Bass Fishing Tips & Tips For Fishing

 

We’ve collected all of the hottest fishing tips to help you catch that bass of a lifetime.  Don’t go out fishing for bass without reading through our bass fishing tips section.   Whether you’re a beginner or an aspiring pro, we’ve got all the best tips on bass fishing in one place.   Just choose a category or browse by title.  Once you learn these bass fishing techniques, you’ll make all your fishing buddies jealous!  We’ll see on the water!

A Big Bait Excites a Smallmouth

Spinnerbaits and smallmouth bass go hand in hand, there is nothing like burning a spinnerbait just under the water and a 4-pound smallmouth coming up and crushing it. Burning spinnerbaits is a great technique on lake Erie smallmouth. Speed is the key to catching big smallmouth, you can't reel a spinnerbait to fast for a smallmouth to chase it down and eat it. You have to reel pretty fast so the bass does not get a real good look at it. I also think it is the speed that makes the smallmouth want to chase it and take the lure. With this technique you can fish it in 5 foot of water or 15 foot of water.

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How to increase the life of your soft plastic baits

A quick tip for any angler who is looking to save some money. If you're like me, you'll have a large pile of torn and ripped soft plastic baits in the bottom of your boat at the end of a long day of fishing. I used to throw them away. Not anymore. There is a great product on the market called Mend-It. This glue fixes soft plastics like new. It isn't like Super Glue that leaves the baits hard and usually stuck to your fingers. Mend-It leaves your baits as soft as when you pulled them out of the package. Plus, it doesn't stick to your fingers. My Dad and I use this every time we fish. Do yourself and your wallet a favor. Try this great money saver, Mend-It. For more information, visit http://www.menditglue.com

Custom Painted Crank Baits

Do you have some brand or type of crank baits that you wish you could get in that fish catching color that the company doesn’t offer? Well, you can! There are several people who can put a high quality paint job on that bait at very reasonable prices.  They can also paint baits in a custom color you have always wanted that no one else is fishing in your lake or river.  I have been using custom painted baits for several years and truly feel they give me an edge over my competition by showing the bass fish something they haven’t seen.  My advice is check out the website for people who do custom painting or contact me and I will hook you up with the people who paint for me.

Deep Crank Baits

There has been a lot of talk about deep diving crank baits winning several “Tour” tournament in the news lately.  There are several things you can do to enhance and maximize your bass fishing with these baits.

First start with a low gear ratio reel, a 4.9 to 1 will allow the bait to reach its maximum depth by slowing down your retrieve, and will also help with fatigue of cranking these baits for a long period of time.  The next thing, use fluorocarbon line.  Fluorocarbon has properties that cause the line to sink, which will also help in getting the bait to run at its maximum depth.  The last thing, choose a longer rod, at least 7 feet in length and preferably made up of graphite composition.  The length will allow you to cast the lure farther again helping the lure run deeper.  The graphite composition works two fold, first it will allow the fish to inhale the lure without you feeling it and pulling the bait away from the fish, you will just feel the rod “load up” or feel heavy which gives you a good hook set. 

The second way it helps is when you are fighting the bass fish.  It has a lot of  flexibility that will assist in keeping the fish buttoned up by not ripping the hooks out of their mouth.  These simple changes in you equipment will increase your hook up and landing ratio and will not wear you out on a long day of fishing.

Scent Holder For Tubes

When using fish attractant with tubes, insert a piece of cotton, or packing foam through the bottom, and push it to the top of the tube, before rigging Texas style. Once the hook is inserted it will hold the "scent holding" material. Now scent can be applied inside the tube, and it will hold much longer. To help in this process, use something like Kodiak's Crawfish Paste which comes in an injector, but don't over fill the tube, as a little will last a long time. 

Texas Rigging A Tube

I've found the XPoint XGap hook, in the 2/0 to 4/0 size, to be one of the best for Texas rigging a tube. The tube is started like when rigging a regular plastic worm. Once the hook is through and turned, insert it into the bottom of the tube so that the point is moving freely. Now push the tube forward and insert the hook's point through the outer side. To make it weedless push the tip of the hook lightly back into the tube's outer skin. The point will easily come out on the strike, and provide a greater percentage of positive hook sets 

Senko Saver

Senkos are great lure but they are very expensive and tear easy, to remedy this use cheap harder plastic tubes and cut them into hollow sections sliding the sections over the body of the Senko. It sure makes them last longer

Skirts

Most anglers trim the skirts on jigs and spinnerbaits, to help prevent short strikes. Instead of holding the bait with the hook down, like most anglers, turn the bait over, with the hook pointing up, and then trim the skirt. What this does is make the strands uneven, causing the skirt to flare out, giving it a bigger profile

Concentration is Your Most Important Piece of Equipment

Bass fishing is not only about rods, reels, lures, boats, and motors. When you hit the water in a tournament or just to fun fish, the most important piece of equipment you can bring is your concentration. The power of your concentration is a huge part of competitive bass fishing. You have to be ready mentally for anything that can happen during the day, such as how and where a bass bites. This will lead you to the next fish of the day and the rest of your limit. You must also be able to recognize when you have to make changes if you are not catching fish. Some of the changes you need to make maybe very small and you need to have your concentration at peak performance to pick up on these subtleties. This brings the other part of the mental game in bass fishing and that is confidence.

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Tuning Buzzbaits

Although this is an old tip, it is still a very effective way to ensure your buzzbaits will run smooth when you hit the water. Simply take a buzzbait and hold it out the window of your car on the way to the lake. At 40 mph, the wind will spin the blade at a high rate and help remove any burrs that may be on the shank. Obviously, be careful while doing this and be sure that you do not let go of the bait. I’d also recommend having your partner hold the bait out the passenger side to ensure the driver is not distracted. Please don't take a selfie with your buzzbait while you're driving and under no circumstances should you target joggers or pedestrians, unless they gave you the “bird” (Just kidding).

Spinnerbait presentation

There are times when I want to specialize my spinnerbait presentation in a way that isn’t very popular. I like to go shallow and slow. The way I see it, a bass sees dozens of spinnerbaits fly by his face, “ticking the tops of the weeds”, looking for the reaction strike in the course of his life. I want my bait to crawl by making a lot of noise to show him something different. I take a light bait on a big frame, preferably a single spin and put the biggest colorado blade on that it can work with. Go too big and the blade flips the spinner over, too small doesn’t do what I want it to. I tie this to some heavy mono in the #20 to #25 pound range on a 6’6” or 7’ Medium Heavy rod. Cast it shallow, and keep that rod tip high on the retrieve. You are now running a bait in a foot of water at half the normal speed and making a hell of a lot of noise with it at the same time. One thing I have found is that fish will attack this presentation like it hasn’t eaten in months or it will just nibble the end of the skirt as though it were trying to pick the lures pocket. So I always use a trailer hook with this technique and most of the time I use 2 trailer hooks. If I see this shallow running bait moving side ways, I set the hook and I’m in

Palomar Knot

When tying on any bait with a palomar knot always tie one overhand knot after the palomar Knot is snug, this greatly reduces the annoying weed or moss build up on the bait

Doin' It Wrong Might Make It Right

Once while fishing in a bass tournament, I got in a hurry to retie a Texas rigged plastic worm. I inadvertently put the sinker on backward. I decided to try it anyway and the reversed sinker technique has since put a lot fish in my boat. With the sinker facing the wrong way I found I could cast over a fallen tree branch and ease the bait up to the limb. When the cup of the sinker hits the limb, it stops the forward progress of the bait, instead of simply sliding over and falling lifelessly to the bottom. With the sinker nudged tight against the limb, the worm rises upward making for an easy target for the bass. With subtle pulls and releases, I have found I can work a worm forever in one spot. This is a great technique for cold front bass or lure weary bass. With that bait staring them right in the eye for long periods, the bass simply have to strike.

