Rig up for long-distance topwaters
I really like throwing a topwater in late summer and early fall because a lot of fish are returning to the shallows and roaming the banks in small schools looking for shad. Because you tend to cover a lot of water to find these wolfpack bass, use a surface lure that you can get some distance with on the cast.
Four top Walmart FLW Tour pros weigh in on some of tournament fishing’s toughest on-the-water decisions
Tournament fishing isn’t just about catching fish. It’s about making sound decisions based on experience and applying the proper strategies to make good things happen when they count the most. Of course, sometimes it’s just about trusting your instincts.
Accuracy, repeatability are required to scrape bass from the abyss
Anyone who follows big-league bass fishing knows pro David Fritts is legendary for his ability to sniff out and catch bass on a crankbait. True, Fritts is handy with other styles of lures. But he is the iceman with a crankbait, particularly when the bass relate to cover or structure in deep water.
Matt Williams; Illustrations by Mike Mathison
Rigging up for late-summer grass bass
By the end of summer, grass such as hydrilla can get so thick and matted that it’s almost impossible to fish with a conventional jig. In fact, you’re better off not even trying. Instead, I use one of two types of jigs: a ¾- or 1-ounce Punisher jig with a pointed head and inline tie that goes through vegetation better, and a punch jig that I put together.
Bag up next year’s tournament season
Once I find out where the next season of Walmart FLW Tour events are going to be held, I start loading tackle that I’m going to need for each of those tournaments. These are things I know I’ll use on a particular lake at a certain time of the year.
FLW Tour pros Ish Monroe, Koby Kreiger and Chris Baumgardner weigh in on troublesome frog bites, umbrella rigs and how to attack lakes with plenty of baitfish
How to outfit a jig for any situation
A jig trailer seems simple enough: a piece of molded soft plastic that dangles from a jig’s hook to add bulk, enhance action, temper the fall and suggest a crawfish or other food item. Those basic functions, though, are somewhat divergent and sometimes work against each other.
A drop-shot rig that’s trouble-free
The best new things for drop-shotting now are the special rigs that keep the line from twisting and make it easier to get tangles out of the line when you catch a fish. The Gamakatsu Swivel Shot with octopus hook is one of these.
While there is more than one way to get to a fat bass that is buried up in the jungle, few methods are more effective than flipping or punching. Both are short-range techniques built around a hard-core fishing system that includes thick line and a stout rod, and any number of lures and rigs designed to slip in and out of thick cover with the skill of a grass snake.
Eventually, your rod collection will grow to the point where it’s cost-effective for you to acquire the tools and learn the skills to make slightly advanced repairs, such as replacing a broken line guide. The task does require some special equipment, but if it keeps your favorite rod in the game without having to wait a couple of weeks for a local shop to fix it, the cost is worth the investment. And a few tools still cost less than replacing one of today’s specialized high-end rods. You might also consider going together with a fishing buddy to split the cost.
Sight fishing isn’t just a spring fling
The dog days of summer from mid-August to mid-October are tough to fish because it’s hard to find a consistent pattern. Grass and other heavy shoreline cover can be good, but some older lakes don’t have any. Ledge fishing can be hit or miss because a lot of bass will roam all over the place trying to keep up with schools of shad. But a third pattern, and one of my favorites, is to ease down a bank fishing for wolfpack bass when they’re in the shallows hunting for bedding bream.
EverStart Series Tournament Director Ron Lappin attended a meeting of stakeholders the other day in which the only topic of discussion was what has become known in colloquial fishing language as “jumping carp.”
Offshore bass are on the move, but not in any rush
Don’t overestimate how far fish go when they move from where they were yesterday to where they are today. And don’t be surprised if tomorrow they might be back where they started from.
Ledges aren’t the only places to find big summer bass
Summer and ledge fishing go together, but you can get burned on an offshore bite where the fish are averaging about 3 pounds when you need them to be averaging 4 pounds or so to do any good in a tournament setting.
How two of the best break down large expanses of vegetation
Lakes filled with matted grass produce some of the best bass fishing in the country, but can leave even professional anglers feeling overwhelmed and unsure of where to start. If you understand why the bass use the grass, as well as the prime locations to begin your search, in what situations each species of grass is favorable to bass habitat and how to break down these large grass mats, you’ll unlock the best bass fishing of the summer.
Walker Smith (photo illustrations by Ron Finger)
A one-two punch for grass bass
When fishing heavy grass in midsummer, it’s a good idea to keep both a frog and punching rig handy on your deck. If you have a bass blow up on a frog in a mat of milfoil or other grass, but it fails to connect, a lot of times a punching rig will catch it. My favorite punching rig is a 1- or 1½-ounce Reins tungsten weight with a 4/0 Cobra straight-shank flipping hook and either a Gambler Ugly Otter or a BB Cricket.
Lighten up on line size for more bites
There was a time when just about all fishermen used heavy line to fish worms or soft plastics because they believed they had to really rear back to set a hook or get a fish out of heavy cover fast. In some instances that’s still the case, but considering today’s fishing line and the sharpness of modern hooks, most of us don’t need to be fishing heavy line.
It’s never too late to have your best day
In the world of performance psychology, as in life, what stands out are extremes, the really good days, the spectacular events, the colossal failures. Since we are hardwired to pay most attention to negative information, errors and setbacks are generally more emotionally powerful, and their memories more long-lasting, than successes. From an adaptive standpoint, it’s clearly in our best interest to focus on, and hopefully correct or avoid, mistakes.
Jay T. McNamara, Ph.D., L.P., aka Dr. Fish
Bulge the surface or slow-roll the depths with bass fishing’s classic bladed bait
What bass lure is more versatile than the spinnerbait? Not only will it work in water that is clear, stained or muddy, a spinnerbait will catch bass that are holding in shallow water or deep around all sorts of structure and cover such as grass beds, brush, laydowns, rocks, ledges, docks and stumps. Adding to the versatility of the trusty lure, it can be adapted to situations when the fish want something moving quickly, slowly or at a retrieve speed somewhere in between.
How to keep deep divers from rooting bottom
In the summer, there’s nothing that bass love to eat better than gizzard shad, which is probably why larger-profile crankbaits work so well on ledges during that time of year. The problem with most of the big crankbaits is that they’re deep divers, which means they dig too much when you’re fishing a ledge or hump in, say, 10 feet of water.
Striking it rich in untapped wetlands
Call it a bayou, bog or pond. Call it a marsh, swamp or slough. No matter what you call it, there are thousands of acres of backwater wetlands connected to major lakes, rivers and reservoirs that hold shallow-water bass year-round.
When the pressure is on
It’s not uncommon for several fishermen to find a bunch of fish in practice and then wind up beating them up during a tournament. After a couple of days, the fish that aren’t already caught are feeling the pressure and not as eager to bite. If you’re fairly confident there are still a few fish to be caught, go after them.
Two ways to fish a worm down deep
Shaky heads and Texas rigs catch a lot of bass off ledges in the summer and even though they have some of the same components, they provide two totally different looks when they get in the water.
Are you ready for the tournament?
I’m very serious about preparing for a tournament. I probably spend four hours or more the day and evening before a tournament getting everything ready. I make sure any mechanical issues with my equipment are settled. I put fresh line on the reels that I used in practice, and maybe change lines because of something I’ve noticed about the water clarity.
A rod for every fishing job