FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE
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.
Take care of your tackle and it will take care of you
I used to not pay too much attention to keeping terminal tackle in good condition, but I’m more organized about it now. Buying new hooks every spring costs a lot of money, and in the past it’s been necessary just because I haven’t taken care of them like I should. Now I keep everything tournament-ready all the time.
If you want to win tournaments, stop fishing for limits of keepers and instead focus on catching quality fish.
A five-fish limit is the first measure of success and job one in a tournament. But it’s how you see that quintet shaping up that sets the tone for your performance. Is it an open audition where anything that measures will do, or do you want five stars that’ll rock any stage?
David A. Brown
Find the sweet spots in the timber
In a stump field, FLW Tour pro Brent Ehrler said he’ll looks for some type of bottom contour. Recognizing that it’s rarely just one homogenous flat with a smattering of solid objects, he tries to pinpoint a ditch running through the area and then targets those stumps sitting along the edge of the ditch.
David A. Brown
Finding the right starting point for spring
Depending on the weather and where the lake is, bass are starting to migrate toward the shallows to spawn. As a result, your job is to find out how far the fish have moved up a creek or bay, both distance and depth-wise.
How to avoid that awkward feeling of your line going limp
How many good fish do you lose in a season of fishing, whether it’s in a tournament or just when you’re fishing for the fun of it? If it’s more than you can count on your fingers, perhaps it’s time for some constructive self-criticism. Are the fish at fault, or are you? In case it’s the latter, we offer the following advice, observations and tips from some top pros regarding how to put the odds of landing a fish successfully more in your favor.
Putting a stop to short-strikers
A lot of times in the spring, bass tend to short-strike soft plastics, and maybe even bite the tail off. Some anglers just pass these off as small fish, but that’s not always the case. Bigger fish will do it, too, especially when the spawn is going on. They’re not really feeding; they’re just aggravated.
Home in on winter bass by locating these surefire structures on a lake map
Two things stand out about winter bass fishing: The fish get a little bit pickier about where they want to be, and anglers don’t want to spend as much time running a bass boat around a frigid lake trying to find them.
Curtis Niedermier with map images courtesy of Navionics
What do you think it’ll weigh?
A lot of people spend too much time culling fish when they ought to be fishing. I don’t use scales to cull with; my theory is that if I just caught a fish, I’m either into them pretty good or they’ve just started biting and I need to take advantage of it while I can.
When fishing in warm weather isn’t an option
It seems like this cold winter isn’t going to leave anytime soon, but it’s not stopping the fish from biting – if you can stay out there with them. Cold temperatures affect the fishing performance of you and your tackle and there are a couple of things I do to keep things working properly.
Docks attract bedding bass too
When bass start spawning, most fishermen head for the back ends of coves or big flats, but docks shouldn’t be ignored. Docks are often situated in areas that bass favor for their beds. It might be where there’s a big cluster of docks or a big marina facility.
FLW Tour pro Tom Redington provides tips for using your electronics to find bass in areas that other anglers miss
The fact that the new sonar units are so powerful has created a fishing paradox. The maps are so good and the displays are so easy to read that it seems like every angler on the lake can find the spots that were, until recently, the secrets of a few locals.
A line on savings
The best fishing line is expensive, which is why I use a couple of tricks to bring down the cost. For one thing, I always use backing, usually an inexpensive 20-pound-test monofilament that I get at a local Walmart.
How to get unsnagged in a hurry
When you’re practicing for a tournament, catching a fish isn’t nearly as important as finding places where you can catch fish. Because you check different places and put lures into all sorts of cover, you’re going to get snagged up once in a while.When you’re practicing for a tournament, catching a fish isn’t nearly as important as finding places where you can catch fish. Because you check different places and put lures into all sorts of cover, you’re going to get snagged up once in a while.
Follow the fish into seemingly unreachable fortresses
There’s nothing wrong with those docks, rocks, bridges and grass lines, but sometimes you have to ditch that obvious stuff and push your way into some gnarly cover for a behind-the-scenes look at where the sneakiest bass seek their solace.
David A. Brown
Downsize for more success
Cold water slows fish down. And depending on where the lake is, when the water temperature gets down in the high 40s to mid 50s, bass are less inclined to chase big baitfish because their metabolism slows way down and they don’t need to eat as much. The best thing a fisherman can do in this situation is to downsize his/her tackle and lures and fish a lot slower.
Play your hunches
A lot of fishing is mental. To me, going with your instincts can be a big deal. For instance, say you’re running to a spot and you see a stretch of bank with maybe a couple of laydowns that looks good. Something tells you that you need to give it a try, so you do. Maybe you hit the jackpot, maybe you don’t, but the few minutes that it takes you to stop and check it out could make a big difference in your outcome.
Position rod tip to optimize strikes
Casting and fighting a fish aside, where you hold the tip of your fishing rod can make a big difference in whether you get bit and how well you set the hook. For instance, now that the water is getting cold and bass are getting the slows, it’s time to break out suspending jerkbaits.
FLW Tour pros weigh in on the optimal techniques to take advantage of the transition from fall to winter
If a brief window of unusually warm weather interrupts an extended period of cold weather, how drastic of an effect will the warm weather have on fishing patterns? What kinds of movements should I watch for from bass?
Be prepared to practice
There are lots of little things you can do as a fisherman that combine to improve efficiency in a big way. One mistake a lot of tournament anglers make, and I’m as guilty as anyone, is not being ready for the first day of practice before a tournament.
There is a ton of outstanding fishing talent on Tour, but just being an exceptional angler will only get you so far in this sport. If you can't succeed on the business side or your last name isn't Morgan or Dudley, your career may well be short-lived. My goal with the Fish Biz blog will be to help FLW Outdoors anglers become better business people, ensuring a better product for the industry and all involved in this great sport. And, for those of you not interested in fishing for a living, I hope to give you an inside look at the business behind the sport we all love so much.
An easy way to hit the right depth with a jigging spoon
It might be old-school, but a jigging spoon is still one of the best techniques there is for fishing deep lakes with shad in winter and early prespawn. The shad will collect around deeper structure such as ditches, creek bends and that sort of thing during the day and bass will stay under them and feed from time to time
Regular maintenance will keep your rig looking like new
If there is one thing I hate worse than seeing a nice bass boat with a filthy finish, it’s seeing one with dirty carpet. I like to keep my stuff clean, but not just because it looks good. A bass boat is a huge investment, and the more you can do to protect that investment the better the returns if you ever decide to sell or trade it.