Lake Taneycomo Fishing Report – December, 2014

Winter fishing can be fantastic on Lake Taneycomo!    

Some brown trout are still spawning.  There are a few browns staged below #3 outlet, up below the dam, and a few left in the area between outlets #1 and #2.     

When there is no current or wind, the clarity of the water becomes a big issue.  Try a smaller lure or fly, and the lightest line you can get.  If possible, attempt to get your bait offering deep enough to become invisible to you.  If you can’t see the trout, they can’t see you, and your catch rate will increase.

Changing water conditions offer new opportunities.  Lake levels are back down.   When no generators are running, wading up by the dam is possible.  Even with one generator going, some wading may be possible. 

If two generators are running, bank fishing is a better choice, if a boat is not available.  Where you find deeper areas near the bank, fish close in to the bank first, although bank fishers should stay back from the edge of the bank.  Trout are sensitive to vibrations, such as those made when walking along the bank shore line.  Stay back at least three feet.

Currents resulting from generation, or rain runoff, cause trout to look for areas with an eddy, and many of those are near bank structure.  Trout feed all day long while residing in these sheltered eddies, and are often accessible to the bank or dock fishing angler.  Power bait, earth worms, spoons, spinners, and flies all work on these fish, so fishing on Taneycomo is good!

Trout become a little less finicky when current brings them a quick meal.  These fish have less time to examine passing food.  A presentation of two flies, under an indicator, works well.  The first fly could be an egg imitation, a worm, nymph, scud, or midge, followed by another fly about 3 ft. behind.  This same rig will work for the spin fisherperson.  The fish concentrate on the first offering, and if that is refused, the second bait is on them quickly, and little time is left to evaluate it.  Fish having to make this quick choice, often choose to bite. 


Anglers who offer bait presented below a bobber, drifted from upstream to downstream, find success at times.  When the bobber rig does not work, try a 1/16 to1/4oz sinker rig, and allow it to rest on the bottom, with a bait above. 


Anglers choosing to throw a jig, need to adjust for the amount of current at the time.  During a time of no current, a 1/16oz jig is fine, but as generation increases, jig weight can vary all the way to ¼ oz.  Excluding a mini jig, most jigs attract more fish when they are fished on or very near the bottom.  Keep increasing your jig weight, until you are in contact with the bottom, and more fish will see the bait, and your bites per day will increase.  Remember, trout have eyes that see best ahead, up, and to the side.  Trout normally do not see food items that are presented to them at a lower vertical point in the stream than their holding water.  So, if you present something to them on the bottom, when they are holding on the bottom, they see it, and may feed on it.  If the trout holding lie is in the surface film, a mini jig or other bait presented 6” or less, under an indicator or bobber, will be seen, and may be taken.


Fly fishers can streamer fish with great success, during mild generation.  Olive wooly buggers, slow stripped in the current, will take trout, as will many other streamer patterns.  Flies such as soft hackles and crackle backs can be fished as small streamers, and will often take trout any time of the day.  Remember, small and slow.  Go smaller with your baits, and move them slowly.  Give the trout time to decide to take them.


Spoons and spinners will take fish when there is generation.  Vary the weight of the lure, to match the amount of force of the current.  Greater generation requires more lure weight.  Anglers wanting the best all-around lure weight will find 1/6 oz. spoons and spinners a good bet.  Thomas Bouyant and Little Cleo spoons are working well, and best power bait colors have been white, pink, red, orange and Gulp eggs.  Fish two colors of eggs on the same hook for more bites.  Don’t forget real earth worms, and add air to them, if possible, to make them float.  A real earthworm, when combined with a Gulp egg, will take a surprising number of trout.  Minnows will work well, also.

                          Winter is here, and big trout are around! 


                                  Good luck, and good fishing!  



Lake Taneycomo Fishing Report – November 2014

Early in November, when leaves clog the lake surface, when wind blows almost daily, trout begin to hang out under the lake’s leaf canopy.   It is possible to get a jig through the leaves, either below a float, or fished off the bottom.  Hungry trout will often hit, as the wind blows and causes a lifelike twitch to the jig.  Taneycomo trout fishing is great, in November!

Fall is the time when most brown trout spawn.  There will be many browns staged below #3 outlet, below the dam, and more in the area between outlets #1 and #2.   Remember to revive any brown caught during the next couple of months, since these fish are often weakened by the spawn, and any help you give them, helps them recover, after being caught.  

When there is no current or wind, the clarity of the water becomes a big issue.  Try a smaller lure or fly, and the lightest line you can get.  If possible, attempt to get your bait offering deep enough to become invisible to you.  If you can’t see the trout, they can’t see you, and your catch rate will increase.

Currents resulting from generation, or rain runoff, cause trout to look for areas with an eddy, and many of those are near bank structure.  Trout feed all day long, while residing in these sheltered eddies, and are often accessible to the bank or dock fishing angler.  Power bait, earth worms, spoons, spinners, lures and flies all work on these fish.  Trout become a little less finicky when current brings them a quick meal.  These fish have less time to examine passing food. 

Anglers who offer bait presented below a bobber, drifted from upstream to downstream, can employ a 1/16 to3/8oz bait and sinker rig, and allow it to rest on the bottom, with the bait above, or below. 


Anglers choosing to throw a jig, need to adjust for the amount of current at the time.  During a time of no current, a 1/16oz jig is fine, but as generation increases, jig weight can vary all the way to ¼ oz.  Excluding a mini jig, most jigs attract more fish when they are fished on or very near the bottom.  Keep increasing your jig weight, until you are in contact with the bottom, and more fish will see the bait, and your bites per day will increase. 


Fly fishers can streamer fish with great success, during mild generation.  Olive wooly buggers, craw or sculpin patterns, slow stripped in the current, will take trout, as will many other streamer patterns.  Flies such as soft hackles and crackle backs, can be fished as small streamers, and will often take trout any time of the day.


Spoons and spinners will take fish when there is generation.  Vary the weight of the lure, to match the amount of force of the current.  Greater generation requires more lure weight.  Anglers wanting the best all-around lure weight will find 1/6 oz. spoons and spinners a good bet.


Thomas Bouyant and Little Cleo spoons are working well, and best power bait colors have been white, pink, red, orange and green Gulp eggs.  Fish two colors of eggs on the same hook for more bites.  Don’t forget real earth worms, and add air to them, if possible, to make them float.  A real earthworm, when combined with a Gulp egg, will take a surprising number of trout.  Minnows will work well, also.


Trout go for nymphs and wet flies, as fall temperatures drop.  The angle of the sun, and the length of the days, help get the water temperatures down.  Try sizes #12-#16 for the point fly, if you use a two fly rig, and add a small midge, size #18 or #20 below that big point fly.


Remember, the current can change at a moment’s notice.  Take care to watch water levels. Fall is here, and it is the perfect time to catch big trout!  It is also just nice to be outside, during this time of the year!


                        Good luck, and good fishing!  




Tricks of the Trade

                              Most anglers spend a great deal of money on artificial lures and use them right out of the box never spending any time adjusting or improving on the original manufacturer’s design.  While many of the lures used ‘as is’ work well, making a small change can make a big difference in the way the lure performs and may lead to catching more fish.


Bass Pro Shops® XPS® Replacement Treble Hook Kits                                                                       The first thing I recommend doing, shortly after purchasing a new lure, is changing the treble hooks provided by the manufacturer.  I usually switch mine out with the Owner brand.  They are strong and maintain their sharpness and are available in virtually any size.  Speaking of size… It’s a good idea to match the original treble hook, but in some cases a slightly larger or smaller size may turn out to be beneficial and improve the action of the lure.  I recently started putting a one-size-larger hook on the rear of my Heddon Zara Spooks.  The change causes the rear of this topwater lure to hang a little lower in the water when paused during retrieval.  This greatly improves my hook ups with redfish.  Reds mouths are designed to probe the bottom for food so they have a difficult time turning up for a surface lure.  The slightly extra weight at the end of the lure solved this problem and there’s nothing quite like the strike of a big redfish on a surface plug.


