Basics To Build On In The Sport Of Bass Fishing


Anyone who has explored very deep into the fishing world knows that fishing at times can be very overwhelming, and frustrating. Especially if you have little or no previous experience, and you are trying to figure out how to get started. The best advice I can give, is keep it simple. There are literally thousands of different types of baits, rigs, and presentations to choose from, and if you don't have a basic place to start then chances are you will get discouraged with the sport and loose interest before you ever give it a chance. I promise once you begin to learn the baits, presentations, and fish behaviors, and start to consistently catch fish throughout the year, a passion will be instilled in you that will last a lifetime. It happened to me as a child at the age of two years old down on my dock with my dad catching hundreds of bluegill and sunfish, and it has now grown into a career in professional bass fishing and guiding. This passion I have has over the years grown far beyond fishing, and has turned into a full love and appreciation for nature and the outdoors. So here are a few very simple baits and techniques that will help you get started in your own journey, utilizing and enjoying what God has given us!

The Bass is a very interesting species of fish consisting of three main types, all of which can be found in the state of Alabama! First we have the most prevalent and probably most popular type of bass the Largemouth. The Largemouth Bass is known best for getting big, with the world record being almost double the size that it's cousins are known to grow too. They are beautiful fish, and just like their name describes they have big mouths often with the same or bigger diameter than their body. They can eat very large baits and will typically be found holding tight to cover or vegetation in most lakes, rivers, and reservoirs across the country. The next major species of bass is the Smallmouth, and like their name they have a mouth that is much smaller than their bodies. Don't be fooled though, smallmouth are incredible feeders and fighters and will often jump upwards of five feet out of the water in an attempt to through your bait. They are found primarily in the northern states, but can also be found in Alabama, Tennessee, and Texas. Now the third cousin and one of the most prolific in the state of Alabama is the Spotted Bass. A spot looks almost like a cross between a largemouth and a smallmouth, while they rarely get over 7 or 8 pounds they are possibly the most aggressive feeders and hardest fighters of all. The Three baits that I am going to tell you about are baits that no matter where you go across the country, and what species you are targeting will work very well with just a little practice. 

The first, and probably my main go to technique in tough conditions is the shaky head. A shaky head is very simple, all it consists of is a jig head, with a straight tail worm rigged weedless on the hook. My very favorite shaky head jig to use is called a Gamakatsu Skip Gap Shaky Head Hook. It has a patented notch just under the head that is perfect for holding the head of the worm up on the hook with little damage to the soft plastics integrity. The weight of the head should be chosen based on the depth of water you are targeting. To keep it simple in water 15 feet or less use a 1/8oz jig head, if you go deeper than that then I’d jump it up to a 3/16 or 1/4oz head. On the jig head I basically texas rig a straight tail finesse worm such as a Robo Worm or a Bass Pro Shops Finnike Worm. On color selection any soft plastic you use that is a natural green or brown color will consistently produce bass. When rigged properly the shakey head is weedless and works very well around just about any cover you want to fish. An important tip to remember when fishing the bait is less is more. It seems that the less you try to hop and move the bait the more fish you catch. All it takes is little twitches of the rod tip to make the bait move and shimmy across the bottom. I almost always fish my shakey head with a TFO Tactical Series spinning rod, and unless I'm fishing heavy cover like brush piles, I use from 6 to 10lb test Trilene 100% Flourocarbon Line. Fluorocarbon has very little stretch and also sinks which helps significantly with sensitivity. This will allow you to feel every object your bait comes in contact with, as well as increasing your ability to detect light bites. This is a fish catching machine, and is perfect if you are interested in getting a young child into fishing, or if you are a beginning angler that wants to get into the sport.

Another deadly and simple bait that is amazing for bass is a stick bait. Specific brands all have their version of this bait from the Bass Pro Shops Stiko, to the Yum Dinger, and also the originator of the bait the, Yamamoto Senko. They all look very similar and will catch you a ton of bass. There are two primary ways to rig a stick bait, both of which work best weightless. The first is called the wacky rig, the wacky rig is simply piercing a small hook such as a Gamakatsu Weedless Wacky hook through the center of the worm. This allows the worm to flex and quiver as it slowly falls parallel to the bottom which is very difficult for a bass to resist. If you are fishing in extremely heavy cover than weightless texas rigging the bait is very effective, using either 3/0 or 4/0 Gamakatsu Extra Wide Gap Hook. This bait works great for fishing shallow cover no matter where you live across the country, and if you have a pond or small lake near by then this bait is almost irresistible to bass that have rarely or never seen it before. A stiko can be fished on a spinning or bait casting setup, based on personal preference. The only time that a spinning rod is critical to success in my mind is when the fish are tucked deep up under docks or overhanging trees. In this situation the spinning rod is the best choice when attempting to skip this weightless bait.

