Tag Archives: fishing

4 Tips on Pre-Spawn bass fishing

 

The pre-spawn chaos can be overwhelming, the search for big bass and that lifetime trophy are in full swing, and fishing pressure will just get heavier as each day passes and the water temperatures warm. The pre-spawn patterns make some fishing days great, while rapid changes in weather due to frontal systems and high pressure can leave anglers wondering where all of these aggressive fish went in such a short amount of time. Here are my four tips of targeting pre-spawn patterns and catching your fish of a lifetime.

Tip #1- The Wacky Rig

The wacky rig was for a long time in my life something I knew about, but I had never really had too much luck with it. This all changed about two years ago on a hot summer day, when I hooked up a wacky rigged Yum Dinger and began skipping and flipping it under docks and overhangs with incredible results. Since then, I have become what some of my friends call Mr. Wacky, I really focus on this presentation because there’s not a lot of people who consistently work and target fish with it at various depths. What I mean by this is everybody throws a weightless wacky in the summer, but I throw them on weighted jig heads in Pre-Spawn, various weighted hooks in summer, and once again in fall and winter. Whether I am targeting fish in the shallows, or fish in 15-20 feet of water, the suspending presentation of this lure is hard to beat.

Tip #2- Always have a one – two punch combination

My one two punch consists of a Zoom Super Fluke, and a Yum Dinger, both in watermelon red. I will work one bait presentation for a set amount of time, and then double back over the same area with the follow up bait. Which one goes first and which one goes second is never a set thing, but what is certain is the follow up bait produces bigger and more fish over the same worked area every single time. To the point that on Kentucky lake I have worked behind 3-4 bass boats on the same shoreline and consistently pulled off  2 – 3lb bass right behind where 3 other boats just worked. Having a one – two punch combination is crucial to consistently producing good bag limits in limited amount of time during tournaments.

Tip #3- Understand where the fish are holding-

We all see big bass cruising the flats this time of year and want to target those big flat areas in hopes of enticing a monster. But when you really look at productive approaches, and where the majority of fish stage this time of year, you will realize that targeting the flats is highly ineffective unless you are specifically targeting beds. I have noticed that I consistently produce bigger bag limits when I switch from the flat areas, to directly targeting the drop offs and sloping banks adjacent to these flats. The word drop off doesn’t always mean a large drop in depth to me, I consider a 2 foot flat that drops down to a 5 foot area a drop off,  and that is what I really focus on this time of year. I look for a 1-2 foot water depth up against the bank that has 5-10 foot water within 10-20 feet of the bank. This terrace-like feature is a money maker during Pre-Spawn through Post-Spawn patterns when worked with plastics and top waters as the water warms up. Just remember the fish are very active during this phase and while they will be cruising and searching for an area to spawn they are also creatures of habit and will remain in the same general depth/feature patterns throughout this spring.

Tip number 4- Be persistent and methodical

The bass moving up to spawn follow very specific and predictable patterns, frontal systems and rapid weather changes will alter the fish’s behaviors and predatory behaviors in terms of aggressiveness and what they will strike at and why. But unless that water temperature rapidly drops more than 5 degrees and stays that way for over 7 days, the bass will not retreat back to the primary points and deeper water unless they absolutely have to. Fish are efficiency minded creatures and will not expend energy or perform big changes in location if they don’t have to.  If you are catching fish in a cove ,or on a primary point before a weather change, target that same area after the weather change but change up your presentation and move just a tad bit deeper. If the fish were holding in 2-4 feet of water move to 6-10 foot marks and target that area of the drop off or cove. Changing up from crank baits and bladed baits such as spinner baits or chatter baits, to a more subtle approach like a Carolina-rigged worm, or finesse bait like a fluke or stick worm can be absolutely game changing in terms of fish production.  This might sound “corny”, but always think, if I were a fish how far would I go to use the least amount of energy and still be better situated for the changing weather.

At the end of the day different water bodies produce different patterns and bait presentations during this time of year, but understanding how the fish think and how you can make change-ups to better approach these fish can have huge pay offs during the springtime. Stay safe, always wear a PFD, and don’t forget to fill out a US Coast Guard float plan to leave with a friend or family member in case you are late,  so authorities know where to start searching for you. This single sheet of paper could save your life.

Mid-summer Topwater Bass Fishing

When you think about top water bass fishing, most of us think about the aggressive fast moving baits with explosive strikes that make every other type of fishing feel less exciting. But I was doing something wrong for a long time without even realizing it, most of us are guilty of neglecting the slow side of top water fishing. The river’s I fish get a lot of surface debris called duck weed. It makes almost every top water lure ineffective expect for weedless frogs. I was experimenting with some spook style lures and decided to try my single hook spooks in the duck weed. To my amazement it has been the most productive approach and style of fishing I have ever found.

