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- Are Your Asking The Right Questions? - Capt. Steve Chaconas
- Early Summer Patterns - Kurt Dove
- Tips and Tactics for Speckled Trout - Capt. Bill Lake
- Redfish Offer Heavy Action When Bass Aren't Biting
- Taking Amberjacks to a Whole New Level - Alan Pierce
- Alternative Learning - Kurt Dove
- Fishing For the Right Ramps - Kurt Dove
- Cross Current Tactics Catch Huge Walleyes - Eric Olson
- Learning When things Aren't Working - Kurt Dove
- Fall Fishing Patterns - Mike Iaconelli
- Fishing Unfamiliar Water - Ken Cook
- Smallmouth Bass Fishing: A Fiesty Bite
- Hot Weather Bass Fishing
- 3 Bass Rigs You Really Ought to Learn - Roger Lee Brown
- Fishing Walleyes - Mepps Lures
- Bass Fishing in Cold Weather - Steve Chaconas
- Tweaking a Pop-r - Rob Brewer
- Catch and Release Tips
- Fluorescent Line Applications - Mark Hicks
by Kurt Dove, BoatUS ANGLER Pro Staff
I just turned 40 in September, so I can remember the days before the internet and when it began. I still predominately referred to the huge hard back encyclopedias when I did a lot of my homework and research in middle school. For me it was sometime in high school the internet was making its way into mainstream daily life and by the time I was in college it was the only way to get the latest information.
Now with everything digital and being in the “new age” I continue to evolve my skills of how to acquire the most up to date information. The internet is no doubt the best way to stay above the curve in learning new fishing techniques and refining old ones. Over the past several years I have found myself leaning almost entirely on the internet and digital media to learn new information and, most importantly, how to use these tools to catch more fish!
Still, nothing replaces time on the water, but most of us can’t get out there as often as we like so we need to use these tools to the maximum, that way the time we do spend on the water is rewarding. Here are a few examples: I recently began working with Bass Edge www.bassedge.com and streaming a monthly podcast on iTunes for everyone to learn different tactics and ways to attack seasonal. Bass Edge gets right to the point in speaking with other pros about how to catch more fish and attack different types of water ways. The greatest attribute to podcasting is you listen when you have time and pick up right where you left off. There are several very good podcasts that teach how to fish. They are great ways to learn and pick up new tips and tricks when you are driving or in-between tasks at work or home. I have also found some interesting videos on YouTube and other websites. One of the most interesting has been a video on www.bassfishin.com that teaches how to use geospatial technologies to obtain better recon information on lakes that I haven’t visited but plan to. I have most importantly been learning more details about lakes I already fish on a regular basis. It is making me a much better angler.
It takes time to learn about these resources online because so often they are buried in a plethora of fishing information. Searching for this vast array of information online can give you the upper hand over your competition and will certainly help you keep your line tight once you get the opportunity to hit the water. So the next time you have a chance get online and check out these examples… it will certainly open your eyes to how much detailed information you can learn through the internet.
For the Right Ramps
by Kurt Dove, BoatUS ANGLER Pro Staff
Most anglers don’t think much about casting their favorite lure immediately after launching their boat. Typically, they are trying to decide what spot they will motor to first for that initial cast. But wait… don’t crank up your engine yet… you might be missing out on the golden opportunity to drop the trolling motor and start fishing right at the ramp! Bass Fishing is fantastic around boat ramps all year long and especially in the fall season.
There are three key elements that anglers should recognize for fishing success around boat ramps; timing, cover/structure and release areas.
First and foremost, anglers need to determine when the best time is to fish a particular ramp. Certainly, you can’t fish the most popular ramp on the lake when boats are launching in and out constantly. Of course you don’t want to be an obstacle for the folks utilizing the ramp and too much commotion can cause fish to become wary of bait offerings. Look for ramps that may be less utilized or fish ramps during the times of day when there is less activity and commotion from other boaters. When ramps are busy, it is important to utilize other potential nearby fish holding areas like the marinas or close by points or bank cover.
The next key element and probably the most important is the fish holding potential of a ramp. An angler’s ability to recognize and understand how to fish the different cover and structure of a ramp is critical to success. Docks are great fish holding cover on a ramp. I like to fish Optimum swimbaits and flip El Grande Lures hatch match sticks around and underneath these platforms. The fish use the docks for the shade they provide as well as the presence of bait fish due to the algae and plankton around the submerged areas of the dock. Another obvious fish holding cover is the rip rap used to protect the ramp area from foul weather. I like to fish the rip rap with crankbaits like the Ima Beast Hunter and heavy spinnerbaits looking for a reaction bite. Rip rap will often provide warmth for bass later in the fall and earlier in the winter when the sun shines on them. Bass will snuggle up beside the warm rocks waiting for the next feeding opportunity to swim by. An often over looked structure around ramps is the where the ramp actually ends underneath the water. Here you may find debris and depth changes that fish like to use for sanctuary. I like to fish these areas with Carolina rigged and Texas rigged offerings to illicit a strike from an inactive fish.
The final element to ramp fishing success is tournament locations. Check the internet and find out which ramps have a significant amount of tournament events. These events are generally catch and release and the bass are often released right at the ramp. These ‘fish release’ areas are going to have bass that utilize the ramp and marina areas as a new home for a few days and can often provide excellent fishing success. I typically do well around these release areas a few days after the events take place and I prefer to fish them during the week as these ramp locations are often very busy on the weekends.
Try dropping you trolling motor instead of firing up your outboard next time you launch your boat and enjoy some great fishing that ramps have to offer!
