Lowrance Sonar Tutorial- Part II

 

After last weeks blog a few people asked to see Part 2 of the basic sonar article, so here it is.... Enjoy this "oldie but a goodie" from LOWRANCE... Tom, Jr.
 
Fish Arches
One of the most common questions that we receive is "How do I get fish arches to show on my screen?" It's really pretty simple to do, but it does require attention to detail, not only in the way you make the adjustments to the unit, but to the whole sonar installation.

It also helps to see the Why Fish Arch section below. This explains how arches are created on your sonar's screen.

Screen Resolution
The number of vertical pixels that the screen is capable of showing is called Screen Resolution. The more vertical pixels on a sonar's screen, the easier it will be for it to show fish arches. This plays an important role in a sonar unit's capability to show fish arches. The chart below lists the pixel sizes and area they represent down to 50 feet for two different screens.
 
PIXEL HEIGHT
 
PIXEL HEIGHT
100 VERTICAL PIXEL SCREEN
 
240 VERTICAL PIXEL SCREEN
RANGE
PIXEL HEIGHT
 
RANGE
PIXEL HEIGHT
0-10 feet
1.2 inches
 
0-10 feet
0.5 inches
0-20 feet
2.4 inches
 
0-20 feet
1.0 inches
0-30 feet
3.6 inches
 
0-30 feet
1.5 inches
0-40 feet
4.8 inches
 
0-40 feet
2.0 inches
0-50 feet
6.0 inches
 
0-50 feet
2.5 inches
 
 
As you can see, one pixel represents a larger volume of water with the unit in the 0 - 100 foot range than it does with the unit in the 0 - 10 foot range. For example, if a sonar has 100 pixels vertically, with a range of 0 - 100 feet, each pixel is equal to a depth of 12 inches. A fish would have to be pretty large to show up as an arch at this range. However, if you zoom the range to a 30-foot zoom (for example from 80 to 110 feet), each pixel is now equal to 3.6 inches. Now the same fish will probably be seen as an arch on the screen due to the zoom effect. The size of the arch depends on the size of the fish - a small fish will show as a small arch, a larger fish will make a larger arch, and so on. Using a sonar unit with a small number of vertical pixels in very shallow water, a fish directly off the bottom will appear as a straight line separate from the bottom. This is because of the limited number of dots at that depth. If you are in deep water (where the fish signal is displayed over a larger distance of boat travel), zooming the display into a 20 or 30 foot window around the bottom shows fish arches near the bottom or structure. This is because you have reduced the pixel size in a larger cone.
 
               
100 pixels
 
240 pixels
 
 
On the right above is a section of a 240 vertical pixel screen. On the left is a simulated version of the same screen with only 100 vertical pixels. As you can see, the screen on the right has much better definition than does the one on the left. You can see fish arches much easier on the 240 pixel screen.
Chart Speed
The scrolling or chart speed can also affect the type of arch displayed on the screen. The faster the chart speed, the more pixels are turned on as the fish passes through the cone. This will help display a better fish arch. (However, the chart speed can be turned up too high. This stretches the arch out. Experiment with the chart speed until you find the setting that works best for you.)

Transducer Installation
If you still don't get good fish arches on the screen, it could be the transducer's mounting is incorrect. If the transducer is mounted on the transom, adjust it until its face is pointing straight down when the boat is in the water. If it is angled, the arch won't appear on the screen properly. If the arch slopes up but not down, then the front of the transducer is too high and needs to be lowered. If only the back half of the arch is printed, the nose of the transducer is angled too low and needs to be raised.

Fish Arch Review

1. Sensitivity

Automatic operation with Advanced Signal Processing (ASP™) turned on should give you the proper sensitivity settings but, if necessary, the sensitivity may be increased.
2. Target Depth
The depth of the fish can determine if the fish will arch on the screen. If the fish is in shallow water, the fish is not in the cone angle very long, making it difficult to show an arch. Typically, the deeper the fish, the easier it is to show an arch.

3. Boat Speed
The boat's engine should be in gear at an idle or just above. Experiment with your boat to find the best throttle location for good arches. Usually, a slow trolling speed works best.

4. Chart Speed
Use at least 3/4 chart speed or higher.

5. Zoom Size
If you see markings that are possible fish, but they do not arch, zoom in on them. Using the zoom function lets you effectively increase the screen's resolution.

Final Notes on Fish Arches
Very small fish probably will not arch at all. Because of water conditions such as heavy surface clutter or thermoclines, the sensitivity sometimes cannot be turned up enough to get fish arches. For the best results, turn the sensitivity up as high as possible without getting too much noise on the screen. In medium to deep water, this method should work to display fish arches.

A school of fish will appear as many different formations or shapes, depending on how much of the school is within the transducer's cone. In shallow water, several fish close together appear like blocks that have been stacked in no apparent order. In deep water, each fish will arch according to its size.

Why Fish Arch
The reason fish show as an arch is because of the relationship between the fish and the cone angle of the transducer as the boat passes over the fish. As the leading edge of the cone strikes the fish, a display pixel is turned on. As the boat passes over the fish, the distance to the fish decreases. This turns each pixel on at a shallower depth on the display. When the center of the cone is directly over the fish, the first half of the arch is formed. This is also the shortest distance to the fish. Since the fish is closer to the boat, the signal is stronger and the arch is thicker. As the boat moves away from the fish, the distance increases and the pixels appear at progressively deeper depths until the cone passes the fish.
 
 
If the fish doesn't pass directly through the center of the cone, the arch won't be as well defined. Since the fish isn't in the cone very long, there aren't as many echoes to display, and the ones that do show are weaker. This is one of the reasons it's difficult to show fish arches in shallow water. The cone angle is too narrow for the signal to arch.

Remember, there must be movement between the boat and the fish to develop an arch. Usually, this means trolling at a slow speed with the main engine. If you are anchored or stopped, fish signals won't arch. Instead, they'll show as horizontal lines as they swim in and out of the cone.

Actual On-The-Water Chart Recordings
The following chart records are from a Lowrance X-85 liquid crystal graph sonar. It has 3000 watts of transmitter power, a 240 x 240 pixel screen and operates at 192 kHz.

X-85 Sample 1
 
 
This shows a split-screen view of the water beneath the boat. The range on the right side of the screen is 0 - 60 feet. On the left, the screen has a 30-foot "zoom" rangeof 9 to 39 feet. Since the unit is in the automatic mode, (shown by the word "auto" at the top center of the screen) it picked the ranges to keep the bottom signal on the screen at all times. The water depth is 35.9 feet.

