Category Archives: Bass Fishing

Bass Fishing Information

Lake Chatuge BASS Angler of the Year Championship Preview

When I was growing up in the 1950s and early 60s my family took a week-long trip to the mountains every summer. We drove up to the area around Hiawasee on the Georgia/North Carolina border and visited all the popular tourist sites.

Back then things were very different. Roadside stores that had everything from gas to groceries often had a bear cub chained outside under a tree and you could buy a five-cent coke and give it to him. The bear would greedily turn it up and drink it down.

I learned about scams early in my life on those trips. One place had a covered cage with a sign “see a copperhead and baby rattler 5 cents.” I paid my nickel expecting to see two snakes. Instead, under the cover was a copper penny, heads up, and a baby rattle. I was disappointed but learned a valuable lesson.

We did see majestic views from overlooks, and I was moved by the outdoor play “Unto These Hills’” the story of the Cherokee Indians being forced from their homeland to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears.

We stopped more than one year at caves and I fell in love with the wonderous beauty of what water and minerals can do under ground over thousands of years. And rocks were everywhere, many kinds that I had never seen. I always came home with many for my rock collection. We even panned for gold and gems at one place on one of these trips.

We traveled cheap, staying at small motels and eating sandwiches at roadside parks for lunch. We did go out to dinner each night, usually at a small dinner that served basic food at a low cost.

I have good and bad memories of those trips. Fighting in the back seat with my younger brother was always a problem, and one day at lunch I turned up my coke without noticing a yellowjacket on the bottle mouth. My lip was swollen for several days that year!

Those memories were brought back to me last week when I went to Lake Chatuge for a Georgia Outdoor News September Map of the Month article. BASS is having their Angler of the Year Championship at Chatuge in September and this article will be a preview of what might work for them.

In the Angler of the Year Championship, the top 50 fishermen on the Elite Series are invited to fish against each other for points and money. It is a fun tournament for most of them, only three or four are still close enough in the points to make it mean much. It should be an interesting tournament.

Chatuge is a beautiful, clear, deep lake with mountains ringing it, making it very scenic all times of the year. And it has big spotted bass as well as a good population of largemouth. I went out with Cas Anderson, a high school fisherman that lives on the lake and won the points standings in the Georgia BASS Nation high school series this year.

He said the tournament will probably be won with a limit of spots weighing 16 to 18 pounds each day in the three-day tournament. Cas did say one of the pros might lead for one day with largemouth, but they are so scattered it would be hard to catch enough to win a three-day tournament.

We caught a good many keeper spots fishing brush in 20 feet of water on points and humps and saw some schooling fish we could not get to hit our baits. Cas said in September the fish will be even deeper and most quality fish needed to win will be at least 30 feet deep.

Chatuge would be a great lake for a fishing trip with the family. There are lots of interesting things to do other than fishing. And going up to watch the pros in September might be a good way to learn something about catching bass.

July Tournament at Sinclair

Last Sunday 13 members and guests of the Flint River Bass Club fished our July tournament at Sinclair. In nine hours of casting we landed 26 12-inch keepers weighing about 36 pounds. There were three five-fish limits and four fishermen didn’t catch a keeper.

I won with five weighing 7.66 pounds and my 3.35 pound largemouth was big fish. Chuck Croft was second with five weighing 7.40 pounds, Niles Murray was third with five at 5.65 and Phil King placed fourth with two weighing 3.72 pounds.

My partner Brandon Bailey and I headed down the lake, planning on starting on a grass bed in a cove, but I saw a dock with a light on and decided to stop there. After several casts with topwater I picked up a Texas rigged worm and a keeper grabbed it before it hit bottom and took off, hooking itself. My first keeper at 6:15, a good start.

A nearby dock has deep brush on it so I eased over to it and started casting. After a few casts with the worm the first one hit, I picked up a jig and pig to fish the deeper brush. A thump made me set the hook and my heart almost stopped, it was a big fish. After a few seconds I calmed down a little and told my partner it was a catfish since it was rolling. I kept hoping I was wrong until a 12 to 15-pound blue cat came to the surface.

After netting it and getting the slime off my line, and letting my hands stop shaking, we ran to the grassbed I had planned on starting on, and quickly caught a keeper on a buzzbait then the big fish on a popper. On a nearby dock where I had never caught a fish I landed my fourth keeper on a shaky head worm at 8:15.

Brandon and I fished hard for the next six hours and he caught a keeper on a dock. Then, with three minutes left to fish, I landed my fifth keeper by a dock on a shaky head worm. It turned out to be the difference between first and second place!

That’s why I never give up until the last second.

Fishing Weiss Lake

When your wife decides everything in the house you have lived in for 37 years is unsatisfactory and plans to renovate it, that is a good time to go to the lake for a couple of weeks. So I did, heading to Lake Weiss for five days and then straight to Clarks Hill for another week.

