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Mid-summer Topwater Bass Fishing

When you think about top water bass fishing, most of us think about the aggressive fast moving baits with explosive strikes that make every other type of fishing feel less exciting. But I was doing something wrong for a long time without even realizing it, most of us are guilty of neglecting the slow side of top water fishing. The river’s I fish get a lot of surface debris called duck weed. It makes almost every top water lure ineffective expect for weedless frogs. I was experimenting with some spook style lures and decided to try my single hook spooks in the duck weed. To my amazement it has been the most productive approach and style of fishing I have ever found.

 

Did you say fish a top water lure slow?

Yes, I have been trying every retrieve I can think of and the most productive involves me giving 4-6 walking motions and then a 5-10 second pause in between the bursts of motion. 90% of my strikes have been coming on the pauses and the biggest fish caught in the last 2 months was when my dad was adjusting something in his kayak, his zara spook had been motionless for 30 seconds before the 6lb bass decided to strike it.

Why does a slow method produce better than a fast retrieve?

This time of year when the water gets hot and holds less oxygen the fish get somewhat lazy, a fish would much rather attack a slow moving dying fish than a fast moving energetic fish that would take much more energy to eat. The long pauses in the retrieves simulate a wounded fish getting exhausted and having to rest in between swimming bursts.

Where do I target my fish with top waters?

80% of the fish I am catching right now are within 5 feet or less of the shoreline or structure I am targeting, however the larger fish I have been catching have been in more open water in the ledges 15-20 feet from the bank. The larger fish will stage on the ledges because once again they are all about conserving energy this time of year and it gives them quick access to shallow feeding flats, and the cooler deeper water.

What lures have been the most productive this month?

Top water walk-the-dog baits have been my number one lure right now. I am actually only fishing for about 2 hours a trip either at first light or leading up to dusk.

Shallow running crankbaits such as the shallow rap, and 1.0 square bills have been productive but not as much as the top water bite.

Fineness plastics such as drop shot worms and Carolina rigged trick worms will be the big transition after the top water bite, look for structure and primary points and ledges near the flats to target the big fish.

As always i hope this posts helps you guys catch a few more fish and remember to always be safe, wear a lifejacket at all times and fill out a US Coast Guard float plan with a friend or family member. a link on the menu bar of this site gives you access to a blank form .

 

 

Hot to target the big Pre-Spawning Females

A common theme when fishing pre spawning bass is going out, catching 20 bass, but having them all range from 12-15 inches. The majority of these bass are the males who venture into the shallows ahead of the females. This year where I live the temperatures have been changing so drastically i feel like the males have been going back and forth from drop offs to the shallows for 2 weeks now.  But the near future forecast should have the bass completely on the beds within the week or two.

Targeting the bigger females should consist of the first and second drop offs just behind the spawning areas. Primary and secondary points will still be good targets as well but in this river the first drop off is where the majority of the larger females are hanging around.

The lures i throw in the river I fish , for the larger  bass, are baitfish colored crank baits, spinner baits, and occasionally a chatter bait depending on the water clarity/ structure I am fishing. For lakes a carolina rig magnum worm or lizard can be deadly this time of year. especially when the bass are actively spawning and defending their beds from intruders.

Now remember once the bass get on the beds your tactics should change from targeting feeding bass to triggering aggression strikes form the defensive minded bass. Hope these quick tips help you out over the next two weeks fishing for pre spawning bass. Here is a video from this weekends action using the techniques listed above.

 

Pre-spawn fishing report 4-2-16

The KayakTournaments.com April tournament for North Carolina kicked off this weekend and I had the opportunity to fish about 6 hours over the first two days. A cold front was moving through the area both days and you will see the weather in my videos go from cloudy on Friday afternoon, to Raining on Saturday morning to clear skies Saturday evening. The fishing was slow on Friday with 5 bass total averaging around 12 inches, Saturday really picked up with the weather moving in. I landed 15-20 bass averaging 13-14 inches and lost one bass that was probably 16 inches. Water temperature was averaging 66 degrees but will drop slightly over this week.

The bass were chasing bait fish on the surface but they still aren’t quite aggressive enough to hit a fast moving topwater bait. The odd thing was they would hit my swimbaits that I was reeling in as close to the surface as I could, but wouldn’t touch an actual topwater lure.

The bass are starting to make their beds here in NC but all of the ones I have caught shallow are under 14 inches, meaning the large females are still holding on the ledges and points waiting for some warmer temperatures. I think another  week of 60-70 degree air temps will bring the females up to their spawning areas and really kick this spawning season off with a bang.