The unit was used with an HS-WSBK "Skimmer®" transducer mounted on the transom. The sensitivity level was adjusted to 93% or higher. Chart speed was one step below maximum.

A. Surface Clutter
The markings at the top of the screen can extend many feet below the surface. This is called Surface Clutter. It's caused by many things, including air bubbles created by wind and wave action or boat wakes, bait fish, plankton and algae. Many times larger fish will be seen feeding on the bait fish and other food near the surface.

B. GRAYLINE®
GRAYLINE® is used to outline the bottom contour which might otherwise be hidden beneath trees and brush. It can also give clues to the composition of the bottom. A hard bottom returns a very strong signal, causing a wide gray line. A soft, muddy or weedy bottom returns a weaker signal which is shown with a narrow gray line. The bottom on this screen is hard, composed mainly of rock.

C. Structure
Generally, the term "structure" is used to identify trees, brush, and other objects rising from the bottom that aren't part of the actual bottom. On this screen, "C" is probably a tree rising from the bottom. This record was taken from a man-made lake. Trees were left standing in several areas when the lake was built, creating natural habitats for many game fish.

D. Fish Arches
The X-85 has a significant advantage over many competitive units in that it can show individual fish with the characteristic arched mark on the screen. (See Why Fish Arch for more information.) On this screen, there are several large fish holding just off the bottom at "D," while smaller fish are hanging in the middle of the screen and near the structure.

E. Other Elements
The large, partial arch shown at "E" is not a fish. We were trolling near the entrance to a cove that had hundreds of tires banded together with wire cables. Other cables anchored the tires to the bottom. The large arch at "E" was created when we passed over one of the large cables that anchored the tires.

X-85 Sample 2
 
 

 
This shows a full-screen zoom view of the water beneath the boat. The range is 8 - 38 feet, which gives a 30-foot zoom. Since the unit is in the automatic mode, (shown by the word "auto" at the top center of the screen) it picked the ranges to keep the bottom signal on the screen at all times. The water depth is 34.7 feet.

The unit was used with an HS-WSBK "Skimmer®" transducer mounted on the transom. The sensitivity level was adjusted to 93% or higher. Chart speed was one step below maximum.

A and B. Fish Arches
The X-85 has a significant advantage over many competitive units in that it can show individual fish with the characteristic arched mark on the screen. (See Why Fish Arch for more information.) On this screen, there are several large fish holding just off the bottom at "B", while an even larger fish "A" is hanging directly above them.

C. Structure
Generally, the term "structure" is used to identify trees, brush, and other objects rising from the bottom that aren't part of the actual bottom. On this screen, "C" is probably a large tree or trees rising from the bottom. This record was taken from a man-made lake. Trees were left standing in several areas when the lake was built, creating natural habitats for many game fish.

D. Surface Clutter
Surface Clutter "D" at the top of the screen extends below 12 feet in places. Small fish can be seen beneath the surface clutter. They are probably feeding.



Original article from Lowrance, unknown author.... Tom, Jr.

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Back Country Fishing Report Islamorada Florida

Everyone has heard there is a season for everything.  That is so true and we are so lucky here in Islamorada that no matter how many seasonal transitions we go through, there is literally always something to catch.  Now the mangrove snapper have apparently finished their time on the reef and have spread themselves across the back country, bridges, gulf wrecks and the rest of your favorite places to catch them.  A pretty decent trout bite has resumed in the western areas of Florida Bay and a few other select spots.  They are biting your favorite baits, lures ad assorted methods to entice a bite. 

I have seen some great pictures and post of folks getting out in the gulf and having some great times catching Goliath Groupers, also from now till we have a strong cold front, the shark fishing should be a no brainer, there is lots of lemons throughout Florida Bay and the Gulf, plenty of Blacktips and Bulls round off some pretty wicked shark fishing.  The main event is the Snook and Red bite. 

The Snook are in many of the moats and flats adjoining, moreover if you’re somewhere the skeeters are buzzing you, they are close by.  Reds are putting smiles on lots of anglers faces most of them are up on the flats, but if you set up on your favorite creek drain you will be in like Flynn.  Poppers, spoons, shrimp, pilchards (if you can find them), soft plastics, buzz baits and fly’s, anglers are tallying up some great days with the delivery of their choice. 

Still quite a few Tarpon over on the Cape and they seem to be dining on finger mullet.  The shows are exiting they will ambush the  little nuggets and the jack crevalle get right in there with the Tarpon and it makes for a show that makes any Anglers Heart Beat Faster.  So anyway there will be another transition right around the corner and the game will change, I hope everyone will get out on the water and take advantage of the incredible fishery we have here.

There is lots to do and lots to catch, and Fun to be had, no matter what the weather. Backcountry Fishing Report provided by Captain Ron Brack (305)393-7448, www.pirateforhirecharters.com out of World Wide Sports Bayside Marine, Islamorada Florida. If you would like to get out on the water stop by World Wide Sportsman Bayside Marina and book your trip for your adventure today.

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Table Rock & Bull Shoals Fishing Report - October, 2014

Fall bass are staging off main lake or secondary points.  Each morning, these fish move onto flats early, to feed on baitfish they push to the surface.  October is a great time of the year!!!  The fish are concentrated and often can be found!  Jig, top water, square bill, soft plastic, will take fish this month!  Get out there!  The scenery is breath taking!  The fish are hungry!

Shaky head fishing is hot right now!  Take a 1/8oz or heavier shaky head jig head (it is built to make the soft bait you attach to it stand up), add a crawfish, worm, or baitfish soft trailer, and work it slowly along the bottom, frequently stopping the bait completely.  The bass just cannot leave this bait alone!  Try a skirted twin tail grub, in brown purple or smoke purple.

Fish a drop shot rig.  Mark a small school of suspended fish on your depth finder.  Fish straight up and down to these suspended fish.  Ask a fishing associate how to rig for this drop shot bite, and ask what the current best bait is.  You can also fish the drop shot rig like a finesse Carolina rig, by casting it out and retrieving it the same way you would a Carolina rig.      

There is a top water bite on most of each lake.  Top water lures, such a s a Zara Spook, Chug Bug, etc., will work during this time, as will most of the wake baits.  Beginning at dawn, look for fish rising on big flats, all shoreline, or cove backs, and fish in these areas.  Many times, the bite will end when the sun becomes visible, though, during a transition month such as October, the bite can go on all day! 