Unfortunately, work was slow and I came home a week too early!

Weekend before last the Spalding County Sportsman Club held our June tournament at Lake Weiss. Ten members and two guests fished 16 hours in two very hot days to land 45 keeper bass weighing about 80 pounds. There were two five-fish limits and two fishermen did not catch a keeper.

Jay Gerson won with nine bass weighing 14.74 pounds. He had a limit the first day and four the second day. Glenn Anders on brought in six keepers weighing 12.49 pounds for second, my six at 9.74 pounds was third and Raymond English was fourth with eight bass weighing 8.52 pounds. Kwong Yu had a 4.95 pound largemouth for big fish.

I spent two days trying to find a pattern for the tournament. The first day I quickly hooked a keeper on a buzzbait so I thought that would be a good way to start each morning. But then I fished shallow water hard to land only one keeper on a worm in the next three hours of casting buzzbaits and worms.

All afternoon, until a thunderstorm drove me off the lake, I rode open water ledges and points looking for fish. I could see fish on my electronics but could not get them to bite. Fish in open water often just hold in place, not feeding, until current makes them active. There was no current.

Friday morning, I caught a nice keeper up shallow around some grass on a chatterbait but that was my only bite shallow. Again, I rode deep structure and found excellent cover like brush piles and rocks, with fish on them, but got no bites. Since some Weiss bass are known to feed very shallow, even in hot water, and I could not get any bites out deep, I told my partner Chris Davies we would probably fish shallow all day both days.

Saturday morning we started on a rocky bank and within a few minutes I landed a 3.46 pound Coosa spotted bass on a spinnerbait, a good start. That fired me up but in the next hour I missed one bite on a frog and nothing else fishing spinnerbaits, buzzbaits and frogs while Chris tried a variety of baits.

We then fished some docks and I landed a little largemouth on a shaky head worm, so I hoped that was a pattern. Over the next five hours we fished all kinds of shallow cover, and Chris caught five keepers, the only other limit in the tournament, but I never hooked one.

At 1:00 on a windblown rocky bank I landed my third keeper on a spinnerbait. That was it for the day and at weigh-in Chris was in third place with 7.66 pounds and I was in fifth with 5.57 pounds, a very disappointing day. There were two four-pound bass weighed in making my spot third biggest fish, but most with a big fish caught only one or two more to go with it, like me.

Sunday morning, we tried a different starting place, running to some lighted docks, but got no strikes. As it got light we ran way up a creek to some grass beds where I have caught fish in past years but did not get a bite. At 7:30 we fished up a shady bank and I landed a small keeper on a spinnerbait, then on another small grassy point I caught two keepers close together on the spinnerbait.

For the next six hours we tried everything we could think of, fishing different places and a variety of baits, but neither of us ever got another bite.

At weigh-in Jay, after leading the first day, held on to first with his four keepers. But the others ahead of me the first day either zeroed or had one small fish. Glenn moved up from sixth to second with three nice fish and I moved up to third with my three small ones. Raymond moved up from seventh to fourth with four keepers, the most anyone other than Jay caught that day.

You never know what will happen in a tournament, as this shows. That is why I try to never give up until the last cast is made.

I heard the better fish were caught on buzzbits, but Chris and I never got a bite on one. I guess we were fishing the wrong places. I caught only one on a shaky head in two days but Chris caught all five of his on Saturday on one. The fishing was very tough and inconsistent!

Hope you had a great, safe Independence Day and remembered the reasons we celebrate, and kept the military that keeps us free and safe in your thoughts.

How Do You Track Wandering Habits of Smallmouth Bass?

Radios Reveal Wandering Habits of Smallmouth Bass in Oklahoma
Angler-funded research lends greater understanding of one of America’s greatest sport fish

By Craig Springer, USFWS
from The Fishing Wire

Pretty Oklahoma smallmouth stream


About the time that redbuds flash their pretty pinkish blooms on eastern Oklahoma’s hillsides and gray streamside sycamores unfurl their fresh leaves the color akin to a wet lime, there’s something curious going on.

And it goes mostly sight unseen.

Smallmouth bass are on the move with the singular purpose of procreation. As Planet Earth wobbles back to the vernal position the daylight lengthens, shadows shorten and the creeks warm. These cues signal to what is arguably America’s top freshwater sport fish that it’s time to spawn.

The fish that ardent anglers call “bronzeback,” hold a renowned reputation as energized packets of fish flesh. Twitch a floating stickbait on slick water over a dark pool at dusk or drag a crayfish-colored club-tailed jig over a gravelly run, and then hang on. The fight of this fish is always outsized. And expect a few leaps out of the water before you feel on your thumb its raspy lip at release. A plucky flip of the tail fin, a splash, and off it goes.

