Fishing in South Florida

Hello South Florida,

Fishing this month has been Awesome! From Flamingo to West Palm Beach, the Snook and Snapper bite has produced many fish and large fish.Caught from shore at South Beach- my idea of partying on the beach!

With dredging going on in Haulover and Government Cut you'd think the fishing would be terrible, but with a ton of Pilchards and Shrimp running thru these entry points, the bite is nothing short of spectacular.

Snook from 10-20 lbs. are being caught daily. Snapper from 2-6 lbs. are a regular on the marina docks upon return from the reefs.

There are various techniques for Snook fishing two of which are trolling big Rapalas or similar type lures around bridges and the reef line. But don't be surprised if you hook a nice Grouper along the reef, which unfortunately must be released as the season is closed until April 30th. Snook season is open on both coasts right now. Other Techniques include "Walking the Dog" with a Livingston Black Zombie Pro Sizzle or Zara Spook in Red and White. This will produce large, exciting hits from Snook Snapper, Tarpon, Redfish, and Sea Trout. Hook Up Lures with DOA or H&H Shrimp will Justin Hunter with a 5 lb Mangrove Snapper caught at Key Biscayne! Way to go!also get hit by many species of fish too! Live Shrimp and Pilchards work best for Snapper.

 

So whatever your needs are come to Bass Pro Shops Miami at the Dolphin Mall and we will be happy to help you find your Fishing Gear. Your Adventure Starts Here!

Chris Hunter

 

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Fishing Report


Provided By Captain Jon Fetter

 

  The fishing in and around Estero Bay continues to be really good. The back bay bite is focused on snook, redfish, and snapper right now. The snook are feeding well on free lined white bait or pinfish on 3/0 circle hooks fished around the floating docks and mangrove islands near the passes. The best bite for them has been a strong incoming or outgoing tide. The night bite has been strong for them as well around the lighted docks. Free lined live bait or white jerk baits have been the ticket. The bigger fish seem to be hanging around at night, so beef up your tackle and hold on.

  The redfish have been schooling up on the shallow grass flats around or near the oyster bars. Look for them to move on or off these oyster beds as the tide moves. Shrimp tipped jig heads, cut ladyfish, or pinfish will work just fine. As they move onto the grass anglers can try using pinfish under floats as this will keep the baits from swimming down into the grass. Artificial baits like Rapala Skitterwalks, Zara Spooks, Storm Chug Bugs, and Zoom Flukes will work under the same conditions.

  If snapper is what you are looking for then find some blow down and tip small jig heads or #1 circle hooks with shrimp and get ready. They are hungry and eating almost every cast; It doesn’t take long to get a few in the cooler for dinner.

  Trout have been harder to find, but if anglers show patience over the grass flats in 2-5 feet of water with shrimp under a popping cork, one might get lucky. The nearshore reef has been teaming with action from snapper, trout, pompano, Spanish mackerel, grouper and other bottom dwellers. Work the bottom with cut bait and shrimp to get the bottom species and free lined shrimp will get the Spanish and others in the water column.

 

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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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Table Rock & Bull Shoals September Fishing Report

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!  Right now, with the surface temperature of both lakes pushing 85 degrees, putting your boat in 35ft. of water, and casting to 15ft., then slowly working the shaky head out into the deeper water, is working.  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 an early morning 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, 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.  Right after the top water bite stops, a grub bite often follows, on these same flats.  Currently, bass are taking a smoke, or smoke with some color flecks (like red, or gold-red-black) grub. 

 

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 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.  Ten to fifteen inch worms will work well off these main lake points.  Get ready, and set the hook hard!

 

Summer evenings are a great time to get out onto the lake, since, after the sun leaves the water, bass move into the coves, and water temperatures and available oxygen are at comfortable levels for feeding fish.   

 

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 , 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.  They are out there waiting for you!!!

 

                               Good Luck and Good Fishing!

 

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Top Water Tactics For Summertime Bass

There’s no doubt the most fun way to catch bass is on top water baits.  When you least expect it a fish will blows up on your lure and scare the heck out of you!  In all the commotion anglers tend to miss a lot of fish on top waters.  This is often due to short strikes from the fish or over excited anglers actually pulling lures away from the fish.   This often happens when the fisherman sets the hook on the blow up rather than waiting to feel the weight of the fish before pulling the trigger.  So what can we do to increase hook-ups on top water baits and miss less fish?

First let’s talk about the gear needed to throw baits like these.  Generally we like a 7ft medium rod…you could use a 6’6” but a 7’ rod will give you not only better casting distance and accuracy but a softer tip as well.  This is crucial in creating more hook ups.  We want a little give for this presentation.  Most times a bass will come up and suck bait in as he comes up to hit the bait.  If we have a stiffer rod it, we lose the flex needed to allow that fish to do that.  The only exception to this rule is when we are throwing Frogs in heavy cover.  (Pads and mats)  Then we’ll be throwing a 7’ or 7’6” heavy or extra heavy just for a little more muscle to get those fish out of that cover.

I like to run a 6.3:1 gear ratio reel for this application.  Unless we are throwing buzz bait, the top water bait’s action will be imparted by the rod.  Be it a walk the dog style bait like a Zara Spook or popper style bait.

Lastly let’s talk line.  I run monofilament for this set up.  Aside from jerk bait and swim bait fishing this about the only other technique I use mono for.  Mono has a little stretch to it and again we want a little give for this presentation.  Also mono floats so we don’t have to worry about any adverse effects to our presentation.  I usually run 14lb or 17 lb test.  The only change for frogging is running braided line for dealing with the heavy cover.  Braid being no stretch will cut through the mats and pads and help up get the fish out of the cover as well as better hook sets back in the thick stuff.

Hopefully these tips will help increase your hook up ratio when throwing top waters.  If you’ve never thrown them you are missing out on some of the most exciting times on the water.  Early morning, evening or anytime there are low light periods, even cloudy over cast summer days, throw top water!

Tight Lines everybody.