From late morning to early evening, jigs and tubes often work well, since black bass key on crawdads during this time.  Try a ¼ to 1/2 oz. jig, with a craw trailer, on main lake and secondary cove points, and any transition banks or flat.  It is important to add scent to all soft plastic, to maximize the time fish hold the bait in their mouth.  Try fishing around  docks, pole cedar lined banks, chunk rock points and cove banks, with a jig, tube, drop shot rig, Carolina rigged lizard, finesse worm, French fry, or creature bait, also Carolina rigged.  Don’t pass up any different feature, like an underwater hump, depression, ledge, chunk rock section, etc.  Where the bank transitions from one type of rock to another, such as small chunk rock to gravel, try jig fishing. Shallow to medium depth flats, near deep, main lake water, often produce nice fish. 

Do not pass up any main lake point that looks good to you, during this time of the year, since black bass congregate there.

Wind and rain offer an opportunity to change tactics.  Wind will allow spinner baits and shallow running crank baits to work well, and rain can cause water clarity to get murky or muddy, allowing a jig or tube to work even better.  Big bass are out there waiting for you!!!

 

                               Good Luck and Good Fishing!

 

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Lake Taneycomo Fishing Report – October 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                    Good luck, and good fishing!  

      

 

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Catch Me If You Can

We can taste salt on our lips and smell it in the breeze blowing past us. We can see for miles as the sun rises to the left of us. How did we get here? Where are we? What are we doing? We’re saltwater fishing.

It all started at Bass Pro Shops. We saw a Redfish/Frigate rod and reel combo that was on sale. There were so many rods, reels, combos, and great deals that as we looked around we were almost overwhelmed with the wealth of options, but we always came back to that first combo – so we put it in our basket – it was then that we decided to go fishing. 

In order to go fishing, we needed gear to take care of our new equipment; we needed things to clean up and maintain everything and things to take care of the fish when we catch them. We added a Bass Pro Shops XTS Rod Sock, a reel case and Salt Away to our cart before heading to the shelves to look at bait and lures.  There were so many choices and options when it came to bait. There were hard, soft, jigs, spoons, and trolling baits. After that we had to get hooks and then we realized we needed something to help us carry everything, Luckily Bass Pro Shops sells this awesome Backpack called the Bass Pro Shops Extreme Qualifier 360 Backpack Tackle Box. It not only separates into two separate bags, but it also fits 10 tackle boxes, the top is insulated to carry fish or yummies, and it has straps for a rod tube AND it’s water resistant!

We now have a rod, reel, bait, hooks, and other things that we knew we’d need to go saltwater fishing. Next we needed things for after we catch the fish. We needed knives and scalers and cutting boards and a processing table, gloves and a bucket or four, and deodorizer and knife sharpeners. We were lucky again that we were at Bass Pro Shops: they sell everything we would need for a fantastic trip! We were able to find folding and floating knives. We found skinners and scalers. We found a Bass Pro Shops hardwood Fillet Board and a Bass Pro Shops Folding Processing Table. We found all sorts of gear and aftercare items; next it was time to make sure we had the clothes and foot ware necessary to have a fun trip. Luckily, Bass Pro Shops sells all of that too so we didn't have to travel around searching for everything we need.

On our way out, we couldn't help but be distracted by the boats: they’re beautiful. There were big pontoon boats for fishing like the 2014 SUN TRACKER® FISHIN' BARGE® 22 DXL, and there were pontoon boats for fun like the Regency 254 LE3, and there were boats that were for fishing and fun! There were little boats too like the 2015 MAKO 284 CC w/ Twin 200 XL Verado (L4) which is specifically for offshore saltwater fishing and just what we were looking for. There was so much to see and learn about!

This is how we got to where we can taste the salt on our lips and smell it on the breeze blowing past. This is why we can see for miles as we watch the sun rising in the east. We’re saltwater fishing, and we’re having a grand time.

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Table Rock & Bull Shoals Fishing Report - September, 2014

Shaky head fishing is hot right now!  Take a 1/16 oz or heavier shaky head jig head (it is built to make the soft bait you attach to it stand up), add a crawfish, worm, or baitfish soft trailer, and work it slowly along the bottom, frequently stopping the bait completely.  The bass just cannot leave this bait alone!  Right now, with the surface temperature of both lakes still very warm, putting your boat in 35-40ft. of water, and casting toward the bank, then slowly working the shaky head out into the deeper water, is working.  Try a skirted twin tail grub, in brown purple, smoke purple, or green pumpkin purple.  This bait looks like a feeding craw fish, and, when you add a twitch or shake to the retrieve, it draws attention from cruising bass!  Remember, work this bait slowly.  Add scent, to allow more time for a hook set (the bait will remain in the mouth of the fish longer).

Try a drop shot rigFind a line of trees or stumps not far off a bank with varied depth.  The crawfish, shad, or pan fish the bass are after, will be moving among these trees, and suspended bass will be ready to ambush.  As the surface temperature of the lake cools, look for suspended fish around underwater timber at all depths.  Mark the depths where the most bait fish and bass are found, and find timber at that depth.  Fish straight up and down to these suspended fish.  Ask a fishing associate how to rig for this drop shot bite, and ask what the current best bait is.  You can also fish this drop shot rig like a finesse Carolina rig, by casting it out and retrieving it the same way you would a Carolina rig.     

There is an early morning top water bite on most of each lake.  Top water lures, such as a Zara Spook, Chug Bug, etc., will work during this time, as will most of the wake baits.  Beginning at dawn, look for fish rising on flats and points, and fish in these areas.  Many times, the bite will end when the sun becomes visible, but, on occasion, this bite will go on for a few hours.  The term “walking the dog,” refers to moving the bait like a wounded baitfish.  A fishing associate will instruct you as to how to go about imparting this action to your bait.

Right after the top water bite stops, look for fish staged on the bottom, and try a jig or Carolina rig on any you find.

From late morning to early evening, jigs and tubes often work well, since black bass key on crawdads during this time.  Try a ¼ to 1/2 oz. jig, with a craw trailer, on main lake and secondary cove points, and any transition bank or flat.  It is important to add scent to all soft plastic, to maximize the time these fish hold the bait in their mouth.  Try fishing around  docks, pole cedar lined banks, chunk rock points and cove banks, with a jig, drop shot rig, Carolina rigged lizard, finesse worm, French fry, or a creature bait, also Carolina rigged.  Don’t pass up any different feature, like an underwater hump, depression, ledge, chunk rock section, etc.  Shallow to medium depth flats, near deep, main lake water, often produce nice fish. 

