Category Archives: Bass Fishing

Bass Fishing Information

Fishing Lake Hartwell with Matt Justice

A couple years ago, I met Matt Justice at Lake Hartwell to get information and pictures for my October 2016 Map of the Month article in Georgia Outdoor News. Between trips there I often forget it is only a little over two hours away, depending on traffic, and it is a beautiful lake with clear water and full of largemouth and spotted bass.

I left at 3:30 AM to meet Matt at 6:30 AM since I hate to be late. It was a good thing I did. I made it about 40 miles up I 85 north of Atlanta quickly since there was fairly light traffic that time of night. I was surprised at the number of vehicles headed north toward Atlanta, even at 4:00 AM. I guess they were trying to get to work ahead of traffic.

Suddenly I saw blue flashing lights and red tail lights a mile or so ahead of me. As I came to a stop traffic was trying to get to the right lane. When I got close enough a police officer had his car blocking the road and was routing traffic off the interstate.

I followed my GPS and some 18 wheelers through a couple of small towns to the next exit, about 10 miles north, where we got back on the interstate. That added over 30 minutes to my trip. I found out later there was a wreck with fatalities and the interstate was blocked for a long time. I am glad I was able to exit before the accident site.

I met Matt and we started fishing at daylight, casting topwater baits in a shallow cove. Matt caught a solid 2.5 pound largemouth on a topwater frog. The second place we stopped I caught 1.5 pound spot on a topwater plug back in a creek. Topwater fishing is fun and the strike is the most exciting one to me.

After fishing two more shallow areas to put on the map we started hitting main lake points, using topwater baits and drop shot worms to try to catch some spotted bass. Those points are usually good but there was no wind and no power was being generated, so there was no current. That made fishing tough!

On one of the holes, marked #3 on the map but actually the last one we fished, we both caught keeper spots on drop shot worms. But that was it for the day. I was in the car headed home by 10:30, which was great since it got me off the water before it got too hot.

The trip home was uneventful although the traffic was much heavier. But there were not wrecks so I was at home and napping shortly after 2:00PM.

Fished Germany Creek

On Saturday I fished in Germany Creek where my boat club is located. I sent several hours idling around playing with electronics, working with my Lowrance Carbon side and down scan that I finally got working right. It showed me rocks, brush and stumps on places I have fished for years but did not know were there.

I caught three keepers, one on a crankbait and two on a Carolina Rig. The sunny day had a good many fishermen on the water and some pleasure boaters, too. Clarks Hill is well stocked with stripers and hybrids and that is what most were trying to catch, but there was at least one tournament, too.

Monday was the kind of day I love this time of year. It was cloudy and a little foggy, so everything was muted and quiet. I saw three other boats all day, one of them a group of deer hunters riding to their stands near the lake. It was very peaceful.

Back in the 1970s and 80s I always stayed at the lake Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, fishing every day. One year I went to my place Christmas afternoon after dinner with my parents and Linda at their house in Dearing. For the next five days I fished every day and never saw another person.

I love it. The only reason I saw someone on the sixth day was I had to go into town and get gas for the boat. The lake is a bit more crowded now, but not too bad.

Again on Monday I spent most of my time on the water studying electronics, marking cover and structure I want to fish later. Some of it I knew about. Some of the brush I marked I put out back in the 1970s. Those cedar trees that stay underwater last a long time, and still hold fish.

I again caught three bass, all on a jig and pig off one ditch. It is similar to places Joshua and I fished on the other side of the lake. Bass like sharp drops this time of year and we used to camp at this place and called it the cliffs, since the ditch runs back and had banks that dropped straight down into the water about ten feet below. Those drops continue underwater, too.

Fish Are Biting On the Alabama River and Clarks Hill

Based on a couple of trips in November, fish are biting on the Alabama River and Clarks Hill. Based on time of year and weather, they are probably biting everywhere in-between too.

