FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE
Bass fishing: the sport that we all love so much. It has been a huge part of my life for many years. In fact, it’s been a huge part of my life for almost all of my years.
This past week, Bryan fished his eighth Forrest Wood Cup. Wylie and I joined him in Lexington for the entire week, practice included. We normally just come the Wednesday before a tournament starts, but this one was close to home, and with so much to do in nearby Columbia, we thought it would be a great idea to go early.
Time really flies in professional fishing. It seems like yesterday that all of us were launching our boats on Okeechobee, with dreams of competing in the 2014 Forrest Wood Cup that begins this week on Lake Murray near Columbia, S.C.
Summer is in full bloom. I just got home after a short family vacation in the Florida Keys where we enjoyed some saltwater fishing. I also spent a few hot days on Lake Murray doing some scouting for the upcoming Forrest Wood Cup, which is just a week away. I’m excited about this event and can’t wait to compete as I try to win a second Forrest Wood Cup, which would be really awesome.
A lot of anglers equate smallmouths with rock and gravel bottoms in the summer, but they shouldn’t overlook weeds. Depending on the time of year and available forage, smallmouths will feed in vegetation just as heavily as largemouths.
As I sit here in Detroit taking time out from a family visit, I look back on the past season and try to find any positives. The things that could’ve gone wrong did go wrong, and I think that a lot of times, I wasn’t experienced enough or good enough to adjust to the circumstances. Bottom line: I didn’t make the Forrest Wood Cup.
“I couldn’t be happier to have Lance on board as a marketing partner,” says Hite. “As a professional who relies on my equipment to earn my living, I only partner with the top quality products and companies that build the best. Lance is a perfect example of that.”
With a name like DieZel, I expected the MinnowZ from Z-Man to be one rough customer. What I didn’t expect was something tough enough to catch several dozen bass and still not need replacing. Then I remembered the nifty 4-inch swimbait is manufactured using ElaZtech, a super-soft, yet incredibly strong material that has made a name for itself as one of the most pliable and durable soft plastics used in the fresh- and saltwater fishing industries.
First, if the school you’ve marked in a certain place – say, a long underwater bar or stretch of vertical ledge – isn’t there next time, the fish are likely to be somewhere in the range of maybe 50 yards in any direction from where you waypointed them in the first place. You idle around using your StructureScan until you relocate them, then make a few casts and try to get them fired up.
Well, it actually happened. For the first time in eight years, I’ll be sitting on the sidelines at the Forrest Wood Cup. As I sit here and drink in the intoxicatingly sour flavor that this revelation has left in my mouth, somehow I find myself savoring the flavor. Perhaps that’s because it’s the flavor of something that I will never taste again. At least that’s how I feel, anyway; that’s how I’m taking it. Never again.
As I noted previously, Bryan and I were able to find a free weekend between tournaments to actually have a wedding. It was a miracle, I tell you. After our wedding on July 21, 2007, we headed to Edisto Island in South Carolina for our honeymoon. We had a great time, but it was a very rushed trip. After all, Bryan had to be back quickly so he could head to Hot Springs, Ark., to practice for the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. It was his first ever and he was psyched.
It’s July, and time to deal with some of the hottest weather of the year. Whenever surface temperatures start bumping the upper 80s, it can make fishing tough. Unless I’m fishing a lake where ledge fishing is about the only game in town, I look for the thickest cover I can find, wherever I can find it.
My recap of the Walmart FLW Tour event on Kentucky Lake has less to do with this particular event than it does a feat I consider to be one of the most amazing in modern-day tournament fishing – but I’ll get to that later.
Scott Martin talks to us from the water of Kentucky Lake about his practice for the final two events of the season.
Castrol pro angler David Dudley, the career leader in FLW Tour earnings and three time FLW Tour Angler of the Year, will be signing autographs and answering consumer questions Tuesday, July 1 at Gipson's Tire Pros located at 3079 Highway 14 in Millbrook, AL.
