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.
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.
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.
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.
Last year at ICAST Orlando I ran into the guys from Boomerang Tool Company who have this really cool tool called the Snip. It’s a line cutter that’s light and strong; it uses rust proof “Grade 420” stainless steel blades that cut through monofilament, fluorocarbon, and braid, like butter. By far the most convenient line cutter I’ve used.
- Dimensions: 3.25 x 1.25 x 0.75″ (8 x 3 x 1.5cm)
- Weight: 1.25oz (35g)
- Jaws: 420 Stainless Steel
Their other product which was not available at the time of this review was the Grip Pliers but wanted to mention it. This tool is a great general purpose plier and it also has a spilt ring feature on the end which makes changing out hooks a piece of cake. Having been a machinist for 35 years the machine work is top notch! Two more things the jaws are replaceable and so are the carbide blade line cutter . Check out both of these tools you’ll agree that they’re a must have…
|GRIP Fishing Pliers Specifications
||CLIP Tether Specifications
You can buy the bonus pack for $61.85 check out this link …http://www.boomerangtool.com/shop/grip-snip-clip/Until next time….Stay on Em!
Growing up in the “concrete jungle” that is Southern California, the lakes I fished and studied were typically 60% full year round, often more than that.
An exception was Lake Hodges and its natural loss of water every few years, which exposed the structures that held some of the old legendary trophy fish for which Hodges was famous at one time, but the other lakes were, more often than not, mostly filled.
Having grown up in SoCal, I have not experienced a real “rainy season.” Our local lakes remained mostly filled because they are the primary source of water for the Southern California residents. This water is diverted in from the snow-capped western mountains through a maze of canals throughout the western states. Low water periods aren’t common unless a drought lasts for years at a time.
I remember growing up and seeing the lake levels fluctuate and seeing structure exposed for the first time and taking a mental photograph of it. Later in the season, when the structures were once again under water, I’d use points of reference (trees, rocks and the tops of the hills) near and far to line up on those structures that were now occupied by a trophy fish.
I have recently moved my family from that previously mentioned “concrete jungle” to the beautiful and peaceful Pacific Northwest. Of course, one of the first excursions I made in our new hometown was to one of the many local lakes.
The natural beauty was breath-taking. I found myself sitting down with my wife watching our kids playing in the water and picturing what had to be some incredible rock piles, tree stumps and other forms of natural structure for the Rainbows to cruise and hide from their predators. This internal imagery was based off of the incredible beauty of the tree-lined shore and grass fields surrounding this mountain lake.
A couple of months have passed and summer has turned to late fall. The trees have turned colors to vibrant Reds, Greens and Yellows. The rain has fallen for 10 days straight, just a steady rain, nothing torrential. One day coming home from work, I thought I’d make a trip around that lake to see just how much the water level has come up since my last visit.
When I got my first view of the lake, I was in absolute disbelief! The water level was incredibly low! The lake was now at roughly 15-20% full. I continued to drive to the same spot I sat in next to my wife as we watched our kids play and found it also incredibly low. I could see lake bottom from the shoreline I was standing on, all the way across the lake to the marina. The lake had turned to a large puddle. I thought to myself, How could this be? With all of this rain and the constant flow of rivers feeding into it. That night, after dinner and the kids went to bed. I hopped onto my laptop and did some research to find out more about this phenomena.
What I discovered was comical to me. It was comical due to my own preconceived mindset based on everything I had experienced growing up in Southern California. In the Pacific Northwest, they actually have to purposely draw down their lake levels to accommodate the upcoming winter rains. A wonderful concept for an area that receives more rain than the typical SoCal city.
My mind starts to turn and the very next weekend I take my wife and kids up to this lake and bring along a camera. We are all suited up for the conditions. Rain and mud, here we come! We walked the lake bottom, looking nothing like what I had pictured.
The lake bottom was roughly 8-12″ of soft mud with the occasional rocky areas and very sporadic tree stumps. A vast channels zigzagging throughout the lake bottom became exposed. Some of these channels were 10 feet deep and went for hundreds of yards. Tree stumps within these channels created what I would now understand as the new prime spots on this lake.
Taking hundreds of pictures and making mental notes to transfer to my computer file as soon as I got home, these newly discovered spots would minimize my learning curve of this new lake. Sure, today’s new HD graphs give us a far better understanding of what is beneath us, but nothing is better and clearer than our own eyes and mind.
Seeing a tree stump within the channel and the way that channel creates a clearing on one side of that channel. Even more so, having a general understanding of how a preying fish would position itself in order to capitalize on the lazily cruising trout, school of bait fish or even a crawdad that has come washing through that channel when the rivers feeding that channel are flowing, will help me catch more and better quality fish.
The subject lake in this story goes through this intentional draw down every fall and it does not affect this fishery in terms of quality. There was team tournament here 2 years back and the winning 5 fish weighed in just under 38 lbs!
The take away from this story is that I encourage all fisherman to take advantage of these situations. Get out to explore any nearby lake during low water level periods and walk it, study it, photograph it and study it again. Make notes and refer back to your pictures and notes before you head back out to fish that lake when the water level has come up.
You’ll be glad you did.
Customizing your gear can result in more and bigger catches. In this video tutorial, Mike Long walks us through how he helps himself by adding gills to a swimbait for a more realistic presentation to a bass.
All you need to add gills to a swimbait are a pair of wire cutters (dykes), some red pipe cleaner, a razor blade (exacto knife), and some Mend It Swimbait Glue.
1. Take your swimbait and cut a slit along the gill plate of your swimbait with your blade or exacto. (depth varies on your swimbait, but deep enough that you can insert something in the pocket you make). Make sure to cut at a slight angle with the tip of the blade towards the head. Your goal is to cut your gill plate as it would look on a live Rainbow Trout.
2. Take a red pipe cleaner and cut it to a length that will fit along the slit you have just created (varies in length, but you want it to reach from the top to the bottom of your cut lengthwise). Pull at the cut ends to make sure they fluff out a bit.
3. In the slit you have created, liberally dab some Mend It Swimbait Glue into the slit (take care to not allow the slit to close after applying the glue as it will glue shut).
4. Quickly take your pipe cleaner you have cut previously and insert it into the cut you have made.
5. Once the pipe cleaner is inserted into the cut and seated firmly into the space, take a little more Mend It Swimbait Glue and dab over the top of the pipe cleaner and the cut. This gives it a wet appearance and seals the pipe cleaner (the gill filaments) into place.
Make sure you visit Mike Long Outdoors regularly for more tips to help increase your chances of catching a big bass!
The contest to win a Dobyn’s 867 HSB Swimbait Rod is now over! Make sure you enter to win our next contest ending March 30! Sign up for the contest here!
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Finally got to field test one of the Rago Glideator Trout on a clear water reservoir and I’ve got to say this is one of Rago Baits best looking lures to date. I tested a 9″ Rainbow Trout color which looked just incredible in the water.
Company: Rago Baits
Lure: Glideator Trout
Weight: 4.5 Ounces
Color: Rainbow Trout
Hooks: Owner 2/0 Trebles
Composite: Hard Resin
R.O.F.: Slow Sink
Style: Glide Bait
MLO Rating: 4.5 out of 5
I have been fishing Rago Baits for a long time and this is truly one of the cleanest looking well put together baits Rago has built so far. One of the first things you’ll notice is there is no dorsal, anal, or adipose fin and the pelvic, and pectoral fins are built on the bait to help give this lure a smooth glide motion through the water.
You might be asking “what’s a glide bait?” it is a bait built to glide left, or right by just turning the reel handle slightly between glides. So after you cast the bait out and let it sink to your desired depth you simply reel up the slack till you feel some resistance while keeping the rod tip down and pointed towards the bait, while giving the reel handle a 1/2 to 3/4 turn depending on your gear ratio. A pause between each turn of the reel handle allows the bait to glide in the opposite direction.
In the picture above you can see the detail put into the Glideator Trout especially around the head area. The gills are slightly flared along with the mouth partially open really gives this bait a very realistic look of a Rainbow Trout just gliding through the water.
The belly shot above shows how the pectoral, and pelvic fins are in a laid-back position and built into the bait which helps in not being able to break them off, or get in the way of the hooks setting.
The Glideator is a single jointed bait which is key in helping the bait glide left and right. Rago Baits used two heavy duty screw eyes and a steel drop pin to secure the joint which should be strong enough to land any largemouth bass.
Rago Baits used a super strong lexan material to make an indestructible tail which can be easily replaced for a different size, style, or color by just removing one screw.
Below is a video showing the Glideator in action as well as rod position and reel cadience.
Pros: Very clean bait. All baits are factory balanced and tested. Incredible paint job. Tail easy to replace. Fins can’t break.
Cons: As always I’m a fan of the eyes sticking out a little farther.
MLO Rating: 4.5 out of 5
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.
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?
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…
There hasn’t been a “game changing” innovation when it comes to fishing equipment in at least a decade. You can, of course, point to any number of recent products and claim they are innovative, and while true,”game changing” design or ideas are few and far between. One area in need of innovation is the mobile fish finder category.
ReelSonar, a product being developed by serial entrepreneur Alexander Lebedev and a team of engineers from a variety of disciplines, hopes to change all that.
It all began when Lebedev asked himself a simple question. “I was fishing with my brother on Lake Union (Seattle) last April and thought to myself, why no one has yet to come up with the mobile fish finder?”
He quickly found out that SmartCast by Hummingbird was such a device, but it is relatively obsolete and a lot bulkier than what he envisioned. He thought about how bringing mobile technologies to an outdated system seemed like a logical step. A casual fisherman himself, he knew many people, including his father-in-law, an avid bass angler, who might benefit from a mobile fish finder.
With a background in medical ultrasound technology Lebedev thought he could improve upon the system and incorporate a variety of newer technologies that would help bring a mobile sonar system to the masses. With that, ReelSonar was essentially born.
Already an old hat at building technology start-ups, Lebedev took what he learned from Mirabilis Medica (a therapeutic ultrasound treatment for uterine fibroid) and JeNu Bioscience (an aesthetic ultrasound for wrinkle reduction) and applied it to developing this idea into a functioning prototype. First, Lebedev assembled a team of knowledgeable experts who shared his vision. Then, along with a team of hardware Engineers, RF Engineers, Embedded Software Engineers, Mechanical Engineers, App Designers and Anglers, the team spent hours bouncing around ideas, talking to professional and amateur anglers, researching, designing and testing ReelSonar technology.
A New Player in the Mobile Fish Finder Category
ReelSonar is a new wireless, mobile fish finder that uses sonar technology, embedded into a bobber, that fisherman can use to locate fish. The device then transmits the data via Bluetooth to nearby smartphones and tablets. Embracing current technology, its patent-pending elements combine more expensive fish finders functionality with the convenience, community, and affordability of mobile apps.