Johnson Lures Original Silver Minnow Spoons                                                                                     Just about everyone that fishes in southwest Florida has at one time or another used a spoon.  My favorite is the old classic Johnson Silver Minnow.  I like and use the silver color but gold seems to work best in our local backcountry waters.  There’s no question that they’ll catch fish right out of the box, but a small inexpensive addition can dramatically increase strikes.  Pick up a package of curly tail plastic grubs. Mister Twister Original Twister Tail Grub in white is my go-to but don’t hesitate to try other colors and brands.  You never know what might work.  Remove half of the grub body and thread it onto the hook of the spoon until the grub is right up against the base of the spoon.  This add-on allows you to retrieve the lure a little slower and still get the same wiggle action.  It also helps bulk up the appearance of the lure and make it look bigger.  I tend to trust the old saying, “Big bait, big fish.”


WhiteLast but certainly not least we come to buck tail jigs.  That’s right, the good old basic jig head and deer hair combinations like the ones made by Offshore Angler or Hank Brown.  The first makeover is fairly simple.  Purchase a black permanent marker and start experimenting with vertical stripes on your white buck tail jigs.  The idea here is to make them look more like a small pinfish.  The second makeover is going to require a few accessories, but it’s well worth it.  First you’ll need a fly-tying vise to hold the plain jig head and then some buck tail deer hair, crystal flash, hackle feathers and fly tying thread.  All of the above can be found in the fly-fishing section at your local Bass Pro Shops.  Put the jig in the vise and start adding fur and feathers and invent a truly unique lure of your own.  Think out of the box and be creative.  Remember, that’s how most of the lures we use today were invented in the first place! 


- Capt. Rob Modys


Trash Fish or Day Savers?

BluefishFlorida residents are quite lucky when it comes to fish to chase and the destinations to visit in this pursuit.  We’ve got so many different species of fish that sometimes we forget that even the lowliest of them can be worthy of our efforts.  In fact, they can prove to be the best game in town when nothing else wants to come out and play.   Tarpon, snook, bonefish, permit, redfish, and seatrout may be what people think of when they contemplate fly fishing around the coast but it’s players like ladyfish, bluefish, mackerel, jacks, and catfish that account for more bent rods than we all want to admit.

The fall bait run is a giant fish magnet that draws anglers and fish with equal power and with the exception of some tarpon and snook, people are chasing after some of the others on the list.  Their numbers are mystifying and they have appetites and attitudes well beyond their diminished status among anglers.  They may not be a premier species but they’re plentiful and widespread at this time of year.

The best thing about chasing these lesser desired fish is that you don’t have to be fancy with your equipment to have a great deal of success.  A moderately sized rod and a pocket full of Clouser Minnows will be the ticket for a day full of fun and excitement when you hit the tide and location perfectly.  Hundred fish days are quite possible when things come together.  Oh yeah, don’t forget to carry plenty of spare leaders and tippet material since many of these guy have teeth that’ll wear through lightweight mono pronto.Ladyfish

Trash fish, by-catch, whatever you want to call them, they’re well worth taking time to catch while you can, and stock up the memories before the winter hits and things slow down.  These species are tailor made for kids and the uninitiated who just want to catch a lot of fish in a short period of time.  Just be sure to keep everyone’s fingers safe and sound when handling these wonderful but toothy and slimy critters.

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando


Lake Taneycomo Fishing Report – October 2014

Trout fishing on Lake Taneycomo has been great!  As the angle of the sun and the length of the days change, trout begin to eat more, as they add weight to make it through the winter.  October is a great time to catch a very large trout, maybe even THE trout, …you know…the one you absolutely must have a picture of…the one that you will remember, and never forget…!  Night fishing for the big fish of the fall is great in October!  Brave anglers, who venture forth into the dark, can use heavy leader, and cast to huge, hungry, fish!  Large rainbows often lie downstream from brown trout spawning beds, waiting for drifting eggs to come to them. Every cast could result in a monster trout!   

Even a moderate wind, especially when combined with a canopy of fallen leaves, can free trout to feed on or very near water surface, without worry about predator attack (usually birds).  Autumn usually offers an abundance of both wind and fallen leaves.  Thus, October can be a great month to catch trout at the top of the water column!  

Currents resulting from generation, or rain runoff, cause trout to look for areas with an eddy, and many of those are near bank structure.  Trout feed all day long while residing in these sheltered eddies, and are often accessible to the bank or dock fishing angler.  Power bait, earth worms, spoons, spinners, and flies all work on these fish.

Anglers who offer bait presented below a bobber, often can fish in harmony with the leaf coating in the fall.  When the leaves interfere with the bobber’s float, the resulting movement of the bait below can trigger a strike! 

It is possible that rise forms are not surface feeding trout.  Instead, these rise forms may be caused by tail movement, from fish feeding just under the surface, in the film (up to a foot under the surface).  If the trout holding lie is in the surface film, a mini jig or other bait, presented 6” or less, under an indicator or bobber, can be seen, and may be taken.

Fall fly fishers can streamer fish with great success, during mild generation.  Olive wooly buggers, slow stripped in the current, will take trout, as will many other streamer patterns.  Flies such as soft hackles and crackle backs can be fished as small streamers, and will often take trout any time of the day.

Spoons and spinners will take fish when there is generation.  Vary the weight of the lure, to match the amount of force of the current.  Greater generation requires more lure weight.  Anglers wanting the best all-around lure weight will find 1/6 oz. spoons and spinners a good bet.  Thomas Bouyant and Little Cleo spoons are working well, and best power bait colors have been white, pink, red, orange and yellow Gulp eggs.  Fish two colors of eggs on the same hook for more bites.  Don’t forget real earth worms, and add air to them, if possible, to make them float.  A real earthworm, when combined with a Gulp egg, will take a surprising number of trout.  Minnows will work well, also.

Trout go for big nymphs as fall temperatures drop.  The angle of the sun, and the length of the days, help get the water temperatures down.  Try sizes #6-#12, especially the point fly, if you use a two fly rig, and add a small midge, size #18 or #20 below that big point fly.  Remember, the current can change at a moment’s notice.  Take care to watch water levels. Fall is here, and it is the perfect time to catch big trout!  It is also just nice to be outside, during this time of the year!

                                    Good luck, and good fishing!  




Fall Walleye Fishing

Fishing for small fish like crappie and sunfish might be fun for the kids but sometimes having a little adult fishing is just what is needed. This is where fishing for walleye comes into play. These fish grow large in the temperate waterways and lakes here locally, and are great fish to fight on a line. But the best thing about walleye is definitely their meat. This firm, white and mild tasting meat is perfect for everything from a fillet to a grilled medallion. Here are some tips and tricks for catching the walleye of the year.

The first thing many people who fish for walleye will notice is their mouth full of teeth, this is due to their place as one of the apex predators in the waters. On the other hand there is another feature of the walleye that fishermen need to look at in order to get a sense of how they hunt. This is the eyes, walleye have big and often times oversized looking eyes. Given this fact walleye are very susceptible to changes in light, particularly increases in light. So when fishing for walleye it is good to time the day around what fish you are looking for. If you are spending the entire day on the water fishing, try out walleye fishing in the early morning, in the evenings, on cloudy days, or days when wind puts chop in the water. During other times of day, or when the conditions are not right it is probably safe to try catching other fish in the area. When the light is right or the conditions are right for walleye fishing it is often a good idea to use a Strike King® Pro-Model® Walleye Crankbait, throwing this bait across an area with a lot of bait fish and cranking it steadily will give the action that the walleye can’t resist giving a rapid strike.