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First cast

If you look at a piece of structure as a small community instead of just a piece of cover, your approach and presentation will change drastically. Take a small patch of pads isolated against a nothing bank. It will be the centerpoint of movement for any fish living on that bank. Fish up the bank to the lilies, but before you cast to the bed think about what the best spot in that cover would be. If you can find a lane that you can bring a bait through near the center of the bed that’s good. If you can find the lane that will allow you to present your offering closest to the shady side of center that’s even better.

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Different look for the Buzzbait

If you want to give bass a different look while using a buzz bait, try replacing the skirt with a tube or even a soft, plastic minnow bait. This will give the buzz bait a more minnow-like apperance and should give you a few more strikes. just remember to hang on!

Go To Froggy

One of the toughest parts frog bass fishing is letting the fish take the lure long enough before setting the hook. The Go To Froggy by CJ Bass Custom Lures has a large 5/0 Mustad Ultra Point Hook which remains exposed and in the upright position every cast. This lures unique design not only makes it virtually weedless, it eliminates the pause before the hook set, for the fish will hook itself. These frogs are approximately 3 inches in length and are easily swallowed by fish of all sizes. Each frog features glass rattles, silicone skirts, and a hand-painted body. Whether fishing open water, grass, hardwood, or any type of vegetation, the go to froggy is your bait when you need the weight!

Tube baits

As we all know, tube baits are excellent lure for both largemouth and smallmouth bass. You can improve the lure with one simple modification. Most manufacturers put too many "tentacles" on the bait, prohibiting them from their full range of motion. When you take it out of the package, remove 6-8 tentacles from the bait, and try to space them out. This will allow the remaining tentacles to move freely in the water, giving more life to the bait

Triple Surgeons Knot

Tired of fumbling with a blood knot when putting new line on your bass fishing reel? Use a triple surgeons knot instead. Pull about thirty inches of line off the spool of new line and tape the spool so it can't release any more line. Pull about thirty inches off the reel and lay them on top of each other, with the reel at one end and the spool at the other. Now tie an over hand knot with the two pieces, passing the spool of new line through the center. (An over hand knot is the first knot you tie when tying your shoe lace) Pass the spool and reel tag end 6" through the center two more times. Wet the knot, while pulling the ends apart to tighten the knot. It will give you about 85% of the line strength and is easier to tie. And honestly when was the last time you heard of anybody getting stripped to the knot while bass fishing

Rat-L-Trap

A great technique for monster is bass is ticking the grass with a Rat-L-Trap. To prevent the lure from hanging in the grass, down size the front treble hook one size from its original. This will help prevent grabbing the weeds, allowing you a weedless retrieve all the way back to the boat

Suspending Jerk Baits

When fishing suspending jerk baits in the spring, most baits require some tuning before they will work effectively. Most suspending baits will actually float to the surface when taken out of the package. A simple solution to this problem is the application of "suspend dots or strips". They can be order through most bass fishing equipment catalogs and are not expensive. Simply apply the stick-on led strips or dots until your bait suspends at the desired depth range. I would recommend testing these baits in a pool (if available) or a bathtub to ensure proper placement of the led. You may have to play around with the amount of led and placement to get the bait to suspend and fish properly, but it is definitely worth taking the time out to do so. It can really make a big difference when fishing for suspending bass

Drop Shot a Leech

When bass fishing is tough going to a smaller bait can finish off a limit in no time. Drop shot rigs have become very popular over the last few years. Fish around the posts on docks the drop shot can be deadly to finish out a limit. I prefer a leech such as the Bass Water Products Leaper Leech. Its small compact size and soft tail make it an excellent choice

Replacing Fishing Line

When replace your old line, leave your spool half full. Tie the new line to the old using a blood knot and fill your spool up. This will save on buying more line

Trailer Hooks

When using a buzz bait or spinner bait, I will add a trailer hook to increase my hook-up percentage. This will help in catching those fish that only "slap" at your bait. Try placing your trailer hook upside down or add a treble hook. This tip is only good if you're fishing in open water or very sparse cover

Weed guard

Never trim out a weed guard on a jig at the hook point, always reduce strands at the jig head. The length of the strands insures that the jig can be compacted in the Bass's mouth easier, improving hook set and landing percentage

 

Finicky Bass


  
Next time your having trouble getting those picky bass to bite your spinnerbait, try changing one or both of the blades to black nickle. This is a great way to give the fish a little something different to look at without drasticly changing the look of your lure. It is especially effective in clear water conditions

Fishing Monofilaments

I am a firm believer that changing your mono on a regular basis will help you land a lot more bass. Take a look at all the major cover we fish from coast to coast, stumps, logs, rocks, docks etc... Man our lines take a beating! I make it a constant effort to check my line for abrasions and nicks. You never know when that fish of a lifetime is going to be on the end of the line

Crankbait Tweak

Have you ever noticed that a lot of the bass you hook using a crankbait have the tendency to shake the hooks loose when they fight? Here is a pretty easy solution to help you keep those fish hooked and landed. Remove the hooks from your crankbait, and add another split ring to the already existing split ring. Then reattach the hooks! This gives the hook less leverage, and I guarantee it will help with your hook-up ratio

Morning Buzzin' for Bass Fish

Black Buzz Baits fished early in the morning as the sun starts to rise is an awesome way to start the day. I feel the Black stands out better in the low light. If you are not getting a bite on a whiter or yellow give the black skirt a try and hold on tight

Reaction Baits

There are two different hooks to use for reaction baits at least in my book anyway. The first hook is a round bent treble hook and the second is a Kayle style (EWG). For surface baits and when the fish slap at the bait "like during the spawn" the round bend hook, hooks more bass fish. The reason for this is on the surface and during the spawn the fish are more or less slapping at the bait and not inhaling it and the round bend hook will snag them "for the lack of a better term". Now when the fish inhale the bait the Kayle style is a much better choice and you will land a higher percentage of fish. The reason is on the Kayle style is the eye of the hook pulls directly to the point. I've found through trial and error that the Eagle Claw "Black Kayle" is the best for crank baits it's sharp and won't bens out on a big bass

No More Smelly Bass Baits

 When buying tubes or worms in bulk packages the scent sometimes leaks out of the bag. What I do is seal them in smaller bags with a food vacuum sealer. It keeps the baits fresh and air tight.That way you can store them anywhere for as long as you want

Spinnerbaits and Trailer Hooks

When using a trailer hook on your spinnerbait (and you should most always use one), it is important to put something behind your trailer hook to keep it from sliding off. Surgical tubing works but tends to keep the trailer hook "rigid". One of the simplest ideas I have ever come across is to take the plastic top of a coffee can and punch plugs out of it with a handheld hole punch like you would use for notebook paper. After attaching your trailer hook to the spinnerbait hook, carefully poke the spinnerbait hook through one of the plastic plugs, extending past the barb. It should go through relatively easy. Now your trailer hook is secure on your spinnerbait, yet allows the trailer hook to move freely behind the spinnerbait. This also works well when adding a plastic trailer

Double Trouble - Fishing Lures In Tandem

How do you trigger the competitive instinct in a bass?

One surefire way is to rig your lures in "tandem" when the situation allows it. Here are some tips on four techinuqes and lures that you can effectively fish in tandem.

Top Water - A "front runner" 8-12 inches in front of your top water popper or spook type bait can be deadly.
Carolina Rigging - Using a 3-way swivel to drag 2 lure choices on a Carolina rig is very effective. One leader should be slightly shorter than the other to give the "chase" effect.
Fluke Rig - The same swivel technique can be used with "fluke" type baits or "sassy shad" type swim baits to catch schooling fish. This is a great rig for catching 2 bass at one time.
Carolina Jig - A traditional Carolina rig with a "jig" weight also offers two options.

The first three examples mimic a predator fish chasing a baitfish, which triggers the competitive instinct in a bass to prove he is at the top of the food chain. Most single catches will be on the front lure.


