As I sit and watch all the FLW and BASS Tournament shows, it amazes me to see the “Elite” and the “Superstars” of our sport make some of the basic mistakes that they make. Granted they are where they and many of us would love to be competing at that level. They are obviously skilled anglers but watching their mistakes makes me wonder what could have been. Surprisingly most of the mistakes I see these guys making are when they are pitching/flipping. Some may think who am I to point out their mistakes, they are already where I wish to be, well I use their mistakes as lessons not to be repeated by me when I get there and maybe some of you can benefit from my observations. It was a year or so ago at Clear Lake, Skeet Reese missed or lost four fish. Last year’s Amistad tournament Ish Monroe almost gave away the tournament by loosing a couple of big fish. At the Potomac River last year Steve Kennedy finished third, who knows what would have happened had he not lost that one good bite he had. There are a couple of common factors between all these anglers and the situations where they lost the fish. They were all in contention to win the events.  They were all pitching/flipping, using right hand retrieve reels and holding their rods in their right hand. All the bites came shortly after the bait hit the water. The anglers were not in a position to set the hook and take up line/move the fish. Pitching/Flipping is an essential tactic for bass fisherman and for a tournament fisherman; I can’t even begin to quantify the value of the [...]

By |August 21st, 2012|Categories: Articles, Wordpress|0 Comments

Deep Cranking

We all want to get rich quick; it’s the American dream. In fishing, deep cranking is probably the fastest way to get rich. If you have found the right school of fish in practice or come across them during the tournament day, you can get rich quickly by bringing that big crankbait through that school of fish. There are a lot of conditional statements in that sentence, you had to have found the “right” school of fish and bring your crankbait through them, not as easy as it sounds. Looking for schools of fish or the “right” school of fish takes a lot of time. I have spent countless hours idling around watching my electronics, looking for fish. The real looking begins at the house before you ever get on the water. A topographic map is essential to this type of fishing and studying the map before you go to the lake will make your time on the water more efficient. What kind of structure am I looking for on a map? Contour changes, rocks, old road beds, long points, humps, creek channel edges and old river channels. I want to find places where there are significant changes in the bottom contour, besides the change in bottom these places will also be the most likely to have additional cover(i.e. stumps, rock & brush piles so forth and so on ). Now that I have identified these places through map study, I need to go study them with my depth finder. While I am idling around looking at these places, I drive the boat   in a zigzag pattern. This helps to keep me focused on what I think should be the key area/depth. Whenever possible I [...]

By |August 21st, 2012|Categories: Articles, Wordpress|0 Comments

Confidence breeds confidence and catches fish!

I’ve been thinking a lot about this subject and my tournament performance in general over the winter. A lot of my successes have come when I’ve been able to put a flipping stick in my hand and go for what I know. With that in mind, I’ve tried to put myself (in tournament situations) in the mind set that I’m going to try and spend as much time as possible with a long rod in my hands. I have a ton of confidence that I can and will catch fish on a jig, Well I’m sure everyone out there has that one technique that they feel this way about. I began to think about how this could apply to everyone/anyone. We each have a technique or bait that we always feel like we’re going to catch fish when we use, we have confidence in it. What does having confidence in a bait/technique do for us? It puts us in the mind frame that we can or will catch a fish on any cast. So we’re more attentive during the retrieve, we’re more precise with our presentations, in short, we focus on catching fish! We are not questioning whether you’re working the bait correctly or making the proper presentation. So, I say to you: When it matters the most or when you really want to catch a fish, put away all those other rods and baits, get out the ONE that you have the most confidence in and go to work! Now, I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t learn other techniques or become familiar with other baits. You must be versatile, because there will be days when they (the fish) will bite other baits or presentations [...]

