Fine Tuning Your Pattern
By Ken Cook
When fishing “targets,” such as logs or docks or even grass beds, it is best to begin by targeting the outside parts of the cover. Then, after a few strikes, try to determine what part of the cover is producing the majority of the bites. It might be the junction of the logs and limbs, the corner piling of a dock or the extended points of the grass beds.
As you proceed to other similar covers, concentrate your casts to the most likely part of the structure, based upon the previous action. This will allow more presentations to the highest percentage spots in each cover. Now you have accomplished what is called, “fine tuning your pattern.” A confidence lure is always a good start.
Adjusting The Drag
By Denny Brauer
By adjusting the drag, we’re not talking about slugging the guy in the corner wearing the red dress. We’re talking about properly setting the tension adjustment on your bait casting reel.
The tension adjustment will allow you to make a smooth cast, with no override or backlash. I like to fill my reel spools to about 1/8 of an inch from the top. Set your tensions based upon line size and fishing technique. In other words, if you are flippin, in heavy cover, tighten your drag so it will not slip, as you manhandle the fish from the structure. If you’re using light line with a crankbait, set the tension to slip so the line does not break or the hooks tear out of the fish’s mouth at the boat.
Accuracy Is Important
by Charlie Campbell
Whether you fly cast, spin cast or bait cast, the most important thing to master is accuracy. Missing your target not only results in an empty stringer but can be one of the biggest factors in destroying your confidence as an angler.
There is no substitute for practice. Gain confidence at home, in the backyard, by picking out a target and casting at it until you can hit it consistently. Do this without even thinking of the fundamentals of casting and you will become a much more successful angler.
Remember, don’t always cast right on top of the targeted spot. Learn to cast beyond this target and pull your bait to the spot. This prevents spooking the fish that lurks there.
Everything In Its Place
By O.T. Fears
Every fisherman knows the importance of having the right tool at his fingertips when he needs it. Pliers, clippers, scissors, file and sharpeners all have their place and serve a purpose during the course of a trip. Keep these handy, by placing them in a holder where they are easily accessible. Attach the holder with Velcro so that it can easily be removed and kept out of the weather.
Since tools of this nature do have a tendency to rust, you might select one of those new holders that has a sponge insert for slipping the tools in and out. Add a little oil to the sponge and you’ll actually lubricate the tools every time you remove them from the holder.
Emergencies On The Water
By Joy Scott
Are you prepared for emergencies on the water? I’m not talking about having all the required safety equipment on board, that’s the law. Are you equipped to handle routine equipment malfunction?
You should carry a spare pin and prop for your trolling motor. Many serious anglers carry a spare trolling motor. How about a spare prop for your outboard? Never know when you might sling a hub. Don’t forget a proper wrench to change the prop. An extra quart of outboard oil can save the day. Keep a few tools in the boat as well as a flashlight and extra set of batteries. A fifty foot length of nylon tow rope can be handy. Also, a good investment can be a small, hand-held VHF radio for emergencies or for monitoring the weather channels.
Buzzin’ A Grub
By Chris Houston
A new technique that’s a lot of fun and gaining popularity among pro anglers is called “Buzzin’s a Grub.” Use a heavy-bodied 4″-6″ grub, especially one with a long, ribbon tail. Rig this without a weight on a 4/0 or 5/0 hook, tied directly to at least 14 lb. test line. The lure’s bulk makes it easy to cast, even on a bait casting outfit. The tail creates a lot of surface action similar to a small buzz bait. Reel this lure fast enough to “buzz” the surface.
The rig will be totally weedless and can be fished effectively in thick grass, weeds or heavily wooded cover. Top water strikes will be explosive. Drop your rod tip and let the fish take the grub for a couple seconds before setting the hook, hard.
Change With Conditions
By Cecil Kingsley
Let’s say you’ve gone a weekend fishing trip. Saturday was overcast, little breeze, moderate temperature and you caught your limit while establishing a working pattern.