Strike King

Another solution to getting the walleye to bite is to simply go trolling with a specific rig set up for walleye. This is usually a crankbait or a bottom bouncer with a live night crawler or minnow strung through the hooks. A good crankbait for this is the Bass Pro Shops® XPS® Nitro Shad Dancer Crankbait, this lure has the shine of a shad while also having the action of an injured shad. This along with a wiggling minnow or night crawler in the hooks will be irresistible to the walleye in the direct area.

Nitro Shad

If trolling is not the best thing for a fisherman then using the wind to propel the boat through the water is another idea for the new walleye fisherman. While the wind is pushing the boat drop a jig along the bottom for the walleye to get a shot at. One of the jigs of choice would be the ERC Jig-A-Beast Swim Jig, accept remove the minnow attachment on the bottom and replace it by running the hook through a Bass Pro Shops Double-Dipped Tube. This combination is great for getting the action the walleye are looking for in the choppy water during the day.


Being out on the lake during the fall is always a great experience no matter what the occasion is. Making this experience more fun by adding a fun fishing trip with big fish and a catch that might just bite you back is always a plus. Not to mention that once the walleye are caught they make one of the best meals where fish are concerned. We hope these tips and tricks have been helpful in catching these great fish! MMake sure to check out anothe blog post, "How Weather Patterns Affect Fishing here: As always happy hunting and good luck! 


Offshore Fishing Report, Islamorada, Florida

Hey everyone, and welcome back to this week’s report!  It appears that the fishing is picking back up, as the Swordfish have been biting and the Mahi are starting to increase in numbers.   With the majority of the fleet fishing for Mahi today, it appeared that everyone did well and caught some really nice fish.  These fish are getting bigger as they migrate southward, and sure put on a show for our anglers, not to mention the great table fare that they bring.  Look for the Mahi fishing to continue to be good through the weekend.  The Swordfishing has picked up, but of course this is with help from the moon.  I would say that it should be decent through the weekend, but you can bet it will taper off as the moon weakens.  The deep dropping continues to be good as well as the humps.  The Tunas (larger ones) have been a bit frustrating in the inability to show themselves with consistency, but rest assured they are in the area.  There are some nicer ones on the Marathon Hump, but the sharks are so bad you can hardly get one past.  Hoping that these guys will show up on the 409 and Islamorada Humps soon, so we can get a good bite going no so far from Islamorada.  These 2 humps are holding fish, but they are smaller tunas.  There are still some Jacks and plenty of sharks around these humps as well. 

On the wrecks, the Muttons are still biting, and should continue for a while.  The night time bite has been best from the reports I have been getting, especially to the south.  Some nice Kings, Jacks, and a handful of Groupers have been keeping these areas honest too.  There have also been a few nice African Pompanos lurking these wrecks as well.  They have been pretty aggressive on the Cigar Minnows and Pilchards, so don’t be surprised if one takes your bait!

The reef has been plentiful as of late, with some decent Yellowtail Snappers and of course a ton of Mangrove Snappers.  The Mangroves are in full spawn right now, and are very hungry and willing to take your bait.  Current is the ingredient, and to get your chum behind the boat is what you are looking for.  Get a good slick going and it won’t be long before you see these guys behind the boat!  If you would like to get out on the water stop by World Wide Sportsman Bayside Marina and book your trip. Fishing report provided by Captain James Chappell 305-803-1321 out of World Wide Sportsman Bayside Marina, Islamorada, Florida. I hope everyone has a great weekend, and remember to boat responsibly.


Fishy Facts: Catfish

That’s right! Fishy Facts is back. Don’t act like you haven’t missed your monthly posting of more-than-you-ever-needed-to-know-about-a-specific-fish-for-any-reason-besides-being-on-Jeopardy blog! And we’re bringing it back from the dark murkiness of forgotten blogs with a fellow bottom dweller to be this month’s star! The Catfish!

Ah yes, Mr. Whiskers. That hard hitting, semi-unattractive, tastes great fried or blackened, bottom dwelling fish. You ever seen an episode of River Monsters? More than likely it was about some kind of catfish, and for good reason! There are a multitude of different species of catfish found all over the world. Including the largest species (the Mekong giant catfish found in Asia) and the second largest (the Wels catfish found in Eurasia).

These fish literally grow big enough to swallow a human! And there are plenty of stories here in the good ol’ U.S. about swimmers going missing and divers refusing to go into certain lakes after getting a look at the catfish down there!

But for the most part the catfish is like most other fish. It swims and it eats and it makes baby catfish. They get their name for the characteristic whiskers on their face. Urban legend tells you that those whiskers can actually ZAP you, if you touch them! The thing you really need to watch out for are the sharp and hard spines found behind their fins. (Last year at our Fall Fishing Classic a few people learned that the hard way… or should I say the pokey way!)

These fish are notorious for being bottom feeders and are sometimes called the vacuums of the lake. Contrary to this concept of them being slow moving fish just eating away, catfish are well adapted predators. Catfish will strike at prey much more ferociously than one would expect. In fact a new style of fishing for them is to use spoons! I wouldn’t have believed it either until a buddy of mine caught one on a stock pond and then read an article about it three months later.

There are several catfish species found in North America. That includes channel, flathead and blue catfish. Most Bass Pro Shops have examples of them in the large aquariums. Our big ol’ girl is known affectionately as Big Blue!

Typically fishermen go after these kinds of fish during low light times as they seem to be more active. Almost anything can be used as bait for them (worms, cheese, minnows, bread, chicken livers, etc) and most people seem to go with “the smellier, the better” theory.  These fish can be found in almost any kind of water and are not just limited to lakes. Another way people go after these fish is called noodling. This is where one gets into the water and probes around likely hiding spots for catfish using their hands or feet. Once one has located a fish, use whatever means necessary to get the fish to bite onto ones hand and then lift the fish out of the water. Crazy as it sounds there are national contests for the sport (and TV shows).

Now the whole thing with catfish growing huge in certain is that fish are not bound by gravity as we are. Being in water, fish can grow to enormous sizes because the stress of gravity is not pulling them down or as controlling. So if a catfish were to get stuck in the turbine area of a dam, it could possibly grow as big as possible just by floating and eating whatever it comes its way.

And once last thing about the catfish… and definitely not least… is their taste. These fish are delicious! There are many ways to prepare catfish and most of them are always good. These fish are also able to be raised in farms, making them a sustainable source of seafood. That’s another reason why one may be seeing catfish popping up more and more on the table at home and a menu at a restaurant.

Until next time! Alluring Armadillos! Giddy-Up!!

Former Fishy Facts

Northern Pike

Rainbow Trout

Largemouth Bass

Peacock Bass






Bottom Bouncing for Walleye

 Bottom Bouncing is one of the many ways to fish for Walleye. Bottom bouncers come in different colors and shapes. They can be used anytime during the spring thru fall months.  Using a bottom bouncer is a hands on fishing method, if you set the pole down you may miss the bite it is very sensitive, not only do you have the bottom bouncers weight you will also have a Walleye rig

To use a bottom bouncer you will attach a clip or clip and swivel on the end of your fishing line. In the middle of the bottom bouncer there's an area to attach your clip, you will  attach the Walleye rig to the end that does not have the weight on it.  There are a lot of choices of rigs some float and some don't, it is your choice or preference most like floating so the rig is not dragging off the bottom but floating so the Walleye will come up and HIT it!!  Some of the rigs have two hooks and some have three it will depend on what bait you are going to use as to how many hooks you use,  you can use worms, minnow or leech your choice.

Once you have it all attached and baited drop it over the side of the boat until you feel it hit the bottom.  You will fill it bouncing across the bottom them a tug when a Walleye hits it!!  Good luck and enjoy!!     


How to Catch a Fish

 The first question we always ask ourselves should be, "What kind of fish do I want to catch?" Probably the easiest and most plentiful fish in our area are bream (Pronounced brim), or perch as we call them here in Texas. They like worms, grubs, crickets and small grub-like baits. Whereas, bass, larger catfish and hybrid stripers won't bother with small panfish offerings, they prefer minnows and larger meals like big worms, or stuff that looks like it might get away if they don't gobble it down on the spot. So the first question is answered with what kind of fish do I want to target. "Target" is the functional word because if we don't aim at something we don't stand a very good chance of hitting anything.

