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Over the years while fishing I’ve battled one constant enemy, “Confidence.” I can’t count how many times I’ve second guessed an area where I was fishing, a lure, speed of retrieve, whether to use scent or not, color of a bait, size of lure, and if the fish were even in the area I was fishing. I know it is something I will deal with for the rest of my life while fishing, but my goal is to always have enough confidence to get me to those epic fishing days where everything seems to go right and I stick a few giant bass. Those days definitely fill my confidence tank up and help me get through the tougher days.

Mike Long

I have recognized that one of my strengths while fishing also led to one of my weaknesses while on the water:  fishing the same area too much. I have over the years picked apart spots and sat and waited for the big bass to come to me, but that takes time and can make for a dull and boring experience. I found that on the days that I had a milk run of spots to run to, it kept my mind fresh and that resulted in keeping my mind in the game and accessing the water and all the elements above it. Double anchored on one spot too long will make you bored and your brain starts to wonder off thinking about other things besides the when, and why the bass are going to be in your area and biting. Covering water or running a milk run of key spots will keep your brain fresh and I believe that is a huge factor besides luck and thus keeps my confidence high by mixing it up once in awhile and not burning out an area, or pattern.Mike Long

One of the things I’ve taught myself  over the years is to have confidence in the tools I use first. If I feel my rod and reel are no good, and I have the wrong pound, and color line, and my lure is plain them my confidence is low and I will second guess these things all day long. So I have learned to get the best rod and reel I can and try to match my line properly and most important upgrade my lure to make sure it as real life as possible so I will feel confident in it and not second guess it. You may ask how do you that? well if I’m swimbait fishing I always try to match the size and color of what I believe the bass are currently feeding on and then it’s adding real glass eyes, gills, maybe even fins. If 20 boats are fishing the same area with the same bait I will have more confidence if I’m using the same bait they are but I changed it to look a little different than what the others guys are tossing. The little things sometimes can really make the differrence in boosting your confidence to stay with a lure till you find that key area and the fish start to bite.

Added eyes and gills

Added eyes and gills

I get asked all the time in seminars and by editors “do you use scent on your lures?” I look at using scent this way that smell and taste are very low on a bass’ sense chart. A bass’ sense of sight is number one closely followed by lateral line, and then hearing, so smell and taste are not that big of a factor to me most of the time. If I’m using a fast moving lure that a bass will see, or feel the vibration first and the bite is slow and I’m second guessing everything, that when it’s time to put some scent on my lure and stop the second guessing if my lure is good enough. By adding a little bit of confidence that your presentation is almost perfect now your mind can focus on the real issues like water temps, time of day, and area of the lake speed of the lure etc…

For the last twenty years I’ve kept good notes on my fishing adventures and this has really helped to boost my confidence before I get on the water. By looking back at my notes and doing my homework about similar bites per time of year, weather, moon phase, time of day, water temps and levels really gives me a big scoop of confidence before I ever get on the water that I should be in productive water using the right bait at the right time and right depth to catch some giant bass and that alone makes a tremendous difference to my confidence level.

By being prepared and thinking ahead and making a punch list to make sure you have all the lures you’ll need, or making sure you’ll have enough food, water, clothing, and sunscreen will give you confidence while on the water that even if the weather changes you’ve thought ahead and can make it through the day and get to that epic bite and catch that trophy bass of a lifetime.

Mike Long

Mike Long, is well known for monster bass, like the 20.12 oz largemouth bass taken from Dixon Lake in 2001. That fish put him at number ten on the world record list, but it wasn’t his only large fish. He is among a handful of bass fisherman with hundreds of fish over 10 lbs to his credit.

Another fish makes it safely into the boat and is quickly released, and in a house on the shore, a thumb rises into view from the window. With that, the bass fishing season in Florida has begun. The fish are staging and the males are preparing their nests. You may wonder about that lonely thumb in the window right about now as I did then and therein lies my story.

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A lot of my fishing takes place in areas where houses dot the shoreline and the residents must be pretty well off to afford such awesome water front property. Fancy cars, plus beautiful landscaping, leads you to believe that they don’t have a care in the world. What’s odd is that you never really see any of them fishing, it makes you wonder why?

