Colorado Hardwater Panfish

Living in Colorado we don't have a lot of opportunity to chase panfish through the ice as most folks in the eastern states have and while I love to catch trout and most other species through the ice there's something to be said about having a huge crappie or a giant bluegill on the end of of an ultra lite ice rod and fighting it all the way up to the hole.

There are a lot of places to catch crappie and bluegill in Colorado and there are several ponds loaded with them that some have an opportunity to fish but for the most part it is tough to find a good spot where the ice is safe enough to provide some good action through the ice. I would say we have a very short window around the metro area for chasing slabs through the ice. One month the ice is good and a few days of warm weather and it all goes back to mush and becomes very bad in a hurry.

I will never say there is safe ice here in Colorado and I always carry a throw cushion with a fifty foot rope attached to it just in case. I have had some close calls in the past and this year I have heard about way too many anglers going through due to poor conditions. Always go with a few friends and use caution when venturing out on metro lakes. Don't risk it if you are unsure. If others are out on the ice there's a good chance it will hold you too. Wear your ice cleats. One bad slip and your day could be ruined this is from experience.

When you have the opportunity to get out and chase panfish through the ice you can do it very easily. A hand auger, A few ultra light rods with a spring bobber with two to four pound fluorocarbon spooled up on an ultra lite spinning reel. Pick up a few tungsten tear drop jigs in various colors and a few wax worms and your set. A Vexilar is nice to have but not necessary.

Look for structure like rock piles off points that have a deep channel close to a flat and cover like trees and weeds and you will be well on your way to finding the crappies and bluegills that live in the area. The best way to know where all this is at is to find it in the summer and mark it on a map or GPS and come back to it during the winter.

I like to drop my jig down to the bottom and work my way up from there if I hit weeds I keep it just above them. I like to use a very short jigging action and never move my bait too fast. The spring bobber is a must when the bite is light which is most of the time with panfish. Tip the jig with a wax worm and pinch off the head to allow the juices to flow into the water for more attractant. There will be pressure on the spring bobber when one sucks it in. Set the hook lightly because they have very soft mouths. Usually when you find one there are more with him. If the bite slows down move to similar spots and look for the school. They move around a lot so you need to be mobile.

Take advantage of this recent cold weather snap and chase some panfish around if you know a spot where they are try catching them thru the ice it is a lot of fun and the action can be constant. Be safe and I will see you on the ice.

                                                                                                                                   Best of Luck,

                                                                                                                                                         Sam Heckman / Pro StaffForrest with BluegillsChris and Sam with CrappiesSam and Bubba dogBubba dog

 

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The Spring Fishing Classic 2014 Seminar Schedule!

Please join us for the Spring Fishing Classic 2014!


******     February 28 - March 16  -  It's 3 weeks of fun/education and yes, even sales!     ******

 

On Friday, Feb 28, we'll have 3 (count them THREE) National Pros with seminars!
Pros will be in the store 5pm -close (9pm) on the 28th.

 

Captain Dale Stroschein

 

Just a handful of the covers in which Capt Dale Strochein has been featured.

 

Prior to chartering full time and maintaining his resort, Dale fished competitively on the Professional Walleye Trail for 12 years-each year qualifying for the national championship. He was the only angler to hold Big Fish records simultaneously for both the PWT and NAWA circuits.

 

These represent just a handful of the covers that have featured Captain Dale Strochein!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Casey Scanlon

Casey Scanlon Champion Trophy

 

Competing since  he was a teen - at age 15 he won his first club tournament! Casey Scanlon went on to plave 1st place in the 2012 Bass Pro Shops Central Open #2

Follow this link to Casey's articles on fishing lowland grass resevoirs.

 

Casey Scanlon B.A.S.S. numbers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chase Parsons

Chase Parsons with FLW trophy

 

Chase boasts a number of Pro Walleye Tour (PWT) top-tens, Rookie of the Year honors in 2005 and a tournament win at Lake Oahe, S.D. in 2011.

 

Chase Parsons at winning check presentation.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Professional walleye fisherman Chase Parsons is presented with the $50,000 cash prize for winning the FLW National Guard walleye tournament on Lake Oahe in South Dakota.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

March  1st & 2nd Seminars

 

Jim Crowley

Jim Crowley conducting fish tank demonstration at East Peoria Bass Pro Shops.

 We've got Jim Crowely of Hook & Hunt TV.com for the entire weekend! You don't want to be late for his 3:00 seminar - he's starting out with a short video of out-takes from his show.

 Jim Crowley, Hook & Hunt TV.com

 

 

 

 

The following Seminar and Tank Demonstrations will be held on both Saturday and Sunday:

11:00 Tank Demo: How to use lures to haul in the big ones.

1:00 Bass Class 101 - The Spring Connection

3:00 Tank Demo: How to use lures to haul in the big ones.

 

Local Pros Weekend      March 7 - 9

 
 
Seminars: Friday 7pm
Saturday and Sunday: Seminars will begin at 11am each day
 

1st 25 seminar attendees to attend a Saturday or Sunday (3/8 & 3/9) Seminar will receive a SFC tumbler!

Friday     

March 7  

 
  7pm Flipping and Pitching for Bass
Saturday   March 8 & 9   
& Sunday     11am Locating Bass in New Waters
  1pm Topwater Techniques for Bass
  2pm Spinning Reel Tactics for Bass
  3pm Does the Color of Your Bass Lure Matter?
  4pm Become a Smallmouth Specialist
  5pm Choosing the Right Soft Plastics for Bass

  

"Thinking Like a Fish"      Workshops for Kids!  March 15 & 16 at 2:30 & 4:30    

 

 

bluegill

We'll be teaching kids what causes a fish to think like a fish, and that alone, will give them insight to become the best fisher people they can be!

We'll cover topics such as where do they live, what do they eat and where you might best them hanging out.

 

We'll also cover fishing equipment and safety!

                                                                                                                               

Women's Beginning Fishing  Workshop!      March 15 at 3pm  Jim Crowely conducting seminar at Bass Pro Shops, East Peoria

 

Join JIM CROWLEY for our new seminar that designed just for the ladies!
 