On Sunday, Mother Nature throws you a curve. It becomes a bright “Blue Bird” day. The wind kicks up, the temperature drops, a front has passed and the barometer is rising. The pattern you caught them on yesterday shuts off. An adjustment is in order.
Chances are, the fish have not migrated a long way from yesterday’s pattern. Slow down, read your fish finder carefully. The front has them tighter on the nearest structure. Go to lighter line, smaller baits and much more deliberate presentation. Bites will be lighter, so be on your toes. You might even have to go a little deeper than on the previous day.
Top Water Lure Trick
By Zell Rowland
Some anglers believe that top water lures work only on a calm, overcast day. The truth is, you can catch a lot of fish on top water on a very windy day.
I like to take top water bait such as a Devils Horse and turn it around backwards by removing the front screw eye and inserting it into the rear of the lure. The I’ll put the rear screw eye with the hook into the front of the lure. By doing this you are able to cast the lure into the wind much better while still getting good accuracy with your lure. In very windy conditions it is a good idea to work the lure a little faster with more action.
The key to catching deep water suspending fish is to get your lure in front of a fish’s face. That means you have to accurately position your bait at the level fish are suspending.
“There are all kinds of ways you can do this. You can use lead sinkers, lead-core line, snap weights, bottom walkers, etc. One of the easiest ways is to simply use thinner fishing lines. The thinner a line is, the easier it will cut through water and allow you to get your lure down deep. The problem is, with most traditional fishing lines, the thinner the line, the less strength it has, but with superlines, such as Spider Wire Braid, you can get deep because the line is a lot thinner than traditional lines. On top of that, you still have maximum strength.”
“If you worm fish, you know you need a little sensitivity. I don’t mean you have to cry. What I mean is you need to be able to feel that little twitch through your line that you know means you’ve got a fish gumming your bait. For years I used traditional lines, but I’ve found with super lines such as Spider Wire Fusion, that I can feel that twitch so much better. And as you know, the sooner you feel that twitch, the sooner you can set the hook.
“The other thing I like about super lines is it’s zero-stretch, especially when worm fishing. It’s a real important feature when you’re trying to set the hook on a fish that’s at least 15 feet away. I also like to take advantage of Fusion’s thin diameter for downsizing from a heavy-action to a medium-action rod, which offers more sensitivity because of the faster rod tip.”
As fish move closer to the surface, it often requires longer casts because fish can see clearly and may be spooked by your presence. When you make a long cast with monofilament, it’s difficult to set the hook properly. Because of its floating and near zero-stretch characteristics, I use Spider Wire Fusion. When you set the hook with Spider Wire Fusion, whether it’s from 10 to 50 feet, it’s solid. In addition to SpiderWire Fusion’s zero-stretch characteristics, the line also has a medium stiffness in the body that allows top-water baits to come alive, even during slow retrieves.
Looking Beyond Protection
By Denny Brauer
Everyone knows the importance of a good pair of sunglasses while fishing. I’ve found that a good pair of polarized glasses serves much more of a purpose than just protecting the eyes.
When you are a sight fisherman a good pair of glasses are worth their weight in gold. I look for hiding spots where bass use, and concentrate my casts to these high percentage spots. I’ll even carry a spare set just in case I drop a pair overboard or if my day’s partner happens not to have a pair. My sunglasses also afford protection for bugs and sand while running the boat at high speed.
Hey Mom, I Wanna Go Fishing
By Penny Berryman
You’re a single parent and your child wants to go fishing and you don’t have a clue where to start. Here’s something to consider. First of all, you want to plan that success is virtually assured.
Your first stop should be at the local tackle shop. Make the first trip a get-acquainted stop instead of a shopping spree. Get information about local fishing opportunities. In most areas, local lakes or ponds provide excellent pan fishing or the opportunity to catch a catfish. Planted trout ponds are a popular choice and don’t require a lot of skill or investment.
