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Category Archives: Fishing

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.

Rainbow Trout vs. Crawdads

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.

Jig & Craw Imitation

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.

 

Mike Long

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

When I was a young kid many years ago Mepps Lures Company each year would put about six of their best spinners in a cool little box with lots of pictures of giant trout and pike caught on their spinners with those pictures plastered all around the box. I gotta say it would get me all excited and pumped up looking at all the pictures on the box. Then, looking at the spinners inside, I couldn’t wait to get to the lake and fish the spinners. There was a feeling of excitement that was hard to describe.

That’s the exact feeling I got when I received my Mystery Tackle Box in the mail. I was very excited to open the box and see what baits were inside and look at the lures and could not wait to try them out.

Mystery Tackle Box

Company: Mystery Tackle Box

Founder: Jeremy Gwen

Price: $15.00 per month subscription

Lures: Multiple new lures each month

Contact: www.mysterytacklebox.com

MLO Rating: 5 out of 5

 

 

 

Mystery Tackle Box is a monthly subscription service that introduces anglers to quality new lures and techniques for just $15 a month. Not only do customers receive cutting edge tackle at an incredible value, but you also experience the excitement of receiving a package every month.

Mystery Tackle Box

The Mystery Tackle I received had five awesome lures and baits inside starting with a WackOJig which is a revolutionary jig head that will change the way you fish a “wacky” rig. Along with the WackOjig were some 5″ Sick Stick wacky worms, that were perfect for the jig head. I also received a cool Strike King football head jig for going after the big girls, along with a Raptor Tail Chunk to put on my jig as a trailer. Last but not least was a Chatter Frog Micro which I was very impressed with.

Mystery Tackle Box Lure Description Cards

The best part of the Mystery Tackle Box is the cool cards that come inside the box that briefly describe the lure, or bait, and have a link to a webpage where you can learn more about the bait along with a video review and demonstration.

If your new to the sport of bass fishing, or have been in the sport for years, I really think you’ll enjoy the Mystery Tackle Box. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said “I should have bought that lure,” and didn’t. Now, I have a chance to get one each month as well as some great how-to use information on techniques and a full lure description.

Pros: How can you go wrong getting well over $20 of lures for $15 and how-to info that will help your fishing game immensely.

Cons: Found none, great idea!

 

MLO Rating: 5 out of 5

 

Mike Long

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

“How to catch larger bass,” is probably the most common topics of discussion whenever I meet fisherman. Well, this is a question that can’t be answered in one sentence, but I will do my best to provide an answer that can get you on your way to catching larger bass.

A Trophy Largemouth Bass

The first thing you have to do is commit some time on the water. This is by far the most important thing you must do in order to catch larger bass. If you’re not there on the water you don’t have a chance to catch any bass at all. So trying to get out on the water early and staying till dark is a must. This has been the one major factor that has helped me catch some giant bass. There have been days when I started to recognize patterns that the bass were in and this helped me because then I knew the next day what to expect and how to prepare to catch these giants. Sometimes it was just as simple as bringing a new lure to try to see if I could catch a few more bass or some larger ones.

Another very important element in locating and catching larger bass is learning about and studying the ecosystem of the lake or stream you’re fishing. There is an old saying: “match the hatch”. Well, this is exactly what you want to do and by understanding your lake’s ecosystem you’ll understand where the bass are and what they prefer to feed on.

Understanding and finding an ecosystem in your lake or stream takes a little time invested, but the payoff can be huge. Where I live, here in Southern California, we have small, deep resevoirs that are built to hold drinking water so the water is very clear and clean and not as full of nutrients as many other dirtier, darker-colored lakes. These clear waters are full of phytoplankton, which rely on minerals found in the waters they live in, such as iron, nitrate, silicic acid, and phosphate. They then absorb energy from sunlight through the process of photosynthesis. The sun’s energy allows the phytoplankton to convert the minerals in the water to a source of food they can use to survive. These plankton are the foundation of food chains in the lakes I fish with minnows, shad, small bass, and small panfish eating the plankton and larger bass eating the smaller fish and so on. There are also other parts of the food chain that drive the ecosystem where I fish and they include the crayfish, sculpin, and aquatic insects that live both in and on the water. By understanding what’s in the food chain where you fish, you’ll slowly start to put the pieces together of how the ecosystem is driven in the waters you fish. Once this is done, you’ll spend more time in the right areas at the right times and you’ll start catching larger bass due to matching the hatch.

Phytoplankton

In the lakes where I live the favorite food bass hunt throughout the year is crawdads. These crawdads, which are high in calcium content, give the bass a healthy bone structure and the calcium is also key for a female bass in the development of eggs. Crawdads are something that are easy for bass to hunt and catch while exerting very little energy.