We’ll teach you about spin casters and bait casters, fishing line, knots,  lures and worms. The workshop will be followed by a question and answer time. Your instructor will make sure to hang out in the fishing department so he’ll be available in case you want more help before or after the seminar!


Giveaways: 1st 50 seminar attendees to attend will receive a SFC tumbler.
Drawing: Ladyfish spinning rod/reel combo

 

Jim will also be delivering tank demonstrations on both days!



Join us on Facebook to stay up to date on this and other events.
Bass Pro Shops, East Peoria, IL

 

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January Fishing Report by Capt. Jon Fetter

Fishing Report Week of January 20th

The cold weather this past week made early morning fishing quite interesting, but some of the fish didn’t seem to mind. The sheepshead are spawning and willing to take #1 circle hooks tipped with shrimp. Anglers should add a split shot to keep the bait on or near the bottom. Remember they have a really soft bite so keep the line taught and be ready for the bite. Fish around structure like dock pilings, blow down near mangrove islands, or even oyster bars for this is their hang out. There has also been a decent seatrout bite in the 2-5 feet water depth. Shrimp under a popping cork or paddle tail grubs worked slowly is the ticket. Work the grass flats near the passes or with good moving water to increase your chances. As the water heats up toward late mourning hit the mangroves and shallow oyster bars for redfish. Try cut ladyfish or shrimp tipped jig heads. Be patient as it might take a while for the fish to pick up the scent.

- Jon Fetter

 

 

Snook caught by one of Jon Fetters customers

Capt. Jon Fetter is an associate at our Ft. Myers store and is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to all things fishing. Please stop on by and see if he may help you with your fishing needs. Also, support Capt. Jon by visiting his website Catchfishnow.com and learn more about what he does and keep up on his fishing reports.

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Crappie Madness Event and Sale Info

crappie

 

Bass Pro Shops loves traditions, but this year we're starting something new! Join us for our first ever Crappie Madness event and sale February 7 & 8 and 14 & 15. We'll have pro Crappie seminars, a free photo download, giveaways and sweepstakes. See schedule below.

New items on sale include the Browning Midas Balck Bass Cast Reels, Crappie Maxx Signature Series Combos and many Bass Pro Shops Tournament Series soft plastics. Click here for list of sale items or grab a tab on your way in to our store. 

___________________________________

Here are some tips from fishing associate David to get you excited about Crappie fishing:

-Use light line- 4-6lb test line especially in clear water.

-When fishing around docks, use a shorter pole, if you're on a boat use a longer rod, and if you're fishing on the shore use a 10ft-16ft pole to reach certain areas.

-Fluorocarbon line disappears in water, use fluorescent green or blue line if you want to see line better.

-In warmer months, use crappie grub/tube.

-Everyone has favorite colors, but the most popular are black chartreuse, all chartreuse, pink and white, blue and white or exotic colors like electric chicken and John Deer green.

-In clear water use clear bait i.e. firecracker, smoke- black glittl, pumpkin or a more natural color i.e. minnow color.

-Fish around submerged brush, dock pilings, submerged tree tops, cedars and hard woods.

-Be versatile because they won't always bite on one color, try new targets.

_____________________________________

Fridays:
5p.m.-8p.m. Free photo download
7p.m. Pro Crappie seminar

Saturdays:
2p.m.-5p.m. fried fish sampling
Noon- 6p.m. Free photo download
11a.m. Pro Crappie seminar
2p.m. Pro Crappie seminar

Saturday, Feb. 8th 1p.m.-5p.m. catch and release pond

*The first 25 people to attend seminars will receive a free Bass Pro Shops travel mug

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Spring Fishing Classic 2014

In my 55 plus years of fishing I have never caught a fish that was wearing a watch or carrying a calendar. I guess in a way fish might be considered lucky in that one respect. They are governed by nature to do very few tasks. They eat to survive, reproduce to continue their species and try to stay comfortable and uneaten while doing these tasks.

  If we will remember this simple list, we will catch more fish. We humans are governed by a host of things that do not apply to fish. We deal with clocks, daylight savings time and calendars to conduct our daily lives. Fish, to a large degree are governed by temperature, daylight, water content and the availability of food and that’s about it.

As Winter begins to slowly and reluctantly give was to Spring we find the days starting to get longer. This gradual process begins in January here in North Central Texas. The daylight hours get a little longer each day and the Sun travels a higher arc across the sky. As the northern hemisphere turns more and more toward the Sun the water begins to warm thus setting the reproductive cycle in progress on largemouth bass.

Sorry folks, but the bass don’t employ flowers, sweet phone calls or romance in any way. In a nutshell, the male bass starts to fan out a nest with his tail when the water temperature approaches 58 degrees. He then finds a female bass and coaxes her to the nest he has prepared. The female will come to the nest, deposit her eggs and stay in the area for a few days to protect them, but she soon moves on to her other duty of just being a bass. The male stays behind and defends the nest area against all intruders.

 This is one of the best times of year to catch that big mama bass. Many fishers don polarized sunglasses and patrol the shallows around cover looking for the large female tending her eggs. Some of the preferred baits for this tactic include soft baits that imitate natural egg predators like, salamanders, crawfish, and bream or perch. My personal favorite is a white floating lizard attached to a shaky head jig. Other good baits include, jigs with a trailer of pork or synthetic trailer designed to present a “threatening” profile to Ms. Bass. There are times when the big females will slam the bait, there are others when she will delicately pick the offending intruder up in her mouth and simply escort it out of her protective zone. Either way it’s time to set the hook!

Some other great spawn fishing lures include neutral buoyancy “twitch baits” like the suspending Rattling Rogue, and Bass Pro’s Excaliber  baits.

 When fishing for these early-season fish remember a couple of basic things. One is to understand that smaller bodies of water tend to “warm up” quicker than others. Ponds, or tanks here in the area will almost always warm to acceptable spawning temperatures than the main bodies of our favorite lakes. Those of us who don’t have access to private ponds should look  in the north ends of our lakes for the warmest water available that is close to cover and if possible close to deeper water.

  Another factor in water warmth is the clarity of water. Clearer water, though nicer to look at, warms slower than slightly stained water which absorbs the Sun’s rays. If you have a thermometer use it!