 

Did you say fish a top water lure slow?

Yes, I have been trying every retrieve I can think of and the most productive involves me giving 4-6 walking motions and then a 5-10 second pause in between the bursts of motion. 90% of my strikes have been coming on the pauses and the biggest fish caught in the last 2 months was when my dad was adjusting something in his kayak, his zara spook had been motionless for 30 seconds before the 6lb bass decided to strike it.

Why does a slow method produce better than a fast retrieve?

This time of year when the water gets hot and holds less oxygen the fish get somewhat lazy, a fish would much rather attack a slow moving dying fish than a fast moving energetic fish that would take much more energy to eat. The long pauses in the retrieves simulate a wounded fish getting exhausted and having to rest in between swimming bursts.

Where do I target my fish with top waters?

80% of the fish I am catching right now are within 5 feet or less of the shoreline or structure I am targeting, however the larger fish I have been catching have been in more open water in the ledges 15-20 feet from the bank. The larger fish will stage on the ledges because once again they are all about conserving energy this time of year and it gives them quick access to shallow feeding flats, and the cooler deeper water.

What lures have been the most productive this month?

Top water walk-the-dog baits have been my number one lure right now. I am actually only fishing for about 2 hours a trip either at first light or leading up to dusk.

Shallow running crankbaits such as the shallow rap, and 1.0 square bills have been productive but not as much as the top water bite.

Fineness plastics such as drop shot worms and Carolina rigged trick worms will be the big transition after the top water bite, look for structure and primary points and ledges near the flats to target the big fish.

As always i hope this posts helps you guys catch a few more fish and remember to always be safe, wear a lifejacket at all times and fill out a US Coast Guard float plan with a friend or family member. a link on the menu bar of this site gives you access to a blank form .

 

 

Hot to target the big Pre-Spawning Females

A common theme when fishing pre spawning bass is going out, catching 20 bass, but having them all range from 12-15 inches. The majority of these bass are the males who venture into the shallows ahead of the females. This year where I live the temperatures have been changing so drastically i feel like the males have been going back and forth from drop offs to the shallows for 2 weeks now.  But the near future forecast should have the bass completely on the beds within the week or two.

Targeting the bigger females should consist of the first and second drop offs just behind the spawning areas. Primary and secondary points will still be good targets as well but in this river the first drop off is where the majority of the larger females are hanging around.

The lures i throw in the river I fish , for the larger  bass, are baitfish colored crank baits, spinner baits, and occasionally a chatter bait depending on the water clarity/ structure I am fishing. For lakes a carolina rig magnum worm or lizard can be deadly this time of year. especially when the bass are actively spawning and defending their beds from intruders.

Now remember once the bass get on the beds your tactics should change from targeting feeding bass to triggering aggression strikes form the defensive minded bass. Hope these quick tips help you out over the next two weeks fishing for pre spawning bass. Here is a video from this weekends action using the techniques listed above.

 

Pre-spawn fishing report 4-2-16

The KayakTournaments.com April tournament for North Carolina kicked off this weekend and I had the opportunity to fish about 6 hours over the first two days. A cold front was moving through the area both days and you will see the weather in my videos go from cloudy on Friday afternoon, to Raining on Saturday morning to clear skies Saturday evening. The fishing was slow on Friday with 5 bass total averaging around 12 inches, Saturday really picked up with the weather moving in. I landed 15-20 bass averaging 13-14 inches and lost one bass that was probably 16 inches. Water temperature was averaging 66 degrees but will drop slightly over this week.

The bass were chasing bait fish on the surface but they still aren’t quite aggressive enough to hit a fast moving topwater bait. The odd thing was they would hit my swimbaits that I was reeling in as close to the surface as I could, but wouldn’t touch an actual topwater lure.

The bass are starting to make their beds here in NC but all of the ones I have caught shallow are under 14 inches, meaning the large females are still holding on the ledges and points waiting for some warmer temperatures. I think another  week of 60-70 degree air temps will bring the females up to their spawning areas and really kick this spawning season off with a bang.

While I won’t give all my secrets away for what I am throwing color wise I will tell you flukes have been producing very well as shallow as I can throw them. I have hooked two quality fish on ledges and drop offs but lost both of them due to a faulty reel drag. The key to catching bass right now is to focus on the color selection (match the water color when possible) and also remember that bigger lures don’t always mean bigger fish, here in the last week the Jr. flukes have been destroying the super flukes in terms of hook ups and landed fish. I did catch one fish on a small Rapala original jerk-bait but like I have said the soft plastics up shallow have been the winning ticket.