 

Tony Krizek

Team Lead Fishing

Bass Pro Shops Bolingbrook

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Spawn to Immediate Post Spawn

Bass typically start to spawn when the water temperatures reach 60 degrees.  When the bass are spawning I typically like to fish the back half of spawning coves (pea gravel or hard clay bottom).  The bass will guard the nest from egg robbers like lizards or bluegill.  For this reason, I like to slowly drag a Texas rigged lizard or similar bait like a brush hog.  If the bass are not biting this I will down size to a Bass Pro Shops River Bug in bluegill color.  I like to dye the tail chartreuse using Spike It.        

When the bass are done spawning, the males are left to guard the baby bass called fry.  The males despise anything disturbing their fry. To take advantage of this I will swim a bluegill colored jig through the fry.  During this time of year the top water bite begins to turn on.   I like to use buzz baits as a searching tool when I cannot see the fry.  The noise and water disturbance will often trigger a strike.  After the spawn, females will leave and go to deeper water to recover.  They will come up to a secondary or main lake point to feed.  To catch them, I will drag a lizard or brush hog on points using a Carolina rig.    I also like to use top water baits that I can walk the dog with.  The original and probably most popular bait in this category is the Heddon Zara Spook.  I will use this in the same areas I would use the Carolina rig or a flat near deep water.

----Written by Local Pro Staffer Aaron Olsen

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Fishing Lake Mead and Lake Mohave

 Hi folks, Jeff Johnson here, from the Bass Pro Shops Fishing Team.

The Lake Mead and Lake Mohave bite is still on for the Large and Small mouth bass.

The Large mouth bass can still be found in the backs of deep running coves with submergent and emergent vegetation in old creek beds and washes. They're taking small crankbaits in shad, chili craw and perch imitations. From square bills and medium divers with some top water action in the early morning. Then moving to deeper waters late morning taking some deep diving crankbaits along with some creature baits, jigs, tubes and crawfish in natural colors. Try using a "green watermelon" or a "green pumpkin" with black flake. "TIP" try keeping your baits around  3" inches long. The small mouth are still patrolling cliff faces, rock out crops, points and "rip rap" hunting for just about anything that swims. Shad, blue gill, small rock bass and crayfish are on the menu, and can be found in the 4' to 30' water column. Try adding some chrome, white, and crawfish lipless crankbaits to the menu with a medium retrieve. Some anglers are reporting a few early morning bites on 3/8 oz. spinner baits in white and chartreuse as well.

Striper fishing is still good whenever you can find a bait boil. Taking bone or shad Zara Spooks Jr.'s and white jigging spoons. Anchovies a few feet off of the bottom always seems to be good choice as well.

Good Luck!

 - Jeff Johnson,

-Bass Pro Shops Fishing Team Leader

 

 

 

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When it's Hot, Fish the Windows

                We all know it has been hot outside. In fact it’s been crazy hot. There have even been fish kills in area lakes and especially ponds, due to water temperature and low oxygen. With that being said there is still hope to go out and catch some fish. I want to talk about a few ways to be successful in this heat.

           Sara Spook lure     I can’t stress enough how important it is to fish the windows this time of year. What I mean is there are small windows in the day where the fish will feed very heavy, and it does not last long. These windows are called dawn and dusk. It may only be for a few hours, and the key is you need to be out there when it happens.  It’s that time of year when you have to wake so early that it might be a little painful for you night owls. I’m talking you need to be on the water by five in the morning, and fishing hard for the first couple of hours of daylight. In this heat the fish are most active when it’s the coolest out. Just like us, they get up early to grab a bite and run their errands. Then they are back to deep water in the AC, sitting on the couch watching ESPN and the Outdoor channel by midmorning. Then right before dusk they come back out to do a little yard work and grab another bite to eat. On the last few trips I have been out, the last half hour of daylight has been on fire. It’s like a switch gets turned on and it’s a feeding frenzy. Once again the windows of the most action are small, but you can get a ton of bites in that little amount of time.

       KVD frog         I would have to say in these windows of opportunity, topwater lures usually can get your biggest bites. Because for most of the day they are sitting inactive, they look for a big meal in times of their activity. Some of my top choices right now are walk the dog type of baits. I like the zara spook and the KVD sexy dog. Bass Pro Shops Chug bugs, buzzbaits, and poppers can also load the boat. My other go to bait would have to be the frog. Anywhere there is vegetation the frog will hunt people. I get excited thinking about hitting a lake at low light conditions, with ol’ Kermy on the end of my line. My favorites to use are the Live Target, KVD Sexy, and the Spro Bronzye  frogs.

         KVD sexy dawg       It can be tough fishing in this heat, but as the old saying states, being the early bird does pay off.  Instead of looking out the window in the AC this time of year, use the windows to your advantage. This heat is no joke. Be smart out there and drink lots of water. Stay Cool!

Chad Fargher
East Peoria Fishing Lead

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Fishing Report for August

August Fishing Report:
Charlie Bowles, Bass Pro Shops Pro Staff /Lowrance Pro Staff


Mid to late summer is an exciting time on Lake Anna… The threadfin shad hatch ignites a feeding frenzy all over the lake. All species key in on tiny baitfish on points, in open water, in the backs of large flats etc. If you find the bait, you can find the fish.

Bass:
This month offers some great top water action early in the mornings. The bass will feed heavily on threadfin in the upper parts of the rivers in shallow, stained bays near grass. They will crush buzzbaits, poppers, and top walkers for the first hour of daylight. As the topwater bite begins to die off move out to deeper brush piles and drop off’s. The fish will get close to cover and shade, setting up ideal ambush points. Texas rigged 8-10 inch worms are great for luring big bass out to for an easy meal. Shakey head jigs rigged with 4-6 inch finesse worms are a great follow up bait if you can’t get them to take the bigger offering.


Striper

The stripers will put on an amazing top water display in the morning. Acres of fish will feeding on the surface in the mid lake area. They will hit poppers, walkers, flutter spoons etc. You have to be as quiet as possible, keep your trolling motor on a constant low speed and slowly approach the school… Even better is to observe which direction they are moving and sit and wait for them if possible. Once the sun gets up it is time to try ½ oz to ¾ oz jigging spoons. The fish will be on 25-40 foot flats in large schools. If you loose the school or are looking to cover more water, put the trolling lines down. You’ll need to get the baits deep by using trolling sinkers, downriggers, Crankbaits etc. Once you locate a school of fish on your sonar you can troll swimbaits, spoons, rattletraps, etc. to catch dozens of 5-10 pound fish. There is also some occasional topwater action during the day so be sure to have a zara spook or popper tied on just in case.