 The first two baits I described are designed to be fished slowly and are great simple options that can help you get started in bass fishing, and more importantly, they flat out catch fish! Now there is a different type of fishing that is the exact opposite of the slow moving techniques it's called reaction fishing. When fishing slow moving bait you are attempting to intrigue a fish into biting in a certain area. When fishing a reaction bait you are attempting to cover as much water as possible and trigger an aggressive reaction from either active or possibly surprised inactive fish. Now, there are a large number of reaction type baits out there and certain ones work better in specific times of the year, but for starters I will give you one bait that you can throw that will catch you fish throughout the majority of the year. The type of bait is called a crankbait, which is designed to be moved fast, and to be worked around cover, letting the diving bill dig the bait into the bottom. The specific make and model that I use most often is called a SPRO Little John MD. The MD stands for medium diving which means it can effectively be worked in depths from 1 foot all the way to 9 feet. They come in a wide variety of colors and by rule I would stick with crawfish imitations in the spring, bluegill imitations in the summer, and shad imitations in the fall. So three different colors and one specific bait model will be all you need to get started in catching fish. All you have to do is simply cover allot of water and make as many casts as possible. Reaction fishing is very effective in low light conditions such as on cloudy days or early in the morning, and will work even better if you can find an area with the wind blowing into it.

So stop by your local Bass Pro Shops, with a list of the baits I just suggested, and ask one of the associates in the fishing department where you can find the specific baits. I promise you that if you give them time they will catch you allot of fish. So be patient, and learn to love and respect the outdoors just like I do. I'll see you on the water!!!

Joey Nania









Valentine's Day: A Redneck Guide to Love

February 14th.... Valentine's Day....


If your like me your wondering... what am I gonna do!? Well here is a few helpful hints from some people who know something about love. That's right.... Bass Pro!

Every year over 180 million Valentine's Day cards are sent out, over 196 million roses are produced and an average of $13 billion is spent. So when you ask yourself, "What should I get for (significant other)?", your answer might want to be better than the other 180 million people who said "I'll give them a card!". 

But what do you do then? How do you make yourself stand out as a figure of the utmost passion and affection?

Maybe these ideas will help you.....

For those of you who have been together for a long time.... recreate your first date. How better to tell that someone special you love them than recreating the first time you went out together. Did you take her to a restaurant? Did you go watch a movie? Rent the movie you watched and cook (or for those of you like me) or order the meal you had.

Do something bad... nothing unlawful mind you, but something a little on the dark side like taking a dip late at night, or going to the old hang out spot and have a glass of wine. Make it fun by lighting candles or playing music, anything that reminds her of the good times you have had together.

Make her dreams come true. I know, I know.... I'm making it sounds easy aren't I? But maybe it's not as hard as you thought. Has she always wanted to go to Paris, France? Set up your living room with a certain je ne sais quoi, like a little "cafe" where you serve her favorite coffee and pastry, and hang up a picture of the Eiffel Tower. (I wouldn't wear a beret though, that's more for her.) And who knows maybe the date will end with a little French kiss?

Last idea I'm giving out is this one. Come on down and see us here at the Bass Pro shop, we're selling heart-shaped fudge, and our restaurant the Islamorada is a great place for a very special Valentine's Day dinner. So come see us the masters of land, sea and romance and let's make this Valentine's Day stand out among the pack!

Thanks for stopping by! Pendragon





Meet a Pro! Brad Whitehead

This year, don't miss out on the "Crappie Madness" sale and event that is going on at Bass Pro Shops on February 14-15. During the weekend of February 14-15, come listen to crappie pro fisherman, Brad Whitehead from Muscle Shoals, Alabama, as he conducts workshops here at the store. The workshops will be held on February 14th at 7pm and February 15th at 11am and 2pm. The workshop titled, Learn tips and techniques of various styles of crappie fishing, will be filled with lots of useful information and tips.

Get to know Brad Whitehead just a little before you get here. wrote an article on Brad Whitehead, asking questions and revealing the answers with the fishing pro. here are the questions and answers:

Years Pro: 12
Tournament Partner: When I fish it’s Bevan Berry
Home Lake: Pickwick Lake
Favorite Lake: Pickwick Lake
Boat & Outboard: WarEagle 754VS, 50 Yamaha
Sponsors: BnM Poles, WarEagle Boats, Lake Fork Tackle, ORCA Coolers, Browning, Hi-Tek Rodholders, RoadRunner, Mister Twister

10 Crappie Fishing Related Questions:

1. What is your favorite Crappie Fishing Technique and why? Sidepulling, its the best guiding technique I have ever seen.

2. When you fish a lake that has Black Crappie and White Crappie, which one do you target? Do you have a different approach for fishing for one or the other? If so please explain. White Crappie for me.  I fish deep, fast and with large baits.  If I go for blacks, they seemed to like smaller baits and structure I don’t care to fish.

3. What is your go-to lure or bait and why? (favorite lure & color) 1/4 oz hairjigs, red, black, orange.  This bait I have confidence in and that is what matters.  If you don’t have a confidence bait, you don’t need to guide or tournament fish.

4. How do you approach a new body of water that you have never fished before and what are you looking for? Call anybody that has fished it.  Then take half of what guys tell you and throw it out the window because it will not work the day you go.  The main thing I gather is the area of the fish.  One part of the lake will hold more fish. 

5. Do you pre-fish before your tournaments? If so, please explain your approach. Do you thoroughly cover water catching as many crappie in the area or contact fish and keep moving not to pressure an area? The few tournaments I have fished. I just showed up.  Crappie fisherman I think “wear the fish” out to much before tournament day.  There not bass.  Most guys are greedy and take them out of the place there going to fish.