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This one house with a dock always has nice fish around it and is one of my favorite spots. A while ago I noticed a window with the blinds cracked to reveal what looked like an elevated bed, a crumpled up pillow and nothing else, or so I thought. The fishing comes easy this day and in the process of releasing a fish I notice something out of the corner of my eye coming from the open window. A single arm raised into view and at the end of it, a thumbs up signal.

“Ok,” I think to myself. Now, I’m getting curious, since very often these home owners feel like they own the water and can be rude. So I want to wait to see what happens before passing judgement. Another fish bites, I land it, and back in the water it goes. Looking directly at the room I see that same arm rise slowly and the thumbs up sign is given again. This same motion repeats throughout the day and on many occasions thereafter.

It wasn’t until sometime later that I spoke to the caregiver and found out the story about the man behind the window. She related that he was very sick and bed ridden. She explained that he loved to fish off his dock and that I had reminded him of a better time in his life.

The caregiver went on to say that every time I showed up he would instruct her to crack the blinds and prop up his pillow. To this day when I catch a fish by his house and see his thumbs up, mine goes up as well. It’s a reminder that sometimes our problems are so small compared to what goes on in the life of others.

This quote is by my fellow fisherman and friend… “Appreciate the water, man. Appreciate how lucky you are to be out on the water, whether you catch a fish or not, you know.” – Mike Long

Until next time my friends enjoy your fishing or whatever your passion is because nothing is guaranteed and we never know when our health will leave us…

Danny Barker

I’m a Calif. transplant living in Ocala, FL. I’ve lived here for the last 6 years. My home town of Sacramento/ Folsom, Ca is where I lived for 40 years. Some of the best bass fishing in the country with the Delta, Clear Lake, Folsom and tons of other outstanding water. I write/moderate for a cool website called the Unemployed Fishing Club Unemployed Fishing Club, I’m also a writer/ Field Editor for North Central Florida Fish Explorer.com. Looking forward to contributing to MLO. Look me up on FaceBook too !

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LakeBiwaJapan1As we all search for that competitive edge, whether that’s against another tournament opponent or the fish we love to catch, we are constantly looking for any additional edge we can find. We try to capitalize on any benefit we can gain and do so hopefully efficiently. One of the easiest ways to get that edge is to invest in Japanese fishing line.

I continue to see guys dropping $600 on Rod & Reel combos and yet continue to make sacrifices on the only connection between that set up and the fish. I often hear, “Those Japanese lines are just so expensive”. If that’s you, I challenge you to try some. I only say this as believe it or not, these Japanese lines actually SAVE you money and increase your performance and confidence.

Domestic company’s line’s integrity breaks down (abrasion, UV/Sun, Heat or age) much faster than the JDM line’s do. Which equates to you having to re-spool, re-tie and re-purchase much more frequent using domestic lines. It’s common for guys to spool up Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) fluorocarbon and not have to re-spool several months later.

I have had 5 lb fluorocarbon spooled on a tournament spinning reel during an entire tournament season without having to re-spool and that line was just fine. In my 6 previous years as a JDM line Sales rep, I was lucky enough to be a part of a few meetings with the production lab manager and product designer of that JDM line company. In these meetings, attended by very well known big time tournament anglers, a lot of technical information was gained. These meetings confirmed what I already knew in regards to the quality of these JDM lines.

Whether it’s a big tournament you have or a simple fun fishing from the bank, do yourself a favor and try out these JDM lines. The processes in which these JDM companies manufacture, test and quantify their products is on another level. The JDM market is constantly pushing the envelope of technology and one look at their online Japanese catalogs is mind-boggling! It’s not just a fishing line to them, it’s a passion and a product to specifically excel in their purpose.

I will say that the gap between JDM and Domestic lines is much greater when the lb test is between 4-7 lb test. These Japanese lines really prove their worth in the finesse sizes. If you aren’t familiar with what companies are Japanese line companies, here’s a brief list of some of the top ones: Sunline, Seaguar (aka Kureha Co.), Toray and YGK.

All of these companies offer premium quality lines that you will love! So, when it comes time to purchase some new line, go down to your local Tackle Shop or your favorite website you purchase from and add a spool of one of the previously mentioned lines.