Crappie
Nice size slabs can be found all over the lake. Deeper Bridges, docks, brush piles, and rocks, are home to thousands of Crappie. One method is to try casting grubs, tubes, and beetle spins as close to whatever cover you are targeting. Another approach is to use a slip bobber above a #6 gold aberdeen hook tipped with a small minnow.

Call 540-287-3591 or Visit www.cvofishing.com to see a recent journal of catches, or book a trip.

 

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Ooo-wee! It's Hot!

The dog days of summer can be very productive. It doesn't look like we'll have much relief from the heat soon.  Here are my top ten on beating the heat and catching fish:

  1. Get up Early - It is usually light enough to see by 5 a.m. Fish can be very active before the hot sun breaks the shade line.Early a.m.
  2. Night Catfish - Stay up all night catfishing. The cool evenings are more comfortable fishing and the cats bite better at night.
  3. Night Largemouths - Head for your favorite bass haunt around dusk and stay for a couple hours past sunset. Try top water lures like buzzbaits or Zara Spooks.
  4. Tube it - Put yourself in an inner tube and float around with live bait or toss your favorite lure. Safety first...make sure you have a personal flotation device!
  5. Daytime Largemouths (farm ponds) - Just like humans, the largemouth is trying to stay in the coolest spot they can find. In a farm pond, the deepest part is probably where they're holding. Try dragging Texas-rigged plastic worms on the bottom.  This isn't a good way to beat the heat, but it traditionally produces nice largemouths.
  6. Just Get in - Wading can be a good way for relief...who knows?  You might even catch something! Be sure to wear a life jacket.Late Evening Fishing
  7. Late Evenings - Get to the water around 8 p.m. and stay until dark. This has been my favorite time to fish in August. After a long, hot, day, the fish start becoming more active in the last hour of light, plus the summer sunset are awesome!
  8. Cool Running Rivers - The water below a dam is cooler and the constantly moving water produces oxygen that fish enjoy, even in the heat of the day.
  9. White Bass - This fish doesn't seem to care about the heat. As a matter of fact, many local anglers will tell you the hotter it is, the better the White Bass will bite. Look for sea gulls feeding on the surface shad. This usually means the shad were pushed up by the Whites.
  10. Troll the Beaches - You never know what you might catch.

 Above all else, use your head and common sense.  Don't put yourself at risk for heat-related illnesses. If you just HAVE to go fishing, take plenty of WATER with you for drinking. If it's daytime then sunscreen to keep from baking, don't stay out too long, and always take shade breaks.

______________________________

Jeff RowlandBass Pro Shops Altoona Receiving Manager Jeff Rowland is an avid fisherman, outdoor writer, and former fishing guide. He is the author of Reel Adventures of a Marion County Angler and his expertise has been featured in magazines such as Iowa Game and Fish, Outdoor Life, and Field and Stream.  

 

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May Brings Topwater Action

May Bass Fishing

Take a poll among avid anglers and you’ll find that favorite seasons to fish are varied and opinions run strong.  Some prefer the immediate pre-spawn period in April while others prefer the advantages of finding concentrations of fish during the summer and winter months.  But, one thing that most anglers will agree on is that the late spring topwater bite is the best time of year to be on the water.  Both spotted bass and linesides are feeding heavily at this time.   Aggressive wolf packs of these predators often chase schools of baitfish right up to the surface making for some very exciting opportunities.  Few things in nature rival the adrenaline rush of watching a calm surface erupt with slashes and boils of feeding fish as you’re trying to get your plug into the action.  This phenomenon can get pretty dramatic and it’s common to spot activity from long distances in calm water conditions.  Look for topwater schooling to begin in early May and go strong through the month.  Striper action will typically taper off by early June while spotted bass with continue this activity through the summer months.  Although action can occur at any time, early morning and evening periods tend to be the most productive.  As always during the spring, weather factors can have a big influence on the fishing.  While it’s a great time to exploit topwater action, a strong frontal system can put the bite down for a day or two.  It’s important to have a back-up plan in case surface action does not materialize.  While searching for this, focus your efforts from the middle sections of creeks out to main lake areas near the creek mouths.  Although the predators are keying on roaming schools of baitfish, remember that “points point out the fish”.  Activity will very often erupt in the vicinity of a prominent point or submerged hump which is typically the extension of a point.

V-Wake a Redfin

 If you’re parked off the best looking point in your favorite creek and looking for surface activity, blind casting is always a good idea.  Just remember that you should be covering open water with some significant depth and not targeting the shoreline.  Blind casting a plug can put a lot of extra fish on the end of your line.   What type of topwater plug should you choose?  It’s no secret that fishermen are a highly opinioned bunch.  While “swear by” lure choices will vary widely, there are a handful of tried and true favorites that you’ll not go wrong with.  It’s now been over a decade since the Sammy by Lucky Craft hit the topwater scene.  And, it’s still going strong.  It’s a pricey choice at about $15 per copy but the results are hard to argue with.  The trademark American shad is a great color if you’re shelling out a few dollars for one of these.  If you’re looking for a more modest investment, you’ll not go wrong with the old fashioned Zara Spook.  This plug has been around for quite a few decades with good reason and still evokes lots of strikes from surface feeders.  The classic color for this classic lure is blue shore minnow.  It’s a north Georgia favorite.  While the original Zara Spook is very good, I eventually became a big fan of its newer big brother, the Super Spook.  As the name implies, this is a beefed up version and weighs in at nearly an ounce.  Long casts can be important when pursuing schoolers and this lure can be fired to impressive distances with the right tackle.  It also sports rotating treble hooks that really make a difference in improving the strike to fish on ratio.  Bleeding Shad is the only color I need for the Super Spook.  Another plug to consider is the Redfin by Cotton Cordell.  Technically, this lure is a jerkbait and will run subsurface on a medium to fast retrieve.  Savvy anglers use a different approach.  They use a slower retrieve and keep it on the surface producing what is known as a “V-wake”.  This has a great effect on stripers and will elicit strikes from real bruisers of the spotted bass world.  Die hard Redfin fans pick the chrome and blue color and swear that it’s even better when the finish is chipping off exposing the bone colored plastic beneath.  There is also a sub-cult following of the Smokey Joe color.