Current Tactics Catch Huge Walleyes
by Eric Olson
Conventional wisdom regarding locating walleyes on river systems focuses primarily on current seams and breaks. The sweet spot is generally on the edge, where fast water meets quiet water. These current breaks allow fish to position in slower moving water but allow an opportunity for fish to dart out into the fast water as forage tumbles by. Traditional tactics include slipping the current with three way rigs, rigs and jigs downstream or crawling upstream with crankbaits, jigs and three way rigs.
Some of the best river rats however are adding a new wrinkle to the presentation that is putting a lot more fish in the boat. Anglers have often found fish in the faster water which often coincides with the main channel. Sauger in particular seem to handle much faster water but there are several circumstances where walleyes will use the fast water as well, particularly when fish are making big moves through a system which is typical during the spring. What anglers are beginning to understand is the concept that there are pockets of quiet water that exist within the tumble and flow of some of the fastest water much like the boil you can physically see on the surface of fast water. These boils provide relief as fish move up and down through this faster water. Anglers have long recognized the potential of this faster water and have traditionally used hand lines, lead core or three way rigs in conjunction with crankbaits or stick baits to slowly crawl upstream or in some cases slip down stream.
One of the most popular presentations for this described situation is a heavy three way rig that is fished nearly vertical below the boat in conjunction with a floating minnow imitating lure like an original floating Rapala or Flat Rap. This combination in particular has caught a tremendous number of both walleye and sauger on river systems across the Country. This tactic however has continued to be refined in recent years. Anglers have long realized the effectiveness of holding momentarily in position over sweet spots and just letting the current work the lure in place.
One of the hottest tactics that is working on so many rivers right now however is to move the boat and presentation cross current in an attempt to swing the lure back and forth in a tight position instead of the traditional tactic of crawling up or down stream. By powering back and forth cross current, the fish seem to get a longer window to strike the lure and the boat can work a tighter area while moving with the current. Most anglers are using a kicker motor in conjunction with a bow mount trolling motor like the Minn Kota i-Pilot, using the bow mount to hold in the current, swinging the transom back and forth with the kicker in gear. This cross current pattern is deadly effective and is often much more productive than crawling with or against the current, once tight pods of fish have been located.
The weight on the bottom of the three way is often heavy enough to cut through the current and keep the presentation below the boat which aids with working the rig through snags and mussels and boat control is aided because the presentation is close to the cone angle of the transducer located near the transom of the boat. With this type of presentation, floating Rapalas have probably accounted for more walleyes than any other lure but another deadly tactic that can pull fish out of spots combines the new soft plastics with three way rigs. I often experiment with the soft plastic fluke and minnow tails, rigging them on a plain, snell hook.
To rig these plastics where they seem most effective, hook the fluke or minnow right through the nose so that the bait can flop and shimmy on the hook when lowered into the current. The most effective soft plastic I have ever used particularly when the water is still colder than fifty five degrees is the Trigger X that has gotten so popular with walleye anglers over the past year. This “do nothing” rig is more subtle than traditional crank bait and minnow bait presentations but can really be the ticket some days… particularly real early in the season when the water can still be clear before run off begins to stain and muddy the water.
About Eric Olson:
Eric Olson has been fishing competitively for 13yrs and fishing the Wal-Mart FLW Walleye Tour as a professional for the past 10 years. In 2010, the Red Wing, Minn. native became the Lake Oahe FLW Walleye Tour Champion, took home another top ten at the Devils Lake, ND FLW Tour event, finished 4th overall in the FLW Tour Western Division Angler of the Year standings and 3rd in the Ranger Cup points standings. He also garnered the top money winner position on the FLW Walleye Tour for the 2010 season.
In his career, Olson has earned over $170,000 and qualified for 12 tournament Championships. In addition, he was the winner of the 2000 MWC World Walleye Championship.Visit his website at http://www.getonthewater.com
When Things Aren't Working
by Kurt Dove, BoatUS ANGLER Pro Staff
These last few weeks I have been fishing some tournaments up North in Ohio and New York. It is the first time I have been able to do some serious smallmouth fishing since I moved from VA to TX in 2008. Yes, we do have smallies at Lake Amistad but they are few and far between and are nowhere near the size of these Great Lakes smallies. So far it has been a successful trip. I finished 5th in the BASS Northern Open in OH on Lake Erie and 5th in the FLW/BFL Super Tournament in NY on Lake Ontario. A huge part of my success these last couple weeks has come from experiences in the past when I didn’t catch fish. That’s right, I have learned a lot about fishing when I wasn’t catching them and I am learning how to make those experiences vital in my fishing success.
Here is how I managed to do that in these situations. This was my first experience at Lake Erie on the western basin. I have fished out of Buffalo, NY on the eastern basin a few times in the past and I learned that on the eastern basin the little rocky drops are the biggest keys to catching the bigger fish. I learned previously that it is really small isolated rock around larger rocky reefs that are the keys to locating the really big fish, essentially finding the ‘spot on the spot’.
Sure I had cashed a few checks in the past and even caught a 20+lb bag, but it was the consistency that I needed to place higher in the multi-day events. At the BASS Open in Ohio my whole strategy was to find 3-4 areas of places where fish were holding, but then really dissect these areas with my electronics to find the little key areas that held the bigger fish. I managed to find 4 large areas that were holding fish and then I located 3 areas that were the ‘spot on the spot’ and that is how I rode out a 5th place finish at the Open.
This past weekend at Lake Ontario, I finished 5th in the FLW/BFL Super Tournament. It was an experience I had here in 2008 at an EverStart event that I learned when things weren’t working. I had been in the top 10 after two days and was really hammering the big smallies in shallow water on reaction baits. Then Day 3 I could not get a bite up shallow and I went running around the lake just moving everywhere to try and locate some active shallow fish. It never worked and I weighed 8lbs that day and drop down into 30 ‘something’ place to finish the event.