“My goal was to create a unique fish finder that utilizes advanced technology in an inexpensive way that is easy to use – paired with a device that many people already have,” related Lebedev.
Live tests for the device have worked out quite well so far. Said Lebedev of the process, “Development has gone perfectly; though there is still work to do, but all technology hurdles are now solved. We are now in fundraising mode to bring the ReelSonar mobile fish finder into production.”
Currently ReelSonar gathers data on whatever is in the surrounding water up to 150 feet deep. “My goal was to create a unique fish finder that utilizes advanced technology in an inexpensive way that is easy to use – paired with a device that many people already have,” said Lebedev.
Feature Rich Product
Several features allow the unit to be priced well below other fish finders on the market, and still use a 3 Volt rechargeable battery. Low frequency ultrasound transmits strongly through water without the signal getting lost, and fish are highly reflective surfaces, making the signal easier to process. “When there is enough sensitivity on the receiving circuit, paired with a well-designed signal processing unit, there is no problem with power,” explained Alexander Lebedev. The app (on Android and iOS devices) displays data and images in a dynamic, user-friendly interface – no separate display panel is needed.
Lebedev has a bright outlook for his developing product and can see how this product will change how people fish. “It is great learning tool for youngsters. Teach kids what is under the water. This tool will help to be a little bit smarter about the surroundings and water conditions. Its got water temperature and salinity meter. Great tools to see if it is a good spot for bass or trout.”
Some details about the ReelSonar device:
- Locate fish and underwater structure up to 150 feet away, and 150 feet deep
- Map the entire water bed using synthetic aperture, from a composite of multiple images (this feature is also useful for boat navigation in unknown areas)
- Check water temperature and salinity
- Bite Alarm – the smart bobber lights up, and the app signals when fish are near the bobber
- See relative sizes of fish, and estimate how many there are
- Get suggestions on bait and lures based on data and location
- Keep track of favorite fishing ‘hotspots’ and location history using GPS tags
- Tap into or contribute to aggregate ‘hotspots’ based on other ReelSonar bobber data
- Record location, date, size/weight and photos of the day’s catch all in one place
With R&D nearing completion, ReelSonar will retail for under $100. Besides the app itself, it consists of the bobber and its USB recharging cable, making it easily portable. Because users cast the ReelSonar bobber as far as they like, it extends the under-boat views of existing boat-mounted fishfinders. It works in any water temperature, in fresh and salt water, in boats or on the shore.
Want to take part in the development of this great new product? Get more details and updates at Indiegogo
As 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.
The 3:16 Mission Fish is the KING of all weedless swimbaits. It was designed well over ten years ago, but by far is one of the best kept secrets in the bass fishing world. This is a swimbait that can be fished with a cast and retrieve technique, or flipped in the tules, or sunken trees, or through one of your favorite rock piles where you will very rarely snag up due to its weedless design.
Company: 3:16 Lures Co.
Lure: Mission Fish
Weight: 2 ounces
Style: Weedless Paddle Tail
Hook: Gamakatsu 8/0 G-Mag
Sink Rate: Med.-Fast
MLO Rating: 4.5 out of 5
When I was first introduced to the Mission Fish lure I knew right away this swimbait would fit perfectly in my play book. I am a huge fan of stitching jigs and here was a lure that could be worked on the bottom like a jig through the rocks and sunken trees and with a large profile I knew this bait would work well for lunkers. The Mission Fish comes in five sizes 4″, 5″, 6″, 7″, and 8″. I have had my best success with the 7″ and 8″ Mission Fish in the bass color. 3:16 offers plenty of colors to match the hatch where your fishing.
The Mission Fish comes in two tail styles, boot-tail, and curl-tail. I prefer the boot-tail for its open water swimming action and the way it slows the bait down some when falling to the bottom.
The weight is incorporated into the head which really makes this bait unique by itself. The design of the head weight allows the line to go through the weight and into the center of the Mission Fish.
3:16 Lure Co. uses a very cool Gamakatsu G-Mag hook which works perfectly in the Mission Fish. The 7″ bait comes with a 8/0 G-Mag hook.
In the picture above you can see the slit on the bottom of the Mission Fish where after you run the line through the head weight it will come out into the slit where then you can then tie the hook on. I like using 12lb-15lb Fluorocarbon line with the 7″ and 8″ baits with a med-action rod.
After tying the hook on you’ll need to Texas rig the hook by lining up the G-Mag hook in the bait, then poking the hook point through the top of the bait from the inside of the slit. Now you can pull on the main line while holding the bait in the other hand and you will see the eyelet pop into the bait. Now your ready to fish. A little tip is if you want your bait to be 100% weedless after your hook is in place you’ll need to get the point of the hook to stick back into the Mission Fish.
There are two things about the Mission Fish that really help with your hook-up and catch ratio. One is the Mission Fish is a very collapsable bait which really helps during the hook set, and two the Mission Fish will ride up your line after the hook set which is key if a big fish gets her head out of the water and starts shaking it. I like having just the hook it a large bass’ mouth instead of the entire weight of the bait.
The Mission Fish is a very thin swimbait which I really believe helps this weedless model during the hook-set. There is a very small channel along the back which helps keep the hook in place and weedless.
Pros: The Mission Fish is an incredible bait in the rocks, and when flipping trees, or brush piles. The hook-up ratio is really good for a weedless swimbait, the G-Mag hook is a big reason why. Very durable bait.
Cons: Not many, I would like to see a larger boot-tail to give the lure more kick. After catching a few bass the plastic will tear on the back from the hook ripping out, some swimbait glue will repair this quickly.
MLO Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Over the years I have learned a few secrets for catching giant bass that I just flat out keep under wrap, but while working on Mike Long Outdoors and getting such incredible feedback from people all over the world on what I’ve shared so far, it made it just that much easier to want to share some more fishing lures and techniques that have worked well for me over the years. One of these lures is the Giant Tora Tube.
I’ve gotta say, one thing I’ve noticed about bass over the years is they love baits that have arms, legs, or tassels on them. In the case of the Tora Tube, lots of thin tassels. The Tora Tube, when rigged right, can be fished up under trees and docks, along ledges, through grass and branches, and in open water. I’ve had tons of success when fishing them in open water above trees, and rocks that have some giant bass waiting in ambush.
When it comes to rigging, i’ve found using a 6′-6″, – 7′-0″ medium action rod, and light weight reel spooled with 12-15lb fluorocarbon line works best. I like a light weight reel due to due the rip, and jerk style retrieve while working the bait back in. If your a jerk bait fan then you’ll love using a giant tube. The way I rig the tube it has a super slow fall that makes it deadly. You can slow glide the tube left and right, and while pausing between retrieves, you can see the tassels flare out some and just tease those big bass that are watching.
The Giant Tora Tubes are made by Canyon Plastics and come in three sizes 7″,8″, and 10″. For all those bass fisherman that have used Gitzits over the years and had success with the smaller tubes these Tora Tubes are just Gitzits on steroids.
As for Tora Tube colors I like to use here in California, I prefer the Canyon Plastics Rainbow Trout color, which looks incredible in the water. It has a green top with pink/pearl sides and belly with some black flake added. It is important when rigging this color to make sure you rig the tube with the green side up. You want it to mimic a real trout and look as natural as possible to create a strike.
In the picture above you can see the hollow chamber in the lure that makes this bait a tube and is really helps with the buoyancy of the bait and is perfect for placing a custom rigged harness inside.
One of the best things about using a hollow tube is how collapsable it is which really helps to get a good hook set when a bass bights down on it and compresses it in its mouth. In my many years of using this lure I believe the Tora Tube is by far one of the best lures for setting the hook for its size.
Two of my other favorite colors are the pearl white and melon smoke w/red and black glitter. Canyon Plastics offers well over ten colors, from solid white, to black, to purple. Plenty of colors for any occasion, or lake. I believe when using the pearl-white Tora tube it sort of looks like a small group of shad in the water and I have had bass hit this color at full speed as if they were after a single shad. I also have dead-sticked the melon color tube, with an occasional pop off the bottom, with tons of success when the water gets cold and the bass are deeper and lethargic.
My secret for using the Tora Tube is the hook/rattle rigging. I start by taking a Gamakatsu 5/0 offset shank hook and a rattle chamber box, along with some resin from your local hardware store. Your also going to need a pair of pliers and some source of heat like a cigarette lighter, or your kitchen stove. Once your ready, you want to heat up the first bend, under the hook eyelet, once the bend has heated up enough you’ll need to grab it with a pair of pliers at the eyelet and bend it toward the hook point side of the hook and bend it to a 45 degree angle. Once this is done dip the hook in some water.
Now with your hook bent it’s time to prepare a small amount of resin. For a perfect template, take a Tora Tube and cut it at one inch from the nose end of the tube, it should look like a small bowl. Now set your hook in the template with the eyelet poking out of the template start pouring your resin into the template. Once the resin sets up a bit, its time to add your rattle chamber by placing it about 1/4 of the chamber length into the resin. I make my own rattle chambers from thin 1/4″ tubing from the hobby store and some broken glass and small brass balls. You’ll need some plastic ends and rubber cement to seal the rattle chamber.
When your finished your rigging should look like the hook/rattle rig in the picture above.
Once you have a hook/rattle rig ready it’s time to place the rig into the Tora Tube. Push the rig all the way into the bait untill the hook eyelet pokes outside the plastic and add a small quick clip to the hook eyelet, this will hold the rig in place in the tube like in the picture below.
Now that your hook/rattle rig is inside the tube it’s time to push the hook point outside of the Tora Tube and your ready to fish your Tora Tube Pro-Rigged!!
Keep watching MikeLongOutdoors for a future video of the Giant Tora Tube in action catching monster bass.
Professional 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: 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: 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: 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: 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.
Ever wonder what goes on down there with the big ones? How they relate to other fish? What they see? What their food choices are? Big Bass inhabit a world of wonder and intrigue. Get to know the life of the big bass with this fantastic bass-eye view of their world.
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!
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.
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.
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 “!
Recent events have reminded me of how difficult it is to be a kid today. There aren’t any real safe havens for children if what we’re seeing on the news over the last few days is any indication. I have wondered these last few days if the world is that much different today than it was when I was growing up. How modern entertainment in the form of video games and smart phones and other electronic devices have turned us away from exploring the natural wonders all around us. Whether these electronic pursuits desensitize us, making us lose the connection with the things that make us human. I don’t have all the answers, but one thing is obvious to me. We need to get our kids away from their laptops and smartphones and video games more often.
In this day and age of craziness and where we don’t really know what tomorrow will bring, I believe it is more important than ever to take a kid fishing and introduce them to the great outdoors where never ending adventure always produces a smile.
I grew up as an outdoor explorer, mapping out my town from one end to other, always trying to find where every fish lived and every creature called home. In doing this I got to enjoy the great outdoors and appreciate what God gave us all to enjoy, but I was lucky. I consider myself lucky because I had the opportunity to experience a variety of outdoor activities mainly due to where I lived. It allowed me to be an outdoor explorer.