 You can search the internet for the kind of fish you choose or even use the web to determine which kind of fish you want to target. There are clubs for almost every kind of fish in the area. Granted there are a lot of bass clubs which concentrate on Largemouth Bass, but there are also clubs for crappie, perch, catfish and even carp fans. 

 Spend a few minutes searching on google and you'll see what I mean... clubs galore. These clubs are always a source of an almost infinite info for either the novice fisher or the seasoned veteran.

  Perhaps you have a friend or family member who already has a favorite fish they like to chase around our Texas waters. By all means go with them, pick their brains and spy (but don't borrow without permission) from their tackle boxes. Watch them closely as they fish, mimic their movements. If they've been catching fish you should start catching some of your own in very short order.

 Here's a  Guide to What Most Fish Eat:

 Bream, sunfish, perch, bluegill, longears, and shellcrackers are all part of the bream group. Most of these panfish are caught on smaller hooks, about size 6 through 10 wire hooks will work well. Offer these fish, redworms, mealworms, bits of nightcrawlers and crickets to start that bobber dancing on the surface of your local pond or lake. Use a small light bobber, a split shot for weight and you might just take home a mess of fish and a fond memory.

  Crappie, also known as  "Papermouths”, "Sac-a Lait", Caloco Bass or Slabs are a finesse kind of fish and that require both a light attitude and touch. Crappie diets consist mostly of minnows that are found in the home waters of the crappie you are after. Lakes generally provide threadfin shad as the main forage food for crappie. In small impoundments where threadfin shad are not found, use a small jig that mimics the colors found in small bream because that is their main source of food for them in tanks or ponds. One-sixteenth of an ounce jig heads with or without spinner blades will usually garner a stringer of these delicious fish.

    For crappie in lakes, choose just about any color you want... as long as it imitates shad in some fashion. Presentation is more the key to success than color in catching lake-bound crappie. Sensitivity and a little bit of backbone are prime in picking the right rod for the job.  Crappie generally do not crash into your bait like a pro football player, they almost whisper a soft "thunk" up the rod to let you know they are there. They also seem to prefer slow moving minnow offerings, so don't buzz your bait past likely spots. Remember finesse, sensitivity and s-l-o-w is perhaps the most important factors with Crappie. 

  Sandbass are very popular all across Texas. Many years ago I was fishing in all the wrong places with all the wrong baits and using all the wrong presentations. I thought if I found some slow moving water and chunked the biggest stinkiest hunk of meat I could find, that I was going to catch catfish. My failure here was just plain respect. Catfish actually prefer clean, water that moves a little except during their spawn season.  Get some stout equipment, line, flat weights and circle hooks.  For bait I prefer fresh dead shad for blue cats and”stink bait" or worm offering for the channel cats. Either will give you a tussle and are great table fare.

  By far the most popular species in our area is the Largemouth Bass. Bass, Bucketmouth, Footballs, Ditch Pickles or whatever you want to call them, these hardy fish prove to be great sport to chase and outsmart.  Bass are ambush feeders. That is they will lay in shadows, behind logs, stumps, or hang out in places where they know food will eventually present itself. Bass generally do not like to spend a lot of time chasing minnows, frogs or lizards around the water. All this effort would expend more energy than the meal they are after would provide. They can't afford to spend 20 calories to take in 10. No they don't have a diet plan like some people, but they do know what is profitable to eat and how to go about getting it.

 Again, you'll need some fairly sturdy equipment to tackle this fish. They may not weigh much, but they put up a heck of a fight. You can choose to go after numbers of bass bites or go after that trophy or any combination of sizes in between. Bass rods generally run from "light" actions all the way up to extra heavy action. Hooks, oh my goodness! Hook selections are critical. Come in and let us fix you up with the right hooks for your plastic worms, craws, lizards or creature baits. Spinner baits are almost always a good bet. Crankbaits also account for a large portion of all the bass caught here in Texas, so be sure to load up on ranks, like the Rat-L-Trap, KVD Squarebills, Rapalas, and a host of other crankbaits that either dive , float, dip, suspend or run erratically.

 As you've seen from this all -too-brief overview there are a lot of factors to consider. Our staff here at Bass Pro Shops of Garland are all anglers. We can help you "target" whichever fish you decide to go after. Come in and let us walk you through our selection. We will ask a lot of questions and put you in touch with the right equipment at the right price to give you the right results on your fishing trip when you really just want to catch something!



Gear Review: Crappie Maxx Crank

I bought these crappie crank-baits primarily as a "catch everything" (largemouths, crappie, white bass) bait for early to mid-spring. In the past, we used the small, straight-backed L&S minnow but that product seems to be no longer manufactured. The good story is the bass and white bass hit the crappie cranks! I was pleased that I could get 6-7' depth when trolling them on ~60' of 8Crappie Maxx Crank# line; that is deeper than the old small L&S minnow. They are good small-fish catchers. This summer, I'll test them for river bass.
Name: Roy Washam
ProductDescription: Bass Pro Shops Crappie Maxx Crank


Fishing in May

This month usually offers more stable weather than the previous months and allows anglers to catch fish using many different approaches. At least a third of the fish have spawned and the subsequent spawns will happen within the next couple weeks. Some fish will be very aggressive as they are feeding or protecting their beds & fry, while others will be nearly impossible to catch because they are recovering from all of the stresses of laying eggs, fishing pressure, etc.


Bass spawn at different times during the spring. By the first week or so in May the early big fish spawns are finishing and the early stages of post spawn fishing are revealed. There will still be a couple waves of spawning but the playing field is changing. There will be fish that are thinking about going back to their summer brush piles and ledges but they haven’t quite made it out of the spawning grounds.  These fish will be roaming around on the flats and will get very hungry whenever they recover from the stress of reproducing.  My three favorite baits to find these fish are lipless crankbaits, jerkbaits, and poppers. Spinnerbaits are also a good choice, especially in areas with sparse vegetation.  Since you are looking for transitional fish you are trying to cover a lot of water between the spawning areas and the summer hangouts. Once you get a couple strikes in an area you can slow down and present jigs, worms, or tubes to some of their nearby friends.


Nothing compares to seeing a 35” inch striper crush a 10” shad on the surface, except for casting your super spook right on top of it..twitch..twitch..WHAM!!! On the right morning or late in the evening you can run into some of the most impressive feeding action available in fresh water. This Month, Big Stripers will begin to transition to main lake areas. They will feed heavily throughout the month on larger baits. If you miss the early morning action you will have to pull out to the deeper flats and channel edges to troll crankbaits, swimbaits and bucktails. If you are equipped with a nice bait well and are proficient at catching bait, you can use free lines, planar boards, and down lines to target Lake Anna Linesiders.


Nice size slabs can be found all over the lake. Bridges, docks, brush piles, beaver huts, and grass are home to thousands of Crappie. Many citations have been taken in the last couple of weeks.... One method is to try casting grubs, tubes, and beetle spins as close to whatever cover you are targeting. Another approach is to use a slip bobber above a #6 gold aberdeen hook tipped with a small minnow.