After learning more about smallmouth habits and how they relate to their environment through watching and listening to any information I could get, I think I figured out what I did wrong back in 2008 based on what I learned when things weren’t working. Instead of moving to try and locate more fish shallow or active shallow fish I now know those fish are still catchable if you just stay locked down on the area you found them. The change I have learned to make is slow down.
Even though smallies are very active and like to eat reaction lures while they are up on shallow cover and structure, there are days when there mood dictates a different presentation. This past week when I located some shallow fish on Lake Ontario with reaction baits I was stoked. When I found the going tough the first morning of the tournament, instead of making the same mistake twice and running around trying to find active fish, I hunkered down and managed to grind out two 21+lb smallmouth bags to finish 5th place. Both of these success stories came from learning when things weren’t working. I hope you do too!
by Mike Iaconelli, courtesy of National Hunting & Fishing Day website
A big part of locating bass on any body of water is identifying which
seasonal pattern the fish are in and having an idea about how fish
behave during this pattern. These patterns can vary from place and
depend a lot on latitude. Just because it's technically fall on
the calendar, it can still be 80-90 degrees in parts of the south.
Just the same, it can still be officially summer in Minnesota and
still get pretty chilly. Fish weather and fisherman weather aren't
always the same, so just monitor the water temperature if you're
uncertain about which pattern the fish will be in.
But since it's now officially fall, I want to talk about fishing for fall bass. I break this pattern into two: early fall and fall transition. Fishing in this part of the year can prove challenging but it's not impossible.
In early fall, bass get a sense that winter is coming because the water temperature is beginning to cool from what is has been throughout the summer. Since they instinctively sense that winter is on its way, they begin to feed pretty heavily on the baitfish that are moving into shallow water. Most people think that if the fish are really chowing down then the fishing will be easy. Wrong. They aren't just eating anything, they are keying on a certain kind of bait.
Because they are keying on certain bait (shad, crawfish, etc.), it is extremely important that you match the hatch. It's a big thing especially for fly fisherman, but bass fisherman should apply it, too. Whether it's baby bluegill, crawfish, dragonflies or anything else, I need to know so I carefully examine every fish that I catch by looking down their gullets or carefully feeling their belly to try to determine what they've been munching on. If the belly is squishy, they've probably been eating soft bait fish like minnows or shad; if it feels crunchy then there's probably a crawfish shell in there that hasn't been digested. An object turning end over end is most likely the spine of a bluegill.
During this early fall time, I like to hit creeks and pockets with drains or any place that has an influx of freshwater water because it will draw in more of the baitfish that the bass are eating. I might throw a Berkley Power Tube or Power Craw in these areas, Texas rigging them and keeping them close to the bottom. But as good as these areas can be, don't overlook the backsides of windswept points. During this time of the year, bass love to get behind these points and face into the wind and ambush and kind of baitfish that get pushed towards the banks by the current. A Berkley Frenzy Diver in whatever color or pattern that coincides with what their eating can very effective. The point is that fishing the early fall requires moving around a lot and trying to find these areas where the fish are feeding.
Later fall will find the bass heading back towards wintering areas so focusing on isolated points or cover near vertical breaks is a great place to start looking for these fish. These later-season fish will also be a little easier to catch, so don't let the cooling weather keep you off the water.
But it's the early fall where you might need a light jacket in the morning and an air conditioner in the afternoon that provides some challenging fishing with the possibility for some hefty fish. All it takes is a little detective work to match the hatch and the ability to determine the seasonal pattern and you will be well on your way.
Berkley Pro Staffer Mike Iaconelli is the 2006 BASS Angler of the Year and the 2003 Bassmaster Classic champion.
by Ken Cook, courtesy of National Hunting & Fishing Day website
Bass tournament season will shift into high gear once again next
month when the Bassmaster Classic kicks off at Lake Tohopekaliga
in Florida. Toho, as it's known to many of us, is a great fishery
that most pros have quite a bit of experience fishing. Rare is it
in this day that pros get a chance to wet a line in a body of water
that they have never fished before, though that could change with
the tournament stop at Lake Amistad on the Texas-Mexico border.
Many of the pros have never ventured into this deep, steep-banked
impoundment that is known to have some very big fish and are now
in the same position many of you find yourselves in on a regular
basis: on the verge of fishing a lake that they know nothing about.
Hiring a guide is not an option come tournament time, and the same bodes true for a lot of people whose budget just doesn't allow for the added expense. Left to fend for yourself, there's a few tried-and-true tricks that can make your first trip to a lake more successful and efficient.
First of all, get a good map of the lake. There are even lake maps on CD that you can use on your computer. Even an old map from the local marina can be a good start. Lake maps can help you locate some general fishing areas, as well as advising you of potentially dangerous rock bars and stump fields. Also, scour the Internet: there's sure to be a message board for the area you are going to fish where locals and out-of-towners alike will be posting where and what they're biting. And don't be afraid to ask other people at the marina and boat ramp.
If you are like me and bass is the species you are after, the first place that I always look is the classic spots. Deep, rocky points, humps and bars will probably have a resident population of ready-to-eat fish. If you can find some trees that have fallen into water that's deeper than five feet, there's a good chance that the area is holding fish - especially if the area offers quick and easy access for the fish to reach deep water.
Once you've found your area, set some limits for yourself. Even if you think the fishing might be better 30 miles away, limit yourself to the reasonably sized area that offers the characteristics you are looking for. It is much easier to manage your fishing in a pond-sized area than if you are trying to cover 50,000 acres of lake.
