Category Archives: fishing basics

Blooming Idiots Go Fishing

It never fails. Every year as soon as we have a couple of warm days in late winter, the idiots of spring bloom. People who have not thought about fishing since las spring suddenly decide to go catch fish, and do things that are either inconsiderate or stupid, or both.

Trying to put a boat in at a popular ramp is a joke. In our club tournaments we can launch ten boats in a few minutes and get out of the way. We know better than to back down to the ramp, block others from it and spend 20 minutes unloading stuff from the truck taking straps and hooks off the boat and trying to get everything ready. That is done in the parking lot well away from the ramp.

And most of us can back a trailer into the water efficiently, not having to pull up and back up a dozen times to finally get it in. A double ramp is just that, room for two boats to launch at the same time. The line down the middle is there to divide the ramp, not to aim at and straddle!

At the Sportsman Club tournament two weeks ago, I pulled up at Dennis Station ramp on Lake Sinclair at 7:00 AM just as it got light. Two club members were already there, trying to maneuver their trailers around a truck that was sitting right in the middle of the area used to back up to the ramp, with lights on, motor running and boat on trailer not many feet from the water.

They got their boats launched and parked their trucks and came over to pay their entry fees. One said there was a guy sitting in the running truck. We did not know whether he was asleep, passed out or dead.

I was nervous about knocking on his window to see but one brave club member did so. The guy woke, pulled up into the parking lot out of the way, sat there a few more minutes then drove off without getting out of his truck. I still have no idea what he was doing, but he was sitting there for at least 30 minutes while I was there. Maybe he fished all night while enjoying adult beverages and could not make it any further!

If you head to the lake this year be considerate. Get your boat loaded and stuff ready to go out while in the parking lot. Try to back into the water, launch your boat and get out of the way. Don’t be a blooming idiot this year!

Fluorocarbon Line

Fluorocarbon Line for the Cold Flow
By David Rose
from The Fishing Wire

Flurocarbon LIne Steelhead


Photo courtesy of Jon Ray

It had been well over a decade since I’d last set foot in the fast-flowing river very near Colorado’s Continental Divide with fly rod in hand. The change in esthetics surrounding the waterway was extreme.

The alteration in environment most obvious was how the once little town at its headwaters had grown so substantially it was now surrounding its banks several miles further downstream. One good thing was there was more angler access to the river; the bad was the rainbows, browns, cutthroat and brook trout in this flies-only catch-and-release section had all been fooled at one time or another by just about every type of fuzz and feather combination one could imagine.

To say the fish that reside here all winter are weary of every offering that wafts past them is an understatement. Luckily, I consulted with those in the know at the local fly shop and was able to catch a few of the finicky fish because of the tips and tricks they shared.

What I found interesting was there was little reform from years ago when it came to the tiny, down-to-size-22 nymph imitations that were suggested I drift under my strike indicator. The one thing the fly-flinging professionals were adamant about this time around, however, was that fluorocarbon leaders were a must if one were to fool a fish into striking.

And it worked.

The rod I packed in my carry-on was a 4-piece, St. Croix 5-weight Imperial, perfect for the miniscule nymphs I bought at the shop. A couple packets of Seaguar’s Knotless Tapered Leaders in size 7X (thinning down to 2-pound test at its tip) were also purchased. A few of my casts were actually flawless enough to fool a few fish; in reality, more fish than the last time I was here. And I do believe it was the presentation of my flies and the hook-setting abilities of this thin 100% fluorocarbon line that made the difference.

Fluoro facts for flies

Fluorocarbon is now a standard go-to for so many fishing applications, including fly fishing.

“First off, you need to get your fly down into the water column faster in winter,” says Jon Ray, a full-time fly-fishing guide with Hawkins Outfitters near my home waters in Michigan’s Northwest Lower Peninsula. “Casts tend to be shorter this time of year, and the fish are in smaller areas of a river; fluorocarbon tippets allow your fly to sink quicker, as well it will stay in strike zone from the top to the bottom of the drift.”

More fluorine atoms and less hydrogen than monofilament is what makes fluorocarbon pack more mass into the same space. It’s more compressed because the fluorocarbon resins give it close to neutral buoyancy. It’s a great choice for vertical personations, like dangling a fly under a strike indicator.

It also has less stretch due to its denseness, which allows an angler to get good hook sets; especially when using the light-pound-tests lines needed for proper presentations of such minuscule bugs during the winter months.