Charlie Bowles- Fishing Guide


Pro Staff & Products:

Bass Pro Shops

BPS Tournament Series Plastics

Johnny Morris Carbonlite Rods and Reels

Lowrance Electronics

Seaguar Flourocarbon





Tips & Tricks for Bow Fishing from the Pro’s

When shooting larger Carp, always have someone with another bow for a backup shot, or at least a gaff. Most large fish are lost at the boat. Connor Hankinson

Know your bow! Aiming low is a rule of thumb, but for longer shots you will need to compensate for the trajectory of your arrow (how far it drops). This is different for every bow. Jonah Powell - River Bottom Outdoors

When shooting grass carp, aim behind the gills because there is a rock hard plate that covers their head, you have a much better chance of full penetration if you don't shoot this. Tyler Gerber -back country bow fishing

When you go bow fishing, take a friend or someone new to the sport. Your friend can back you up on a second shot if you miss or shoot the second fish. They love to travel together in schools. If you can't get your friend to go, take a person that is curious about the sport. It is a great way to make our sport grow and it is always more fun with others. - Dan Swearingin

You really can't aim low enough, especially if shooting in Deep waters. -- Austin Armstrong, Sand Lake MI

When shooting catfish, the best time is at night in between sunset till about one in the morning. -- Justin Dillon Lexington, SC

If you shoot a fish and it bleeds a lot go back to that spot later and there may be gar or bowfin that were attracted to the scent. - Austin Armstrong, Sand Lake, MI

Make sure you use the right point for the fish you're going after. This was a lesson I learned quickly when I lost a nice size Gar because I was using a Ray point. He spun and released the barbs. - Leo, S. Louisiana

I do a lot of shooting in deep water situations, and I have found that using an arrow point with barbs that fold down very close to the arrow shaft causes the arrow to move straighter in the water for those shots over a foot deep or so. - Brian

When shooting spawning carp, the Females are usually the larger in a small group and the males will chase her, shoot the largest in the group and don’t pull her out of the water. Let it settle down and your partners will shoot the rest of the remaining males because they won’t leave her. --Tyler

Don't bow fish on a very windy day. It’s almost impossible to see fish. - Rod

Do not over fish one spot; it will stay a good spot if you do not over fish it. - Rod

If legal in your area, chum with corn, bread, and dog food as much as possible to keep large amounts of carp in one area. - Rod

At night, walk along irrigation ditches with a spotlight. You'll be surprised at how many fish there are. - Rod

Sometimes a fish can be just a slight discoloration in the water. - Austin, Sand Lake, MI

When fishing freshwater dogfish, just look for their fins. They do the wave. - Austin, Sand Lake, MI

When shooting anything from a boat make sure to use a gaff, easiest way i have found to get fish in the boat. ~ Zach Clausing WI

The best way to fish is at night time. You don't really have to worry about shadows and with a good spotlight you can find the fish more easily than they can find you. - Daniel Ballard

I have found that toward dusk or dawn you get a bad glare on the water and to help with the glare buy a nice pair of polarized sunglasses -- Aaron Black, Onsted MI

When bow fishing Southern Louisiana marshes, bring a big ice chest. --- Matt Weber, N.O., La

When bow fishing for big grass carp or anything big for that matter, DO NOT grab the line when the fish makes the first run. I learned that today....9 stitches going up my finger!!! - Michael

When bow fishing off of a dock or off of the bank, put some corn 3-4 feet out in the water and huge amounts of carp and buffalo will come. -- Chance Tuder

A tip for muddy water carp slayers: When going for buglemouths in mud-bottomed waters, keep a close eye for fins sticking out of the mud, as carp will often bury themselves in it when spooked, only to be revealed with a loud thrashing as you go by them in the boat. -- Andy "Carp Slayer" Waltman, Little Falls, MN

Learn How to make boilies, those carp baits used by carp fisherman. Drop them near a likely carp spot; they're great because most other fish ignore them. They are a carp magnet! - Bill Young

While shooting carp from the bank, move very slowly and look for the top outline of the fish in the water. It helps if you have polarized sunglasses. -Jared McCreary Durant

OK When fishing in deeper water for buffalo and you see the bubbles coming from the bottom where they are feeding. Try waiting for a minute or so before moving on, often he fish will feed for a few minutes and then rise and move over a few feet to a new place to feed. When they rise to move this will offer you a shot on them. Often times the bigger and faster the bubbles rise the bigger the fish will be. -- Mike Tubbs, Mississippi

Put a loaf of bread in a minnow trap and throw it within shooting distance. Tie it in place with a rope so it does not float off. Carp will come up and suck on the minnow trap allowing for an easy shot. (Put a rock in the bottom of the minnow trap so it does not roll around on the bottom) --- Chad

Look in shallow swamps connected to lakes about 5" to 10" of water with fallen trees and cattails I have found carp a month after ice out going to the shallows ---Aaron Black, MI

On hot days when you are not seeing any carp look under logs and brush piles. ----Luke, Minnesota

To get an easy shot on carp, put dog food in a metal minnow bucket (the ones with holes in the sides), and put it in the water. You can either let it drift or tie it to a tree or other cover sticking out of the water. The carp will come up and suck the dog food out of the bucket, allowing for an easy shot. ----Rusty Nace

We will drift from 50 or 60 yards out into the shallows, between two groups of carp while they are rolling. Some of them will get curious and move from one group to the other. Be patient, and watch both sides of the boat. If you miss a shot stay there and wait you will get another shot. I've shot at the same carp three times before connecting. - Jason

Often times when you shoot and miss a carp they will spook, but many times they make a circle and return to the same spot, as if curious as to what caused the commotion. If you do not disturb the shot arrow, your partner will get a shot at the same fish. They are on high alert then, so be ready for a fast shot. — Dick Bassetti

If carp are gathered in a submerged tree and you can't get a clear shot, then throw a few stones several feet away from the tree. Carp are curious and the bigger ones tend to investigate allowing an easier shot! — Timothy Fynn

When bow fishing in creeks or rivers, concentrate your efforts on deadfalls and other obstructions, as carp will consistently gather to feed on what builds up in front of the blockage. — John Alan Caddell

When hunting carp in shallows, keep your shadow off the water. It will spook the fish. — Michael If you put the big fish on a stringer and let them swim alongside the boat, other fish will come and swim next to them, allowing for an easy shot.— Jeff Hogue, Omaha, Ne

When bow fishing for carp, you will usually find them in warm, shallow water around bushes, rocks and any other cover. — Joey

Look for carp in cattails at any time of the year. — Jeff, Stratford, WI

On Lake Michigan, carp will feed on seagull droppings. — Jeff, Stratford, WI

After shooting a large grass carp, don't put pressure on the line. They will sometimes stop after running a short distance, allowing you to get another arrow into it to ensure it doesn't get off. — Jeff, Stratford, WI

When shooting carp in rivers (from the bank) draw your bow before you get to the water allowing you to get a quick shot off before the carp spook off. — Morgan Longshore

After a successful hit on a carp, push the arrow down into the sand (or mud). With one hand on top of the arrow, dip the other hand into the water and grab the bottom of the arrow so your fish won't slide off! This only happened to me as a youngster!-live and learn. — Joe Roe

If you see a decent amount of carp holding in one spot, chances are they feed that area consistently. Even if they don't show themselves the minute you arrive, give it time. Hot spots and patience are the keys to successful bow fishing. — Dominic Coville

When wading for drum in creeks don't be afraid to chase a fish down, They tend to take off fast and slow down just as fast (unlike carp) making it possible to get in close for a shot. — Christian Goodpaster, Southern Indiana Bow fishing

Anytime bow fishing in shallow creeks look for pools; they may be only 3-5 inches deep in some cases, but these "holes" gather fish from shallower water and provide holding areas. — Christian Goodpaster, Southern Indiana Bow fishing

When shooting fish coming directly at you, shoot just below the mouth of the fish and you will hit just behind the head. — Michelle Moskala

When you think you’ve aimed low enough, aim lower and keep one sight pin on your bow for surfacing fish and turtles. .It’s a lot easier. --Wrightson, Christopher

I use a slightly modified quick shot whisker biscuit on my bow fishing rig. I coated the bottom bristles with a spray adhesive to stiffen them up. This allows for quicker shots because I don't have to worry about my arrow falling off. — Cody, Pinckneyville IL

Shoot a bit lower than where you want to hit, since water will make the fish seem higher than it is. — Josh De Guzman

