Category Archives: Bass Fishing

Bass Fishing Information

Tough Times At Bartletts Ferry

Last Saturday 14 members of the Potato Creek Bass Club fished our September tournament at Bartletts Ferry Lake. We landed 23 spotted and largemouth bass. There were no limits and five people did not have a 12-inch keeper after casting for seven hours.

William Scott won with four keepers weighing 5.22 pounds and I was a very close second with four weighing 5.21 pounds. But my 2.15 pound largemouth was big fish, beating William’s biggest fish by the same amount, only .01 pounds! Kwong Yu placed third with three at 3.81 pounds and Donnie Willis was fourth with two weighing 3.31 pounds.

I was surprised when I got near the ramp. Folks were backed up 200 yards from the boat ramp entrance, waiting to put in. We found out there were at least three other clubs taking off at about the same time as us.

Kwong and Zero both offered to help me get my boat in the water since I was by myself. That is the way it is in bass clubs, we try to help each other. Even nicer, Kwong kept my keys until that afternoon. As I pulled into the cove to take out, he saw me and had my trailer in the water by the time I got to the ramp.

That morning I should have known better to start right at the ramp, but there is a security light on the bank in front of a nearby house, and I can almost always catch a fish or two before the sun gets bright. It is a very shallow bank and so many boats ran by it when they took off that big waves washed it. I never got a bite.

I had a plan. My next stop was a deep bank that stays shady most of the morning. But there was another boat on it. Same for the third place I wanted to fish. So I stopped on a point I had not planned to fish. At 8:00 I caught two short spots on it.

Since the lake was crowded I decided to stay on that point longer than I normally would have, and it paid off with a keeper spot at 8:20. At 8:40 I cast to some deep brush on the side of the point and caught another keeper spot, this one a little bigger.

At 9:00 another cast to that brush got a hit. When I set the hook, the fish was tangled in the brush. After sawing it back and fourth a couple of times it locked down tight, a bad sign. As long as I can feel the tangled fish moving I have hope it will come out but when it does not move it usually means the line is wrapped around limbs.

As I eased the boat directly over the brush the fish suddenly came free and started fighting. I was worried since I knew my line had to be frayed. But I managed to get the fish to the boat and net it. It was the 2.15 pounder that turned out to be big fish and I guess it was one just meant to get caught.

For the next four hours I fished several places, often pulling in as another boat left. I did catch one short spot and lost a fish I did not see on dropshot in deep brush.

With an hour left to fish I went back where I had caught my first three but got no bites. I remembered some brush on a nearby point and stopped on it with about ten minutes to fish. I needed to leave at 1:50 to get in on time and at 1:49 caught my fourth fish out of the brush. All four keepers hit a shaky head worm.

I am glad the water is cooling and fishing should get better soon!

Tough Fishing At West Point

Last Sunday six members and guests of the Flint River Bass Club fished our September tournament at West Point. We brought three 12-inch keeper spots and one 14-inch keeper largemouth to the scales after eight hours of casting. There were no limits and two folks zeroed.

Alex Gober won and had big fish with the only largemouth weighing 3.27 pounds. Brent Drake was second with one at 1.50, Don Gober was third with one weighing 1.11 and my barely keeper spot weighing .92 was fourth.

I had hopes of catching a few fish and started on the point where Zack Presley and I had both caught keeper largemouth two weeks ago in the Sportsman Club tournament. We had also both missed fish on topwater lures there, too. After two hours and a variety of baits, I never got a bite.

My second stop was a point where I had caught two keeper spots and lost one in the last tournament, but I never got a bite there, either. At 10:30 I was on another point and got a bite on a shaky head worm. It didn’t fight much so I thought it was a small spot, but as I lifted it out of the water I saw it was a keeper.

I watched as it came off the hook, hit the windshield, flopped on the deck then went back into the water. The next two casts to the same brush produced bites and I landed both, but they were not keepers. The fish were hitting strangely, especially for spots. I never felt a hit, my line just started coming toward the boat.