If your chosen spot has some weedbeds that grow below the surface, start with a spinnerbait or buzzbait on some medium heavy tackle. By doing this, you are trying to entice those fish that hang out on the edges of the vegetation to feed. If the weedbeds are deeper, try a shallow-running crankbait like a Berkley Frenzy. These baits, in addition to enticing strikes, allow you to cover a lot of area quickly to determine the presence and behavior of the fish. If you find an area with more trees and stumps than vegetation and the bass aren't responding to the quickly retrieved buzz, spinner and crankbaits, slow down your presentation with a jig and trailer or a Texas-rigged soft plastic like Berkley PowerBait. And don't give up on a bait too quickly, otherwise you will set yourself into a pattern of switching rigs every other cast. Just like running to different spots on the lake every 15 minutes, that makes for a frustrating day on the water.
Being able to size up a body of water in a short amount of time under varied conditions is what makes or breaks a professional angler. It takes practice and patience, so don't expect to fill your livewell with a bushel basket full of 8- and 10-pounders the first time out. But if you pay attention and take the time to record some simple notes for yourself, your next trips are bound to be even better.
-Ken Cook is the 1991 Bassmaster Classic winner and a 14-time Classic qualifier. A former fisheries biologist, Cook lives on his ranch in Meers, Okla.
the bite is slow in the Umpqua River for salmon and steelhead and
the dog days of summer have settled in, smallmouth bass awaken like
little rabid beasts.
Meaning, well, they'll attack just about anything that moves - or smells.
"They like to ambush stuff," said Gary Lewis, a Roseburg-based fishing guide, who takes clients angling for smallmouth bass during the months of July and August. "And they bite all day."
When the mainstem Umpqua River warms to about 60 degrees - it's above 70 degrees now - Lewis said the smallmouth bass come alive. And they stay that way until the river cools in September and the action returns to chinook salmon and steelhead.
Success in landing those prized fish, however, takes hours of patience and seasons of knowledge. But fishing for smallmouth bass requires, at the very least, a basic understanding of how to set the hook and crank a reel. Which makes it an easy introduction to angling on the Umpqua River for youngsters and newcomers in the region.
People catch a lot of fish and have a lot of fun," Lewis said.
Smallmouth bass bite everything from nightcrawlers to Rapala lures, but Lewis' favorite setup - for novice fishermen - is a plastic worm on a lead-head jig with a squirt of Smelly Jelly for extra attraction.
Once you're set, the technique is not too complicated. Just make sure you're fishing over a gravel bottom, and not sand, because smallmouth bass prefer structure. Then drop the worm to the bottom - as if a cork is tied up top - and wait for a bite. It shouldn't take long.
"It's a pretty competitive world down there," Lewis said.
Once a fish is hooked, from a boat, other smallmouth bass can be seen trying to steal the plastic worm out of its mouth. But fishing for the little green-sided monsters doesn't require a watercraft.
"This whole river is full of bass," said Rod Antilla, who ups the ante when fishing for smallmouth bass by using a fly rod. "I don't think there's a place where you won't catch them."
Last week, Antilla was fishing the Umpqua River with a friend near Cleveland Rapids, a couple of miles downstream from River Forks Park. He was joined by Linda Walker, who is learning how to fly fish this summer. The two anglers had their personal pontoon boats docked on the bank while they casted flies from a ledge.
"It's neat to see the fish go after the fly you tied," Walker said, about an hour after her morning start and already with a couple of fish to her credit. "It's all a good time."
Though fishermen can keep up to 10 smallmouth bass of any size, Lewis, Antilla and Walker are strict practitioners of catch-and-release. Even when he's guiding, Lewis urges clients to release fish.
"If they catch a real big one, I don't like them to keep them because they're the nice, big broodstock, the ones that's going to re-supply the river," he said.
A picture in that case, he said, will suffice. Smallmouth bass, Lewis said, can get up to four pounds. However, there's a lot of small, smallmouth bass to be caught while angling for the big one, even if you're using artificial lures.
"Usually, if you're going to keep them to eat, we like them about 10 to 11 inches long," Lewis said. "That way there's enough there to eat."
A retired maintenance watchman for the Douglas County Fairgrounds, Lewis has been guiding for salmon, steelhead and smallmouth bass since 1980 on the Umpqua River. He guides clients on about 200 trips a year. His business, Gary's Guide Service, has been featured in several magazines and in the past few years on TV programs such as American Outdoorsman and Fly Fishing America on ESPN. His clients come from all over the country and the world.
"I get people from Alaska, that come down here and fish for smallmouth bass," he said, explaining they like the experience of catching something other than salmon - and not having to deal with mosquitoes and inclimate weather.
For a full day on the river with Lewis - at $175 per person - it would be hard not to catch at least 50 smallmouth bass, or beyond 70. Lewis said it took years to build a dependable clientele for his business. But each day on the river makes it all worth it.
"It's always better than working," he said.
Weather Bass Fishing
by Ed Harp, courtesy of The Fishing Wire by Berkley
Flippin' and pitchin' heavy vegetation is an often overlooked
tactic for hot weather largemouths. The heat of summer can bring some of the toughest bass
fishing of the year. But, according to many experts, much of that toughness
is caused by anglers themselves. That's because far too many believe that
all the bass are deep. They aren't. Many fish, in some cases the biggest
ones, head for the heavy weeds and vegetative growth of July, August and
September. Such places offer high dissolved oxygen levels, shade and protection
from the sun. At the same time they are darn near perfect for ambushing
prey. That's all a bass needs to be happy.
