeting as well as the depth of the water that you will frequent. This will help determine the specific size and color of the lure you need. The more resemblance that the lure has to fish bait, the more desirable the lure will be to the pike.

12 Fishing Tips and Tricks You Wish You Knew Sooner in Life


If you are thinking about trying your hand at fishing, then you are in luck! Below is a list of 12 fishing tips and tricks that will help any beginner fisherman ensure a successful fishing trip:

Fishing Tip #1: When and Where To Fish

From ponds, lakes, and reservoirs, to rivers and streams, you can fish essentially anywhere there is a large body of water.

Of course, the trick is finding where the fish are biting!

While it varies from region, type of fish, and time of year, there are a few key spots to look for no matter where you are fishing. Fish like to gather by any cover or structure, such as weeds, rocks, docks, and trees.

Picking the right time to go fishing plays a large factor in how successful you will be. Typically early morning, before the sunrise, and evenings are when the fish are hungry.

If fishing by rivers or streams, look for the point where two streams converge, this it the area fish tend to gather. If fishing on a lake and the wind is blowing, head to where the waves are crashing.

The fish will naturally flow towards that direction.

Fishing Tip #2: Check the Weather

Be sure to check the weather report before heading out.

One would think a beautiful, sunny day would be the perfect time to go, when actually overcast skies, wind, or rainy days are the best time to go fishing. The fish are more active during that time.

Fishing Tip #3: What To Wear While Fishing

Wear whatever makes you comfortable. Remember, fishing is an all day hobby. Be smart about what you wear.

If you plan on going on a warm day, wear shorts and a light weight shirt. If fishing on a cooler day, wear pants and awindbreaker jacket.

There will be times you will have to get wet, so wearing boots is an essential, as well as wearing a hat and polarized sunglasses.

Fishing is a hobby that involves a lot of down time. Sitting by the water, the sun reflecting off the water can take a toll on you, so be sure to have proper protection.

Fishing Tip #4: Bug Spray And Sunscreen

Some more essentials to bring along on a fishing trip are bug spray and sunscreen.

Believe it or not, you can still get sunburn on a overcast day! Also, bugs love to hang out around the water, especially mosquitos.

Bug spray and sunscreen will become your best friend!

Fishing Tip #5: Patience Grasshopper

If you are impatient, this is not the hobby for you. Expect a lot of sitting and waiting.

When you cast the line, the fish will be startled at first. Do not expect the fish to be biting right away.

Give it at least 20 minutes, and if there are no fish touching the bait, you can experiment in various ways until you get a bite.

Cast in another area or reel in the bait to give the fish the impression that your bait is alive.

Keep a close watch for any fishing line movement; a quick hard tug is the sign you hooked a fish!

Fishing Tip #6: Fishing License

One of the most important items a fisherman can carry is their fishing license. Acquiring a fishing license can be easy and affordable.

Fishing rules and regulations vary by state, so it is important to check with the Department of Natural Resources.

In most states, you need a fishing license for public reservoirs, lakes, rivers, and streams. The average license cost about $25 and can be purchased online. You can purchase a daily, short-term, annual, or lifetime pass.

In addition, most states do not require fishing license for kids under the age of 16 years-old.

Fishing Tip #7: Fishing Bait and Lures

There are a vast array of different baits for different types of fish.

For bass fishing, you could use spinner baits; they come in different sizes and colors.

Then there are the ever so popular plastic worm, as well as crank baits which resemble little fish.

For bigger fish such as pike or muskie, you should use different kinds of larger lures. They are heavy gage, heavy pieces of steel holding two lures together.

And of course you have the typical baits, the bobbers, which you would put worms in to catch panfish or catfish.

Fishing Tip #8: Proper Fishing Equipment 

For simple fishing off a dock, rowboat, or shoreline, you need a basic fishing set that includes a rod, reel, line and hooks.

Tackle boxes are ideal for carrying spare small equipment like sharp hooks, lures, extra line and a knife.

Fill your tackle box with basic tools like a flashlight, adjustable wrench, pliers, first aid supplies, spare hooks, rod tips, glue stick, and a lighter.

Fishing Tip #9: Choosing a Fishing Rod

When it comes to fishing rods, there are many different makes and models. Make sure that you keep a few basic things in mind when selecting a fishing rod.

Fishing rods are offered in two different materials, graphite rod or fiberglass rod.

Graphite rods are a lot stiffer and more sensitive. You would want to use a graphite rod if you were using live bait or anything settled that you need to detect a hit.

If you were using crank bait, the sensitivity is not required, and fiberglass would be your best bet.

Rods come in one-piece or two-piece. One piece rods are much stronger, sensitive, and durable. Two-piece rods, you lose that strength and sensitivity, but you would pick up the convenience of it.

Next thing to consider, a fast-tip or a slow-tip fishing rod. A fast-tip simply means the rod is bending at the tip. On the other hand, a slow-tip means the rod is bending from the tip of the rod to the base of the rod. You will want a fast-tip rod when fishing with live bait and a slow-tip rod when using crank baits.

Another thing to keep in mind when it comes to fishing rods is the rod action. They will be labeled whether they are a medium action rod, light action rod, medium heavy rod, or heavy rod.

A medium-action rod would be good for beginners. It can be used for smaller and bigger fish.

Light-action rod should only be used for panfish because it lacks in backbone, which you would need for larger fish.

Fishing Tip #10: Choosing Fishing Line and Hook

The smaller the lines and hooks, the better the chances of fish’s bites.

You should match the proper type of line to the pole you have. If you have a rigid pole, you might want to change strong test line. If you got a loose pole, use a light gauge.

When fishing, your hook needs to fit the specific fish you want to catch.

When choosing hooks, consider hooks that fit many kinds of fish, sizes from 8 – 5/0. When shopping for hooks, consider index of hook sizes such as 1/0, 1, 2/0, 2, 4, or 6.

Fishing Tip #11: Hooked A Fish

When you feel the line is taken or feel a tug on your line, start setting your hook.

Simply give the fishing rod a firm and quick jerk backward.

If the fish is on the line, it will immediately fights back. Pull the fish in by vertically lifting the rod and simultaneously reeling. Keep your line tight.

Then, use your arms to pull the fish toward you.

By keeping tension on the line you will ensure that the hook remains in the mouth of the fish.

Fishing Tip #12: Keep or Release the Fish

When you get a fish reeled in, bring that fish in with your net.

First, you carefully catch your fish in your net. Be wary of the sharp hook and sharp spines of the fish. Many organizations protect species of fish and they don’t allow you to catch any fish or bring them to the edge of being endangered.

When you catch a fish, measure that fish by following certain standards. If that fish is small, release it back into the water.

Regardless of releasing or keeping fish, back the hook out gently so that the fish is saved from bleeding and it will increase its chances of survival.

See Big R’s Fishing Department for discount prices on rods, hooks, lures, reels, lines, plastics, and more!