Lots of story lines will be going down this coming week as the Walmart FLW Tour closes out its regular season with the 2014 finale on Kentucky Lake. In addition to the 35 Forrest Wood Cup qualifiers to be determined, also on the line are the $10,000 checks awarded to each of the top 60 anglers.
Following a fairly successful career as a college angler, I decided to keep progressing up the tournament ladder. The year after graduating from the University of Florida, I fished what was then the Rayovac FLW Series as a professional angler. While I enjoyed some success in my first two tournaments, I quickly realized I had a lot to learn as I got farther away from my home waters.
Poor Lake Barkley. It’s as spectacular as the Grand Tetons and nearly as vast and full of wildlife in and around it. With its 58,000 acres of ledges and shoreline cover packed with bass, Barkley would be the top tournament destination in most any other state.
There’s a topwater bite all summer somewhere on the lake you fish; it’s just a matter of finding it. There might not be enough topwater fish to win a tournament, but it’s a lot of fun, especially if you’re just out fishing for the heck of it. Topwater fishing in the summer is all about the baitfish.
Of the approximately 170 anglers who’ll be competing, a relative few of them will be vying for one of the 35 Forrest Wood Cup slots available for the August championship. A few weeks later, the last Tour event of the season, at Kentucky Lake, will settle matters for good.
Finding the right angle for ledge bass
The best part of the ledge-fishing season is when bass first move out in late spring and early summer. The fish aren’t pressured too much yet so they’re not hugging the bottom and they’re more aggressive. When I find fish on a ledge, the first thing I’ll do is move to the outside and cast a crankbait in over the fish.
May has been a busy month. I’ve been doing a lot of work on the water, in particular guiding on Lake Guntersville. Last November I traveled to Panama City, Fla., to get my U.S. Coast Guard captain license. I then started a guide service that sees me on Lake Guntersville in the spring and fall and on Lake St. Clair in Michigan during the summer.
Kyle Wood exposes the uses for multiple types of fishing line.
Go shallow for drop-shot bass
Drop-shot rigs are popular for when bass are holding in deep cover or suspended offshore, but I have found they will work very well in shallow water too. I like to fish them around grass or boat docks, or anywhere there are fish from the prespawn to the postspawn time.
Cheez-It pro Shinichi Fukae
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.
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.
Time to dust off the jerkbaits
Now that the water temperatures are cooling down, jerkbaits are coming into their own again. Jerkbaits are hard to beat in highland lakes or Tennessee River impoundments where there are a lot of gizzard shad.
The odds favor a tight-wobbling crankbait
The rule of thumb has it that tight-wobbling crankbaits are better to use in the colder months and during prespawn. In my experience, that’s generally true, although I don’t have a bulletproof explanation for it. Maybe it has something to do with water temperature, color and depth.
Ranger's new lineup packs tournament-level features into affordable package
The economics are clear – you can climb into a fully-rigged Ranger aluminum bass boat complete with electronics, trolling motor, outboard and a Ranger Trail Trailer (equipped with deluxe wheels, swing-away tongue and waterproof lights) for around $17,000- $21,500 based on model and options. You'll part with a lot less cash on each boat payment, but you'll have a hard time listing a lot of "give-ups."
David A. Brown
Slow down and fish the windy side
Early cold fronts affect fishing, but probably not as much as some fishermen think. Unless it stays really cold for several days, the water temperature isn’t going to drop much and the fish aren’t going to move from where they are unless the baitfish move. If they do anything, they’ll hold tighter to cover for a while
Busting those winter-fishing myths
Not surprisingly, bass fishing has its own set of myths: Bass don’t eat topwaters when it’s sunny, big fish only eat big lures and so on. Winter fishing seems to take myths to a whole new level. Maybe the long hours in freezing cold numbs the mind as much as it does the hands, but one could write an article about how many myths there are regarding this chilly time of year – and whether or not they’re true.
Get in gear with crankbaits
You hear a lot about picking just the right gear ratio for fishing crankbaits, but to me it’s not a big issue. I favor a reel with a gear ratio that’s pretty much in the middle, about 6:1. I can use it for just about anything – top to bottom.