I had friends, when I was young, that I literally had to drag out of their houses to go on an outdoor expeditions with me. Almost every one of those adventures ended up at some pond or creek fishing, which at the end of the day, I could see by the smiles on their faces how happy these trips made them. I was one of the lucky ones for sure.
When my kids were growing up I loved to take them out and explore the lake with me and they always had a good time even if we didn’t catch a fish. When I involved them in the preparation, letting them pack their lunches and get their fishing gear ready, there was always that pure excitement about getting out of the house and going on an outdoor adventure. I believe being outside has a way to keeping your mind fresh and can heal you when you’re feeling down.
I always hated when my kids were stuck in the house playing video games because they became very addicted and obsessed with virtual reality when I knew reality was infinitely more entertaining. I’ll admit that it came out in their the attitudes at times when I’d force them outside, but not one time going on a fishing trip did my kids ever get upset. Mother nature is a powerful force and always has a way of making you enjoy the great outdoors.
For the last 15 years I have donated my time and gathered products for the Lake Poway Youth Derby in the city of Poway along with my partner Captain Ronnie Baker, the true King of youth derbies here in Southern California. We have had tremendous success teaching some of the young kids, from 5 years older to 14 years old, how to catch the outdoor bug. Along with an army of volunteers, we teach and help every kid enjoy the outdoor experience of fishing. It is such a great feeling seeing so many kids enjoy a day fishing, and competing with each other, catching trout or catfish. The smiles on their faces say it all.
If each one of us takes just some of our free time to take a kid fishing and introduce them to nature’s great gift, I truly believe we can heal some of the damage all these virtual entertainments have done to our young people. The violent video games popular today are definitely not the answer, but in my experience, taking a kid fishing will not only make you feel good and young again, but teach a child how to go out and enjoy the true gifts of the great outdoors.
For well over ten years now I have been using the Rago Rat and it is by far one of the easiest swimbaits to use and highly effective. Long over due, here’s my Original Rago Rat Lure Review.
Company: Rago Baits
Lure: Original Rago Rat
Weight: 1.7 Ounces
Length: (Body 4 1/2″)(Tail 4 1/2″)
Lure Speed: Slow-Medium
Composite: Hard Resin
Sink Rate: Floater
MLO Rating: 4.5 out of 5
The body of the Original Rago Rat is 4 1/2″ and the tail is 4 1/2″ with a weight of 1.7 ounces this little bait casts like a dream. It is built from very buoyant hard resin which keeps the Rat on the surface. When Rago Baits made the very first Rago Rats they were made out of wood which and were about 1/4 ounce heavier and sat in the water perfectly to make a beautiful surface V-wake.
The Rago Rat has a small hard plastic lip which helps to pull the Rats first section just under the surface, while the second section of the Rat wakes the surface.
The tail of the Original Rago Rat is made from soft plastic and works in a S-motion behind the Rat to tease any bass watching into biting.
The single joint of the Rago Rat makes a knocking sound in the water from the front, and rear sections hitting together while the Rat is swimming and this is a great noise attractor to the bait in dirty water, or low light conditions.
The Rago Rat only has one treble hook on the first section which works out perfect to help give the second section more freedom.
Below is a small video of the Original Rago Rat in action:
Pros: Very compact durable wake bait, cast good in windy conditions. The joint makes a great knocking sound to attract bass as well a soft plastic tail for a teaser. The lip is built into the bait to survive shore, or rock hits. Hinge is built to handle very large stripers, and the eyelets are heavy duty with a 100lb. split ring to hold the hook on with the big fish.
Cons: Tail does come off and is difficult to reattach in the field, make sure you have a few extra when you go out on the water with a tooth pick to help reattach one.
I get asked all the time what my favorite swimbait color is, and you might think it would be Rainbow Trout because of where I live, but it’s not. It’s a bass color. Since I was a little kid, I have witnessed largemouth bass eating each other. I grew up in an area where there were creeks and small ponds to fish and the majority of what was in these creeks and ponds were bass. I watched numerous times where small bass were being chased and sometimes caught by larger bass.
So it was a no brainer to try to match the hatch, but when I was young we did not have the choices of swimbaits and colors that we do today. It was not until Castaic, and Optimum Lures came along that we had soft plastic realistic imitations in the 4″-6″ length. These days, we have a plethora of choices and it is easy to find a favorite swimbait color that matches the forage in your local waters.
The lure in the picture above is one of the first Optimum swimbaits to be made in the bass color. This is a 5″ bait that opened up a whole new world for me when using swimbaits. The color, along with the body shape and size, were close enough to some of the smaller bass that were getting eaten by some of the larger bass in the waters I fished. When I first used this new color it was unbelievable how aggressive the larger bass were when they chased and bit the swimbait.
I believe that a large bass living in a creek, pond, or lake will try to eat almost anything that moves. So if a smaller bass is in the larger bass’ strike zone, look out! He now is the target meal.
I have always wondered, “If a large bass had a choice of a crawdad, minnow, or a small bass, right in front of him, what would he choose?” Well after years of pondering this, I truly believe if a bass is hungry it will go after whatever is around it. I have also closely watched smaller bass seem to have their guard down around larger bass and especially around structure where they must feel they can escape if needed. I have seen large bass grab another fish and when it does, scales and sometimes small parts of the fish come free around the larger bass and the small bass move in and eat the small scraps. Another thing I have witnessed during spring is small males guarding their nest get eaten by some of the monster females that come up into the shallows from their deep water spots. This could be because a small male may not mature enough to emit any pheromones that drug out the big monster female, so she feeds instead of spawning.
During the colder months of the year when most of the smaller bass have pulled off the bank and have moved to deeper water, I have watched through an Aqua View camera groups of small bass hiding around and under rocks. Meanwhile, large bass are on vigilant patrol waiting for a crawdad, small panfish, or small bass to come out of these rock sanctuaries. Once out in the open, the larger bass can hunt them down and pin them against the bottom, or one of the rocks.
These few examples are a key reason to use a bass-colored swimbait once in awhile to see if that is what’s on the big bass’ menu. In this day and age of incredible paint jobs on soft plastic swimbaits, we now have a huge list of tools to choose from to make sure we always have access to their dinner choices.
Above are a few of the latest swimbaits made over over the last few years, with sizes ranging from the Decoy at 5″, the MattLures at 4 1/2″, and the Huddleston Deluxe at 6″. If you notice one theme besides the color in the pictures, it’s the size. I’m a firm believer that an effective bass-colored swimbait needs to be 6″ or smaller.
MattLures makes one of my favorite small bass-colored swimbaits with his 4 1/2″ version. Matt paid close attention, making the body shape look as natural as possible as well as matching the color almost perfectly.
Jason Scott, former owner of Castaic Lures, a company known for realistic looking swimbaits, now runs Decoy Baits, another company that pays close attention to making realistic looking swimbaits. The 5″ Decoy in a bass color is on the top of my list as one of the best looking soft-plastic paint jobs on a small swimbait.
The Decoy bass, and the MattLures bass have both become my go to lures when I need a small bass-colored swimbait. So next time you’re heading to your favorite pond, or fishing hole, pick up a few small bass-colored swimbaits and start having fun while catching some of the larger bass in your zip code.
For those who love to toss big swimbaits Real Prey Swimbaits has a bait made you in the 10″ Real Prey Trout. It’s like no other big swimbait on the market today, mainly due to what the Real Prey Trout is built from — high modulus silicone, which makes this swimbait very durable and incredibly buoyant while swimming in the water.
Company: Real Prey Swimbaits
Lure: 10″ Real Prey Trout
Composite: High Modulus Silicone
Weight: 7.9 Ounces
Sink Rate: Slow Sink
Color: Natural Trout
MLO Rating: 4.5 out of 5
The Real Prey Trout is definitely a different swimbait, beginning with the material used (a high modulus silicone) which is very durable and hard to tear. The silicone gave the swimbait incredible buoyancy in the water. I found, on my slow sink model, that it had a very slow sink rate for a 10″ swimbait, falling at a rate of around two feet per second, semi-nose down. When I added a 1/4 ounce nail weight to the bottom of the swimbait, just behind the pelvic fins, it balanced the swimbait out perfectly.
The Real Prey Trout will not tear as easy as a swimbait built with soft plastic and the paint is more durable than any other soft plastic swimbait paint job on the market today. The paint will not peal off and, after catching a few good bass on the Real Prey Trout, I could not find a single tooth mark on the bait.
Real Prey Swimbaits paid close attention to matching natural colors in their paint scheme, like with the pearl white belly to the tan colored fins, and the small silver sparkles on the side of the swimbait, to the natural green on the back.
The eyes on the Real Prey Trout are 180 degree hard plastic eyes which you can see from the top and bottom angles of the swimbait which I believe is key in giving a swimbait that natural look to a bass while in the water.
The picture above shows just how buoyant the 10″ Real Prey Trout is. This bait will fall nose down and by adding a little weight near the anal fin you can get the Real Prey Trout to fall horizontally.
The tail of the Real Prey Trout at first glance looked too big compared to what I’m used to seeing in a swimbait tail design, but when I tossed the Real Prey Trout in the water and saw the tail wag and felt the thump of the tail I was very impressed. The swimbait tail swam at very slow speed which surprised me but made sense for how buoyant the silicone is in the water. And when I cranked the swimbait at a fast speed I was very impressed at the balance of the swimbait, it never rolled over on its side and did not fall immediately when I paused it between hard cranks.
Below is a video showing the Real Prey Trout in underwater action.
Pros: The Real Prey Trout is made to last longer than any other swimbait on the market today by being made of high modulus silicone. You can get the tail to swim at very slow speeds and when you burn this swimbait it does not roll over. I was very impressed with buoyancy of the Real Prey Trout especially when bumping it off the bottom.
Cons: If you happen to tear the Real Prey Trout you’ll have to repair it with silicone and I would like to see another eyelet behind the dorsal fin for a stinger hook.
MLO Rating: 4.5 out of 5
“I just ate the World Record Bass tonight and it was good!”
Who did this? Soon after he caught that infamous fish and it was certified, George Perry’s record catch went into the frying pan. Before the advent of catch and release (C&R) back in the early 70’s, it was almost always catch and eat.
Let me say I release all my fish, but are we doing more harm than good now with the C&R mentality? Some studies seem to bare this out coming to the conclusion that lakes have become over populated with small fish and have actually hurt the bass from growing bigger. So what’s the answer? Maybe we should start taking some of the smaller fish home. One of the major problems is that some will become the victims of ridicule for keeping fish.
I’ve always felt if someone wanted to take his limit of keeper bass then that was just fine. It seems the answer is to take the right fish home and let the big fish go after a quick picture and measuring. It’s safe to say that the number of really big fish in a given body of water is relatively small. So it only makes sense to release them to spawn and fight another day. One point here is there’s no need to be mean or rude to someone who does decide to keep a trophy fish. I’ve see guys get beat down verbally and bashed, so all we can do is try to instruct folks on the merits of releasing the big girls, and in a positive manner.