6. Name the most important tool/equipment in your boat or tackle that you could not fish without. Confidence in your equipment.  Just because its the most expensive, does not mean you know how to use it. 

7. How do you locate tournament winning fish? I’m normally guiding during tournament season.

8. Please name the gear you fish with; (Poles, Reels, Line, Electronics, etc.) BnM Poles, Lake Fork Panfish Line, 1197 Hummingbird

9. Do you have a Pre-Tournament Routine? If so please explain. No, normally guiding

10. To date, what is your proudest moment in your Crappie Fishing Career? I guess, being in the fishing industry long enough to start getting my son put in catalogs and on the cover of magazines.  With him being 8 years old I hope he thinks about this stuff we did together one day with his kids.


10 Questions Non-Crappie Fishing Related:

1. What is your favorite hobby/activity other than Crappie Fishing? Duck Hunting with my 8 year old

2. What is your favorite meal? Any meals my wife cooks!

3. What kind of music do you like? Who is your favorite singer or band? Country or any 80′s to eariler 90′s groups

4. Name your favorite vacation getaway and why? The mountains, its cool and I’m away from any lakes.

5. When you were a child, what did you have dreams of becoming for a profession as an adult? Yes, maybe not as a crappie fisherman but a fisherman that everybody knows.

6. Do you have any pets? If so, what are their names? One, a mix, name Izzy

7. Name for us the most influential person in your life, past or present and why? An older friend I meet on a guide trip about 5 years ago.  He is a self made million dollar man and you would never know he had a dime. 

8. If you had a warning label, what would yours say? Don’t open unless you want the truth!

9. Do you prefer watching the sunrise or the sunset? Sunrise

10. What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done? Being a parent and a good husband



Spring Fishing Classic 2014 February 28 - March 16


I am proud to announce that our Spring Fishing Classic is near! We here at Bass Pro Shops San Antonio, are excited and anxious to get things started, to provide you all with some awesome seminars and activities for you and the children. We are even more excited to have our local Pros Matt Reed,Byron Velvick, Rick Shock and Robin McFarlane come and make an appearance; they are as well giving a seminar! Like I said before there will be seminars, awesome give-a ways, activities for you and the kiddos, food sampling, and Women fishing and kids Workshops! This is one event that is a must go event or you will be missing out on the fun. Here are some of the schedules

Free-Bass Pro Shops BassMaster University with National Pros

Matt Reed- February 28, at 7pm

Byron Velvick- March 1, at 1pm

Local Pro Fishing Tips and Seminars- From the awesome Rick Shock and Robin McFarlane!

March 7, at 7pm- Flipping and Pitching for bass

March 8 & 9

  • 11 am –Locating Bass in New Water
  • 1 pm – Topwater Techniques for Bass
  • 2 pm – Spinning Reel Tactics for Bass
  •  3pm – Does the Color of Your Bass Lure Matter?
  • 4 pm – Become a Smallmouth Specialist
  •  5 pm – Choosing the Right Soft Plastics for Bass


Food Demos- Located in the Camping Department

Fried Fish Sampling- March 8, 2pm-4pm

Ice Cream Demo – March 1, 2pm-4pm

Women’s Workshop – March 15 3pm

Bass Pro Shops Next Generation Weekend

March 15 & 16 (Saturday and Sunday) Noon – 5pm

  • Kids Crafts- 1pm-4:30pm
  • Photos – Noon -5pm

There is many more fun and activities to be announce the closer the time! Aside from the activities, we will be having great sales through the store! From apparel to fishing equipment! So what do you say guys? You coming to join us in all this fun!


More Fish Donation Month

Did You Know?NFWF
  • More Americans fish than play basketball (24.0 million) and football (8.9 million) combined.
  • The number of jobs supported by anglers could employ all attendees of the last seven Super Bowls – TWICE!
  • Fishing as a leisure-time activity ranks higher than playing golf, target shooting, hunting with firearms, backpacking and wilderness camping, baseball, mountain biking and skiing.

(Statistics from the National Fish Habitat Action Plan, 2nd Edition)

During February Bass Pro Shops sponsors the More Fish Donation Campaign. For a $2 donation, your name is entered for a chance to win a $500 Bass Pro Shops gift card. But what IS the More Fish campaign and how is your $2 helping?

The More Fish Campaign monies collected go towards the National Fish Habitat Action Plan.  This nationwide plan was established to protect, restore, and enhance our country's fisheries.  The plan was led by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies around the country, state offices, the Department of Commerce and over 700 federal, state, and non-governmental entities, including Bass Pro Shops. 

The plan established several partnerships around the country based on geographic location, key fish species, or aquatic life.  Iowa is effected by three of the partnerships: the Driftless Area Restoration Initiative, the Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership, and the Fishers and Farmers Partnership. These three groups have also come together with three of the other National Plan partnerships to create the Midwest Fish Habitat Partnership. 

Visit the links above and check out the Plan's and various Partnerships' goals, objectives, and some of the projects completed and in progress.

jumping bassStop in to Bass Pro Shops Altoona and make your $2 donation to help keep our streams, rivers, and habitat healthy for fish and keep our next generation fishing!

  •  More freshwater anglers prefer largemouth bass (52%), followed by panfish (28%).
  •  Most fishing tackle purchases include lures (46%), followed by terminal tackle (26%) then fishing line (24%).
(Statistics from the National Fish Habitat Action Plan, 2nd Edition)

The Most Productive Fly Ever?

