Miller punch weights going thru the mat
By David Malone
Growing up, I can remember my Mom’s typical response to anyone that asked her opinion of how something looked. If she didn’t like it she would politely respond with “well that’s different.” This was her way of addressing the individual without revealing her true feelings.
As a non boater we can sometimes find ourselves very uncomfortable throwing something “different” than the Pro or Angler. I was fishing the BASS Western Divisional. My third day partner told me that we should be able to get a limit first thing in the morning. He also told me that he and his previous day non-boater had caught their limits in the one area on the same bait. I had been saving the drop shot technique for the third day of competition since the fish were getting hit pretty hard. The boater even gave me one of his baits and I actually did tie it on. Then I got to thinking, “they have seen this bait for probably two days now. I need to be throwing something different”.
My thought was that the fish were getting accustomed to bottom bouncing baits, so I was pretty set on throwing a drop shot. I knew that a brush hog was working in other areas of the lake, so I started out with a baby brush hog on a drop shot later switching to a Yamamoto 5” single tail grub on the same rig. The fish we targeted were only in a about a foot of water so I adjusted my leader to about 5 inches.
Later as the sun came up we started flipping. My boater was flipping the edges and the little holes in the cane. My tactic was less stealthy and more direct. I was using a Paycheck punch rig with a Tru-Tungsten 1 oz flipping weight and crashing through the cane. Sometimes it would get temporarily hung up, but with a little shaking, the bait would slide right down through the thickest stuff. Bam!! I don’t know if the reason I was catching fish was so much the color or look of the bait as it was something different. Those fish were used to seeing a jig fall on the edge of the cover, but this thing crashing down on their head, well that was something “different”.
Between the baby brush hog, Yamamoto grub and punching I was able to put a decent 3 day limit in the boat. It sounds easy, but I can tell you that until I had three fish in the boat I was not confident that throwing something different was the right decision. I ended up being less than a pound short from going to the Nationals and probably would have made it had I switched to the drop shot on the second day of competition.
Sometimes the conditions are such that using the same bait and technique is required or necessary, but I also believe that too many times the non-boater ends up throwing the same bait as the Pro or Anglerrather than having the confidence to do something different. Give the fish something they haven’t seen that day or week and step out of your comfort zone.
Post Spawn Bass Fishing by Ron Howe
As the spring time rituals of spawning end and hot summer days are approaching us quickly, Bass move into a post spawn mode. These post spawn fish will be in a recovery mode from the spawning period. This can be a very tough time to catch Bass.
There are many ways to temp a lazy post spawn bass into a feeding response. First I recommend using plastic worms such as flukes in shad or pink colors. Cast these near spawning areas and dead stick them or barely move the baits with small twitches and long pauses. My next bait is a drop shot. I will use this on light line like 6-8 lb fluorocarbon since the bass are wary, tired and most likely have received heavy pressure all spring. I use primarily 2 colors, Zipper worms bad blood a dark purple worm, or Zipper worms screaming pink I will use both 4 and 6 inch sizes. I recommend using a 1/8oz Berserk Baits drop shot weight. Simply stick to coves and secondary points leading away from spawning areas. Toss your drop shot up there and don’t move it! We call it dead shottin! Twitch your rod slightly 1-2 times don’t move the bait let it sit there. Watch your line they will swim away with it! Remember many males will be guarding there fry and will remain shallow! Many big females will also remain shallow for many days after spawning.
This period of skinny fish that are finicky will pass and the next phase of post spawn will be feeding time. Bass will begin to school up and start to chase bait. This is when it can be fun! TOPWATER TIME! Now we have so many choices, but here is a few of my favorites. First I like wake baits and buzz baits, I can keep these baits moving slowly and they draw tremendous strikes and catch BIG fish! I use a 7ft heavy action rod on wake baits with 20lb monofilament line. For colors I will use Trout, Baby Bass, and Bluegill colors primarily. I use a super slow retrieve at this time of year and the fish will tomahawk the bait! For buzz baits I will use Persuader double Buzzers and the Persuader Gold rush Buzz baits in white and chartreuse/white. I will use 15lb test monofilament line on a softer tipped rod with good backbone. Many Post spawn fish will just slurp the bait down and this softer tip will help to hook a few more of these fish. I always use a trailer hook in post spawn like a Daiichi bleeding bait trailer. Next is the spook type bait or zig zag topwter bait. They come in so many choices take your pick, my favorite is the good old spook made by heddon. I use 3 sizes small, medium and super spook! Shad and Baby Bass are the only colors I use. Slow walking this bait in post spawn can be deadly! If the fish are swirling on the baits and not committing to eating them I will use a popper and use very slow pops with long pauses.
Last but not least will be one of my favorites as Bass begin to gorge on bait fish Such as Shad, Bluegill, and Baby Bass its DR. Crankenstein time! There are so many Crank baits to choose from its crazy! I stick to a water column approach! Shallow ,mid, and deep. For shallow cranking I use speed traps. For mid cranking I use fat free shads, Norman deep little n’s and Strike King series 4-6 crank baits. For deep crank baits I use DD-22’s .Shad and Bluegill colors dominate my tackle box this time of year. A true crank bait rod is a must in my opinion. I recomend 7 foot for long casts and a 6-6” for target casting, the shorter rod can help you to make more accurate casts at a close distance. I prefer fiberglass rods for a softer tip allowing the bass to better inhale the bait! If all else fails drag a 3/8-1/2oz football head jig in green pumpkin super slow!