Smallmouth bass are an angler’s favorite—have been for years since well before former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service scientist and medical doctor, James Henshall, branded the species the “gamest fish that swims” in his 1881 tome, Book of the Black Bass. It’s still in print, by the way.

If you’ve caught one, you’re not hearing anything new. You know the “arrowy rush” that Henshall spoke of. And if you’re a licensed angler, take heart in knowing that you are helping pay for leading-edge research into the whereabouts of smallmouth bass in select Oklahoma streams, that in the end can improve a strain of bronzeback unique to the area—and make fishing all the better.

Dr. Shannon Brewer, an Associate Professor at Oklahoma State University, leads ongoing research into how the bass behaves through the year. Brewer and graduate student Andrew Miller monitor a strain of bronzebacks found only in the spring-fed streams in the Ozark highlands near where Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas converge. The fish is known as Neosho smallmouth bass—and it has an affinity for flowing water.

This habitat and behavior research on smallmouth bass that swim in Oklahoma’s Elk River and tributaries is paid for through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, collected through taxes paid by fishing tackle manufacturers on fishing gear, passed on to the angler. When an angler hears the ding of a cash register and coin drop in the till, they are paying for conservation. Brewer and Miller conduct the work expressly for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC), which, in the end expects to use research findings to inform fishery management decisions.

How they get the work done is nearly as interesting as what they are learning. Brewer and Miller surgically implanted 100 Neosho smallmouth bass with radios, as early as 2015. The fish were caught by electrofishing, anesthetized, and the radios placed inside the body cavity and then stitched up. The bass were returned to the same streams in which they were caught after they recovered from surgery. A few radioed bass have been lost to otters and to anglers, but through the course of the study, at least 30 bass have remained tagged in each of three streams.

The radios emit a signal whereby the researchers relocated the fish many times, some for nearly three years before the batteries exhausted. In the warm months of March to October, the fish were relocated at least once weekly; in the colder months, only once per month. Though the research is still underway the professor and student have been able to gather a fair amount of information, revealing when and where these bass go through the year. Where the males take up housekeeping in the spring is of particular interest.

Brewer and Miller relocated the bass by walking streamside or kayaking, intent on hearing the distinct radio signals on a receiver they carried. Tracking through the winter months revealed very little movement, according to Brewer.

“Their favorite habitats in winter seemed to be deep pools,” said Brewer. “They would hold between rocks in slow water—and sometimes in quite shallow rocky areas—stationary. I’m an angler and naturally curious and snorkeled in January for a closer look. Smallmouth bass shoved themselves between rocks, in cavities, and in piles of woody debris – fish of all sizes. Some were wedged sideways in cavities, protected from swifter water. ”

As winter turned to spring, the two researchers found much variation among the many individual fish that carried radios. “Females were first to move,” said Brewer. “Come April, they were headed upstream to spawning sites. Some moved nearly five miles to find spawning habitat.”

Male smallmouth bass typically build nests over gravel in shallow water and court females to spawn. Males aggressively guard the nests during construction, through hatching and for a short spell as fry hover above the nest and the guarding male before disbursing to nursery habitat. The researchers noted that bass in their study seemed to concentrate in select areas which may speak to there being limited spawning habitat. As to what happened to the females, post-spawn, Brewer said they didn’t travel far, typically staying near the closest deep pools until around September when there seemed to be a downstream movement, particularly by the older and larger bass.

The three streams that harbored the radioed smallmouth bass all lead into Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees. Curiously, none of the bass to date have been located in the reservoir – they have all stayed in the streams. Moreover, the bass stayed in the streams in which they were tagged, save for one female that moved seasonally between to streams.

And that speaks to their uniqueness, says ODWC biologist, Kurt Kuklinski, who oversees the research for the agency. He works at the Fisheries Research Lab in Norman. “Neosho smallmouth bass are a stream fish,” says Kuklinski. “They have a liking for cool, spring-fed flowing waters. They’re native to the eastern third of Oklahoma—and their reliance on Ozark streams makes them different than lake-dwelling smallmouth bass.”

The preliminary results are surely fascinating, but Kuklinski says the full picture is not yet in view. The two researchers have more work to do and a great amount of data to analyze. As bass behavior and habitat selection in northeastern Oklahoma streams come into better focus, it should be good for fishery managers and for anglers, ultimately.

–Craig Springer, External Affairs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Southwest Region

Two Tough Lake Oconee Tournaments

Fishing at Oconee has been tough the past two weekends. Last Saturday the Potato Creek Bassmsters fished our June tournament there, and the weekend before the Flint River Bass Club fished our June tournament on Sunday.