Do not pass up any main lake point that looks good to you, during this time of the year, since water is often being pulled (generated) from each lake, and the resulting lake currents, cause shad to congregate off these points, and nearby main lake shore line.  Early morning fishing, employing a finesse Carolina rig, jig and trailer, tube, square billed crank bait, or other bait which will work in the shallow to medium depth of a cove flat or secondary flat, will pay off, for a while, until the water gets warm enough for the available oxygen to begin depleting.  As the water temperature goes up, dissolved oxygen level shrinks.  So, fish move to deeper water, to find better oxygen levels.  A big rain will add oxygen and bring fish back into the shallows!

Wind and rain offer an opportunity to change tactics.  Wind will allow spinner baits and shallow running crank baits to work well, and rain can cause water clarity to get murky or muddy, allowing a jig or tube to work even better. 

 As we move into fall, the bass will begin to feed and store food for the winter.  

This is a great time of the year to catch a big fish!  They are out there waiting for you!!!

 

                               Good Luck and Good Fishing!

 

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Lake Taneycomo Fishing Report – September 2014

Water level and current have been down, in the morning, for the past month or more.  Low or no water release often results in great early morning fishing up below the Table Rock dam.  Timing of generation and the resulting release of water varies by day. 

The best fishing available to the wading angler during the fall is often from dawn until the sun rises over the horizon, each morning.  Most fall mornings, the least water release there will be all day, occurs during the early morning, and frequently water levels are down low enough to wade.

Fall rain will increase chances of more water release, and resulting strong current and higher water levels, can change best baits, and retrieval methods throughout the day.  Currents resulting from generation, or rain runoff, cause trout to look for areas with an eddy, and many of those are near bank structure.  Trout feed all day long while residing in these sheltered eddies, and are often accessible to the bank or dock fishing angler.  PowerBait, earth worms, spoons, spinners, and flies all work on these fish, so fishing on Taneycomo is good!

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

 

Anglers who offer bait presented below a bobber, drifted from upstream to downstream, can find success at times.  When the bobber rig does not work, try a 1/8 to1/4oz sinker rig, and allow it to rest on the bottom, with a bait above. 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

                        Good luck, and good fishing!  

      

 

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Trout Fishing Lures & Tactics

A day on the river trout fishing can turn any weekend into an adventure especially when the fish are biting from sun up to sun down. But with trout it is all about finding the right bait at the right time and making good use of the surroundings to make a god fishing trip into a great one. Asking questions like where are the fish located, when do they feed, and what are they feeding on can help an angler tremendously. Here are tips and tricks when fishing for trout.

Trout are a very aggressive species by nature and give a very good fight in good cold water lakes and streams. The problem with many trout populations is that they are highly pressured in that there is almost always a person fishing around them. This in turn makes the fish very line shy or wary of heavy lines in the water. A sneaky way of getting around this fear of line is to use a light 2 or 4 pound test line in either the monofilament or fluorocarbon line. For monofilament line a great brand is the Bass Pro Shops® Excel®, this line comes in the light 4 pound line that is needed for trout while at the same time being clear in the water making it harder to detect by the fish in clear spring fed lakes and streams. When talking about fluorocarbon the brand that is best suited for the job is the Bass Pro Shops® Excel® Ice, when in the water this line stays clear and nearly invisible to fish, and comes in the light 2,3, and 4 pound test needed for fishing trout in pressured waters.

iceline

When fishing for trout there are many different difficulties that can be undertaken while fishing. The first level of this would be fishing with live or natural baits. This includes fishing with night crawlers, fishing with salmon eggs or fishing with things like meal worms and crickets. While thinking of meal worms and crickets it is good to look to the backyard or a shed. The crickets and worms tend to be there for the taking so stocking up in the backyard before an adventure to the river is often a good idea. But if instead a fisherman is looking for an edge using some salmon eggs is a good idea. One of the best is the Pautzke's® Premium Balls O' Fire® Salmon Eggs, these salmon eggs are soft like a natural egg while having the scent and taste of the real thing. Also these eggs are a little tougher than a natural egg making them easy to retrieve and cast back out.

balls of fire

Next in the line of difficulty for fishing trout would be the soft plastic baits and spinner baits. Some of the soft plastics that tend to work well are smaller worms and grubs with a weight tied off around 3 to 4 inches above the bait. This allows the bait to float ever so slightly off the bottom of the stream or lake’s bottom and with a little movement from the tip of the fishing rod gives a lifelike movement to the bait. A great bait for doing this is the Bass Pro Shops® Triple Ripple™ Grub, with a few packages of different colors an angler is sure to find the right color and movement for the trout in any lake or stream. When it comes to spinner baits one of the best is the Bass Pro Shops® Tournament Series® Micro Spin Lures, matching the colors on this spinner bait to the hatching insects or the smaller bait fish in the area will make this lure irresistible to the trout in the lake or stream.

micro spingrub

Finally the hardest type of trout fishing is fly fishing. This requires a lot of patience and a good knowledge of the type of food that is available to the trout on a regular basis. It is important to remember one major thing, match the hatch. What this means is that whatever insect is hatching at that time in the lake or stream is the type of fly that an angler wants to be throwing. If there are a lot of grasshoppers around throwing a Montana Fly Company® Clipped Head Hopper is a good idea, as it looks remarkably like a grasshopper. If the midge flies are hatching throwing a Brassie Zebra Midge Fly is a good idea. So matching whatever an angler sees hatching or skimming the water is the best way to catch trout while fishing with flies.

brassie zebraclipped head

While fishing for trout is very fun and relaxing there are some different rules that need to be followed while fishing. These rules change from stream to stream and from location to location. So checking with a local guide book or with the conservation department before going out fishing is a good idea. Many times certain types of lures can only be used in certain areas of a body of water, or no fishing at all can be done in a certain area of the water. Keeping track of this is the responsibility of the angler, so double checking the fishing areas before that weekend trip is a must! As always happy hunting and good luck! 

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Beating the Heat

It’s that time of year when a lot of fisherman clean up their boat and put it away for a while or start fishing by the light of the moon. With a little preparation, and a lot of perspiration you can still go out and have a good day on the lake.

If you are planning a trip to your favorite lake for a day of fun, or if your meeting your buddies for a tournament  you need to take a few steps to prepare your body for the day. Make sure to hydrate you’re the body before you fish and take several breaks throughout the day to drink and replace the fluids you are losing. Sunscreen and protective clothing are also key items to ensuring you day is not miserable. See the benefits of the proper technical gear in Preperation for Fishing: A New Look

 

Our store had our High Rock tourney this past week and it reached a temp of 97 degrees. As usual I had a game plan for the day but also as usual I had to make some adjustments as the fish were not on board with my plans. My partner and I started out fishing with top water but that bite was tough. Had a couple of blow ups but didn’t hook up and put them in the boat..