I met Peyton McCord and Cole Burdeshaw, two Auburn fishing team members, last Tuesday at Cooters Landing on the river just outside Montgomery to get information for my Alabama Outdoor News Map of the Month article. They won a team trail tournament there the end of September with ten bass weighing just under 30 pounds. They fish the river a lot, know it well, and are very good bass fishermen.

The River, as it is called locally, runs from the Lake Jordan dams near Wetumpka north of Montgomery for 80 miles to its lock and dam. It is not well known since it does not get the publicity of other nearby lakes. But it is a fantastic fishery.

Coosa spotted bass grow big and fight hard, and the River is full of them. It also has a good population of largemouth. They live in different places, with spots mostly on the main river channel and largemouth back in creeks and coves. Spots love current and live near it.

I stayed in Prattville at a Baymont Inn only 10 minutes from the ramp. Although we fished for only a few hours, we caught some nice spots in the 2.5 to three-pound range. Winter is a great time to fish it since spots are more active in colder water.

Peyton and Cole caught their fish in September on topwater baits, but that bite is about over since the water is cooler. They switch to jerk baits, crankbaits and a jig and pig for winter fishing.

It would be a fun winter trip to the River. There are good places to stay and eat nearby. And the bluff banks and points are easy structure to find and fish when you get on the water.

Last Friday I went to my place at Raysville Boat Club on Clarks Hill and fished for three days. On Sunday I met Joshua Rockefeller to get information for my Georgia Outdoor News Map of the Month article. Joshua is a student at Augusta College and on the fishing team. He grew up in nearby Harlem, only four miles from where I grew up in Dearing.

We put in at Soap Creek on the Savannah River side of the lake. My place is on the Georgia Little River, only 25 miles away by road but almost 60 miles by water. Clarks Hill is a big lake and I know little about that side of it since I have not fished it much.

The pattern Joshua showed me is fishing ditches, creek and ditch channels back in creeks. Bass move back in them as the water gets colder and he told me about the numbers and big fish he had caught out of them in the past few years.

The water was 65 degrees, about the same as it was on the Alabama River. We caught a lot of small keeper largemouth and a few small spots, but the bigger fish have not moved back yet. They will as soon as the water gets down to around 60 degrees.

Joshua fishes jigs, crankbaits and a sled, a jig head with a flat head that makes it stand up and raise the trailer to mimic baitfish feeding on the bottom. I caught several keepers on a Carolina Rig and shaky head, but he landed about twice as many as I did.

April Lake Lanier Tournament

Saturday, April 16, 15 members of the Potato Creek Bassmasters held our April tournament at Lake Lanier. James Beasley won with 9.95 pounds, Lee Hancock placed second with 9.60 pounds, Pete Peterson came in third with 9.18 pounds and Mike Cox was fourth with 7.34 pounds and had big fish with a 4.27 pound spot.

It was a very frustrating day for me. I had been seeking pictures on Facebook of a lot of big spotted bass being caught at Lanier and some of the guides were saying they were shallow and on a predictable pattern and easy to catch.

Kwong Yu fished with me and we started on a rocky island, the kind of place I had been reading about and also a place where I had caught some three pounds spots this time of year. Everything seemed perfect, with a little wind blowing in on the rocks, and we tried a variety of baits but had only one short strike there.

We tried a couple of more places that I like to fish and Kwong got a good keeper on a jig and pig. I missed one on a spinnerbait. But after three hours we had only one bass in the boat.

Kwong suggested a place down the Lake and we went there, but one arm of the creek was unfishable due to the wind blowing into it. The other arm was more protected and I managed to catch a keeper spot on a Carolina rigged lizard. And we both caught some spots shorter than the 14 inch limit.

With about an hour left to fish we went to some docks near the weigh-in site. Kwong fishes them a lot but I don’t usually fish there. I caught a 2.5 pound spot on a jig head worm from one of them, and we caught some more throwbacks, but that was it for the day.