Fishing vegetation can be tough, however. To do it effectively we need a plan. A day on the water observing professional angler Kevin Wirth fish lily pad fields helps us develop such a plan.
"That's the thing most anglers miss, the pattern within the pattern," says Wirth as he lips his fish and heads towards the livewell. It's a respectable 4-pound largemouth that fell for a plastic bait tossed precisely to the base of one lily pad among a field of thousands.
When asked to explain the pattern within the pattern he quickly points out that all the pads don't hold fish. And even if they did he couldn't fish them all effectively. The Southern impoundment he's fishing this day is full of pads, tens of thousands of them.
"You notice I'm fishing only the pads on the end of the points (made by the pads) and further refining my pattern by only fishing those with big, thick stems. That's where the big ones are holding."
Wirth goes on to explain that big, mean bass are much like rich humans. They claim the best neighborhoods. In this case, the best neighborhood was under the huge, thick root of the lily pad with the biggest stem growing on the end of the point.
In Midwestern impoundments look for a spot where brown meets green, mostly that'll be wood, drift, laydowns, stumps, near weeds. Old wood and thick, mossy weeds are usually best. Keep moving until you find a bass or two.
And remember Wirth's advice; don't try to fish all the good looking spots.
Many of today's anglers all to often seem to have the enthusiasm
to get themselves all psyched'd up for that big day of fishing
the following day only to find themselves coming in at the end of
the day with only one or two bass caught. They will spend the day,
usually casting, re-rigging, running, loosing lures, etc., but most
of all getting frustrated because the fish aren't cooperating.
Sound Familiar? I, surly know this feeling and I'm
sure that any angler reading this article has had the same feeling
at some point and time. Now, don't feel bad if this does happen
to you because you are definitely not alone, there are probably
millions of other anglers out there that this same problem happens
to! But, there are a few "Tricks of the Trade" that you
can use to help remedy this problem..... at least it works for me
and many of my former bass angling students and charter clients
that I have taught in the past.
I found that on certain days when the bass don't seem to cooperate, I usually will put my action baits away and pull out the "Last Resort Rigs" which are the: TEXAS RIG, CAROLINA RIG, and FLOATING RIG
These three rigs are probably the most successful patterns for catching bass (Largemouth, Smallmouth, & Spotted Bass) that a angler can use just about "Anywhere and at Anytime." Now, some anglers may ask; "Why would I use all three of these rigs?" and the answer is really quite simple. It's like using tools of the trade! A carpenter wouldn't use a hammer to back out a screw, nor would he or she use a screw driver to pound nails (Well, at least most of them wouldn't!....smile!....). The same goes with bass fishing, an angler should have the right Tools-of-the-Trade to do a specific job!
First, let's talk about the TEXAS RIG. This rig was the first "Plastic Bait" rig that was used by most of the anglers when the sport of bass fishing really got started over 25 years ago! It is a simple rig to set up, and has produced more bass catches than any other artificial baits ever used, even today!
To rig a Texas Rig you will need line, a hook and a sinker.......That's It! First, you put your sinker (usually a "bullet shaped slip sinker") onto the line with the smaller point of the weight going on first or "facing up." Then tie your hook (usually a off-set worm hook) to the end of the line after you put on the weight. Now you are ready for your plastic baits (I always refer to artificial baits because I haven't used live bait in many years) to be put on the hook.
This type of rig (Texas Rig) can be fished (or presented) just about anywhere you will find bass, it has certain advantages and disadvantages over the other two rigs that we will talk about, and I will give a few examples after we rig up the Carolina Rig and the Floating Rig.
So next, let's rig the CAROLINA RIG.... With this rig you'll need line (main reel line), a barrel swivel, about 6' of leader line, a weight, glass or brass bead or rattle chamber, and a hook. I know this seems like a lot of stuff, but the results are incredible! >br>
First, take your "Leader Line" (usually the same line that is on your reel already, but I would suggest at least a 2 lb. test lesser than your main line in case of a break-off..... Most of the time by using a lighter leader line, when it breaks it will break off at the leader line thus saving the other hardware on the rig) and tie one end of it to one end of the barrel swivel and then put it aside for a moment. Then, take your main line from your reel and first put on the weight (usually anywhere from a 1/2 oz. up to a 1 oz. bullet or egg sinker). Next, after the weight is on your main line, follow it with a rattle (rattle chamber, glass or brass bead) and then tie the end of the main line to the other end of the barrel swivel that you just put aside. After you tie to the swivel, tie your hook at the other end of the leader line giving you a 2' to a 4' leader. Now, we're ready for the bait!
Next, let's rig the FLOATING RIG! This "Floating Rig" can and will produce bass sometimes when all else fails. It's quite simple to rig and the results can be devastating! You will need a SMALL Barrel Swivel and a Hook for this rig. First, take about 3' off of your main line for a leader line. Tie one end of your leader line to one end of the barrel swivel, then tie the other end of the barrel swivel to the main reel line. With this rig you leave off the weight!.... NO WEIGHT!!!!! Then finally, you tie the hook (preferably a "Light Wire" worm hook) with only allowing about a 1' leader for the leader line. The reason for no weight and a light wire hook is to allow as much buoyancy as possible. This rig is designed mostly for Floating Worms and buoyant plastic artificial baits.
Now, let's say that you were to fish around "Rip-Rap" (Rock Areas) around dams levees etc. You probable wouldn't use a Texas Rig unless you put the lightest weight possible on it to keep it from getting it wedged in the rocks. Nor would you use a Carolina Rig because the heavier weight (1/2 oz. to 1.oz.) would most likely get hung up. So, the rig that makes the most sense would be the "Floating Rig." This rig will allow a slow presentation over the rock areas and the bass that may be around the rocks will come up after it. Also, this kind of rig is used better around branches, Lilly pads, thick surface vegetation etc.