 

It was almost 9 am and we didn’t have a keeper in the boat, so as were turning to plans b and c when we got a little luck. My partner started tossing a wacky rig Bass Pro Shop Sticko and caught a 3 pounder on a sea wall. On the next dock he got bit again so I decided it was time to tie one on.

To Wacky Rig a Stik-O:

supplies

You will need a Bag of your favorite color Stik-O-Worm, Flickin' Shimmy Jig Heads, and a Bass Pro Shops® XPS® Quick Rigger Tool. First thread the tool and rubber ring over your stik-O.

quickrigging

Roll the ring up and onto the middle of your stik-O, then pull the quick rigger off. Now simply put your flickin' shimmy jig hook through the ring instead of through your stik-o.

wacky rig

This setup will not tear up as many baits, especially if you use a soft version of the Stik-O.

Over the next hour and ½ we filled our limit and started working on up grading. What was exciting for me was that we found a pattern, then moved to different locations on the lake that resembled what we had found and caught fish there as well. Remember to be observant to all conditions when you get your bites, if you can replicate that in different locations it can lead to success.

We ended upgrading a couple of pounds on a jig and finished with a little under 13 pounds. Just enough to squeak out a win.

Weighing them

Richard Jordan, tournament director weighing In our sack.

Winning Combination

The reason I mentioned plans b and c was to remind us that we cant give up. There are many days when you have to look into your tackle box and try something else. That morning we struck out on top water, couldn’t get bit cranking, texas rigging a stick bait wasn’t getting it done….it wasn’t until we got out of our comfort zone and moved to deeper water that we found success.

So when the bite gets tough and the sun gets hot…stay cool , stay hydrated and keep fishing….

Good luck , God Bless , and tight lines….

~ Eric Winter

General Manager

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What Makes a Fly?

This is a question as old as fly rods and folks sitting around the campfire with adult beverages, but you'd think that after all these years there would be some kind of consensus about what makes a fly, a fly.  Well sorry…nothing could be further from the truth.

I had a gentleman recently explain to me that he was going to throw small, pre-manufactured soft baits on his fly rod for snook in a few weeks, to which the anglers in attendance exclaimed “That’s not fly fishing!”  We all agreed that he had crossed some kind of line that bordered on sacrilegious, or at the very least, in very bad taste when it comes to angling in the spirit of the sport.  Lee Wulff would be spitting mad were he alive today.  Fly fishing isn’t always about catching the most fish possible, but rather about “How” you’re catching fish.  So what makes a fly, a fly?  Here’s the best I can come up with.

A fly might be defined as:

  • A lightweight fishing lure originally designed to be thrown in the traditional manner with a single or double handed fly rod.
  • Constructed by hand by attaching natural or synthetic materials to a single or multiple hooks using thread.
  • Designed to appeal to a fish’s senses of sight, hearing, or touch.
  • Instigates a purposeful strike out of hunger, aggression, or fear.
  • Hooks the fish in the mouth.

I realize that this won’t settle the longtime argument among flyfishermen as to whether or not a wet fly or nymph is actually “a fly,” but it fits the definition as best I can figure.  And many of our European customers look at what we throw for saltwater and can’t help but exclaim, “That’s not a proper fly!” but by definition, it is.  Our flies are designed to meet the above criteria and are specially suited to our fishing needs whether it’s the overall size, colors, weighting, or what it’s meant to imitate.

Now throwing a mass produced soft bait on your fly rod and calling it fly fishing….That aint Cricket!

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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Table Rock & Bull Shoals Fishing Report - June, 2014

Finally, Summer begins!!!   Fish are on the bank, this month, and are easy to find and catch!  Table Rock and Bull Shoals are such big lakes!  As water warms up, bass move into the coves, often hugging the bank, as they journey to their spawning beds. 

Lake surface temperatures can be an indicator of when the bass spawn will peak.  Some bass have not spawned yet, and others are already in post spawn.  Early in the post spawn period, bass often move into deeper water close to their spawning beds, and stay for a few weeks.  If there are no fish on the beds, move back off the shore, since it is easy to spook bass, during this time, and a boat in position to cast to the bank, is often right over the post spawn holding lie.

Almost any bait imaginable is working now!  Some baits are so hot this month, that every cast will result in trailing fish!  The hottest bait changes week to week.  Ask a fishing associate what bait is the hottest right now!

Warm rain will drive the fish into the very back of the coves, as they seek bait fish and craw fish that are moving in the same direction.  Square billed, shallow running, crank baits, are working, as the fish move into the shallows.  On any windy, rainy day, try a spinner bait

Top water hard and soft baits will work this month, as will wake and swim baits.  Ask an associate to help you find the right baits for the day you are going out. All finesse baits, such as shaky head jigs, finesse Carolina rigs, Texas rigged short worms and lizards, are now working.

A word about top water baits!

Try fishing either from dawn to 30 minutes after sunrise, or the last hour of sunlight in the evening.  At these times, bass move onto flats, and top water action picks up.   “Walking the dog,” is a way of retrieving a top water bait, to attract more bites.  Ask an associate about this method, and ask about add on feathered trebles, and other ways to enhance your top water offering.

There is a jig bite now.  Crawfish spend most of their time on the bottom.  A crawfish imitation needs to move slowly, from behind one rock, to the next rock.  It is hard to fish this bait too slowly.  Right now, bass are at all levels, looking for the most comfortable mix of oxygen and temperature they can find, from 2-35ft.  Look for them, especially off or next to, main lake and secondary points.  Try a 1/4 to 5/8oz. round or football head jig, brown, peanut butter and jelly, or green pumpkin in color, and add a trailer, green pumpkin, watermelon candy, or cinnamon purple.  Add scent to your jigs.  The jig bite really comes on, as the water warms up.  As bass patrol the lake points, looking for a meal, there is an interest in crawfish!  Remember, fish this bait slowly!  Also try light weight shaky head jigs, especially when a front is moving into the area.

Try fishing a drop shot rig, vertically.  Ask a fishing associate how to rig for this drop shot bite, and ask what the current best bait is.  This technique works well, on fish suspended on the sides of main lake points.  You can also fish this drop shot rig like a finesse Carolina rig, by casting it out and retrieving it the same way you would a Carolina rig.      

                                      

                                     They are out there!!!

                               Good Luck and Good Fishing!

 

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How to Catch a Fish

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

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

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

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

 Here's a  Guide to What Most Fish Eat:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Table Rock & Bull Shoals Fishing Report - May, 2014

Spring time is a great time for the angler!  Fish begin coming o the bank, and are easier to find and catch!  The annual spring migration starts with bass staging on points on the main lake, at the mouth of coves.  As water warms up, bass move into the coves, often hugging the bank, as they journey deep into the coves.  Any warm spring rain, will drive the fish into the very back of the coves, as they seek warmer water and the bait fish and craw fish that move in the same direction. 