Two Rods Are Better Than One

Lures such as the Sammy, Zara Spook, and Super Spook mentioned in the previous paragraph are often called stick baits because of their basic shape.  There’s only one way to present this style of topwater plug.  The proper retrieve is referred to as “walking the dog”.   Reeling combined with short twitches of the rod tip will cause a stickbait to zig-zag or dart from side to side resembling a fleeing baitfish.  It only takes a little practice to master this and some plugs are engineered to walk with a minimum of effort imparted by the angler.  When it comes to topwater tackle in May and early June, opt for medium heavy gear.  Both casting and spinning set ups are appropriate.  Six and a half to seven foot rods get the nod.  Pair these with reels that will handle at least eighty to one hundred yards of twelve pound test line as a minimum.  If you pick up your favorite shallow spool model that’s in vogue with bass fishermen, you’re playing with fire because stripers are out there waiting.  When it comes to line, avoid fluorocarbon products.  While they do a superior job in many applications, they are heavy and will suppress the action of topwater plugs.  This is especially true with maximum distance between you and the lure.  Spool up with your favorite traditional monofilament product and you’ll be in good shape.  On the subject of tackle, it pays to have two rods rigged and ready on deck.  Backlashes and tangles do happen.  This is good insurance for those times when you’re on top of a school of predators kicking up water as they churn the surface.  Simply drop one rod and pick up another.  If you’re downed bait is floating motionless in the attack zone you may want to put one foot on the rod butt or put it in a holder…..just in case.  I’ve actually had fish become hooked up when striking a free floating lure attached to a tangled rod on a couple of occasions.  It can be quite the circus, especially if you’re fighting another fish as well.  On another note, it pays to be cautious when landing fish hooked with large topwater plugs.  I highly recommend investing in a good lip gripper type device.  These have become very affordable for the average angler and are much cheaper than a trip to the emergency room at the local hospital. 

Stay Mobile to Find Fish

If you’re out for striper action, live bait fishing will often pay off while searching for the topwater bite.  When searching an area and making blind casts with your favorite plug, bait up and trail a couple of flat lines about a hundred feet behind the boat.  Tie a small balloon inflated to golf ball size about ten feet above one bait and weight the other line with a medium size split shot about six feet up the line for a slightly deeper presentation.  Frisky blue back herring or shad are great choices when it comes to live bait.  If one rod hooks up on two consecutive fish, switch the other one to the same style of presentation.  If fish are erupting on the surface all around, the live bait flat lines can quickly become more trouble than they are worth.  This is especially true if you’re doing a lot of maneuvering with the electric motor.  This time of year, it really pays off to stay mobile. If conditions are favorable and you’re not seeing signs of life in seven minutes or so, move on to the next spot.  For greater efficiency, have a route planned in advance.  Although topwater action is the name of the game, choppy water can inhibit the surface bite.  However, in these conditions, a good jerkbait can produce well when cast towards the points.  As late spring turns into summer, striper action fades but good news is that the spotted bass continue to chase bait at the surface.  Windows of opportunity during the summer months are mostly early and late in the day for schooling action.  Smaller surface plugs tend to become more effective as the season progresses.  Poppers such as the Pop-R by Rebel are good choices along with smaller versions of the earlier mentioned lures.   Sometimes bass will key on small baitfish and ignore even these smaller topwater plugs.  One classic trick is to use a saltwater popping cork with a trailing leader.  On the end of this leader, tie on a very small shad imitator such as a Pop-N-Stripe or the highly realistic Gummy Minnow.  You’ll find the latter stocked in the fly fishing shop.  In closing, there’s plenty of room for opinion about the best time of the year to go fishing but most will agree that May is hard to beat.  If you’re up for the excitement and adrenaline of some serious surface action, this could become your favorite too.  Until next month, take care and enjoy the lake!

Thank you for reading!

Tommy H. Wilkinson

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BIG

By Jeff Rowland

Throughout the years, I’ve been astonished more than once at the size of a meal that a bass will attempt to take.

The first time, I was bass fishing an abandoned clear water rock quarry. There were no boats allowed in this pristine and secluded body of water and it had to be fished from the shore. This place had a reputation for producing nice, largemouths and was always a fun and special place to fish. Using an Jelly Wormeight-inch, purple Mann’s Jelly Worm, rigged Texas-style, I was pitching into a fallen tree, when I hooked up with a nice little bass in the two-pound range. My cast had gone over a fallen log, so to get the fish in I had to hoist it over the obstacle to prevent a snag or line break. Just as the fish cleared the log, another largemouth came over that log and attacked my catch. This fish was probably pushing seven or eight pounds; it had my catch sideways in its mouth and was trying hard to turn it to swallow it down. I popped the bail open to see what would happen next and after several seconds of being jaw-clamped the smaller bass worked its way out of the bigger fish’s mouth and the predator swam away. I couldn’t believe that the larger bass would even attempt to quench its hunger with a fish about a quarter of its size. I weigh in at about a buck seventy and if you compared this event with proportions of a human level, it would be like me eating 42 pounds of food at one sitting.

The second time I witnessed this phenomenon, I was wade fishing a river for smallmouths. One of my co-workers, who wasn’t a seasoned angler, had heard me talk about the river smallies and wanted to see what it was all about. We had been there for about a half hour when he caught his first-ever bronze back. The fish was around four pounds; after he landed it and started to remove the hook, he asked me a curious question, “Why does a smallmouth have a forked tongue?” I replied that they don’t have forked tongues to which he replied, “Well, this one does.” I waded over to look and what I saw was not a forked tongue, but the tail of a shad protruding out of the fish’s stomach. My next move was a mistake because I'm a firm believer in doing my best to preserve the mortality of caught fish to ensure a healthy release. What I was about to do could easily jeopardize the fish’s recovery, but my curiosity was high and I had to see just how big this shad was. I grabbed my needle-nose and pulled the shad out from the smallie’s stomach. It was easily over a foot long and was at least a fourth of the fish’s weight. The thought of that fish having a full stomach and still going after more food astonished me and had me creating theories in my mind about this kind of behavior.

