"Hooked" on Catfish!

They say catfish have a face only another catfish could love.  I disagree, even the mother catfish swims off and leaves her young alone as soon as she sees them, but brothers and sisters, they taste so good!

Millions of fishers flock to the waters of Texas to catch catfish, with just about as many different setup and baits to go around, for each one of them.  Today I hope to share a  basic terminal tackle rig with you. Let’s look at the basic slider rig.  It’s called a slider rig because the line slides through the weight when the fish chomps on your bait.  Hopefully the fish does not feel the weight as an ‘unnatural’ item and spit your bait out.  If we tie a knot around the weight the fish may just feel the weight and spit the bait out. Here’s how to rig it!

 Thread your egg sinker, or any weight that is designed to slip up and down the line, onto your fishing line. Make sure the weight is appropriate to cast with your fishing rod, you don’t want to try throwing a boat anchor with a flyswatter.   Then slide a plastic bead up the line right behind the weight.  This little plastic bead keeps the edges of the metal weight from digging against your knot and weakening it.  A little bead may just save that big old Mr. Whiskers you’ve been after so don’t scrimp on them. 

 Next, tie on a barrel swivel to the end of your line.  Make sure the barrel swivel eyes are heavy enough to hold the fish you are after. Also, make sure you get swivels with eyes large enough not to slide over the hole or brass loop in your sinker.

 Once you have the weight, bead and barrel swivel in place tie in a piece of leader.  A leader can be as simple as a piece of the line off your reel, any variation of line. Some folks like fluorocarbon, some monofilament and some still use nylon braids or steel leaders.  The choice is yours, but most freshwater bottom fishers simply use a good strong piece of monofilament about 18 to 24 inches long as a leader.

 So, now we have everything set up except the part that gets the point across (pun intended).  The hook is exactly as critical as the fisherman is serious.  A lot of catfishers are strictly out for a little time outside and if they catch a few well that’s great.  On the other side of the coin there are catfish tournament pros.  These serious-minded souls have put some thought and experimentation into their hook choice.  Here are a few hook ideas and some catfish-brained logic behind them.

 The “J” hook. That’s the hook that looks just like the letter “J”.  It’s been around a long time and everybody already has a few in their tackle box.  Just make sure they are sharp and not rusted, especially around the hook eye.

J Hook

 There is also the “Kahle” hook.  It has a sweeping gooseneck shaft that allows you to use thicker chunks of bait without having to widen the actual “gap” of the hook.  These were the hook of choice for cut bait fisherman before the “circle hook” came on the scene.

Kahle Hook

 Last, and surging to the front in popularity is the “circle hook.”  Don’t ask me the physics of the thing, but these engineering marvels always seem to hit the fish right in the corner of the mouth when the fish starts struggling.  There is an upside and downside to the circle hook. The up side is, as I already said, they catch the fish in the corner of the mouth an astounding percentage of the time. They don’t swallow the hook…ever.  You don’t even have to guess when to set the hook, just start reeling when you know the fish is on.  Therein is the only downside.  If you try to “set” the hook with the typical herculean, wide sweeping power set that some folks love so much, the hook doesn’t do it’s magic and you miss a lot of strikes, but some of us just love that hook set so much we don’t want to let the fish have all the fun.

Circle Hook

 Some cat catchers prefer a treble hook.  These type hooks are usually employed by fishers using different kinds of “stink baits.”  There are dip baits, dough baits, and just about as many homemade concoctions as the fishing public can imagine.  Treble hooks might also be a good choice if you use chicken livers or some other soft tissue bait like beef or pork liver.

Treble Hook

 One more treble hook joins the parade too.  There is the regular treble hook with a spring or wire wrapped around the shaft of the hook.  This added contraption actually gives dough type baits something additional to hold on to when we fling that bad boy out with a lot of gusto.  They sure do help to keep you from unknowingly fishing with a bare hook from slinging your bait off while casting.

Spring Treble Hook

 So, there is your basic catfish rig, a few hook ideas, and even a little “how to” on the rigging.  Now it’s up to you to decide the “when to” and come on into Bass Pro Shops, Garland, TX to get your gear! Oh, and make sure you get that frying pan ready!

 

https://www.basspro.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Navigation?storeId=10151&catalogId=10051&langId=-1&searchTerm=catfish+hooks

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The Perfect Pack

A few years ago I found myself at my local Bass Pro, with my buddy’s girlfriend. She wanted to surprise him with a new backpack for all the outdoor activities we enjoy. (That’s a lady to marry right there!) She settled on a Red Head backpack that had a lot of space and a built in hydration pack. Within two days I received the call from my buddy wanting to break it in. Who am I to deny such a request?  We met at the determined spot and time, strapped on our packs and began our desert trek. I quickly noticed how much more room the new backpack had than mine (a converted high school backpack) and how nice the hydration feature was, especially in the desert. After the hike, I decided it was time to upgrade my pack and headed back to the Bass Pro.

 

              As man-code goes I could not get the same pack as my friend’s so started going over my options. I settled on the Red Head Hybrid Pack . It had a lot more room than my previous pack, and was hydration-system compatible. It has the perfect amount and sizes of pockets for specific storage for most outdoor activities. Another little bonus is that the pack can come apart into two sections. This lets us have a full sized pack, good sized back pack, or a waist pack that can carry a decent load. (The term fanny will not be used, except for right there.)

                Over the past few years I can easily say I have gotten my money’s worth out of this product.  Whether I am hiking the local trails, fishing small creeks for trout or heading to the range, this backpack fulfills all carrying needs. I especially enjoy the use of the waist pack separate from the main part. Not every situation requires a full sized pack, which makes this quite convenient. Most of my activities really only require the use of the top half. For example, for fishing it will hold a standard sized trout net, my three piece rod (broken down), reel, all necessary tackle, bait, tools and more. When I hit the range, I easily fit my two full size pistols, eye protection, ear protection, ammo and targets. There is always plenty of room to stash my wallet, phone and keys in a pocket as well.

As far as the waist pack goes, I typically have it converted to a survival bag that carries what I have assembled for my kit. (I would like to add that I will be throwing in this comprehensive survival kit, just as extra precaution.) Keep in mind; this is just the waist portion, leaving the upper portion available for more use. I can also toss this pack in the back of my truck, just in case something was to ever happen. Also for those with kids, having them carry the waist pack would be a great way to include them and make them feel like an essential part to whatever activity is going on.

With my first big-game hunt coming up last November, I began wondering if I would need to upgrade my pack. I loaded the main pack with the basics for whitetail hunting, and attached the waist pack as well. I locked the buckles across my chest and slung my rifle over my shoulder. Then using the waist buckles, strapped in over the rifle. It secured the rifle firmly and comfortably, leaving me completely hands free. Between the waist straps and the most comfortable sling ever, hiking with my rifle was a breeze.

If you are looking for a new backpack for yourself or a gift, I am sure by now you know which one I would suggest.

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Ice out Lake Trout

Marty's Lake TroutMarty and Me w/lake troutThe high mountain lakes are starting to become ice free and now is the time to catch your lake trout of a lifetime. I have been waiting for the days when I could make the trip over Monarch Pass to Gunnison and finally chase ice off lake trout at Blue Mesa Reservoir with the best of friends. This trip was a trip to remember.

I knew we were heading out on Friday and I have been in another state for a business conference during the week, not a good time to concentrate with lake trout on the brain. I have made the trip from Fountain to Blue Mesa several times to meet up with my buddy Robby Richardson owner of Sport Fish Colorado and we have put a great number of fish in the boat. He has landed several lakers over 20# and I have yet to get one in the boat. I was going to land a giant on this trip for sure I just knew it.