A Box of ClousersIf you were stranded on an island surrounded by your choice of fresh or salt water, what one fly would you choose to have along with your favorite rod?  This is a question we often ask ourselves in the shop while surrounded by hundreds of flies that are meant to catch fish just about as well as they catch fishermen’s attention.  Each and every one was designed to produce, but many of them are so specific that put in the wrong conditions, they would be just about worthless except in catching a blind fish with no sense of what his natural prey should be.  What makes a good fly?  What makes a fly universally fishable?

Fishermen have asked the same questions since the first fly was attached to the end of a leader and the first fish was landed.  But even today we still haven’t decided what the end-all, be-all best fly to have on hand in most situations might be.  I know two would top my list after 17 years of throwing, and I’m sure there are more than a few folks that would agree with my choices.

The Clouser Minnow in all its iterations is probably the most productive fly overall ever created and we have Bob Clouser to thank for his ingenuity.  He developed the fly to fish for smallmouth bass in Pennsylvania without realizing that it would be a productive pattern on just about anything that swims in fresh or salt.  Thanks to Lefty Kreh, the Clouser Minnow became a legend overnight, and proved itself on the water for years to come.  I’ve landed more varied species on Clouser variants than any other fly in my box because I have faith, and it works.  Even though it doesn’t really imitate anything specific, it approximates just about everything when tied with the right materials and colors.

The Wooly Bugger is another fly that has gained a loyal freshwater following but did you know that it’s productive in saltwater as well, and there are plenty of flies loosely based on it?  The Crystal Schminnow we know and love bears a striking resemblance to a Crystal Bugger outfitted with mono eyes.  Regardless of what it looks like, it sure catches fish of varied types, especially snook along the beach.  Even a wooly bugger tied in the traditional manner will catch just about anything that swims if you use the appropriate hooks.

So to borrow a phrase spoken by Sean Connery in one of my favorite movies, “There can be only one!” Which would you choose if stranded on an island?  I know my box will contain a Clouser Minnow, or a Wooly Bugger because I know I'll be catching fish.  What color should it be?  That's a question for another day.


Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando


Pro Tips - Switching Your Hooks

Bass Pro Shops Altoona Pro Staff Kary RayBass Pro Shops Altoona Pro Staff team member Kary Ray has more tips for you as you're getting ready for spring and summer open water bass fishing! This tip is for when you're out on the water throwing crankbaits. 

Kary says while most hooks are pretty nice and sharp, he likes to switch them up. There are a couple of reasons for this. He explains why and how to switch the hooks and what it can mean for your fishing excursion in this video:




The Spring Fishing Classic is coming February 28, 2014!

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The Sunglass Station

It’s widely known that here in Arizona the sun shines a bit brighter than in other places. So sunglasses are not only extremely convenient but can sometimes be necessary. And it’s just another one of those things we here at Bass Pro try to be there for you on. And we do a pretty darn stylish job of too!

These are a few of examples of the Costa brand sunglasses we carry. Costa was started in 1983 and has been making quality sunglasses for those with extreme outdoor adventure needs, as well as casual wear. They have a patented lens design that creates crystal clear vision for every situation.

These are a few from our friends at Maui Jim! Maui Jim is a company based in… you guessed it, Hawaii. They saw a need to protect your eyes without losing all the breathtaking color and life of the island. Perfect for everyday wear, they have a patented polarized lens technology that allows for maximum protection from harmful UVs.

Oakley sunglasses are always a good choice, for the hardcore athlete and the casual wearer alike. Founded in ‘75 they have been producing quality sunglasses that stand up to and laugh at intense use. If you haven’t heard the name then you are very, very new to the game.

Wiley-X started out making sunglasses for the military and in 1987 they made their product available to civilians. Great for outdoor enthusiasts and sports extremists alike, some models have been tested to withstand a 12-gauge shotgun blast from 10 yards away. Not bad Wiley… Not bad.

Ray-Ban… as if you didn’t already know. Started in 1937 specifically for army pilots at the time, the Aviator has been a classic and standard for all sunglass companies ever since. Also known for the Wayfarer, Ray-Ban is still at the top of their game.

XPS is a brand for the cost-conscientious consumer such as myself. They have a great selection of style and models, all of which are polarized and made to withstand everyday use.

Thank you for stopping by! Pendragon!


This Weekend @ Bass Pro Shops - Treat Your Tastebuds

Girl Scout Cookies are in the house again! Troops will be selling them each weekend through March 9 from about 10 a.m. to approximately 2-4 p.m., depending on the group. This weekend we host:

Saturday, February 15 - Troop 17, Altoona

Sunday, February 16 - Troop 01011, Bondurant

Also, this weekend:

Try Before You Buy! 

Our Gifts Department is serving up tasty bites of jerky! Sample all of the different flavors of Uncle Buck's jerky - have you tried the bacon jerky? Jalapeno? Buffalo jerky? Those are just some of the most popular and you can sample before you buy!

Coming Up:

Spring Fishing Classic

The Spring Fishing Classic is just two weeks away. We have a full lineup of weekends of activities for all ages!  National pros, local pro seminars featuring tips and techniques, and the always popular Next Generation Weekend, including a Beginning Fishing Workshop just for women!