Both instances were a few weeks post spawn and both species were female…there must be time frames when post spawn females go through gorging periods to recover. I don’t know if that theory is true, but as the years passed, I began to apply my theory during post spawn times and began to throw bigger lures. Changing to bigger lures has turned some pretty nice fish for me through the years and having these lures in your arsenal of tackle is not a bad idea.

There are a number of different lures an angler can try if they choose to go down the “big” path.

Swim Baits

Z9RWorking at Bass Pro Shop, I have seen this lure become very popular and it seems every season we are stretching space to add more swim baits. There are many options in this category from soft plastic to seasoned, hard baits. These days, size is up to you. There are many very large swim baits in today’s market and don’t forget to check out the Muskie aisle. Many bass anglers are using big Muskie swim baits with success.Lizard

Worms and lizards

These lures in the 10 to 12 inch range are proven oldies, can be used in many different depths, and are very versatile. They can be dropped weightless into cover or drug on the bottom with a worm weight. They can be rigged Carolina-style and fished liked a swim bait or with a slow steady retrieve.

Bass Jigs & (the old thirty-nine twelve)

I don’t have any data to back this, but I believe this lure has probably produced more big bass than any other big lure. I like using jigs in the ½ oz. to ¾ oz. range and I like to put on the biggest honkin’ trailer I can find. Like the worm rig, you can get crazy versatile with this lure. It can be swam with a drop pause method, pitched into brush, fished on the bottom or just a slow, steady retrieve with an occasional pause. My most productive way is to count down as soon as the lure splashes and work different depths with a steady  retrieve, then pause and  use a method I call “3912.” During the pause, XPSI give the rod three quick pulls with my rod tip moving from 9 to 12 o’clock. After the third pull, I let the lure drop for about a half second then repeat the method. Most strikes occur on the drop. If you’ve ever watched a crawfish retreat in fear it has a very similar appearance to how this lure appears using the old 3912 method.

Big Top WatersBuzzmaster

These lures are my absolute favorite to throw. In my youth, I learned about catching largemouths fishing farm ponds from the shore and it didn’t take long to figure out that big bass love to use the shoreline to trap their prey. I started throwing top waters about two feet away from the bank with a parallel cast. This method not only proved to be productive, but a whole lot of fun, too. Of course, top waters can be Zara Spookused many other ways, but don’t be afraid of trying this “close to the shore” method. Casting towards stickups is also productive. Once again, there are many large top waters to try; my favorites are the Zara Spook, XPS Pro Buzz, and the Bass Pro Lazer Eye Buzz Master.

 

 

All of these lures can be productive and if you don’t already have them as part of your inventory you may be missing out on something… BIG!

´╗┐´╗┐Bass Pro Shops Altoona Receiving Manager Jeff Rowland is an avid fisherman, outdoor writer, and former fishing guide. He is the author of Reel Adventures of a Marion County Angler and his expertise has been featured in magazines such as Iowa Game and Fish, Outdoor Life, and Field and Stream.  

 

 

 

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Three Baits, thats all you get...

When it comes to bass fishing I can see how the beginner can feel overwhelmed with the vast array of lures in our store.  Over half of the fishing department is dedicated to largemouth bass fishing.  We have isle after isle of soft plastics and countless hard baits with each of these lures being engineered for a specific purpose.  The other day I had the opportunity to share with a fellow associate here in the store and he told me about a fun way to challenge your fishing buddies.  Years ago while living in Virginia he and several friends would trek out to their favorite lake on Saturday and put on a small tournament.  This event was way different than what you might think though, the reason why, they could only each bring three lures.  This got me to thinking if I had to take three lures out on the water for a day of competition, “What would they be?” 

My first choice would be a spinnerbait.  One of the main reasons this would be my first choice is the versatility.  They can be burned across weed beds in the shallows, or slow-rolled down deep.  I prefer a double willow leaf blade but I also own several Colorado Blade spinners.  A great spinnerbait is the Booyah Bassinator, they are available in several different colors and weights.    

The second bait in my arsenal would be a Zoom Baby Brush Hog in Watermelon Red Texas Rigged.  I absolutely love fishing Baby Brush Hogs.  From early spring to late summer I have great luck with these small creature baits.  They resemble the small crayfish, lizards, and baitfish that largemouth bass prey on every day.  I often drop the weight from my set-up and fish the Brush Hog in the shallows for a slow sinking motion that bass find hard to resist. 

The final lure in my three bait package would have to be a topwater spook bait.  I have caught several bass in the six to seven pound range on spooks.  They are great during the early morning and late evenings of Spring and early summer.  Heddon’s Zara Spook is available in several colors and are great for targeting shallow water bass.  The new Sexy Dawg from Kevin Van Dam and Strike King is guaranteed to make some waves this spring as it enters the spook world.

So there you have it, my three baits I would take out on the water if I was only allowed three lures.  A spinnerbait, a Texas rigged Brush Hog, and a Spook.  If you do not have one of these lures in your assortment you should try and add one the next time you stop by the store.  In closing, I have to ask what would your three be?

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Fishing Report

March is here, and the early spring weather will play a great part in the spring run of Fish. Here are the main focus points of the fishing opportunities to be had at this time.


FRESHWATER
Crappie and Yellow Perch (Ring Perch):
Right now is the time to get in on the great Crappie and Perch fishing that is going on. The mild winter weather is providing better fishing days for these species. Common tactics for these species will be curly tailed grubs, beetle spins, in-line spinner baits, small spinner baits, Cicada type blade baits, small crank baits and small swim baits. These fish will also bite live baits such as minnows and night crawlers with equal enthusiasm. This fishery should remain good till mid to late March.