I picked up my good friend Marty Riddle who is the Pro Staff Manager for Eagle Claw and we headed out with smiles and anticipation of a giant lake trout. Marty has never been to Blue Mesa before and I hoping for the best for the both of us. Robby had been on big lakers the entire week on guide trips. Perfect, everything was lining up for this trip to be successful.

We headed out early on Saturday and trolled some baits along the points. The fish were showing up on Robby's Lowrance graph and we were in the right areas. I had to chunk and wind a swim bait off the front to work the areas from the shore to the boat.It seemed like the lake trout had other plans than to take pictures with us. Then I got whacked and the fight was on. This one felt like a big one. It headed straight to the bottom and head shaked. I got a few cranks on it and back to the bottom it went head shaking and then the heart break happened the line went limp and there was no weight on the end of my rod. Wow. not again. Just my luck with the lake trout so far for the last couple of years. the big ones seem to always get off.

The day was long and we were not on the board with any big lake trout so far. Marty got whacked and the fight was on. This was a great fish it dove to the bottom and wasn't going to give up easy. This fish fought him for a good ten minutes and we saw a glimpse of her before she made another dive. She came up again and blew bubbles and Robby was able to get the net under her and in the boat she came. This was an incredible fish. Marty was as excited as I have ever seen him. She choked the bait it was completely gone. Robby quickly removed the bait and we took a bunch of photos of Marty's first Blue Mesa fish a 24# lake trout. Not too shabby.

Sunday was a different day there were several boats on the water and the lake was getting some pressure as luck would have it Marty's rod was loaded up with another giant early. This beauty had a much larger fish come up from the depths with her that had at least another ten pounds on her and spooked when she got closer to the boat. Marty's second lake trout of the weekend weighed 20#. I never got bit until it was time to head back to the ramp. I had a sympathy 3# German Brown show me some love. Although I have yet to land a laker over 20# I had the one of the best times on the water that I will never forget. My stomach still hurts from all the laughs we shared and what better way to spend the weekend with the best of friends.

If it is giant lake trout your looking for this spring give my buddy Robby Richardson a call with Sport Fish Colorado (719) 649-3378 He is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet. Check out his website www.sportfishcolorado.com

 

Best of luck,

                     Sam Heckman / Pro Staff

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Have Fly Rod, Will Travel

Rod WotenBy: Rod Woten, Bass Pro Shops Altoona Pro Staff

Iowa isn’t exactly the first place that comes to mind when someone mentions fly fishing. Granted, we don’t have any epic saltwater flats that hold line-stripping bonefish and we don’t have any glacier-fed rivers that hold stunningly beautiful cutthroat trout. There are, however, plenty of fly rod opportunities in Iowa if you know where to look. The opportunities below are just a few of my favorites from around the state.

 

Farm Pond Panfish

I learned to fly fish on southeast Iowa farm ponds growing up as a kid.  Minnesota may be the land of 10,000 lakes, but Iowa is the land of 10,000 farm ponds and many of them rarely, if ever, get any fishing pressure. That can equate to trophy panfish and the opportunity to be THE ONLY ONE with permission to fish a farm pond or two. Often, all it takes is a knock on a landowner’s door and sharing a bag of fillets with them every once in a while. 

The great thing about panfish on the fly rod is that every fish seems like a monster. One of my favorites tactics for catching farm pond bluegills on the fly rod are foam poppers.  Trust me - if you love the adrenaline of catching bass on top water lures, then catching bluegills on fly rod poppers is definitely right up your alley. Don’t limit yourself to poppers only, though. Almost any dry fly, grasshopper, cricket, or beetle pattern will make an excellent top water presentation for bluegills. If you’re lucky enough to be fishing a pond that also contains crappies, you also stand a very good chance of landing a few of those silver-sided panfish.

For those days when the bluegills just won’t feed on the surface, I’ll tie on a small beadhead nymph of some sort, add a strike indicator above that, and experiment with the depth between the two until I find the exact depth that the bluegills are feeding at.  Another variation on this theme is to tie a foam hopper on and then add a nymph to a short length of line tied to the hook of the hopper. This is often referred to as a “hopper-dropper” rig, and will not only catch those deeper feeding bluegills, but can pick up surface strikes as well.

All of these tactics also work well on any Iowa lake with a good panfish population, so don’t be afraid to give those a whirl either.

Down a Lazy River

Iowa is blessed with a few rivers that have pretty good smallmouth bass fishing. One of my favorites is the stretch of the Raccoon River between Panora and Redfield. On a hot summer day, it feels pretty good to wade a stretch of this river while tossing wooly buggers to likely looking smallmouth haunts and waiting for the strike. Other than an occasional passing flotilla of kayakers, we often have the river to ourselves when we do this. For those that are willing to wade far enough from the access points, you can often forget you’re only minutes away from the nearest highway.

My favorite fly for this is a black wooly bugger with a gold cone head.  Fishing this fly is as simple as casting to a likely looking spot, and stripping line to retrieve the Bugger.  The stripping action causes the Bugger to gently rise and fall through the water with each stroke and looks a lot like a minnow swimming through the current. Smallmouth can’t resist it, but it’s also not uncommon for us to catch walleye, largemouth bass, channel catfish, white bass, yellow bass, crappies, green sunfish, flathead catfish and carp on any given cast. I think that’s one of the things I love the most about wading the Raccoon River; even though we’re specifically targeting smallmouth, you just never know what you’re next fish will be.

The Queen Mother of All Iowa Fly Fishing

WCreek Fly Fishingithout a doubt, the pinnacle for fly fishing in Iowa is chasing brook, brown and rainbow trout in the cold water spring-fed streams of northeast Iowa. Most folks don’t even realize that we have trout in Iowa, but they are there and the fly fishing for them can be EPIC at most times of the year. Iowa’s trout streams are often small, and the close proximity of overgrowth can be a true test of anyone’s fly casting ability. It is often said that if you can successfully fly fish the trout streams of Iowa, you can fly fish anywhere with success.

Whether your goal is to fool a truly wild trout, take home a limit of stockers for the grill, chase a true trophy fish, or simply get away from it all and spend the day casting in the solitude of nature, you can find all of these on a northeast Iowa trout stream. Because of the unique geology of the area, (which, in large part is why these streams are there in the first place) you'll be blessed with rock outcroppings, scenic overlooks and flora and fauna that will take your breath away. In this area of the state it is truthfully hard to tell most of the time that you are still even in Iowa! It’s something you truly have to experience for yourself to fully understand, and what better way to do so than with fly rod in hand.

Give it a Try!

It is said that almost any fish that can be caught with rod and reel can also be caught on the fly rod. Contrary to popular belief, Iowa has some humdinger fly fishing opportunities available to anyone willing to pick up a rod, learn to cast and give it a try.  From farm pond bluegills and largemouth to river smallmouths, and from carp (often referred to as the “poor man’s bonefish”) to spring stream trout, Iowa can offer it all.  Bass Pro Shops can provide you everything you need to get started; not only on the equipment side of things, but also with expert guidance on selecting things like line, rod, reel and flies for whatever fish you decide to chase as well as offering casting workshops and fly tying seminars all done in-store. Be sure to stop in and pick their brains if this whole fly rod thing is something that peaks your interest. I also own and operate Coldwater Guide Service, which specializes in guiding beginner fly anglers. While our forte is Northeast Iowa trout, we also offer trips for all of the scenarios I’ve described above, as well as many others, including ice fishing adventures during the winter. If you’d like to have us take you out and show you what this fly fishing thing is all about, be sure to check us out at www.coldwaterguideservice.com.