Now, let's say that we are working a "Downward" slope from about 3' depth to a 20' depth. The most sensible rig to use would be to use the Carolina Rig because it will stay in contact with the bottom contour and the deeper you work it, giving it line from your reel you can get a better "Bottom Presentation." A Texas Rig can be used for this also but the deeper you go with it the more it will lift off of the bottom.
Let's say that you were going to work some pockets around a Bull Rush field. To accurately cast into the pockets a Texas Rig would be the most preferred because with the weight of it you can make accurate casts. A Floating Rig would also be recommended for this type of area as well.
Thick sloppy grass and vegetation areas, all three would work, but the Carolina Rig has produced some quality bass in areas like this over the other two rigs. Don't worry about getting weeds on the Carolina Rig! Just give it a try and clean the weeds off of the rig and keep casting into these thick areas and "Hold On!"
These rigs can be used anywhere and just about under any circumstances. Remember this; most Bass Tournaments ever fished have paid out more money fishing these rigs than any other types of artificial baits ever used! So if you're not using all three of these rigs, I promise, the results can be devastating! Just give them a try!
by Mepps Lures
The walleye, once only a Northwoods delicacy, is now abundant in many
of the reservoirs of our southern and western states. It has become
one of our most sought after game fish.
A "keeper" walleye will weigh 1-3 pounds, depending on where it's caught. A 6-8 pounder is "braggin"' size, and anything bigger can be called a trophy. Walleyes spawn just after "ice out" when water temperatures reach 45-50 degrees. Following spawning, males feed heavily. Females, however, rest for about two weeks, then go on a feeding binge. This is the best time to land a wall hanger.
Walleye, by nature, are night feeders but don't be lulled into thinking this is the only time to fish them. Water color has a definite effect on the feeding habits of the walleye. Many lakes are dark water lakes. High noon is a good time to fish for walleyes in these waters.
Keep in mind, too, that walleye are gentle feeders. They hit light. Use a s-l-o-w retrieve.
The #3 copper Mepps Aglia can be deadly when fishing lake inlets and gravel bars. Underwater, copper takes on the color of a nightcrawler; especially following a heavy rain. Gold is an excellent choice on overcast days.
On especially bright days a genuine silver plated blade is a must. Don't use nickel or chrome. Genuine silver plating reflects "white," while chrome or nickel reflect "black."
Lake inlets have already been mentioned as excellent walleye structure. Walleyes will lie in wait for the river current to bring them food. Many times these currents will deposit sand, gravel or debris on one or both sides of the channel. When fishing from a boat, these provide excellent places to anchor while casting to the deep channel. Following a heavy rain, the current in these channels speeds up. When this happens, switch to a Mepps Aglia Long, or a 1/4 ounce Timber Doodle tipped with a Mister Twister Split Double Tail.
Walleyes are basically bottom feeders, but don't ignore those fish that suspend over drop-offs, in deep lakes. Some of the best summer walleye fishing is provided by suspended fish.
The best way to go after these fish is with a 1/2 ounce #1 Timber Doodle or a 5/8 ounce single hook Syclops. Try silver or "hot" colors on sunny days and gold or black when it's overcast. Tip the hook of the Syclops with a gob of nightcrawlers a minnow or a leech. Lip hook a small minnow to the Timber Doodle before attaching the Split Double Tail to the Keeper hook. Drift through the area while casting. Count the spinner down, varying your depth and retrieve until you start catching fish.
River fishing requires a different approach. Seek out deep holes that contain large rocks or sunken logs. It's from these holes that big walleye are consistently taken. The Aglia Long , in sizes 2 and 3, is ideally suited for river bank fishing. Look for a likely holding area, and position yourself slightly behind it. Tip the spinner with a nightcrawler and cast upstream as far as possible, letting the spinner fall back into the holding area following the natural flow of the current. Twitch the spinner lightly as you begin a slow retrieve. This is also an excellent tactic for smallmouth.
Walleyes may love big rocks, and gravel bars. But this late evening predator also likes to prowl the weeds. Don't ignore weed-beds near lake inlets at any time of the year, but especially on a cool summer evening, these weeds can provide lots of action.
Mepps Combos, including the weedless Timber Doodle are extremely effective under these conditions. In the hour preceding and just after sunset, fish a 1/4 ounce black Timber Doodle or a #4 Black Fury Combo rigged with a chartreuse Mister Twister Split Double Tail. You may also want to try a #2, 5/8 ounce hot fire tiger Syclops tipped with a small minnow.
Defined by water temperature rather than calendar, winter fishing is generally
the period where water temperatures are 38-48 degrees. Water is
at its coldest point of the year after fall migration and before
pre spawn. The good news is largemouth bass can still be caught!
Location and when to fish are keys to winter fishing. Fish during the warmest part of the day and near hard, sun-warmed surfaces. A few degrees can make the difference. 2006 BASSMASTER Angler of the Year and 2003 BASSMASTER Classic Champion Michael Iaconelli says, “In colder winter months bass seek the deepest most vertical break areas in any given part of the lake. I look for the sharper break on main lake points and deeper channel bends. On tidal waters, I'm looking for an area out of the main fast current.” Sharp drops allow fish to change depths without having to travel very far!