“And fluorocarbon is thinner than monofilament, which creates less drag in the water helps your fly drift more naturally,” Ray adds. “And if your fly isn’t drifting perfectly with the current, your bug’s not going to get bit. Period.”

Opposites attract

But it’s not just nymphing on ultra-light tippets that take trout during the winter months, especially when targeting the largest fish in a system.

“While big trout will suck up a little bug once in a while, it’s not their meat and potatoes,” states Fly-Fishing Guide Russ Maddin, who’s created some of modern day’s most popular streamers for trout. “Big fish eat little fish, and I’m not just talking small minnows and whatnot, but other younger, 5- to 8-inch trout in the system, as well.”

Maddin’s been using fluorocarbon tippet material for stripping big streamers for years, and says this tactic is no place for light line and finesse, even when these cold-blooded fish seem lethargic within their ice-water realms.

“You’ll have to slow up your stop-and-go retrieve a little compared to when the water’s warm, with longer pauses in-between pulses, but you really don’t need to lighten up your leaders,” Maddin adds.

Twelve-pound-test (1X in Seaguar’s Max Fluorocarbon Tippet Material) is the lightest Maddin may tie on, but overall 14-pound test (1X in Grand Max Tippet Material) is his go to. No matter the test, it’s the condensed make up of fluorocarbon that keeps his streamers in the strike zone, neither rising or falling on the pause.

Timing and safety

Two things rookie fly anglers often overlook when their planning a winter’s fly-fishing excursion is the time of day to hit the river, as well, taking a few extra precautionary steps for one’s safety.

Unlike summer months when dawn and dusk may be the best times for catching, smackdab in the middle of the afternoon is usually best for fly fishing in winter. It’s during this time when the waters will warm to their maximum for the day, and all it takes is a half-degree rise in water temperature to turn inactive fish active. And unlike other times of year, the brighter the sun overhead the better the bite can be.

Even if your legs are strong, it’s not only a good idea to have a wading staff with you, but to use it. One quick jab into the river bed and you’ll be able to catch your balance if, say, a rock overturns under foot. Donning ice cleats with small carbide spikes, like the slipover Ice Creepers from Frabill ice anglers wear, will keep you steady-footed if it’s cold enough that ice starts forming on the rocks, or in areas with algae covering the bottom.

Up your odds

Overall, fly fishing in the heart of winter isn’t all that different than the summer months. Your goal is to imitate nature to a tee with nothing more than feathers and fur that’ve been spun onto a hook.

As I learned from my last trip to the Colorado Rockies, keeping your fly drifting behind a thin, strong, and nearly invisible fluorocarbon leader will up your odds greatly.

What Is Metered Line Fishing?

The Advantages of Metered Line Fishing
By Steve Pennaz
from The Fishing Wire

Before you go any further, it’s important that you know this about me … I miss opportunities. Often. Hey, I could have bought Amazon stock when it was a mere $71.0 a share, but held off…the other day it closed at $1,012.

Like I said, I am prone to miss great opportunities.

So, when Berkley came out with Metered FireLine I didn’t realize the true potential of the line.

It wasn’t that was ignorant of the FireLine’s performance characteristics—superb sensitivity, solid casting distance and good knot strength—after 20 years of using the line I was aware of them all and more.

But I totally underestimated the advantages of having the fused superbraid marked in 10-foot sections.

After putting the color-coded line through its paces in a variety of settings—both recreationally and in one-on-one competitions while filming Lake Commandos television—I’m convinced it offers anglers some very important benefits.

Available in 4- through 20-pound tests, Metered FireLine changes color every 10 feet, transitioning from blue, yellow, red and green to orange before repeating. By counting colors, you know exactly how far your bait is from the rod tip.

This information is important! It allows you to replicate productive letbacks, cast-lengths and depths. It also alerts you to depth changes that indicate structural sweet spots such as slight depressions in the bottom.

Metered line is perfect for trolling, whether you’re spider rigging slab crappies or pulling crankbaits for big-water walleyes. Without a line-counter reel or metered line, you really have no idea how much line is out, so you can’t reproduce distance with any real accuracy. Those are major problems, because letback plays a major role in determining lure running depth.

For example, a #7 Berkley Flicker Shad runs to 14 feet with 100 feet of 10/4 FireLine out versus just 12 feet with 70 feet of line. That’s a difference of 2 feet! Whether you’re trying to tick bottom or place your bait just above suspended fish, that extra depth is often the difference between getting bit and going home empty handed.

Metered FireLine makes it easy to experiment with length adjustments as needed, and reproduce productive letbacks again and again. You can also help others in the boat do the same.