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The Best Deal in Town!

Have you ever thought of getting a kayak? For many of us we look at the upfront investment, which can hold a pretty hefty tab.  However, swing into your local Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World and check out our selection of select 2013 Ascend Kayaks that have been clearanced out to move. 

The D10 T was one of two kayaks introduced in 2013.  It sold quickly once they were received, due to some awesome qualities; for starters like all Ascend Kayaks, it is Made in America, has adjustable foot braces, includes two scupper plugs, has built in d-ring bow anchors for custiomizable storage, offered in two awesome colors, has multiple drain holes and drain plug and recessed paddle holders, includes an amazingly comfortable deluxe padded seat, is 10' long, holds up to 325 pounds, and is extremely stable at 34" wide.  This year we will be keeping the Red and Black as long as introducing a couple of new colors, however we will be saying Good-bye to the Titanium model.  Which means a $50.00 savings.  The titanium, SKU: 1972956, model only has been clearanced down from $399.99 to $349.77.


Along with the Ascend D10 T titanium, the Ascend FS12T in your choice of Sand for your fishermen or Olive for your duck hunters, America's # 1 selling fishing kayak has been clearanced down from $499.99 to $449.77.  This boat yet again is made in America, is 12', 31" wide, includes one rod holder, small dry storage, large dry storage, and a padded deluxe seat making for extreme comfort, and two flush mount rod holders.  This boat has been redesigned for 2014 to better suit all your fishing needs along with a few neat surprises to  make your next fishing trip an absolute success!

Not into the sit-on top kayaks, more of a sit-in kayak person, well never fear.  The Ascend A10 was one of the orginial line-up released in 2010,  The only two things over the years that has changed with this boat is the color and the seat.  The Ascend A10 Red ONLY is clearanced from $299.99 down to $274.77.  This boat is a 9'10", with a removable chair to sit on the beach and tan, and along with a convient paddle holder. 

Don't wait though, because once these hot deals are gone they are gone. Remeber the early bird catches the worm and that worm could help you catch your nexxt big fish.  So swing into your local Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World and let one of our great camping associates help you find the perfect kayak for your next adventure, whether it be big or small!




Keep your Furry Best Friend Warm this Winter!

This weather has been a cold, freezing one for us this year! All I want to do is stay in bed or cuddled up on the couch, and try to stay warm. But as it is cold for us, it is cold for your loving animals. Fur or no fur, cold is cold. Please keep you animals inside during these types of weather. We here at Bass Pro Shop can help you and your furry best friend keep warm. As well help them gear up for the hunting season for the cold.

RedHead® Pet Throw-


While it keeps your pet warm, it will also protect your furniture at home or the back of your SUV from pet hair or dirt, the RedHead Pet Throw is a great all-purpose pet throw.



Woolrich Heritage Mattress Pet Bed-


I love when my dog sleeps with me but there are plenty of times when he tries to take up the whole bed. Or sometimes smells for being outside. Here is the solution for those times! Giving your pet the same comfort as a bed, while you don't have to worry with getting your bed dirty or having to share that space.

Ruffwear® Quinzee™ Insulated Dog Jacket-


 For you trips out to the ranch, your pet will be able to brave the elements in warmth and comfort with the Ruffwear Quinzee Insulated Dog Jacket. The fully-insulated Quinzee is made of a warm, weather-resistant material that protects your dog from extreme cold and rain.

RedHead® Neoprene Dog Boots-


Your dogs will love you even more once you get them these RedHead Neoprene Dog Boots! It helps save them of troublesome stickers, thorns, and cactus tines when out hunting. The No-slip bottom, great for snow and ice protection or traction on rough, dry, or rocky terrain.


With all this gear for them, you will be getting plenty of tail-waging and kisses from your best buds!





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!






2014 Inaugural CRAPPIE MADNESS!

Join Bass Pro Shops in Leeds as we celebrate warmer temperatures with our 2014 Inaugural Crappie Madness!  This event includes 2 weekends (Feb. 7 & 8 and Feb. 14 & 15) filled with fishing facts and fun.

Friday night’s activities include:

  • FREE photo downloads from 5-8pm (Photo shows you on the cover of Crappie Magazine!)
  • Pro Crappie Seminar at 7pm - Learn tips and techniques of various styles of Crppie Fishing

             ** FREE Giveaway to the first 25 people to attend seminars at the advertised times.

Saturday’s activities include:

  • FREE photo downloads from Noon-6pm (Photo shows you on the cover of Crappie Magazine!)
  • Catch and Release Pond 1-5pm (Feb. 8th ONLY)
  • Pro Crappie Seminar at 11am & 2pm - Learn tips and techniques of various styles of Crappie Fishing

              ** FREE Giveaway to the first 25 people to attend seminars at the advertised times.

While you are here, don’t forget to enter for your chance to win a Crappie Rigged 2014 Tracker Pro Team 175 TF. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Open to legal US/DC residents 21 or older. Begins 2/7/14 and ends 2/15/14. Subject to official rules available at participating locations or by mailing a SASE to BPS "Crappie Madness" Sweepstakes Rules, PMI Station, PO Box 750, Southbury, CT 06488-0750.