This next area is something that needs to be examined as well, and that’s how we are handling these bigger fish. All too often we see folks bouncing big fish off the boat deck, taking pictures of them on the ground and just generally not treating the fish with care. The Pro’s and Tournaments circuits preach the merits of C& R but what message does it send when you see them culling fish on the bottom of the floor or flexing their jaws on the weigh in stand? Look we all need to do better myself included, we all want to protect the resource and educating folks is the way to go.
Selective harvesting on certain lakes can be a good thing and will no doubt help the big bass population grow by providing more forage. One way of looking at it is instead of releasing that 2-3 pounder and it becoming the next big fish in the pond, it may be the reason we’re not catching 10 pounders, food for thought. So until next time “Stay on Em “and maybe taking a few of them rats home for the family or friends will produce future giants.
Lately I have been slowing it down a bit and going “old school.” What is old school you ask? It is tossing the worm… most likely the first artificial lure to catch a bass and a favorite of most bass fisherman in the world. This time of the year I like to stitch a big worm between 12′ and 16″. Yes, I said 16″! It is a monster of worm, but it catches some big bass.
When getting ready to stitch a big worm, you first need to get your tackle set up correctly. I like a rod between 7′-0″ and 7′-8″ in a medium-heavy action and any reel that will hold plenty of 15-20 pound line. Over the years I have changed over from monofilament to fluorocarbon line because I like the way I can feel the bottom I’m stitching better with the zero stretch line. I prefer a slow ratio reel like 5.1-1 because the ideal is to “slowly” work the worm over the structure back to the boat, or shore.
Once you have your rod, and reel ready it’s time to find some big worms. This can be easier than you think, but I would suggest going to your local bait store and seeing what they have. You might only see smaller worms so ask the someone if they can order larger worms for you. Most people who pour worms have a few big worm molds that they will use for a custom order.
After you find your big worms invest some time in to getting some good worm hooks. I prefer to use Owner oversize worm hook in 7/0, and 11/0 sizes. As you can see in the picture above this hook is built for big worms. It has an extra long shank that gets the point of the hook further down the worm and the “Z” bend was designed to hold the hook in place better in the head of the worm. This “Z” bend is key during casting so that your hook stays in place. What I really like about this big hook is how the point of the hook lines up with start of the hook (as you can see by the picture below, I drew a red line to show how this lines up).
There have been plenty of years I have used pliers to bend the point towards the shank of the hook to keep the point from sticking out of the worm and hanging up on structure. Proper hook placement is key in a big worm your casting a lot of plastic that will stretch during the cast so you will have some movement. The last thing you want is your hook point sticking out and snagging on structure, or dulling the point of the hook, so when you get bit you can’t get a hook set.
I very rarely use a bullet weight with big worms since the hook has enough weight to help keep the worm head on the bottom. Besides, I like to stitch the nastiest structure I can find so rigging the big worm without a weight or fly-lining it is essential to getting all that plastic through the structure.
Once you’ve secured you tackle, it’s time to do some homework and find some good structure to stitch. I like to start with a main point and set up in about ten foot of water and toss out to the deep water. Stitching big worms is a technique where you need lots of patience. The key to success with these giants is to work these big worms as slow as you can, I mean “fall asleep slow.” If you want to catch one of the monster bass in the lake then you need to keep the big worm in the big bass’ house for as long as possible.
Stitching is an old technique where you hold your rod downward towards the water and hold the line between your fingers and slowly pull the line away from the rod. While stitching you want to pull the line and pause, you should always feel tension on the line, if not you need to pull more line out until you feel some light tension. What’s nice about stitching is your going to know when your bit. Big bass thump the big worms hard so hold on. If you have pulled some line out and get bit let the line pull back towards the rod while still holding, once the line is back to the rod, let go and set the hook.
Working big worms on points, humps, and flats with deep water access is how you’ll catch some of the larger bass in the lake. Once you fish these areas for a while, you’re going to find some sweet spots, or key areas on these locations that you will have to make note of mentally so you can visualize in your mind what your big worm is doing. Paying close attention to which direction you’re stitching is also very important. I almost always work the uphill, but there are times during the year when you’ll find the big bass want the worms pulled down hill.
Time of day is another factor you should pay close attention to. I have caught some giant bass early in morning and during the last light of the day while working shallow water key spots with deep water access. I have found that water color and time of the year really dictates if these big bass will be shallow and want to eat a big worm. Once again putting time on the water and taking really detailed notes will help you understand when and where you need to be and how much time to stay and stitch an area.
Moon phase was a trigger to some of my largest catches on big worms. I’ve found that while looking at my fishing logs, kept for over 30 years, that the times you want to be on your key fishing area is 45 minutes before and after a moonrise and moonset. These times of gravitational pull seem to activate the big bass and get them moving and hunting.
Another secret that for me has changed over the year is scent. I am a firm believer in using scent when spot fishing. I call it the “barbecue effect.” If your neighbor three houses down is barbecuing a steak, you can smell it through the air, it will most likely make your appetite increase. This is how I see scent on a key area i’m fishing. If I’m set up on a rock pile and have the wind at my back and there is some water current blowing towards deep water then the “barbecue effect” is working. The only difference between air and water is the density of the molecules. Air molecules move very fast and free if there is a breeze, water on the other hand is much more dense and you need some water current to move your scent in the water. Bottom line is the less current the smaller the area around your scented bait that the bass can pick up the scent. But if you work an area for an extended period of time you can really marinate it and believe this will help spark the bass into biting.
I prefer to use Smelly Jelly in the 3XXX, or Crawdad flavors and after years of getting scent on my hands I finally figured out a better way to apply this sticky smelly scent.
By using a large sandwich bag and placing a small amount of scent inside the bag you can now dip your worm in the bag and squeeze the worm around with your hand on the outside of the bag where no scent can get on your hand. I have found this to make my life much easier while worm fishing and less flavor on my sandwich.
As for big worm colors I always keep it simple brown with a black vein, cinnamon black vein, purple pink vein, and black with a purple vein. These colors for me where I live here in San Diego California work really well, but when I look at my fishing logs I have caught 70% of my largest bass on the brown black vein color. It is a very natural color matching a night crawler. My logs also show that some of the best times for me have also been during storms where there is some runoff going into the lake. If there is a key area next to some stained, or dirty runoff coming in the lake I have had some multiple big bass days. I believe as these bass grow up they recognize that food is coming in the lake during storms that are large enough to create some good runoff where worms and bugs are un-earthed and go down stream into the lake. I have noticed that the first good storm that produces runoff is best and only for a couple of days.
So next time you feel like slowing it down a bit, but still want a chance at a toad bass go buy some big worms and soak them on your best spot I think you’ll be glad you did.
Takeshi Matsumota owner of Fish Arrow and Ken Huddleston owner of Huddleston Deluxe have collaborated to make the Huddle Jack 150 a 6″ hard bait with the Huddleston Deluxe swimbait tail. Fish Arrow the maker of the famous Monster Jack swimbait decided it was time to up their game and make a hard swimbait with a kicking tail instead of the traditional lipped hard bait, or hinged S-motion style swimbait.
Lure: Huddle Jack 150
Weight: 1.6 ounces
Color: Blue Back Pearl
Composite: Hard Plastic
MLO Rating: 5 out of 5
The Huddle Jack 150 is the Sparta of swimbaits, it is a tough little swimmer weighing in at 1.6 ounces for its slim 6 1/4″ body length it is built for speed. Fish Arrow loves to build swimbaits that are durable and will last for years of fishing abuse. I found casting this bait was effortless especially in the wind.
One nice thing about a 6″ swimbait that only weighs 1.6 ounces is you can use lighter gear. I matched the Huddle Jack with a Dobyns DX 744, and a Shimano Calais reel spooled with 15lb. flourocarbon line.
The Huddle Jack 150 is marked on the back for the model and an “S” for sinking. As you can see by the picture above the tail is a Huddleston Deluxe hard wedge tail.
The Huddle Jack 150 is built with a super strong hinge that will handle some monster bass especially if you plan on using a rear hook off the tail.
Fish Arrow research and development people are fishing all the time and know that sometimes you need a rear hook and by removing the two belly hooks and using a rear tail hook it will allow you to fish much more structure instead of hanging up on it, or dulling the point of the hooks.
Fish Arrow always puts good hardware on their baits and with the Huddle Jack 150 Fish Arrow used 60lb. split rings and Owner 1/0 treble hooks. The eyes are high end realistic taxidermy grade and on the eyelet they added a 80lb. split ring.
While I was casting and testing the Huddle Jack 150 a small bass decided to give his review..He was hooked!.. Below is a Huddle Jack 150 demonstration video I made to show just how amazing this little strong bait is.
Pros: The Huddle Jack 150 is an incredible bait for casting all day long, flies straight in the air, and swims just like its soft bait cousin the Huddleston Deluxe swimbait. Having a choice of hook placement is key if you need to adjust your bait for short bites, or trees and rocks.
Cons: I found none
MLO: 5 out of 5
Editors Note: This article was written by Mike Long and not E.A. Castro as previously ascribed. We apologize for the confusion.
Chasing largemouth bass for well over 37 years you definitely learn a thing a two. One thing you learn quickly is that if you can catch big bass consistently, you become somewhat of a fishing icon. In my world this has happened to me multiple times, but what is the truth behind people who catch big bass consistently? Well it’s time to spill the beans and spell it out.When it come to bass fishing, I have become so obsessed at times that it seems like almost nothing else in the world matters but fishing. I was just telling a friend the other day that looking back on my days of hunting for big bass, I was definitely obsessed, almost as if I was under a spell. But this focus isn’t why I really catch big bass consistently.
I believe the true reason why any person can be a consistent big bass catching machine is due to the amount of time they are willing to spend on the water. This is by far the truth of why I have been able to catch so many large bass in my “career.”
When I would catch a large bass in the past, and it got in the newspaper, I would often tell people that it should have read, “Mike Long, 12 lb bass, 42 hours.” Unfortunately, the news reports would only state your name and weight of the bass. Play this idea out and you start to arrive at a better understanding: If you fished fifty hours over a week and caught one bass over ten pounds, and then you did this each week for a month, and caught a total of four bass over ten pounds, and no one realized how much time you had invested overall, you start to look like the king of big bass fishing. All they see is that you caught four fish over ten pounds in a month and think you’re on to some secret technique that yields big fish all the time.
“Time on the water” is a phrase you will here at almost any bass seminar, or in any article you read about catching big bass. There is a reason for this: it is the truth! When I look back on my life and what I have experienced in bass fishing, it all has to do with how much time I was willing to invest and spend on the water hunting giants. If I really look back at the time I spent though, it did not always pay off.