Metering isn’t just for trolling. I was surprised at its impact on vertical jigging, especially in depths of 20 feet or more. By watching the line’s color change in relation to the surface or some point on the rod, I’m able to detect subtle depth changes that are easy to miss with traditional fishing line. It’s also much easier to tell when you have too much line out and your jig isn’t directly below the boat.

Shore anglers targeting special like salmon, carp, catfish and bass, also stand to benefit. If you’re getting bit with a certain amount of line out, the fish could be feeding along a specific current seam or unseen piece of micro-structure. The color changes of metered line allows you to duplicate that distance—and hit the strike zone—on every cast.

Metered FireLine has ice fishing applications, too.

Last winter, I took son Pierce and a few friends fishing for crappies. The fish were in 50 feet of water and we only had one sonar unit. Rather than bounce from hole to hole marking the boys’ jig depths, I set up all their rods the same and told them to let out four colors to target fish suspended at 40 feet. It worked like a charm.

I share this information because I want you to avoid making the same mistakes I made…like not giving Metered FireLine a shot when it first came out. After screwing up my opportunity with Amazon, you’d think I’d learn.

About Berkley

Berkley is one of the world’s leading fishing tackle companies. They achieved this by offering the broadest array of innovative solutions developed by anglers for anglers. At Berkley their goal is simple—to make fishing fun and help anglers everywhere to Catch More Fish!

About Steve Pennaz

Steve Pennaz excels at finding and catching fish on new waters, a skill developed over 30 years of extensive travel in search of giant fish. His television series, Lake Commandos, Man vs. Lake vs. Man, helps anglers understand the steps to building successful patterns.

What Are Grass Shrimp?

Grass shrimp: Small bait, Big Results
Today’s feature comes to us from the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission.
from The Fishing Wire

If you fish for panfish and haven’t tried grass shrimp yet, then you need to know: You’re missing out! Freshwater grass shrimp are an excellent bait for all species of sunfish, come free and are usually easy to collect.

There are a variety of species of grass shrimp, and as the name implies grass shrimp are usually associated with vegetation. They reach about two inches in size. But all you need to know as an angler is that grass shrimp catch fish! Although used primarily as a panfish bait, few freshwater fish will turn their nose up at a grass shrimp including bass up to several pounds.

So how do you get this great bait? In most lakes, it’s fairly easy. You’ll need a sturdy-framed, long-handled dip net with a mesh size of 1/4″ or so. A larger mesh will let shrimp escape, while a finer mesh will become clogged with vegetation and silt and not drain well. Any kind of reinforcement of the net bag around the frame is a major plus, because this net will really be “beating the bushes.” Bait and tackle shops sell a variety of nets that will work, but if you have trouble finding an ideal net, this certainly won’t prevent you from catching shrimp. As long as the mesh size is about right, almost any dip net should work at least moderately well.

Next, you’ll need a lake or canal with some vegetation in it. Emergent shoreline grass is ideal, but any shoreline vegetation that you can readily run your net through should produce results. “Beat” the net through the vegetation in several consecutive sweeps through the same spot, pushing the vegetation down as you sweep (the vegetation usually pops back up unharmed). Then plop the net on the ground and pick through the vegetation accumulated in the bottom of the net bag for your tiny quarry.

The shrimp go into a standard small bait bucket or “minnow bucket” with latching lid, available at most bait and tackle shops. Two versions of these plastic buckets are available, one just the standard bucket and the other a ventilated bucket that rests inside a larger bucket. The ventilated bucket design makes water changes easy—just pull it out of the main bucket, let the water drain, and then submerge it in the lake to refill it before placing it back in the main bucket. You can also leave such a bucket in the water, but some of the grass shrimp you catch will be small enough to work their way out of the holes—ditto for draining the bucket if the day’s catch of shrimp is running small. Grass shrimp are a hardy bait, and only an occasional water change is needed to keep them healthy as long as they are kept cool and out of the sun.

Because of both the small size of a sunfish’s mouth and the diminutive size of the grass shrimp, use a #8 or #10 Aberdeen hook when fishing shrimp for sunfish. Hook the bait through the bend in the tail. Keep your bobber equally small; it takes almost no flotation at all to suspend a grass shrimp. One-inch, cylindrical foam bobbers work well. These also put up little resistance when a wary sunfish takes the bait; it will be more likely to hang onto the shrimp rather than dropping it. Position the bobber about three feet above the hook for starters, but adjust for a deeper presentation if you don’t get any bites pretty quickly. Use a tiny split shot to sink the shrimp to the desired depth.