Remember that bass are simple creatures whose single job it is , is to survive and you will catch more and bigger ones earlier in the year. You also stand an even better chance of landing that bragging rights monster if you’ll stop by Bass Pro Shops of Garland Tx and talk to the pros who have the experience and knowledge. They are there to help you with all your fishing needs and may just give you that little tip that puts you on your personal best.

Tight Lines and bent rods to ya!

Enjoy Bass Pro Shops Spring Fishing Classic from February 28- March 16 2014!!

 

Spring Fishing Classic 2014

 

6 Comments »

Lake Taneycomo Fishing Report – January, 2014

       Winter fishing can be fantastic, on Lake Taneycomo!!! Trout often want smaller flies, so go to size #18-20, on midges, and #16-18, on scuds and small nymphs, if the fish are refusing the bigger stuff.

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

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

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

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

        Trout become a little less finicky when current brings them a quick meal. These fish have less time to examine passing food. 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, 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, then adjust your rig slightly more shallow, to avoid hanging up. Remember, trout have eyes that see best ahead, up, and to the side. Trout often do not see food items that are presented to them at a lower vertical point in the stream than the depth at which they are holding. So, if you present something to them on the bottom, when they are holding on the bottom, they see it, and may feed on it. If the trout holding lie is in the surface film, however, a mini jig or other bait presented 6” or less, under an indicator or bobber, will be more apt to be seen.

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

        Spoons and spinners will take fish better, 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. The fish are biting!!!

Good luck, and good fishing!

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Using an Alabama rig

 

We like to showcase different rigs during our weekly fishing demos. Fishing associate David B. is a fan of the Alabama rig, so that's what we used last week. Let’s “school” you on how it works:

rig

Most 'bama rigs come with five arms for hooks, however in the state of Missouri; you're only allowed to have three hooks. The center wire or two bottom wires will catch the most fish, so attach decoy bait on the other two arms.

If used correctly, it can catch a lot of fish. Its trick? It's designed to appear to be a school of fish. When it's reeled in, the lures are pulled together in one direction. Make sure to pause to let the rig change directions for a bit to give fish a chance to catch up.

The best time to use this rig is from the early spring through the summer, and then again in the early fall. It works best on a 7ft medium-heavy rod with bait casters and 30-60lbs braided line. Use soft plastics like Zoom, paddletail fluke or 4 inch grubs. Lake of the Ozarks is a great place to use them according to David. They are good for catching many different species such as largemouth bass or (if using a smaller rig) crappie.

Because of the amount of arms on the rig, make sure to check with the state conservation regulations before using it. Some states like Tennessee don't allow the rig to be used at all, and most of the time they’re not tournament sanctioned either.

The Deadly 5 War Path is a great Alabama rig to use. It starts at $9.99 and can be found in our fishing department.

 

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Fishy Facts: Northern Pike

Hmm… would you look at that? It appears to be Fishy Fact: 30. Which of course means it is time for another fishy fact. This month let us cover one of those toothy bad boys of freshwater: Northern Pike.

The northern pike is an apex predator in their ecosystem. The veracity with which they attack their prey makes them an awesome fighter when hooked. They also grow to relatively large size, which means the bigger the fish the bigger the fight.

The pike got their name due to the resemblance their structure has compared to the pole-weapon commonly used during the Medieval Period. This pointed structured helps them cut through water and they use impressive bursts of speed to run down their prey.

They are usually an olive green with some yellow and white along the belly. They also tend to have a number of dark spots on their bodies. They look a lot like the muskellunge, but have their differences. The northern pike has a number of sensory pores on their head and along the underside of their lower jaw.

Typical prey of the northern pike include: fish, leeches, insects, amphibians, small mammals and even birds. There are pictures of cute little ducklings swimming along as a hungry northern pike salivates below in the water. Pretty accurate, honestly. Northern pike tend to be solitary predators.

Along with being solitary they tend to stay in the same waters. Their homing sense is very strong, and will keep them in the same area for years. They tend to breed in the spring. In summer they stay closer to vegetation than when it is winter.

Typically fishermen will pitch assorted baits and lures in a semi-fast fashion to try and attract the bite from the northern pike. When I was in Canada it was common to switch to pitching for pike instead of jigging for walleye to break the boredom. If we didn’t feel like pitching, it went to trolling. Plugs, jerk baits, inline spinners, soft baits and spoons tend to be the most effective lures used for pike. Many like to use something with some shine that will glint in the water to attract any possible pike nearby. Ice fishing for these large predators is also popular, just be careful being in that close of proximity to something that strong with that many teeth.

Many fishermen will overlook pike as an edible catch. This is due to the high amount of bones in their long, slender bodies. This makes it very hard to get meat off the fish, which is why many do not spend the time cleaning them. If one were to take the time to learn a little trick for cleaning pike they would also learn just how delicious they are. Pike is a common fish consumed in Europe.

Now because pike are as strong and toothy as mentioned above, fishermen either are very careful when handling them or just club them. When I went fishing for them there were two rules, watch the teeth and don’t drop the net. I was able to follow the first rule but may have forgotten the second. In fact, the story of me is dropping the net right after Uncle Scot said not to is one of his favorites. It took us quite the time to get the fish out, but when we finally did it was worth the effort!

Nice, right? PS- Uncle Scot caught that, I just look too cool with my sideburns.

Pikes Picnickin’ with Prickly Pear Paws! Giddy-Up!!

Former Fishy Facts:

Rainbow Trout

Largemouth Bass

Peacock Bass

Walleye

Billfish

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Lake Taneycomo Fishing Report – December, 2013

   Winter fishing can be fantastic, on Lake Taneycomo!!! Trout often want smaller flies, so go to size #18-20, on midges, and #16-18, on scuds and small nymphs. These sizes will hold true for the next few months.

    Some brown trout are still spawning. There are a few browns staged below #3 outlet, up below the dam, and a few left in the area between outlets #1 and #2. Remember to revive any brown caught during the next couple of months, since these fish are often weakened by the spawn, and any help you give them, helps them recover, after being caught.