 

Square billed, shallow running, crank baits, will begin working as the fish move into the shallows.  On any windy, rainy day, try a spinner bait.  Top water hard and soft baits will begin working this month, as will wake and swim baits.  Ask an associate to help you find the right baits for the day you are going out.   All finesse baits, such as shaky head jigs, finesse Carolina rigs, Texas rigged short worms and lizards, will work this month.


There is a jig bite now.  Crawfish spend most of their time on the bottom.  A crawfish imitation needs to move slowly, from behind one rock, to the next rock.  It is hard to fish this bait too slowly.  Right now, bass are at all levels, looking for the most comfortable mix of oxygen and temperature they can find, from 2-35ft.  Look for them, especially off or next to, main lake and secondary points.  Try a 1/4 to 5/8oz. round or football head jig, brown, peanut butter and jelly, or green pumpkin in color, and add a trailer, green pumpkin, watermelon candy, or cinnamon purple.  Add scent to your jigs.  The jig bite really comes on, as the water warms up.  As bass patrol the lake points, looking for a meal, there is an interest in crawfish!  Remember, fish this bait slowly! 

 

Don’t forget the Wiggle Wart bite!  It comes on fast, lasts two weeks, or so, and the action is fantastic!  Be on the lake at this time, if you can, and have a Wiggle Wart tied on. 

 

Try fishing a drop shot rig, vertically.  Ask a fishing associate how to rig for this drop shot bite, and ask what the current best bait is.  This technique works well, on fish suspended on the sides of main lake points.  You can also fish this drop shot rig like a finesse Carolina rig, by casting it out and retrieving it the same way you would a Carolina rig.      

 

Remember, during this time of the year, as the sun warms the water, or if there is a warm rain, fish will begin to move into the coves, first just inside, the main lake pints, then straight into the backs of the coves.  Warm rains will accelerate this migration.  When you have fish concentrated in one area, it can make for an unbelievable day of fishing. 

 

This is THE month of the year, for fantastic fishing!!!                        

                                      

                                     They are out there!!!

 

                               Good Luck and Good Fishing!

 

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3 Easy Techniques For Spawning Spotted Bass

In the great state of Alabama we are blessed to have the opportunity to fish for all three of the major species of bass. In north Alabama on the Tennessee River System all three species can actually be caught on the same day. Lakes such as Pickwick, Wheeler, and Wilson while having strong populations of largemouth are also home to some giant smallmouth bass that would rival any lake in the country! Further south the Coosa River System is loaded with both largemouth and some world class spotted bass. The spotted bass found throughout the Coosa River System actually is considered by many as its own sub species. Unlike spotted bass found in other bodies of water across the country the Coosa River spot is a longer, stronger, and meaner species that will put even the best equipment to the test! They are an absolute blast to catch and the months of April and May are possibly the easiest months of the year to catch large numbers of spotted bass.

Generally in the month of April the spotted bass are in a full spawning mode. Unlike largemouth which generally spawn in protected pockets or on key pieces of shallow structure the spotted bass more like a smallmouth is comfortable spewing in more open areas closer to deep water such as long flat points and road beds near the main creek channel. On the Coosa River the water clarity 99% of the time will not allow you to see these spawning spotted bass but with a few simple techniques you can learn how to load the boat without even looking at them.

When searching for key points, gravel flats, or road beds holding spawning spotted bass I generally start my search with the Carolina Rig. I rig my set up my Carolina Rig with a 3/4 oz brass Bass Pro Shops Carolina Rig Weight followed by a bead and a small Spro Power Swivel. To the other end of the swivel I connect a leader approximately 18 to 24 inches long with a 3/0 Gamakatsu EWG Hook on the end of it. I like to use 17lb test Bass Pro Shops XPS KVD Signature Series 100% Fluorocarbon Fishing Line for my main line as well as my leader. The new KVD Signature Series Flouro is one of the strongest lowest memory fluorocarbon fishing lines on the market, and the low stretch quality will allow you to feel subtle bites as well as allowing you to drive the hook home on a long cast. As far as the bait goes just about any soft plastic that you have confidence in will work! Baits such as lizards, brush hogs and stick baits will all put plenty of fish in the boat! I like to use a TFO Gary Loomis tactical Series 7'3" Heavy Casting Rod accompanied by a Bass Pro Shops Pro Qualifier high speed reel. The 7'3" heavy rod will allow you to drive the hook home no matter how the bass bites the bait. Always be aware that spawning bass will often pick up your bait and quickly move off with it directly towards you. Always be ready to quickly reel up your slack and set the hook because if you wait too long there is a high probability that the fish will move off quickly and then spit your bait out before you even know it.

Another great technique for catching spawning bass you have already located is with a shaky head. The way a shaky head makes your bait sit directly nose down really provokes a protective aggressive spotted bass into striking. This time of year I like to use a shorter worm than normal in order to eliminate the problem of the spawning bass just picking up the tail and not eating the entire bait. I generally use a 1/8oz to a 1/4oz Gamakatsu Skip Gap Shaky Head Hook on 8 to 12lb KVD Signature Series Fluorocarbon with a TFO spinning rod. The reason I don't use the Shaky head when searching for the spawning fish is because of the weight of the bait. The nature of the Carolina Rig is what makes it a perfect option for making long casts and dragging the bottom to get a good feel of what is going on!

The final technique and one that is often overlooked is using a topwater bait to locate aggressive fish whether they are spawning or post spawn. My very favorite bait to use while searching with a topwater is a walk the dog style bait such as a Spro Dawg 100, or a Zera Super Spook. I like to focus my search on shallow gravel points and don't be afraid to utilize the topwater all day long. Some of your biggest spotted bass of the year can fall victim to a well worked topwater bait. Not only is it effective it is extremely exciting. Unlike when I'm using the subsurface slower moving baits with fluorocarbon, on my topwaters I always use monofilament, for the reason that it floats and will allow you to efficiently walk your bait back and forth to the boat.

Not only is the fishing good in April and May in Alabama but the weather is beautiful as well. So get the family rounded up and head on out for an action packed day of fishing that will make memories that will last a lifetime! For information a guided trip visit my website at www.joeyfishing.com! I'll see you on the water!!!

Joey Nania

 

 

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"Bonus" Bluegill Can Be Awesome !!!!