By |August 21st, 2012|Categories: Articles, Wordpress|0 Comments

Chasing the bait

It’s that time of year again, the leaves, air and water temperatures are all falling and the shad are migrating to the backs of the creeks and pockets. Where the shad go, so do the bass, the bass follow the bait as they put on their feed in preparation for the winter. This can be a time of feast or famine for fishermen. Often the bass will have the bait pushed into tight balls and feeding on them aggressively, sometimes on the surface and there for the viewing. It’s entertaining at times to watch the shad scatter as bass streak through the school. It can be equally frustrating when they’re feeding all around you and you can’t catch them. Here’s how I approach this time of year; generally I don’t go searching for schooling (fish aggressively feeding on the surface) fish. I fish in the areas where I know the bait and fish are. I am typically fishing targets, looking for fish that are relating to cover/structure with my confidence/search baits. I find this to be more effective as bass are ambush predators and presenting bait in their strike zone usually gets me bit. If they come up schooling, I’ll throw bait their way and see what happens. I’m watching to see the quality of fish in the school, if there is a defined “kill zone” and the size of the bait they are feeding on. If they’re small fish, why bother? An identified “kill zone” can make the catching a lot more efficient. By “kill zone” I am referring to a particular spot where the fish are consistently coming up feeding. Many times the kill zone will be related to some cover or structure, [...]

By |August 21st, 2012|Categories: Articles, Wordpress|0 Comments

Bed fishing 101

For most of the year we are after fish that we rarely see, but for about six to eight weeks in the spring we can actually watch and look at the fish we are trying to catch. It’s really exciting! A lot of fisherman will say that they can’t catch fish on the beds or that it takes too long. Well both can be true but I hope to shed some light on the situation. First and foremost I will say that bed fishing takes some practice/experience to get good at. You have to be able to find the fish, judge the fish’s mood/state and then catch the fish. When I am looking for fish, I commit to looking for fish. That means I’m not casting another rod as I’m going down the bank, picking my nose or anything else that may cause me to overlook that big fish I’m looking for. So, trolling motor on high (water clarity affects the speed I can go), going down the bank, I try to stay out past the limit of visibility and keep the sun behind me. As I am looking there will be an angle or view into the water that will present the best view, it may be in front of or behind the boat but that is the area where I focus my attention. I learned long ago that the fish will almost always make their bed in or around something to mess the fisherman up! So I look very closely at stumps, trees, boat docks or anything else I see in the water. I will go through an entire cove/pocket, I don’t want to stop on the first fish I come to, look [...]

By |August 21st, 2012|Categories: Articles, Wordpress|0 Comments

The angler-sponsor relationship

What separates a professional tournament angler from the local weekend tournament angler? Many folks would immediately think….skill… but I’m here to tell you that’s NOT the case. There are many “local” anglers who could be competitive at the highest levels of tournament bass fishing. What really separates the touring pros from the local guys that would love to fish at that level……….SPONSOR DOLLARS!  Professional fishermen rely on sponsor dollars to pay entry fees, travel expenses and the bills at home; without those monies VERY few could actually afford to participate in the highest levels of our sport.  So why “Sponsor” a fisherman? In most cases it’s an advertising expense, the rolling billboards that our boats and trucks have become are a great advertising medium (roughly 125 MILLION viewer impressions each year). In some instances, it’s a company looking for a tax write off, helping a buddy or a friend pursue their dream or a combination of all the above. From a straight forward business perspective you would think a company (local, regional or national) would want to sponsor fisherman with as many media outlets as possible: TV, Internet, print media, personal appearances, tournament exposure locally, regionally and nationally. I can tell you from personal experience that having all that media exposure is great but doesn’t seemed to have mattered much. It appears that it is more important to be in the right place at the right time, know the right person or have the right people like you. Which is really frustrating for someone like me, who has and does work so hard to represent myself, the sport and my sponsors everyday. So, what’s an aspiring professional fisherman to do? Keep working! Every year about [...]