Nicholas Hinkle

Previously lived in SoCal for 43 years. Recently relocated to Oregon. My home town is San Diego, Ca, which is home to trophy class bass and some of the most pressured lakes around. I work for a Fortune 52 Co. (UPS) in Sales, I’m also a writer/ Field Tester that enjoys sharing the information I have obtained in the industry with all to better their experiences. I’m looking forward to being a regular contributor to MLO as well as other sites and magazines . Look me up on FaceBook!

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Andy Ashby on the Mound for the San Diego PadresProfessional athletes usually become professional athletes because they not only have the natural ability that raises them above normal folks, but also because they possess the innate drive to succeed… or put another way, the need to feed the unquenchable fire of competition.

Long after their professional careers are over though, that fire doesn’t die down to a warm glow. Instead, it usually manifests itself in other pursuits. For Andy Ashby, retired MLB pitcher, the fire to succeed simply shifts to different pastimes including hunting, fishing and golf.

A brief run down of his baseball career:

– One of only 24 pitchers in MLB history to pitch an “immaculate inning” on June 15, 1991, when he was with the Philadelphia Phillies, playing against the Cincinnati Reds (Struck out Hal Morris, Todd Benzinger, and Jeff Reed on 3 pitches each)
– Won 98 games over 13 professional seasons
– Pitched in the 1998 World Series with the San Diego Padres
– Member of the 1998 and 1999 National League All-Star team
– Career stats: 1173 strikeouts and a 4.12 ERA in 1810 innings pitched.

Ashby now lives in Scranton, PA with his wife and 4 daughters and now that the time-consuming world of the MLB is no longer a factor, he spends his days with his family enjoying retirement and all the trappings it affords.

Andy Ashby’s friends describe him as having a never-ending passion for learning and for always having a positive attitude. It is obvious to anyone who spends even a few moments speaking to him about the things he loves as we did when we recently caught up with the former MLB pitcher to get his take on his favorite outdoor pursuits.

Andy Ashby with another big bassMike Long Outdoors: What type of outdoor activities do you enjoy?

Andy Ashby: I fish, I golf, I hunt… and I love spending time swimming… you know pretty much anything that has to do with the outdoors I love.

MLO: Do you do these things with your family or prefer to do them solo?

Andy: Well the fishing I take my kids, going out on the weekends, but they can get burned out sometimes. I do fish alone often.

When we are out in San Diego, we go out on a four-day camping trip with the family. That’s like our dad and daughter trip every summer.

Hunting I go with buddies. I do take my kids sometimes. Everything else I do by myself most of the time including golf.

Oh I do go swimming with the kids a lot, at the beach.

MLO: Out of all those things, what is your favorite?

Andy: My favorite thing is fishing.

MLO: You seem to enjoy it. I’ve seen pictures of you fishing with Mike Long a few times, is Bass fishing predominantly what you prefer or do you go for other types of fish like catfish, trout, etc?

Andy: You know, it’s mostly bass fishing. That’s my number one thing to do. I love hunting, but the fishing is by far my favorite thing to do.

MLO: How old were you when you first started fishing? Who introduced you to the sport?

Andy: Probably about 10 or 12 years old. When I was in Missouri, my family and I used to go to the lake every weekend. My dad would take my brothers and I out to fish.

Andy Ashby Deer HunterMLO: What’s your favorite lake to fish in the US?

Andy: Oh my gosh! That’s tough. I love Lake Castaic up in Los Angeles because I’ve caught so many fish there. Mike has taken me to so many lakes, and Lake Jennings is right up there at the top two or three. Yeah, Lake Jennings and Lake Castaic are the top two probably.

MLO: Do you prefer fishing for smallmouth or largemouth?

Andy: You know, I fish for Smallies when I am out here, but I guess it depends on where I am at. When I am in California I love to fish for largemouth bass, but here in Pennsylvania the small mouth are the thing to catch because the largemouth don’t get very big like they are in California. Recently we fished at Lake Wallenpaupack and we caught over a hundred smallies, all of them over a pound or two pounds, some of them upwards of 4 pounds. I’m gonna have to say, I love catching largemouth more better than small mouth, but it really depends on where I am at.

MLO: Have you considered joining the pro tour?