Ike doesn't overlook shallow bass and won't slow down! “I approach winter patterns like I approach spring, summer, and fall. I always try to generate that reaction strike.” Starting shallow before heading deep, he throws tight wiggle crankbaits like Berkley's Flicker Shad, Frenzy lipless rattle baits with a yo yo retrieve, and metal baits like spoons and Silver Buddies. These imitate winter's dying shad. Most fishermen overwork blade baits like the Silver Buddy. Less is more…you don't have to rip them to get bites. A short “burp” of 6 inches off the bottom and semi-tight line back down will entice sluggish winter bass to bite. Most bites occur on the drop. These baits are great at any depth.
Eliminating the shallow bite, Iaconelli goes smaller, deeper and lighter. He parallels break lines, dragging until baits hit bottom cover. “I like to pop with a light snap of the wrist and that sometimes triggers the bite.” Bait presentations allowing you to fish in one spot for a while are best. Bass still eat, but aren't willing to chase prey. In addition the food chain is moving very slowly. When forced to downsize, Iaconelli uses dark 3-inch grubs, bottom-dwelling craw imitators like heavy Stone Jigs (with pork chunks), as well as The Bomb, a new, smaller finesse football jig. Keep baits on the bottom, where winter bass spend their time. You probably won't feel a tap…if you feel mushy weight, don't try to figure out what it is…set the hook!
For even more finesse, Ike rigs a 5” Power Bait Shaky Head worm. Ike likes this worm's buoyancy for shaky head action in one place, sometimes biting it down to 4 or even 3 inches. Furthermore, he says drop shot rigs also stay put, and are the perfect wintertime finesse presentation. Find baitfish on your depthfinder, then drop shot at that depth using 3 or 4-inch soft plastic baits. With a 4-8 inch leader above the weight, Ike leaves Gulp worms in one spot once he contacts bottom cover, allowing the bait to quiver and release its attractant. According to Iaconelli, “When you find them, there are a ton of them down there!”
Fishing in the winter can be rewarding, but safety and comfort are essential. A PFD is a must. Heavier clothing and fishing in deeper water can prove to be a disastrous combination if you fall overboard. Loose layers trap body heat and let moisture escape. Taking a buddy, letting an onshore contact know where you are and when you plan to return, and being prepared for emergencies make winter fishing good sense.
Now that the water has warmed and the area bass are in a spawn/post
spawn pattern, a top water bait is a sound choice for lure selection.
Quite often I'll use a Pop-R by the Rebel division of PRADCO. The
bait by itself will catch fish "as-is" from the factory, but there
are a few really simple steps you can do to increase the number
of bites you get and increase your hook up ratio.
Start with a new Pop-R in one of the G-finish colors. I choose these ones because they have smooth sides instead of that molded-in, raised fish scale texture on some models. This saves you all that sanding and other time wasting tasks that Zell Rowland does. I like to buy Pop-R's in colors that mimic shad. I think the factory name of the color is "Red eye perch". This bait is light gray with a darker gray scale pattern sprayed on it. It has a white underside and red overspray underneath the eyes.
The first thing to do is remove the factory hooks and give them to fellows you fish against. Now take some sort of tool like an ice pick and pop all the paint off of the lure's eye where you tie your line. I have a tool I got at Wal-Mart that is great for this job. It looks like some sort of dentist pick on a screwdriver handle. It costs about $2.00 for a set of four different type picks. Keep the "eye popper" on in your tackle box. It works great for cleaning out jig eyes too.
Once you've cleaned all the paint from the eye, you're ready to install some "real" hooks. Replace the front hook with a size 6 VMC #7650 treble. If you can't find those; look for Owner ST36 or Daiichi Deathtraps. They all run about $5.00 for ten hooks. The Daiichi's are available in that bleeding red color if that's what you like.
For the rear hook, attach an Owner tournament trailer. These hooks run about $5.00 for two. They are strong, sharp and dressed with feathers instead of the mylar/synthetic combo you removed and gave to your buddy. These feathers breathe in the water and impart a very subtle action that entices extra bites.The $3.00 worth of hooks you put on the bait is sharp enough to ensure you hook those extra bites.
The new hooks are a little heavier that those you gave away and they make the bait sit a little lower in the water which I believe also aides in hook ups. One last tip. When you tie your line to the bait, pull the knot down the lure's eye so that the knot points towards the bottom of the lake. This may sound weird but it actually changes the action of the bait when you work it. I shouldn't have told you about that. Now I've given up all my secrets for this bait. Remember to adjust your knot after every fish. Soon you'll recognize when the knot is not right because it will be obvious to you that the bait is not working right.
Go ahead and make these modifications and I promise you'll catch more fish. If not, send me the Pop-R and I'll use it.
The advent of catch-and-release has been great for the sport of fishing. It
has literally re-cycled fish/opportunity for other anglers. However,
there is a proper method to returning fish to the water after you
catch them, that assures the fish's chances of survival.
Here are some basic tips:
- Don't play or fight a fish any longer than necessary. This way when you do catch and release the fish, it's not fatigued or stressed.
- Do not touch or handle the fish any more than necessary. Doing so removes a protective
slime coat that helps protect the fish from disease. It might
be a good idea to wet your hands before handling the fish.
For the same reason the use of dip nets is not encouraged with fish you plan to release. And if you do use nets, those with rubber webbing seem to be less harmful in this regard than those made of twine.
- If a hook is swallowed, cut it off as closely to the eye of the hook as possible and release the fish, rather than trying to remove the hook. Studies have shown fish have a better chance of survival if you do this.
- There is nothing wrong with taking photos of a catch, but consider that the fish cannot breathe out of water. Take the photo and return the fish to water as soon as possible.