Good Luck “Ron Howe”
Improve you Tournament results
Have you ever noticed whether it be Club Tournaments, Divisional Tournaments (B.A.S.S. Federation, Red Man, Anglers Choice, etc.) and even the Pro Tournaments, usually you will see a hand full of the same anglers consistently “In-The-Money” most of the time? Then while you’re driving home after fishing some of these tournaments without much success you ask yourself, “What are these anglers doing so different than me?”
There are many different reasons these anglers consistently “Cash-In” or “Place in the money”. I hope I can help you with some insight on what keeps these anglers successful when it comes to tournament fishing.
Bass Tournament fishing is a very competitive sport in a multi-billion dollar industry. More and more anglers every day are joining the ranks of the Tournament competitors. With all these new competitors joining the established ones, the competition seems to be getting tougher and tougher, making it harder to stay on top, or consistently be “In-The-Money”.
I have outlined several tactics you can use to give you the edge over a good portion of the participants. These can stack the cards in your favor when it comes to tournament preparation.
The better that an angler can understand his or her quarry the better or more successful he or she will be at catching it. The most important factors when bass fishing is understanding how a bass reacts to changing conditions and how they use their senses (taste, feel, sight, smell, etc.). There is much to learn about bass, especially when you have to consider water clarity and depth, water temperature and oxygen content, vegetation, seasons, daily conditions, barometric pressure changes, weather fronts, available forage, colors, structure and there’s more!
The first rule of thumb to ALWAYS keep in mind is that bass need three elements to survive:
Understanding these elements and relating them to some of the situations or conditions listed above should help prepare you for the “Pre-Fishing” period of a tournament. This is the start of putting a “Game-Plan” together.
Familiarize Yourself With the Tournament Waters
This can be done by first obtaining a map of the waters you will be fishing. By understanding how to read a map and relate it to bass fishing you can just about “Pre-Fish” any body of water before launching the boat. Just by knowing where the structures are (channels, drops, humps, shallows, flats, depth, points, etc) and by understanding how bass relate to the seasons, daily conditions, and water temperatures, you should be able to eliminate large amounts of water. Understanding the long list of factors I outlined previously, you should be able to key on the areas where bass relate.
Another way to get familiarized with the water is to hire guides or charters. Depending on expenses I would recommend hiring at least two different guides or charters on any given body of water. That way you can take the best of the two days to help find areas and patterns. Being a licensed guide as well as a bass angling instructor, I need to let the truth be known that there are very poor and very good guides on just about every body of water that holds large-scale bass tournaments; buyer beware.
Another way to learn the lake is to “fly the water.” Go to a nearby municipal or county airport and find a pilot to fly you over the tournament waters. This doesn’t cost very much (normally), but you’d be amazed of what you can see from the air that you can’t see while sitting on the water.
Color & Bait Patterns
Probably one of the best ways to learn the color and bait patterns of any given body of water would be to visit as many bait and tackle retailers in the area as possible. Peruse the shelves to see what baits and colors are the best sellers. If you visit several of these retailers you should be able to get a very good idea of what colors and baits to use, based on the average of all these different places combined.
Watch The Locals
One of the best ways I’ve found some great Honey Holes in the past is just by observing the locals. While you are on the water and see a boat sitting in one spot for a while, just move off in a distance and watch. Remember some of these locals have fished these waters all their life and are not sitting in areas just to eat lunch!
In the morning before you hit the water, try to find the local diner where most of the locals go eat breakfast. Many times I’ve found some great information just by eating at the same place at the same time, and by sitting as close as possible. Many anglers like to brag! Just by sitting and minding my own, you can’t help but over-hear these locals talking between themselves about the 10-pounder they caught off of Truman’s Point using a Spook and so on.
Putting A Game Plan Together
Putting a game plan together for a tournament and sticking to it can make or break most of the anglers in the field. The biggest problem many anglers have is not sticking to a game plan.
Several years ago, I had the great pleasure and company of Shaw Grisby Jr. and his Father (Pops) over at my home for dinner. That evening, I asked Shaw’s father (A truly great and knowledgeable man) why he thought most anglers can’t seem to stay consistent in tournaments, to which he replied, “They always leave the fish!”
To put another way, if you are in an area where there are fish, WHY LEAVE? Give a spot time. The biggest part of pre-fishing is locating fish right? So don’t just give a spot a few minutes then leave. I’ve sat on certain spots for a couple of hours without a bite, then all of a sudden they turn on and I’ve caught limits. I just had to wait them out.
When making your game plan, select an area where you won’t have to run miles and miles to secondary spots. Try to keep at least three or four alternate spots within a few minutes of each other.
As I mentioned before, being a Pro Bass Instructor, I’ve had several students in the past who attended my 3-day Bass Fishing School that just wanted to learn how to “Pre-Fish” a tournament. By teaching them a better understanding of bass behavior and showing them such things as how to put game plans together, different techniques and patterns, color selection, what proper equipment to use, and how to locate bass, these former students are now consistent money winners.
I hope that this article will help you in all your future tournaments and make you a more consistent angler. If you have any questions on any of the material I’ve covered, please don’t hesitate to contact me at the information below. Until next time!
Take Care & God Bless!
“The Bass Coach” Roger Lee Brown