Crawdad

So when you want to really catch some of the bigger bass in the lake you need to match the hatch with a jig or any other crawdad imitation. Even using live crawdads caught from the same lake you plan to fish is an awesome game plan to catch a bass of a lifetime. Two words you need to remember when fishing a crawdad, or a crawdad imitation lure, are slow and deep. These two words are key in catching large bass. As a bass ages, it becomes weary when hunting and begins to hunt at a slower pace, much more of a sit and wait ambush mode. The bigger bass understand to not to move to0 quickly around potential prey, to just sit, or move at a snail’s pace to avoid threatening the prey. So by fishing slower and deeper where these giant bass feel much more comfortable is key in catching these keystone predators of the food chain and the king of the ecosystem of the lake or stream.

A Trophy bass over 14 pounds on a Jig

Another huge factor in catching large bass is knowing where the prime ambush areas are and understanding the timing of these areas. I’ve found where I live, with water clarity being 15′-20′ on average, I need to fish during the low-light periods for ultimate success in getting some of the monster bass to eat. Once I’ve found  a few structure-oriented ambush areas that I feel are key spots, I try to figure out the right direction to set up on these key spots to present a bait correctly  through the key structure area while paying close attention to the speed of the retrieve. Then it’s all about the timing of these key spots which is driven by the sunrise-sunset and moonrise-moonset. I have found in my years of keeping data that the hour before and after both the sunrise and the moonset are beneficial times to be on a key spot. My records show that well over 75% of the bass I’ve caught over 10 pounds were caught around these time frames.

Sometimes catching a bigger bass is as simple as just fishing the biggest lure you can that matches the hatch and in some cases is even larger than the prey. In the world of swimbaits here on the West coast we have been matching the hatch with Rainbow Trout swimbaits with an average size of 8″-12″ and the occasional 13″-16″ monster swimbaits. Our mantra is go big or go home.  When chucking these monster lures it takes the right tackle along with some fitness and endurance to chuck and wind these big lures all day. But keep in mind to fish slow and deep even though this is hard to do when you’re all pumped up to toss these big lures. It’s hard to slow down. So remember next time your out on the water and wanting to hook some larger bass try paying close attention to what’s going on above the water as well as under the water and slow down and fish deeper. Good Luck!

 

Mike Long

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

I’m going on that fishing trip of a lifetime. When I retire I’m going to travel. When I have the time and so on and so on. One of the most influential person I ever met was a guy I knew for only a week. He had a machine shop that our company was interested in buying. His name fails me right now, but its not relevant to his story, we talked shop and we talked about fishing. He talked about finally being able to retire so he could go on a fishing trip he had dreamed of for so long. I was in my late 40’s and could relate to his eagerness to fulfill his trip. I found myself feeling the same way and thinking, “Yes, when I retire”

Fast forward one week. I’m in the machine shop office and I answered the phone. It was my new found friend. This would be the second time I ever talked to him and it would be my last. He started by saying hello, then went on to say, “remember that fishing trip we talked about? It’s not going to happen.” When I asked why he began to cry and he explained that after some routine tests he had the prior week, they found some spots on his lungs. Cancer was found, a date was given, and all I could do was listen. He said, “It’s not fair Danny. I worked my whole life to be able to fish and do all the things I dreamed of. It’s not fair, Danny.” His voice crackling again. My words of comfort didn’t come easy and I’m sorry was all that I could say. He said, “Don’t wait. The time may never come so do what you love now. Make time and find a way because nothing is guaranteed.” His words still ring in my head and the life he planned after he retired was gone.

This one brief encounter with a man I barely knew changed my whole outlook and what I would do regarding living in the moment. I’m not going to tell everyone about my own health issues and problems because we all have a story to tell. I decided at 56 that I would step away from my job of 38 years and pursue my passion for Bass fishing plus some other things on my bucket list that I loved. My kids were all gone and I didn’t have the responsibility of raising a family plus my wife was very supportive and still enjoyed her work. My short-lived friend from the machine shop passed away shortly after that phone conversation 16 years ago and his story stayed with me all these years.

I guess my whole point is don’t wait, do what you love, pursue your passions. Life is too short and things will get in the way. I’m not saying quit your job, but don’t put off that fishing trip or that day on the water with a friend, child, son, daughter. The time may never come when you retire or when you have the money. Until next time my friends, enjoy the great outdoors, don’t wait !

Danny Barker

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

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Approaching Storm Front

Growing up and living here in Southern California one of the best jobs you can have, in my opinion, is being a weather forecaster mainly because it’s almost the same weather here all year long with an average air temperature of around 72 degrees. What an ideal job! But all kidding aside, we do get some good, cold winter storms roll in from northwest from time to time and we have some years where we get what is called an “El Nino” season where it will rain hard every two to three days from January until April due to unusually warm ocean water around the equator pushing to the north. These storms are normally warm and loaded with moisture and, when they mix with cold air loaded with ice from the northwest, the warmer air will melt the ice high in clouds and pull a large percentage of the water out of the clouds making fishing very interesting.

