FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.