In the Flint River club 14 members and guests fished nine hours to land 17 bass weighing about 36 pounds. There was one five-fish limit and seven members did not catch a 14-inch keeper.

Chuck Croft won with a limit weighing 12.57 pounds and had big fish with a 4.55 pound largemouth. I came in second with four at 8.67 pounds, Gary Cato had two weighing 3.84 for third and fourth was guest Kevin Cato with two weighing 2.86 pounds.

Chuck said he caught his fish on buzzbaits and landed six keepers during the day, culling one. I struggled, missing several bites early on a top water popper. My first keeper hit a shaky head worm by a dock at 8:30 then my second one came off another dock on the same bait less than an hour later.

After three hours of fishing docks without another keeper, I tried a deeper, rocky point and landed my third keeper on the shaky head worm at 12:30. My last keeper hit on another dock with just an hour left to fish, hitting the same bait.

In the Potato Creek Bassmasters, 21 members fished for eight hours to land 32 keepers weighing about 58 pounds. There was one limit and four fishermen did not catch a keeper.

Lee Hancock won with five weighing 8.26 pounds, Raymond English placed second with three weighing 6.02 pounds, Buddy Laseter was third with two at 5.51 pound. Niles Murray came in fourth with two weighing 5.34 pounds and his 3.74 pound largemouth was big fish.

I was somewhat excited Saturday morning, thinking I could catch fish like I did the weekend before, but it was not to be. I started better, landing two keepers early on a buzzbait and losing one about two pounds that jumped and threw the hook right beside the boat.

At 8:30 I fished some brush on a deep point that I had found with my electronics the weekend before and landed my third keeper. That was it, I did not catch another fish although I tried the same places I had caught fish the weekend before. It is amazing how things change in a few days.

Both tournaments were hot and boat traffic kept us rocking and rolling all day. This past Saturday was the worst, with no breeze and blazing sun. About noon I thought I was either having a heat stoke or getting seasick, or maybe a combination of the two!

Fishing during the day will be hot and you will face boat waves all day on weekends the rest of the summer. Night fishing is the way to go, it is cooler for you and the fish bite better. But there are so many idiots out there, even at night, that you have to be very careful, even more so than during the day.

The only thing worst than fishing in the heat and rough water is not going at all!

What Is the Top Bass Lake In the US?

Texas’ Sam Rayburn Named Nation’s Top Bass Lake
from The Fishing Wire

Best bass lake in the US?


Bassmaster Magazine has released the 2018 rankings for the 100 Best Bass Lakes in America, and Sam Rayburn Reservoir, Texas, has been named the No. 1 fishery in the country. Photo by B.A.S.S.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — After three years of hovering in the Top 5 of Bassmaster Magazine’s 100 Best Bass Lakes rankings, Texas’ Sam Rayburn Reservoir finally takes the crown for being the best bass lake in the nation for 2018.

The storied Lone Star State fishery has never ranked below 26th in the seven years the rankings have been published. However, the 114,500-acre lake started showing out in 2015, when it climbed to fifth. In 2016 it jumped to fourth. And last year, Rayburn was the bridesmaid, sitting in second place. But, Rayburn is a bridesmaid no more, and for the first time captures the title.

“Although there were some pretty spectacular numbers being produced from other lakes this year, Rayburn was a clear No. 1,” said James Hall, editor of Bassmaster Magazine. “While some lakes were boasting of a single 30-pound, five-bass limit being caught, Rayburn was spitting them out in rapid succession. And to top it off, a 40.28-pound limit was recorded in June.”

Countless limits of solid fish aren’t the only thing special about this lake.

“When it comes to double-digit bass, Rayburn also seems to top the list this year,” Hall continued. “Three 10-pounders were weighed in during a one-day February derby. Plus, a 12.05 and a 13.06 were landed here in March. The lake is simply on fire right now.”

The process to create the rankings takes about three months to complete. Data is received from state fisheries agencies across the U.S. This is coupled with catch data collected from dozens of tournament organizations across the country from the past 12 months. After the numbers are crunched, a blue-ribbon panel from the bass fishing industry debates the strength of the lakes, then settles on the final rankings.

The rankings identify the Top 10 lakes in the nation regardless of location, as well as the Top 25 lakes in four geographical divisions. “By dividing the Top 100 into four regions, anglers have perspective on fisheries nearby,” Hall explained.

Tennessee’s Chickamauga Lake, which takes the No. 2 slot this year, made a strong argument for No. 1, as it also produced 40-plus-pound limits this spring. Yes, that was plural — two five-fish limits exceeding 42 pounds were landed this year. Although this 36,240-acre fishery hasn’t produced quite as many big fish as Rayburn, there were two bass over 10 pounds recorded here since February, the biggest weighing 11.21 pounds.