All in all the first two days of this month’s tournament landed a 5 fish total of 67 inches. Five fish are on the board but I really need to increase the length to an average of 18 inches to have a good shot at a top 3 finish. Below is a video of the action this week and don’t forget to come back next Sunday for Next week’s fishing report.

Braid to Mono Leaders

Braided line has revolutionized fishing in the last 15 years, Now you can have a 20-30 lb line on your reel, with a 8-10lb mono equivalent diameter and twice the yardage of line on your reel. But braided line can’t do everything, It is stronger and more durable, but it also stands out dramatically in stained and clear water. One way to get rid of this problem is by tying a mono leader to the end of your line. The mono leader not only gets rid of line visibility near your lures, it provides a shock leader and some level of stretch for the larger fish you catch.

One trick I do is that when I tie a leader a tie a 4-5 foot section of leader, this eliminates the need for me to re-tie leaders after I switch lure and cut into it as often on the water, and provides a larger section of line not as visible to the fish. This saves time in my kayak and therefore gives me more time to target the fish.

Here are the two easiest and in my opinion best  knots that you can tie to go form a braided line to a mono leader.

#1 Double Uni Knot- By far the easiest and best Braid to Mono Knot

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Courtesy of The onlineisherman.com

 

#2 The Blood Knot- A more difficult knot to tie but a stronger knot than the double uni.

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Courtesy of FlyFisherman.com

No fish is worth your marraige

When it comes to fishing, most of us thought that no woman could ever impact our love for fishing or our abilities to fish when we wanted. Songs like Brad Paisley’s “I’m gonna miss her” can pretty much sum up how we feel about giving up fishing trips. But if there is one thing I have learned in my marriage is that it might not seem like a big deal to you, she is upset that your going fishing instead of spending time with her, even if it’s just a little and it barely shows on the outside. Over time it adds up and eventually turns into a big problem.

My problem was when my wife was pregnant I felt like I had to fish as much as I could anytime the weather allowed, because I felt like once my daughter arrived that was all she wrote for me and my fishing habits. I knew she was frustrated that I was fishing so much but it didn’t seem like it was really bothering her so I kept on fishing.

Once my daughter arrived I realized it wasn’t the end of my fishing life and I could easily go out once a week without getting on her nerves but now my finances had changed and things were quite different, resulting in no money in the budget for lures, bait or gas money to go fishing. Instead of realizing this, I continued to push the issue so I could fish like I wanted. Unfortunately, this habit put strain on my marriage and finances. What took me a while to realize is I was trying to change my financial habits and priorities when it came to spending time with my family, all while changing as little as possible. If that sounds stupid, it’s because it is!

I ended up realizing my problem before it seriously affected my marriage, I took a 6 month break from fishing, sold my fishing kayak and focused on getting our finances in order and building a strong foundation in my marriage. What is amazing, is after those 6 months, my wife came to me and asked if I wanted to buy a kayak and start fishing again. Because I had gone out of my way to change and show her I was serious about our marriage, she went out of her way to make sure I still get to enjoy my hobby and love for the outdoors while fishing.

In the end, I have a strong marriage, because I finally realized that fishing was my hobby, not my life. My life was my marriage and my family. Fishing was something I got to do on the side when there was time and everything at home was in a good place. No fish was or ever will be worth my marriage.

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Light Tackle Bass Fishing

Aside from throwing massive swim baits at west coast largemouth bass, people often overlook the aspect of light and ultralight tackle for bass fishing. I have noticed while fishing creeks and rivers that when the bass get lethargic and I target yellow perch, crappie, and chain pickerel, I usually end up catching good size bass. When I target these smaller fish I am using my Abu Garcia ultralight spinning setup and throwing small crank baits, plastics and sometimes the rare ultralight top waters.

These lures are tiny compared to the magnum trick worms and plastics that get thrown at bass on a daily basis, so why are they more aggressive towards the smaller lures? Well the answer to that sentence is within the question itself. Most of the bodies of water today are heavily fished and these bass have seen every color of worm, lizard,and fluke thrown at them. While ultralight and light tackle are used in these waters, they are not thrown nearly as often as the larger tackle, meaning there is a slight chance the fish haven’t been overfished using the lures you are throwing at them. I’m not trying to sell you on throwing light tackle at bass with this article alone, I will be filming multiple episodes for my YouTube channel dedicated to nothing but ultralight and light tackle fishing for big bass. follow us on Facebook, WordPress, or YouTube to view these episodes as they come out starting in March of this year.

While I have your attention I will show you the Light Tackle Box I carry on my kayak on every trip, you never know when the fish will have to be finessed of structure or cover with small lures.

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I hope you enjoyed this short read and I really look forward to showing you guys what light tackle setups can produce for you in the world of bass fishing. As always thanks for swinging by and don’t forget to check out KayakTournaments.com and TourneyX.com for online based CPR tournaments in your state.