Crankbait Action

To give your crankbaits more natural action when bass fishing, try this; Instead of tying your line directly to the lure as usual, insert a small snap through the lure's line tie and attach your line to the snap. This will allow the bait to swim more erratically, and will also allow you to change quickly to another crankbait if needed

A Weighty Matter

The variety of materials currently used to make bass fishing weights offers an opportunity for experimentation. Brass, steel and tungsten weights produce different sounds when bouncing on bottom than the usual lead sinkers. These subtleties in sound can sometimes mean the difference between provoking a strike and coming up empty

Double the life of your Senkos

The effectiveness of the Yamamoto Senko is no secret, however at approximately 75 cents each, the can put a quick dent in your wallet. When the end you rig them in becomes too torn to use, rig them through the opposite end - they are equally effective, and will now last twice as long

Weighted Advice for Bass Fishing

Instead of pegging your weight to the line, before you leave for your day on the water insert a piece of rubber band into your worm weight. When you're ready to rig, just pull on the rubber band as you insert your fishing line. Once your ready, trim back the band and slide the weight into position

Spinner Baits

My favorite bait would have to be the spinner bait. A spinner bait can be used in several different ways according to the speed you use and the way you hold your rod. I can speed up the bait for top water fishing or slow it down for deeper fishing. My favorite color is the white with a green trailer. the white one seems to catch in pretty much any water condition for me

Top Water Bass Fishing Tip

When fishing a top water rat or mouse try putting a rattle or two inside. This will give it a lot more sound and a little more weight for casting. You can even add split shot to it if more weight is needed for longer casts while bass fishing.

Soft Plastic Baits Custom Colors

Soft plastic baits are great baits and sometime color is everything. Sometime something different can produce a great bass catch. What I do is take a few baits in different colors and mix them in a bag; just being together will force the colors to mix with one another. You can really get creative and mix certain colors to produce colors you cannot find in stores

Stay Hooked Up

We all have lost fish on hardbaits like crankbaits, jerkbaits and topwaters. The fish seem to get leverage with these baits and can throw them with ease, at times. I’ve found that by adding a split ring between the hook and the already existing ring reduces this leverage, thus putting more fish in the livewell.

Different Shaped Tube Heads

All anglers should carry different styles of tube heads for their tube baits when bass fishing. Each style of tube head falls a little bit different through the water column. On different days fish want your bait to fall different ways, so always be prepared for any condition you may face. Also, make sure you carry a wide variety of tube head weights, this can also make a big difference in your fishing day.

Spider Jigs

When other competitors are using rubber skirted jig and pigs, I like to show the bass something different by using a pumpkin spider jig. I can go behind another competitor in used water and pick up bass that were missed.

Fluorcarbon Fishing Line Check


Fluorcarbon lines have taken the nation by storm with the Invisibility factor that the line has but one problem with fluorcarbon line is that they are do not hold any moisture like mono does . What you need to do is check that line consistently for any damages to that line . Run your finger up from just above the bait to the first eyelet on your rod and check for nick cuts or any other line damage ! Also check the line in between the guides on your rod for the same thing . If you do this every 30 minutes or so you will gain more confidence in your line and equipment !!! Tight Lines

Trim a Little



Having a hard time getting bit on your plastic worms? Try downsizing your presentation by trimming the length of your worms a little. Sometimes a half inch trimmed off the head end of the worm is all it takes to get that first bite.  Have fun bass fishing!

Dress For Winter

If you’re not properly prepared to be out on the water or ice during the winter, you’re asking for trouble. Here’s some basic tips that you need to keep in mind.

  • a) Dress in layers, pack an extra set of dry clothes to leave in the car and bring a couple of hand towels.
    b) You want moisture to be pulled away from your body when you sweat, so choose wicking materials
            - Base Layer tight to your skin and should draw moisture away
            - Second Layer Also should be wicking, but opt for a long sleeve tee shirt
            - Third Layer should be for warmth, fleece is one of the best choices available
            - Outer Layer (Typically your jacket) should be breathable, but water resistant. Skiing and Hunting gear work great. Make sure it has a hood and plenty of pockets… especially ones to put your hands into.
    c) In the winter, it’s “feet first”. This is not the time of year for your boat shoes or sneakers… you want to be wearing insulated, water proof and wind resistance boots. A thin wicking sock that will draw moisture away from your feet covered by a second cotton/wool sock is a great option.
    d) My favorite gloves are micro fleece fingerless that have pull over mittens attached to cover your fingers. I always keep a second pair of heavy water proof snow gloves in my boat and/or ice sled. Hand warming packets are nice to have to make things more comfortable under more extreme conditions.
    e) Do you think a hat might be a good idea? Also it’s really nice to have a face mask to cover your entire face. Under Armor’s Head Gear is pretty good stuff.
    f) Sunglasses to protect your eyes from snow on bright days.

Pocket Knocker - An Inexpensive Lure Retriever Is Better

Most anglers that have ever fished a crankbait have experienced the aggravation of loosing that "special" bait that seemed to out fish all others. Commercial lure retrievers, while effective, are cumbersome to use and more frequently left in the boat storage box than used to dislodge a lure. One of the most effective lure retrievers I have ever used is a simple, inexpensive devise known locally as a "pocket knocker". It is made by taking a "bell type" lead weight (1/2 to 1oz.) with a swivel molded in and attaching the small end of a "snap" to the swivel. You now have a "pocket knocker". The next time you snag a lure, (of any kind), simply lock the larger part of the snap on your line and drop it down to the lure. A simple "jiggle" will dislodge the lure 95% of the time. If it does not, use your traditional retriever to save both lure and knocker

Boating Safety

This is something that is too often taking for granted.  Just because we all have been driving boats since we were so small we had to sit in our dads laps to reach the steering wheel, we feel we know how to handle our boats. But we owe it to our families and co anglers to be as safe as possible and know the rules.  Each year there a numerous accidents that happen on the water that could be avoided if everyone just knew a few simple rules.  Sign up to take a boating safety course, they are usually provided by the Coast Guard at no charge or for a minimal fee. They not only will go over the rules of the water, but will show you what safety equipment you are required to carry in your boat.  A few hours of prevention can save your life or the life of the passengers in your boat.  Don’t take if for granted that the people in the other boats know the rules, you know them and execute if the need arises.

Polarized Sunglasses And Hat

So sight fishing is your game? Are you helping yourself out? The right pair of sunglasses isn’t the whole story, but it’s a darn good start. Good polarized glasses, either the wrap around style or the ones equipped with sides are needed. The reason for the side shields is to prevent light from splashing off your face on to the back of the lens. It’s easier to look from a dark environment into a lighted one. To further aid this concept use a long brimmed hat with a neck cover, they are called up-downers and are designed for fishing on flats. Buy the one that has dark material on the underside of the brim. This hat combined with the right type of sunglasses creates a tent from which you look out of into the lighted world. It’s easier to look from a dark environment into a lighted one. This set up will improve your vision in shallow water by at least 30%.

Backlash

Having one of those days when every other cast is a minor backlash? Here’s a quickie to help make getting the loops out a little easier. Press your thumb against the spool and crank the reel 3 or 4 turns. Make sure your thumb is pressed against the spool firmly. This aligns the loops all in the same direction. Pull the line off the spool in its normal direction and it usually comes right out. I find that this works about 75% of the time. It will save you a ton of picking out loops and for those guys over forty you can do it with your eyes closed.

Drift Sock Or Sea Anchor

An essential item to every Bass boat should be a drift sock or sea anchor, they help in boat control during the roughest current and wind conditions.

Graphite Fishing Rods

The biggest killer of graphite rods is impact against a hard object. It may not break in that spot the day it happens but there will be a weak spot at that point. Keep this in mind when stowing rods for travel. If you are keeping them on the deck, strap them flush against the deck so the become a part of the deck and aren’t rapping against it during travel. If you are storing them in a locker, do the same or put them in a horizontal holding system, where they won’t hit the side or floor of the locker. If you are the non boater and your partner doesn’t have room in his locker, try to find the spot that minimizes the repeated bouncing they will take if they are laid over the gunwale. If you have to, lay them over your leg when running the big engine. It's never fun to set the hook on a good fish and end up with a three piece rod.

Look For Suspended Fish

As a Pro Staff Team Member for Techsonic Industries, (Humminbird/Zercom) I have had the opportunity to use some of the best electronics available to help me locate fish. Many times finding the fish is harder than catching the fish, especially when conditions are such that the bass suspend. I personally don't know anyone that likes bass suspended well off the bottom. These are nearly impossible to catch, but you can learn to catch other bass by finding suspended bass.