Of course, grass shrimp can also be fished on the bottom—where the bigger bluegill and redear sunfish often congregate. (A general rule when going after bream is to fish deeper if all you are catching are small ones.) Use only enough weight to cast your bait where you want to place it, and keep it there—that’s usually just a couple of split shot or at most a 1/8 ounce egg sinker set a foot or so ahead of the bait. Set the hook as soon as you feel a bite—fish will swallow grass shrimp without hesitation, so there’s no need to delay when the strike comes.

So there you have it. Grass shrimp may not always work better than live worms or crickets, but they do nearly always work at least as well. And they’re as fun to catch as they are to fish—give them a try!

Fishing Success from Shore

Enjoy All-Season Fishing Success from Shore
Five ways for the shore-bound angler to enjoy more consistent catches

Dr. Jason Halfen
The Technological Angler
from The Fishing Wire

These five tips will help you to enjoy more consistent catches from shore, no matter which species of fish you pursue.

Let’s face the facts: nearly everyone gets their start in fishing by casting a line from shore. These outings find us anxious to tangle with “whatever bites” and happy to steal a few moments near the water to wash away life’s trials and tribulations.

The simplicity of angling from the shore is counterbalanced by the inherent limitations that accompany such trips: fishing locations are restricted to those places where we can legally access the shoreline, and our ability to probe the nooks and crannies of subsurface structure is limited by the distance covered by our longest casts. Even in the face of these obstacles, shore fishing continues to enjoy a special part in the repertoire of many sportsmen, ranging from the relative novice to the most seasoned and experienced angler. Here are five proven tips that will help bring more success to your shoreline fishing experiences.

Near-shore casting obstacles, like tall willows or reeds, can be outmaneuvered by using a long rod, like the St. Croix Legend Tournament Walleye Series (LTWS76MLXF).
Go Long. One of the most important tools for the shore-bound angler is a long rod. Certainly no secret to veterans of the Euro-carp scene, where rods up to 13 feet in length are commonplace, long rods provide significant advantages to multispecies anglers patrolling the shoreline. First, such rods allow anglers to avoid entanglements with imposing shoreline reeds and willows, where the rod’s length can elevate baits above those obstacles during the cast, and can also keep the angler’s line above that same cover during the retrieve. Second, long rods provide the leverage necessary to bring hooked fish quickly to shore, keeping them away from near-shore snags that could lead to loss of the “fish of the day”.

When chasing walleyes, bass and panfish, my favorite shorefishing rod is the 7-foot, 6-inch St. Croix Legend Tournament Walleye Series (LTWS76MLXF). This rod provides the length needed to avoid shoreline cover and to make long casts; the sensitivity I to detect subtle bites from wary walleyes; and the right balance of power to dominate larger fish, while still allowing scrappy battles with crappies and perch.

When whiskered fish, like catfish or sturgeon, are on the menu, I select a beefy St. Croix Mojo Cat (MCS80MF2). This 8-foot rod features a unique, powerful blend of SCII graphite and linear S-glass that can easily muscle the orneriest cat to shore.

Watch your line. Productive shoreline fishing areas don’t often occur as a sugar-sand beach, where barefoot anglers might frolic between bites. Rather, prime areas to target lunkers from shore are often tough to reach, and tougher to fish from, because of hazardous rocks, thick brush or downed trees, or manmade cover like docks or boathouses assembled from wood and metal. Casting, retrieving, and fighting fish near these abrasive objects can have dramatic, negative impacts on your line, often leading to line failure and the loss of a prize catch.

To avoid this heartbreak, choose a line that is tough enough for any shoreline application, like Seaguar AbrazX. A 100% fluorocarbon line fortified with advanced abrasion resistance, Seaguar AbrazX is designed to defeat the line-weakening effects of heavy cover, while remaining extremely soft for long casts and ease of handling. Perfect for walleyes hiding in the rocks and catfish tucked into timber, Seaguar AbrazX was also the line of choice for Jordan Lee, who relied on this abrasion-resistant fluorocarbon on his way to the 2017 Bassmaster Classic Championship.

Check your jig. One of the simplest, yet most effective ways to target fish from shore is with a jig. By selecting jigs of different weights, we can present a wide variety of both live and artificial baits through any portion in the water column. Indeed, a light jig can be dangled beneath a bobber or retrieved close to the surface. Choose a heavier jig to work the mid-range depths or to bounce a bait along the bottom.