Andy: (Laughs) You know what, I would love to, but if I knew as much as Mike Long about fishing, I think I could do it. But honestly, travelling and being away from my family would be hard. Bass fishing, I hear the professionals talking and these guys fish every day, and they’re gone quite a bit. I don’t know if I am willing to do it, but I would love to do it later on, maybe get into so smaller tournaments, but right now that’s in the real distant future.

MLO: What’s the best advice anyone has given you that applies to fishing or hunting?

Andy: Patience (laughs).

MLO: Speaking of which, the last time I tried talking to you for this interview, Mike told me you were out deer hunting, sitting up in a tree blind.

Andy: Yeah. I was sitting up in a deer stand for about 12 hours.

Andy Ashby Night FishingMLO: What do you do with yourself when you’re just sitting there waiting for a deer to come by?

Andy: Well, you know, you kind of text every once in a while to let everyone know you didn’t fall out of a tree or anything. Otherwise you’re just sitting there trying to be quiet. Really you’re just sitting there waiting for the moment, just like waiting on that bite, you know?

Fishing is a little bit different because you can actually cast and do something. The hunting is obviously different because you have to wait for the animal to come to you. I think the main thing is just patience and try different things. You know, you see Mike Long, and I know I bring up Mike quite a bit, but he has taught me a lot about trying different things because you never know what’s gonna work.

MLO: What is your favorite bass lure?

Andy: I would have to say the Senko.

MLO: What is your favorite style of fishing?

Andy: I fish a lot of plastics, so slow retrieve stuff is something I like more. I think you catch a lot more and bigger fish that way. I do a lot of night fishing so slow retrieve works a lot better in that environment.

MLO: How would you compare fishing and major league baseball?

Andy: Anything in life, I think you have to be patient and you have to believe in yourself, trust what you are doing. When I am on the mound I have to trust what i take out there is going to get these players out that day. When I am on the lake, I have to believe in what I throw at the fish and have confidence that it’s gonna work.

MLO: When you were playing how often did you fish when the team traveled?

Andy: When I was in LA, I would fish every night when I knew I had four days off. So I would fish 2 or 3 days in a row. When we’d go on the road trips, I would try to fish, definitely Houston, chicago… I would definitely fish once or twice, but it was harder because you didn’t want to carry all that gear on the road with you. I would try to fish four or five cities throughout the season.

Andy Ashby and Mike LongMLO: When you played what player influenced you the most?

Andy: As I kid, growing up, it would have to be George Brett. As a player, just being around somebody, I had the privilege of playing with guys who are in the Hall of Fame now. Dale Murphy helped me out a lot. Terry Mulholland, Bruce Ruffin, because these are the guys who were around when I first came up. Kevin Brown, Trevor Hoffman, we all played together. There were so many guys who influenced me just playing with them, at different parts of my career.

MLO: Who did you enjoy fishing with?

Andy: Kevin Brown, Mike Long obviously, I fished with Bruce Ruffin a few times, and Tony Gwynn a lot. Brad Ausmus I fished with a lot in San Diego. Bruce Bochy is a big fisherman.

MLO: How did it feel to be on camera fishing with Randy Jones?

Andy: You know, it was awesome. I wish we would have caught more fish on camera. I enjoyed the pressure of trying to catch fish on camera. It was so funny though because I caught four fish off the dock and we caught one on the boat when the camera was rolling (Laughs). It was all good though. It was pressure, but it was fun. It was my first time fishing on camera, so it was a good first experience. Randy is a good guy!

MLO: When you fish do you still have the same competitive fire as you did when you were on the mound?

Andy: Yes. Definitely. I usually want to catch big fish and if someone is catching fish and I’m not, I’m like, “what in the world is going on?” It’s funny. You fish with Mike though and you learn to accept you’re gonna get beat every time in the boat.

MLO: Do like night fishing, or daytime fishing better?

Andy: You know what? I like night fishing. I just a really enjoy it. Obviously I fished at night into the mornings because I had to be at the ballpark in the daytime. It was, more or less, the time that I had to go fish, then sleep a little bit, then be back at the ballpark for a game.

MLO: Do you think you’ll ever burn out on fishing, or have you in the past?