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Stick With One Team

Rod, reel and line are one package. They work as a team. Purchasing a "magic" line may throw off your teamwork. Switching any team member affects the entire team's performance. Once you have the team that works for you- stick with it.

Fishing Rod Selection Basics

The most accurate casting is accomplished when baitcasting equipment is cast overhand. Baitcasting gear is extremely well suited for "targeted" fishing. On some occasions placing a lure under a boat dock, under over lying limbs or between pontoon boats may be necessary. In this situation skipping a lure is ideal. A spinning outfit is perfect for this chore. Be flexible and versatile and be able to use both types of equipment.  Make the right fishing rod selection for the situation.

More Is Better - Trolling Motor Selection

When you look at a bass boat one element is key to maintaining constant position on bass. That is the trolling motor. It is impossible to over power a bass boat with a trolling motor (you can always run it at less than full speed). However, it is easy to under power. And under power cannot be adjusted while you are fishing.

Pro Pointer - Safety on the Water

I recently had an incident that caused me to reconsider my views on safety. My wife and I were out for a quite evening of fishing on a local lake. Near the public beach is an area of scattered rock and grass, and we were throwing a few crankbaits and enjoying the evening. While drifting along, we thought we heard someone yelling, "help"! We looked around, saw nothing and continued fishing. We heard it again, and saw a head bopping up and down in the water, well away from the buoyed swimming area but inside the no boat zone. I quickly kicked the trolling on high, and my wife grabbed our throwable from the storage bin. I have the "minimum" legal requirements in my boat - a throw-able, and the required PFD's per person.

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Battery Check

Take care of your Batteries. Check for good connections. I take all of the connections lose at the battery and give them a good cleaning once a month and sometimes more if I have been fishing in a lot of rain. Nothing worse that getting to the lake and the motor not firing because of a bad connection. Not to mention the embarrassment of sitting at the dock as everyone else blast off.

Fishing Line Check

A lot of anglers have lost fish by not checking thier bait and line. After several cast take a few minutes to check your line next to your bait by running your fingers down the line to check for stretching of the line. So make sure to check for any wear on the line if there is any take a few seconds to cut and retie the bait so you don't lose the big one.

Hat Trick

Ever lose a hat going down a lake? I purchased a hat clip and have not lost one yet. All it is a piece of heavy string with a clip on both ends. One goes on the hat and the other goes on your shirt collar.They run about $3.00

Boat Trailer Off The Deep End

Here's a simple and effective way to get your trailer back on the ramp once you've backed it off the end. First unload your boat if it is still on the trailer. Ask someone to operate your vehicle and explain the following procedure to them before you start. Be sure to tell them you only need to move a couple of feet or so and do it slowly. Take your anchor out and approach the submerged trailer from the rear. Drop the anchor over the rear frame between the inside of the rear frame and the rear axle. Let the anchor sink and then pull it slowly to you until the rope slides up the frame. Once you feel the weight of the anchor, try to work it as close to the center of the trailer as possible and lift the anchor until you feel it catch on the frame. Tell the vehicle operator to move forward slowly as you lift straight up with the anchor rope. The tires on the trailer will provide floatation and you should be able to lift the trailer high enough to clear the frame and allow the driver to pull it back on the ramp. Remove the anchor, park the vehicle and go fishing. A mushroom anchor will not work without a lot of effort. A Chene or Navy anchor work best

Slow Drift - Submerged Vegetation

Attached five or six feet of 3/8th link stainless steel chain to 30 feet of light anchor or ski rope. Tie the rope to the aft cleat and drag the chain through the vegetation. This will allow you to use the trolling motor to move in a general direction and maintain control of the boat. Two of these will decrease your speed much more, and your speed may be varied by the amount of rope you have out. Placing one on the front and rear cleats on the same side will give you a side drift, which is excellent for drifting live bait over vegetation.

Fishing Rod Care - How To Clean Cork Handles

If the cork handles on your fishing rods are looking very dirty and it makes your rods look like they are fifty years old, try this tip. Take a very light grade sand paper and sand the cork handles, you will notice that all the dirt will go away leaving you with a brand new looking fishing rod.

Prepare For The Worst

I always carry equipment and parts in the boat just in case of an unexpected failure or problem. I carry a conversion kit to convert my foot control trolling motor to a hand control in a matter of minutes, incase the steering cable breaks or the pedal itself. Extra spark plugs and wires, spare prop, fuel filter, O2 sensor, fuses, breakers, electrical wire, and such. It takes up minimal space in my Skeeter, but is worth its weight in gold if a problems occurs during a tournament.

Start a File

If you're like me, you probably subscribe to several fishing magazines and read a lot of good articles. You could save all of the magazines for future reference, but that takes a lot of space. Instead, get a plastic filing box and some hanging folders, label them with general bass angling headings such as "Boat Docks", "Smallmouth", "Topwater", etc.., and file your articles as you finish them. This will provide you with a literal library of bass fishing knowledge, and takes up very little space. Then when you anticipate a facing a certain condition or employing a specific technique, you can consult your file on that particular subject to gain helpful insight.

Hi-Tech Bassin'

Take advantage of available technology. Handheld computer and organizers such as the Palm Pilot can be very helpful to the bass angler. You can log conditions, create and use checklists to avoid forgetting things, and store phone numbers of new friends and contacts you meet along the way. You can also download turn-by-turn maps to your next angling destination. When you get home, you can quickly upload all the new information to your home computer for future use.

Keep Your Rods Looking New

Use simple alcohol prep pads to clean the cork handles on your rods. You can purchase several hundred for a few dollars, and you can simply throw them away after finishing the job.

Don't Be Caught Dead On The Water

Night before the big tournament, you have changed your line, tied on all your baits, sharpened all your hooks and charged all your batteries. Or did you? Most all the newer boats on the market today come with a on board battery charger. With most of the trolling motors on the water today being 24 volts and the on board chargers being in the 2 bank version, 3 and 4 bank chargers are available, most people forget about their starting battery. While your outboard does a good job in keeping your starting battery charged while running, there is those times when you'll be on one spot for several hours without starting your outboard. With both aerators going and your graphs this can run a battery down pretty quick. Always charge your starting battery before your tournaments. Just in case you get that clicking sound keep a pair of jumper cables or a rechargeable power source like the Jumper 1000 by Century in the boat. Maybe you won't be caught “Dead on the Water”.

Reel Maintenance

We all take pretty good care of our tow vehicles, from oil changes to checking the tires. So why do so many forget about their reels? With the cost of a good quality reel today you better take care of them. Here are a few simple steps to insure optimum performance. At least once a year you should disassemble your reel for a thorough cleaning. Checking for wear and any damaged parts. Remove dirt, grit, and any old grease and oil. Using a silicone base oil and a marine grease apply these to specific parts of the reel. I personal use more grease than oil, seems to cause less friction. Make sure all screws are tightened and when you store your reel for an extended period of time always back of the drag to help prolong the life of your drag washers. Or you can find a good service man to do the job for you, for less than 15 dollars they will generally perform the maintenance, a small price for the life of a quality reel.

Boat Bearings

A lot of anglers forget to check their wheel bearings on their boat trailers. Every spring when you get your boat out of storage, always have your bearings checked. This could save you from a serious accident with your boat.

Waxing Your Boat

If you hate using car wax to wax your boat because of the wax getting down in every little nook and cranny, leaving that unsightly leftover wax. Then try using a furniture polish to wax your boat. I like to use one with a moisture barrier in it. You can wax your boat in 15-20 minutes, it looks great and protects your boats finish.

Save Your Boat Tarp

Are you tired of your trolling motor prop blades poking through your boat tarp, if so then here is a little tip. Take a piece of an old garden hose and cut it the length of one of your trolling motor prop blades, then cut the hose all the way down the side of it, then slip it on your prop blades and this will keep the blades from poking through your boat tarp.