Start with the basic tackle such as spin cast outfits. A minimum investment of $50 or less can get you started. Read some fishing publications, attend seminars or clinics put on by local schools.
By Jimmy Houston
Getting somewhere on the water is only half the fun. Getting back is the other half. And to be sure that you can always get there and back requires a good, strong, fully-charged battery.
The best battery for running an outboard powered boat is a good, commercial marine “cranking battery.” For operating the trolling motor, use deep-cycle batteries and not automotive type batteries. It is always best to charge your trolling motor batteries immediately after returning from your fishing trip. This will certainly prolong the life. Also, remember to fully charge the battery prior to a long-term storage, such as wintertime. Protect the battery from direct sunlight. Keep the connectors clean and corrosion free. And use 6 gauge wire if you must replace wiring.
Fish Preferred Comfort Zones
By Guy Eaker
Fish, like human beings, have preferred comfort zones. Learning these areas increases your productivity. However, like people, fish often are forced out of these comfort zones for a number of reasons.
For instance, shallow water fishing might be best early in the morning or late in the evening. But with the bright sunlight of day, bass are usually forced into deeper water. I look for sloping channel banks during these periods. In the spring, seek banks that are exposed to the greatest amount of sunlight. In the summer, look for those which are shaded the longest. A surface temperature gauge is extremely helpful in detecting the slightest differences in water conditions. Bass prefer a 50 to 70 degree temperature range.
Seasonal Pattern Breakdown
By Ken Cook
Here’s a short and basic way to size up a new lake or unfamiliar body of water. It’s a seasonal pattern breakdown.
Spring: Look in the coves where bass or crappie are likely to be searching out food or seeking spawning areas. Summer: Look for areas in the main lake, especially off-shore structures where fish will bunch up for best feeding opportunities. Fall: Head up the major feeder creeks or river arms and look for concentrations of shad or baitfish. The presence of food fish is the key ingredient in the fall. Watch for diving birds. Winter: Look for fish along deep, steep structures near the main body of the lake, especially near the dam and the clearest water you can find. A good fish finder is a must for successful patterning.
Floating Tube Jig
By Kelly Hudson
While fishing a small lake with a tube jig, I noticed how I could catch fish as the lure fell, but none afterward. Each time I retrieved the bait to recast, there was mud or moss on the lure. I felt if I could keep the bait from sinking into mud or moss, I might increase my catch.
I proceeded as follows:
In lieu of using a jig head, I cut a rectangular-shaped piece of Styrofoam to insert into the tube. I tied a 3/0 worm hook to the line and ran it through the center of the Styrofoam. Up the line approximately 12 inches, I placed a lead split-shot weight.
On my next fishing trip, I tried the revised lure. Neither mud nor moss was picked up on the bait; it only appeared on the split-shot weight.
I feel the revised lure in this situation is better than the ordinary tube-jig rigging.
Vary Color when flipping in dirty water (visibility of less than six inches). If you’re using clear line in dirty water, it’s harder to see your line. Always use Solar in these conditions. The amazing thing about the solar line is you can never lose it. You can always see where it’s at.”
Tips For Matching The Hatch
By Carry Columbo
When fish are feeding on mayflies, don’t try and force feed them marshmallows. Experienced anglers will always try and duplicate the food source for best success.
Trout fishermen know how important it is to match or duplicate the preferred feed, as trout may be the most finicky of all feeders.
It is said that trout fishermen will go as far as to carry a syringe in which to extract the insects from a trout’s stomach in order to match exactly what they are feeding on. If you are on a knowing bite, yet are having difficulty catching fish, be very versatile and willing to change quickly. Know your water and the source of food which the fish prefer. Presentation then becomes the second most important factor.
Use Spinning Gear For Light Lines
By Hank Parker
Whenever I opt for 10 pound test line or lighter, I use spinning tackle. Using light line on casting gear or heavy line on spinning gear defeats the purpose of the tackle. Spinning is far superior for fighting fish on light line. Spinning guides located beneath the blank prevent the line from rubbing the rod, thus reducing the friction.