Whatever avenues you might take to learn fly-fishing, I highly encourage you to at least give it a try….even if it only remotely interests you. As a fishing professional, I spend many hours fishing with an array of techniques ranging from pulling planer boards for walleyes and spinnerbait fishing for bass to drifting for crappies and fishing through a 6” hole in the ice with a 20-inch rod in the winter…and everything in between, but some of my most satisfying moments in my life have come with a fly rod in my hand.

_____________________________________________

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Fishing Tips by Teddy Carr

  I just finished up with the Bassmaster Weekend Series tournament on the Potomac River. I caught fish all day but just couldn’t manage a big bite to get me over the hump-so to speak. But one of the keys to success is being on a good pattern that is producing to enhance your odds of catching the big ones you need. I had figured out my lure pattern and choice earlier in the week. I was smashing them on a Booyah Boogie Bait in white. But its not enough to just have the right lure selection, you also have to have the right rod and reel set-up and that reel has to be spooled with the right line. With all the specialty lines out there today we have a huge leg up. I use Bass Pro Shops 30-pound braid for my bladed jigs like the Boogie Bait along with a heavy action rod. This allows me to rip this lure out of the grass and pads that I routinely fish as well as get a good hook set. I spool it up on a Bass Pro Shops Pro-Qualifier reel that gives me maximum casting distance. Even though I didn’t win this tournament my set up is a winning combination for catching bass.

 

Teddy Carr

 Member of the Aflac Fishing Team and Bass Pro Shops Pro-staff

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Fishing Report

Fishing

by David Brayman

FRESHWATER FISHING

     For the freshwater fishermen, there are plenty of shad to be caught in the lower James River up to the fall line with darts and spoons being the primary lure, no specific color. This fishery will continue for another 2 to 3 weeks before it begins to wind down. Along with the shad the Striped Bass have started to get caught with both schoolies and big fish in the mix. A jig head lure with a white body will produce good results, 4, 6, or even 8 inch bodies will work. For the bass fishermen, the fish have begun to work into a pre-spawn/spawn patterns. Top water and plastic lures producing best results. The Small mouth bite is getting better as well with the fish following their larger mouthed cousins. For the crappie live minnows and and jigs are doing well.

SALTWATER FISHING

     The croaker and spot are a little slow going coming to us, but they are being caught. The Speckled Trout and Puppy Drum are beginning to make their way to the flats areas in places like Mobjack Bay. The large Drum are making their presence in the ocean going inlets like Fisherman’s Island inlet. These big fish are being caught up to the 50 inch marker. Softshell crab, or cut bait will produce for these bruisers. Another good fish to pursue is the Tautaug. These fish are bait stealing KINGS, if you aren’t paying full attention. Cut crabs, sand fleas, or fiddler crabs are best bait for these guys.

     As Spring comes into play around us, we begin to remember those little things we needed to get done last year. Changing that mono line out, sharpen bait knives, replace last years lost tackle. Getting these things done now, can prevent lost time later.

     Our Feature product this month is the Ascend fs128t Angler Kayak. This is one to get excited about, it has GREAT potential to become a big contender in the fishing community. Come by and take a look for yourself!

  • Sit-on-top/Stand up design provides the ultimate kayak fishing platform
  • Solid casting platform with pull up assist strap for stable switch to stand up fishing
  • Removable 360 degree swivel seat with 3 position height adjustment.
  • Multiple watertight dry storage hatches with easy access
  • Deep molded side storage trays accept all kinds of fishing gear and tackle
  • Multipurpose molded dash - catch all trays, cup holder, and recessed tackle tray storage under seat
  • Adjustable foot braces
  • 4 flush mount rod holders - 2 by seat, 2 forward
  • Molded rod tip stagers on bow deck hold top of rod while fishing
  • Fully adjustable rod tender - provides vertical adjustment and 360° of horizontal adjustment
  • 8 scupper drains - big enough to accept transducer (sold separately)
  • Anchor trolley
  • Maximum weight capacity: 350 lbs.
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Single Largest Kid's Fishing Event in the USA!

Destin's Bass Pro Shops along with Lowes, Walmart, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, the Pensacola Recreational Fisherman's Association, many volunteers and other vendors co-hosted the annual Pensacola Kids' Fishing Clinic on Saturday, April 13th at the Plaza De Luna along the Bay in historic Pensacola.  Some 1000 to 1500 kids and their parents attended this event, billed as the largest in the USA, where the lines extended northward from the park for several blocks.  The kids and their parents attended instructional booths where they learned about fishing tackle, casting techniques, knot tying, conservation, and a hands-on salt water touch tank.  The kids received a free rod and reel combo, a tackle box, terminal tackle, a fishing bucket, booklets on fishing, and Florida Fish and Wildlife Rules and Regulations.  Everything was free, including the great food, drinks, and snacks.

General Manager, Ryan Cox, Gary Feduccia, Dave Lockett, and Melissa and Oscar Zepeda hosted instructional booths and helped the kids with fishing and baiting their hooks.  Destin Bass Pro Shops provided many of the combos and tackle boxes given to the kids.

Kids were encouraged and provided the opportunity to fish along the Bay using cut squid.  Several species of fish were caught and released, including a 10 pound Red Drum.  Since 1996, more than 52,000 kids and some 43,000 parents have participated in the Kids' Fishing Clinics.  Destin's Bass Pro Shops is proud to have been a participant and co-sponsor in this annual event for the past 3 years.  We feel that we are helping to teach our kids responsible marine conservation and stewardship that will last them for a lifetime of fishing enjoyment.

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Fishing Tips from the 'Nati: Get You Some Big Bass This Spring

eric 2

Here’s proof that those big lunkers are out there this spring waiting for you to get out there and find them. Eric from our Fishing Department caught these 4 lb and 5 lb large mouth in a local lake this past week. He was using a quarter ounce Netbait green pumpkin jig with a Paca Chunk trailer on a Bass Pro Shops Carbonlite Rod with a Abu Garcia Revolution SX Reel.

Netbait jig

Temperatures were in the mid fifties, sunny day, and he caught these big fellas in only about 3 feet of water !!! Get out there and get you some, and if you do let us know and we will post them on our Facebook page !! Good luck and go get ‘em !!

Eric 1

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Feature of the Week: April 29

Feature of the Week: Week of April 29

Department: Apparel

Item: $5 Flag Tee

Our Bass Pro Shops Flag T-Shirt is a great way to show your pride without breaking the bank.

$5 flag tee

This short-sleeve tee features "Bass Pro Shops" plus patriotic imagery with a fishing twist—instead of holding the traditional arrows and olive branch, the eagle is holding fishing rods in his talons! The banner behind Old Glory reads "Authentic Gear Since 1972".

flag tee

Pink is 100% cotton; Heather Grey is 90% cotton/10% polyester. Tagless. Machine wash. Imported.

Price S-2XL: $5

Price 3XL: $7
 

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‘Yak Attack!

‘Yak Attack!

 

            Kayak fishing has been climbing to the top of water sports over the last few years. Every year more and more fisherman turn to kayaks to get into those tight nooks and crannies ordinary boats cannot reach. Whether you chose a sit-in or sit-on-top, outfitting your kayak is not much different than outfitting any other boat. The main obstacle is the storage limitations, however there’s plenty of gear to turn your vessel into a fishing machine.

            Rod holders are critical to kayak fishing, since you need both hands to paddle. Most people install two rod holders behind the cockpit to keep them out of the way when traveling; flush mount holders work well for this as they do not clutter the kayak. Another popular method,kayak and the one I use personally, is mounting a rod holder system, such as the Bass Pro Shops 3-position rod rack to a milk crate or office box. Most sit-on-top kayaks will fit a crate perfectly; you can use bungee cords to help keep the accessory secure when paddling. The best part of this approach is the added storage space the crate gives you. It can help hold tackle boxes and trays, fishing tools, etc. and is within reaching distance for when you get in that sticky situation and need tools fast. Storage is a common topic among kayak anglers, and there is no shortage of options. Use of dry bags and bungee cords will keep your gear dry while remaining accessible. Packing gear into bow and stern hatches also works. Hard plastic, water tight containers will help with the more fragile gear. Another option is the use of deck bags. They have plenty of storage pockets and are easy to store on the kayak. Soft coolers are also great for storing your favorite snacks.