Time Is Everything

When tournament fishing or just fishing for fun time can play a big part of your day. Go to your nearest dollar store and purchase a stick on clock. These are small enough to put anywhere and they usually last a few years for a dollar. I have one under my dash and one inside a rod locker. For those days you might forget a watch, this will come in handy.

Summertime Fish Handling

Most people don't Realize how much stress that they put on bass in the summer months. Hot water ,boat traffic, and a whole list of other factor can turn what you thought was a winning sack of bass to you going home with your feeling hurt due to dead fish ! In the Summer month put your aerators on recirculate what that will do that will allow you to put ice in your livewells and cool that water down and you won’t be pumping in any new hot water ! Buy plenty of Ice sometimes it may take 2 or 3 bags to really get that water temp to a comfortable state for the fish !

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Night Fishing At Ramps

If you have problems backing your boat down ramps with poor lighting at night, here's a little tip for you. Take out the bulbs in your back up lights and replace them with Halogen bulbs sold in most auto part stores. You'll be amazed how much better you'll be able to see when you're backing down the ramp on those hot summer nights and early mornings.  

Spare Fuse Holder

I keep spare fuses in my boat at all times you never know when one will blow. I keep then in a used film container, it is small and waterproof. These containers can be used for a lot of other things including weights, aspirins, hooks, toothpicks, and anything else you can come up with. They take up little space and if you drop them in the water they will float as long as the top is on.

Dry Feet

If wet feet bother you on those wet days try a pair of Seal Skin sox. They are waterproof and can be worn in any shoe. They are a big help if you are putting your boat in a shallow lake and you need to step in the water to push off, this way your feet will be dry all day.

Winter Thaws Shallow Bass

Many people relate ice out to the spring, but there are times throughout the winter when lakes and ponds will freeze over and then ice out repeatedly. If you like pond hoping, finding open water can sometimes tell you exactly where the bass are in the winter. I big misconception about bass is that the go deep in the winter and stay deep until the spring. That is not always the case. These types of conditions offer anglers the opportunity to catch bass that will gravitate towards slightly warmer (or warming) water. Many times rain can cause a lake or pond to partially thaw and rain brings food via run off. Worms get washed out of the ground and even into the water when it rains. In turn, bass will move into the shallow water to take advantage of an easy meal. You can take advantage of this opportunity too. Try searching for ponds that are thawing out from a warming trend and especially right after it rains during the winter.

Vertical Jigging

One of the best times of year to fish vertically is by far during the winter. When the water starts dropping below 50 degrees and you’re looking to target the bass that are wintering deep, there’s two lures that really come into play. A blade bait (like a Silver Buddy or Sonar) and a Rapala Jigging Rap. One of the biggest mistakes people make with a blade bait is that they move the bait too far off the bottom. It’s usually a game of inches, not feet. Smaller movements tend to get a better reaction from wintering bass. There’s an expression called “burping the blade” and all it means is to just lift your rod tip up until you feel the bait vibrate like a burp and the stop and feel it back down to the bottom. Many strikes come on the drop so pay attention to your line. If it stops before you stop it, set the hook.

The Jigging Rap is such a great tool because it will actually swim off to the side when you let it fall. I know a lot of ice fishermen who like to use a Jigging Rap through the ice for that reason. A lure drifting towards the face of a bass will often invoke a reaction strike and that’s what makes a Jigging Rap such and effective tool when fishing vertically.

Off Structure Bass - 360 Imaging

Everyone likes to share tips about targeting bass in the heat of the summer.  It's no secret that bass love to get around deep water structure like humps and ledges.  When venturing out to these areas, pay attention to your electronics.  If you have side imaging or structure scan look for schools of baitfish and bass that may be using the open water off the sides of these structures.  After you’ve worked the structure itself, try positioning your boat on top of the high spot and cast a deep diving crankbait or a swimbait out into the open water and bring it back towards the shallower high spot.  Many times you can draw bass in from the open water that you might have been overlooking.  For the most effective way to capitalize on this technique, a humminbird 360 can show you exactly where these bass are in relationship to your boat.  Not only where they are, but also where they are moving as they chase open water baitfish.  It takes the guess work out of where to cast.

Slow Rolling Swimbaits

Once the weed starts really dying off in the fall, search for the last remaining areas that hold a good outside weed edge.  This is a great time to find big smallmouth and largemouth cruising along these areas.  Try paralleling the deep outside weed edge with a big swimbait like the Keitech Fat 4.8” rigged on a 1/2 football head jig.  On a 7’ bait casting rod with 15 pound test fluorocarbon, you can cast this bait a long way and cover a lot of water.  You want to use a very slow and steady retrieve… just barely turn the reel handle.  You want to keep in contact with the bottom as much as possible.  Hold on, because they hit this rig so hard they knock the paint off the jig head!

Downsize in Tough Conditions

If the fishing is tough, and a few nonproductive bites have come onsome larger lures, then downsize. For example, if there are a fewstrikes on a 3’ or 4 1/2”, but nothing in the boat, try going to a 2”or 2 1/2”. The same holds for other lures.

Confidence Is The Key

I encounter anglers, all over, who think that pros rely upon some deep, dark secrets for catching bass on the tournament circuit. Well, there are no magic potions or quick-fixes for catching bass, but there are systems and methods that we use to consistently catch fish.  Because we're on the water so often and fish such a variety of water, we're confronted with a new challenge nearly every tournament. Through these experiences, we've learned to adapt quickly to water conditions and the mood of the fish. In most cases, we still work within traditional systems and methods. But paying close attention to details is what enables us to refine our fishing efficiency. This has helped me be successful, and it's an aspect that will help you improve as well.

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Fishing in a crowd: What do I do?

With the amount of fishing pressure today, someone must really use ever trick in the bag to catch fish.

Weekend tournaments are popping up all over the country with a lot of mixed fillings. Some guys welcome the new circuits while others just mumble with discuss. While everyone cannot take time off work to fish through the week, the weekend angler must incorporate a method for catching fish in a crowd.

First of all, find out where the fishing pressure is the greatest, you can eliminate a lot of water with this first task. Second, learn the seasonal patterns on your home waters, ask questions, study maps and devise a game plan before you get to the lake. Third, find out what most of the fish are biting and try something just a little bit different. You may downsize and try the finesse approach, but don't be afraid to do the opposite. Going bigger may be the key to catching those fish.

So the next time your caught in a crowd, get in there and rub some elbows.

River System Topwater Fishing

A lot of myths are commonly associated with topwater fishing. We've all heard that the technique is just something you do in early morning or late afternoon hours. Or they only work in the spring or fall. Or that, because of increasing fishing pressure, bass simply aren't fooled by topwaters like they once were. Forget these myths.

A topwater can pay off for you if you give it the chance and put the typical misconceptions out of your mind. Topwater baits can be dynamite during all hours of the day and are more versatile than most realize. I agree that early, late, spring, and fall are the prime times for the surface lure. But anglers who believe this is the only time are really limiting their ability to catch bass.

Rivers are excellent for topwater fishing because in this swift environment bass live in less than 5 feet of water. When fishing current with a topwater plug there are a few things to think about. The position of the fish and the angle in which the current will move your bait. Always through 3 feet or farther past your target, so you won't spook the fish, and move the bait with the current as close to the target as possible. Lures of choice are the Zara Spook Jr., Spitting Image, Cotton Cordell's Crazy Shad, and the Tiny Torpedo.

So the next time you're on a river system and the bite is slow, tie on that old topwater plug. You'll be surprised.

Take A Time Out

When you are fishing and simply can not catch any bass, try giving yourself a five minute time out. Often, we get caught up in making good casts to good looking spots and become too mechanical. Sit down and don't cast for a few minutes. Take a break, drink a warm or cold beverage and eat a snack. Look around you, see if there are any tell-tale signs of surface activity, if not, the fish are probably not feeding on or near the surface. What is the wildlife doing, are their numerous birds flying around and singing. This can aften be a sign as to good or poor fishing. If there is a lot of wildlife activity then the fish are most likely actiove as well. Maybe you've been dragging a worm rig when you should have been ripping a crankbait. If there is little or no activity, maybe you're fishing too fast and need to alter your retreive. How is the water color? Are you using a color combination condusive to that water color? Maybe a color change is all that's needed. Try larger or smaller lures, speed up, slow down, make some adjustments. Now get off your duff and catch those bass. Good luck!