I have caught hundreds of bass over ten pounds, but if you do the math for 37 years and how many hours invested in each fish, I have not done that well.
There are lots of “Big Bass Hunters” here in California. The main reason for that is all the lakes have potentially world class Florida strain largemouth bass in them that are fed almost pure protein Rainbow Trout that are easy to catch and easy to digest. We call these trout “candy bars” because they just melt in a bass’ mouth. The difference is in perspective. Big bass hunters that spend more hours on the lake understand that chucking a trout imitation swimbait for ten hours a day, five days a week, will put them in a high percentage bracket to catch a bass over ten pounds. So if a weekend big bass hunter comes in and spends two weekends chucking a swimbait and finally gets a big bass over ten, who was better? the guy who spent 50 hours for one ten pounder, or the guy who spent 40 hours for one. I think you get the point.
If you spend lots of time doing something in life, you also figure out some short cuts, and in the world of big bass fishing we all want that short cut. Basically the longer you spend sitting on a rock pile you start to recognize patterns that will help you on the next trip and so on…
This is what makes me who I am. I spend lots of time on the water, take good notes and pay close attention to the factors that truly drive the big bass to move around and feed. The weather, moon, and sun are the primary factors that make big bass migrate in a lake to feed and the more time you spend on the water, the more you will recognize the patterns.
Now after years of taking notes, and building basically a big bass map, with a schedule of when some of those big bass should be stopping in an area to feed, you’re in a better position to catch big bass. Simply put, all that the time you spent hunting these big bass will put you in a higher percentage bracket for catching them. You might catch two, or three over ten pounds in a 50 hour week, or even two over ten in a 20 hour weekend. You have now evolved to the next level of big bass fishing. And even though you have done some homework from years of hunting, the one primary factor still is time on the water.
Here in San Diego, California, we had a big bass fishing legend named Lunker Bill Murphy. This guy fished every chance he got. He was a structure fisherman who loved to sit on two or three rocks piles during a day, while stitching crawdads, worms, or jigs and this man did some serious damage on the big bass. Growing up watching this man, I recognized one thing right away though. He spent more time on the water than any other fisherman by far, no one came even close. Yes, you could say he was obsessed.
So at an early age I understood that to catch big bass consistently you have to spend lots of time on the water. The question though, is does this truly say you are the best? I guess that’s all dependent on how you want to look at it.
I’ve got to go now and get some lures ready for tomorrow, I smell rain in the air.
Now that the days are getting shorter, and the waters are cooling down, the bass are starting to move into areas of the lake that are very rocky. This is a great time of the season to toss a jig and catch some of the larger bass in the lake. Growing up in San Diego California where the reservoirs are deep and clear most of the year, and the fishing pressure can be overwhelming on these smaller bodies of water, fishing a jig in deep water is a must at times.
Colors matter with jigs and I always try to keep it simple; clear water I use brown and greens, dirty water black and purple. You’ll find with the brown jigs, sometimes due to water clarity, the bass might want a little color with brown skirts. When I get jigs made for a trip, I always get straight brown, and at least 1/4 made with brown and green, and another 1/4 brown and purple.
Having some purple, and green mixed in your jig skirts is good if the bass slow down on hitting straight brown. I have had many days where the brown/purple jigs have out fished all other colors. In my experience it seems during the brighter part of the day the mixed color brown jigs work better and the solid brown jigs get bit better during lowlight. When the rains come and turn the water a dirty, or muddy color, I go to a black jig. I also prefer a black jig skirt with a little red flash added and the same with the jig trailer.
Now that I have some jigs made with the colors I want it’s time to get some rattle accessories and some trailers. Adding a rattle was an experiment for many years and I’ve found that I have had much greater success while using rattles on my jigs than without.
The rattle arms are normally sold seperate from the rattle chambers, so it’s up to you to pick the color for the rattle chambers (black, or clear). Even the size matters; some rattle chambers come with two ball bearings, or three. It’s all up to what you want to use, since I believe they work the same.
The body rattle chambers are another item that will be sold as a harness and rattle set that you will have to put together.
Now it’s time to start adding your rattles to your jig. Make sure if you add the arm rattles and the body rattles your going to have to make sure the body of your jig you are using will have enough room to allow both. If not, some trimming with a pair of scissors, or exacto knife, may be required. Once you have completed the rattles, it’s time for a jig trailer. I always try to match natural colors, starting with green, when choosing a jig trailer. If I plan on stitching my jig at a moderate search speed, I will use a twin tail trailer. If I plan on stitching my jig at a slow speed, or deadstick a ledge or rock, I’ll use a natural crawdad looking trailer.
Where I live, the water never gets cold for very long and is usually clear, so I always have used soft plastic trailers instead of pork trailers. The times I have used pork, it was very dirty water where I felt I needed a little extra scent to attract a bass to my jig.
The placement of the plastic jig trailer works best when you place it at a slight upward angle. This will let promote the claws to float upward and look very natural when the jig is in the water. Using a trailer with salt in it will help the trailer claws float a little bit better too.
Above picture is a shot of a jig in the water with a natural crawdad trailer. I have always felt that a jig should rise off the bottom as much as possible, I believe it helps it to get bit easier and look much more natural than a jig and trailer that just lays on the bottom.
When choosing a Fall and Winter jig, I prefer a football head, I like the way it moves through smaller rocks and pea gravel bottoms. It is this wider head that will work like a small bulldozer pushing rocks and sand making some disturbance on the bottom to help attract bass.With the wider head it keeps my hook straight up not rolling over catching rocks and snagging up like a round, or swimming head jig will. I also look for a jig head that has a bevel where the eyelet is. The lower the eyelet, the less likely it is to get stuck in the rocks. I have had much more success clearing rocks with the lower seated eyelet, that when using the eyelets the stick way above the lead head.
As for weight size, I almost always use a 3/8 ounce jig in depths of 1′-25′ and when fishing deeper waters 25′-40′ I’ll use a 1/2 ounce jig.
Above is my go-to lure during late Fall and Winter months. It is a 3/4 ounce football head in a bass candy color, a green skirt, and a flash of metallic green and orange. This is my deep water wrecking machine. As for the trailer, I always use the Castaic Craw trailers in the same colors. I have fished this big jig as deep as 100′ and can feel the structure on the bottom, but this lure is highly effective for those big bass hiding in that 30′-60′ zone as well. This jig keeps great contact with the bottom, as well as scratching rocks and making a lot of noise to call the big bass over. A few words of warning when using a heavier jig: if a bass charges to the surface and tries to shake her head above the water, you better bury the rod in the water, and reel like a mad man to keep the heavy jig set in the bass’ mouth. I recommend a high speed reel when using 3/4 -1 ounce jigs or heavier. Jig bass can bite violently and also make some crazy runs and charging the surface. A high speed reel will help you gain ground quickly and keep the situation in control.
As for a rod I am a huge fan of the Dobyns DX 744 for jigs up to 1/2 ounce. It is a 7′-4″ medium-action, four power rod that is the work horse rod of the Dobyns family. For the heavier jigs (3/4-1 1/2 ounce) I recommend a Dobyns DX 784. You get four more inches of rod over the DX 744, with the same power, but with a better hook setting ability in deep water. As for line I mainly go with Maxima 15lb. fluorocarbon line.
One last thing… if you’re fishing a spot and losing a lot of jigs, you’re probably in the right area. Buy as many jigs as you can and bring some extra line and have some fun! (Jigs used in this article were Skinny Bear Jigs and a few hand made heavy jigs)
Everyone who fishes for bass has a “go to” lure, or a special technique, a secret lure, or special color, or size bait that when fishing gets tough you need a secret weapon to tie on. And the longer you fish, the bigger the bag of these tricks. Sometimes you can barely remember what is in your bag of tricks and at times your lure, or technique works so well you don’t ever want to talk about it, not even with your best fishing buddy. All kidding aside, when it comes to swimbait fishing I have a few secret swimbait techniques that will, by far, help you catch more and larger bass when times get tough and the bass go deep.
Here in California in the deep water reservoirs we fish during the Winter months, and parts of the Summer months, we chase suspended fish as deep as 80 feet and some even deeper in the case of the bottom fish. Basically we hunt for bait and fish with our fish finders, and once we find some bait and fish that look good on the graph, we attack them vertically with 1/2 ounce spoons and ice jigs. Its just like a video game with the goal to drop your lure vertically in the water in front of the boat and graph while watching it fall on the graph and once you see it in the target area you begin to pop the lure upward. This looks like zig zag line with another line running through it and if things work out correctly you hook up quickly. But over many years of practicing this technique, I never hooked a bass over 5 pounds and I knew there had to be some big fish down deep around the smaller bass. I could see the big fish marks on the meter and at times while dropping an underwater camera down deep I could see the big bass, so I knew I had to think outside the box if wanted to catch these deep water giant bass.
Back in the late 90’s I use to have Jason Scott, one of the former owners of Castaic Baits, send me four, six, and eight inch trout swimbaits without any internal rigging systems in the baits at all. I just wanted a plastic swimbait painted with no hook and no weight. My goal was to get these baits down to where the big bass were hiding during the winter months. My idea was to nose hook these lightened swimbaits and to vertically drop shot them with a 3/4 ounce, or 1 ounce weight.
It took a few trips to really dial in this heavy drop shot rig and to figure out what pound fishing line to use. 15 pound fluorocarbon is what I found to work best for me.
Now it was finding a big mark on the fish finder and testing it out. The first thing I found was when using the larger baits (6″ and 8″) I would get lots of tail bites and very few hook-ups. I could see teeth marks on the tails and I knew once I found the bigger bass that they could inhale the entire swimbait, so I had to rethink what I was doing and this took some time. Quite some time, actually. Well over two years of trial and error to dial this new deep water technique in and increase my big bass hook-up percentages. The number one thing I learned is to be patient. I tried not to use tail stingers because when I did I hooked lots of good bass in the gills and killed them, so the goal was to nose hook my baits and find the right hook.
I have always felt, throughout the years, that the deeper the bass, the easier they are to catch, as long as you can get the right bait in front of their face. This is an area where I worked hard to make the bait look as life-like as possible. I paid close attention to the gills, eyes, fins, and tails.
I have found, through trial and error over the years, that a swimbait with a natural straight tail, or a slim boot tail works best when drop shotting in deep water, I can’t really say why… I just go with what the bass want in my world. When I first used the Castaic swimbait, I would fold the tail backward and glue it together to give it a natural look, it seemed to help and I got more hook-ups on the folded tail vs. not folded.
This drop shotting a swimbait should be called “drop shotting a still bait” because the bait just needs to get in the deep water area where the bass are holding and sit still and look lifelike and balanced. I truly believe in the years of doing this that you really need to pay attention and make sure your bait is balanced correctly and sits horizontally in the water. This is why I always start with a plastic bait that has no internal rigging — or weight in it at all — first. And when I rig this plastic only bait, check to see if it floats horizontally in the water. If it doesn’t, I will add nail weights as ballast till the bait sits flat in the water and looks as natural as possible.
