FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE
My name is Allison Thrift, and I’m the wife of Walmart FLW Tour pro Bryan Thrift. I’m excited to be writing this blog for FLW, and going forward I hope you enjoy our stories from the road – and of life off the road as well. For now, I wanted to share with you the story of how Bryan and I got together, and my first reaction to all the craziness that is the world of professional fishing.
This past week was a whirlwind. We just returned home from the Texas Bass Classic in Quittman, Texas, on Lake Fork. This event is hosted every year by the Professional Anglers Association (PAA) and includes the top 15 anglers from the Walmart FLW Tour, Bassmaster Elite Serieas and PAA. It really is an honor just to be invited. This was Stetson’s third time to compete, and it was, like always, an amazing event.
Sizing up shad spawns
The shad spawn is going on in a lot of lakes now, probably later than usual because of the cold winter and cooler spring. Typically, the shad spawn occurs during or just after the bass spawn, when the water temperature rises into the low 70s. Because a shad spawn is a bass magnet, this is the time of year when you want to draw an early flight in a tournament.
Back in my band days, I was focused on playing music. I practiced every waking minute; I wanted to be the best. I breathed, ate and slept music. When I made even the slightest mistake I was extremely critical of myself and worked even harder to make sure it never happened again. There were very few things out of my control that could happen. I felt that if I worked extra hard, nothing could go wrong other than the occasional broken stick or string. I also had no distractions in those days.
with Andrew Upshaw
Lake Murray Report
The mid-week high for the first full week in May in Lake Murray Country will flirt with 90 degrees, and the 10-day forecast shows no highs of less than 80. Seemingly, the cold has finally fled, allowing the lake to get back on track from the dirty, cold water that has filled the lake thus far. Lake Murray’s current surface temperature is 72.3 degrees, up 5 degrees from a week ago, based on the USGS water data website.
Frogs are on the menu
One misconception that a lot of fishermen have about frog fishing is that it’s an early morning deal for really shallow water. Actually, it will work in water as deep as 10 feet, and it will work all day if the conditions are right.
Just when you thought the soft-plastic worm market couldn’t get any fatter, Florida-based Gambler introduces a heavyweight surface swimmer that is designed to perform significantly better than others with a paddle-tail caboose. It’s called the Burner Worm, but it does way more than the name implies. To hear Walmart FLW Tour pros JT Kenney and Jim Tutt tell it, Gambler’s newest soft plastic is perfect for buzzing on top or crawled beneath the surface without ever missing a beat.
Treat yourself like an athlete
As fishermen we are considered athletes. No less than ESPN has recognized this through its ESPY awards. There is no doubt that as we spend hours fishing, we undergo a lot of physical exertion throughout the upper part of our bodies. Truth be known, however, if a majority of fishermen was required to run a seven-minute mile I don’t think many of us could do it.
Pop the Top for Springtime Bass
Walking baits have their time and place, but I don’t think you can beat a popper at this time of the year, when the spawn is going full-bore in a lot of lakes. When bass are bedding or have just finished, working a popper over their heads is the best way to get bit. It’s a slower presentation and good for situations where you’re casting at a target such as under a dock.
Back up your waypoints for maximum performance
If you’re using your electronics to their maximum potential, it’s likely that you’re accumulating thousands of waypoints on your unit. Did you know that your Lowrance unit is similar to your computer in terms of its capacity? The more information you store on it, the more memory it takes up; consequently, the performance of your unit is slowed to a degree.
Waylaying Shoreline Bass in the Postspawn
Postspawn is one of my favorite times of the year, mainly because bass are active and aggressive. I like the fact that I can catch them on some of my favorite lures: soft stickbaits and buzzbaits.
Professional tournament fishing is normally a rollercoaster ride with plenty of ups and downs, but this season so far is nothing but downs.
Colorizing a Crankbait
One of my most important fishing tools isn’t found in the sporting goods department at Walmart; it’s in the crafts department. That’s where I find the Sharpie waterproof marker kits that I like to have with me when I’m fishing crankbaits. I keep my crankbait colors pretty basic – natural shad or chartreuse for the most part – but if I see bass chasing bluegills, or have one I caught spit up a bluegill, I’ll use a Sharpie to color the crankbait up a little to look more like a bluegill.
To Fish, Everything Old is New Again
One thing I definitely believe is that a lot of out-of-production lures will catch fish just as well as they ever did. Nowadays too many fishermen are caught up with what’s new rather than what works – and a lot of those old baits still work.
Alabama pro Steve Kennedy taught fans and fishermen at the Walmart FLW Tour stop at Sam Rayburn presented by Chevy something that another generation of anglers learned a long time ago: the Snagless Sally can catch bass.
Cast and Move With a Shaky Head
What I do differently now, though, is make more casts and drag the shaky head a lot less. I’m covering a lot more water and looking for those fish that aren’t real aggressive, but might go for a shaky head if it drops in right by them.
Matching Jigs, Trailers and Line To Water Conditions
When I’m fishing a jig, about all I ever throw is a ½-ounce War Eagle. There are times when a lighter or heavier jig works better, though. For instance, I might go to a 3/8-ounce War Eagle Heavy Finesse if I’m fishing in extremely shallow water, or when the water is very clear, or when the bass just seem to want a small mouthful.
Catching bedding bass that you can’t see
On lakes that get a lot of fishing pressure, it’s a lot easier to catch fish on bed that you can’t see. By that I mean that if you get close enough to a pressured fish to see it, it’s probably already seen you. It’s either going to move off, or not bite.
Working through the wear and tear
To be a successful fisherman, you’ve got to be casting a lot, using different types of fishing tackle and taking some pounding boat rides. Over time, you’re going to develop aches and pains from arthritis and other ailments that don’t go away.
No category of lure is as flexible as soft-plastic lures – both in action and in use. Not only do soft plastics move freely, even when deadsticked, but the range of their use is limited only by the angler’s imagination.
C. Moore, C. Niedermier, K. Jackson, R. Robertson and J. Samsel.
You can rip rattle baits through winter grass beds like everyone else, or you can offer bass something different: a swim jig. Veteran bass pro Ron Shuffield says a swim jig is one of his preferred cool-weather lures when bass set up camp on grass-line edges. It’s a lure that can be worked quickly, or dragged more slowly when conditions warrant a change-up.
What’s my line?
There are going to be times when you want to use the exact same lure on a different outfit with different line weights. Maybe you want the lure to dive deeper or shallower, or you’re fishing different type of bottom where it’s to your advantage to fish a stronger, heavier line. With experience, you can pretty much look at a rig and tell whether it’s got 6-, 8- or 12-pound-test line on it, but it’s still helpful to mark the rig somehow.
Chatterbait connoisseur Brett Hite reveals secrets of his favorite big bass technique
One lure, over $400,000 in winnings: that’s the moral of the story for FLW Tour pro Brett Hite, who continues to make bladed swim jigs pay off handsomely in his fishing career.
FLW Tour pro Tom Redington provides some tips for catching bass in cold-water conditions
In spring, cold fronts are the norm, not the exception. So instead of griping about it, top anglers adapt and still catch them well. Having to stay on bass with new customers every day while guiding on Lake Fork for the past decade, I’ve found a basic gameplan that might help you get pointed in the right direction on your lake too.