The Fiskas XL Walleye Series Jig is an excellent choice for presenting live baits in moving waters.

Tackle shops are replete with jigs in a dizzying array of designs, shapes and sizes. One refinement that makes a big difference, especially when fishing in current, is the use of tungsten jigs. Well established in the ice fishing scene, tungsten is a non-toxic substitute for the traditional leadhead, and because of tungsten’s high density, tungsten jigs will be smaller than lead jigs of the same weight. In current, a small-profile tungsten jig allows the angler to probe the depths of moving water while offering less resistance to current, which keeps the tungsten jig within the strike zone longer. Fiskas XL Walleye Series jigs are hand-painted tungsten jigs designed specifically for open water use, and are excellent choices when chasing spring walleyes from shore, particularly when tipped with live bait. When presenting bulkier soft plastics, choose a premium lead jig with a wider-gap hook and a wire plastic-keeper, like the B-Fish-N Tackle Precision Jig.

Keep fish nearby. While shore-bound anglers generally have limited mobility, the fish they are chasing enjoy complete freedom of movement. Active fish patrolling a stretch of shoreline, or hopping among pieces of near-shore cover, might be within reach of an angler casting from shore for only a small fraction of that angler’s total fishing time. Where legal, BaitCloud is a unique product that will help to bring the fish to your location, and keep them there while you present baits to them. BaitCloud works by combining scent, sound, and visual attractants into a single, easy-to-use, biodegradable product that is proven to attract fish. Available in a variety of formulations, including specific recipes for bass, walleye, or panfish, BaitCloud can tip the scales in the shoreline angler’s favor, especially when used in a lake or other area with minimal current.

Travel light. One way to enhance your mobility when fishing from shore is to carry only a minimalistic set of equipment. The less stuff that you have to pack and move, the more often you will switch spots; just like fishing from a boat or through the ice, angler mobility is truly the key to success.

Featuring abundant space and a durable, weatherproof coating, the Plano Zipperless Z-Series Tackle Bag is the perfect storage solution for the shore-bound angler.

I carry a limited selection of basic tools and tackle, jigs and baits, extra line and maybe even an old-school stringer, all packed within a Plano Zipperless Z-Series Tackle Bag. Featuring plenty of room for my shore-fishing equipment and a convenient shoulder strap for ease of transport, my Plano Z-Series Tackle Bag has a durable, water-resistant coating and splash-resistant openings to keep my tools and tackle dry, no matter where my shoreline travels take me, or how rainy (or snowy!) a fishing day might become.

Fishing from shore is a great way to reconnect with your angling roots, and to introduce a youngster to our sport. These five tips will help keep smiles on faces and rods bent with consistency, no matter which species of fish you pursue from the shoreline.

About the author: Dr. Jason Halfen owns and operates The Technological Angler, a company dedicated to teaching anglers to leverage modern technology to find and catch more and bigger fish. Learn more at www.technologicalangler.com .

Fishing Opportunities

Be Ready When Fishing Opportunities Arise
Editor’s Note: Today’s feature comes to us courtesy of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife. Author Kevin Kelly is focused on the Bluegrass State, but his advice works for all of us.
from The Fishing Wire

FRANKFORT, KY– Planning a fishing trip more than a couple days ahead of time can be a gamble in late winter when the weather is a mixed bag and the favorable conditions here today may be gone tomorrow.

With some advance preparation, you can be ready to grab what you need and go when that friend calls at daybreak or the impulse strikes and the schedule allows for a last-minute trip.

Performing regular maintenance on your reels can prevent catastrophic problems or costly repairs down the road.

Over the course of a fishing season, grit and grime accumulate and work into the guts of a reel. A hitch in the retrieve signals a reel in need of immediate maintenance. Keep cotton swabs, rubbing alcohol, an old toothbrush, paper towels, reel oil and reel grease on hand to accomplish this task, but consult the reel owner’s manual or the manufacturer’s website for its recommendations.

Some wait until a reel is almost bare of line before replenishing the spool. Imagine the disappointment to have the biggest fish of your life break off or not have enough line to cast to a desired spot. Go ahead and invest in a new spool of line for the peace of mind.

Monofilament and fluorocarbon lines require more frequent replacement than braided lines. Match the line with the manufacturer’s recommendations for the reel and take care to load the line correctly to avoid line twist, which can lead to those annoying bird’s nests.

Likewise, clean and inspect any rods that were stored over the winter. Check the reel seats and tighten the lock nuts as needed. Repair or replace worn or broken rod guides. Brush the inside of the guides with a cotton swab. The cotton will snag on any sharp edges or burs.