There are quite a few companies such as MattLures, Rago Baits, and Jackall, that make some great swimbaits for drop shotting. The picture to the right shows two of the most productive lures I’ve ever drop shot in deep water with. The Jackall Clone Gill which is a 2 1/2″ bait that flat out gets bit at all depths due to it’s small size and lifelike colors and the MattLures Gill which is a 4 1/4″ bait that has an incredible lifelike appearance and has been, for me, one of the best big bass secret weapons I’ve ever drop shotted in deep water. In fact in the last four years I’ve caught more big bass drop shotting the MattLures gill in waters as deep as 80 feet than any other swimbait.
As for the hook I like to use, I almost always use the same size and style when heavy drop shotting in deep water. I prefer the Owner Weedless Wacky Hook size 1. I have tried lots of hooks and had the best success with the Owner Weedless Wacky. It has a weed guard on it which does help keep the bait on the hook and out of trouble when drop shotting in structure.
There have been times on the larger swimbaits when you will feel a fish grab the lure in deep water and you go to set the hook and miss him, but in most of these cases I’ve found if I just let my bait fall back in the same zone I got bit in, that the bass will come back and bite it again. At times I believe if your patient you can almost create a feeding frenzy with these deep water bass, which when you find them seemed to be schooled up in large groups.
So exercising some patience and keeping your bait in the correct zone is one of the keys to successfully catching some of these big deep water bass while deep water drop shotting.
Crawdads or rainbow trout? This is a question I ask myself every year around this time when the days are getting shorter and the nights are getting colder. I always wonder what the bigger bass are doing and what they really want to feed on during these colder days. Where I live here in San Diego, California our Fall and Winter months can be one of the best times of the year to to catch a few really fat healthy bass, maybe even that one trophy you have been chasing all year. I myself have caught a 17-2 out of Lake Jennings Ca. in November on a jig as well as an 18-1 out of Lake Poway Ca., also on a jig. Both bass were very deep; the Jennings bass was in well over 50′ of water while the Poway bass was caught at around 40′ of water. I find that during the colder shorter Fall/Winter days the bigger bass seem to be deeper, gorging on crawdads every chance they get. But once in awhile, I hook a good bass well over ten pounds on a swimbait during these same periods.
Every year is just a bit different and this year has been one of the hottest on record. It is almost Halloween and the air temps are in the 90’s while the water temps are still around the mid 70’s and a bit higher at some lower elevation lakes, so even though the days are getting shorter there is still some unusually warm water to be found and even some top water action still going on during the day. Typically this time of the year the water temps are in the low 70’s and the nights are really cold and clear so the bass are typically deeper where the water temperatures are a bit more consistent.
These deeper bass seem to be mainly feeding on crawdads and even with trout stocks starting they still remain very focused on slowing down and feeding downward on crawdads. I believe the cooler water decreases the bass’ metabolism and encourages the large female bass to slow down and start loading up on calcium-rich crawdads. I have seen this scenario play out year after year and that is why I prefer to use a jig with a crawdad trailer from October through March. Historically for me throughout this these months the jig has always been a high percentage go-to lure in the colder water. But every now and then, after a few trout plants have been put into the lakes, I’ve noticed some short windows of oppurtunity where some of the bigger bass seem to want to chase some trout over feeding on crawdads.
This is where I scratch my head trying to understand why these big bass have a slight change in their diet during the cooler months. I want to understand what triggers these bass to change their feeding pattern, if I can understand some of what influences this change then I might have a chance of being at the right place with the right lure and hooking a good bass.
One thing that I’ve noticed over the years during the Fall and Winter months is on clear, sunny, warm days with little to no wind that around 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. I have witnessed some monster bass up shallow in 2′- 10′ of water just sitting on some shallow warm rock piles as still as possible as if they were sleeping. I believe that after eating crawdads for several days that these hard shell crawdads are very hard to digest and load up in the bass’ stomach and intestines, thus pushing these huge bass up shallow where the warm sun can help to warm up these bass and help to increase their metabolism which will help to push these crawdad shells through the bass’ digestive system just a bit faster.
And if the weather stays warm during the Fall and Winter months for more than a week, I have seen some huge female bass start to set up on shallow structure and ambush anything that will swim by and this typically is one of the freshly planted rainbow trout that are such an easy target for these frisky bass. But I’ve also noticed they don’t seem to want to expend too much energy or travel too far to catch one of these trout. This is where the game gets interesting. Now where some of these bass are set up on shallow ambush structure you now have a strike zone and it is up to you to discover what the range of that zone is.
As I have written about on MikeLongOutdoors, when a cold storm approaches where I live, it will push some monster bass out of their deep hiding areas of the lake and put them almost on the bank for a brief period before the cold storm arrives. This is when these bass seem to be very frustrated and highly aggressive. These short windows of opportunity before the storm arrives, with falling barometer readings, have historically been great times for me to be tossing a swimbait over a jig and the results, at times, have been very good for a large bass on a swimbait. But these monster storms don’t come in every week and the bass always seem to move back to their deeper winter crawdad areas and now it’s back to scratching my head trying to figure out why, and where these big bass are again. But truthfully I love this part of the game almost as much as the payoff!
When looking at my notes and talking with other swimbait and jig fisherman, I have noticed that these big bass will definitely at times come out of the deeper winter waters and chase and eat the swimbaits. Too many people have shared their stories that say the same.
One of the greatest things to happen in my world of learning and sharing info has been FaceBook. I have met thousands of people from all over the world who share the same passion as me in pursuing these monster bass. I have gotten well over a thousand emails and private messages from people wanting to pick my brain and for me I have picked their brains too. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I have learned about bass characteristics around the globe. Now I’m asking you for your brief stories on this topic of crawdads or rainbow trout. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts.
MattLures is at it again and this time he has created one of his best hard resin bass swimbaits to date. The new MattLures 7″ WakeBait bass weighs in at 2.5 ounces and was built to trick and catch the big ones!
Bait: 7″ Bass WakeBait
Swim Style: S-Motion/Surface Wakebait
Composite: Hard Resin
Weight: 2.5 oz.
Custom Paint: Yes
Hinge Style: Drop Pin/Screw Eye
MLO Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Test driving new lures is always a blast for me and this new MattLures wakebait bass was awesome. Believe me these pictures don’t do this paint job justice, it is just incredible how life-like the paint job looks on this swimbait.
This is by far one of the best bass wakebaits on the market. I found at a slow to medium retrieve this swimbait had an incredible surface waking action, the top of the tail just slightly stuck out of the water while the first section of the bait ran just under the surface and stays very straight.
This three piece bait has plenty of flexibility to help it wake and having the first section being half of the baits body length gives the Mattlures Wakebait Bass great stability in the water so the last two sections can go to work and wake the surface.
MattLures worked really hard to make a new joint system for his wakebait bass that has concave sections where the following sections will fit inside and what I really like is how he painted the sections all the way around giving the wakebait a life-like look as the sections move.
I still can’t believe how real the paint job looked, its detail is awesome especially the pelvic fins and the head and body markings, he even added a splash of gold in the paint to highlight the green. MattLures has really been paying attention to detail over the years. When you run your finger along the sides of the bait you can feel the scales as well as the lateral line I was very impressed with this.
I have always been a huge fan of eye sockets that tilt downward and that is exactly what MattLures has done by tilting the eyes down and using a signature real-life MattLures eye.
MattLures used a super strong material for the tail that you can stretch all you want and not rip it, he also made it with a two wood pin system that you can remove if you needed to replace the tail.
As you can see by the picture above the MattLures Wakebait floater just sits under the surface, it is a very buoyant lure.
The WakeBait will come in four colors; light bass, dark bass, striper, and smallmouth and will be officially released later in the year, but if you pre-sign up at http://www.mattlures.com you can get on a waiting list to be one of the first to drive this new Mattlures 7″ Bass WakeBait.
Pros: Very well built durable bait from the internal rigging harness to the tail, MattLures has designed a new almost unbreakable resin that should give these swimbaits years of life. Also I like how all the fins were built to take plenty of abuse, there not built to thin very thick and durable and the paint job looks incredible!
Cons: The bait was built to be a wakebait with basically one speed, I found I wanted to rip and jerk the bait sometimes but it did not respond very well to that technique, but with a slow-medium retrieve it swam exactly how it was designed.
MLO Rating: 4.5 out of 5
How does it feel to catch a 20 lb. largemouth bass? It’s something that has only happened twelve times in our bass fishing history. When I was a young kid, I used to dream about catching, or just seeing, a bass over 20 lbs. Every time I went into a tackle shop and saw one of the giant bass mounts that were hanging on the wall, some of them pushing the 17lb mark, I got all excited and could not wait to get back to the lake to begin my quest for a giant bass. I would always read the articles in Outdoor Life and Field and Stream magazines about the monster bass catches and all the stories about the big ones that were over 20 pounds, but not weighed properly.
Where I grew up and still live, here in San Diego, we have some very small lakes compared to the rest of the United States; they can be as small as 60 surface acres or as large as 2,000 surface acres. Lake Miramar, which was the first San Diego lake to kick out a 20lb. bass in 1973, is only 162 surface acres sitting at an elevation of 714 feet and stocks Rainbow Trout during the winter months. Lake Hodges, which also kicked out a 20lb. bass in 1985, has 1,234 surface acres and sits at an elevation of 330 feet and still to this day has never received any Rainbow Trout.
None of the lakes in San Diego are natural lakes; they are all man-made reservoirs for storing drinking water and in 2001 only a handful of these lakes in San Diego planted Rainbow Trout. Lake Dixon (76 surface acres), Lake Poway (60 surface acres), Lake Wohlford (146 surface acres), Lake Murray (171 surface acres), and San Vicente Reservoir (1100 surface acres) are all lakes that had very large bass for lake records most well over 17 lbs. However, the smaller two lakes, Dixon and Poway, were stocking so much trout into these little lakes that it was basically like force feeding these bass to grow into the giants they would soon become, as long as the genetics of the bass in the lakes allowed this.
I spent many years fishing all the lakes in San Diego, but hit Lake Poway and Lake Dixon especially hard since they were so close to where I grew up and lived. So I got a front row seat at these two lakes watching the monster bass grow while they hid under boat docks, hung out in the shaded areas of the lake, or chased trout. Keep in mind that these are drinking water reservoirs and a section of the lake per water district codes are sanctioned off for no fishing or boating. So in the smaller lakes like Dixon and Poway these sanctioned-off areas are almost a third of the surface acreage of the entire lake. And in both lakes the boat docks are very close to the sanctioned areas creating a perfect environment to grow giant bass. This is a very important part of both lakes’ ecosystems.