After 30 minutes casting to the same place with the same bait I got a similar bite, set the hook and landed my only keeper. I stayed there another hour but got no more bites of any kind. I guess I used up that point!

Although fish were swirling around me, hitting shad on top, I never got a bite the rest of the day on a variety of places I tried. I think they were small spots and hybrids but could not get them to hit.

I was just happy to be fishing!

West Point Club Tournament

Sunday, August 26. 14 member, guests and youth fished our August tournament at West Point. After 8.5 hours of casting, we brought in 26 keeper bass weighing about 39 pounds. There were only 6 keeper largemouth 14 or more inches long, the rest were spots. Two members had five-fish limits and there were four zeroes.

Kwong Yu won with five weighing 9.17 pounds and had big fish with a 4.05 pound largemouth. Raymond
English placed second with five at 8.19 pounds, Jay Gerson placed third with three weighing 5.01 pounds and Chris Davies was fourth with tree at 3.71. Jackson Terry won the youth division.

I had a very frustrating day, catching a keeper largemouth on a shaky head about 7:30, then a spot on the same bait at about noon. I got my third fish, a keeper spot, on a drop shot a few minutes later. Those three gave me fifth place,.02 pounds out of fourth and getting a check!

Fishing One Day of a Two Day Tournament at Lake Weiss

We lucked out at Weiss last week with the weather, but not with the fish. Clouds and breezes kept it bearable since it was a little cooler. But the fish did not seem to care that we were more comfortable.

I thought the turnout for the Flint River tournament at Clarks Hill was bad, but the Potato Creek turnout was worse. Only three of us showed up to fish a two-day tournament at Weiss! We landed eight keepers weighing about 15 pounds and nobody had a limit.

I won with four weighing 8.69 pounds. Raymond English was second with two at 4.68 pounds and had big fish with a 3.20 pound largemouth. Kwong Yu fished with Raymond and had two at 1.74 for third.

My trip started badly. I had a blow-out on a trailer tired about two miles from where I was staying at Crossroads Campground Wednesday afternoon. George and Shelia, the campground managers that helped make my stay very nice, suggested OK Tires in Centre.

I spent last Thursday morning riding ledges and humps, looking for deep fish. There were some beautiful drops with brush, stumps and rocks on them, with what looked like fish holding on the cover, but the only bites I got were taps and I never hooked a fish. I think they were either crappie or bream pecking at my worms with the tails dipped in chartreuse JJs Magic.

Thursday afternoon when it got hot I took my tire to the tire store and Tim was great. He got a tire on my rim and balanced in just a few minutes even though they were very busy. I also found out he was a tournament fisherman and gave me some tips. He said some of the ledges I ran that morning looked good to him, too, but he had never hooked a fish on them, either.

Friday morning was cloudy, so I decided to fish shallow. The first rocky bank I tried I caught a good keeper largemouth on a buzzbait. Then on a deep bank with docks on it I got two good spots about 2.5 pounds each on the buzzbait. That told me where to start the next morning and gave me hope.

I got a call Friday afternoon that I had a doctor’s appointment Monday morning. I had planned to stay

Sunday night and rest up before the drive home, but the appointment was too early to do that. I thought about driving home tired and sleepy and decided I might just fish one day of the two and drive home Sunday.

Saturday morning, I started on the deep bank, throwing a spinnerbait since it was still dark.
After fishing about 300 yards down it with no bites
I was disgusted, but then a 2.5-pound spot hit my spinnerbait right at the boat and I landed it.

I went back over that bank with a buzzbait but got no more bites. I then went to another bank I like and finally caught a keeper largemouth on a crankbait at about 10:00. Two hours later I went to another deep bank and caught a keeper spot on a shaky head. I was happy with three keepers with three hours left to fish.

With an hour left to fish I was back on the deep bank where I started. I cast a shaky head worm behind a dock, got a tap and set the hook. Then I realized my line was over the corner of the dock.