Keeping your tackle organized can be a challenge once spring arrives. Why not start fresh? Stowaway utility boxes are an angler’s friend. These plastic containers come in all shapes and sizes and prove useful for storing baits, weights, jig heads, hooks and more. Organize soft plastics by color and type in separate sealable sandwich bags and store the bags in one of these clear plastic tackle boxes or a binder.

A dull hook decreases the odds of a good hook set, so take a moment while everything is out to sharpen hooks on crankbaits, jerkbaits and spinnerbaits.

Some anglers organize their tackle by species or waterbody type to cut down on time and the hassle of picking and choosing from several boxes the night before or day of a trip.

If you’re running low on an item, look for off-season and pre-season sales to help stretch your dollar.

Aside from equipment maintenance and organization, it is important to carve out some time to review the Kentucky Fishing and Boating Guide. The 2017-18 version is available online at fw.ky.gov and wherever licenses are sold.

The guide points out any changes in regulation. New fishing regulations that will go into effect March 1 include the removal of a statewide daily creel limit for yellow bass. Trammel Creek in Allen County remains under seasonal catch and release regulations from Oct. 1 through March 31 but the daily creel limit for rainbow trout will be five from April 1 through Sept. 30. Lakes and sloughs at Ballard Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and Boatwright WMA in Ballard County will be idle speed only for all boats. Likewise, Beulah Lake in Jackson County will be idle speed only for all boats. Largemouth bass at Pennyrile Lake in Christian County will be under statewide regulations.

Available on the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources’ website, the annual fishing forecast for the state’s major fisheries provides helpful tips for a more productive day on the water. Carpenter Lake in Daviess County for largemouth bass and the upper Barren River for largemouth and spotted bass, bluegill in Fagan Branch Lake in Marion County and crappie at Benjy Kinman Lake in Henry County are noted in this year’s forecast as up-and-coming fisheries.

The new license year starts March 1. Kentucky fishing licenses may be purchased online at fw.ky.gov or by calling 1-877-598-2401. Licenses and permits also can be bought at retail stores, county court clerk offices and outdoor sporting goods stores across the state. License vendor locations are listed on Kentucky Fish and Wildlife’s website.

In the meantime, there is still some time to squeeze even more value out of your 2016-17 fishing licenses. They’re valid through Feb. 28.

While not everybody has the luxury of being able to drop everything and go fishing when the conditions are ideal, you can save precious time by being prepared so you can take advantage when an opportunity does present itself.

Author Kevin Kelly is a staff writer for Kentucky Afield magazine, the official publication of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. Get the latest from Kevin and the entire Kentucky Afield staff by following them on Twitter: @kyafield.

Does Cooler Weather Help Bass Fishing?

The cooler weather has me fired up to go bass fishing, but I keep reminding myself this happens every fall. The weather changes and I think the bass change their feeding patterns immediately but they don’t respond as fast as I hope. But does cooler weather help bass fishing.

I went to Lake Oconee last Sunday with Cody Stahl and Tate Van Egmond for a Georgia Outdoor News article. For the first time in many months I was actually cold riding in a boat!

Cody and Tate won the Georgia BASS High School Championship at Eufaula last fall then came in 10th in the National High School Championship on Kentucky Lake this past spring. They attend CrossPointe Christian Academy in Hollonville and represent their school well. Both are very nice young men.

Cody and Tate both play sports and are good at their positions in football, but Cody really loves fishing and plans to attend a college next year with a fishing team so he can continue what he likes best. There are many colleges in Georgia and Alabama that offer scholarships for bass fishing, just like other sports.

Cody and Tate are very good fishermen and work together as a team while fishing. I was impressed with their skills and knowledge of fishing and bass patterns. Although fishing was still tough, we landed several short bass and Cody caught three keepers, including one weighing 3.5 pounds.

We fished shallow docks, the same thing I did the week before when I zeroed a Flint River Bass Club tournament at Oconee. The way Cody fished them was a little different. He can skip a bait under a dock much better than I can.

Bass under docks see baits a lot since a lot of people fish around them. If your bait doesn’t get back under the dock a long way they often won’t hit. And if the bait makes a big splash when it hits it seems to turn the fish off. They know it is not real.

Fishing has improved some and will get even better during the next few weeks. The Potato Creek Bassmasters fished their September tournament at Oconee last Saturday and did much better than the Flint River Club did the week before.