California’s Clear Lake landed in the No. 3 position on the strength of its production of big largemouth. Lake St. Clair, a former No. 1 in 2013, climbed from ninth last year to the fourth spot in 2018, while Minnesota’s Mille Lacs Lake (last years’ No. 1 fishery) fell to No. 5. The remainder of the nation’s Top 10 are: sixth, Santee Cooper lakes (Marion/Moultrie), South Carolina; seventh, Diamond Valley Lake, California.; eighth, Thousand Islands (St. Lawrence River), New York; ninth, Lake Guntersville, Alabama; 10th, Falcon Lake, Texas.

Other highlights include the comeback of Lake Guntersville, which has finally turned the corner on several subpar years of production for the stalwart fishery. Newcomers to the rankings include Texas’ Belton Lake, Arkansas’ Lake Chicot, Maryland’s Potomac River, Mississippi’s Lake Ferguson and Oregon’s Tahkenitch Lake.

When it comes to bragging rights for the state with the most lakes to make the Top 100 list, Texas wins with 12. California boasts eight fisheries within the rankings, while Florida has the third most with seven.

Bassmaster’s 100 Best Bass lakes will be published in a 12-page section of the July/August issue ofBassmaster Magazine. The complete rankings can also be found in Bassmaster.com photo galleries.

2018 List Of Bassmaster Magazine’s 100 Best Bass Lakes
Rank Fishery State
Top 10
1 Sam Rayburn Reservoir Texas
2 Chickamauga Lake Tennessee
3 Clear Lake California
4 Lake St. Clair Michigan
5 Mille Lacs Lake Minnesota
6 Santee Cooper lakes (Marion/Moultrie) South Carolina
7 Diamond Valley Lake California
8 Thousand Islands (St. Lawrence River) New York
9 Lake Guntersville Alabama
10 Falcon Lake Texas

Central
1 Sam Rayburn Reservoir Texas
2 Mille Lacs Lake Minnesota
3 Falcon Lake Texas
4 Toledo Bend Reservoir Texas/Louisiana
5 Sturgeon Bay Wisconsin
6 Lake Conroe Texas
7 Lake Lyndon B. Johnson Texas
8 Lake O’ the Pines Texas
9 Millwood Lake Arkansas
10 La Cygne Lake Kansas
11 Lake Ray Roberts Texas
12 Lake Palestine Texas
13 Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees Oklahoma
14 Lake of the Ozarks Missouri
15 Lake Dardanelle Arkansas
16 Bull Shoals Lake Arkansas
17 Caddo Lake Texas/Louisiana
18 Newton Lake Illinois
19 Lake Ouachita Arkansas
20 Lake Oahe South Dakota
21 Belton Lake Texas
22 Table Rock Lake Missouri/Arkansas
23 Lake Chicot Arkansas
24 Lake Texoma Texas/Oklahoma
25 Lake Fork Texas

Northeastern
1 Lake St. Clair Michigan
2 Thousand Islands (St. Lawrence River) New York
3 Lake Erie New York
4 Lake Erie Ohio
5 Lake Champlain New York/Vermont
6 Bays de Noc Michigan
7 Saginaw Bay Michigan
8 Lake Charlevoix Michigan
9 Burt/Mullet lakes Michigan
10 Grand Traverse Bay Michigan
11 Potomac River Maryland/Virginia/West Virginia
12 Oneida Lake New York
13 Cayuga Lake New York
14 Lake Barkley Kentucky
15 Presque Isle Bay Pennsylvania
16 Upper Chesapeake Bay Maryland
17 Lake Cumberland Kentucky
18 Smith Mountain Lake Virginia
19 Webber Pond Maine
20 China Lake Maine
21 Great Pond Maine
22 Candlewood Lake Connecticut
23 Chatauqua Lake New York
24 Lake Winnipesaukee New Hampshire
25 Kentucky Lake Kentucky/Tennessee

Southeastern
1 Chickamauga Lake Tennessee
2 Santee Cooper lakes (Marion/Moultrie) South Carolina
3 Lake Guntersville Alabama
4 Lake Okeechobee Florida
5 Lake Tohopekaliga Florida (plus Kissimmee Chain of Lakes)
6 Pickwick Lake Alabama/Mississippi/Tennessee
7 Lake Istokpoga Florida
8 Shearon Harris North Carolina
9 Lake Eufaula Alabama/Georgia
10 Lake Seminole Georgia/Florida
11 Rodman Reservoir Florida
12 Cooper River South Carolina
13 Wilson Lake Alabama
14 Lake Ferguson Mississippi
15 Lake Burton Georgia
16 Lake Murray South Carolina
17 Falls Lake North Carolina
18 Harris Chain of Lakes Florida
19 Lake Greenwood South Carolina
20 Bay Springs Lake Mississippi
21 Kerr Lake (Buggs Island) North Carolina/Virginia
22 High Rock Lake North Carolina
23 Lake Hartwell Georgia/South Carolina
24 Kenansville Reservoir Florida
25 Logan Martin Lake Alabama