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

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

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

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

   Trout become a little less finicky when current brings them a quick meal. These fish have less time to examine passing food. 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, 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. Remember, trout have eyes that see best ahead, up, and to the side. Trout normally do not see food items that are presented to them at a lower vertical point in the stream than their holding water. So, if you present something to them on the bottom, when they are holding on the bottom, they see it, and may feed on it. If the trout holding lie is in the surface film, however, a mini jig or other bait presented 6” or less, under an indicator or bobber, will be seen, and may be taken.

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

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

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

    Trout go for nymphs as temperatures drop. The angle of the sun, and the length of the days, help get the water temperatures down. Try sizes #14-#18, 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. If the water is crystal clear, make the tippet on the trailer fly 2lb. fluorocarbon.

    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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Thanksgiving on the Charles

Life is better on the river

 

Charles River Charters

Every year for a long time now my brother and I slip away for a few hours on Thanksgiving morning in an attempt to work up an appetite by hooking into a few fish. Usually the water is freezing and the wind is wiping but the thought of keeping the tradition alive for another year keeps us warm enough to key in on a few Bass. After yesterdays tropical weather system giving way to bright blue skies Today is no exception. With cold wind and freezing temps we are definatley earning it today. Our traditional trip over to Bass Pro shops in Foxboro armed us with everything we need to give it our best shot. We threw everything from blade baits to soft plastics and jerk baits to drop shots… but finally we found them. Its always a great feeling when you put the right plan together and can land a few fish but what feels even better is maintaining a tradition. As usuall after landing a couple Turkey day Bass we will make our way to the ramp and start the journey home feeling satisfied that we did it again for one more year. Returning with cold faces and fingers we will be greeted with the aromas of Turkey in the oven and the smiles of friends and family and the warm feeling of succeeding in our yearly quest.

 

Fishing in Massachusetts can stay exciting for a long time into the cold weather months. If you would like to start your own tradition whether its Turkey day lunker hunting or just a yearly cold water mission Charles River Charters is there for you. Consider starting your own tradition and experience the feeling of a yearly ritual that is rewarding and exciting!

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Lake Taneycomo Fishing Report – November 2013

As the leaves fall, trout begin to hang out under the lake’s leaf canopy.  Since trout are afraid of birds, this surface coating of leaves offers the trout a respite from constant worry about being eaten by their winged adversary. 

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

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

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

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

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

Trout become a little less finicky when current brings them a quick meal.  These fish have less time to examine passing food.  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, 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.  Remember, trout have eyes that see best ahead, up, and to the side.  Trout normally do not see food items that are presented to them at a lower vertical point in the stream than their holding water.  So, if you present something to them on the bottom, when they are holding on the bottom, they see it, and may feed on it.  If the trout holding lie is in the surface film, however, a mini jig or other bait presented 6” or less, under an indicator or bobber, will be seen, and may be taken.

 


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

 

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

 

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

 

Trout go for nymphs as fall temperatures drop.  The angle of the sun, and the length of the days, help get the water temperatures down.  Try sizes #12-#16, 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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Table Rock & Bull Shoals Fishing Report - November, 2013

Bass are close to shore now.  November is a great time to throw a jig!  Bass bulking up for winter, will eat gobs of crawfish this month.  Get out there!  The scenery is breath taking!  The fish are hungry!

 

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 from 4-35ft. deep, either in the backs of coves, or off or next to, main lake and secondary points.  Try a 1/4 to 5/8oz. round head jig, brown or green pumpkin in color, and add a trailer, green pumpkin, watermelon candy, or cinnamon purple.  Add scent to your jigs.

 

Spinner baits are working now.  Try a 1/2oz. double willow blade spinner bait, especially on any windy or rainy day.  Natural shad colors are working well.

 

Shaky head fishing is hot right now!  Take a 1/4oz or heavier shaky head jig head (it is built to make the soft bait you attach to it stand up), and 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.

 

Try a drop shot rig.  Find a line of trees or stumps off a bank with a 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.  Look for 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 still 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, or cove backs, and fish in these areas.  Many times, the bite will end when the sun becomes visible, though, the bite can go on all day! 

 

From late morning to early evening, tubes often work well, since black bass key on crawdads during this time.  Try a ¼ to 1/2 oz. jig, with a tube, 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.  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 smallmouth congregate there, and are now at about 10-35 ft. depth.

 

Slow fishing, employing a finesse Caroline 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. 

                         They are out there waiting for you!!!

 

                               Good Luck and Good Fishing!

 

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Basics To Build On In The Sport Of Bass Fishing

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joey Nania

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Weightless Baits Catch Big Bass

 

In this day and age there are numerous of ways that an angler can rig a soft plastic bait. To name a few you have the, Carolina Rig, Texas Rig, Shakey Head, Drop Shot Rig, Mojo Rig, and more. These are all great options in the right situations throughout the year. But one way to fish soft plastics that gets less attention than the rest is fishing them weightless. In this case the only weight you have is the hook and the bait, and trust me this is a great way to catch big bass.

Silver GhostSome of my best tournament finishes I've ever had came from fishing with light tackle and weightless baits that have a slow, almost irresistible fall. One of my go to baits that works great in the spring and also in the fall is a weightless Bass Pro Shops Shadee Shad or a Zoom Super Fluke. When rigging my Shadee Shad I use a 3/0 Gamakatsu EWG Hook and I do what is called a texpose method for making the bait completely weedless. What I do is rig my bait just like a normal texas rig worm, where I come all the way straight through the plastic and then slightly burry the point of the hook into the worm. This results in a hook that is ready to release and stick the fish, as well as a perfectly straight Shadee Shad once rigged. Figuring out how to rig your fluke bait as straight as possible is very important, if the bait is off center on the hook just the slightest bit then the bait will spin and not swim like it's supposed to. One great thing about the weightless Shadee Shad is that it is a very versatile presentation. I like to very my retrieve when fishing it. Specifically, I will at times work the bait extremely fast making it twitch like a fleeing shad on the surface of the water and then when I come over a piece of cover or have a fish roll on the bait I can stop it and just let it slowly sink, which will trigger a lot of strikes. So weather they are extremely aggressive and chasing or if they want a slow falling presentation this bait is going to cover it all. It works near lay downs, docks, rocks, and seawalls, as well as in open water situations! It's definitely something that all anglers need to have in their arsenal.