Putting The Red In

Soft plastic jerk bait fishing can be a deadly technique. However, adding a flash of red can double its effectiveness. I like using a 4/0 or 5/0 Daiichi Bleeding Bait Copperhead hook, on a shad, pearl or white Gambler Stud or Mann's Shadow. The lure acts like a crippled bait fish, while the flash of red from the hook provides the look of gills or blood from an injury. This helps stir up a quicker predatory action towards the lure.

Dock Talk

When pre-fishing for tournaments insulate your self from "Dock Talk", it is almost always old news and you are more likely to be stuck with a "red herring" and not a Bass.

Overnight Shower

My first reaction to an overnight shower when I hit the water in the morning is to do a milk run of small feeder creeks. Whenever the flow of these small creeks increases bass move into them looking for an easy meal. I start by fishing the outflow of the creek with a small rapala and a wacky worm and then slowly travel up the creek with a wacky worm. I travel slowly and try to keep as quiet as possible. There have been times when I have had fish swim by the boat moving upstream to feed. Keep your eyes open; this is a serious time for sight fishing. Its great for a quick limit and sometimes there’s a kicker in there too

Baits to Throw in Early Spring

When fishing in early spring, a very small jig 1/8 to 3/16 oz. with a uncle josh no# 101 pork frog is the hot bait in icy water. My second choice is a tube bait. These are the only two baits I will throw in early spring. You have to remember to fish these baits very slow. You also must keep in mind that you will not catch 100 bass a day at this time of year, but you can get your limit. Find the warmest water in the body of water you are fishing and start there. I look for any backwater area that has docks or brush piles in it. Pitch your jig in and around cover and make sure the jig falls straight down. You have to feed line out after your jig hits the water to make your jig fall straight. Begin making little shaking motions with the rod tip, do not move the jig 6 or 8 inches at a time, move it 2 to 3 inches at a time. This time of year you must be a line watcher, the bites maybe very subtle, just a small jump in the line, if you are only going by feel, you will miss these light strikes. Sometimes in very cold water the bites can also be a hard thump, so be ready. At this time of year more than any other you need to fish your bait all the way back to the boat. Bites may occur right in the cover or they can come 2 to 15 feet out in front of the cover, so fish all the water in front of you.

Summer Night Jitterbugs

To me the most productive and exciting summer bassin' I know of is Nighttime Jitterbuggin' on my favorite lake. Sometimes the strike is just a sip of the plug off the surface and other times the violence of the strike will propel the bass 3 feet into the air. This is easy, just cast and retrieve with a steady pace. No stop and go, and no buzzin', we want this lure to look like a little mammal swimming home from his girlfriend's. Slow and steady is the key.

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Slow Down When Fishing Is Slow

When catching appears to be slow, slow down your presentation. While fishing grass beds, be sure your lure is in constant contact with the grass. When fishing a rocky bottom the lure should remain in contact with the rocks and fished slowly. The bite usually feels like a little more pressure on the line.

Fishing Inside Turns

In the North Country, once the spawn is complete, a large population of bass move to the weed lines, adjacent to drop-offs in the deeper waters of the lake. It is on these weed lines. Bass school as they do in southern reservoirs near ledges or creek channels. Most everyone knows points attract bass, and a good weed point with cabbage and scattered coon tail should not be passed by without checking. My game plan, however, involves following the weed line in, to where it turns back out towards the flat. I believe that is in these "inside turns" where the bass live, and they move to the points to feed. Inside turns generally offer a shorter distance to travel to deep and shallow areas, and offer protection and cover on both sides, rather then open water as on a point. I also think inside turns are more consistent producers, year after year since they generally have a different bottom composition than the surrounding area. Fish in these areas tend to be in a neutral feeding mode, so I search for them with a jig or worm, making casts up into the weed edges and working them a few feet beyond the weeds before tossing back in. Probing the inside turns is a consistent pattern to find fish where they live. Bass only feed points for a certain amount of time each day. When they are through, they return to the safety of the nearest inside turn where they can continue to be caught with a less aggressive approach

Spring In The North Country

In Minnesota, where bass fishing is closed until late May to protect the spawn we have a different starting point then our southern fishing brethren. Pre-spawn is a time when fishing is fast and furious, and fish in this stage can be found and targeted even in early June, if you know where to look. Most natural lakes have areas which just don't warm as quickly as the rest of the lake. Sandy bottoms, deep shorelines, wind-swept eastern shores. Look for smaller areas which offer ideal spawning areas, after the spawn has occurred in other parts of the lake. You will find fish still moving in, aggressively feeding and not yet on the beds in these areas. The best areas have boat docks and pilings for docks not yet put in for the year. Target these areas now, rather than trying to catch fish off beds in the warmer parts of the lake.

Paying Attention To Details

I have noticed that a lot of my fellow fisherman don’t pay a lot of attention when they are rigging their plastics. Take the time out to make sure the bait is rigged straight, and check it every few casts. The more natural a bait looks in the water, the more appealing it is to those weary bass. Paying attention to detail can play an important part in your fishing success.

What The Other Animals Are Doing

When I’m working a small backwater or stream, I scan the shore to see what the other animals are doing. Are the herons feeding, are they moving slowly or are they running after schools of minnows? Are they right at the edge or in water up to their bellies? What I’m trying to ascertain is whether or not I have large amounts of bait in this portion of water and if the bait is tight to the bank or out off it. I’ll try to notice if the stumps I’m catching fish on had turtles or snakes sunning themselves or did I only catch fish off the ones that were empty. These turtles and snakes are predators too and they like to stay near a good food supply. Keep your eyes open while you fish, nature is talking to you. Notice how birds feed heavily before a storm, well fish do it too. If I see a lot of feeding activity in my yard, I run for my fishing rod because the lake is doing the same thing. Look around and hear what the noise is about.

Line Spooling - Too Tight

When spooling up a reel while on the water, most anglers keep the new line coming off the spool tight by running it through their hand or a wrapped towel, but be careful not to hold it too tight. The heat generated from the friction of the moving line can be enough to weaken the line. To make sure the line stays cool, you should wet your hand or the towel before you begin.

Feathering Your Line

Many bites occur when a lure first lands. Control of your lure at this time is extremely important. Achieving control of the lure upon its entry into the water is accomplished while the lure is in flight. This is achieved by feathering the line so it is tight when the lure lands. The next immediate step is to raise the rod tip

Know Your Weather

It's so important to pay attention to the weather, especially in the summer. The most recent weather report is vital to planning a day of bass fishing. Phone apps like weather bug, give you all the data you need including weather radar and severe storm alerts. Make note of the barometric pressure, wind speed and direction, temperature before you start your trip and keep an eye out for any changes coming your way.

Being Courteous

Be courteous to folks fishing. Idle when close to another angler fishing where you want to run. Give ground to an angling angler. These things will come back around your way when you are angling

Evaluating Your Hook-Up Ratio

Evaluating your hook-up ratio can improve your catching. When a bass goes after a swimming target he is 70% successful. When a bass goes after a crawfish he is 99.9% successful. Keep these numbers in mind when evaluating your hook up ratio

Short Strikes - Spinnerbait

When fishing a spinnerbait and getting short strikes try cutting the skirt down. This gives the bait a smaller profile and does not hurt the action of the lure

Recycle Points

One of the best places to catch bass, especially in an unfamiliar body of water, are the docks, points, or other structures nearest to the launch area. Tournament angling is so popular that on many bodies of water tournaments are held on various weeknights and nearly every weekend. The released bass will congregate around nearby structure on their way back to their preferred areas, providing quick access to anglers. They are often overlooked and additionally, you can maximize fishing time by eliminating a long run

Crankbait Math: Parallel or Perpendicular?