Sometimes  the simplest days of fishing can bring the biggest of smiles to even the seasoned fisherman.  Catching keeper bluegills by the dozen while tossing jigs rigged under a slip bobber can provide loads of fun.

Bluegill

              

While reeling in fish after fish, keep an eye out for things “lurking in the dark”.  This BONUS FISH was spotted slashing through the bluegills while Nick Ranes of our fishing dept quickly took hold of his BPS baitcasting rod and reel, quickly tossed a soft-plastic swim bait at the “shadow” and took advantage of the preying largemouth’s verocious appetite!  A great day of bluegill fishing turned even better – you never know when the moment will STRIKE!!! 

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Organizing Your Tackle Box

When it comes to organizing a tackle box, one of the biggest mistakes that I see fisherman make is throwing away the packaging of their lures and tackle. The packaging of most lures and tackle have so much information that can be applied toward the fishing you plan on doing.

Rapala for example, has the weight of the lure and how deep it can swim, Yozuri's do the same. Almost all hard lures will have the bait fish it is suppose to resemble on the packaging. Most of these lures will also tell you if they can float or suspend in place if you pause the action. Some soft plastics like Gulp will even give you suggestions as to how they can be used and rigged. Without this information you could be picking lures out of your tackle box without ever really knowing how their used or how they swim.

Hooks also have useful information on the packaging like the size of the hook and what it is made of. Sometimes the packaging can even serve as protection. If you want the best performance from your lures and tackle remember what they do and what they are used for by keeping the package. Your fishing will improve and your success will only be a hook set away.

Henry Morales

http://www.basspro.com/Bass-Pro-Shops-XPS-Stalker-Backpack-Tackle-Bag-or-System/product/1304050935/

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"Feeling Froggy?" Top Water Fishing

  You have no doubt heard the phrase, "If you feel froggy, jump." It's that time of year fellow frog fishing fans! The croakers are beginning to sing their spring "Love" songs and move around our lakes and ponds! If you like top water action, there is no single family of baits out there that generate a more exciting bite.

 Spring is finally sewing together enough warm days and nights to instigate insect propagation. As soon as there are bugs to eat, frogs instinctively end their hibernation and start their long awaited feast. Frogs will eat just about any kind of insect they can flick their tongue around. To the top water bass fishing aficionado the beginning of the insect, frog food chain marks the end of winter and time to get out and wet a frog hook.

 Many times while the frogs are paying attention to their bug meal, the bass are paying closer attention to the frogs. The spring time food chain is a wonderful thing for those of us who fish plastic frogs! Fish frogs in all the places a frog might be found and you'll find bass peering up at the surface looking for a big, relatively easy meal. Bass are not only looking for frogs to munch on, but they are listening as well. Bass can feel the commotion a frog kicks up as he legs his way across the surface (or just under it). Unfortunately for the frog the noise is a dead giveaway, pun intended.

 Kermy FrogBass Pro Shops of Garland has a full section of frogs! One of the most popular frog-bait models is the Bass Pro Shops "Kermy" line.  The Kermy frog line features devilishly sharp, weed resistant hooks that ride with the gap of the hooks curving upward so they don't act like a grapnel hook in hydrilla and other weedy areas. Kermy's body comes in  great colors and can take the pounding of fish after fish, but one of the best part of this lure is it's firmness. When most bass take a frog they bite down on the body exposing the twin hooks. some frog lures are to soft and smart fish might let go. A frog that is too hard will not allow the bass to crush the offering sufficiently to expose the hooks. The Kermy body is just right, not too squishy, and not too hard for the perfect hook-set.

  How do we fish frogs? We'll start with a brief description of the perfect rod. Rods should be long enough to allow you to make a broad sweeping hook-set motion and be strong in the butt end. I prefer a little softer flex in the tip end. I feel it allows me a fraction of a second to wind whatever slack I have in my line, to prepare for my hook-set. The fairly flexible tip also does not telegraph my presence to the fish. 

 You'll usually be fishing frogs around some pretty weedy, or stumpy areas this time of year so you'll want to pick a fairly sturdy line. I like a 30lb test braid, tipped with a fluorocarbon leader on the business end. This arrangement gives me plenty of horsepower to turn Mr. Big from returning to his tangled up lair. As lily pads begin to pop up I'll absolutely target the areas, but I usually skip the fluorocarbon leader because if my frog gets under the pads I have a better chance of not having to break my lure off. 

 Some folks prefer a relatively heavy spinning reel because they are more accurate with spinning gear. Most, however, feel the additional power of a baitcasting reel to be more advantageous.

 There are so probably as many ways to fish a frog as there are people who love fishing them. Here are just a few presentations: Cast your lure to an area of heavy cover then just let it sit still as you slowly retrieve ant slack you have laying on the  surface of the water. Slow is the key. Let all the ripples from your cast subside, then just barely twitch the frog to "show " the bass that it is a live, fresh meal.

You can also just use the plop, crank, pop, sit, pop retrieve...actually this is one is pretty self explanatory.  If the sit-n-wait doesn't work, and the erratic movement of the plop, crank, sit, pop retrieve doesn't deliver, try reeling just a bit faster, sometimes bass are fooled into thinking the frog is fleeing for it's life and clobber it before it "escapes." Remember what retrieve you were using when you got that first strike and repeat the pattern as you fish. By all means, experiment with all kinds of retrieves ,but don't forget that first one that got you bitten.

 There are also frogs that are subsurface baits. I get chills just thinking about all the times I have seen that big wake of a fat old bass hustling toward my bait just below the surface! I have to make myself wait until the bait has been engulfed before I set the hook...I could best describe it as "buck fever" !

 Either way you cut it, it's time to break out the frogs! So if you're feeling froggy it's time to jump on some great frog fishing!

 

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What's a Good Bait for Peacock Bass?

As an employee at Bass Pro Shops one of the most frequently asked questions I get from customers is "what's a good bait for peacock bass". I try to give them a guide line to follow without actually picking out a lure for them. I believe one of the greatest joys of fishing is being able to pick out a lure for yourself as long as you have the right idea as to what works. The guide line I set in place for the customer is to follow 4 basic steps when choosing a lure for peacocks.

1. Brightness or anything that looks like a baby peacock bass.  If you can add a little flash in there to it wouldn't hurt.

2. Keep it small. Preferably under 3 inches if you can. Anything over that and peacock bass have a tendency to run away from it.

3. Make sure it's a hard bait. Peacocks are not know to hit soft plastics.

4. Noisy!! Peacock bass are easily annoyed and anything loud provokes them further.

 

Try to keep these general tips in mind when selecting your next peacock bass lures and success is just a hook set away.

