The smell of fishing success
The main purpose of scented baits is to attract more strikes, and to varying degrees they do their job. I’ve found that sometimes a scented bait will close the deal with bass when they’re not really in the mood to feed.
Almost time to head for the mats
Going against the grain for late-summer bass
Hot summer, fish deep – that’s the standard game plan for most bass fishermen, but every once in a while somebody proves that it doesn’t always work that way. Jacob Wheeler won the 2012 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Lanier by fishing in 2 feet of water or so. In any lake, there’s always a large population of bass that live super-shallow all year.
Electrician’s tape for emergency repairs
Make sure you carry some electrician’s tape with you when you go fishing and keep it handy. If you knock the transducer off the bottom of your trolling motor on a stump or rock, you can always tape it back on with the tape and go back to fishing.
Working the flats with a flutter spoon
When fish are really spread out, maybe because it’s a cloudy day or it’s in the fall and they’re really feeding and roaming around a lot following the bait, I like to fish a Strike King Sexy Spoon. With its vibration and flash, and the fact that you can cast it a mile, it’s a good lure for covering a lot of water.
A subtle approach for summer bass
Bass generally aren’t as aggressive and don’t tend to move around as much in the hottest part of summer. They’re often suspended or holding in brush near the bottom, but a subtle approach with a drop-shot rig can be effective. Keep it simple. For the leader, I always use fluorocarbon in 6- to 10-pound-test. The size and length of the leader depend on the clarity of the water and where the fish are likely to be holding.
Keep a marker buoy handy
Marine electronics are so good now that it seems like they’ll do almost everything but catch fish for you. Still, I never go fishing without one or two of those orange plastic marker buoys somewhere in my Ranger. When I mark a place I want to fish, I’ll toss out a marker buoy right on top of it.
Catching schooling fish early
Pickwick Lake is one of my favorites for schooling bass in the summer and it’s pretty typical as far as how the fishing is likely to line up on any given day. Usually I’ll begin fishing on a break from 5- to 10-feet deep over a hump or river ledge.
The basics of fishing summer ledges
I really enjoy fishing deep ledges in the summer. If you get on the right spot, you can catch a limit in a hurry. Not to oversimplify, but I have a couple of approaches that usually work for me. If there’s current, I’ll go with a jig or a crankbait. Usually, that’s all it takes and the current makes the fish active.
Wiggling or wobbling crankbaits?
I don’t know why it is exactly, but I’ve proved to my satisfaction that fish will very definitely change preferences as far as the action of a crankbait goes. For some reason, it seems that the colder the water, the tighter the wobble of the crankbait needs to be to draw strikes.
When braid is best
I don’t use braided line a whole lot because most of the time fluorocarbon fits my fishing style and approach. Still, there are times when braid works better than anything, such as when you’re fishing grass – milfoil, hydrilla, coontail or whatever.
Keep those high-dollar rods under wraps
The new high-modulus specialty rods available now are very sensitive and really great, but there is a tradeoff.
Closer to home is usually better
Some guys like to run a long way to get away from the pack of other fishermen. Other guys have to run a long way because that’s their only shot at finding fish. To me it’s better to start looking for fish a reasonable distance from the takeoff, basing my search on how I think the lake conditions and season are going to position the fish.
Good practice strategies can pay off in tournaments
When I’m practicing for an upcoming tournament, there are a couple of important things I take into account. For one, there’s the body of water I’m fishing. Is it a Lake Guntersville, or a Beaver Lake? If I figure it’s going to take stringers of 3- to 5-pounders, as it would on Guntersville, I go through as many fish as I need to until I reach that size range. Then I leave them alone, make note of where they are and what I caught them on, and go find some more like that somewhere else.
Keep your mind free of clutter
A lot of guys underestimate or discount the mental game involved in bass fishing. When you’re fishing in a tournament, or practicing for one, you don’t want any distractions or anything on your mind except figuring out the bass.
Seek out the shadiest docks
One of the best places to fish for postspawn bass is under docks that are near where they spawned. These fish will stick around for a while unless the bottom falls out of the lake. Of course, bass aren’t under every dock. This time of year they favor the ones that are shallow, low to the water, and have dark shade under them. And bass also like the docks that have a lot of bream, because they feed on bluegills until they move out. I don’t fool with the docks that are in deeper water, and whether they have brush under them is no big deal. I just fish the shallow ones and skip jigs or soft plastics under them as far as I can.
An easy way to keep rust at bay
Those toolbox liners that absorb moisture so that tools won’t rust will also keep fish hooks from rusting, which is why I use them in my tackle boxes.
Lining up your lures
When I choose line for fishing soft plastics, light jigs or shaky heads, I don’t worry about whether the fish can see it. My main concern is how the line will make the lure fall in the water.
Painter’s Tape is a good rod bundler
I always have a bundle of spare rods with me in case I break one or two during a tournament. I’ve found that the best way to keep them from getting beat up and banged around is to use some 3M Painter’s Tape to bind them together
Upsize trebles for surer hooksets
When I’m fishing crankbaits and the fish seem to be just slapping at the lure and missing the hooks, I’ll upsize the back treble from, say, a No. 6 to a No. 4. A lot of times fish are sluggish in the spring and will just nip at a lure or barely get hooked on the front treble.
Take plenty of rods, reels along
In spring, it’s always a good idea to plan on covering water and throwing a lot of different lures until you find the two or three baits that work better than others.
Don’t wait too long to respool
I fish docks and shoreline cover a lot when I’m practicing for a tournament. On the last day of practice I’ll put on fresh line because the old stuff has gotten nicked and abraded. But I don’t wait until the night before the tournament starts to change the line.
Get to know a lake before you fish it
A lot of fishermen make the mistake of applying a good technique or pattern that works on their home lake to every lake. It’s a waste of time in most cases.
Take the lures you’re likely to need
A fisherman should work out the tackle management system that makes sense to him. By this time of year, I’ve gone through my boat and replenished everything I think I might need anywhere the tournament trail goes.
Lighten up on creature baits
Last year I won six tournament checks with a Gene Larew Biffle Bug that I fished in shallow cover. I really like that bait because every little leg and tail on it seems to be moving all the time when it’s in the water – whether you’re dragging it, hopping it or just letting it sit still.