By |July 22nd, 2011|Categories: Articles, Wordpress|0 Comments

Choosing the right jig

If you asked 10 bass fishermen which lure they would use to specifically target bigger fish, more than half would likely say a “Jig” aka jig and pig.  This lure with its bulky skirt and ability to penetrate heavy cover is known for catching bigger fish. All jigs are not created equal, so I thought I would run through what I think are the key points in the construction of a flipping/pitching jig(there are different types of jigs but this article is about the features of a close quarters, pitching/flipping jig). Given the likelihood that you will encounter a better than average quality fish with a jig, you want a bigger than average size hook to accommodate that fish. I want at least a 5/0 but prefer the 6/0 in my jigs. The greater length and wider hook gap is important for getting a better hook up with the fish. The features of the hook may not seem like that big a deal but overall they make a HUGE difference in the performance of the jig. The eye of the jig being “in-line” with the shaft of the hook as opposed to being perpendicular makes a big difference in the ability of the jig to come through cover without getting stuck. I think the key feature of the hook in a flipping/pitching jig is the barb and its relation to the hook point. You can see the hook point here has a slight upward angle that opposes the large barb on the hook; this reduces the likelihood of the jig coming out of the fish before the fisherman removes it! The design and shape of the jig head itself can really help the jig come [...]

By |July 22nd, 2011|Categories: Articles, Wordpress|0 Comments

Dealing with the heat

It’s the last week in July, and it’s hot. We’ve had unusually hot temperatures for extended stretches this summer and August usually promises to be even hotter. I thought I would share some ideas about how to deal with the warm temperatures. First and foremost, drink lots of water. Our bodies cool themselves by evaporation. We sweat and the moisture evaporates cooling the skin’s surface in the process. When you don’t drink enough water and your body is dehydrated, you don’t sweat enough and your body does not cool itself as well. Protect yourself from the sun. I wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts, a wide-brimmed hat or a traditional baseball cap with a Buff. Wear light colored clothing, because darker colors absorb the sun’s heat/energy and are hotter. The new lightweight materials and vented clothing really work well to keep you cool and keep the sun off your skin. Sunblock is important, too. I wear SPF 90 on my face, neck and hands. It may look hot wearing the clothing but it’s not, and I would rather pass on the chance for skin cancer. Go fishing during the low light periods and leave the middle of the day to the pleasure boaters and Jet Skis. Whether you go in the evenings or early in the morning, you will be more comfortable and the fish bite better during these lower light periods. One of my favorite things to do this time of year is get up very early, put the boat in about 4 a.m. and fish until about 9 a.m. I can really get some fishing during that time, and these are the coolest hours of the day. I hope these few tips help you [...]

By |March 19th, 2011|Categories: Articles, Wordpress|0 Comments

To stay or go, that is the question

In today's tournament bass fishing one of the biggest struggles most fishermen face is the decision making process. Do you stay on or with the fish you've got? Do you swing for the fence and go hunting the BIGS How or where do you start the day? So many questions, each with several possible answers and any one or a combination there of could be right on that day. I hope to shed some light on this process and share how I go through the decision making process. First and foremost you have to decide what you are trying to accomplish that day on the water; are you trying to win, position yourself to make a cut, trying to get a check or just out enjoying the day, the competition and the comradery. Since most of us fish tournaments for the competition and the opportunity to make money at something we love to do, we want to WIN! The challenge here is the ability to assess the situation and realistically gauge your chances of winning. Before you can really make a plan you have to gather information/confidence. I use the words information and confidence together because so much of successful tournament fishing is based on your confidence level. There is no substitute for time on the water! To gather accurate information you have to get out there and try to figure out where the fish are and the best way to catch them. To go into a tournament without practice time reduces your likelihood of winning significantly because there will be others who are out there gathering that information and this gives them an advantage. Here's an example: Before the 2005 Anglers' Channel members tournament, [...]

By |March 30th, 2006|Categories: Articles, Wordpress|0 Comments
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