 

Henry Morales

 

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Key Bait's For Imitating Crawfish

Bass are absolutely one of the most ferocious predators that swim. They will eat basically anything that they can fit their mouths around, and they have been known to attempt to eat things that they can't fit their mouths around. They have amazing appetites and I say it all the time. "If bass got as big as great white sharks, then anyone that swims in our local lakes and rivers would be in big trouble." Animals such as snakes, lizards, frogs, rodents, and even birds and baby ducks are frequently found in the gullet of a bass by anglers. With all of these strange food sources as well as the more common shad, bluegill, and crawfish, selecting baits throughout the season can be a very difficult task. Understanding which food sources are key for the certain time period you are fishing in is very important. The one I want to touch on now is one of my absolute favorite food sources to imitate which is the crawfish. These crustations are like filet mignon to a hungry bass, and trust me they will take every opportunity they have to eat the hardy meal a crawfish offers. Crawfish can range in size from 1/2 inch long all the way up to 5 or 6 inches long, and can be found in a wide range of colors. Generally the base colors are an olive green or brown, but in fall and early spring the crawfish will often have orange or red in their legs and claws, and can even turn blue in certain situations. Generally in the spring or fall I want my crawfish imitation to be brown with a hint orange mixed in. A good way to tell exactly what color the crawfish are is by setting a trap such as a Frabill Deluxe Crawfish Trap. Simply set it near a rocky area and let it sit over night, the next morning you will have an up to date sample of what colors you need to be using in your crawfish imitation lures. So if you're heading out on the water right now in the month of March there are a few key baits that you really should have in your arsenal. You can either base your color selection on the sampling you've done, or you can just stick by the rule of thumb that fall and spring crawfish generally have orange or red in their claws or legs.

One of my favorite baits to turn to in the fall and early spring is a jig with a soft plastic trailer. A few of my favorite jigs are the Stanley Finesse Jigs, War Eagle Finesse Jigs, as well as the Strike King Bitsy Bug Jig. The trailer I use the most in the fall and spring is a Zoom Super Chunk, or Super Chunk Junior. I like this trailer because of the subtlety of it. When bass are cold they often prefer baits with less action and the super chunk is perfect for that application. I often determine my jig and trailer color by figuring out exactly what color the current crawfish population is but in most cases when fishing water below 65 degrees I use a jig that is brown and orange with a green pumpkin trailer that I often dip in orange Spike It. When fishing these jigs I like to target banks that have significant rock structure on them as well as working them through brush piles from 4 to 12 feet deep. The colder the water gets the slower I like to work my jig. Be ready because the jig is a proven big fish bait and there is not a better time to throw one then in the cold water months of the year!

Another great crawfish imitator is a crank bait. Numerous companies produce baits in either an orange or red color and they catch a ton of fish when worked around banks that have an abundance of rock on them. In the fall I like to look for steeper rock banks close to deep water, while in spring I often catch my larger pre spawn fish on clay or gravel banks, as well as on points that have chunk rock mixed in. Whether its spring or fall here are the baits that I like to through. The first is a Spro Little John MD in the spring craw color. This bait is small in profile and has a great action that really triggers fish when the water is in the mid 50s to low 60s whether you are fishing it in the spring or fall doesn't matter. Another crank bait for that same water temperature is the Storm Wiggle Wart. The wiggle wart has been catching fish for far more years then I have been alive and is still producing today. They have a wide variety of crawfish colors to choose from, my two favorites are the orange brown craw, and the natural brown crawfish. The Spro and the Storm both have a relatively aggressive wobble that the fish really love in the early fall and late spring. Both baits actually have what is called a hunting action which means when retrieved they wobble while at the same time subtly changing course from left to right. However when the water is cold, from 42 to 52 degrees the number one bait is the Rapala Shad Rap in the SR7 or SR5 size. When targeting cold water bass with the shad rap I generally use the SR7 size in the crawdad color or the dark brown crawdad. There are two keys to why the shad rap is such successful cold water bait. First is the fact that it is silent while most crank baits have rattles, secondly the bait has a very subtle tight wobble. These two factors are a deadly seductive presentation for a fish that is in a slow feeding mode.

The Jigs and the Crank baits are by far the top two baits when imitating crawfish, but there are some other more innovative baits on the market that are sure to catch crawfish eating bass. A new bait was recently produced by savage industries the bait is called the 3D Craw. It is an incredibly realistic bait that actually has air in the head of the bait and in the pinchers, which makes the bait stand up in an aggressive posture. You can rig the bait on a stand up jig head or for a great weed less application you can take the skirt of a 3/8 or 1/2 ounce jig and simply slide the craw up on to the hook. The Huddleston Huddlebug is another great option when trying to perfectly imitate a crawfish.

Between the jigs, crank baits, and the realistic craw imitations you have plenty of baits to choose from. Remember to always pay attention to water temperature and try and match the color of the crawfish as accurately as possible. The next step is learning where, and how to fish the baits, and finally go out and load the boat with big cold water bass. I'll see you on the water!!!

Joey Nania 

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Crappie Fishing made easy with Bass Pro's Crappie Maxx & more!

Crappie Fishing made easy with Bass Pro's Crappie Maxx & more!

By Frank Hollie

                I took advantage of a break in the weather and made a quick trip to local lake in Oakland, Tennessee, for a few hours of crappie fishing. I walked around the lake and decided to try out one of our Trout  Magnet soft plastic lures. I used a black and green striped Trout Magnet on a 1/64 oz. jig head. I fished it under one of the small Trout Magnet bobbers. It was a little windy so I just let the bait bounce along with the wind. BAM! I caught several crappies and one big bream in about 3 hour’s time.

 My rod was a 7 foot Crappie Max light action rod with a Bass Pro Shop tournament series reel with 6 pound Crappie Max fishing line. All in all it was a great lightweight rig with excellent action.  I found the Trout Magnet to be very durable and I used the same one the whole time that I fished.

I would highly recommend the Trout Magnet. It is a durable and versatile bait which can be used in cold weather to attract several different species of fish. It comes in a variety of colors and the jig heads come in various weights and designs.

While you are getting ready to go fishing, don't forget that the Bass Pro Shops Fishing Classic is going on now through March 16th. We have some awesome deals for all you fishermen. We hope to see you soon! Happy Fishing!

Product Information:

Bass Pro Shops Crappie Maxx Fishing Poles- These poles range in price starting at $39.99 and up.

The Bass Pro Shops Crappie Mass Fishing Line: Starts at $7.99 and up.

The Trout Magnet Lures: Start at $2.49 and up

 

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