While I won’t give all my secrets away for what I am throwing color wise I will tell you flukes have been producing very well as shallow as I can throw them. I have hooked two quality fish on ledges and drop offs but lost both of them due to a faulty reel drag. The key to catching bass right now is to focus on the color selection (match the water color when possible) and also remember that bigger lures don’t always mean bigger fish, here in the last week the Jr. flukes have been destroying the super flukes in terms of hook ups and landed fish. I did catch one fish on a small Rapala original jerk-bait but like I have said the soft plastics up shallow have been the winning ticket.

All in all the first two days of this month’s tournament landed a 5 fish total of 67 inches. Five fish are on the board but I really need to increase the length to an average of 18 inches to have a good shot at a top 3 finish. Below is a video of the action this week and don’t forget to come back next Sunday for Next week’s fishing report.

Pre-Spawn Tactics

Hey everyone, thanks for checking out this weeks blog post. Pre-Spawn can range from february to april depending on where you live in the country. Texas bass are already on beds, here in North Carolina where I’m stationed for now. I have seen smaller bass on beds but the larger females are still staging on the drop offs. Keep in mind these are my top 3 baits for the area that I fish. This river is very dark and your area might have different baits that will blow mine out of the water. But in this river these are king.

Bass will be staging on drop ifs and water 3-8 feet deep with quick access to shallow water. Its good to fish these drop offs and small channels that lead into the small back section of creeks.

The 3 Best Pre Spawn Lures-

#1 Soft Jerk Baits aka Flukes, Small swim baits etc..

Flukes
Watermelon Red Flukes

My number one bait every trip this time of year is soft plastic jerk baits. Watermelon Red is my main color however i am experimenting with a Clear Bream sick fish bait and it has really impressed me.

Sick Fish
Berkley Havoc Sick Fish

#2 Hard Jerk Baits- Working the drop offs and ledges to locate the staging bass can be long and tiring. Jerk baits let you work those suspended bass, and still cover water more quickly than you could with a texas or carolina rig.

Jerkbaits
I prefer smaller Jerk baits than the larger ones

#3 – Lizards- On the bass start hugging the ledges and structure closer to their beds lizards can be a great way to stir up a bite. Bass are very aggressive in this stage and love taking their anger out on a magnum lizard.

IMG_0990
I like to throw oversized Worms and Lizards this time of year

Thanks for checking out our blog and come by on monday for my first full episode on youtube covering fishing the pre spawn cold snaps.

Here is a video form a trip this week. Thanks you guys and be safe out there.

Braid to Mono Leaders

Braided line has revolutionized fishing in the last 15 years, Now you can have a 20-30 lb line on your reel, with a 8-10lb mono equivalent diameter and twice the yardage of line on your reel. But braided line can’t do everything, It is stronger and more durable, but it also stands out dramatically in stained and clear water. One way to get rid of this problem is by tying a mono leader to the end of your line. The mono leader not only gets rid of line visibility near your lures, it provides a shock leader and some level of stretch for the larger fish you catch.

One trick I do is that when I tie a leader a tie a 4-5 foot section of leader, this eliminates the need for me to re-tie leaders after I switch lure and cut into it as often on the water, and provides a larger section of line not as visible to the fish. This saves time in my kayak and therefore gives me more time to target the fish.

Here are the two easiest and in my opinion best  knots that you can tie to go form a braided line to a mono leader.

#1 Double Uni Knot- By far the easiest and best Braid to Mono Knot

uni_to_uni_knot-ask_a_captain-the_online_fisherman.jpg
Courtesy of The onlineisherman.com

 

#2 The Blood Knot- A more difficult knot to tie but a stronger knot than the double uni.

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Courtesy of FlyFisherman.com

No fish is worth your marraige

When it comes to fishing, most of us thought that no woman could ever impact our love for fishing or our abilities to fish when we wanted. Songs like Brad Paisley’s “I’m gonna miss her” can pretty much sum up how we feel about giving up fishing trips. But if there is one thing I have learned in my marriage is that it might not seem like a big deal to you, she is upset that your going fishing instead of spending time with her, even if it’s just a little and it barely shows on the outside. Over time it adds up and eventually turns into a big problem.

My problem was when my wife was pregnant I felt like I had to fish as much as I could anytime the weather allowed, because I felt like once my daughter arrived that was all she wrote for me and my fishing habits. I knew she was frustrated that I was fishing so much but it didn’t seem like it was really bothering her so I kept on fishing.