            An anchor system is another great fishing accessory. Use it when fishing to stay put when fishing on a windy day. Sea anchors, also known as drift socks, are especially useful in windy conditions and rough water. It is well worth it to install a kayak anchor trolley kit as they let you fine tune the best position with ease. Some newer kayaks, such as the Ascend FS128T, come with this already installed and ready to use.

            Another necessity when kayak fishing is a kayak specific flotation vest. Kayak-specific designs allow for plenty of upper body movement so that you’re not constricted when paddling or casting. You will want a vest with a mesh back or a thin back to give your more space and comfort. When shopping for the right one keep color in mind. Black may look good but on those hot days you will regret not having a color, like red or yellow, that don’t absorb as much heat. They are also much more visible on the water than a dark color. Safety is, of course, the most important part of fishing or boating. At a minimum you will want to carry the following: a whistle, signal mirror, bilge pump, bail or sponge, throw rope and a flashlight with working batteries. A small first aid kit should also be on the vessel at all times.

            Consider picking up a few of these items when you’re rigging your kayak. They’ll help keep you organized on the water, which should help you catch a few more fish this season!

 

Chelsea Smith

Front End Lead

Denham Springs

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We want to fish other bodies of water and try different techniques. Since the water is still cold, where would you suggest we try and what bait should we use?

Question - We want to fish other bodies of water and try different techniques. Since the water is still cold, where would you suggest we try and what bait should we use?

 

Kary Ray and Lance BakerLance Baker

"Right now the best cold bait lures to go with are a blade bait, drop shot, and jig. These cannot be beat in cold water conditions!!! "

Kary Ray -

'If you're fishing from the shore it can make it a challenge but it can definitely be done. I would search for some kind of rock or wood in the water, preferably next to some deep water. The fish at this time of year will likely move up and down the water column due to the changes in the weather. The rocks and wood will help warm the water quicker in that area which will make the fish warm quicker and be a little more aggressive.

For bass I would fish either a jig with some kind of plastic trailer like a zoom chunk or a twin tail grub. Another great choice, and my personal favorite, would be a chatterbait. You can use this particular lure in a variety of ways. You can bounce it off the bottom like a jig, slow roll it along the bottom or, when the fish are a little more aggressive later in the afternoon, you can just cast it out and reel it in.

Catfish right now will start getting real good. Go back into the shallow pockets and throw dead bait (chubs or bluegills) or nightcrawlers on the bottom and just wait. Watch your rod carefully, cause if you get one it is probably gonna be a dandy!

Crappies and bluegills will make a push back into the shallow water but most won't hold there. They will come back into the pockets after a couple warm days then move back out and suspend with a cold front. My suggestion would be to use a 1/16 oz. jig head with a minnow on a slip bobber. This way you can adjust the depth of your presentation until you find the fish. Again, wood and rocks will attract this fish as well.

Anytime you have a place on a lake where a creek is feeding into the lake, this is a prime spot. All species of the lake will migrate there to some extent due to the warm water coming in. Think north when fishing in the spring. The pockets on the north side of the lake will warm quicker which will bring the baitfish and larger fish in right behind them."

Rod Woten

Rod Woten -

"Depends on what species you’re after right now.  Pike will be in shallow water spawning or just finishing up with spawning.  If the pike are done spawning, the perch will be next. Crappies will be staged somewhere between the mid-lake basins where they’ve spent the later part of the winter suspended.  Somewhere between that basin and shallower weedy or dark bottom bays, those crappies can be intercepted.  Bluegills should still be relatively close to where we were catching them prior to ice out.  If there are still green weeds to be found, look for them there.  Otherwise, they are probably still located in those deeper water “sticky bottom” areas. They won’t begin moving shallow to spawn until the water warms up considerably.  Catfish should be concentrated anywhere there is a concentration of winter-kill fish….especially shad.  Cats will pretty much be on a feeding frenzy until those dead fish are gone, so lots of folks lie to target them right now with cut bait. 

Think small bait. The water is still relatively cold, so the metabolism of the fish still isn’t firing at full power. It’s okay to upsize a bit for what we were using prior to ice out, but keep it slow, because these fish aren’t looking for a drag race to catch their food yet. Live bait is good…waxworms for just about everything, small minnows for crappies & walleye. This is also a good time to practice up with those micro plastics that we were using through the ice."

 

 


 

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The Tungsten Advantge

Tungsten weightsaren't necessarily new, but more and more people are finding out about them, as well as beginning to understand their benefits.  One of the primary benefits of tungsten is that the increased density and tensile strength leads to greater sensitivity.  This is to say that, when compared to lead weights, you feel more with tungsten because of the fact that the impact is not softened by the material itself.  Another benefit is that it is far less likely to cause lasting damage if it ingested by waterfowl, or if fish that have ingested tungsten are eaten by eagles, the eagle is almost certain to have no effects.  (There has been no record of acute tungsten poisoning from ingestion of infect prey species by eagle, unlike lead or tin.)  Lastly, tungsten doesn't oxidize like lead, or lead alloys like tin.  The oxidization is one of the primary damaging materials associated with lead poisoning.

In terms of sensitivity, tungsten is outstanding.  Whether as a worm weight, Carolina rig weight, or as a jig head the increased transmission and feel is second to none.  It allows you to feel the compostion or type of bottom you're fishing over much easier.  In turn, it allows you to eliminate water much more rapidly, making smarter, better use of your time on the water.  You can, much easier, discern the size of rock you may be fishing in, or to determine a transition from a hard sand bottom to pea gravel.  It's quite astounding as to the differences you can sometimes feel.  This is also transmitted directly through the tungsten itself.  Very often, a fish will clamp down on the weight, and not just the lure.  In doing so, often you are unable to feel the bite because lead deforms and spreads prior to transmitting the bite.  With tungsten, that bite is transmitted directly to the fishing line, and then on to your rod.

One of the secondary advantages of tungsten is that it is generally much smaller than its lead counterpart.  In some cases, the size difference can be as much as half.  This allows a much smaller profile in your weights.  A smaller weight profile thereby makes the bait look more natural.  More natural presentations catch more fish.  That smaller profile also allows your bait to make it in and out of tight spots much easier.  As well, with the smaller profile, you're much more likely to get a good hook set on fish.  Very often, if a fish has the weight in its mouth on a Texas rig, what will happen is that you can force the fish's mouth open as the weight comes out the jaw.  In doing so, you oepn the jaw which changes the angle the hook needs to penetrate.  If you reduce the profile of the weight, you lessen the change in angle that the hook needs to penetrate.

There are a couple drawbacks to tungsten, however.  The single largest drawback is the price.  At close to double the price of lead, they're not cheap.  The second drawback is that many tungsten sinkers have inserts in them.  When this insert wears, it allows a very sharp edge to contact the line.  In doing so, you've introduced fray.  That's a bumer not only because you're tearing up your line, but because the weight is then worthless, too.  Higher quality tungsten like http://www.basspro.com/Bass-Pro-Shops-XPS-Tungsten-Worm-Weights/product/10210181/ is ultimately what you want to be looking for.  There are several manufactureres of tungsten weights currently on the market that offer weights that are insert free and have excellent finishes.  The two best, in my opinion, are those from Bass Pro Shops and those from Strike King.  One of the primary advantages of the Strike King weights is that the bottom side of the weights are large enough to "cup" the nose of most soft plastics very well.  You get a much cleaner look, and when punching with heavier weights, there is a lot less chance of that union coming loose and hanging in vegetation. 