Herring and Shad (Hickory and American):
shadNOTE: As of this year, it is illegal for anyone to have river Herring in their possession.  http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/fishing/regulations/
The Shad fishing hot spots on the James River will be the 95 bridge to the fall line. When the Shad are in full swing boating and Kayak traffic will increase in this area. In addition to fly fishing, Shad are easily caught on Shad darts, Shad spoons, Sabiki rigs and plastic Crappie jigs. This fishery is most fun when using light tackle in the 2 – 6 pound range. Shad typically average in the two pound range, and they put up a great fun fight on the light/ ultra-light tackle with plenty of areal displays, these fish will occasionally be called the “light tackle fresh water Tarpon”. While fishing for Shad you will catch Herring as well. It would be very wise to pay close attention to the Moratorium in effect this year. Also if you are keeping Shad for bait, please keep in mind that there are two different species of Shad, American and Hickory, and you cannot possess American Shad. The number one distinctive feature is that Hickory Shad are darker and have a lower jaw that extends past the upper jaw bone, like a tarpon, and the American Shad are more silver in color, and have equal length jaw bones. The fishing for these fish will be good starting in March, and could go as late as mid April.


Striped Bass (Rock fish):
The Striper, as well as all other big game fish, will follow the Shad and Herring up the rivers on their annual migration to spawn. This gives local anglers a fun opportunity to catch these fish in good numbers, and it is not uncommon to land fish over the 20 pound mark. This is a catch and release fishery, so try to use lure hooks that are easily removed to cause the least amount of stress to the fish. For the fisherman who uses chunked Shad, circle hooks are the safest bet for this type of fishing to help reduce the gut hooked fish that may not survive. Typical lures used will be larger swim baits, wake baits, crank baits, jointed twitch baits and top water lures like Zara Spooks, or Chuggers.  The top color pattern of all these lures will be Shad or Herring.


Catfish: 
The Blue and Channel Catfish begin stirring this month with the opportunity of large fish being caught. Your best bait by far will be cut Hickory Shad, with Gizzard Shad being a good second option. Your typical “Carolina” type slider rig will be your most productive rig to use with the flat river style weights. Fish near the shoreline of the James River in the slower moving water, pay attention to drop-offs, deep holes, and sunken trees. These areas will be your most productive.


SALTWATER
Spot and Croaker: 
As these fish begin to show up this month, your best tackle options will be a standard two hook bottom rig, baited with Squid, Shrimp, Blood Worms, and artificial scent bait like Gulp or Fish Bites. Medium Heavy tackle will provide plenty of fun for these scrappy fighters for the whole family.


Speckled Trout and Puppy Drum:
Warm days will encourage these fish to eat more often, and begin their shift from their oceanic hide outs into the Bay. Medium weight tackle will be sufficient enough to handle these fighting fish, providing plenty of fun. Mirro lures, curled tail grubs, paddle tail grubs and scented baits like the Gulp shrimp will be the best go-to lures for these fish.


Things to Prepare for:
With the Spring fisheries around the corner, now is a great time to get prepared for the fishing you will do later. Re-spooling reels, lubing bearings, replace hooks, dust off the rods, and re-stock missing tackle. Monofilament line pretty much has a one year life span, so it is best to start the year off with good line. Look at your rods, the reel seats on the rods, and the guides. With the nice fishing weather here, it will continue to get better, so prepare now and enjoy your fishing year!
 

 

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Southern California Fishing Report - October 2011

Hi everyone, Mark Franco here - Let's start off with striper fishing locally. 

Striper Fishing - Diamond Valley Lake
Excellent fishing currently! Stripers up to 12 lbs,  but most of the fish are in the 3lbs to 5lbs range with some nice kicker fish up to 10 lbs.  Best bait being used is cut bait. Anchovy and sardine seems to be working best. Top water baits working well are the Skeeterwalk by Rapala and the Zara Spook by Haddon…all available at Bass Pro Shops. That’s right even sardines…which have been hard to find.


Trout Fishing - Corona Lake, Santa Ana River Lake, & Laguna Niguel

Moving on to trout fishing...as you know trout fishing is winding down in the High Sierras, but that's OK because our local lake will be very active soon.  I just found out this week that CORONA LAKE will be stocking trout Oct 14th with 1,000 lbs.  Most of the fish will be 1lbs to 3lbs. Other lakes will not be far behind like SANTA ANA RIVER LAKE, LAGUNA NIGUEL and don’t forget the county parks lakes. They will be stocked Nov 2nd and we will have all the baits you need. Power Bait in all scents, mini jigs in every color, trout worms, Kastmaster Super Dupers and Thomas buoyant. Even the new Power Mouse which was the big rage last year. Bass Pro carries multiple colors of treble hooks, sliding sinkers and drop shot weights, also. 


Bass Fishing - Lake Perris & Diamond Valley Lake

Moving on to the money fish....that's right,  the bass.  Local lakes like PERRIS offer good fishing using a variety of top water baits in the morning. As the day goes on try a drop shooting worm like Robo worms. Colors that are fishing well are Morning Dawn and Margarita Mutilator 2.  Aaron Magic is looking good, too.  

 

DIAMOND VALLEY LAKE offers good fishing early morning on top water baits. Also try using sinkos mid afternoon.  Pitch them into the trees and hang on.

 

Other Fish
Catfish are winding down locally, but there's still good biting at the local county parks.  Santa Ana River Lakes are still catching nice catfish up to 15 lbs. Baits being used are cut mackerel,  chicken livers and a variety of dough baits. The Colorado River is still catching big catfish with cut bait working best.

 

Bluegill locally are a little tough. Perris Lake seems to have the best bite going. Right now baits being used are cricket meal worms and red worms.

 

Local guide mark Franco will be speaking at Bass Pro Shops Rancho Cucamonga on Oct 22nd at 12:30pm at the main tank on trout fishing in your local lakes.  Come and join us for this free informational seminar.

 

Thanks for reading everybody and remember all baits mentioned and lots of great fishing advice are all available at Bass Pro Shops in Rancho Cucamonga. 