In their tournament, 12 members landed 24 keepers weighing 50 pounds. Kwong Yu won with a five fish limit weighing 9.57 pounds, Mike Cox was second with four at 8.10 pounds, Wesley Gunnels came in third with three weighing 6.45 pounds and Niles Murray was fourth with three at 6.27 pounds. Donnie Willis had big fish with a 3.50 pound largemouth.

In comparison, Niles came in second in the Flint River tournament the week before with two bass weighing 3.04 pounds and the nine Flint River members caught only six keepers. That is a good sign the fishing is getting better.

Bass are cold blooded so their body is the temperature of the water they are in. They are most active when water temperatures are between 68 and 72 degrees. At Oconee in the Flint River tournament the water was 88 degrees, making them sluggish. By the next week it had dropped to 81 degrees, still hotter than the best range but much better.

As the water cools and bass become more active they will chase a faster moving bait, and go further to eat it. They also move to more shallow water. They will feed more and more until the water drops into the 50s in December. Then they become more sluggish until it warms in the spring.

When water is too far above or below the best range the bass tend to go to deeper water and not feed as much so they are harder to catch. Fishermen have to change the way they fish and the baits they use to catch fish as conditions change all year long.

In water near the optimum range faster moving baits like crankbaits and spinnerbaits allow you to cover more water, fish more places and catch more fish. Slower moving baits like worms and jigs usually work best when the water is too cold or hot.

For the next three months fishing will be much more comfortable for the fisherman and fishing will be better. Combine that with the fact most pleasure boaters are off the water so you don’t rock and roll all day, and many part time fishermen are in the woods hunting or stuck in front of TVs watching football. That is why fall is my favorite time of the year to fish.

Where, When and How To Fish A Jig and PIg

A jig and pig is one of my favorite baits and I have at least one tied on year round. I have caught fish on them every month of the year, both at night and during the day. But I think October through March here in middle Georgia is the best time to fish them. I never hesitate to fish with a jig and pig any time of year, though.

The jig and pig can be fished in many ways. I usually start by dragging it along the bottom for a foot or so then hoping it up off the bottom an few inches. That imitates a crayfish feeding along the bottom then being startled and trying to get a way. When I hit brush I will pull it up a limb then let it fall back a couple of times before pulling it over the limb and letting it fall. That looks like a bream feeding in the brush. Both are effective for catching bass.

Rocks are one of the best places to fish a jig and pig. I will slide the bait along pulling it over rocks and letting it fall between them. I also hop it and pop it over rocks then let it fall back to the bottom. Spotted bass especially like rocks and a small jig and pig is almost irresistible to them. On riprap or bluff banks, I cast right to the edge and move the jig and pig slowly, keeping in contact with the fast dropping bottom. When it falls I keep my line simislack, watching it for a tick or jump until it hits the next step down, let it sit then move it until it falls again.

Around docks I try to get the jig and pig as far back into shady areas as possible. I work the bottom under the dock probing for cover. On docks with posts I pitch to each one, getting my bait right beside it then letting it fall straight down the post to the bottom. When I go over a cross brace I will pull the bait up and let it fall, just like on brush.

Stroking a jig is not something I do a lot but it is effective. Let your jig and pig fall to the bottom by a post, hesitate a few seconds then stroke your rod tip up a couple of feet, then let it fall back. This looks like a bream that gets spooked by a bass and tries to escape and will often trigger a reaction bite.

I use browns in clear water and black and blue in stained to muddy water, and dip the tails in chartreuse JJs Magic. Bream fins and tails have a chartreuse glimmer in bright light and this helps, and spots just love anything chartreuse.

Give a jig and pig a try. You will catch fish on it.

What Is A Jig and Pig for Bass Fishing and Why Should I Use One?

If you read or hear much about bass fishing, you will hear people say they use a jig and pig. But what is a jig and pig and why should you use one to fish for bass?

Lead head jig with rubber skirt and fiber weed guard

Lead head jig with rubber skirt and fiber weed guard

The jig part is a lead head jig with rubber legs or skirt. It may or may not have a weed guard on the hook.

The pig can be several things. The first ones were Uncle Josh Pork Rind Frogs – hence the name “pig.” Now most fishermen use a plastic pig and they can be many shapes and sizes. Some popular ones are chunks – a round body with two legs like the Zoom Chunk. I like a twin curly tail trailer like the Zoom Creepy Crawler or Fat Albert. Others look like crawfish, like the Net Bait Paca Craw. They come in a wide variety of colors.

The pig is attached to the hook of the jig so the body is mostly covered by the skirt and the legs or tails stick out behind the bait.