If a fish is quartering towards you, wait for a broadside shot. — Thomas Aim low and let go!!!!!!! — Rick, Stevens Point, WI

When shooting off of large culverts, wait for the fish to get almost inside of the culvert and then shoot, giving you a perfect straight down shot. — Justin Marc Pelzer

Be careful on long shots in lily pads. Your arrow may skip on the lily pads. — Aaron Black

If you lose an arrow in a fish, keep your eyes peeled. My cousin and I lost 3 arrows one day and shot those 3 fish the next day and got our arrows back. — John VanDusen

When bow fishing from shore or boat, don't shoot the first fish you see. Learn the patterns that the fish are swimming if possible before sending that first arrow. Whether you score or miss, you will now know where to look for the next rising fish. Fish are very predictable. Once you find a hotspot, always a hotspot as long as they aren't disturbed. — Dan Swearingin

When fishing for gar, try using a container filled with blood to attract them where legal. -- Susan

When river fishing, look for gator gar in a deep hole by creek inlets.—Jeff, Stratford, WI

When you see a couple of big gar rolling throw four or five dead buffalo or carp around the anchored boat. Be quiet and still. The gar will mosey on up giving you an easy shot. If that does not work (which it will) throw some jug line out with a big chunk of buffalo on it about a foot deep from the jug anchor with a 1oz weight when the gar hooks on follow the gar and take as many shot as you like. Jay -- Palestine, TX

To have a more durable arrow, you can insert a fiberglass arrow into a 2213 aluminum shaft.—Tim, Georgetown, TX

If you lose an arrow in a creek or river bank or brush, come back when the water is low and get your arrow back. If you lose an arrow in the water, don't dive in after it unless it's your last one! It's not worth it, I know from experience. — Tyler Krukar

Keep a marker to throw if your arrow breaks off, it makes them much easier to find. — Kelby Scott

To get rid of the fish smell on your hands, take some toothpaste or a citrus soda like Mountain Dew and clean those smelly hands. It works great.—Tim, Georgetown, TX

When fishing with a trolling motor, set it as low as possible and drift into the school of fish, don't make any sudden movements and wear polarized sunglasses.—Scott

When shooting carp from a boat, make sure you put the plug in the back or it will sink, I speak from experience. —Scott


The Bite Is On!

It's been a long time coming for the Bass and Crappie to start biting.  Now and for the last month, the crappie have moved to the shallow water and are biting very well!  Reports from all of the lakes in our area have been on fire! 

For crappie, various types of artificial baits are working very well. One of the best baits for crappie at this time is the Bobby Garland baits in Baby Shads and the swimming shad in colors like Electric Chicken, Cajun Cricket, and Blue Thunder. Colors will vary from lake to lake because of water clarity.  The Bass Pro Shop Squirmin' Squirts are also a hot item because of the large variety of colors and lengths.  Most of the fishermen prefer line size in the 6 or 8 pound range.  We carry high and low visibility lines, really, this is the fishermans' preference.  Now, don't think you have to be in a boat right now to have a great outing, most of the fishermen in boats are fishing shallow around the bank.  So if you know of a spot that is accessible, the fish are probably there waiting on you!

The Bass bite is very good right now!  The Bass are spawning and are easy to catch.  What I look for are shining round spots on the bottom of the shallow parts of the lake.  I was on the lake yesterday and saw beds in all of the shallow areas we went to! 

We could approach a bed very carefully and the bass were on the beds.  Some had one bass and some had two.  The smaller bass are usually the males and the larger ones are usually the females. They are protecting the beds as the female lay their eggs, and are very protective of any creatures that venture into their nest.  After the females have laid their eggs, she will leave the male to protect the nest until the eggs start to hatch.  The process of spawning is very strenuous on the female and she will move out to deeper water and suspend to rebuild her strength.   As the eggs start to hatch, you can virtually see small bait balls of bass.  After a week or two, these bait balls will disperse and all of the  juvenile bass will go their separate ways.  At this point, the bass will be much harder to catch.  That is unless you can locate where they went after leaving the bedding areas.  Sometimes this can be a very big challenge. 

Some of the best baits to use during this period are lizards, creature type baits, Stick-O's and minnow baits.  Not to say that your favorite baits won't work, because they will.  Remember the bass are very protective during this time.  This is a very exciting time, so remember to take the kids along when you go fishing!  This is how memories are made for them and who were in their memories!? Who knows, that child may catch the biggest fish of their life!  Wouldn't you love to be a part of that?  The main thing, is ALWAYS wear a life preserver and practice safety at all times!


Colorado Walleye Fever

The Bass Pro Shops Spring Fishing Classic ended today. I had the opportunity to meet a ton of great people and was blessed to give a few seminars at both the Denver and Colorado Springs stores. For those of you who braved the weather the first couple weekends I would like to give you a thumbs up and just say "Thank You" for visiting us at both locations.

One of my seminars was titled Jerk Baits "the night bite". I have given this in the past and it is a type of fishing that I lose sleep over and over again and again. With the full moon rising up from the East I thought I need to be out tonight. I was out last night with a few friends and after a long weekend at the Bass Pro Shops my body was telling me to take a break.

I did however manage to get out more than a few time as the Spring classic was going on. I tell folks that if you have never been out during the full moon phases starting in February thru December you could be missing out on a photo fish of a lifetime here in Colorado. I get out as much as I can this time of year and yes, I throw Jerk baits. Bass Pro XPS Nitro Minnows, Smithwick rattlin' rogues both in suspending versions are my lures of choice. I like a clown color and a black gold orange belly color. Firetiger and chartreuse are good to have in your arsenal also.

The key to fishing at night and being successful is to do your homework before the sun goes down and find a rocky point  that will allow you to cast parallel to the shore. The walleye like rocks to spawn on and are very active when the sun goes down. The full moon triggers them to move up. I like to make a long cast and try a slow retrieve mix in a few small twitches or a jerk - jerk pause and just let the bait sit there up to thirty seconds and jerk it down again keeping the same cadence all the way back to shore. When the fish hit it on the pause you feel a tick in the reel when they hit the slow steady retrieve they crush it. Set the hook.

Any body of water that has walleyes and saugeyes in it will produce if you put your time in. The smaller bodies of water heat up earlier and produce first then the bigger deeper reservoirs follow. You can always catch walleyes at night but early spring and late fall can produce giants.

Last week when I was giving my seminar on the night bite I told the folks I had been out catching walleyes already but I haven't landed anything worth a" CPR" Catch, Photo and Release picture yet and I hoped it would happen during the full moon phase. I went out a few days ago dressed for the wind and cold temps. I had to remember to put new batteries in my headlamp and after many No's from some of my diehard night fishing buddies I had a taker and we headed out to the reservoir at 1 am.

I worked the rocks pretty good and I finally hooked a nice one only to lose her in a bush close to shore. It didn't break my spirits but I wanted to land her since she felt heavy. I always wonder how they can manage to pull free from three treble hooks in a jerk bait but they do. It was a good hour later when I felt the tick and set the hook on the32' walleye big walleyereviving walleyereleasing walleye biggest walleye I have caught to date so far. This fish fought good and I knew she was a giant when she came to the surface. I had truly been blessed with this fish a 32'' fatty.

I always dream of a fish like this one and finally it was on the end of my line. I practice what I preach and after a few photos I gave her a kiss and let her go so someone else can have the same opportunity I just had. I wanted to share some photos with all of you and to let you know that there are giant walleyes in Colorado. 

Give it a try. that feelings and thoughts you have after you catch a few isn't a's just Colorado walleye fever.