Purple Brown

Another excellent bait that was truly designed to fish weightless is the Bass Pro Shops Stiko. This bait looks like nothing but catches fish like crazy! Rigging it weightless is by far my favorite method and I rig the bait exactly the same as I rig my Shadee Shad, using the texpose method. The key to the Stiko is generally the less you do with the bait the more fish you catch. I like to let the bait do the work 90% of the time, just casting it out and letting it sink slowly. The way it falls and wobbles on the way down parallel to the bottom is just to easy of an opportunity for a bass to slowly swim up and inhale the bait. When fishing the Stiko or any weightless bait you always need to watch your line looking for a little twitch when the bass takes the bait, as well as watching for your line to swim off if the bite was too light to be detected. Now occasionally I will twitch and pause the Stiko just like I fish a Shadee Shad, I do this specifically when I'm fishing around shallow scattered or matted grass, when doing this don't be surprised if a fish blows up on the bait just like they would on a topwater Spro Frog! Another bait that I rig and fish the same is a Zoom trick worm as well as a lizard. These techniques work exceptionally well when fishing during or close to the spawning period for bass, when the water is in the 60 to 72 degree range!

So whether you spend your time fishing big lakes and reservoirs, or small private ponds you will be blown away at the success you can have fishing weightless baits. I generally like to fish them using a 6'10" or a 7'3" TFO Tactical Series Spinning Rod, accompanied by a Pflueger President 30 Spinning Reel, spooled up with 8 to 12 lb Trilene 100% Flouro Carbon line. The spinning tackle makes for easier casting with light weight baits as well as the opportunity to skip these baits like a stone way up under cover such as docks or overhanging trees. If you are fishing extremely heavy cover and are very talented then a bait caster can be used, but your simply not going to be able to get as far up under the cover as with the spinning reel. So head over to Bass Pro Shops where you can get everything you need, because the weightless soft plastic bite is on now! I'll see you on the water!!!

Joey Nania

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fall River Fishing

 

 

Photo: Spro little john

The leaves changing colors, days getting shorter, and water temperatures getting colder, are a sure sign that the fishing is about to change in lakes, rivers, and reservoirs, across the country. While you don't have to worry about dehydrating yourself with intense heat, this more comfortable time of year can actually be a very frustrating time to really figure out and pattern the fish. During the fall of the year the fish are very scattered and roaming around looking for food. In one single day you could catch fish in 1 foot and then switch gears and go catch a fish in 30 feet. While junk fishing or throwing the kitchen sink at them can be a successful approach, there is an option that in my opinion is at times easier to figure out. Abandoning the wide open lower end of lakes and reservoirs and heading up to the river is a great option when trying to figure out what to do in the fall of the year.

The way I look at it river fish quite simply have less places they can hide. Rivers are pretty simple you have a winding channel with flats, drop-offs, rock piles, lay down logs, shoreline vegetation, and shallow creeks and backwaters. The thing I really like about a river, is that all of these types of structure are generally in close proximity to one another. Where on the lower main lake end of a body of water there are multiple levels of depth changes, channels and structure, which the fish will move back and forth on throughout the year. Sometimes these main lake fish will move half a mile or more to go from a spawning pocket to a creek channel and then on out to a main river ledge or point. In a river often 100 yards is all a fish has to move throughout the year making river fish easier to pattern during scattered out time of year like the fall.

Just like figuring out any part of the lake in the fall finding the bait fish is a very important step. To do this I use my Lowrance HDS 8 Fishfinder, as well as physically looking for schooling fish or balls of bait on the surface. Baits such as spinner baits and crank baits are extremely effective for covering stretches of river bank, in order to search for aggressive fish. If the reaction baits aren't working then baits such as Jig and Pigs, and Texas Rigged soft plastics are also great choices for pitching to shoreline cover. A key thing to always remember in a river system is that current is everything. Current positions the bait fish and the bass use the current to there advantage in order to ambush the bait. Bass will often sit just on the edge of current areas in current breaks caused by lay down trees, stumps, rock piles, and points. An accurate cast or better yet, pitch is crucial for catching river fish with the current running. An underhand pitch is my method of choice because of the accuracy and gentle presentation it can achieve.

When fishing soft plastics or jigs around lay downs and stumps I try to look for little eddies where there is a backup in the current and then present my bait as close to the cover as possible in the slack water. When using this technique bites come quick, often as soon as the bait begins to sink, so being able to either pitch left handed or use a left handed real is critical for hitting the fish quick and getting them out of the cover before they get you in trouble. When fishing points or rock piles I generally throw above, or upstream from my targeted current break and with a semi tight line I feel the bait as it washes down over the structure. With either technique your cast angle and accuracy is critical, but once you master it these river fishing techniques are extremely rewarding, and not to mention a boat load of fun! It is very important to use a strong rod such as a, TFO Tactical Series 7'3" Heavy Action, and a good high gear ratio 7.9:1 Pflueger Patriarch Reel in order to horse the fish out of the often cover littered banks and fast moving water. When fishing your moving baits such as Spro Little Johns and Stanley Spinner baits you should target the same current break areas. I often use a short roll cast to accurately place my bait where I can run it through the slack water past the cover. Another key to river fishing is boat positioning and understanding how to work your boat in the current in order to give yourself the best casting opportunities. If you have a 36 volt trolling motor and the water isn't overly swift then you can slowly move your boat against the current up stream, casting ahead at a 45, or more, degree angle. If you don't have a strong trolling motor to make headway or the current is just too strong then back drifting, holding your boat and then letting it slightly drift down for each cast can work very well.

So if you're having trouble catching fish this fall, check the current generation schedule, and abandon the open water lower end of your local lake or reservoir, and head up to the river portion of your lake for some awesome fishing action. I'll see you on the water!!!