Assess Each Cast
Before making each cast, analyze the area to determine where the biggest bass should be, and make that your first target. Most anglers prefer to cast to the edges of heavy brush before they throw into it, but I don’t think that is wise. If you’re going to capitalize on big fish, you need to make them strike out of impulse. By casting around an area, you’ll put the bigger fish on the defensive and lose that element of surprise.
Pay Attention To Details
When catching several fish from an isolated area, pat attention to what’s there. Note the water depth, bottom content and cover. Is it a silted or gravel bottom? Where is it located in relation to the creek channel or shoreline? Duplicate those conditions elsewhere and chances are you’ll find another good area.
Setting The Hook
By Mark Sosin
More strikes are missed because anglers insist on setting the hook at the wrong time with a vicious swipe of the rod. You’ll hook more fish if you follow the proper technique and let timing work for you. The key lies in making sure that the line is absolutely tight before you do anything. When you feel a strike, crank the reel handle rapidly until the line tightens and you can feel the fish straining on the other end. In some instances, you may want to hesitate a moment until the fish swims off and the line comes tight or use a combination of both methods. At that time, you can continue reeling or make several short, sharp jabs to the side with the rod. By setting with the rod horizontal to the water, you keep the bait or lure in front of the fish if you miss. Keep in mind that you don’t have to wait a long time for a fish to swallow bait (even a live one). They can gulp their meal in a fraction of a second. Remember to take the slack out of the line before setting the hook and you’ll land more fish.
Stick Your Hand In The Water
By Mark Sosin
A thermometer often ranks as the most effective fishing lure in your tackle box. Water temperature should be considered the single most important factor in determining where fish will be. Each species has its temperature preferences and tolerances and that includes forage fish (bait species). Fish are extremely sensitive to temperature differences as minor as a fraction of one degree. That means that when you discover a temperature change, fish can be in the warmer or the cooler water. And, if the water is cooler or warmer than a fish’s preferences, chances are they won’t be there. Carry a thermometer and check water temperature frequently. It will help you to find fish consistently.
Choose The Correct Hook
By Chris Houston
If a #6 hook works good, will a #6/0 hook work better? Only if you’re after a big ole largemouth bass. The difference between a 6 and a 6/0 is substantial.
A #5 hook is a little larger and would catch a catfish. A #10 hook is tiny and would go on a trout fly. A 1/0 or 2/0 worm hook would fit a small 4″ plastic worm. As you move up in worm sizes, you would move up to a 3/0 or 4/0 hook. A very large plastic worm or lizard would take a 5/0 or 6/0 worm hook. Remember, the smaller the hook, the easier the penetration. Rule of thumb says, go with the smallest hook you feel will do an adequate job.
Introducing A Young One To Angling
By Cecil Kingsley
Hooked on fishing, not on Drugs! Sounds good, doesn’t it. But how many of us really take time to practice what we preach?
America is blessed with such a bountiful supply of streams, rivers, lakes and ponds. Getting young people enthused about our country’s natural resources can be as simple as a weekend fishing trip. It is proven that youngsters who develop a love for the outdoors run a lot less risk of falling prey to the hazards that face the youth of America today. A wholesome introduction to fishing might be the “fix” our kids need to face life’s uncertain path. Try and match them up to equipment that fits their size and talents. A five foot spin cast outfit or even a crane pole can start them off on the right foot.
Emergency Rod Repair
By Zell Rowland
You can imagine how many times a professional angler gets hung up. We all experience this situation.
Most of the time when we get snagged in less than five or six feet of water we simply reel down to the lure and jab at it, to try and bump it loose from the snag. Many times this results in a broken rod tip.
I’ll carry spare rod tips and some quick-set glue or epoxy in the tackle box. If a tip is broken it can quickly be replaced and set aside for a few minutes to set up. Those small plastic 35mm film canisters make excellent storage containers for extra rod tips. A small piece of sand paper comes in handy also.