Give tungsten a shot, it can absolutely be the difference maker on how effective you are with your soft plastics.

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Fishing Basics For Children

Fishing is just about as wholesome as it gets in our society. There is just something about being on the water in nature that is good for the soul in the busy distracting times in which we live in. While growing up, fishing was always an outlet for me, as well as motivation to do good in school and all around try my best to be a good kid, in fear that I could get in so much trouble that I would loose the opportunity to do what I've loved since the age of 2 years old. I still thank my father often and am grateful for him giving me the opportunity at a young age to get on the water as much as possible. Little did we know that it would lead me to a career in professional fishing, but it did. Here is how you can get your child started in fishing just like my dad did for me.

I started out at 2 years old fishing off of my dock with my dad. The technique of choice, which I would recommend for any beginning fisherman, was a good old worm and bobber. The rig consisted of a Round Plastic bobber, a small Bass Pro Shops premium reusable split shot weight, and a number 4 or 6 baitholder hook. For me this rig with a piece of nightcrawler on the hook was all I needed for countless hours, and even years of entertainment. This simple setup allowed me to catch hundreds of bluegill and sunfish off of my dock and fueled a passion that will stick with me for the rest of my life. Bass Pro Shops also offers children fishing combos that are affordable and perfect for a child that wants to learn how to fish. Right now in the Bass Pro Shops Spring Warm Up Sale the Zebco Bill Dance Select 33 Spincast Combo is on sale for a great price. For very small children like I was when I got started in fishing, the Shakespeare Mickey Mouse Lighted Fishing Rod and Reel Kit for Kids is a awesome option.

As your child gets older hopefully he will want to advance in the sport of fishing, moving away from the spincast combos and in to the spinning and baitcasting combos. At this point I would strongly suggest taking a trip to Bass Pro Shops, and head to the fishing department where knowledgeable associates will be more than happy to point your child in the right direction and get them ready to go hit the water a little more seriously. If you do have a child that really has a passion for fishing, the opportunities in this day and age are endless. There are thousands of youth bass clubs across the country as well as high school and college fishing teams. If you are interested in this just Google youth bass clubs, for your area and you'll be amazed at what you find. The sport of fishing is constantly growing so the sooner you introduce your child to fishing the better, and no child is too young to get outdoors and be in nature. My family still has pictures of me at 2 years old playing in my plastic swimming pool with fish, and trust me they are treasured memories. This weekend at the Leeds Bass Pro Shops the Spring Outdoor Family Fun Event is going on from 1-4 this Saturday and Sunday! It will be a great event and with tons of entertainment and activities for the whole family, so come check it out.

I'll see you on the water!

Joey Nania

 

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Kayak Fishing Evolved

The evolution of every genre of angling has been overwhelming, especially since the beginning of the 21st century. As with most sports and hobbies, each year there are bigger, faster, stronger, lighter, and more stylish additions to the tools available. The sport of kayak angling has certainly been no exception and I am so proud as a kayak angler and a Bass Pro Shops fishing team leader that our company has become so involved particularly with our Ascend line of kayaks! Kayak Angler

 

The rising fuel prices, increased fishing pressure, and our culture's sudden emphasis on health and exercise have been a catalyst in the evolution of kayak fishing and the kayaks available for becoming involved in this amazing sport. There are a vast number of options available for the kayak angler whether the emphasis is rivers, lakes, ponds, saltwater, beyond the breakers, flats, or anything else imaginable. Obviously, most angling kayaks are created with only one or two of these categories in mind, but I will briefly discuss below the latest and greatest entry into the kayak angling market.

 

The exciting new entry that I mentioned above is named the Ascend FS128T. This is a 12'8" sit-on-top fishing kayak that is extremely stable and surprisingly maneuverable both when loading/unloading and on the water! This kayak sports a pulley anchor system and five rod holders including four flush mount and one removable/adjustable rod holder that is stationed just to the right of the cockpit. Two paddle clips are alternatively located on the left side of the cockpit and their design allows for easy, yet secure paddle removal or placement single-handedly. The storage space is phenomenal as it includes a bow storage hatch and bungee area, stern storage hatch and bungee area, a storage hatch just in front of the seat, storage hatch just behind the seat, cup holder, and a personal dry storage hatch by the seat! Comfortability is unquestionably outstanding because of adjustable footpegs and adjustable padded seat that can be easily placed in one of three different height locations for paddling comfort and fishing ability.

 

All of these features alone make this an absolutely incredible fishing vessel, but the best attribute of all is the ability to stand and fish! The stability of this kayak is so exceptional that it allows the angler to actually stand and fish during your trip! The FS128T also includes a stand/sit assist lasso that is durable and securely clipped a few feet in front of the seat.

 

                                FS128T Fully Loaded

 

The Ascend FS128T is a kayak angler's dream ride. This new introduction into the Ascend lineup is absolutely loaded with next gen features and is an extremely well designed yet affordable entry into the field of many angling kayaks available today. These are trickling into many of the Bass Pro Shops locations and are available in the camping department for only 699.99. This is an amazing value as most kayaks with this design and these features are Yak Fishing Fun!approximately 1099.99 and up!

If you or someone you know has the slightest interest in this engaging, entertaining, exciting, and fulfilling sport, please don't hesitate to visit with me or any of our friendly staff at the Kodak, TN Bass Pro Shops!

 

Tight Lines,

Gary G. Garver

Fishing Team Lead

Kodak, TN Bass Pro Shops

Bass Pro Shops

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Itching to Try New Gear: Fishing & Family

Have you ever bought new fishing gear only to have "things" come up that prevent you from trying out new gear? Well, that happened to me this year. I bought some brand new Saltwater gear and was forced to wait to try it out!

My family and I finally headed down to Ocean Isle for a Spring Break trip to the beach for some  much needed R and R.

Ocean Isle Arial

Ocean Isle is a wonderful family beach along the southern NC coastline, it has great fishing opportunities both surf and dock fishing as well as the wonderful waterway on the back side of the island.

 I have been dying to use my new fishing gear I bought with a Bass Pro gift card given to me for Christmas. It was a chilly morning with temperatures in the mid 60s for the high. It was early in the morning around 5:30am and man was it cold before the sun came up, but we decided it was better to be fishing and cold than to be warm and not fishing. We were fishing in the canals pictured above just north of the mainland bridge. It was Low tide and we used shrimp bait. I decided to use that type of bait because the bottom of the canal is full of seaweed and oyster shells, and using artificial crankbaits could and probably would have gotten snagged on the bottom. I made another long cast out into the canal after putting on fresh bait, it didn't take long then all of a sudden the rod tip bent down and a fish was on. It gave a great fight but ultimately ended up landing a nice black drum.

blackdrum

Not bad for my first trip out with my new Mako Rod and Reel Combo.  At Bass Pro Shops we feel anglers should have a reliable performing ''grab-and-go'' salt combo that’s versatile enough for surf casting or pier fishing; and with price that would make frugal fisherman proud. We have done just that with the Mako Spinning Rod and Reel Combo. The medium-action, two-piece Mako rod is complete with quality guides, EVA grip handle and graphite reel seat with saltwater-tough, stainless steel cushioned hoods. The smooth Mako reel is built around lightweight graphite frame and side cover and is complete with an anodized aluminum spool, front drag system, die-cast handle and stainless steel main shaft. Its a great rod and reel at an even better price!

The drum seemed to weigh somewhere between 4 and 5 lbs, I didn't have my scales with me but i did have a tape measure!

measuringtape

A 20 inch black drum, man was I stoked!  Can't wait to get back to that fishing spot again soon!