                                                                                     Best of Luck,

                                                                                                            Sam Heckman / Pro Staff






Spring Fishing with Flicker Shad


With warmer weather rolling in Walleye anglers are hitting the water and the new Berkley Flicker Shad is helping them catch more fish.  The Flicker Shad is a minnow imitating lure that can be cast or trolled.  Trolling is by far the most popular technique for Walleye fishermen when using the Flicker Shad.  The bait has a tight, subtle action that is very effective with the cooler water temperatures now in the area.  These baits also have rattles, and many of the color patterns that are standard are perfect Walleye colors.   Bass Pro Shops has four sizes and a very large selection of colors to choose from, 11 of these colors are Bass Pro Shops exclusives selected by Walleye pro Gary Parsons. 

berkley flikr shad


Studies have shown Walleye will target small Shad even if they have larger forage available.  Therefore, this has made the Flicker Shad one of the most productive baits of our time.  With top of the line components you get a bait that will run correctly out of the package,  featuring strong hook attatchments and a wide range of colors.   On sale now for $3.97, and continuing through the Spring Fishing Classic,  plus an additional rebate available from Berkley, make the Flicker Shad a must have lure for springtime fishing.  Stop by our Fishing Department and see one of our dedicated Associates to help you stock up on all your Walleye Fishing needs.



Additional information on the colors and sizes available in the Flicker Shad, as well as all of the details on the many Berkley rebates, can be found at, or by calling us at the Sevierville, TN location.  We look forward to seeing you during our upcoming Spring Fishing Classic, February 28 – March 16.

flikr shad



Good fishing,


Jonathan Dyke

Fishing Team Lead


Walleyes in Skinny Water

By Chris Grocholski
Fishing Lead
Bass Pro Shops Altoona

Growing up in northeast Iowa, I was faced with no lakes, or any big water for that matter, to fish. What we had were small rivers to spend our days fishing in. Small towns, like Elkader, Eldorado, and Clermont, and small rivers, like the Turkey, Volga, and the Cedar Rivers, provided lots of opportunities to catch walleyes while wading down the river or in a small boat.  Many summer days were spent with a zip lock bag full of 4” plastic worms/grubs, a small tackle box full of jigheads, and occasionally a small crankbait

What makes these rivers such a challenge and also rewarding? The rivers are never the same from year to year.  When the snow starts to melt, and the spring rains come, so does flooding and many instances of major flooding. Many times, this will change the complete look of a small river and, in some cases, completely change the river's course!

Places/Things to Look For

Some of the easiest places to look for, when trying to catch walleye in smaller rivers, are bridges and dams. Most likely, those are going to have the deepest water available for fish for quite some distance and the fish will tend to congregate there. However, keep in mind that “deeper” might only be 2 or 3 feet deeper. 

If you are on a particular river that does not have any dams or bridges, the next areas that you should be looking for are places that have sharp bends in the river. A bend will usually have an area close to the shore that has significantly more water than the rest of the area. Currents hitting the bank causes the bank to have a steep drop and any sediment coming up stream does not have a chance to Chris Grocholskisettle. Depending on the amount of current, these areas may be as long as a half mile or can be as small as just a few feet, but all have the potential of holding walleye. This picture of me holding a nice 17-inch walleye came on a bend area that was no more than five or six feet wide, and about 15-feet long, but the fish was in five feet of water, and I was standing in about one foot of water.

Another area that I like to concentrate on are rip rap shore lines and steep rock facings with any current on them. The big key to what I look for is water depth of five feet or, again, the deepest water available. If the shore has any irregularities to it, that is definitely a bonus as well...things like indentations, points, a change in rock type, etc. Anything that will divert current will have a good chance to hold fish; the stronger the current the better, because those irregularities are almost a guarantee to hold fish and will cause a larger eddy with the more current in the area.

What Baits?

My #1 choice for walleye in smaller rivers is a combination of 4” ring worm and a jighead. However, things like three- or four-inch Chris Grocholskitwister tails, small shad body baits, and even a fluke-style minnow are all good choices as well. I also, on occasion, will choose a suspending Rapala stick minnow or also a small vibrating rattle trap-style bait, as well. Jighead weights will be from a 1/16 to a 3/16 oz., but most occasions will call for the 1/8 oz. The key to jighead selection is to keep it the smallest that you can get away with, to make the bait look the most natural, but at the same time keeping in close contact to the bottom. I will sometimes go up a lure size to make a change in the way the bait looks in  the water, but not even change the jighead size, for example. Switching from a smaller 3 inch twister tail grub to a 5 inch grub will give your bait a bit more buoyancy in the water and also a bigger profile. This is a go-to presentation in the fall when fish are looking for a larger meal going into the winter season.

Questions? Please post them here or on our Facebook page and I will answer them!  Don't forget about the Spring Fishing Classic Local Tips and Seminars sessions on March 8 and 9! We'll be on hand to answer questions then, too!


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A Simple Guide to Cold Water Fishing Tactics

     No doubt midwinter is the most challenging time to consistently catch fish . Often the coldest water temperatures are accompanied by dingy water and even cloudy days which further impinge on the fishes’ desire and ability to feed.  Ask any ‘old school’ fisherman and the answer will be “low and slow is the way to go.”

     Bottom bumping with Carolina rigged soft plastic ‘wavy tail’ worms (like Culprit, Zoom and Bass Pro) in freshwater or soft plastic ‘minnow tail’ bodies (by Fin-S, Zoom, Saltwater Assassin, and Offshore Angler) on a ¼ ounce jig head in salt and brackish water rivers and creeks is the normal pattern for cold water fishing in this area.  While that ‘low & slow’ adage is true much of the time in winter, there are days or even periods when the fish respond to prevailing environmental stimuli of sun and sustained  warm temperatures which affect their schooling and feeding behavior. After all, fish being ‘cold-blooded’ simply means they tend to take on the activity level of their surroundings. So when the water is cold (or ‘cooling off’) they tend to be less active than in times when the sun or air may warm the water even by a few degrees. The days are getting a little longer now and at our low latitude, the sun angle is high enough in the sky to occasionally ‘energize’ shallow waters, especially those that are clear and dark or containing vegetation.  

     These times may simply be an hour or two at the end of a sunny afternoon when the wind has died off and allowed the shallow end of a pond or lake or backwater oxbow (in fresh water) to get a few degrees warmer than the surrounding (deeper and dingier) waters. Or (in saltwater) similar warming occurs in small, shallow, protected bays especially if the water is clear and the bottom dark. The whole foodchain sparks to life during these episodes as the sun promotes activity at each level leading up to the fish, which are stimulated by the relative warming of the water and the availability of food. Gamefish may briefly move into shallower waters or rise up in the water column to follow their foodsource, providing a brief feeding frenzy or even a prolonged pre-spring ‘fling’ which savvy anglers have learned to capitalize upon.

     Mild winter evenings spent fishing the edges of shallow weed-lined freshwater lakes and ponds may provide an hour or two of ‘heart stopping’ bass action using a variety of topwater lures or dark colored frog imitations rigged weedless. Bass Pro has an extensive selection of plastic frog and toad lures well suited for this as well as the weedless double frog hooks.

     Similarly, in saltwater bays or brackish river bends at the end of a ‘warm’ winter day speckled trout often go on a feeding binge just before dark. This is a great time for majestic sunsets and sizzling topwater action using lures like Rapala Skitterwalk, Mirrolure Top Dog,  or Heddon Spook especially in the vicinity of mullet schools. The hours preceding an evening topwater bite can often be productively spent throwing or slow trolling suspending or sinking hard baits like Rapala X-Rap, Mirrolure Mirrodine, Glad Shad, Catch and TT series or the NEW Offshore Angler Red Eye Mullet .     

     Taking advantage of these winter ‘windows of opportunity’ is not only a great way to overcome a case ‘of cabin fever’, but will keep your tackle and fishing skills polished and just maybe get you a fresh fish dinner ;-)


David Thornton

January 2014









Tips on Great Crappie Fishing

If you think you might like to watch a bobber slide under the surface and move slowly away, or if you love to feel that "thunk" of a fish on the end of your line, you might be a candidate for some great days with crappie.  Crappie fishing can be as simple as a cane pole and bucket of minnows or as involved as specialized boats and custom built rods. Either way crappie are fun for everyone, easily accessible and very tasty!