Andy: No. I know that the time I have doing it is special. It is like a stress relief for me. And my wife is like, “you have no patience for doing stuff around the house, but you can sit out in the woods all day long or fishing all night long, I don’t understand it!”

It’s a relaxing thing for me. On the Golf course, I snap every once in a while, but fishing and hunting part of it relaxes me. It’s a peaceful time for me.

MLO: Making multi millions in Baseball you can fish anywhere you want in the world, so what is your game plan for the future?

Andy: You know I’d love to go to Mexico and fish El Salto. Ten pound fish there are like two pounders everywhere else. El Salto would be cool and I’d also love to go out and fish for Peacock Bass because they get huge and fight like crazy. Definitely the Peacock Bass and Mexico are on my bucket list.

MLO: What is the largest bass you have ever caught?

Andy: 14 lbs, 3 oz.

MLO: What bass have you caught in your life sticks out the most and why?

Andy: That fish sticks out because it was the biggest I caught, but I remember watching this 10 pounder swim back and forth. I’d throw a bait out there and it would go out and come back to it and never hit it. Finally I threw out the right one, I think it was a curly tail worm, and she hit it. You know I tried for this fish for over an hour and I finally caught it and it was a ten pounder. It was awesome, because she didn’t want to hit what I was throwing, but I stuck with it and put something on there that made her mad enough to want to bite it. There’s different memories but that was kind of cool. It’s similar to being out on the mound with a 3-2 count and trying to figure out how to get that batter out. I had to figure out how to catch that fish, and kept throwing until I got what I wanted.

Ed Castro is a writer & web developer living in San Diego, California. An avid hiker and camper, Ed spends his days playing with the latest outdoor products and exploring the great outdoors. He recently purchased a new rod & reel in order to return to the sport that introduced him to the great outdoors.

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It was an up and down year for me personally from a fishing standpoint: I lost three out of four double digit bass. However, I caught more fish in the 5-8 lb range than ever.  As the year draws to an the end, I can only look back and say that it’s great to live in a country where we have the freedom to pursue our passions. Thanks to our men and women of our Armed Forces who make this possible!

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I also saw the underbelly of the big bass scene that I never knew existed. Where guys look to tear down people and disrespect one another because of one thing or another. Fishing should be about having fun, sharing our experiences and communing with nature. Nobody’s perfect we all make mistakes, can’t we make our points in a private and decent manner as opposed to a public undressing? I hope so since we have too many fish to catch and dreams to chase. We already have enough trouble in this world without adding to the noise with hate for ego’s sake.

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On the positive side, we have seen lots of huge fish caught and released by a larger group of anglers than ever. Guys are focusing on doing battle with the big girls with an unbelievable line up of new baits and some of the old proven ones. The top big bass anglers are sharing what they know and where they’re catching them as well. 2013 is shaping up to be a banner year, who knows maybe the World Record will fall and hopefully in the USA!

Here’s one of my highlights from 2012… I’m buzzing the shoreline, looking for any signs of fish and I come across a small 12″ male. I watched him for a few minutes and then a big female swims by! The adrenaline starts flowing I grab my Senko rod and make a cast, she stands her ground. After a few more cast with no response, I change to a White jig with a curl tail worm. She starts to get annoyed, then starts to elevate, lightly picks it up by the tail and swims off. SWING nothing but air, she’s mine now, the next cast with no worm trailer she just crushes it and the fight is on! In the livewell she goes moments later. I do all the measuring, weighing and a quick photo session. She went 10.3, 26 inches long. Watching it all happen is such a thrill but the payoff is the release knowing she’ll spawn and live to fight another day.

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As we reflect back on 2012 and look forward to 2013, lets all do our part in keeping the sport fun, handling our fish properly and respecting the outdoors. Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, until next time “Stay on Em “!

XMAS

Danny Barker

I’m a Calif. transplant living in Ocala, FL. I’ve lived here for the last 6 years. My home town of Sacramento/ Folsom, Ca is where I lived for 40 years. Some of the best bass fishing in the country with the Delta, Clear Lake, Folsom and tons of other outstanding water. I write/moderate for a cool website called the Unemployed Fishing Club Unemployed Fishing Club, I’m also a writer/ Field Editor for North Central Florida Fish Explorer.com. Looking forward to contributing to MLO. Look me up on FaceBook too !

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