Happy Fishing!

Michael Steele

Team Leader - Apparel Department

Bass Pro Shops

Concord, NC

 

 

 

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Friday Featured Fan Spotlight

Featured FanBass Pro Shops Altoona fans are the best in the world! In this Featured Fan Spotlight, meet Rita!  Rita has become a familiar face at Bass Pro Shops Altoona...she has an amazing story and here's just a brief synopsis.  May we all have Rita's zest for life as we go through the years...and her passion for sharing it with the next generation!

Featured Fan - Rita Mae

 

How Long have you Enjoyed the Great Outdoors?

I have enjoyed outdoor activities all my life. My grandparents were farmers using horses to plow the land and hunting and fishing to put additional food on the table. My parents continued that love for the land and instilled that in me. I got "hooked" on fishing when Dad took me and my brother to MaryFeatured Fanland farm ponds where the big bluegill were plentiful. They were great fun to catch and excellent to eat. We had simple rods and reels with night crawlers we picked up in our yard hooked under those familiar red and white plastic bobbers. I still get a thrill out of catching those big scrappy bluegill and am always looking for new places to catch them with my twin 8-year-old grandsons, Tommy and Torin, and my 14-year-old old neighbor, Rudy.

In my retirement I decided to expand my fishing knowledge and wanted to try something besides worm and bobber fishing. Three years ago I started ice fishing, sitting on a 5-gallon bucket, a borrowed manual auger, a rod I made from a broken longer rod and glued into a wooden dowel, a few tiny jigs and a container of wax worms. I wasn't very successful and got very cold! I went to Lake Okoboji for a three-day "Learn to Ice Fish" event sponsored by Ice Team University and had a blast! I met Dave Gentz, Mr. Ice Fishing, and several other pros who sat with me in a shelter and taught me to ice fish more successfully. I came home and bought a Clam Shelter, Vexilar 20, electric auger, and heater. I used my new equipment and new knowledge to enjoy ice fishing much more. Because I didn't have a boat at that time, I liked the ability to get off the shore and fish anywhere on the water I could walk to. This year I went to Leech Lake in March to fish again with the Ice Fishing University Team. The conditions were tough with 2' of new snow on top of 2' of ice Featured Fanwith cold temps and wind. The pros had to shuttle us around on snowmobiles. Many thanks to Rod Woten from our local Bass Pro Shop in Altoona for taking good care of me and loaning me his Fish Scout camera to learn more about fish habits. The workshops off the ice were tremendous and the friendships made are forever. I can't wait for next year to target walleye and northern on the ice!
 

This past fall when I turned 70 I purchased a fishing kayak, so I will no longer be stuck on the shore. I can paddle it like a regular kayak, peddle it like a recumbent bike, or use its little motor. I enjoy being able to get out on the lake and go places I can't normally get to. I also bought a used BassTender boat to be able to take "the boys" out on Ada Hayden, Hickory Grove, or Big Creek. We all can't wait for warmer weather to have more adventures on the grandsonboat.

Because I'm interested in all types of fishing, last September I attended a weekend Fly Fishing Workshop at Springbrook Conservation Center (near Guthrie Center) sponsored by the Central Iowa Fly Fishing Association. I learned the basics of fly fishing and fly tying. I even caught some fish on a fly
I made. I loved it!  Now I'm a member of CIFFA and have added a new area in my basement for my fly rods and fly tying stuff.

Since I never fished much with crank baits, jerk baits, spinners, and soft baits, I attended the Bass Pro Shops Spring Fishing Classic Workshop in our Bass Pro Shop Altoona store. Wow...there was so much to learn. I appreciate the knowledge and skill of Kary and Lance, the BPS pros. They have armed me with some new skills and I continue to use the Facebook site to ask questions. It's a bit overwhelming, but me and the kids I fish with will have great fun trying it all out.

Go-To Gear?

The gear that I pack depends on what type of fishing and what fish I'm targeting. Because I want to be more mobile, I no longer carry big heavy tackle boxes. I've sorted my tackle into plastic compartmental boxes and just take along the boxes I need. I have a box for crank baits and jerk baits, a box for jigs and spinners, a box for slip bobbers, weights and hooks. I put whatever boxes I want, along with a fanny pack that holds needle nose pliers, line clippers, extra line, etc., in a backpack. I have a spinning rod with XPS fluorocarbon, crank bait rod with Sufix 832 braid, live bait/bobber rod with Sufix Siege camo mono, and ultra light rod hooked up before I go out. I guess if I was only going to take a few lures with me they would be a Bomber Square A crank bait, a Rapala Rippin Rap, a Strike King Red Eye Shad, a Norman DD22, a Smithwick Suspending Rattlin' Rogue,a BooYaa Blade white spinner, a blue/purple Enticer football jig with a Net Bait Paca Chunk bait trailer, drop shot rig with KVD Dream Shots worms, and a Wacky rig with 5" Strike King Zero worms. These were all suggestions from the Bass Pro Shop pro staff.

 

Words of Wisdom

I survived a severe heart attack two years ago. So, more than ever, I believe it's important to make time each day to enjoy your family, friends, and pets... AND have fun doing whatever hobby you love!

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Fishing for Trout and Salmon in the Finger Lakes

Fishing in the Finger Lakes offers a variety of different species to catch.  The most popular fish  people go for, are trout and salmon.  There are different systems of fishing the Finger Lakes, and here are a few you may just be interested in.

 

Trolling:  Trolling is the most popular for trout and salmon.  For this type of fishing you can put up to 5 lures per line, and slowly pull or troll behind a boat.  The positive side to trolling over the casting method is, it allows multiple rods rigged with different lures that are set up at different depths.  Trolling does require special equipment and can be very maddening during periods when the waterfleas are plenty.  A good trolling motor to look in to is the Minnkota Terrova Bow Mount Trolling Motor with Universal Sonar 2.   The Minnkota  has a factory installed I-Pilot wireless GPS trolling system which allows you to store and retrieve location and paths on water.  Added, is the co-pilot wireless function to navigate and position your boat which allows you to focus on fishing.  Easy to use and very durable.

minn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trolling with lures near the surface is referred to as flat lining.  This technique works great with landlocked salmon (best when water is cool).  The best lures to use are stickbaits, streamers and spoons.  During the warm months you need to get lures deeper for the trout and salmon.  Sometimes as deep as 100 feet or more.  A few methods to get lures down deep is a downrigger.  A downrigger is a heavy weight attached to steel cable that lowers and raises by a winch and pulley system.  One downrigger that works well is the Cannon Tournament Series DigiTroll 5TSThe stainless steel spool allows you to re-spool monofilament or superlines.  It has a swival base and integrated LCD screen and touch pad which provides a real time date and is simple to operate.  Best part is its electric.

cannon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 

 

 

Divers:  This device is attached to your line.  This will get your lure down to the depth you want.  Divers are a great option for beginning trollers.  They are cheaper than downriggers and there is no installation to your boat.

WireLine:  This method has become very popular over the years.  When used with a diving device, the bait goes deeper.

Copperline:  This system has been popular for many years in the Finger Lakes area.  Lake trout are the favorite to catch with copper.  Another term people use is "pulling copper".  One tugs the copper by hand using a heavy spoon.  Some people modify an old victrola record player to wind the copper on.

Lures that are popular for trolling salmonids are spoons, plugs, and flies.  Three main styles of attractors are spinners, dodgers, and flashers.

Vertical Jigging:  A very popular method of catching lake trout is vertical jigging.  This method entails lowering the jig to the bottom a few times and then reeling it up rapidly off the bottom for a short distance, before dropping it again and repeating.  This is a nice alternative to trolling when you have water fleas or weed matts.  You also do not need any special rod or reel.