Western
1 Clear Lake California
2 Diamond Valley Lake California
3 Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta California
4 New Melones Lake California
5 Don Pedro Reservoir California
6 Lake Berryessa California
7 Lake Havasu Arizona/California
8 Roosevelt Lake Arizona
9 Lake Perris California
10 Tenmile Lake Oregon
11 Lake Mohave Nevada/Arizona
12 Lake Pleasant Arizona
13 Potholes Reservoir Washington
14 Fort Peck Reservoir Montana
15 Coeur d’Alene Lake Idaho
16 Lake Washington Washington
17 Dworshak Reservoir Idaho
18 Saguaro Lake Arizona
19 Lake Powell Utah/Arizona
20 C.J. Strike Reservoir Idaho
21 Elephant Butte Reservoir New Mexico
22 Siltcoos Lake Oregon
23 Lake Mead Nevada/Arizona
24 Tahkenitch Lake Oregon
25 Columbia River Oregon/Washington

About B.A.S.S.
B.A.S.S. is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport, providing cutting edge content on bass fishing whenever, wherever and however bass fishing fans want to use it. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 500,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines (Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times), website (Bassmaster.com), television show (The Bassmasters on ESPN2), radio show (Bassmaster Radio), social media programs and events. For 50 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.

The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open Series, Academy Sports + Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation Series presented by Magellan Outdoors, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Series presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods, Bassmaster Team Championship and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods.

Use the Right Fishing Line

The Right Fishing Line for Soft Plastics

Using the right fishing line will help you land fish


Your line is the crucial connection when using Carolina and Texas rigs

By David A. Rose
from The Fishing Wire

Every few years, one of the best bass-tournament pros in the nation sweeps the competition during a major derby, landing the largest limit of fish while rigging their favorite soft plastics in an innovative way. After that, what was once their secret technique suddenly becomes all the rage. The drop-shot rig, Neko rig and advances in wacky-rigging are just a few techniques that have come to the forefront during the past couple of decades after major tournament successes.

But when all is said and done, even after these fresh approaches have become widespread, two rigs still stand the test of time – both sticking out as must-use-when-all-else-is-failing techniques: the Carolina rig and the Texas rig.

Worms? Lizards? Tubes? Creature baits? It really doesn’t matter what your go-to bait is, as both Carolina and Texas rigs have been catching fish almost since soft plastics were first created.

But like any well-established technique (and I mean any,) the single most important connection between you and any fish is your line.

The Missing Link

Seaguar Pro Chris Zaldain is a 33-year-old Bassmaster Elite tournament angler from Laughlin, Nevada, who has taken top honors twice in Bassmaster Elite events, as well numerous top 20 finishes. This carries his winnings over the half-million-dollar mark since his start only 8 years ago.

“There’s no doubt, line is the most crucial link when using both Carolina and Texas rigs,” says the Seaguar pro. “I have been using Seaguar fluorocarbon since the early 2000’s, well before I wore their logo on my jersey [2010], and I’m here to tell you, I have literally spooled many, many miles of it on my reels since I started fishing.

“Seaguar fishing lines have helped me fool fish in the clear-water lakes I fished growing up, and it was InvizX that was my choice from the very day I started. And InvizX is still is a line I trust today because it’s super soft and allows me to cast any lure with ease. And I’ve never had a knot I’ve tied with it unravel.”

Everything’s Bigger When Texas-Rigging…Maybe

One of the most weedless/snagless methods of delivering a lure to a lunker is the Texas rig. Zaldain uses 1/4- to 3/8-ounce weights, pegging them to his hook and soft plastic with a bobber stop on 15-pound-test InvizX.

“That particular pound-test isn’t too light for most applications and hook-sets; yet, it’s not so heavy that it hinders the action of your bait,” Zaldain states. “And 15-pound test Seaguar InvizX is as strong as other manufacture’s 20-pound test, but with a smaller overall line diameter. And the thinner a line is, the more bites you’ll get.

“It boils down to the fact that the thinner the line, the more naturally a bait moves in the water. It just moves more like the real thing…period.”

Zaldain is never nervous about using InvizX for his Texas-rigged offerings for near-shore shallow-water fish, even amongst submerged trees or along steep, rocky bluffs; the line’s suppleness allows it to snake through limbs and around shale with ease. Moreover, it has plenty of abrasion resistance to pull even the heftiest largemouth from structure without worrying about getting nicked up and breaking off.