I believe in all my years of chasing these giant bass and keeping data and reviewing it that three things seem to always stand out for growing a giant bass over 20 pounds. One is the genetics of the bass must be there; if the bass’ body frame is not large enough then it cannot support the weight. Second, is the availability of pure protein rainbow trout that are stocked all Winter and are easy to catch and very quick and easy to digest and turn into stored energy and body mass. Third, is the sanctioned-off areas of the lake that gives these giant bass a deep water sanctuary area to go to and recover without the stress of boats or fisherman overhead. I believe this is key in helping these bass grow to their massive size quickly.
Well, on April 27th, 2001, it was my turn to add a chapter to bass fishing history. It had been ten years since a 20lb. plus bass had been caught and at that time only nine over 20lbs. had ever been caught and documented. Two of those were caught in San Diego: Dave Zimmerlee’s Lake Miramar 20.93 lb. bass and Gene Dupras’ Lake Hodges 20.25 lb. bass. So the odds of actually catching a bass over 20 lbs. wasn’t looking very good.
TOP LARGEMOUTH BASS Over 20 lbs.
Perry, George W.
Crupi, Robert J.
Easley, Raymond D.
Crupi, Robert J.
Big Fish Lake
I had been working with two freelance photographers, Dusan Smentana and Mike Barlow, for about four years every Spring and had just finished a photo shoot with Dusan on April 22nd at Lake Poway. There we took some photos of a beautiful 14 lb. bass for Field and Stream magazine. It was late Spring and bass were at the tail-end of their spawn throughout the county. At Lake Dixon the water temperature was 77 degrees and you had lots of post-spawn bass with some bass chasing shad in open water. The weeds were growing a few feet off the bottom and there was bass fry everywhere along with bluegills coming up into the shallows to start their spawning. There are four docks or piers at Lake Dixon and there were always some really large bass holding under one of them if not all of them.
On April 23rd, I noticed a very large bass holding under the South side fishing pier, but she was in a negative mood and not moving at all. I tossed numerous swimbaits beside the dock and she never moved once towards them. This is how things were at times; you would see these monsters and you just had to keep going out to the lake and try to get one of them to bite when they were ready, but the key was to try to figure out what they were doing; were they in feeding mode, recover mode, or spawn mode?
I had put in about 4-6 hours every chance I got at Lake Dixon. I worked just a few miles away so it was easy to fish the lake before and after work. I would always take at least one loop around the lake in a rental boat just looking to see if any giant bass were up in the shallows spawning or in any their ambush spots waiting for a trout to swim by. When I got back to the South side handicapped pier and looked under it, I was a little bummed out when I didn’t see that huge bass hanging out underneath it any longer. As I worked my way to the west side of the dock, there was a large, 50-yard flat with deep water access and few very small males were still up spawning in this area. It was about 20 feet deep on average and the water was very clear with weeds growing everywhere. As I moved down the flat to middle of it, staying close to the deep water edge, that is when I saw a giant hanging out. She was big and very black in color and super spooked of the rental boat I was in. I had to get the boat out to deeper water about 10 yards away and just kept still,watching to see what the big bass was up to. She did not seem to be spawning but was staying very close to a bathtub sized opening in the weeds where a very small bass was also hanging out.
After about ten minutes of watching, I tied on a pearl-blue jig to my spinning rod and made a cast to towards the area where she was hanging out. And to my surprise, she immediately showed interest in the jig. I knew she was big; I figured she was at least an 18-pounder. So my plan was to hook her and take her towards deep water and land her. I kept tossing the jig in her area where she would charge up to the jig, tilt forward, and then slowly back away. She did this about a half-dozen times until this one cast that I can still see in my mind. The jig hit the water and was sinking and was about a foot from hitting the bottom when she charged at it and with gills flaring inhaled it.
Well, the next few seconds seemed like minutes. After she hit the jig, she made one violent headshaking run through the weeds and made this turn towards me and shook the jig free. I was devastated! I had just lost a giant and I felt sick to my stomach. As I sat back down in the boat, I could not stop replaying in my mind what had just happened. I eventually got back up looked around the flat and under the dock and did not see her anywhere. I made a phone to a close friend and told him what had just happened and he told me that he too had lost a large bass recently a 13 pounder. But he came back later to see her back in the same area again, where he got a second chance and landed her. This gave me some peace of mind and hope that just maybe that giant I lost would come back.
I did a loop around the lake tossing a small 4″ swimbait and catching a few small bass along the way here and there. I was coming back up to the south side handicap dock and as I approached it really thought I would see the giant bass under it. But I saw nothing. I started to lose faith that this giant bass would be back, but as I approached the area where I had hooked and lost her, there she was again. She was really spooked now and swimming away from my boat about 20 yards away. I had played this game so many times before in the past with these large bass and knew what I needed to do. I had to get my boat as far away as possible so she would relax and stay in the general area. So I put my rental boat on the shore and stood up in the back of it where I could just see her and the target area where I had hooked her earlier.
I tossed out the same pearl-blue jig that I had earlier hooked and lost her on. After about ten minutes, she slowly came towards the jig , but stopped and stayed back about ten feet. After about 20 minutes of watching her sit and not move, I re-cast and she spooked again. We played the same game again; I knew it was time to change lures, but I was limited since I was in a rental boat with a small backpack of lures. I looked at what was in my pack that had a good strong hook and the 6″ Castaic swimbait looked to be the best choice. I tied it on and made a cast just past where I could see the giant bass and did my best to swim the lure just in front of her face. I could see she had some interest in it, so I continued to cast it out and swim it by her. Eventually, I let the swimbait fall in the area where she had hit my jig earlier in the day and I noticed her start to move towards it. This chess match was on again.
After about ten minutes of keeping the swimbait out in the open area, close to where she hit my jig earlier and just slightly shaking the swimbait, she finally flew in and hit it. Once again, it was game on. I did a double hook set because I wanted to make sure this time that I got the barb of the hook to set good in her mouth. The next couple of minutes seemed like forever. She fought hard staying on the bottom shaking her head violently while taking me towards the pier and the cable which secured it to the bottom. My plan was to take her towards deep water keeping the line tight and the lure in her mouth and to not let her get her head out of the water where she could possibly shake the swimbait free. My plan had worked and after a few minutes of a hard fought battle she gave up a bit and was in the net.
Once this monster bass was resting on the net in the bottom of the rental boat, I was in shock to see how big she really was. I had never in my life seen a bass this size out of the water. It was impressive seeing the girth she had, how big her eyeballs were, the giant scales on her belly, and the big thick fins and tail. It was just incredible!
I had a Berkley hand-held scale which I got out of my backpack and hung the behemoth on it. It read 22-4. Seeing that I was really in shock now and thought to myself, “My God, I just caught the world record bass!” I had a ten-foot rope stringer which I took out of my pack. I tied one end up to the bass and tied the other end of the stringer around my leg. I was not taking any chances! I then headed toward the boat dock. It was a two-minute boat ride that seemed like an eternity. I had one hand on the trolling motor and the other hand grasping the big bass’ bottom jaw while keeping her body underwater. Once I arrived at the boat dock I yelled at the dock hand to get the head ranger, tell him that I had just caught the world record bass, and to get the scale ready.
There was a young bass fisherman who witnessed me catch and land the giant bass that had made his way to the boat dock. I got out of the boat and asked if he would take a few pictures for me. I showed him how to use my camera and then proceeded back to the rental boat where I pulled on the stringer and once again lifted this mammoth bass out of the water. This young kid was in shock just like me and as he took a few pictures I stopped and went back to the boat to get my Berkley scale to weigh her again. I wanted to get a picture of the giant bass on the scale. What it read over and over again was 22-5 which I even got a picture of. I had the stringer still attached which I weighed later to be exactly one ounce.
The day was perfect so far until the head ranger and lake manager got to the boat dock and told me that their digital lake scale was broken. I immediately started making phone calls. The first was to our local Fish and Game biologist Larry Botroff, who was out of town and then to Fish and Game which had no one available at the time to make it to the lake. Next, I called the local newspaper outdoor editor who was up in Northern California 10 hours away on assignment. I finally got in touch with Bill Rice, bass editor for Western Outdoor News which was a state fishing newsletter, but still found no one who could bring a good scale. The Lake Dixon manager made a call to a the manager at Lake Wohlford, which was about 30 minutes away, and they had a scale they would drive over.
Two hours after I had tied the rental boat to the boat dock, a scale had finally arrived. It was an old, meat market spring scale but it would have to do. It had been certified recently so I got the monster bass with Bill Rice, a few of my close friends, lake staff, and a small crowd watching and placed her on the scale which read 20 pounds 12 ounces. I was in shock because I was sure she was larger, but what could I do? So she went in the record books as 20lbs-12oz, 27″ long x 27″ girth. Despite the difference of weight between the two scales, I was just elated at the moment that I had caught a 20 lb. plus bass.
After the weighing of the monster bass, we took some more pictures and it was time to let her go. I had one friend look at me say I was crazy to let her go, but I never even had the thought of keeping her and killing her. She was still alive and looked very healthy and I was very grateful to have caught her so it was time to let her go. That was by far the most peaceful moment of the day. It was very quiet while I released her and as she swam away some people started clapping.
I have to say, looking back on the whole experience 11 years later, I still feel very grateful to have been able to hook and land such a monster bass, a true giant over 20 pounds. I do wish that the lake’s digital scale was working so I could have weighed her immediately to see if maybe if my hand-held scale was correct and she was the world record. But it was all a lesson for me and believe me I’m way more prepared now than I was then.
The Boze Sumo Frog is a lure that I’ve been using for well over ten years so doing a review on this topwater frog is easy to do with all the time on the water with this lure. The one thing that has always been consistent with the Sumo Frog is the material it is made with, it is a fairly thick soft pliable rubber that really stands up well to years of fishing and tossing it up on the bank continually to get that silent entry onto the weed cover. It also stands up well to all those real toothy home-guard bass that attack it violently over and over on almost every trip.
Product: Sumo Frog
Style Lure: Topwater
Hook Brand: Owner
Length: (2.75″ Body)( Legs 3″)
Weight: 5/8 oz
The Sumo Frog was designed in a way to give you one of the best hook ratios of any weedless frog on the market today this is in part due to how the back of the body curves just in front the points and barbs of the Owner hooks and with light pressure from the bass’ mouth will expose these hooks for a good hookset. I had very little problem with weeds getting hung on the hooks.
The weight on the bait is lead and over time will wear down, especially if your in a boat and casting and hitting the shore quite often. I have plenty of frogs that over time will lose around 1/8oz from the lead weight wearing down, one remedy I’ve for this is adding a little liquid vinyl before each trip, or some JB Weld from your local hardware store, both will help keep the Sumo’s weight as good as new.
Sumo frogs are one of the few frogs that come with extra long legs 3″, this is nice and makes bigger profile on the thick weed matts, and if you want more of an open water swimming frog you can trim the legs down to help give the Sumo Frog more side-side swimming movement.