Bitsy Bug Jig and Creepy Crawler Trailer

Bitsy Bug Jig and Creepy Crawler Trailer

It is important to put the pig or trailer on so it is straight and the legs at a flat plane with the head, perpendicular to the hook. If it is bent the bait may spin and twist your line. If it is at an angle it does not look natural.

The picture above is of my favorite jig and pig – a Strike King Bitsy Bug with a Zoom Creepy Crawler trailer. This one is in browns for clear water. I use a black and blue jig and blue trailer in stained to muddy water. I use a 3/16ths to 1/4 ounce Bitsy Bug and always dip the tips ot the trailer, no matter what color it is, in chartreuse JJs Magic.

For deeper fishing or when the wind is blowing too much for the light jig, I go with the same colors in a 3/8ths to 1/2 ounce Rattleback Jig with the bigger Zoom twin tail Fat Albert trailer. And if I am trying for bigger fish I use the bigger bait. A big bass will hit the smaller bait but I do think bigger fish like bigger baits.

The Bitsy Bug and Creepy Crawler is a great bait for spotted bass but largemouth love it, too. I have done well many tournaments on a variety of lakes on these baits.

A jig and pig can be fished in all kinds of structure and cover. And they can be fished in a wide variety of ways.

Do Moon Phases Affect Fishing?

For many years I have paid attention to moon phases and solunar tables. In a tournament I always try to be on my best spot when the Solunar tables say it is a prime feeding time. I have the Solunar Tables App on my I-Phone and check it before going fishing. Maybe it just gives me a little more confidence, but I think it helps.

Fishing the Moon

By Frank Sargeant
from The Fishing Wire

Expert saltwater anglers can tell you the day of every new and full moon in every month of the year, because they depend so much on the big tides that are generated for three days on either side of these strong lunar periods to create lots of current and cause a feeding binge among species like sea trout, redfish and snook.

Does the moon affect fishing?

Does the moon affect fishing?

The full moon–as well as the new moon–can trigger fish spawning activity in freshwater lakes just as both phases do in saltwater, with the spring phases a particularly good time to go fishing. Credit Wikimedia Commons.

The strong moon phases make the high tides higher and the low tides lower, and moving that much water in and out of the estuaries naturally creates lots of tide flow, which pushes the bait around and makes it easy for gamefish to feed, which is why tide tables are so important to coastal anglers.

Freshwater anglers, not so much, but many of us could probably catch more fish more often if we paid closer attention to the big cheese-head in the sky.

Biologists say there’s definitely a surge in spawning activities for many species, including largemouth bass, crappies, bluegills and shellcrackers, on the strong moon periods. They just don’t come in the same months.

Why the pull of the moon seems to affect freshwater fish when there are no noticeable tides in fresh water is hard to figure, but some think it’s a leftover from the days when all fish were saltwater denizens.

The last strong moon period in March is likely to create the first largemouth spawn of the year in North Alabama, provided we get at least a seasonal warm-up. That warm-up now appears likely, and the new moon this month will fall on the 20th. This moon is also prime time for crappies, which will be stacked up around docks and brushpiles all over the TVA lakes as well as at Weiss and other impoundments.

The full moon in April is pretty much a no-brainer–bass are likely to be everywhere in the shallows, no matter what the weather, and there will be another push, often just as big, on the new moon. This year, the April full moon is the 4th, the new moon the 18th–good days to call in sick to work, for sure, if you’re a dedicated trophy bass angler. The fish spawn at depths anywhere from 12 inches to 6 or 8 feet in most of our lakes, frequently choosing spots around docks or other structure where their fry can hide.

A few leftover bass might still be spawning by the full moon on May 4, but by then most of the shallows will have been taken over by bluegills and shellcrackers, which spawn in the shallow bays, frequently on gravel or shell bottom. The May new moon, equally good, is the 18th.

And June can also be prime time for these panfish, though the early full moon on the 3rd is likely to be better than the new on the 16th. However, another player shows up in the shallows in June, and that is the gizzard shad–millions of them swarm into the warm bays to spawn. While anglers don’t fish for this species, they attract some very large bass ready to prey on the easy pickings, so locating an area where the shad are spawning can be key to catching some big largemouths. Shad-like swimbaits are the preferred offering, but spinnerbaits also work well.

Not to say plenty of fish of all these species won’t be caught during the weaker moon phases in spring–the fish are in the shallows, and anytime you can go fishing may be good. But if you can hit the strong phases, you just about assure yourself of good action.