Two keepers weighing a little over four pounds in eight hours was not what I expected at Lanier. I had heard the best bait was a Rapala Wake Bait, a new version of an old bait, but I didn’t have any. I went by Berry’s Monday and they have ordered some. I just have to have the hot bait, even if the hot bait will be something else next week!

Fishing this spring has been unusual, just like it is every spring. It seems like the weather swapped for April and March, with warmer weather in March than so far in April. That is one thing that keeps fishing so interesting and frustrating, the only thing that is consistent about fishing is it is inconsistent!

Setting the Hook and Falling

Last Sunday ten members of the Spalding County Sportsman Club fished our January tournament at Jackson Lake. It was a bit breezy and cool when we started at 7:30 and not much better when we weighed in at 3:30. The only thing that got cold on me were my hands, thanks to insulated underwear, flannel jeans and wind proof pants, with toe warmers in my boots. That, along with six layers on top and a hard hat liner and hooded jacket, left only my hands exposed. I have tried dozens of expensive fishing gloves but never found any I can wear while fishing, so my hands are exposed all day.

We landed 25 bass weighing about 37 pounds and 18 of them were spotted bass. One person had a limit and one did not catch a keeper. That morning before take-off Jay told me he had fished Friday and found some fish and was confident he could catch a limit weighing ten pounds. Of course, he was the only one without a keeper.

Raymond English started the year right, winning with four keepers weighing 7.69 pounds. Kwong Yu was second with two keepers weighing 6.33 pounds and had big fish with a 4.76 pound largemouth. Wayne teal had the limit weighing 5.24 pounds and placed third. I managed to scratch out four little spots weighing 4.71 pounds for fourth.

I started near the ramp where I won a Flint River tournament last January under the same conditions but never got a bite. I noticed Raymond and Niles going across the cover at take off with trolling motor only and found out later Raymond had motor trouble. Sometimes it pays to fish rather than ride around. I should have stayed in that area!

Instead I ran up to Tussahaw Creek to my favorite point but got no bites there, either. At 9:30 as I fished out of a shallow cove, I pulled up on my shaky head worm and felt a fish spit it out. With cold hands and wind blowing my line, I never felt the bite.
But on the other side of the point I landed my biggest keeper of the day, a 1.5-pound spot, on a crankbait.

The next stop was a shallow cove with a seawall around it. I pitched my shaky head worm to it in about a foot of water and felt a bite. My legs and feet were hurting so, rather than stand up and set the hook like I normally do, I tried setting it sitting down.

That was a mistake. For the first time in my life I feel flat on my back trying to set the hook. Fortunately, I fell into the boat, not out of it. And as I fell my line went over the trolling motor head and I pulled the 13-inch spot out of the water. It hung there until I could get up, get my line off the motor and land it. Some fish are just meant to get caught.

A little further around the cove I landed a short spot, then missed a bite, both on the worm. I hoped that was a pattern, but after several more stops without bite I went another point and landed two keepers on a crankbait within a couple of casts.

The fish seemed to be bunched up a little, and I got bites in only three places all day but got several on each. Although I went back to them, I didn’t get any more bites the rest of the tournament.

Tournament on Lake Sinclair

Closer to home the Potato Creek Bassmasters fished our first tournament of the year at Sinclair last Saturday. The water was very muddy in the Little and
Oconee Rivers. Even the creeks at the dam, usually clear, had very stained water. I do not like cold muddy water, especially like it was Saturday when my chartreuse crankbait disappeared about two inches deep.

In the tournament, seventeen fishermen caught 45 bass weighing 80 pounds. Niles Murray showed us all how it can be done in cold muddy water by winning with five that weighed 14.50 pounds. Edward Folker placed second with two weighing 8.54 pounds and had big fish with a 5.79-pound bass. Doug Acree came in third with five at 8.10 and Ryan Edge was fourth with three at 6.65 pounds.