Joey Nania

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Junk Fishing 101

Junk Fishing 101

For each specific time of year there are generally one or two patterns that really shine. In those situations if you are not fishing one of those specific patterns or techniques than your fishing results and definitely tournament results will show it. The key seasons for dialed in patterns are the middle of spring, summer, and winter. At these times the weather although different from one another is generally stable for a period of time. But there is however the often dreaded transition time period where fish seem to be neither hear nor there. This can be extremely frustrating and can sometimes baffle even an experienced angler. While tough at times, it does offer a unique opportunity to do what many know as junk fishing. If you've ever heard the phrase," I through the kitchen sink at them", this is just that. The key times of year when junk fishing really comes into play is during the spawn to post spawn transition from spring to summer, as well as the summer to winter transition. During either transition period you better keep an open mind and don't leave any technique or lure un tested.

During these transition periods I will often have as many as 12 or more rods on the front deck of my boat all rigged with different baits. Fast moving, deep diving, shallow running, finesse fishing is a good way to look at what a junk fishing pattern is. Now it is extremely important to keep an open mind during this time period and to remember one consistent fact. While the fish are very spread out one pattern holds true, this pattern is, if you find the bait you will find the fish. During both of the major transition periods feeding is the one common thing that is on the fish's mind.

Having a wide variety of baits to choose from is important and one of the main ones that I like to start my day with is a topwater lure, that I can cover allot of water with before the sun gets up. Baits such as the Spro Dawg 100 and the Zera Spook, are great early morning and late evening choices that can put a couple big roaming fish in your boat. This bite can slow as the sun gets up but occasionally under the right conditions you can actually throw the topwater bait all day long covering as much water as possible. But that is not the case all the time so generally once the sun is up I will switch over to some sort of crankbait. My crankbait I choose depends on the size and type of baitfish I am seeing. So if you are fishing shallow cover in the spawn to post spawn season and you are seeing things such as an abundance of bluegill then I would definitely go with a bigger square bill style crankbait such as the Strike King 2.5 or a Spro Fat John. Now if you're fishing during the fall transition period then generally a smaller shad imitation lure will get you more bites such as the Spro Little John MD in a shad color. Now these techniques and many others will work great for targeting shallow roaming fish during either transition periods, but remember there are also fish that will be out in deep water at this same time and trying to catch them can be very rewarding as well.

So if I have tried the shallow water bite with limited success then I will often completely switch gears and begin to use my Lowrance electronics. I like to begin my search for deep transition fish by graphing around areas that are neither here nor there. Places such as secondary points leading in or out of spawning pockets or creeks as well as looking at deep river ledges that are close by to main river flats. Transitioning fish in the summer and the fall will use these in between places as stopping points to feed. They are generally relatively close to shallow and deep water. Fishing medium to deep diving crankbaits is sometimes a great way to trigger these fish into biting and if you find the right school of fish it is not uncommon to catch fish after fish on one specific piece of deep structure. Once you have a group of fish located that are feeding deep on baitfish you need to be ready to slow down if the fish seem to suddenly shut off, and work them thoroughly with carolina rigs or shaky head worms. Having this versatility will maximize the amount of deep transition fish you can catch on one spot. One thing to remember about the deeper transition fish is that they will often suspend, specifically in lakes that have and abundance of shad, or blue back herring in them. If you are seeing surface schooling activity or, large amounts of bait fish on your depth finder then there are a few baits that you need to have ready to catch these suspended fish. The first is an umbrella rig such as the Bass Pro Shops Flashy Times rigged with some sort of soft plastic swimbait. Other baits such as jerkbaits and spoons can also work very well on the suspended fish.

So keeping an open mind is really what junk fishing is all about. Many tournaments I have fished during transition periods I have caught fish on topwater early, shallow crankbaits mid morning, flipping cover mid afternoon, and targeting deep suspended fish later in the day. This fast pace multiple pattern type of fishing is not easy to master but if you have a wide variety of techniques in your angling arsenal then making the adjustments and switching things up throughout the day will become more and more natural to you. So get every rod you own and don't be afraid to throw the kitchen sink at them during the tricky but fun transition periods. I'll see you on the water!!!

Joey Nania

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fall King Salmon Run

Fall King Salmon Run

The cool nights and falling water temps have once again brought the King Salmon into the harbors on the shore of Lake Michigan, in the greatest city in the world, Chicago!  Today let’s talk about the Tackle we need to catch these fish on Spoons and Crankbaits.  Next month we will discuss tips, tricks and tactics for fishing spawn for the Kings. Salmon rods are very unique.  They’re nothing like rods we use for bass, walleye, pike, and Muskie.  They’re very long in length, 8 – 9 feet long for most spoon/crank rods in MH action and 9 – 11 feet in L - UL for spawn rods.  There are a couple reasons for the long rods, the first is casting distance.  At times we need to bomb a bait as far as we can in order to cover more water giving us more of an opportunity to have our baits come in contact with a King.  The other reason is due to the mouth structure of a King.  They have very hard bone and cartilage in their mouths and many times we will not get our hooks to penetrate completely through that.  The long rods have a soft tip to keep the fish hooked and not rip a hook out but enough backbone to turn a fish when we have to.  I am a big fan of the Browning 6 Rivers Salmon rods.  Many options to choose from and good durability to these rods! As always there is a HUGE debate on what type of line to run.  The greatest debates between Braid and Mono runs wild here!  Here are some pros and cons to running Braid;

No stretch – better feel, however runs a lighter drag so we don’t pull hooks out of the fish’s mouth.  There’s no forgiveness to Braid like there is in mono.

Thin diameter – Farther casting cause it so thin.  However it’s a solid line so at times in clear water can be visible.  Most of the time we are fishing Kings is at night so the visibility of the line doesn’t really factor in here.  However something to keep in mind for all you sunrise and sunset fishermen who are chasing Kings in the day time.

To me, if you chose a Braided line, there are two that really stand out as far as castability and thin diameter.  Sufix 832 and the new Seaguar Kanzen Braid in either the 20 or 30 pound test.  If you guys are looking for a great mono, definitely check out P-Line CX in either the 10 or 12 pound test.  Smooth casting, low memory, good tensile strength and good abrasion resistance.

Salmon rods are available in Spinning and Baitcasting models, so whichever set up you prefer is fine.  Most baitcasters have good line capacities to them but I am particularly fond of our Bass Pro Shops Johnny Morris Signature Series Baitcast Reels for this job.  6.3:1 Gear ratio.  High performance bearings, smooth drag and a duel brake system making throwing baits all night a breeze.  For spinning reels it’s hard to top our Johnny Morris Signature Wide Spool Models in either the size 40 or 50.