These delicious fish go by several informal names, crappie, white perch, paper-mouths, sac-a-lait and they even come in black crappie and white crappie versions.

black & white crappieSo where should we look for crappie? Crappie can be found in almost every kind of fresh water we have here in Texas so they are plentiful and usually relatively easy to find in all the lakes that surround the Dallas metro-plex. Don't overlook the streams that feed our local lakes either. Many crappie hunters go "crappie stomping" in the streams that feed our lakes.  They are frequently found in farm ponds in large numbers too!  There are more ways to catch crappie than there are names for them. Let's get ready to go catch a few.

It always helps to know at least a little about our quarry if we want to be successful. Here are a few of "rules of thumb" about crappie. If there were one fish that could and would wear sunglasses it would be crappie. They don't really hate sunlight, but successful crappie fishers do usually fish for them as if crappie were vampire-like in their dread of bright light.

The sunlight of early morning and late evening doesn't put a lot of glare on the water and this translates to being easy on crappie eyes. They will usually be more shallow in our waters early and late than later in the day. Get an early or late start if you are fishing from shore.

Look for large shaded areas on your favorite fishing hole. Bridges across lakes give crappie shade in the summer months and are usually great places for us to start. Marinas with covered boat slips are some of the best areas to wet a line.  Fish slowly and very closely to the pilings of both the bridges and boat slips and you're likely to get bitten by crappie.  Fish the shade and you are very probably close to crappie.  If you're fishing standing timber, fish the shaded side of the tree or stump first, but don't avoid the sunny side either, just fish the shade first.

The second rule of thumb is crappie almost always bite up. Their eyes are located more toward the top of their head so it's just easier for them to look and eat, in an upward direction. If you're fishing with a bobber and it just simply lays over on it's side, set the hook , a crappie just lifted your bait up and took the weight off your bobber!  If you're fishing without a bobber and notice your line go slack, set the hook, once again, a fish has lifted your bait without you feeling it.

Crappie Maxx ComboA third generalized rule is that crappie won't try to jerk the rod out of your hand. They bite lightly for the most part. Sometimes you may just see your line move slightly to one side. That's a crappie trying to ease off with your bait. Set the hook! If you're fishing with jigs and no bobber, and you feel a little 'thunk' like a small fish, or someone taping your rod tip once, set the hook! Always fish with line that is in good shape. If your line is curled up, old, or brittle you will miss more bites than you might think. As we've seen, crappie bite with finesse, curled up lines act as shock absorbers and do not transmit that light bite up the line, through your rod and into your hand so the bite goes unnoticed.

Most of the time crappie like to play hide-and seek with us.  They love cover. Cover is basically described as anything that you can get hung up on.  Tree limbs, bushes, rocks, 1938 Fords, anything that can hide them from us or bigger fish. I've heard it said by professional crappie fishers that if you're not losing the occasional bait, you're fishing in the wrong places.

Now for some general info on what to use.  Most good carpenters have more than one tool in their box. Don't go crappie fishing with a hammer.  That is to say, heavy duty bass rods are overkill to detect the delicate bite of a crappie. Use a rod that was designed for crappie fishing. Bass Pro Shops Crappie Maxx line of rods is specifically designed to detect crappie bites, set the hook properly and lift your scrappy fish out of his hiding place. These relatively limber rods come in a variety of lengths designed for your preferred fishing spots. Whether you need a long rod, a mid-length or longer rod, come in to Bass Pro Shops of Garland and ask the pros.

What baits do we need to use?  If you're a minnow dipper, then you're probably just about set. A good minnow bucket with aerator will help keep your two inch or smaller minnows frisky. You can fish minnows either with or without a bobber with great success.

Jigs are by far the preferred baits for most crappie chasers. Bass Pro shops has a huge selection of jigs and jig hooks. There are tube type crappie jigs like the "Squirmin' Squirt", solid body jigs, like the Bass Pro Shops "Triple Ripple", these are excellent choices. There are also crappie jigs with small spinners, some with paddle tails and some that glow in the dark. Actually there are so many that you might really, really want to come in to Bass Pro Shops of Garland to see them all! Oh yeah! before I forget, you'll also need to pick up either a cooler or stringer to keep all your crappie in!

Tight Lines and Bent Rods to You!






From The Shack - Ice Fishing In Alberta

It’s that wonderful time of year where the sidewalks are slippery, pipes are freezing, and everyone is looking forward to the next Chinook in a vain hopeing that the 6 inches of ice on the neighbors sidewalk may actually disappear. BUT, some of us, will be outside, slipping and sliding like goofs to get in a little bit of ice fishing.

My first attempt ice fishing with my father was a bit of a gong show. Neither of us had been ice fishing in years,  I had a vague idea of what was needed. Some form of hook and line (possibly bait if permitted), a rod or tip up (though at the time the only tip– up I remembered using was two pieces of a hockey stick nailed into a cross that fit over the hole) and uneven chairs sitting on the ice, in snow pants, getting cold quite quickly. My dad pulled out a 40 year old hand auger, that he swore drilled through the ice like butter– then again anything is faster than hacking away with an axe right? Well maybe anything with the exception of that old ice auger.  If you’re ever in Bass Pro Shops, Rocky View you can see that auger in our antique display (sometimes they don't make them like they used to for a reason.).

With much trial and error, sometimes forgetting half the gear at home, and after coming away skunked more times then I’d like to admit, we managed to get the hang of it and pulled out a few really nice sized fish.

Things I’ve learned:

· Have a sharp auger– a hand auger will do as long as the blade is sharp. To be fair the 40 year old hand auger drilled through a little over 5 feet of ice in about 5 minutes...Although after the first hole, someone with a gas auger felt sorry for us and came and drilled us a couple holes in mere seconds.

· Research where you’re going– the internet is a plethora of information. If your going somewhere you have never been, a topographic map and hints of where people are catching will always help.

· Look for ice reports!!! I cannot stress this one enough, I always do a little poking around to try and find out ice thickness before I go out. If someone had to belly crawl to get off the ice because it was so thin, you wont catch me anywhere near that lake. 6-12” is usually when I will walk out onto the lake, no amount of fishing is worth falling into the freezing water; keeping a pair of ice picks in your pocket just in case is also highly advisable.

· Test the ice– when you walk out, drill a test hole to see for yourself how thick the ice is. Never drive out unless you’re sure the ice is thick enough: Insurance will not cover your vehicle if it goes through the ice, and you have to pay to get it out (not cheap) and you can be fined just to add monetary injury to your  already insulted ego.  Remember just because you see a small car on the ice does not mean it is thick enough for your truck.

This year the ice froze funny, lots of snow too soon. In a lot of places there’s a good foot of slush on top on the ice,  In some cases flood water, it’s really easy to get stuck and even if you’re walking, falling into the slush means cold ice water in the boots.  To put it into perspective, we got an Argo stuck in the slush (full story upon request)  If that can get stuck, so can your vehicle.


 · Know  The species in the lake, and what you want to target– For perch, small jigs with maggots or meal worms are always the ticket, if you think the hook is small, it’s probably not small enough. Pike– rattle baits, or smelts/minnows. Walleye-jigs with worms/ minnows/small smelt,bucktail jigs. Burbot– jigs with smelts/raw meat/Anything stinky, jigging lures, and my personal preference buzz bombs with a bit of bait. White fish– Wire worms with a couple maggots on hook.. Trout-Small jigging lures or jigs with or without bait.

· Extra clothes– if you fall in, at least you’ll have something dry to change into.

· People food– even if you’re planning to fry up some fish on the ice bring something anyways, just in case you don't catch anything.

· And the last, and my favorite part, take good company. My favorite thing about ice fishing is going out and spending time with my dad.  So go outside, and enjoy winter, because we live in Canada and have plenty of it!!!!!