Hoisting New Hunters to Success

Foreverlast Hitch Hoist

My grandson, Kaedin, was feeling left out.  His cousin, Juan Pablo, had taken a fallow doe at age 8, another when he was 9, and a record-book fallow buck at 10.  Kaedin had gotten a jack rabbit.

 Trying to reverse his luck, we got to the hunting blind the afternoon of November 29, 2013, but saw no deer.  The next morning, we were back in the blind before sunrise.  It had snowed briefly on our way to the blind and Kaedin, who could not find his long underwear (which was in his suitcase), was freezing.  He completely forgot about the cold when a nice young fallow buck walked into view from behind the blind. 

first deer

He wanted to shoot “NOW,” but I coached him to wait until the buck turned broadside.  After what must have seemed an eternity to a 10-year-old, the deer turned and Kaedin put a 60-grain Nosler Partition bullet right through his heart.  He did not go far, keeling over after running about 15 yards.  He was clearly visible out the right side blind window.  “I got him!!  I got my first deer!!” Kaedin whispered.  “You can talk normally now.  He’s not going anywhere,” I schooled him.  I had him reload his gun, a Thompson/Center carbine in .223, then we pursued to walk the short distance to his deer.  Remembering what he had been taught, Kaedin touched the buck’s eye with the muzzle of the gun.  The buck did not blink, a sure sign he was completely dead.

Next came the eternal question, “What do we do now?”

“What do you mean ‘we’?  It’s your deer.  You get to field dress him.”

“You mean take out the guts?  Yuck!”

To make things easier for him, I decided it was time to field test the Foreverlast Hitch Hoist ($169.99 at Bass Pro Shops) I had bought a couple of months earlier. 

The hoist goes together easily in about five minutes with nothing more than a wrench.  Capable of lifting 450 pounds, it fits into a two-inch receiver hitch and turns 360 degrees so you can lift a deer off the ground and swing it into the bed of your truck.  Just how much easier it makes field dressing can be evidenced by the fact that 10-year-old Kaedin hoisted his 150-pound buck off the ground by himself, though he did have to work hard at turning the crank.


I gave Kaedin the same break I had given his cousin, field dressing the deer for him, but with the proviso that, “The next one’s all yours, so pay attention.”  Though he paid attention and asked a lot of questions, I’m sure he will still need some coaching on the next deer he gets, but he seems to have the Hitch Hoist down pat. 

You do not have to be 10 to appreciate the Hitch Hoist.  At my age, I’m grateful for anything that makes the nasty job of field dressing easier.  “The fun’s over and the work begins when you have a dead deer on the ground,” is absolutely true.  While the Foreverlast Hitch Hoist from Bass Pro does not make the dirty work into fun, it does make it a lot less onerous on 66-year-old joints.

Richard P. Moore
Hunting Associate


Duck to Fish Commander

Duck Dynasty Telescopic Crappie RodDuck Dynasty Double-touch Crappie RodWell, with Duck season about to wrap up, the Dynasty continues!  It's time to get the tarp off that boat, get your tackle boxes in order, put on your polarized sunshades and head out to the lakes, creeks, rivers or bayous and  get ready to catch some crappie, or white perch, or sac a lait... whichever word you want to call those wonderful white fish!

The Duck Commander is now featuring new rods for crappie season! We now have the Duck Commander Double-touch Crappie Rod with direct blank contact for $59.99

The Duck Commander Telescopic Crappie Rod with Hi-Vis depth monitoring wraps for $19.99

The Duck Commander Trolling Crappie Rod made by B'n'M manufacturers for $59.99

So with the first annual "Crappie Classic" coming up in February, stop in to Bass Pro Shops, join in with the fun!  We will feature Pro Crappie Seminars, with a couple of the Duck Dynasty guys, who will be here signing autographs!  We will have games for the kids, along with some crafts. We will  be frying up some fish both weekends, also, come check out our "catch and release" pond and perhaps try out the new Duck Dynasty rods, along with some of our top selling baits we have featured for the event!  We hope to see you there!


Gentlemen, Start Your Engines.....

It's that time of the year again. NASCAR season is quickly approaching. Have you been keeping up with the changes being made this year and are you keeping up with your favorite driver? It seems as though every year NASCAR makes changes either to the set up of the car or the set up of the points system. This year, rumor has it that the changes will be made to the number of driver's in the points race, changing the number from 12 drivers to 16. Of course, we all know that as of right now.... they are just rumors.

No matter what type of changes are made, we know that each NASCAR fan will be watching, as their favorite driver takes the field. This year's Daytona 500 will be on February 23rd. That's just a week after Tony Stewart is said to be released from his doctor. (Stewart suffered a broken leg last year and has undergone physical therapy every since his injury.) To help get into the spirit of NASCAR, stop by the Leeds Bass Pro Shops and pick up some of the Tony Stewart items that we sell here. Below is an example of what you can find:

tony decal

Broadcast your support with this NASCAR Wincraft Bass Pro Shops Ultra Decal, featuring Tony Stewart's number, signature, and sponsor. This bold, eye-catching decal can be removed and reused, and looks great on your car or tailgating grill! This Tony Stewart decal makes a great gift! Made in USA.