The rod I used for the Sumo Frog review was a Dobyns 764 Champion Extreme, reel was a Shimano 100MG, and line was 50lb. Power Pro Braid. Lake Jennings Ca.was the review lake there was just enough weeds to test the Sumo Frog effectively.
I was very impressed with how the Sumo Frog sat in the water with the rear of the frog submerged and the distinct eyes up and out of the water. This is a very natural look, almost exactly how a real frog sits on top of the water.
The Sumo Frog is one of the flatter frogs on the market today and this helps to create some drag on the surface of the weeds, and nice swooshing sound to call up the big bass.
As you can see by the picture above the flat low profile diamond shape of the Sumo frogs body really gives the lure a very natural look on the water, as well as out of the water.
Pros: The Sumo Frog was an easy bait to use right out of the package, nothing fell off or broke, no adjustments were needed just tie it on and start casting, and with its weight of 5/8oz it was very easy to make long cast. The Owner hooks are very sharpe and really compliment the Sumo Frog. The legs are 3″ long and are very easy to replace. After days and days of use the Sumo Frogs body kept its shape, and that was a pleasant surprise.
Cons: The Sumo Frogs lead weight did scratch when it hit the shore and over time will cause the lead weight to lose its original weight and losing weight made the bait hard to cast in the wind. The hole where the hook goes into the bait on the bottom of the frog, after multiple bass catches started to open up and let more water into the bait making the bait sink. The paint job never seems to last more than one trip before it starts to literally disappear right before your eyes, part of this is due to touching the bait with your fingers repeatedly to squeeze the water out of the body cavity.
Overall Rating on the Sumo Frog 4 out of 5
What is a swimbait and why does it work so well? Well, as fisherman, we want nothing more than to always catch fish each trip to our favorite lake or stream and have a chance at hooking and landing that trophy fish of a lifetime. I have been on this quest for over 40 years and it never changes. I want to catch more bass with the goal of finding and landing that one true elusive giant bass, that for most of the year is just a myth, that giant fish you dream about day and night. And there is no better way to accomplish this task and finding that mystic bass than by using a swimbait. It is that one lure that most represents the larger food that the monsters of our lakes and streams feed on. It is by far one of the most productive lures for covering water throughly to find where that trophy size bass lives and hunts and when it comes to trying to match the hatch, or in some cases, matching the prey in which these giants are feeding upon, the swimbait is the perfect tool for the job. In this article I’m going to focus on the soft plastic swimbait.
With a swimbait I look for three things: the shape of the bait, the internal and external rigging system, and the paint job or colors added to the plastic. These three things are basically what gives the swimbait the ability to imitate life and trick the fish into biting. If one of these features is incorrect or missing, your swimbait will not be as effective thus your hook up ratios may be very low.
Soft plastic swimbaits are made out of plastisol, which is the main material for making soft plastic swimbaits. Once the plastisol is heated up to around 325 degrees, colors, glitter, and salt may be added to the mixture to give a bait a desired look, and texture. Then it can be hand poured ,or injected into the swimbait molds and allowed to cool. Every swimbait manufacturer may use a different brand of plastisol, or a different recipe of softeners or hardeners that will give the baits a different feel and swimming action in the water. Their procedures for heating up and pouring the plastisols can vary as well and even the machines they use can make a difference in how the swimbaits are poured, or injected. These are a few of the reasons why one swimbait may look, feel, and swim differently from all other brands of swimbaits on the market.
The tail design of the swimbait is something to pay very close attention to since with most swimbaits this is the motion engine of the swimbait and where vibration from the bait is started. And that vibration of the tail needs to be as life-like as possible to fool the fish and its lateral line system into thinking that this is a real fish. If the bait does not swim right, the fish may not bite. There are two basic designs of swimbait tails on the market today: the “wedge” style tail and the “boot” tail. The wedge-style tail, which is more of a balanced tail design, will give the lure an S-motion swimming action and, depending on its size, will determine how much S-motion. The smaller the wedge tail the less S-motion out of the swimbait and the larger the wedge tail the more S-motion out of the swimbait (see pic.5). With the larger tails the swimbait head and body will shake so much that you can see and feel the vibration through the rod tip. The girth of the swimbait will also determine how much side to side movement will be allowed. Keep in mind in low-light conditions, stained and dirty water the swimbait vibration is a huge key to a swimbaits success since it is displacing water which a fish will feel through its lateral line system and give it the ability to hunt that swimbait.
The “boot” tail design is one of the oldest swimbait tail designs. It is an unbalanced design which will give the swimbait more of a rocking motion than an S-motion. It too gives the swimbait more motion depending on its size of the tail and generally it will give upward lift to the rear of the swimbait. This lift, which wants to lift and push the head of the swimbait down, is what creates the uneven rocking motion. Some swimbait manufacturers have designed the heads to be more oval shaped and flatter. This helps with boot-tail designed lures to take that energy from the tail that is moving towards the head and distribute it outward toward the sides of the bait. The combinations of tail sizes and body shapes go on and on.
There are some soft plastic swimbaits that use a diving bill under the head of the bait help generate energy to create S-motion to power the swimbait as well as swimbaits that have hard U-shaped wings in the middle of the bait to simulate side to side swimming motion. These baits typically have straight tails and have very natural fish shaped bodies.
In the clear water, during bright light periods, a subtle swimming swimbait is what I prefer to use, it seems to work better for me than a harder kicking swimbait. I believe in this situation that the bass are watching and waiting for the right opportunity to ambush the trout, or in this case hopefully my swimbait. A subtle swimming swimbait with a rip or jerk thrown into the retrieve occasionally can trigger the bass into biting. If you watch a live trout in the lake this motion is very similar to how the trout swims when a big bass is in close proximity. When I have used a hard-tail kicking swimbait in this same situation with very clear water, I have found the bass to be very curious and follow the swimmer and maybe taste the tail but not commit and attack the swimmer head first.
In a low-light situation, or dirty water, the bass uses its sense of hearing and lateral line system more than its vision for hunting its prey. I have found that a noisy larger tailed swimbait is a good match for this situation versus the small subtle-tail swimming swimbaits in this environment. The bass seem to always be a little more aggressive when searching for a lure in low-light and dirty water. So as you can see the water conditions play a huge factor in determining which style of swimbait tail to choose from. Once again a little homework on the water you plan to fish is needed to determine which lure to use.
Most of the lakes I fish here in Southern California stock rainbow trout from hatcheries here in the state. These Rainbow Trout are the primary reason the bass I fish for and catch here in Southern California have the massive size they do. These trout are high in protein, easy to digest, and at times very easy for the bass to catch due to the trout being transplanted into a very foreign environment where the bass live and rule and have a huge advantage in ambushing the trout. The lakes here get stocked an average 25,000-30,000 lbs. of trout per year and if you average the trout size at two pounds a piece that’s about 13,000-15,000 trout that are stocked between November and April. So when I need a lure to match the hatch, to catch some of the true giants of the lake, I need a swimbait that will imitate as closely as possible the Rainbow Trout that are being stocked into the lakes.
Matching the size of the trout that are being stocked in the lakes, or streams is very important. I have found in my years of using swimbaits that if I don’t match the size of what the bass are feeding on, I will get lots of followers and very few takers. I am someone who at the end of a day fishing takes a few minutes to take some notes on what happened during that day. I am a firm believer in statistics and I always try to review my past notes carefully to help remind myself of what the bass were doing on average during similar stockings, weather, moon phases, lake conditions, etc. And my statistics show a huge success rate in large bass catches when I have matched the size and color of the rainbow trout that are being stocked. For example, we have the Department of Fish and Game stock a few of our lakes with 5″-8″ rainbow trout and when I used swimbaits that were the 6″ or 8″ range I had lots of success compared to using swimbaits in the 10″-12″ range and vice versa when the lakes stocked the 10″-14″ sized trout.
Another huge factor in choosing a swimbait is the color of the water where you plan to fish. Here in So Cal. most of the lakes I fish have very clear water so the visibility is really good. This makes finding a picture perfect paint job on my swimbait a must if I want to trick those lunker bass into taking my artificial swimmer. As you can see by the picture above, the swimbait need a life-like paint job. When the trout are stocked, they will be one color and that color can change as they get adjusted to their new environment. So my advice is to do some homework and try to take a look at what some of the trout fisherman are catching. This can really help in choosing the proper color and size of what the bass are chasing and eating at the moment. Keep in mind the trout will change colors due to weather, water temperatures, oxygen, and what foods they can find to eat. So pay close attention to this because sometimes a slight different strain of Rainbow Trout will have different characteristic colors. I find where I live the DFG trout that are stocked are very small and have lots silver to their scale color, while the bigger trout that are stocked, normally from cold-water hatcheries, have more of the pink and green colors with lots of dark green, brown, or black dots throughout the body.
The little details for me have made a difference in helping me catch some of the largest bass of my fishing career. The little things I’ve done include adding glass eyes and red gills, maybe a touch of paint here or there, or a new larger tail. These are a few of the alterations that I have done at times to give my swimbaits that added edge towards making them look as life-like as possible and different from what all other swimbait fisherman are using. I have always been a firm believer here in Southern California where pressure on these small lakes is tremendous and lots of people have been fishing the same style of swimbait, showing the bass the same lure over and over that finding a way to separate myself from the rest of the pack is crucial. This does not mean that the bait was not designed to catch fish. I just believe anyway that I can enhance the bait where the bass will take a second look because it looks a little more realistic than the stock lure he’s seen over and over give me good odds of getting the fish to bite on these highly pressured waters I fish.
There are two ways that soft plastic baits match the color of the prey: one is painting the bait and the second is mixing colors into the plastic during the hand pour process. I have found that on the highly pressured clear waters here in So.Cal that the painted swimbaits look much more realistic than the hand poured swimbaits do. You will normally see this in the price you pay for the painted bait too since the paint is another expensive process that has to be added after the bait is poured or injected.
This does not in anyway mean that the hand-poured swimbaits don’t catch fish; it all depends on what company did the hand pour to how well they will look. I have caught hundreds of quality bass on hand poured baits, in low light conditions, or dirty water. And for the lower price of the baits I tend to fish them in the cover more not as chicken as I might with a more expensive painted bait. And some hand pour companies are really good at pouring a very light, almost transparent, bait which actually works better sometimes under clearwater very bright-light conditions. This “ghost” pattern hand pour, if poured to the colors you desire, can really put a hurting on the fish. I have had plenty of days where this was my go to bait, especially in the deeper clearwaters down to 30′, 40′ even 50′.
In conclusion, pay very close attention to what season it is and what your fish are feeding on and try to match that prey as much as possible. Once this is done you can start to look for lure-making companies that make the sizes and colors of swimbaits you need and then it’s more about the rigging and fine details to give you the best chances to catch more fish or that fish of a lifetime. And as for hard resin swimbaits, that is a different article for a another day.