Now comes the fun part, choosing the right bait to catch these Kings.  Keep in mind the Kings that are shallow are only here to Spawn and then die.  They only live 4 years and they are very focused on spawning to keep the species going.  They will not actually eat at this time…but they will strike to kill out of anger or frustration.  So we have to use baits that will trigger a reaction strike.

Since Kings live most of their short lives in deep water they are most active at night or low light periods in the shallow water.  (however they still can be caught during the day while shallow)  This is where our glow spoons play a huge role in our arsenal.  K.O. Wobblers, Moonshine, Little Cleo and Flashy Times spoons all come in glow in the dark pain jobs.  We run the 3/4oz size so we get the maximum casting distance and also help keep the spoon lower in the water column during the retrieve.  Slow retrieves are best.  Cast the spoon out and start to count to 5, then retrieve, if nothing, cast and count to 8 then retrieve and then 10 and so on and so on, so you can cover all levels of the water column.  Remember what count you used on a spoon as it falls if you get a bump or catch a fish and continue on that level since you now know where about in the water level the Kings are.Noisy crankbaits are good too!  3/4 oz Rattle Traps, Storm Mag Warts, Deep ThunderSticks, Deep Reef Runners, Bomber Fat Free Shads, all work great.  Bright colors work best and some models even have glow patterns to them.  If the Kings won’t react to the spoon you can usually get them to react to a crankbait.Get out there and get some Kings!  If you get a female save the Eggs and we’ll talk next month how to fish that spawn.  Take some pics and send them in or stop by the shop with them.

 

Tight Lines Everybody!

Tony Krizek

Team Lead Fishing Bolingbrook

 

 

 

 

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Match The Forage Catch The Bass

If you watch the trends of fishing lure production you will see certain hot colors trending from season to season. Understanding when to choose those colors is the key. The ability to select proper colors throughout the season depends on what type of forage you are trying to imitate. It's simple, if you can match what the fish want then you will catch more fish. When talking about bass, while sometimes they will eat anything that comes near them, there are a few standby forage options that they will target throughout the year. These forage options are shad and bluegill, and this is what I will try and imitate the majority of the time.

Shad are a perfect food for a bass, they have no spikes, they are soft and tender, and they group up in big schools known as shad balls. So they are easy to eat, easy to digest, and the fact that they group up in schools makes them easy to target. Shad are generally silver or transparent color with a hint of blue or green on their back. Most bass across the country will eat shad all year long to some extent, but there are key time periods when shad become number one on the menu. Throughout the late spring and early summer the shad will periodically spawn, at this time they move extremely shallow in large numbers and the bass absolutely gorge themselves on this easy to find meal. Throughout the summer and winter months the majority of the shad will suspend and while bass still eat them they are harder to target in this open water scenario. When fall hits the shad again move shallow into pockets and flats in the backs of creeks and this again is a time when shad colored baits will work best. When the shad are in there suspended mode there is no better way to catch them then on an Umbrella Rig such as the Bass Pro Shops Deadly 5 Flashy Times. The swim baits I choose are always in a shad color, the Bass Pro Shops Sassy Sally and the Boss Shads are 2 of my favorite options, again in shad colors. Now during the shad spawn I like to use fast moving shad imitations such as Stanley swim jigs, Stanley spinner baits, chatter baits, BPS swim baits. In the fall of the year shallow running crank baits such as the Spro Little John in either a Nasty Shad or a Spooky Nasty Shad are always on the front deck of my boat. Always keep track of what the shad are doing based on the time of year and select one of the baits I talked about in a shad imitation color and you will have some great days on the water fooling the bass.

Another major food source throughout the year is bluegill. On any given lake there is a population of bass that will live shallow basically all year long never moving out into the deep water. The reason these residential shallow fish are able to do this is because bluegill spend the majority of the year in shallow water. There is one really key time when almost everything I target is bluegill related, that is from early to mid summer, when the bluegill are spawning. I don't know what it is about them but for some reason the big fish in that time period seem to want to eat bluegill. For a shallow water angler this is the forage that they are generally trying to imitate not just in the summer but throughout the year, and it can be done in a variety of different ways with some certain colors that really shine. One of the very best presentations to imitate a bluegill is by flipping soft plastics to shallow water cover such as docks, grass, and fallen trees. When I'm flipping shallow cover with soft plastics I always use Bass Pro Shops Tournament Series baits. One of my favorites is the Bass Pro Shops River Bug. They are offered in a variety of different colors that imitate a bluegill such as watermelon bluegill, okeechobee craw, or their new color and one of my personal favorites, sprayed grass. Another bluegill imitator is the Bass Pro Shops Magnum Flipping Tube. My color choice for the tube bait is generally a smoke purple blue flake, or a melon seed/blue flake. With either the tube or the river bug I rig them on a 4/0 Gamakatsu Flipping Hook with a pegged 1/4-1/2 ounce BPS Tungsten Flipping weight. One other little tip is dipping the tail of your bait in Chartreuse to imitate the little chartreuse on the tip of the bluegills tail, I believe at certain times this will get you a few extra bites. If soft plastics aren't your thing then a jig with a soft plastic trailer will also work very well. Other moving baits such as square bill crank baits, swim baits, and swim jigs in bluegill colors, can be very effective when reaction baits are shining.

Always remember bass will eat almost anything that looks like an opportunity to get a meal and if bass got as big as sharks we would all be in trouble. By selecting colors that imitate shad and bluegill you can rest assured that you are always offering something that the bass are used to seeing as food on a daily bases in their natural environment, and this will help you put more fish in your boat. For more articles you can like my JoeyFishing page on Facebook or check out my website at www.joeyfishing.com. I'll see you on the water!!!

Joey Nania

 

 

 

 

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Local Fishing Report 9/22 to 9/28/2013

The River was at 3.9ft at the beginning of the week and at the end of the week we had 3.5ft with 8,500CF of flow and 68 degrees. 