Parallel cranking is one of the most effective techniques when covering narrow flats, rip-rap or gently sloping banks. Not only does it keep your bait in the strike zone for much more of your cast, it often gives the fish an angle of deflection they haven't seen, provoking a reaction strike. 

Stick Around

It is only natural to want to make a quick exit following a poor tournament performance, but sticking around afterwards can often lead to learning what techniques or locations produced. You can then apply the information gathered the next time out

The First Bite - How Important It Is!

 

When fishing a crankbait in an off-shore area that you know is holding bass but you can't seem to get to bite, there are several "tricks" you can try to entice them. For instance, try to vary your retrieve speed (steady, stop & go), change your presentation angle (reposition your boat or change to a bait that dives at a different angle), bump off the bottom, deflect off of cover or even change color lures. Do whatever it takes to get that "first" bite. Many times the most important bite is the first one. Once you get the first fish to commit to the lure and bite, it can excite the entire school and you can literally catch every fish in the school if you can keep your bait in front of them. Boat positioning and pinpoint casting are keys to catching these fish once they have been excited. Sometimes, kicking a buoy marker overboard once you catch your first fish will help you keep your place in case you drift away while landing your fish.

The Confidence Factor

If you are having a hard time getting bites, fish with baits you are comfortable with. Use a bait you have confidence in. A confident angler is a better angler

Short Striking Bass - Top Water

If a bass short strikes or "blows up" behind a topwater bait and you don't connect don't give up. Quickly cast a different bait to that fish. The follow up bait can be a different topwater bait or soft plastic such as a soft jerkbait, tube or Senko type bait. Many times the bass will be fooled into thinking it has injured the pray it struck just moment earlier.

Safety

We have learned during our tournaments to use just a little common courtesy by staying till you make sure the last fisherman is in from the long day. You never know when one has had problems if you hook up and run. Take care of your fellow fisherman

Fish Something Different

Fish something different, I fish the California Delta several days a week and I try some place different every time I go out even if I caught 20 fish from one spot. If I go to the same places day in and day out, I assume the fish will be too pressured and stop biting. Beside the fact that fish move in different seasons a springtime spot will not be good in the summer. Try something new bass adapt to many different places.

Thinking Game

Don’t just go fishing! Bass fishing is a thinking man’s game and the one who figures it out wins. So when you go fishing have a plan it can be simple or complex, but start with a plan. After sticking to your plan for a while, maybe a few hours, stop and think. Did I get bit or catch a few fish? If so keep going, if not now derive a new plan and try that. Because with out some sort of plan you don’t know what you did and if you don’t know what you did you don’t know what to change

Pre-Fish Online

Maximize your tournament pre-fishing efforts with the help of your personal computer. Weather forecasts, lake levels, wind and wave conditions, flow rates, local angling reports and recent tournament results are readily available via the internet. The extra knowledge you pick up while surfing the 'net may be just what it takes to put you in the winner's circle.

Topwater "101"

Do not jump the gun and set the hook when you see the strike. Instead wait a second or two until you actually feel the fish on. Often times anglers set the hook to early and pull the bait away from the fish.

Jig Fishing "101"

When fishing a jig it is very important to watch your line. If you notice the line going slack all of the sudden, then chances are the bait is in the mouth of Mr. Bass. Secondly if you see the line moving perpendicular to the direction of your cast it is likely that a bass has picked it up and is swimming with it. If this occurs reel up any slack line and set the hook.

Carolina Rig Fishing "101"

When setting the hook while fishing the Carolina Rig it is more effective to use a sweeping sideways motion rather than setting the hook straight upward.

New Approach

If faced with a tough bite on a lake you think you know like the back of your hand, act as if you have never been there before. Look at the season and current weather conditions and study a lake map. Search new areas and approach the lake as if it were unfamiliar. You may find key areas you may have missed or never thought would produce.

Short Strikes - Soft Plastics

If your throwing a soft jerkbait and getting short bites, try putting on a treble trailer hook. Use a small piece of tubing or a rubber band. You can either let the hook hang free or just stick the bait just enough to hold the hook. This tactic should provide you with a hook-up.

Crankin' Basics

If your not getting bit on your crankbait, try moving back into a depth of water as to get the bait to dig into the bottom. This imitates a crawfish on the bottom and should be just the thing to turn on the bite.

Big Baits for Bronzebacks

Though it is true that smallmouths often become finicky and typically prefer smaller lures, at times the exact opposite is true, particularly in the fall. Smallmouth bass feed heavily in the fall and they tend to key in on larger prey in preparation for the winter.  Big topwater plugs, jerkbaits, crankbaits, swimbaits and jigs really come into play for those fall lunkers.  If you're looking for that smallie of a lifetime this autumn, try a larger than normal tube, big spinnerbait or mega topwater on your favorite smallmouth waters.  You'll be surprised how big a lure these northern giants will chase down in the fall.

Soft Stickbaits for Skipping

The next time you encounter a situation that calls for a skipping presentation, such as a boat dock, pier or overhanging branch, try a soft stickbait. When rigged Texas-style and weightless, a Yamamoto Senko or Venom Salty Sling skips as easy as any bait on the market. Additionally, they offer a profile different from the normal skip-baits like tubes and jigs. The combination of better placement and a different look can trigger bass holding deep beneath overhead cover.

Document the Drawdown

In many parts of the country, lakes are drawn down several feet in the fall and winter to kill off weeds and minimize damage to docks and bulk heads. This offers an excellent opportunity to visually see and document large areas without idling around for hours and hours using side imaging or structure scan.  You can find some of the best structure and spawning areas for the upcoming spring and summer months. Use a GPS, take pictures and/or a video to record as much offshore structure you otherwise would have missed. You can often learn more about a lake in one trip during drawdown than you could in a whole season with your electronics. Use caution, as low water can lead to dangerous boating conditions.

Tube Baits

All anglers when they go fishing should always have a tube bait tied on at least one rod in the boat. This bait is so good, you should never go on the water without fishing a tube some time during the day. I prefer a ISG tube, it has scent and salt built right into the tube. It appeals to all of the bass' senses. I believe that on those tough days, you should be fishing a tube most of the day. The tube bait can catch fish under all conditions, especially on those really tough days.

Fishing a Stump

When fishing a stump don’t forget the root systems, which can runfor several feet in all directions. Many times, especially on the edgeof some deeper water, these will hold more fish than the main partof the stump.

Pre Spawn

Fishing 1-4 weeks after a lake thaws out after the winter freeze. Look for shallow coves or bays that are protected from the wind, with dark bottoms, located in the north, west, or northwest corners of the lake.  These Coves and Bays will be the first to warm up, because they receive the most sunlight at this time of year. In these areas insect activity will begin earlier, which will attract baitfish, which in turn, will attract BASS.

Fishing a Wood Pile

Always fish a wood pile on the outside area first. The most activefish will hang to the outside, and so use spinnerbaits or crankbaitsfirst. Then fish it with soft plastics or jig combos, using aflipping/pitching technique, and work towards the middle and shoreside areas. In this way more fish can be caught on one area,without catching the middle, less active fish first, and risk spookingthe others.

Listen to Your Instincts

Too often, anglers, myself included, have a game plan and fail to adjust when conditions change or wait too long before adjusting. Listen to your instincts and follow them as soon as possible. It can make the difference between a poor day and a quick day.

Swim a Jig

I do a lot of swimming a jig. When fishing a jig and pig, keep the bait moving by using a jiggling-twitching retrieve. You want to work the jig close to the bottom, so a heavier jig is better in this application. When you come to a tree top or some buck brush try swimming the jig trough instead of the normal vertical presentation, you’re looking for a reaction strike and you’re not trying to force feed the fish. Try this simple but effective technique with the jig and pig and I’m sure you’ll put more fish in the boat.

Schooling Shad

We all have encountered all those big black balls of shad in early summer, migrating out of the creeks heading to deeper water and again in the fall heading back into the creeks. When the fish are keyed on the shad they are tough to catch. While spinnerbaits are a good choice to catch these fish, but I've found that a rattletrap is more reliable. When you see these schools burn a 1/4oz trap through the middle of the school and kill it once the school starts to scatter. This will draw a strike from even the wariest of fish.  It's always important to have a follow up lure to toss back at bass that chase your lure back to the boat.  Try an underspin jig head with a 3" - 4" fluke style bait to get a strike from those followers.