I pulled a 2.97 pound largemouth out of the water. It was hanging in the air, thrashing around. I grabbed my net and went to it but as I reached out with the net the line came off the dock and the fish took off. Somehow, I got it back to the boat and netted it.

It was my biggest fish and a miracle since my line was badly frayed for a foot about two feet above the hook. Some fish are just meant to get caught.

I decided to sleep in Sunday morning and drive home. I later found out Raymond and Kwong gave up at noon rather than fish until 2:00, as planned.

If you go to Weiss I highly recommend Crossroads Campground if you camp. A good ramp at the Spring Creek bridge is only half a mile away. And if you have tire problems, OK Tires will treat you right and you may even get some fishing tips!

Lake Michigan’s Smallmouth Bass

Learning about the habits of smallmouth bass in northern Lake Michigan
Here’s an interesting update from Michigan’s DNR on a study of Lake Michigan’s smallmouth bass populations and their growth and migration.
from The Fishing Wire

Nice Smallmouth


For so long it was believed that smallmouth bass didn’t travel that far or intermix their populations – especially in a large waterbody like Lake Michigan. But early studies, originating in the

mid-1950s by Dr. Carl Latta, hinted that smallmouth bass just may travel much farther than researchers initially understood.

Historical data on the northern Lake Michigan smallmouth bass population was collected via very limited surveys from the mid-1950s, through the late 1990s. Then in 2005, an ongoing smallmouth bass survey was launched jointly with Central Michigan University (CMU) to look at population trends in the species.

When the study was initiated, the Beaver Island Archipelago area was chosen as the main study area. It was the location of CMU’s biological station and more importantly the residents of Beaver Island were concerned about the local bass population believing increasing numbers of cormorants locally were the direct cause of the decline in the local bass population. In 2009, the study area was expanded to include the Waugoshance point area, then again in 2014 to include Grand Traverse Bay.

“Historically the local bass fishery was considered world-class and drew in a lot of anglers,” explained a DNR fisheries research technician out of Charlevoix, John Clevenger. “All of a sudden the fishery was low – the cormorant populations were high – and we wanted to try to see what truly caused the bass to decline.”

The initial study started to unravel some of the mysteries of these local bass – not limited by cormorants but rather these fish traveling to other areas of the lake. Researchers use small trap nets to capture smallmouth bass, place metal jaw tags on them and then return them to the water. In the first couple of years of the study, a select few bass were also surgically implanted with an acoustic tag. These fish were then tracked almost daily throughout the summer months to determine their whereabouts.

“We very quickly started finding fish – courtesy of jaw tag returns from anglers – outside of the Beaver Island archipelago area,” said Clevenger. “We started to realize these fish do move great distances. This study is now helping us understand how and why.”

The “why” is still a big question that has yet to be answered through the course of this 60-plus year study. Researchers have some good guesses, but specifics are hard to pinpoint.

“At some point in their life these fish are wandering,” said the DNR fisheries biologist out of Traverse City, Heather Hettinger. “They might be looking for food or for better habitat.”

That wandering is part of the reason the study expanded to other areas, with the potential for Lake Charlevoix to be added in the future. And while the “why” continues to go unanswered, lots of other great information is gleaned.

Hettinger explains between the fish captured or recaptured through this study each year – plus the jaw tags reported by anglers – they’ve developed this immense spread of data that gives a pretty clear picture of how the fish are growing and how the pattern of the population lays itself out. That information becomes critical when working on potential regulation decisions – particularly when concerned members of the public report a lack of big fish in the area.

“We have these great graphs that allow us to look over time and watch how these fish grow and where the patterns are,” she said. “If we hear concerns we can refer to these graphs and point out where we’ve seen drop-offs in larger fish or where we can refute their claims.”

