Friday, July 16, 2010

July, Summer, and Fishing Memories

July always was my favorite month of the year and this year is no exception. Independence Day is a chance for all of us to remember how lucky we are to be able to have the freedoms we often take for granted. I sit here now in my living room writing to you, enjoying those rights that were secured for me by my forefathers and I am truly proud to be living in this beautiful country.

My late fathers birthday, which has come and gone on the 7th, always makes me think of the summer party that mom would have for both of us and the fun that we would all share. Life is much more complicated now and trying to have a party for Bryan, who turned 9 on the 6th was both an expense we can not afford right now and a difficult one to plan with my wife Shirley working almost everyday. I am hopeful that things will change, jobs will return, and we will once again live a little more comfortably.

My neighbor Mark, made my birthday on the 9th one I will not soon forget. He gave us tickets to the local NASCAR race at Chicagoland Speedway and I was able to go and watch my favorite race car driver Jeff Gordon try to win for the second time while I was at the track. He finished 3rd but my best friend Rich and I had a great time and I was so lucky to have been able to attend this years race.

Now we are anticipating our summer fishing trip to Orr, Minnesota and a week of great fishing. My brothers Kevin & Keith, Kevin's stepson Noah and Kevin's father in law Jim, my friend Rich and his son Rick, Bryan and I will be heading to Pelican Lake. This is the first year in a long time that the men are going solo, so I am sure it will make for lots of laughs and some interesting moments in the cabin, to say the least. It has been many years since the three brothers have fished together on Pelican and I am sure we are all excited to have the opportunity to share the experience once again.

Summer will move on, the kids will return to school, and I will hold on to the memories of July 2010 until next year rolls around. Today is only the 16th, so I still have a few more great weeks to go in my favorite month of the year!

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Friday, July 9, 2010

The Big 3 for Big Bass!

Most of us dedicated fishermen take the time to study a lake map before we go fishing. I agree that it's well worth the time and a good idea to have a plan of attack when you get out on the water. We all know that locating fish can sometimes be the most difficult part of the trip. For that reason, I like to spend a good amount of time re-checking my tracks after a full day of fishing. I pull out my maps either on-line or my fold-up versions and try to determine why I caught fish from a particular location. In order to do this I use my GPS unit to re-trace the places that I fished, carefully noting the areas, time, and methods that I used to catch them.

Some days it can be a rather simple process. For example, you are fishing for smallies and you notice while reviewing your lake map that you caught all your fish from rocky humps in less than 10ft of water. You make a log (or in my case just file it away in the back of my mind) for the next time I fish that lake under those conditions. Other outings can be much more complex and a little bit harder to figure out. On a fishing trip a few years back we caught largemouths from only a few locations across the lake, and while I was in the boat I was a bit perplexed as to why that was occurring. I took a look at the map later that evening in the cabin and I was able to determine that the points where we caught fish on that day, had a combination of rock, weed, and depths of 5ft or greater right near the shore. We also noticed that the wind was blowing directly at them. We used that information to target the bass the next day and had quite a successful remainder of the week.

In doing this over a period of time and remembering where I caught my biggest bass, I have noticed that three main elements have always been a constant during each of those catches.

The first one is deep water access. Now when I say deep water, it can be the difference of a few feet in a river or pond, or as much as 15ft to 35ft depending on where you are fishing. The key for me has been that big bass like to evacuate to deep water from time to time and they don't like to travel too far or spend too much energy to get there. That's probably why they get so fat! Use your map to find good locations next to deep water and I guarantee you'll catch more big bass.

Our second constant is a little bit harder to determine but if you do your homework you can figure this one out without leaving your map. Big bass need lots of food. Check the map and find out what forage exists in the lake. Not only will that help you to decide what lures to use to catch them, it will also help to determine where the fish will be located at certain times of the year or under varying conditions. No food where your fishing probably means that you will not catch any big bass.

The third key is the most important and not always the most obvious, but big bass need to find and relate to heavy cover. This could be a log, weeds, tree, sunken island, docks or whatever. Find the cover and you'll find the big bass. Big bass won't chase your lure very far so it is critical to cast as accurately as possible, and be ready for the few chances that you do get. These fish don't get to be the biggest bass in the lake by being out in the open water roaming a flat waiting for you to throw them an easy meal. There are exceptions to every rule (smallmouths especially) but the majority of the time big bass will be in heavy cover.

Key in on these three points on your next trip and you will increase your odds of finding and catching big bass. Don't fish with blinders on. Get a good map of the lake before you head to the launch and take the time to study and mark the good locations. It can make all the difference in making it a great day of fishing. Pinpoint the areas where you had success and note the reasons why the fish were there. That will make the process much quicker the next time your out on that body of water. Have a great time fishing and remember, you can't catch any fish if your line isn't in the water!

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