Niles is in the groove fishermen love. It happens sometimes that everything just seems right. Maybe he is getting that “sixth sense” that some have. He has won three of four club tournaments in the past month and also placed third in the Berry’s tournament in January against some of the best fishermen in the area.

Me, not so much. At Sinclair I started on a mud flat with a small hard clay patch I found years ago. It has produced some good fish for me over the years, especially in January. But my hopes fell when my crankbait did not show up in the muddy water.

I fished that area for about 90 minutes without a bite then decided to run to the dam to look for clearer water rather than fish the next place I had planned in Beaverdam Creek. Rocky Creek usually has the clearest water on the lake, and its rocks are good this time of year, but the water was very stained, even there. My chartreuse crankbait disappeared about four or five inches deep, better but not great.

I fished that area for over four hours and had two bites, one on a jig and one on a shaky head worm but missed both. They could have been bream or crappie, or a big bass, but I will never know. I made the decision to go back to Beaverdam Creek for the rest of the tournament.

I again fished the clay spot but got no bites, and a deep brush pile where I won a Sportsman Club tournament last January, but nothing. At 2:00 I went to where I did not go that morning. At 2:20 I hooked and landed a largemouth a little over three pounds, then a few minutes later landed a keeper on a spinnerbait. The hooks fell out of both in the net, so I knew the fish were just nipping the bait. I was lucky to land them. That was enough to make me decide to fish that point the rest of the day.

At 3:00 I hooked a fish on a crankbait. It rolled on top and I could see I had barely hooked it on a back hook and was another three pound plus fish. I carefully worked it toward the boat and put the net in the water. As may line got close to the net I could not see the bass in the muddy water. I did see it as it swam by the net and for a second though it was in it.

No such luck, the front hooks of the plug hung in the net as the fish swam under it and the bass pulled off. I ended up with about 5.5 pounds. That fish would have put me in second place, but the big ones always seem to get away. I needed Niles’ luck and skill!

Fishing Lake Allatoona with Carter Koza

Carter with Allatoona largeamouth and spot


Bass are biting, if you do the right thing. A couple of trips in the past week proved my point that some people can catch bass, even on the worse possible conditions. On days I think they are just not biting because of one of my excuses for not catching fish, some are catching fish.

For years folks called Lake Allatoona “The Dead Sea!” After a trip a week ago, I won’t ever call it that again. I had a great trip with Carter Koza and his father Jamie Koza, owner of The Dugout, getting information for my February Georgia Outdoor News Magazine https://www.facebook.com/GeorgiaOutdoorNews/ Map of the Month article.

Carter caught nine keepers in half day fishing, from 7:30 to 12:30, including a two-pound largemouth and two spots about three pounds each. All hit a Spro Rock Crawler 50 on rocks, the pattern for the article. It was what I consider the worst weather conditions possible for catching fish, first day of a strong cold front. Bright sunny skies. Windy, but that is usually a good thing. The water was very stained, but Carter said that makes for the best winter fishing at Allatoona – cold muddy water is a good thing there!

Carter is a sophomore in high school. Younger fishermen like him amaze me with their skills and knowledge. Cater had a great mentor in his father, and he learned well. He explained patterns, what the bass were doing and eating, and why he chose the bait he used, as well as any pro. His knowledge is better than mine even though I have been tournament fishing for almost 50 years!!

I would like to fish Allatoona more often, but its location up I-75 north of Atlanta means ridiculous traffic, especially pulling a boat. I avoid going inside I-285 whenever possible. Traffic is bad on I-285, but there are fewer bad merging places. The absolutely worse place, unless there is a wreck, is coming south on I-75 where it merges with I-85. I hate pulling a boat through there anytime since you have to change several lanes fairly fast to avoid exit only lanes, and with thick traffic it is dangerous with a boat.

What Are Ned Rigs?