tony hat

The Bass Pro Shops NASCAR Tony Stewart Adult Sponsor Cap is a great choice for racing fans, featuring all sorts of embroidered logos—Bass Pro Shops up front, NASCAR and Tony Stewart's signature on the sides, and the number 14 on the back. Stretch-to-fit A-Flex construction gives you a snug fit and moisture-wicking performance. 95% polyester/5% spandex. Imported. One size fits most.


tony hoody

Our Bass Pro Shops NASCAR Tony Stewart #14 Sweatshirt is more than just a way to keep warm—it's a way to show your support for number 14! Made from 80% cotton/20% polyester, this soft, beefy sweatshirt is decked out with lots of logos, including our leaping bass logo, the number 14, Tony's signature, and NASCAR. Other details include a drawstring hood, a kangaroo pocket, and contrast stitching. Machine wash. Imported.


tony tshirtWho needs a boat when you have a racecar? Our Bass Pro Shops NASCAR Tony Stewart Burnin' Rudder T-Shirt answers that age-old dilemma with the roar of unbridled horsepower, giving a whole new meaning to the phrase "smoke on the water." Bass Pro Shops, NASCAR, and Tony Stewart are powerful partners in supporting the sports we love and defending our way of life. This awesome tee celebrates 2 great American pastimes with front and back screenprinted graphics, highlighted by a scene on the back featuring Tony's #14 car "burnin' rudder" by kicking up some spray with his slicks. If you love racing and fishing and any combination of the 2, you simply have to have this tee. Made of 100% cotton. Machine wash. Imported.

To check out these great items and more, go to or visit your local Bass Pro Shops in Leeds!


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!!!!!


Outdoor Cooking Primer - Dirty Rag Smoked Chicken

Don't let the entertaining name throw you's just for descriptive purposes. This recipe comes from our Camping Associate Chuck Stevens, who can cook just about anything on a grill. In fact, he does all of his smoking on a grill, too. 

Dirty Rag Smoked Chicken

Dirty Rag Smoked Chicken

You're going to smoke one or two whole chickens with apple wood. You'll start by preparing the chickens with your favorite seasonings inside the bird and out. Don't be afraid to season this a little heavy, because the seasoning on the skin plays a very important part to the "dirty rag" concept!

After the chickens are done, let them rest for about 30 minutes.

Take a sharp knife and carefully take all the delicious skin off the birds. Pull the chicken into bite size pieces and place in a large bowl.

After the chicken is in the bowl, take all the skin pieces with tongs and drag the skins through the pulled chicken to rub the seasonings into the pulled chicken. This will provide some great flavor and color to the final product.

Buy some of the best sandwich buns you can find. Your pulled chicken will only be as good as the roll you serve it on!!

Serve warm with baked beans and coleslaw.


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Pop Into Bass Pro Shops

Bass Pro Shops may not come right to mind as a snack food destination.....but you couldn't be more wrong!  Next time you are setting up to watch the big game, hosting the Friday night poker game or sitting around a fire, stop by your local Bass Pro Shops and pick up one of our many varieties of popcorn treats.

whirleyIf you are a traditionalist, then the Bass Pro Shops Popcorn Popper Gift Set if for you!  The Whirley-Pop stirring mechanism keeps the kernels moving, so virtually romeevery kernel pops. Clean-up is a breeze - simply wipe the inside out with a paper towel. Movie theater-style popcorn couldn't be easier. If you're "roughing it" and want to pop some corn over a roaring fire, we can help you with that too!  The Rome Popcorn Popper is designed for use over a campfire. It will pop up to two quarts and has a removable 27" handle for easy storage. 

kettleWhat's that you say?  This sounds good, but a little boring? If you're ready to strap on your waders and jump into the unknown territory of flavored popcorn, we can help you there as well.  To ease you into it, we'll start with the Uncle Buck's Cinnamon Kettle Corn. The salty-sweet kernels with the warmth of the cinnamon glaze will bring back memories of the county fair! haba

If you're feeling more adventurous, check out the flavored options from the Ass Kickin' product line.  You have your choice of four bold flavors:  Chile-Lime, Habanero, Chipotle,  Barbecue and Kettle Corn.  If you like your popcorn with a little "zing" accented by a taste of citrus and spice, southwest seasoning or  the smoky warmth of a BBQ, one of these flavors will "kick your popcorn experience up a notch."

popcornAnother option to perk up your standard popcorn is with Ass-Kickin' Popcorn Seasoning. The blend of chili powder and habanero pepper will add maximum flavor and kick....especially when you add butter!

"Pop" in to your local Bass Pro Shops and pick up some snacks for your next get-together.




4 Must Have Baits For Winter Fishing

During the winter months the majority of angler’s trade in their bass boats for a tree stand and their fishing rod's for a rifle! For some reason hunting in the cold months of the year just seems to make more sense than placing yourself in the open elements out on a boat. While it can be cold and nasty at times, with the proper 100 MPH Bass Pro Shops rain gear and the right selection of fishing lures you can have some of the most successful fishing days in your entire life. Not only do fish bite in the winter time, but big fish bite. With odds of catching a big fish increasing, no matter what the weather, if I have a free day in the winter I'm going to be on the water. Here are 4 key baits that will help build some mid winter memories on the water!