The area currently has two different sets of bass regulations – Waugoshance and Grand Traverse Bay are the same but the harvest opener at Beaver Island opens later in the year. All three points are very popular with bass anglers – further proving the value of this study as the department manages the fishery for future (and current generations).

See below for graphs showing length distribution of smallmouth bass in the three areas this study covers.

Length Distribution

length distribution

Another distribution

Secrets About Bass Populations

Electrofishing At Night Reveals Secrets About Bass Populations
by Mark Latti, Maine Inland Fisheries & Wildlife
from The Fishing Wire

Boat for electrofishing


The electrofishing boat has two booms which deliver an electric current into the water.
Each year during late May and early June, the regional office gets a phone call or two about some strange things happening during the wee hours of the morning on some local lake or pond. I even had one caller exclaim once that a UFO had landed on the pond! If you see such a thing, rest assured it is probably not a UFO, but rather your regional fisheries staff working late nights to collect fishery resource information.

Each year about this time, the regional fisheries staff of the Sebago Lakes Region sample 2-4 different waters to collect baseline information on the bass population(s), as well as determine the relative abundance of other fish species. Sampling is done at this time of year during the night, because the fish are more likely to be in shallower water spawning and are less likely to be spooked by the approach of a boat.

Each bass is measured and weighed, so biologists get a clearer picture of the bass population in the lake.
This sampling is performed with an electrofishing boat. A what? An electrofishing boat has an onboard generator that delivers an electric current into the water, which temporarily stuns the fish so they can be collected with nets. Because the work is done in pitch black conditions, there are lots and lots of lights, beepers, and motor sounds…no wonder we get mistaken for aliens!

Prior to sampling, we survey the shoreline habitat of each lake (in daylight) and categorize the shoreline habitat into different habitat types (i.e. sand, cobble/rubble, muck with weeds, etc.) and mark the start and end of each with a GPS unit. Since most lakes are too large to sample the entire shoreline in a night. We then take the habitat data for the entire lake and develop partial sampling transects of each habitat type relative to their proportion in the lake. Once determined, coordinates for these sampling transects are entered back into the GPS, so we can navigate in the dark.

The boat hugs the shoreline and biologists are ready to net any fish that are temporarily stunned.
The boat is operated by a crew of three, one boat driver and two netters. Fish are stunned, netted, and placed into a live well for each transect. After one or two transects are sampled, the bass are anesthetized then each is measured, weighed, and returned to the lake or pond to recover. This work is repeated for each transect until completed, which is typically sometime between 2:00 and 3:00 a.m.

Sometimes the night drags into early morning, but the onboard work lights allow biologists to accurately measure and record the data they need.
To date, we have collected baseline data on about 50 regional bass waters. This baseline length, weight, size class structure and catch per unit of effort data (abundance) on bass gives us a basis for categorizing waters by fishery quality, comparing populations or performance among other regional waters, and for evaluating changes in population characteristics over time due to varying regulations, environmental conditions, or other variables.

The next time your “upta camp”, beware of those nocturnal biologists. Hopefully, we will not be interrupting your peaceful evening, but if we do…it’s all to evaluate, protect, and enhance our important fishery resources.

The controls at the helm of the electrofishing boat are a little more complex than most center consoles.

Once the fish are measured, they are released back into the water, so lunkers like this one can be caught again.

Bass Fishing At Night

Fishing a club tournament last weekend at Clarks Hill strongly reminded me of why I like night fishing this time of year. We fished 17 hours – 6:00 AM to 3:00 PM Saturday and 6:00 AM to 2:00 PM Sunday. It was hot, and the fish didn’t bite very well.

When I was a teacher and school administrator I had summers off. Several times each summer I would leave Griffin and get to my place at Raysville Boat Club on Clarks Hill Sunday afternoon about 6:00 PM. After unloading and getting the boat in the water I would fish topwater until dark, about 9:00. I caught some big bass, several over six pounds each, doing that.