Trip #1 was a full day trip on Tuesday and we caught 40+ bass, 1 channel cat, and 1 walleye.  The largest bass was 20.25" and we caught them on top water, spinnerbaits, and soft plastics on jigs.  We had 3.4ft-7,100CF-rising-clear and 66 degrees.  We had a barometric pressure of 29.90 and falling.

Trip #2 was on Tuesday and we fished from 5:15PM to 7:15PM and we caught 3 smallmouth, 1 largemouth, and 40+ sunfish.  We caught them all on jig/worm combo.

Trip #3 was a full day trip on Wednesday and we caught 35 bass and the largest was 20.25".  We caught them on top water and soft plastics on jigs.  We had 3.5ft-steady-8,600CF-clear and 67 degrees.  We had a barometric pressure of 29.00 and steady.

Trip #4 was on Thursday and we fished from 5:30PM to 7:00PM and we caught 10 bass and 1 fallfish.  The largest bass was 16" and the fallfish was 20".  We had 3.5ft-steady-8,000CF-clear and 69 degrees.  We had a barometric pressure of 29.00 and steady.

Trip #5 was on Friday and was a 6 hour combo trip and we caught 35+ sunfish, 1 walleye, 4 channel cats, and 2 flatheads.  The largest channel cat was 22", the walleye was 16.5", and the flathead was 26.4lbs.  We caught them on Sudden Impact, jig/worm combo and live bait.  We had 3.5ft-8,500CF-steady-clear and 70 degrees.  We had a barometric pressure of 30.10 and rising.

Trip #6 was a half day trip on Saturday morning and we caught 14 bass.  We caught them on top water, crankbaits, soft jerkbaits, and swimbaits.  We had 3.5ft-8,500CF-steady-clear and 68 degrees.  We had a barometric pressure of 30.25 and steady.

Trip #7 was a full day trip for flatheads and we caught 12 and the largest was 28.2lbs.  We caught them all on live bait.  We had 3.5ft-8,500CF-steady-clear and 68 degrees.  We had a barometric pressure of 30.25 and steady.

 

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Changing Water Conditions - Fall Fishing

Finding bass becomes much more difficult when lake levels start falling in October. These water levels seem to congregate the bass on specific spots. In the next few paragraphs, I am going to help you catch more bass this fall.

I believe it’s a good thing to see the water levels begin to fall, because the fish are getting tighter to cover, and they get harder to find. Once you find them; you can have a real good day, but you might not find them as quickly as a professional angler will. Many people are fishing right on top of them and just cannot get them to bite.  Falling water levels make the bass move, but not too far. Like us humans, an example would be moving from the kitchen into the living room. These fish are not going to move more than 50 yards in a day. Some anglers believe a fish will move a long way away, but they don’t move that far really quickly. Don’t get me wrong, they will move up to a mile away, but it will take days for this to happen.

On my area lake, Lake Sidney Lanier, I have seen bass move 2 to 3 feet deeper as the day goes on with the lake level falling. I caught fish in the 3 to 5 feet depth in the morning, and then by midday; they might have backed out another foot or so. By late afternoon, those same fish can sometimes be found in 5 to 8 feet deeper water. I still fish shallow water, but I am constantly looking at my Lowrance unit for fish and bait fish. If you can stay in constant contact with the moving bass, you can catch them. If you see them and they are biting, adjust your pattern. If they quit biting, move a few feet and look for a change in the bottom and see if you can relocate those same fish again.

 
 
 

Don’t try to over adjust your fishing to the falling water levels. Move your boat out and fish 2 or 3 feet deeper to locate those moving fish. For years, I have seen too many people give up on their fish and move out to deep water. Don’t give up to quick, those fish are there, and you can locate them. Remember Mr. Bass has a small brain; you can out think him! These fish are not going to run ½ mile to find another flat to live on. They are going to swim a short distance to relocate and find some more food.

 

If you cannot find the fish 3-5 feet deeper, your next step is to locate some kind of drop off close by where the fish are eating. This could be a depth change of no more than 1 foot off a tapering bank. Many anglers think a ledge drop off is a 5 to 10-foot drop off. My best luck has come from a slow drop off of 1-3 deep. This is a good ambush point for bass to hide out at just out of the site of the bait. If there is bait fish near the drop-off, Mr. Bass is not far away.

Many times when I move out to the drop off, I cannot use the same crankbait I caught them in the morning on. Now I might need to swap to a crankbait that runs deeper or even swapping to a different tactic by throwing a soft plastic like the Strike King Ocho, which is a stick style bait.  After moving to a new spot thoroughly work this area over at varied angles. Remember what I said earlier, if you see bait, the bass are there; you just have to figure out what they want to eat right then.

 


If you are using crankbaits concentrate on changing depth of the bait. If you find a color or pattern they are eating, do not change colors - change the depth of the bait. On Lake Sidney Lanier, one of my favorite colors is “Blue Gizzard Shad." I know this color works 98% of the time. I just have to get the bait to the right depth where the fish are eating. If the 2-3-foot crankbait is not working, swap to the 5-7-foot depth running crankbait. If that middle depth crankbait does not work change to a lure that is bouncing off the bottom either a deep diver or a plastic worm. One of my favorite places on Lake Sidney Lanier is a big (boulder) rocky type point that’s close to a red clay bank when the water starts falling. This place is perfect because 12 feet off the bank, there is another 2-3-foot drop off, then if you go another 50 yards the bottom falls off into deeper water.

Catching bass in the fall should not be a big giant guessing game with the right electronics and the correct baits. Bass will move from the banks out to the deeper water at a slow pace when the lake levels begin falling in the fall (I made a funny!).


Go fishing with these tips, they will help you can catch more bass!


THANKS FOR READING..... BRANCH
 
About the author: Tom is a freelance outdoor writer and full time Firefighter, Paramedic/Lieutenant in Georgia for the past 28 years.  He has been working and consulting in the Outdoor Industry for over 18 years and is currently creating and managing a pro fishing team, developing new products, promoting products through demonstrations, designing packaging, and he participates in different forums, radio & television shows.  Tom and his wife, Kim are volunteers with Operation One Voice. They live north of Atlanta near Braselton, GA with their lab “Jake”.
 

 

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