Carolina Rigging for Smallies

It has long been thought that a Carolina rig is just for largemouth bass, that is not so it's also a killer bait for smallmouth too. You can fish a tube, a 4 inch lizard, or a fluke on a Carolina rig for smallmouth bass. This has become a go to bait for me in the past four or five years and it's a tactic that puts smallmouth bass in the boat.

Finding Bass with Crankbaits

A lot of anglers think that a spinnerbait is the best search bait for bass, it is definitely in the top three but over the past few years, I have found that a crankbait is a better search bait than a spinnerbait. The reason I say that is because I can catch more bass on a crankbait under a lot more different conditions than a spinnerbait.

Crankbaiting Timber

A lot of anglers never consider throwing a crankbait in the middle of wood cover, simply because they think they will lose their crankbait. I can tell you if you fish it properly, you can fish timber with a crankbait. All you have to do is take your time fishing it through the mazes of branches. If you feel your bait crawling through the wood but then suddenly it gets hung up, just stop your bait and give it some slack, most of the time the bait will float right up out of the cover. You will find that a lot of fish do not see these lures in the kind of cover, so you will catch a lot of fish that other anglers are not catching.

Take a Closer Look - Part #4

If you catch a bass that appears very pale, it may be a good sign to fish extra deep. Bass become pale when in deep water because the sun can't reach them and they lose some of their pigmentation.

Take a Closer Look - Part #3

When unhooking a bass, always look into the fish's mouth and throat. Many times, a crawfish pincher, tail of a shad or tail of a bluegill will be protruding out of the throat. This can give you a good idea of the size and type bait fish to imitate.

Take a Closer Look - Part #2

When bass have what looks like scratches on its head, gill covers or sides it most likely means the bass are foraging on crawfish. As they jut their heads into rock crevices, under rock bluffs and even on gravel bottoms, they will often get these telltale markings. It would then be wise to switch to a crawfish imitating bait. There may even be sand and or gravel in the back of their mouth, another giveaway that they are bottom feeding.

Take a Closer Look - Part #1

Anglers should learn to look a bass over before releasing it. There are some dead-giveaways as to the type forage and type cover the fish are using and this could lead to an impressive catch.

Wormin in the Wind

The worst problem a worm fisherman has to deal with is a stiff wind. Holding your rod tip high in the wind is a mistake. Keep your rod at about 8 or 9 o'clock instead of the traditional 11 or 12 o'clock. With a high rod, the wind will create a big bow in your line and you'll loose touch with your worm. With a low rod angle there is less drag on your line, thus you'll fell more strikes. When possible, fish crosswind and downwind from your target, this will help present the worm more naturally.

Tiny Crankbaits - During Cold Fronts

When fishing cold front conditions or highly pressured bodies of water, try fishing small ¼ or 1/8 ounce crankbaits. There are several companies that produce crankbaits designed for crappie or bluegill, but these little gems can be the ticket for catching large numbers of bass when nothing else is working. The only modification I make is upsizing hooks to get better hookups. But don’t be fooled into thinking these little baits are for small fish, the big ones seem to like them as well. With a spin cast outfit and 6 lb line, these little baits cast extremely well.

Thumping Spinnerbaits - When Fishing Muddy Water

When confronted with fishing muddy water and you want a bait the fish can key in on. Try fishing a ½ ounce spinnerbait with a #4 or #4 ½ size gold Colorado single blade. The Colorado really sends out a large amount of vibration and makes the bait easier to find. Pair that up with a yellow/black skirt and you have a deadly muddy water combination.

Drop Shot Fishing - Mark Your Line

When drop shot fishing you are fishing for suspended fish in one certain depth in the water line, use your electronics to find where the fish are suspending and drop your rig down to that depth. Use a black marker and mark your line about 6 – 8 inches where the line comes out of the spool. Now when you bring your bait back up you can drop it right back to the right depth every time without any questions. This is really good for the non-boater guy in the back of the boat that does not have access to the electronics all day, it keeps you in the fish also with no more guessing about depth of your rig. This also works well with spoons too.

Spoon Fishing - Double Trouble Rig

Most spoon users only attach a single spoon to their line for this type of fishing. Try this one on for size. Attach a Red Number 4 treble hook to a oval split ring, take your spoon slide spoon up the line (So it free floats up and down the line) then tie the oval split ring with hook to the end of your line. So now when you jerk your spoon there are two hooks moving up and down and two targets for the schooling bass to hit, this will really increase your double catch ratio.

Spoon Fishing- Add Thread Fin Black Dots to Your Spoon

When fishing with a spoon most times you are chasing schooling bass. These bass are chasing schools of Threadfin Shad, these shad have a small black dot right behind their gill plates. Take a black permanent marker and mark that same black dot on your spoon on both side of the spoon about a ¼ inch in size. This makes your spoon look more realistic and will attract fish that are used to seeing the same type of spoon everyday.

Fall Bass Fishing Tip

So many people don’t take advantage of the feeding bite of fall bass fishing. When that water starts to cool down and those days start to get shorter one thing happens… BASS START FEEDING AGGRESSIVELY! People like to sit on a couple of spots all day and wonder why they are not catching fish. I look for aggressive biting fish in the fall I have a run and gun approach to it. If I get to a spot and I have not got a bit in 15-20 minutes then it’s time to move. I could hit as many as 20 spots in an hour looking for those aggressive fish. The feeding window change on each spot so that’s why you need to cover a lot of areas. If it’s your home body and you know those feeding windows then make a milk run hitting those spots at the proper time. Try the run and gun approach in the Fall it will help you put more fish in the boat. Tight Lines!  

Dropshot - Twitch and Stop

Dropshot twitch and stop. The payoff motion on the dropshot can be very subtle. After shaking it around some, let it go still and then gently raise the lure with the most subtle little shake, shake, shake and stop completely. Let the lure go completely still. Be patient with this and you will be amazed at how many bites you will get when the lure goes still after a gentle twitch.

Scented Toothpicks - Another Way to Apply Scent

For better more long lasting results with fishing scents on plastic lures, try applying the sent to the tail end of your lures with a sharply pointed toothpick. Drill four or five holes through the lure with the scent covered toothpick. The scent will stay on the lure better and last longer.

Crainkbait Plus - Add Something Different

If you want to give your crankbaits a little more flash, replace the back treble with a teaser treble of the same size. The feathers or mylar will give the bait more flash and different look. When used on suspending baits, on a pause, the pulsating action of the feathers will drive the fish crazy.

San Diego Jam Knot

When bass fishing with fluorcarbon lines, be sure to tie a strong, yet non-abrasive knot such as the San Diego Jam to keep your line from cutting itself.

Snell It!

By tying a snell knot on a straight shank flipping hook, the hook will be forced into the upper part of the bass fishes mouth instead of the side or lower jaw. This will not only increase your "hook-up" ratio, it will decrease the number of fish you lose.

How to Rig a Title Shot Jig

title-shot-jigHere's a quick video that shows you how to rig the Title Shot Jig by Fin-Tech.  The Title Shot and Title Shot Shorty Jigs are very unique because they allow you to rig your soft plastics trailers and other softplastics weedless.  This is the same jig that Dave Wolak used to win $125,000 in the 2011 FLW tournament on Lake Champlain this fall... Check it out!

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Bass Fishing Video Tips

BASS FISHING VIDEO TIPS

 

Here you will find quick bass fishing video tips. Check out our exclusive "How To Videos" created by BASSIN' USA.com.  We will be adding new videos as they become available on a wide range of bass fishing tactics and techniques. Be sure to visit Our YouTube Channel.  In addition, we've assembled a collection of anglers at the best and their worst moments. Everything from the weekend angler’s outing, to bass fishing adventures and on the water moments with some of the top name Bass Pros.   We hope you enjoy!

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