Then I would come in, shower, eat and go back out and fish all night. In the dark I caught bass on Texas rigged plastic worms, spinnerbaits and crankbaits. Most were smaller, in the one to two-pound range. As soon as the sky started lightening up the next morning I would switch back to topwater and often catch some bigger fish.

As soon as the sun started getting hot, usually around 9:00 AM it was time to go in, shower and eat again then go to bed and sleep until about 5:00 PM and do it all over again. I would do that for a week at a time.

It was great fishing at night during the week. The lake was peaceful and quiet, with no boats on the water with me. I saw lots of critters from beaver to deer doing their night activities. And I caught fish every night.

Back then it was popular to have a “black light,” an ultraviolet light, shining out from your boat. It made your line shine, so you could see it, and also had a regular light feature that let you see what you were doing in the dark.

I never tried that. When fishing in the dark I wanted it completely dark, with no light. I did try a regular light. I had read about using a purple spinnerbait at night and I discovered I caught a few fish with one if a light was on, but never got a bite on a worm. But I caught more on the spinnerbait, and a lot on worms, with no light at all.

Linda fished with me one night on Labor Day weekend and it was so dark I could not see my reel in my hand. We were fishing a deep, rocky bank with worms and she said she thought she had a bite. I told her to set the hook.

I felt the boat rock and heard her say “It feels like a big one.” Then there was a huge splash out in the dark. I picked up the net and put it over the side of the boat but could see nothing and did not dare shine a light on the water and spook the fish.

Another splash closer to the boat made me nervous since I knew I could not net it, then it jumped a third time, right into the net! That seven-pound, ten ounce bass hangs on our wall.

Clarks Hill August Tournament

In the Flint River Bass Club tournament only four of us showed up. We weighed in ten bass weighing about 15 pounds and one fisherman didn’t weigh in anything.

I won with eight weighing 11.90 pounds and had big fish with a 4.62 pound largemouth. JJ Polak had one at 2.19 pounds for second and Chuck Croft had one at 1.04 pounds for third.

The other three wanted to quit at noon both days but club rules say times are set at the meeting. The first day everyone was there at 3:00 but Sunday I was the only one, the other three gave up at 10:00 that morning and went home!

I started Saturday morning on a bridge riprap and landed three keepers, one on a spinnerbait and two on a crankbait, before the sun came up. Then I tried a bunch of deep rocks and brush I had located with my electronics on Thursday and Friday in practice.
I caught one on a rock pile in 20 feet of water.

I was real frustrated about 8:00. The third place I had planned on fishing some deep rocks and brush in 22 feet of water on a long main lake point with fish holding on them. But when I got where I could see it there were two boats anchored on it, fishing live bait. I saw one catch what looked like a keeper bass but never got to fish there that day.

Sunday morning, I headed to the bridge and caught one keeper on a spinnerbait but an hour later, after trying several baits, never got another bite. I next went to a deep rockpile where I have caught fish in the past and had seen some on it on Friday, but I guess they were crappie. I had got several bites on it Saturday but never hooked a fish, and that repeated Sunday morning.

Some brush was near those rocks and I had fished them Saturday without a bite, and almost didn’t go to it. But I did, and at 8:00 got a thump on a shaky head worm jiggling it in 25 feet deep in the brush straight under the boat. It was the 4.62 pounder.

I then headed to the main lake point and there were no boats on it. I managed to catch my third keeper on it on a drop shot worm as soon as I stopped but got no more bites after more than an hour.

At 12:20 I went back to the brush where I caught the big one and caught my second biggest fish out of it on a Carolina rig. That was it and I had to weigh-in all by myself.

I wish we would fish at night but this weekend the Potato Creek Bassmasters is fishing Lake Weiss from 6:30 AM to 3:00 PM Sunday and 6:30 AM to 2:00 PM Sunday! And I will be there.

