FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.