Natural Bait:  Minnows are extremely popular to use.  Make sure you use only certified bait or bait caught from the lake you are fishing on.  Other popular baits are alewives (also called sawbellies or mooneyes), egg sacs, and marshmallow and worm rigs.  The marshmallow and worm rigs are extremely popular on Skaneateles Lake.  The colored marshmallow helps float the worm off the bottom and the bright color of the marshmallow acts like a attractor.  Some people skip the worm and just use the marshmallow. 

So have a relaxing and fun time out fishing on the Finger Lakes, and remember if you need anything we are just a short distance away.

 

Robin Piedmonte - Events Coordinator

 

 

 

 

 

 

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That Takes The Bait

That Takes The Bait

Hey all you guys and gals out there in Blogland.  Let me tell you a little bit about myself and why I am writing this blog.  I retired from the corporate world several years ago and got my dream job here at Bass Pro Shops (eat your heart out Bill Gates).  Since I work here, even though I do not work out on the floor, I though it would be a good idea for me to know a little bit about each of the different departments.  As I got to know more, I realized how much I didn’t know.  Not just about what we sell in the store, but about what you have to know to use what we sell in the store.

Take fishing baits for example.  Do you know how many different kinds of fishing baits there are?  Not to mention all of the different colors.  Did you know you use one kind of bait to catch one kind of fish and another to catch a different kind or you can be trying to catch the same kind of fish but you use a different kind of bait because it is morning or evening?  Or maybe a different color?  So I started out asking my husband what he thought about baits (after 40 some years of marriage that’s what a good wife is supposed to do, right?).  Next I asked his fishing buddies, then I did what I should have done in the first place, I went to the experts in our fishing department.  After hearing what all they had to say, I got to thinking – There might be other people out there just like me who might be in need a basic understanding of fishing baits.  So here goes (and remember, this is not comprehensive just basic and I am no expert).

Baits are divided into six different types – Crank baits, Top water Plugs, Spinner baits, buzz baits, jigs and plastics. 

Crank baits - Diving crank baits are characterized by a bill or lip. Deep running crank baits are used to probe depths of water below crankthe surface.  Minnow type shallow runners are used as top water lures and are twitched across the surface.   The diving depth is determined by the length and width of the bill.  When the bait is pulled through the water, the lip causes it to dive.   When the retrieve is paused the bait will float to the surface. The action of the bait depends on the style of bait, length of cast, the rate of retrieve, pausing and twitching action, and the position of the rod tip. Using a stop and go retrieve around points, channels, stumps, and brush will often trigger a strike.

Shallow, medium and deep running crank baits come in different weights, sizes and color patterns. They can cover a large amount of water in a short time.  The swimming crank bait is similar to the lipped crank bait, except that it sinks when it is paused.  It is very versatile and can be fished at various depths.  They are effective around drop offs, humps, through timber and along edges of grass lines

Top water Plugs - Catching a large fish on a top water lure is one of the most exciting moments an angler can experience.  These top water baits, are often referred to as chuggers, poppers, stick baits and prop baits.  The chugger and poppers have a wide concaved snout that churns the water when they are twitched and popped. Some are equipped with rattles inside them.

Prop baits are equipped with either one or two propellers.  The whirling action of the propellers causes a distinct vibration and sound when it is pulled across the surface.  The stick bait is designed to walk and wobble across the surface.

spinnerSpinner baits - Probably the most versatile bait in an anglers tackle box is the spinner bait.  One of its best features is that it is easy to use and is relatively weedless.  The blades spin and flash during the retrieve and the action of the skirt adds life and shape to the bait.  The depth can be controlled by the rate of retrieve, and the position of the rod tip.  It is most often used to fish the top 2 to 4 feet of water although it can be used to fish deeper structure.     Using the 'slow roll'  method the lure is retrieved with the blades slowly turning, keeping the lure close to the bottom or over other substrate.   

When water is warm and fish are active a good method to use is the bulging retrieve.  As soon as the lure hits the water, immediately engage the reel and use a rapid retrieve to keep the lure coming just under the surface of the water.  The turning of the blades produces a bulge in the water.   Hold on to your rod as strikes can be especially fierce with this method.     

Spinner baits are equipped with single blades or tandem blades of different styles and combinations. Anglers can choose the oblong Indiana blade, the thin willowleaf blade or the wider tear shaped Colorado blades. Trailers of all sizes and makes can be added to a spinner bait.  Spinner baits come in many sizes, weights and colors. Color of the spinner bait is important in that it helps to determine the degree of visibility of the lure.

Buzz baits - The design of a buzz bait is very similar to a spinner bait. The blade on a buzz bait acbuzzts as a propeller that causes the bait to sputter along the surface.   The distinctive noise of the buzz bait will usually agitate bass into striking. Cast it beyond your target area and immediately begin your retrieve to keep the lure on the surface.  A slow or sometimes erratic retrieve will trigger some vicious top water strikes. 

Jigs - A jig is a leadheaded hook with a changeable skirt. A trailer is sometimes added to the jig, the most popular being the pork rind.  This combination is referred to as the jig n' pig.

jigJigs can be effective when most lures just won't produce.  They are virtually snagless, and can be put directly in the fish zone.  They are especially effective on suspended fish that are hiding in deep cover. 

One way to fish the jig is to let it sink to the bottom and then begin a slow and steady retrieve. Other ways are to hop the lure along the bottom; use the rod tip to jig it vertically; flip it; or fish it like a spinner bait.  Most anglers have their own preferred method of fishing a jig. 

These lures come in many styles, colors, weights, etc.  Small tube jigs are effective for catching small sunfish, and crappie.plastic

Plastics - Soft plastics can be rigged with weight or used weightless. Weightless plastics can be used as surface lures or jerk baits. They are commonly used when fishing thick vegetation.  They are also very effective during the spawning season using a float-twitch retrieve over grassbeds.  Plastics with a very light weight can be used when fishing shallow structure.  Heavily weighted plastics are fished along the bottom. There are so many different types of plastics and so many different ways to rig them. There are plastics that imitate frogs; lizards; salamanders; leeches; worms; grubs; centipedes; fish; craw worms etc. that come in all sizes and colors. 

Jettie Whittington

HR Clerk

Denham Springs

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What's In A Line?

 What's In A Line?

 

            Hey everyone this is Brian, I am a Fishing Team Lead from the Denham Springs store.  I just wanted to take a few minutes to talk about the different types of fishing lines out there, no not brands of line but the types.  You know Monofilament, Braided (super) line, Fluorocarbon and Copolymers.  All 4 lines have there advantages and disadvantages, you will have to weigh them for yourself to determine which line is best for you and your specific fishing applications.

Monofilament

Monofilament is a single component product making it fairly inexpensive to make, no doubt at least in part the monoreason it remains the most popular line out there.  But as with all line it has its advantages and disadvantages. Beyond being relatively inexpensive, it is easy to cast, cut and knots well. On the downside, it tends to stretch during hook sets, particularly when there is a lot of line out there. This is a real downside if one happens to be seeking fish with a tough jaw. It is also not particularly sensitive to light hits, as you simply may not feel a light touch. Over time it can develop spool memory and will deteriorate from light and heat necessitating regular replacement.  I have seen too many big fish lost simply because the angler didn’t take the time to replace their line on a regular basis. Also, it is not as abrasion resistant as some of the other lines out there. So one must constantly be on the look out for small abrasions and retie accordingly. Lastly, and this particularly applies to heavyweight line, it is bulky and when attempting to spool a lot of heavy test line it won’t take long to fill the spool.