Use a label maker to stay organized
My boat is full of soft-plastics, and it used to drive me nuts trying to keep them all sorted out. On too many occasions, I would waste a lot of fishing time digging around in bags and boxes looking for something. However, what saved me was one of those handheld labelers.
FLW Tour pros weigh in optimal drag settings, the best hooks for braided line and how to decipher when grass mats are too thick for punching
If I use heavy-gauge hooks for flipping grass with braided line, why not use the same gauge hooks for fishing all soft plastics?
FLW Tour pros sound off on the effectiveness of rattling baits
Though some anglers contend that rattling baits don’t necessarily attract strikes, and might even deter them, the preponderance of evidence favors the rattle crowd. Virtually every hard lure made nowadays – crankbaits, jerkbaits, stick baits and so forth – can be had in rattling and silent versions.
Root up the shallows with a rattle bait
Bass are wandering all over lakes now, fattening up for winter. During fall, the bass tend to get more scattered and that’s when a rattle bait becomes a good search bait. Keep the trolling motor running and cover a lot of water quickly. Then, if you do get on a bunch of fish, you can slow down and fish something else if it calls for it.
Trebel hooks are not all created equal so here's what you need to know
As a general rule, the treble hooks on the lures of most tournament pros aren’t original equipment. Less-expensive stock trebles are usually replaced with ultra-sharp premium hooks of the angler’s choice.
Burning a spinnerbait is a good autumn ploy
It kind of goes against conventional wisdom, but about the only time of year when I speed up my lure retrieval is now – in fall. Bass are following shad in toward the banks and major feeder creeks and seem to be more eager to strike baits that are moving faster than usual.
Crankbait colors for any season
Fall is one of the best times of the year to use crankbaits, either on ledges or secondary ledges, ambush points leading into creeks or old roadbeds – anywhere bass are likely to stack up as the water and baitfish transition. During this time, you can still catch bass offshore as well with deep divers or along the banks with square-bills.
Try this reaction tactic to fool dock-dwelling bass this fall
Well-honed casting skills are required to send a crankbait deep into the reaches of a dock. It can’t be skipped on the surface easily, but even an average caster can make a crankbait go where dock bass are likely to be if he employs a trick that Walmart FLW Tour pros Bryan Thrift and Wesley Strader call “driving,” or “steering.”
Curtis Niedermier; Illustrations by Ron Finger
Face to face with the fish
When I’m fishing a tournament, I pay attention to how the grass is laying over, or the wind is blowing, and which way fish are likely to be facing relative to the current. Bass are professional eaters, and they know where the baitfish should be coming from.
Cool new products for the modern fisherman
The following products were originally featured in the 2013 August/September issue of Bass Fishing magazine.
As summer drifts into fall, explore all options
This time of the year when you head out for a day of fishing, don’t be close-minded; be ready to try anything. In fact, it’s a good time to practice all the different techniques you’ve wanted to try and to learn
When lake managers draw down reservoirs, fish behavior changes, and savvy anglers alter their strategies accordingly
As summer winds down, however, things can change quickly on a drawdown lake – a reservoir where lake managers reduce the water level in late summer and early fall. Come practice for the EverStart showdown, Dan Morehead’s fish were nowhere to be found. In fact, despite the amazing pre-practice, Morehead didn’t catch a fish during the first day and a half of practice. The dropping lake and progressing season had caused everything to change.
Jeff Samsel; Illustrations by Ron Finger
Get the net!
There are all sorts of landing nets, but not all of them are good for bass fishing. I have three I use most often. Ninety-nine percent of the time, I carry a net with a telescoping handle that extends to about 6 feet. In a tournament, this is the net I want my co-angler to use.
Habitat diversity, sprawling vastness equal unparalleled Western fishery
Anchored by the convergence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers, along with countless tributaries and rural streams, Delta waters comprise a labyrinthine of navigable arteries, all subject to tidal influence through their common connection to San Francisco Bay. There's plenty of area to spread out and select your own little piece of paradise, but don’t be surprised if you find yourself overwhelmed with a dilemma borne of abundance – in other words, it all looks fishy.
David A. Brown
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.