Good Fishing...Mark Franco


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Baby Tarpon Days

PondWith rain showers returning to the central Florida region a regular basis, I can’t help thinking about the baby Tarpon and Snook that will be stacking up in the outflow of culverts and spillways allowing fresh water runoff to enter the salt water of the Indian River system. Heavy rains will be routed from the surface streets and residential neighborhoods towards the salt water where predators set up feeding stations to feast on small fish that get flushed from the culverts with the increased flows. SchminnowCast small flies like the EP Micro Minnow or Norm Zeigler’s Schminnow (see photo) in white or black to match the hatch, so to speak. Folks to the south can cash in on spillway openings when water levels are adjusted in the Big “O.” Unfortunately, some of the fishing locations aren’t the most picturesque but the quality and quantity of the fish reaping the benefits can be staggering if you hit it just right.

This is also a good time of the year to search out landlocked Tarpon all across Florida. I know of many folks with a network of ponds, ditches, and canals that are essentially closed off to saltwater for most if not all year, each of which contains tarpon ranging from little nippers in the one to 5 pound range up to 30 or 40 pound sub-adults. Drive around many coastal neighborhoods from central Florida south and you’ll locate a great number of these secret honey holes for yourself. Fly guys shouldn’t leave their spinning rods at home though. Many of these out of the way holes don’t provide enough room to cast my favorite choice in tackle, to spinning rods and Zara Spooks and D.O.A ?Baitbusters get used for once. I guess I have to justify having them in my rod rack one way or another.

Brian "Beastman" Eastman
White River Fly Shop
Outdoor World Orlando

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Summertime Topwater Fishing

Summertime in central Oklahoma can make it tough on a fisherman, triple digit heat by noon is no time to catch fish.  Don't get me wrong I am not suggesting that you just stay home and watch golf, I am saying the summer months can be a great time to do both, you just have to adjust your alarm clock a little.  

sunrise

Official sunrise on July 4th in Oklahoma City is 6:20am, the fact is, there is "fishable" light by 5:30 am on most days during the summer and if you are comfortable navigating in the dark you are only limited by the amount of sleep you need to function.  The time just before and after first light can be some of the best fishing of the day, often you can find gamefish pushing bait to the surface just as the sky is gaining color.  On calm days before there is any sunlight you can often hear these same fish breaking the surface.  This is the time to get out your favorite topwater baits and have some of the most exciting fishing of the year.

Any lake in the sate can be a good bet for an early morning topwater bite this time a year.  Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Striped Bass, Sand Bass, and Hybrid Striped Bass are all usual suspects for surface action.  It is not uncommon for my summertime trips to start with the alarm set for 3-3:30am, the goal is to be on the water and fishing a solid hour before the night sky gives way to daylight.  If the fish are actively feeding on the surface it will be obvious, but don't let lack of visible fish keep you from giving topwater a shot.  Often gamefish can be tempted to the surface during these early morning hours even when they do not seem to be actively feeding. 

Buzzbaits, prop baits, chuggers, poppers and sliders all have their time and place.  If you are looking to cover a lot of water quickly a buzzbait is always a good choice.  If the wind is up a little I find a prop bait or a popper tends to get a little more attention than the others, let the fish tell you what they want, vary your retrieves, try to not fall into a pattern.  If fish are actively feeding you can often get the best reaction by ripping these baits in as quick as possible with aggressive jerks.  In times when there is less activity try letting these baits sit for a while, and work them back more subtly.  Calm days and slick water are a great time to break out topwater slider style baits like a Zara Spook or a Sammy, these baits have a great "walk the dog" action that can be the difference on some days.  If you have never used a slider style bait before it might take a little practice to get the cadence of your retrieve down but eventually you will be walking that dog with the best of'em.  Some of these slider type baits will have a slight curve or sway back to them, this curve will make it easier for you to get the action you are looking for if you are just starting out.

So...On the water at 4:30am, topwater action for a few hours and off the lake when the fish stop biting or it gets too hot to think, which ever comes first.  I am usually back home and watching golf by noon, not a bad way to spend a summer day off.  If you have any questions on what you need to take advantage of Oklahoma's fantastic topwater fishing opportunities or you just want to add to your topwater arsenal come on down to Bass Pro Shops here in Oklahoma City and we will be more than happy to help out.  

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Topwater Time: High Risk for High Reward

PoppersThe shad spawn is over and concentrations of bass that you found the month before are now scattered all over the lake. The bass are now going deeper and deeper as the temperature begins to rise. It seems more difficult to put a pattern together as balls of bait fish move to cooler and deeper water. However, there is a pattern in Texas and on most lakes in which you have an opportunity to catch the largest bass of the day, but the odds are stacked on the bass' side. These large "rogue" bass take the opportunity to snack on shad that come to the surface in the cool of the morning on pumpkin seed perch, which are spawning. In most cases these bass are very aggressive and are found in 2 feet or less of water. Granted, these areas contain the natural habitat that these ambush predators seek out such as weed growth, stumps, rip rap, and of course deep water near by. I have seen this bite shut off as soon as the sun pops out to as long as 1:00 in the afternoon on a partly cloudy day. Finding these areas is not too difficult but landing a hooked seven pounder on a 3 inch popper can be a nightmare.

There are modifications to any stock (out of the package) topwater bait that will help improve your chances ofwalkers landing this monster bass.
  1. Change the hooks! I personally use Gamakatsu superline hooks on all of my walking baits such as the "Sammy" or "Zara Spook". These super hooks will not bend. I like to use the large gap hooks as well on all of my topwater baits. Occasionally I will add red hooks to the front of the bait. A deadly technique is adding buck tails to the back hook. You can purchase these from the store but they do not last long, especially if you get into some hybrid stripers or large sandbass. Next time go to your local Bass Pro Shops and have the sales associate in the fly shop tie some of your super hooks with white chicken hackle. They last longer and are cheaper to purchase.
  2. I like to add O-Rings to my Spooks and Prop baits. I take the screws out of the original hook hanger, remove the stock hook, slip on an oversized O-Ring, replace the screws and attach the super hooks. The O-Ring helps in two bucktailways. First, it allows the hooks to free swing giving them a lot more travel around the bait. Second, the hooks are more pivotal, reducing the bass' chance of throwing the bait (which walking baits are prone to do). An important overlooked aspect of this type of fishing is the line to use in throwing all topwater baits. Keeping the bait from running nose down can be corrected by using monofilament in the 17 to 20 pound range for walking baits and 12 to 15 pound for smaller poppers. The monofilament does not sink like fluorocarbon line and has more stretch, which you need in keeping larger fish from pulling free. I like to use the Bass Pro Shop brand in green. You can actually change the way a topwater popper will sound by tying a tight palomar knot to the eye of the bait and then pushing the knot down towards the lower cup of the bait. Fluorocarbon line sinks and pushes the head of the bait down reducing its action.