Alternative Ned Rigs Elevate Your Finesse Game

Ned rig catches big fish


Photo courtesy of Jon Ray

By Ted Pilgrim
from The Fishing Wire

The legendary Ned Kehde isn’t likely to utter the phrase that’s made him famous; the term for the rig that’s forever transformed the bass fishing landscape. Actually, the chances of Kehde going third-person like some Prima donna wide receiver are roughly the same as his odds of playing in the NFL. That’s just Ned being Ned: the fact the humble Hall of Fame angler would rather credit those other fathers of finesse—Chuck Woods, Guido Hibdon, Harold Ensley, etc.—than acknowledge his own momentous role in bass fishing’s backstory.

Such modesty can be misinterpreted, but in Kehde’s case simply underscores the exceptional skill with which he practices the method known more broadly as ‘Midwest Finesse.’ Friend and former NASCAR driver Terry Bevins says, “Ned’s one of the best finesse anglers in the country. Put him in the back of the boat with one of his finesse jigs, and he’s likely to whoop your butt.”

To hear Kehde tell it, the bass-catching power of his “little jig” is so great there’s simply no reason to change it. “In years past, we’ve experimented with just about every new rigging refinement you can think of.” notes Kehde. “In the shallow impoundments we fish, none have been so fruitful as an exposed-hook, mushroom-style jig dressed with half a ZinkerZ or other finesse worm. Day after day, season after season, it inveigles dozens and dozens and dozens of bass.”

Prop Joey Nania


The ‘Ned-Miki Rig’ has scored big bags of largemouth, spotted and striped bass for pro angler and guide, Joey Nania.

The Ned-Miki

Interestingly, the same simple motivation to catch more bass has inspired anglers across America to create unique and individualized versions of the Ned Rig framework—both in retrieve and the way they fasten a finesse bait to a hook.

Longtime Ned Rig fan Joey Nania, professional angler and Alabama based fishing guide, has devised a couple key mods to the presentation. Recently, he’s guided clients to loads of spotted, largemouth and striped bass, wielding a concoction he calls the Ned-Miki Rig. “As bass fans know, the Damiki Rig has been a money presentation for enticing shad-focused bass suspended in 15 to 30 feet,” says Nania. “But you need a really well-balanced, 90-degree jighead and a compact shad-shaped bait to pull it off. Having fished the Z-Man NedlockZ HD jighead for a lot of my regular Ned Rig fishing, I realized this head would really shine for ‘video-game’ fishing—working individual bass on sonar, vertically, playing cat-and-mouse. It’s versatile enough that you can cast the bait to suspended fish, too, just letting it glide and pendulum as you work it back to the boat.”

Ned-Miki


The Ned-Miki Rig: NedlockZ HD jighead and StreakZ 3.75

A 1/10- or 1/6-ounce NedlockZ HD, says Nania, melds perfectly with a Z-Man StreakZ 3.75, a bait he calls “one of the best small shad imitations ever. And because it’s made from ElaZtech, the bait’s super buoyant. When you pause and let the Ned-Miki soak, the bait maintains a natural horizontal posture. Similar fluke-style baits aren’t buoyant, making them ride tail-down, rather than hovering horizontal like a live shad.”

Northern anglers fish a similar method, keying on suspended or rock-hugging smallmouth bass. The Ned-Miki has even evolved into a superlative substitute for a dropshot rig, which isn’t quite so precise for big sluggish smallmouths hunkered down between boulders.

“Watch the bait drop on the sonar screen until it’s about 1 foot above the fish’s head,” Nania explains. “Hold the bait still. When a bass begins to rise and chase, lift the bait to take it away. Sometimes, a bass will chase the Ned-Miki up 15 or 20 feet, absolutely crushing it on an intercept course. Other times, you have to entice them a little, using the bait’s super-soft, high-action tail to close the deal. Almost like a dropshot, but even more dead-on.”