1) The umbrella rig is one of my primary winter time baits. Actually it's 5 baits on one rig consisting of a head and 5 wires with swivels on the end of each wire. The original model was produced 2 years ago by Manns Bait Company and is called the Alabama Rig, since then many other companies have come out with their own rigs. My personal favorite is the new Bass Pro Shops Deadly 5 Flashy Times, not only does it have the 5 baits when fully rigged but it is also built with a blade on each of the 4 outside wires. The blades add extra flash and vibration that is deadly for bass that are lurking in deep stained water. There are a few different baits I like to use when on my rig. The first is the new Strike King Swim-N-Shiner. The Swim-N-Shiner is a flat sided slender swim bait with a perfect paddle tail that gives the bait incredible action. It comes in two different sizes, a 4" and a 5" and is offered in 6 different colors. I like to choose my size of bait and color based on water clarity, size of the baitfish, and species of bass I am targeting. For example if I'm fishing Lake Guntersville I use the 5 inch, if I'm fishing Logan Martin Lake I prefer the 4 inch baits. I rig my baits on Gamakatsu Darter jig heads and I select my size based on the depth I am going to be targeting. My rule of thumb is 1/8oz for 15ft or less and 3/8oz or 1/4oz for anything deeper than that. Often the key to catching fish on the rig is letting it hit and drag on the bottom, so make sure you use jig heads that allow you to do that. Another bait option that is a little simpler is the Bass Pro Shops Boss Shad, they come pre rigged on a jig head and are ready to be fished straight out of the pack. They are a perfect option for a beginning angler that doesn't want to mess with rigging the baits themselves. When I'm fishing my rig I look for three main ingredients. One is bait fish, two is the wind, and three is an area of the lake that I know has a good population of bass such as a specific creek, deep pocket, or main river point. If you find those three things and work your bait properly through the school of fish you will be amazed at the success you can have while fishing with an umbrella rig.

2) An awesome way to catch winter time fish is with suspending jerk bait. When the water temperature drops below 50 degrees the jerk bait is possibly the very best option you can turn to. The neutrally buoyant suspending nature of many of the jerk baits on the market today is the real key in why it is so deadly on cold water bass. I love to throw the Spro McStick 110 Jerk bait in cold water using a slow twitch and pause teqnique. The colder the water the longer I let my bait pause which gives the slow moving bass time to swim up to the bait. 9 times out of 10 the bass will eat the jerk bait when it is sitting still so always be sure to watch your line. A good quality rod is very important such as a 7'3" TFO Tactical Series bait caster spooled with 10lb Fluorocarbon Line. A quality sensitive rod with the low stretching flouro carbon will allow you to feel and see even the most gentle bites whether your hands are frozen or not! The ingredients I look for when searching for an area to throw my jerk bait are identical to where I use my umbrella rig. One bait fish, two wind, and three fish that you know live in the area. Very your retrieve and try to learn something from every fish that bites. Once you have triggered a strike you can often repeat the exact same cast and retrieve and catch fish after fish in the same area.

3) The Rapala Shad Rap has been fooling winter time bass for as long as I've been alive! It is made out of balsa wood and has an absolutely deadly action. The reason it works so good on cold water bass is because of two things. First is the fact that the Shad Rap has no rattles, second is the subtle tight wobble of the bait when retrieved in a slow and steady manner. These two factors combined make a subtle bait that has proven to be hard for a bass to resist, especially when the water is cold! The bait comes in multiple different sizes from an SR4 to an SR9. I generally use the SR7 for the reason that it is easier to cast and is really a perfect size to attract fish across the country. There are also a wide variety of colors to choose from yet I still only rotate between three different choices. The original crawdad, shad, and silver black back colors, are all you will ever need to load the boat with fish. I like to throw my Shad Rap on shallow clay and gravel points where the bass will be sunning and feeding throughout the winter months.

4) A good old fashion jig and pig will rarely let you down if you work it properly in the winter months. While the previous 3 go to baits are considered reaction baits, fishing the jig and pig is a slow methodical presentation will slowly entice a slow moving fish to bite. On difficult cold fishing days it can at times seem like there are absolutely no fish left in the lake, but the truth is they are there and they have to eat at some point. Always remember that fish are cold blooded, so if the water is cold then their bodies will be cold. A bass in water that is 45 degrees or is going to be extremely opportunistic, meaning a food opportunity must be worth the effort. A jig is a bulky slow presentation that imitates a hearty worth while meal. If I'm fishing relatively clear water I like to use a natural green or brown color Stanley Finesse Jig with a Zoom Super Chunk Junior trailer. In the clear water the natural color slightly smaller jig with no rattles will definitely fool fish into eating. When fishing stained or muddy water I like to use a darker color such as black and blue, and having rattles definitely won't hurt your fish catching cause. When fishing a jig in cold water I like to move the bait as slow as possible, just simply shaking the jig on the bottom, giving the fish plenty of time to swim up to the bait. One thing I do often is change the skirts on my jigs. PPMB Skirts is a company that makes awesome jig, spinner bait, and chatter bait skirts in more colors than you can imagine. Definitely check there website out so you can start customizing your jigs.

Braving the elements and heading out on the lake could be a decision that will lead you to the catch of a lifetime! Pick up these four simple baits at your local Bass Pro Shops and go give it a shot I have a feeling you will be glad you did. If you are interested in learning these tactics first hand you can find my guide service e-mail address at  I'll see you on the water!

Joey Nania