Rods are another important consideration. Using too stiff or too long of rod reduces the action whichO rings for the most part is placed on the bait by you. I like to use a medium six foot Bass Pro Shops Carbonlite rod with a fast tip. The shorter rod lets you "walk the dog" or "pop the top" depending on what kind of bait you are using (I will have a blog later describing how to put the correct action on the baits). I like a 7:1:1 fast retrieve reel with a smooth drag. I normally let the bass tell me what type of bait to throw. If it is very early or dark due to cloudy conditions, I like to throw the spook. In low wind or slick water it can be deadly on a slow steady retrieve. If it is a brighter day or the water is super clear with light wind or chop, I will go the popper on most occasions. I have found it best to have a popper and spook both tied on because the bait in a lake is not just one size. Some experts believe that larger baits catch larger bass. I believe that trying the "match the hatch" is more conducive in attracting a "Big Un"! Next time you go to the lake and you want to catch big fish, try out some of these hints. Good Fishing!

Steve Holland is a member of the Bass Pro Shops pro staff representing the Garland Texas Outdoor World. He is also a member of The Nitro Fishing Team. He represents Gambler Bait Company, Tracker Marine, and Mercury. He has been active in bass tournaments and the fishing industry for over 20 years. You can contact Steve at texasgeckos1@yahoo.com or check out his web site:www.stevehollandfishing.com.

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Froggin' Time

By: Mike Eutsler

Lake Fork Tackle - Fork FrogTopwater bass fishing is often rated as the number one method of catching bass that anglers enjoy most. Veteran fishermen can vividly recall the first time they used a topwater lure and the explosive strike that occurred. Many different styles of baits fill the aisles of sporting good stores and in recent years the popularity of “frog” type topwater baits has exploded. Many different styles and shapes are produced, however; the snag proof design of the frogs allows anglers to probe almost any type of cover that is holding bass without getting hung up. Hollow bodies with improved water valves make the frog a good choice anytime bass are in shallow, thick cover.

Some frogs need to be “tricked out”, frogs usually come with a two hook set up that needs to be bent up Stanley Jigs - Rigged Ribbit Frogslightly for better hookups. A strong pair of pliers used sparingly will work, avoid bending too much. Frogs with rubber strand legs may be trimmed to aid in making the frog “walk the dog” like you would a Zara Spook.

Braided line is the only type of line that one should use when frog fishing, the braided line’s lack of stretch aids in the hookset as well as assisting in pulling fish quickly from thick cover or vegetation. Braid also casts well and helps the frog skip under low hanging branches.

Frog fishing is centered on placing the frog into cover that bass are hiding in and they usually are in an attack mode and will strike almost anything that lands near them. Occasionally repetitive casts to a spot are required, however; many strikes come on the initial entry so be ready to react as the frog lands. Strikes are quite explosive and it can be very easy to miss the bite by reacting too quickly to the strike. Most anglers keep reeling and then setting the hook when they actually feel the weight of the fish on the end of the line.

How an angler works the frog is usually dictated by the bass, some days a slow methodical jerk works, a jerk-jerk-pause sequence is a good way to start. Sometimes allowing the frog to set and let the legs slowly undulate over the bass will bring violent strikes. Other days the “walk the dog” retrieve will draw more strikes. Trial and error is required; one other trick is keeping a back up rod/reel setup with another lure on if a bass follows your frog but doesn’t strike it. A quick follow up with another lure such as a shakey head worm will result in a strike.

When fishing thick moss or scum and a bass blows up but misses the frog, an angler can come back in a few minutes and throw to the blown out spot and get the fish to bite again. About the only time this doesn’t work is if the “hole” fills back in quickly or the fish is partially stuck by the hooks on the strike.

Frog fishing works well all year long and can be very rewarding anytime bass are in thick cover or moss. One place that is overlooked is boat docks. The frog can be skipped back into usually inaccessible places and often result in hefty strikes, however; be prepared to lose some frogs as big bass can wrap you up very quickly beneath the dock that cannot be reached.

Mike Eutsler

Springfield, Missouri

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Topwater Bite is On

The topwater bite is in full swing! There is nothing more exciting than watching a Booyah Buzz Blade Buzzbait gurgling across the top of the water early in the morning and a monster bass erupting from the depths onto it. The main problem us fishermen have is reacting to the sight of a strike, instead of waiting on feeling the bass. Another useful tip is to use a Bass Pro Shops Trailer hook. It will greatly increase your catch to miss ratio. On cloudy days I will throw one all day. You will be surprised how many bass you can catch in the afternoon part of the day. The best color of choice during those cloudy days is black and on sunny days I like a white or white and chartreuse.

Topwater fishing can be just as exciting using a Lucky Craft Sammy Topwater lure or a Heddon-Zara Spook. These lures use a "walk the dog" back and forth presentation. When using these lures you also need to wait until you feel the fish before you set the hook. The same goes for color choice, dark colors for cloudy days and lighter colors for sunny.

My rod of choice is a 7 foot medium action Bass Pro Shops CarbonLite Trigger Rod with micro guides. I like the 7 foot because I can get more distance on my cast and the longer the rod is the more line I take up when I set the hook. I use a 7:1 gear ratio reel spooled with 17lb. mono. If you have any questions come by the reel counter and see myself, Buddy or Aaron. We will be glad to answer any that you have. Remember practice catch and release for our future generations! Let's let them enjoy the same experience that we have.

Rob Price
Leeds, Alabama.
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