All-Terrain Ned

Going where no Ned Rig has gone before, Nania is ecstatic when he mentions another new finesse device. “What can I say about the Finesse BulletZ, man? This jighead is off-the-charts cool. Rig one with a Finesse TRD, MinnowZ or TRD CrawZ and fish simply can’t tear it off. I’ve had the same bait on the same jighead for the past week, and dozens of bass later, it’s still going strong.”

Made to snake Ned Rig style ElaZtech baits through the thickest cover, the Finesse BulletZ sports a subtle bullet-shaped head and a slender keel weight molded precisely onto a custom, heavy-duty size 1 VMC EWG hook. “People look at this jig and wonder how the heck you rig a bait without tearing it. It’s funny because it’s actually a non-issue with ElaZtech, which is pretty much tear-proof. And once the bait’s in place, it’s there until you take it off.

“Goes without saying that the bait’s weedless,” says Nania. “But I’m also just discovering how well the little jig skips under docks,” he adds. “Regardless of the cover— rocks, brush, grass, manmade structures, etc.—this is one incredible jig-bait combo for finessing big bass in places you couldn’t previously throw a Ned Rig.

“I like to rig a 1/10-ouncer with a TRD MinnowZ—Smelt and Hot Snakes are two of my favorite patterns—and skip it under docks. Rigging the same bait on a 1/6-ounce Finesse BulletZjig also shines for casting into deeper schools of bass.”

Nania notes how the jig’s keel weight makes the bait glide and slide horizontally, rather than nose-down. “It’s like some radical, improved version of the slider head, except this jig perfectly matches 2- to 4-inch finesse-style baits. And you can pull it right through the thickest brush piles with no problem at all.”

From southern impoundments to northern lakes and rivers, the Finesse BulletZ jig may be at its best when rigged with Z-Man’s authentic mini-crayfish bait, the 2.5-inch TRD CrawZ. “The TRD CrawZ is a subtle, unassuming little critter,” says professional angler Luke Clausen. “But rigged with the Finesse BulletZ jig, the bait rides in this freakishly lifelike, claws-up posture. Put it in the water and its buoyant little claws flap and wave, virtually taunting bass to bite—and they do,” Clausen laughs.

Weedless Ned Rigs


Weedless Ned Rig: Finesse BulletZ jigheads with TRD CrawZ, Finesse TRD and TRD MinnowZ (top to bottom)
Ned-Neko?

Blurring boundaries between Ned-style and other finesse presentations, creative anglers have concocted what we’ll call the Ned-Neko Rig. Coupling a Finesse TRD, Hula StickZ or other buoyant finesse bait with a Neko hook and Neko weight yields astonishing action, and an intriguing underwater posture.

Hooking configurations depend on cover and bass activity level. The simplest is to Texas-rig your chosen finesse bait onto a #1 to 2/0 Neko style hook. Finish the Neko-Ned Rig by inserting a 1/32- to 1/8-ounce Neko weight into the bait’s tail-end, resulting in a compelling pogo-stick-action along bottom. Also effective is a drag-and-deadstick retrieve, particularly in small, high-percentage zones.

Or, you can get extra wacky (pun intended), and hook the worm right through the middle, leaving the Neko weight in the tail. The toughness of ElaZtech even eliminates the need for an O-ring; just a 1/0 Gamakatsu Finesse Wide Gap hook, your favorite TRD and another alluring look bass can’t say no to. Ned inspired. Ned approved.

Z-Man Neko ShroomZ


Ned-Neko Rigs – “Z-Man Neko ShroomZ (prototype) with Finesse TRD (weedless) and Neko ShroomZ with Hula StickZ (wacky)

Lake Lanier Tournament

Sunday, January 6, 14 members of the Flint River Bass Club fished our January tournament at Lanier. After eight hours of casting we brought n 34 keeper spotted bass weighing about 65 pounds. There were no largemouth caught. Two fishermen had five fish limits and two did not catch a keeper.

