Monday, June 14, 2010

Bass Tip # 1

I thought it was time for me to share with you a few things that I have learned over my 30 something years of chasing after Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass. All of us who have been fishing for Bass long enough, know that sometimes you look like a genius on the water and other days you couldn't catch a fish if you threw every lure in your tackle box. It can be quite frustrating at times and I've seen it played out time and time again. But over the years, the bad days have been less frequent than they used to be, and I think I've finally started to understand why this is.

To explain it to you, I have to go back to something I observed while watching my brother Keith fishing for Muskies. During our tournaments that we have fished in, Keith has consistently out fished me in his Muskie angling. I always thought he just had a lucky horseshoe up his (insert your own reference here) but have come to realize that there is a big difference in the way that he works his lures over a particular spot than I do. There have been times when we have worked the exact same lure over an area and I won't see a fish, but he will have all the action. It comes down to only one thing. He works the bait correctly to achieve it's maximum potential. He is in sync with his lure.

Now go back to Bass fishing where I have done the same thing to Keith on a number of occasions. We have fished the exact location with the same bait and I have out fished him more times than not. It relates directly to how I am working the bait over the specific structure or area. What I have surmised through watching all of this is that once you have determined where the location of the fish are, and the mood or strike zone of the fish, it comes down to knowing how to work the lure you are using.

We all have our "go to baits" when things get tough. It may be a spinner bait that can be worked over water fast to locate active fish, or it might be a plastic worm worked over the cover slowly to target inactive Bass. Whatever method you choose, it is the knowledge of how to work that individual bait, that will obtain the best results. That's why we consider that bait as our "go to bait". It is because we know how to work it. By using the lure correctly, and knowing what works, we develop confidence in that bait, and that is the key to consistent success.

When you are out on your favorite body of water, remember to try this tip. Stick to what you know when the bite is slow. This will give you the most confidence, and you will know that you are working the bait correctly. When the bite is on, switch to a lure that you are unfamiliar with and test it to see if you can learn how to correctly work that bait. This will help you to develop other methods and lures that you will build confidence in. The more "go to" baits that you have in your arsenal the better Bass fisherman you will become.

Grab your tackle box, head for your favorite fishing hole, and remember it's not always what lure you use, but how you use your lure. While you're out there, testing and learning about your unfamiliar baits, don't forget you can't catch any fish if your line isn't in the water.

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Saturday, June 5, 2010

Who Is To Blame? I Am!

I've been trying to avoid writing this for some time, thinking that if I turned my head and looked away it would all be over. As most of you can see from watching the news each night, or following on the web, this devastation in the Gulf is not going away and will be far more damaging than any of us could imagine. It would be easy for us to sit here in the Midwest and think that the oil spill doesn't mean that much to me, but it in fact, it will have a trickle down effect on the ecosystem that could last well into the next few generations.

Our issues closer to home consist of a term "invasive species" that have altered our lakes rivers and streams in ways we could not have envisioned. The list goes on and on. Water Milfoil, Zebra Mussels, Rusty Crayfish, Asian Carp, to name a few. I would consider oil to be a little invasive too, although it is not considered a "species".

What is most bothersome to me about the oil spill is that I do not blame BP for what has happened but I blame myself for taking part in creating this disaster. As an American I have helped contribute to our continuing demand for oil production. The car I drive, the boat I fish from, the plastics I use, all come from the oil.

The fishing industry in the Gulf, both commercial and for sport, has been decimated by the oil slick. How ironic it is that each and every one of those vessels had to fuel up each day with gas derived from the oil. The oil rig platforms dotted amongst the Gulf were in fact a haven for many different sport fish. Many times I have watched fishing shows where the hottest action was right next to these offshore pilings.

So where do we go from here? I think it's about time that America considers another fuel source that will be far more environmentally friendly than our growing need for oil. There are alternative fuels out there that need to be developed and tested. Alternative "friendly" plastics are already being used, and we can all do our part to recycle as much of the plastic we use as possible.

The next time I'm out on the water and I fire up the V4120 Evinrude and buzz across the lake, or up my favorite river, I'll remember that I took part in creating the BP oil spill of 2010! As Forrest Gump would say, "That's all I got to say about that."

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

First of June!

I spent this Tuesday a little differently than I had originally planned, after staying up late last night to watch the Chicago Blackhawks take a two games to none lead in the Stanley Cup. I TIVO'D the game so I wouldn't have to be rude at my Mother-In-Laws cookout, and I finished watching it around 12:30am. Thank you to all for not calling or texting me with the score and ruining my perfect end to the Memorial Day weekend. With that said, I didn't feel like doing much of anything today, and the weather is about as perfect as you can get it here in Chicago on this first of June. So off to the river I went to spend a few hours alone chasing after some Smallmouth Bass and whatever else will tug at the end of my line.

Being as lazy as I feel today, I didn't even stop at Cool Waters bait shop to load up on the fathead minnows like I normally do. No! I thought I was just going to cast a few spots with a minnow style crank bait and catch Bass after Bass until my son got home from school. I brought one extra lure with me just in case I hung one in the tree, and wasn't able to retrieve it. I was so confident with the bait I had selected, that my reserve lure was the exact same bait.

After applying all my sunscreen and getting in my waders I entered the water so quickly that I forgot to bring a bottle of water with me on my quest. I didn't care. I was going to catch them so fast, I wouldn't have the time to drink water!

Ninety minutes later I was one mile down river and hadn't felt anything tick my crank bait except for the river bottom and a few weeds. "Time to move below the islands" I said to myself, and so I exited the river, walked down the road another half mile or so and re-entered the river. From that point on I waded another mile or so, and again not one Bass even touched the back of my lure. And I call myself a fisherman? Not sure if that applies to me anymore, after the futile attempts I made this weekend to land a few fish.

What can be said about me, is that even in the jaws of defeat I enjoyed my four hours of wading amongst one of the most scenic stretches of river in the state of Illinois. Each and every time I wade in the Fox river I experience something different, new, or exciting, and I'm able to take that memory home with me until the next time I return.

Today I saw a Woodpecker sitting on a tree with the most perfect red head and white belly, a bed of Lilly pads with all it's yellow flowers in full bloom. Tadpoles swam between the small rocks over a shallow gravel flat. A Smallmouth Bass, leaped out of the water like a rocket ship and then splashed on his side. A Crane stalked it's prey in a small pool, and pulled out a river shiner. Lastly I came upon a school of carp, nearing three dozen strong, resting in the slack water.

Today, I take from my favorite waters, a sore arm, a few good pictures, all my lures that I brought with me, and the endless desire to Cast Across America!

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