Also, InvizX fluorocarbon has less stretch than monofilament, which allows Zaldain to feel a strike the moment it occurs. This means he’s able to set the hook and pull a fish out of its snag-infested haunt before it even knows it being bit back.

Cover Me, I’m Going in… Carolina-Style

Along thick-and-gnarly structure in deep water is where Zaldain tends to employ the Carolina rig—which was devised to separate the weight from your offering so that the latter has a natural, horizontal free-swimming movement verses the more precise bottom-bouncing motion of a Texas-rigged bait.

“My line of choice with long-leader Carolina rig applications is Seaguar AbrazX because of its extreme abrasion resistance,” Zaldain states.

If structure isn’t extremely dense, Zaldain still uses 15-pound-test – rarely anything lighter. When the bass are utilizing extremely-thick cover, conversely, he will boost his leader to 20-pound test.

Complementing the lower stretch and sensitivity of fluorocarbon, Zaldain prefers what he calls “old-school” lead bullet-style weights over tungsten. With the former, he claims, he can feel what’s on bottom much better.

Telegraphed through the lead weight, line and then rod, he can sense the difference between gravel verses rock, for example, which lets him know when to lift his Carolina-rigged offering up and out of a snag. Zaldain starts with a 3/4-ounce bullet or egg-sinker weight above his bead and swivel, and then adjusts his rig from there.

Lessons Learned

Without a doubt, your line is the only link between you and any fish, whether you’re using the newest technique to hit the tournament trail or the most tried and true rigs ever created, like Texas and Carolina rigs.

Overall, use the lightest line you can get away with, but have different rods spooled with diverse pound test and toughness (abrasion resistance); because where you find fish may change with every cast.

Lake Jordan, Lake Russell and Spot Problems

Last week I went to Lake Jordan just outside Montgomery, Alabama, and Lake Russell near Elberton, Georgia. Both are about three hours from Griffin and both have spotted bass, but they are totally different fisheries.

Jordan is a Coosa River lake and is full of the famous Coosa spots. Its waters are very fertile, the water has a greenish hue from algae, and the shoreline is covered with grass. Grass cover for bass is important for several reasons, among them giving young bass a place to hide from predators and giving adult bass great feeding areas.

Twenty-pound five-fish stringers of spotted bass are common in tournaments there. The fertility and cover make them grow fast and fat, and current moving in the lake brings them easy food, so they don’t have to expend much energy to feed.

Spots are native to Jordan, so they are well adapted to that environment. The population is in balance, with predator and prey at the right levels for the environment. Largemouth are also fairly common in the lake since they fill a slightly different niche and, since the spot population is balanced, they do not over compete with them.

We had a disappointing trip although the conditions seemed perfect. Even though it was Memorial Day, the clouds and threat of rain kept pleasure boaters off the lake. And the low light conditions, combined with current moving in the lake that day, should have put the fish in a feeding mood.

We caught a few fish and they were fat and healthy. The fish did not do what we thought they should, which is not unusual when fishing!

Lake Russell was very different on last Friday. The only common thing was the lack of pleasure boaters.
Shoreline development is not allowed on Russell and it is not near a big city, so it was not crowded. We saw a dozen or so fishing boats but no pleasure boaters even though it was a warm, sunny day.

Russel is not fertile. Its waters are very clear and shoreline grass is rare. Dammed in 1984, Russell is the newest lake in Georgia. It does have current since it has power generators and a pump back system at the dam. Power is generated during the day, so water flows downstream, then at night the same water is pumped back from Clarks Hill immediately downstream.

Since the water is recirculated, it does not carry a nutrient load like the water flowing down the Coosa River. Moving water does give bass easier feeding opportunities on Russell, but there is less food to move.

Spots are not native to Russell. In its early days it took 20-pound limits of largemouth to place in most tournaments. But midnight stocking of spots by bucket biologists introduced them in the 1990s and they have overcrowded the lake. It is rare to catch a largemouth there now.

Some fishermen think they can transport spots to lakes where they are not native and they will do as well as they do at Lake Lanier, a premier spot fishery. But Lanier is very fertile from run-off from chicken processing plants and has more food that spots like. Spots have just about taken over from largemouth at Lanier, too, but they grow fat there.

Not on Russell. We caught a lot of spots, but most were 11 to 13 inches long. You can easily catch 100 spots a day there but if your best five weigh 10 pounds you have caught a good limit of spots, and that weight would place in most tournaments.

Those little spots are fun to catch and good to eat. There is no size limit on spots anywhere in Georgia except Lake Lanier, to encourage fishermen to keep them. A trip to Russell to keep ten spots a day to eat is not only fun and good eating, it will not hurt the fishery.

Closer to home, Lake Jackson was an incredible fishery for big largemouth until the 1990s when spots started taking over. Fishermen put them in the lake and they have badly overpopulated it. We saw the first spots in our tournaments there in the early 1990s but they were rare. Now most of the fish we weigh in are spots.