Once my daughter arrived I realized it wasn’t the end of my fishing life and I could easily go out once a week without getting on her nerves but now my finances had changed and things were quite different, resulting in no money in the budget for lures, bait or gas money to go fishing. Instead of realizing this, I continued to push the issue so I could fish like I wanted. Unfortunately, this habit put strain on my marriage and finances. What took me a while to realize is I was trying to change my financial habits and priorities when it came to spending time with my family, all while changing as little as possible. If that sounds stupid, it’s because it is!

I ended up realizing my problem before it seriously affected my marriage, I took a 6 month break from fishing, sold my fishing kayak and focused on getting our finances in order and building a strong foundation in my marriage. What is amazing, is after those 6 months, my wife came to me and asked if I wanted to buy a kayak and start fishing again. Because I had gone out of my way to change and show her I was serious about our marriage, she went out of her way to make sure I still get to enjoy my hobby and love for the outdoors while fishing.

In the end, I have a strong marriage, because I finally realized that fishing was my hobby, not my life. My life was my marriage and my family. Fishing was something I got to do on the side when there was time and everything at home was in a good place. No fish was or ever will be worth my marriage.

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Light Tackle Bass Fishing

Aside from throwing massive swim baits at west coast largemouth bass, people often overlook the aspect of light and ultralight tackle for bass fishing. I have noticed while fishing creeks and rivers that when the bass get lethargic and I target yellow perch, crappie, and chain pickerel, I usually end up catching good size bass. When I target these smaller fish I am using my Abu Garcia ultralight spinning setup and throwing small crank baits, plastics and sometimes the rare ultralight top waters.

These lures are tiny compared to the magnum trick worms and plastics that get thrown at bass on a daily basis, so why are they more aggressive towards the smaller lures? Well the answer to that sentence is within the question itself. Most of the bodies of water today are heavily fished and these bass have seen every color of worm, lizard,and fluke thrown at them. While ultralight and light tackle are used in these waters, they are not thrown nearly as often as the larger tackle, meaning there is a slight chance the fish haven’t been overfished using the lures you are throwing at them. I’m not trying to sell you on throwing light tackle at bass with this article alone, I will be filming multiple episodes for my YouTube channel dedicated to nothing but ultralight and light tackle fishing for big bass. follow us on Facebook, WordPress, or YouTube to view these episodes as they come out starting in March of this year.

While I have your attention I will show you the Light Tackle Box I carry on my kayak on every trip, you never know when the fish will have to be finessed of structure or cover with small lures.

lights.jpg

I hope you enjoyed this short read and I really look forward to showing you guys what light tackle setups can produce for you in the world of bass fishing. As always thanks for swinging by and don’t forget to check out KayakTournaments.com and TourneyX.com for online based CPR tournaments in your state.

Affordability vs Quality

A common question among beginner kayak anglers or people looking to get into kayak angling is what kayak should I get to start out with.Unfortunately that question can’t be answered.  Every aspect of the different kayak brands better suits one style of fishing or one style of angler. Today’s post will be covering what all you should consider before purchasing your first fishing kayak or your next fishing kayak.

Price Vs Quality-

The price ranger of kayaks can ranger from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars, and with so many brands out there it can get overwhelming with which kayak you should buy. I just purchased an Ascend FS12T kayak. And I was torn between the FS12T and FS128T, there is a $250 price difference between the tow and the only added features are a much wider stable, yet slower kayak you can stand on when looking at the FS128T. The FS12T is cheaper, more maneuverable but slightly less stable and can carry less cargo. My style of fishing is mostly in rivers and creeks so I don’t need a ton of gear and I’m not really looking to stand up much, so I spent the extra $250 on upgrading my tackle and gear. And that is where the arguments start.

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FS12T on Left, FS128T on Right Photo courtesy of Texasfishingforum.com

How you decide which kayak should factor in these three factors.

#1- DO you NEED the added speed and features?

I would love to own a  Hobie mirage drive kayak, but at the price difference of the lower end kayaks I can’t justify spending the extra thousand dollars on a added luxury of feet propulsion that I think will get in the way more than help. However, if your fishing larger bodies of water or open water beyond the breakers of the beach it would be extremely useful. So deciding what features your looking for is completely unique to your style and your fishing area.

#2 Would I rather have the more expensive kayak, or spend the extra money on new tackle and gear?

This decision was a no brainer for me. I would much rather buy a $700-$1,000 dollar kayak and spend 300 on tackle and gear than buy a $1,300+ kayak and have no new tackle in my tackle box.