Superline (braid)

braidThere are actually two types of superlines: braided and fused. Fused is made of gel-spun polyethylene that is heated and pulled into strands that are then fused together. Whereas the braided version is typically made of synthetic fibers such as Spectra that are then tightly woven and compressed together into an ultra thin, incredibility strong and sensitive line.  They can be used  when fishing heavy cover, jigging, or fishing bait in deep water. The lack of stretch in these instances makes for solid hook sets even in very deep water or on steel-jawed fish. Its sensitivity also transmits the minutest strikes for quicker hook sets and when working heavy cover or in high abrasion areas, it is all but indestructible. Lures also sink faster and deeper with superlines. Additionally, because of its small diameter, you can load a lot of line on your spool. It has minimal spool memory and does not require replacement nearly as frequently as most will last several years. Pound-test for pound-test you can also cast it further than monofilament making it useful in situations where long casts are a must.

But on the down side, it is expensive and you may need to alter fishing techniques. For example, it will require different knots as many of your old knots may slip, so when in doubt use a Palomar knot. You may even consider adding a drop of super glue to the knot to make sure that it won’t slip. It is also very visible to fish, which is some cases may not present a problem but in others may just spell the difference between success and failure. Additionally, with this no stretch line, too hard a hook set and you may pull the hook right out of a fish’s mouth. When snagged, it is all too easy to break a rod tip by putting too much pressure on these all but unbreakable lines. And when trolling, don’t set your drag too tight as it may pull the lure or bait away from a fish. A rod with a light action tip will also assist in avoiding this problem. And last, when snagged don’t use your hands, as the line can very easily cut your hands. Point your rod tip directly at the snag and pull directly to you. Either the line will break or the hook will straighten out.

Fluorocarbon

Fluorocarbon fishing line originated in Japan where it was first used as leader material when bait presentation was critical in high-pressure fluorocarbonareas. It has since gained popularity on this continent and in many instances, is the line of choice. Fluorocarbon line has a refractive index close to that of water, making it all but invisible when submerged in water. Unquestionably, it is an excellent choice for fishing in clear water or high-pressure areas. It is particularly useful as leader material when fly fishing in ultra clear mountain streams and rivers. While not on par with the superlines, it still offers minimal line stretch, a quick sink rate and is tougher than monofilament. It has minimal spool memory and is quite abrasion resistant. The later making it a good choice for high abrasion areas such as rocks or submerged logs. It is also more UV resistant so it can be stored and used for longer periods than monofilament. It is quite sensitive and with its limited line stretch it makes for quicker and more solid hook sets without the potential loss of a fish due either to too much or too little stretch. It may well be the ideal fit for line stretch between monofilament and the superlines. 

But it too has it drawbacks, as with the superlines it will require more attention to detail. Knots, for example, will require more attention and always check your knots before using. It is also stiffer than monofilament and as such I would avoid using heavier weight fluorocarbon lines on light gear particularly if you are using lightweight lures. And last, it is certainly more expensive.

Copolymer

copoCopolymer fishing line is another feat of engineering as it originally combined several nylon monomers into a thinner more stable line. New formulas, which include, for example, the addition of fluorocarbon, have been developed to enhance this line even further. P-line Floroclear is a good example of this. Copolymer lines are more impervious to the elements and offer a bit less line stretch than monofilament. It is also less visible and tends to outlast monofilament as well.  But once again, it can be a bit more expensive and may be viewed by some as being a bit tricky to handle. If you encounter a problem with stiffness, I would suggest that you consider dropping down a couple of weight classes.

As a final comment, there is no one perfect line for all uses, so take a look at what you are fishing for, the depth you are fishing at, the type of terrain you are fishing in, the type of tackle being used, the condition of the water, the fishing pressure, and then look at matching your line to these factors and you are sure to not only improve your catch rate but your enjoyment as well.  Please visit your nearest Bass Pro Shops for all your outdoor needs.

Brian Gordon

Fishing Lead

Denham Springs

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Spinning vs. Baitcasting

The question of which specific type of rod and reel to use is a very controversial subject. Anglers all over the country are set in there ways that either a spinning rod is the way to go or a baitcaster is the way to go. The truth is, both have there time and place, and to truly be a versatile successful fisherman it is important to get confident and build your skills with both. This being said there are still a few rules of thumb that I like to stick by when selecting which type of equipment to use, and both definitely have there time and place.

Spinning setups such as the now on sale Bass Pro Shops Pro Qualifier or the Pflueger President Spinning Reel have been very important keys to my success as a professional angler. Accompany these reels with either a Johnny Morris CarbonLite or a TFO Signature series rod and you will have a extremely versatile rod and real combination. There are some things a spinning rod is key for that a baitcasting setup just simply can't duplicate. For me I almost always choose a spinning rod when I am using 10lb test Trilene line or lighter. Spinning rods are designed for these light line applications and with extremely sensitive drag systems they give the angler the best opportunity to fool a finicky fish into biting by using light line and finesse tactics. The sensitive drag system will allow a large fish to run and fight stripping out line but not breaking you off in the process. Another great advantage that a skilled angler has while using a spinning setup is the ability to side arm skip light or weightless baits with ease. This technique is deadly for fishing up under docks or overhanging trees. With a spinning rod you can gently place a weightless soft plastic bait 50+feet under the cover where fish rarely see a lure. This being said do yourself a favor and give the sometimes frustrating spinning rod and reel a try.

What i mean by sometimes frustrating is the spinning setup is notorious for having blowout loops that can all but ruin a day of fishing. While getting occasional loops is inevitable there are a few fundamentals that will almost eliminate loops and tangles on the water. The first step in casting a spinning rod and reel is holding the line with your finger, you then flip the medal bail over and you are ready to cast. Now from then on is where all of the problems happen, watch your bait as it sails through the air and just before it hits the water place your finger back on the line stopping the bait, and then simply flip the bait back over manually instead of using the spring mechanism by just starting to reel. That is all it takes, most loops occur when your bait hits the water and line continues to come off of the spool creating line twist, as well as the twist and ware on a reel that happens when you flip the bail over by cranking the handle. Give it a try and you will be blown away at how much more enjoyable spinning rod fishing will become. Trust me it really works.

Baitcasters are the most popular setups by far in the bass fishing world. Bass anglers often use relatively big lures and heavy line, making a baitcaster the best choice. A baitcaster has more power and strength for fighting a fish out of heavy cover as well as the ability to cast the heavy lures that are sometimes required to catch bass. So as a rule of thumb, most of the time when using 12lb line or higher a baitcaster is the way to go. They are very important for tactics such as crankbait fishing, flipping and pitching, or deep water fishing with carolina rigs and jigs. While you won't have issues with line twist using baitcasters they do have there own challenges that come with them. Backlashes are the thing that turns many recreational anglers away from fishing with a baitcaster. The key to casting them begins before you even get on the lake with tuning your reel just right, making sure you have your tension knob and break systems properly set for the specific bait you are throwing is extremely important. The rest is all in the way you cast, your cast must be one smooth and fluid motion allowing the weight of the bait to do the work. If your going to get a new baitcaster I would suggest a Johnny Morris CarbonLite Baitcasting Reel with a Temple Fork Outfitters Signature Series Trigger Rod and you are ready to go.

It all boils down to practice, it takes countless hours to truly master the spinning setup as well as the baitcaster, and neither one is a all around better option then the other. If you have any questions such as how to set your baitcasting reel or the size of line to use come in to Bass Pro Shops where associates can fine tune your setup and give you hands on instructions on how to use your equipment! Also if you decide you want to take a leap of faith and learn how to use a new type of reel Bass Pro Shops has a sale going on from now until May 5th. SPRING WARM-UP SALE!

I'll see you on the water!

Joey Nania

 

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