Niles Murray won with a very good catch of five weighing 12.77 pounds and Jack Ridgeway had five at 10.0 pounds for second. Chuck Croft placed third with four weighing 9.16 pounds and Travis Weatherly came in fourth with five weighing 8.16 pounds. Dan Phillips had big fish with a 4.39-pound spot.

I had just interview three Lanier guides for a January Georgia Outdoor News article on how to catch fish out of ditches at Lanier, and Chuck and Travis said they caught their fish that way. Seems like I could have used what they told me, but after two hours without a bite trying it, I did my usual, going to places I have caught bass in the past.

I thought I was on something when I caught a 2.5-pound spot from some brush 30 feet deep on a jig and pig. So, I spent the next two hours trying that pattern without another bite. That made me run to the back of a creek and fish shallow, another pattern that has worked in the past, but it produced only one keeper and one throwback the rest of the day. I placed sixth with 4.93 pounds.

When I got home, I saw on Facebook that a friend had landed 18 pounds in another tournament that day on Lanier and did not win. He said he caught more than 20 keepers in the fist ditch he fished that morning. It took over 19 pounds to win and several fishermen had over 15 pounds. Most caught their fish from ditches.

Fish bite for somebody somewhere on a lake on any day. It is fun to get out there, try to figure them out and catch them. It can be frustrating but
I love it.

—-

Congratulations to Niles Murray and Sam Smith. They placed third in the Berry’s tournament at Sinclair last Saturday. There were about 120 boats in that tournament, so it was very competitive!

Excuses For Not Catching Fish

I can always come up with lots of excuses when I don’t catch bass. But fishing tournaments and looking at results from other tournaments on the same lake the same day tell me they are just excuses.

The fish just didn’t bite, it was a bad day. The water was too muddy, or it was too clear. The weather was too sunny, or it was too cloudy. I fished the wrong depth, lure, place or speed. There was no current or there was too much current.

The water level was too low, or it was too high. The water was rising, or it was dropping. I didn’t spend enough time on the lake. I just don’t fish this lake enough. I’m getting old and can’t fish hard like I used to.

All are good excuses, but they don’t seem to apply to everybody else that fished the same day, for some reason. When I do everything I can think of for eight hours and catch only two bass in eight hours, like I did last Sunday, its hard to admit I am just not that good a fisherman.

Good fishermen don’t make excuses, they just figure out how to catch bass. Even though everyone, even the top pros, have bad days and don’t do well, they are much more consistent than I am, and that is true of most club fishermen. There are different levels of expertise.

I get to fish with some of the top pros in the US doing “research” for magazine articles. The BASS Elite Series and FLW Tour have some of the best bass fishermen in the world on them. Of those pros, I have spent the day in the boat with 11 guys on the Elite Series and seven of the Tour guys.

I have written about 275 Map of the Month articles in Georgia Outdoor News magazine in the past 23 years and about 100 in Alabama Outdoor News over the past eight years since it started. Not only do I go out with the top pros, I do those articles with other good fishermen, including local tournament fishermen, college and high school fishermen and men and women that guide on the lake.

Looks like I would learn how to catch fish. And I do learn and pick up tips and skills from them. But all of them have one thing in common, they go out and figure out what the fish are doing that day and are adaptable. They do not keep doing the same thing and getting the same bad results as I tend to do.

I think the really good fishermen have some “sixth sense“ for finding and catching bass. I get little glimmers of it some days, just knowing if I do certain things they will work even before I go fishing. But it is not consistent.

Some say that sixth sense comes from time on the water and experience. Maybe for some, but it has not worked that way for me.

Way back in 1983 I almost qualified for the BASS Classic through the federation route, missing going by one two-pound bass in a three day Regional tournament. I thought I was pretty good, so I signed up for the Redman Trail, the BFL now, the next year. After fishing all six in 1984 without getting a check I thought it was first year jitters.

I fished all six the next year and again did not get a check. That made me decide I am a pretty good club fisherman but not above that level. Some trips make me wonder about being good even at that level, as the results below show.