#3 Do i want stability or speed?

A common tradeoff with kayaks that don’t have a foot propulsion system is that the fast the kayak generally the less stable. The FS128T is one of the most stable kayaks out there and at $899 its a heck of a deal compared to the wilderness systems kayaks or Hobie’s. But with that stability comes weight, bulkiness, and slower tracking speed. So once again the perfect kayak is up to your personal preference.

SAFETY NOTE- My job is Long range search and rescue. I have had many cases where I have been looking in large areas for missing kayakers from the Great Lakes, to the Atlantic Ocean. When you chose the color of your kayak please chose something that contrasts the water you fish. If you have to get a camo kayak, and you fish blue water, get a green or tan camp, if you fish brown water get a blue or green camo. Imagine our thoughts when I’m told where are searching 500 square miles at an altitude of 1,500 feet for a missing kayaker in a camouflage kayak. Always plan for the worst case scenarios happening and always file a float plan with a family member or friend. ON MY PAGE MENU BAR THERE IS A LINK TO A BLANK USCG FLOAT PLAN THAT COULD END UP SAVING YOUR LIFE ONE DAY.

 

 

 

Back to the Basics- Topwater Chugging

When it comes to throwing top waters, most people people think of dawn and dusk. I want you to start to picture top waters as I do, Topwater baits are my #1 choice of type of lure to throw, I can cover larger areas of water quickly and effectively, and what I mean by that is I am covering an area of water quickly while still saturating the area with multiple casts. Topwaters provide a large surface disturbance that can draw fish in from a good distance for the strike. Below are my favorite color patterns for topwater chug bug action. My color voices change slightly when we get into a walk the dog style lure but that will be another post later this spring.

I hope this quick post can help you better understand my topwater color selections and maybe provide some insight on what you should throw this spring. Stay safe and have a great weekend!

FACT- A commonly misunderstood aspect of color selection is to pick a color that stands out against the water color, however the fish are looking at the lure in contrast with the sky. Thats why black lures can produce much better than lighter colors at night, looking up at the sky in murky water, a fish can identify a darker color topwater much better than a bone or shad colored one.

 

#1 Bone- this color has produced fish in crystal clear water to the murkiest parts of the swamp.  I like it even more if i can find a bone color with a orange belly

Bone Chug Bug.jpg

Photo courtesy of okefishing.com

#2 Blue & Chrome-

I prefer to fish this color pattern in clear water as the flash can really attract fish from deeper water, I have hooked bass with chug bugs in 20 feet deep water, but it is likely that the fish were suspending around 10-15 feet.

Blue Chrome Chug Bug.jpg
Photo courtesy of okefishing.com

#3 Black/Red-

I prefer to fish this in stained water, as the darker color can really provide a good target for the fish.

Black Red Chug Bug.jpg

Photo courtesy of okefishing.com

#4 Fire Tiger-

This color pattern can produce quality fish in top waters as well as crank baits, the contrast in clear and stained water is very identifiable to predatory fish and therefore provides a solid target for a meal.

Fire Tiger Chug Bug.jpg
Photo Courtesy of 
okefishing.com

Back to the Basics- Bass fishing made simple.

With all the advances in fishing technology and advances in the lure industry it is easy to find yourself doing one of the cardinal sins of bass fishing, Over-Thinking it.  I commonly practice a technique for bass fishing my local areas that I hope by the end of this article, you might start using to catch more fish.

There are literally hundreds of color combinations for soft plastic lures. Out of the hundreds of colors, I want you to pick four, and only take the four colors you have selected out one day. You will be amazed  how effective limiting lure selection and just working with what you have can be. I often find myself over thinking which four color patterns to take with me on a fishing trip but it always pays off when I’m not wondering which of twenty colors I should try next. I generally stick with natural color patterns to fill my top 2 colors however I also like to have one or two high visibility colors that can stand out in stained water. My four soft plastics colors and types are listed below.  I will have similar posts on my top four top water colors, and crank bait colors throughout the week.

#1. Super Fluke- Watermelon

Super Fluke Watermelon
Courtesy of zoombaits.com

#2 Zoom Trick Worm- Pink

Pink Trick worm
Courtesy of wideopenspaces.com

#3 Zoom Trick Worm- Green Pumpkin/ Chartruse

Green Pumkin Chartruse Zoom worm
Courtesy of Zoombaits.com

#4 Super Fluke- Disco Green

 

Disco Green Spuer fluke
Courtesy of Zoombait.com