Terrible Tournament at Jackson Lake

A week ago last Sunday 15 members and guests of the Spalding County Sportsman Club fished our July tournament at Jackson Lake. We also had one youth competitor. After fishing from 5:30 AM to noon, we brought in 38 keeper bass weighing about 43 pounds. There were no limits and one fisherman didn’t catch a keeper. There were 11 largemouth and 27 spots landed.

Glenn Anderson won with three weighing 6.52 pounds and had big fish with a 2.38 pound largemouth. Niles
Murray placed second with four weighing 5.54 pounds, Kwong Yu was third with four at 4.96 pounds and Jay Gerson had three weighing 4.03 pounds for fourth.

Jackson Terry, our only youth competitor, had one weighing 1.59 pounds and won that division. And he beat me and several other adults!

Fish were reportedly caught on a variety of baits, from buzzbaits to shaky head worms. I guessed wrong. I had gone to Jackson on Thursday to look around and went way up the Alcovy River where the water was cooler, had a little stain and was flowing. I caught one keeper and lost two more in the hour I fished there.

In my vast wisdom I figured all the rain the two days before the tournament had muddied up the river, so I stayed in Tussahaw Creek. Of course, several of the people that finished in the top five or six said they went up the Alcovy and the water was not muddy.

I could not get a bite on anything but a shaky head worm and landed one keeper. Several other fish made a fool out of me. At least three times I cast right beside a seawall and when I started tightening up my line it stayed slack. By the time I caught up with the fish it was all the way out back under the boat and I did not get a good hookset and lost the fish.

I did learn from those first three and when it happened the fourth time, as soon as I realized my line was slack I set the hook, and landed a 1.10-pound spot, my only keeper. Then I got lazy and let two more get back out under the boat before setting the hook. In my mind I should have landed five more fish, and I saw two of them as they came off that looked like keepers.

I did catch several spots about 11 inches long and kept them to eat. That size bass tastes good, is easy to filet and need to be killed. Spots have overpopulated some of our lakes so badly there is no size limit on them. If you go to Jackson, West Point or other lakes with lots of little spots, keep some to eat.

Frustrating Tournament At Sinclair

Last Saturday 20 members of the Potato Creek Bassmasters fished out July tournament at Lake Sinclair. After fishing from 5:30 AM till noon, we brought in 38 12-inch keeper bass weighing about 60 pounds. There were three five-fish limits and eight members did not weigh in a keeper.

Lee Hancock won with five weighing 8.95 pounds, Raymond English was second with five weighing 8.46 pounds, Kwong Yu placed third with five at 8.04 pounds and Jack Ridgeway came in fourth with two weighing 6.80 pounds and had big fish with a 5.90 pound largemouth.

William Scott and I started on a lighted dock, usually a good plan, but did not get a bite. Our second stop was a dock where I caught my first keeper under a light the week before, but the light was not on and we got no bites there, either.

After making a short run to the cove where
I caught my best fish on topwater baits the week before, I landed my first keeper on a buzzbait. Then my second one hit a shaky head worm about 6:30 AM. William then got a keeper on a worm a few minutes later.

The next cove produced my third keeper at 7:15. We decided to go back to the cove that had produced three keepers for us, and as we started on one side we saw club member Tom Tanner fishing the opposite side. We did not get a bite, but Tom told me he caught three keepers in that cove. We had left it too soon!

We then went to some of William’s favorite places and I got a small keeper, my fourth, off a dock he said we should not bother fishing. I went to it because it was in the shade and just felt like a place to fish to me.

That was it, we fished all kinds of cover and structure till weigh-in but never caught another fish. My four weighed a whopping 3.99 pounds, not even a pound each. The weekend before I had five and four were about that size but the three pounder I landed in that tournament made the difference. We just could not get the bigger fish to bite.

Fishing will be tough on our area lakes for the next two or three months, before it gets better as water starts to cool. Most bass are feeding at night right now and it is just tough to catch them during the day. And it is hot and rough from all the pleasure boats. My preference is to fish at night this time of year, but all our tournaments are during the day.