Spots are more aggressive than largemouth and bed deeper, so they are not as affected by changes in the lake as much. But they do not grow as big as largemouth. An acre of lake can support only so many bass.

Where an acre of water at Jackson used to have, say 100 pounds of largemouth, ranging from one to five pounds or more, now it has 100 spots weighing a pound each.

If you catch spots on any of our lakes except Lanier and a couple of other far north Georgia lakes where they do well, keep a limit to eat.

March West Point Tournament

The last Sunday in March 15 members and guests of the Spalding County Sportsman Club fished our February tournament at West Point. The unusually warm weather had the fish feeding. We landed 66 keeper bass weighing about 101 pounds. All but 8 of the keepers were spotted bass. There were 11 limits, and no one zeroed.

I won with five weighing 12.22 pounds and my 5.35 pound largemouth was big fish. Robert Proctor came in second with five at 11.09 pounds, Billy Roberts placed third with five weighing 9.40 pounds and Javin English was fourth with five at 8.87 pounds.

I went over on Wednesday trying to find some kind of pattern. Thursday afternoon, after catching some bass, I cast a shaky head worm to a rocky point and got a thump. When I set the hook, my rod bowed up and the fish pulled my boat around the small creek for 15 minutes before I was finally able to land a 22-pound flathead catfish. That was a highlight of the trip.

I thought I had a good plan, but Sunday morning started very frustrating. I lost two keepers before finally landing a small keeper at 9:15. At 10:35 I went to the point where William Scott and I had missed a bunch of bites the weekend before and put my fifth keeper in the live well ten minutes later. I was able to hook almost every fish that bit there and had ten keepers in the livewell at 11:15.

After getting my limit I started casting a jig and pig, hoping to catch a big fish, and the big one hit on a nearby point at 11:30. After that I really relaxed, and fished some new places, trying for another big one, but caught only one more keeper the rest of the day.

Fishing Lake Eufaula In March

Bass Statue in Eufaula[/caption]

I had a great trip to Lake Eufaula in March. I met Eufaula, Alabama mayor Jack Tibbs to go fishing and get information for a Georgia and Alabama Outdoor News article. And when my club went back in May, I won on some of the places that will be in the August article – they were good in March, good in May and will be good in August!! Jack has been fishing all his life and fishes many tournaments on Eufaula. He came up with an idea for a spinnerbait designed to fish deep ledges on Lake Eufaula, the Ledgebuster, and developed a tackle company from that start.

Strike Zone Lures now makes all kinds of lures, including spinnerbaits, jigs, worms and others. It is very successful nationwide.

We landed about a dozen bass on Wednesday and the biggest five weighed between 20 and 21 pounds. Although Jack caught most of the fish, I landed the biggest, just under six pounds, and Jack had one about five pounds. I also had one at about four and one-half pounds. All the largemouth hit in three feet of water or less on spinnerbaits, swim jigs and even topwater frogs.

The town of Eufaula is historic, with many antebellum mansions and historic sites. I stayed at beautiful Lakepoint State Park Lodge in a spacious room with a nice view of the lake and marina. Thursday morning before heading home, I relaxed on my private deck, drinking coffee while watching squirrels and more than a dozen different kinds of birds looking for breakfast.

The two nights I was there I enjoyed excellent food. The first night I met Jack and his wife at El Jalisco Mexican Restaurant on Broad Street downtown. I got there first and the owner met me at the door. She was friendly and helpful, explaining some of the menu items.

When Jack arrived, he was greeted by almost everyone in the front of the restaurant and the owner was surprised he was the person I was meeting for dinner. We had to sit in the very back booth, so Jack and I could talk. Otherwise we would have never been able to talk due to all the people coming up to our table to speak to him.

Service was good and the food excellent. I had my favorite, Chili Relleno, and, although a little different than what I am used to, it was very good.

The next night we went to the Cajun Corner Grill, on the corner of Broad Street and Highway 431. Although busy, service was good and I really enjoyed the Gumbo and fried scallops. The salad that came with the meal was a surprise, not the usual bland house salad. It had good cheese, cranberrys, orange slices and mushrooms on it.

One highlight of the trip was a visit to the big bass monument. Since becoming mayor, Jack has pushed to take advantage of the biggest resource of the area, the lake. Fishermen come from all over the US to fish Eufaula and bring in a lot of money to the local economy.

This year the city unveiled the bass monument, with the town’s motto “The bass capitol of the world” on it. That self-proclaimed motto is hard to argue with since Eufaula is known for its quality bass fishing, but people flock to the lake to catch crappie, too.

Eufaula is about 2.5 hours away and is worth a trip for the food and sights, but the fishing is always the highlight.