- Fishing with barbless hooks aid in the survival rate of caught and released fish. The same is true of anglers using circle hooks. These hooks are designed to turn when taken by the fish and hook it in the corner of the mouth rather than be swallowed.
In the early days of bass clubs there were few monofilament lines
to choose from. Most anglers opted for one brand and used it in
varying sizes for every fishing application. The major dilemma was
whether to buy a clear or fluorescent monofilament.
Things are more complicated today because line makers have continually developed new monofilaments to upstage their competitors. We now have monofilaments in a myriad of colors, and those that are tougher, stronger, more sensitive, more limp and cartable, and that have all these attributes to some degree.
When the super braids and their likes blitzed bass fishermen, there was a hectic period of adjustment. Some pundits believed that the thinner, more sensitive super lines would replace monofilament. Bass anglers eagerly experimented with the new lines. Some fishermen have since forsaken super lines altogether, and few anglers use them exclusively. Most bassers use super lines for flippin' dense cover, such as matted vegetation, and for Carolina rigging, where the line's low stretch helps strike detection and hook setting.
Just when fishermen were settling into a comfort zone with their monofilament and super line choices, along came fluorocarbon. This “invisible line” has a refractive index nearly the same as water. When a fluorocarbon line is immersed in water, it blends in so well that it virtually disappears. Here, finally, is a line that will not spook fish, even in crystal clear water. As with the super lines, bass fishermen are now sorting out where fluorocarbon line fits into their fishing.
The first fluorocarbon lines were leader material for fly-fishing. A fly-fishing leader needs to be stiff so that it rolls over smoothly as it transfers the inertia from the fly line to the fly. But, a stiff line is detested for most bass fishing applications. It tends to backlash baitcasting reels, and it springs off spinning reels in stiff coils that reduce casting distance
Newer fluorocarbon lines designed for bass fishing are more limp. But, Berkley states that fluorocarbon line is still inherently stiffer then monofilament. That's because fluorocarbon line does not absorb water, as does monofilament, and become more flexible. Even so, some anglers now use fluorocarbon line extensively, including Mike Fillmer of Lithonia, a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia. Fillmer, an ex police officer and a retired IBM salesman, now manages a warehouse at SPRO/Gamakatsu. He has been a member (and the secretary) of the Dekalb Bass Club since 1986. The club fishes lakes throughout Georgia and the surrounding states.
As did many fishermen, Fillmer first used fluorocarbon line as a leader when he Carolina rigged with braided line. He soon found that, besides being invisible, fluorocarbon line is low in stretch and more sensitive than monofilament. It helped him feel bites, set the hook, and it proved tougher than monofilament. Fluorocarbon, unlike monofilament, is also unaffected by the sun's UV rays. Since it does not absorb water, fluorocarbon maintains superior wet strength to monofilament. It also sinks faster, because it is more dense. This is beneficial with sinking lures, such as jig and worms, but it can hamper the action of topwater baits
“I've tried just about every fluorocarbon line out there,” Fillmer says. “I've had good luck with many of them, but my favorite is Seagar. It's very limp.”
Fillmer first tried 8- and 10-pound fluorocarbon as a leader for a Carolina rig on 14-pound braided line. He was so pleased with fluorocarbon's sensitivity that he eventually switched from a super braid to fluorocarbon as the main line. Another item that improves his sensitivity is a tungsten sinker from Tru-Tungsten instead of a lead sinker.
“With that tungsten weight and that fluorocarbon line, I can feel mud, I can feel brush, I can feel limbs, and I can feel grass,” Fillmer says. “And when a bass picks it up. I know it.”
Encouraged by his success with fluorocarbon when Carolina rigging, Fillmer tried the line with other lures. He soon found that it improved his catch when fishing jigs and Texas-rigged worms. When he spooled 6-pound fluorocarbon on his spinning rod for drop-shotting, he knew he had found the perfect combination."
being more sensitive, fluorocarbon sinks faster,” Fillmer
says. “It gets down there quicker and I can get by with a
lighter weight.” When Fillmer tried 10-pound fluorocarbon
line on his crankbait rod, he found that he could cast 15 to 20
percent farther than with monofilament. He admits that other anglers
question this, but he claims there is no doubt that he casts farther.
Since he usually fishes from the back seat of his club member's
boats, longer casts help him keep pace with the angler fishing from
the bow. He also claims that the increased casting distance, combined
with the sinking line, allows his crankbaits to run deeper. The
increased sensitivity of fluorocarbon tells him when the crankbait
contacts cover or the bottom, and when a bass nabs his bait.
Fillmer also switched to fluorocarbon for fishing jerkbaits and topwater baits, including Lucky Craft's Sammy, his favorite dog-walking stickbait. By working the Sammy at a faster cadence, Fillmer overcomes negative effect of the sinking fluorocarbon line.“
I now use fluorocarbon for 90 percent of my fishing.” Fillmer says. “I just love this stuff. I'm not about to switch to anything else.”
The only bait that Fillmer doesn't fish on fluorocarbon line is a snagless frog, specifically the Rojas Frog. He retrieves this bait over matted grass and other nasty cover, and opts for 65-pound braided line so he can horse the bass out.
One drawback Fillmer has found with fluorocarbon line is that it is hard to see above the water, especially through his bifocals. He sometimes struggles to see the line when he watches for strikes with jigs and worms. However, Fillmer claims that fluorocarbon has so many advantages it more than compensates for this handicap.
Another negative is the high cost of fluorocarbon. You'll pay as much for 200 yards of fluorocarbon as for 750 to 1,000 yards of monofilament.
“It is expensive,” Fillmer says. “But I tell you what, it handles well, it casts well, it holds up well, and I can feel everything down there with it. It's worth it.”
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