So, first let’s begin by looking at the true definition of weather: The atmospheric conditions that comprise the state of the atmosphere in terms of temperature and wind and clouds and precipitation. In the world of fishing weather it’s one biggest driving forces that make fish move in the water columns from deep to shallow water and vice versa. Fish always look for stable conditions. One of the reasons for this is the way they mentally map out an area where they’re going to hunt, feed, or spawn and when the water level drops, or rises quickly, or weather changes drastically, most fish will back off and suspend and wait till these situations stabilize before they will begin to remap a hunting, feeding, or spawning area. So when you have a really cold-air winter storm start to move in, you’ll notice a change in how the fish start to act and feed. There are two factors at play here: barometric pressure and low-light conditions.

Barometric pressure is an atmospheric pressure as indicated by a barometer and the atmosphere is basically just air surrounding the earth. When you have water in the atmosphere you have low pressure which will be measured by a barometer. The more water that’s in the air, the lower the barometer reading will be and so on. So whenever you look up and see a blue sky, this is a high pressure light-air condition and when you look up and see clouds in the sky this is a low-pressure condition with lots of water and ice floating in the sky. But, due to Earth’s gravity, these clouds have weight and want to fall towards the earth. And what determines the weight of the clouds are their size of the clouds and elevation. The higher in elevation the cloud is in the sky, the more the water molecules in the top of the clouds freeze and sink down towards the earth. This frozen water really weighs the cloud down. So when we get a cold storm from the north-west, with hundreds of miles of clouds packed together that are high in elevation, it’s like a freight train in the sky that has carts loaded with water and ice and as it moves closer to land you start to see the barometer readings drop. This is how it all begins in our world of fishing in relation to cold air and atmospheric pressure on the water.

Ominous Storm Front

So now we have this huge mass of cold and wet air that we call a storm moving towards the lake. The atmosphere is being pushed which creates heavy atmospheric pressure in front of the storm which is  shown by a drop on the barometer. As a result, the fish, which use an internal swim bladder system that gives them the ability to control buoyancy and stay at different water depths, begin to feel the affect of this pressure that is in front of this cold air storm rolling in. The swim bladders are internal and filled with an oxygen gas mixture. The less gas that’s in the bladder will allow the fish to sink and with more gas in the bladder the fish will rise. The swim bladder is much like our lungs except most fish cannot expel the gas out as quickly as we can let air out of our lungs. This means that the fish needs time to slowly absorb the gas from the swim bladder to the outer glands. And as a fast moving cold storm approaches, the fish feel the pressure on their bladder first due to the added water pressure resulting from the increase in atmospheric pressure on the water. This increase in pressure starts to compromise the fish’s buoyancy in the water and starts to make the frustrated fish move to shallower areas to help relieve some of the added water pressure on their swim bladder.

Image by John Cimbaro

To better understand this situation, if a fish is suspended in a lake is sitting at around 20 feet using it’s swim bladder for buoyancy, it has adjusted and is comfortable sitting at 20 feet with 20 foot of water weight pressure above it. But ,when you quickly add atmospheric pressure like a storm moving in and putting added pressure on top of the water, this adds to the water weight above the fish which makes the fish very uncomfortable. The fish will then start moving around and trying to find relief from this new added water pressure. In a few hours or more, the fish can start to adjust and absorb some of the bladder gas and find some relief from the new pressure rolling in overhead by the approaching storm. So, as you can see in this huge game of adjustments, which is change in a fish’s environment and will put the fish on the move until it can find some stability which may take some time for the fish to adjust to.

Now with lots of suspended fish getting frustrated and moving toward the shallows to find some relief from the pre-frontal conditions the bigger the fish the more affected it is. I have seen some monster fish move up shallow swimming around in just a couple of feet of water and most of the time these fish are very aggressive and easy to catch. I have found the pre-frontal dropping barometer window that will push fish shallow to be very small and length depends on how cold the approaching storm is along with the storm size and speed. But typically where I live the pre-frontal fishing window is around 3-6 hours and then the fish seem to adapt and adjust to the new atmospheric pressure overhead.

The other factor of having clouds overhead is the low-light condition. Fish love to hunt and feed under low-light conditions. Hunting out of a shadow is much easier than on a bright sunny day condition where small fish tend to hide until there are low-light conditions. The one factor you need to pay attention to after a storm has arrived is to look for stable conditions. If a storm rolls in and you get 2-3 days of steady clouds and rain, the fish will adapt after about 48 hours. But as soon as anything changes drastically, all bets are off and the fish will go back to a holding pattern till conditions stabilize. This is by far a very frustrating time as a fisherman because every atmospheric disturbance is a mixture of things and tend to always be just a bit different than any other before it. So finding tiny windows like in a pre-frontal falling barometer, or when the storm stalls over your area for a few days and conditions stabilize where you can find small productive  fish catching windows where the fish are willing to bite is all part of the challenge of paying attention to change. Knowing how to read a barometer and understanding what kind of storm is in the atmosphere is all part of the homework you need to do to understand when and where you need to be.

But here in Southern California, we get the majority of our storms throughout the year from the West or Southwest and these storm are built off warmer waters so the clouds are thinner and warmer with no ice at the top of them. These storms tend to stretch for hundreds of miles and since the density of lower, warmer, thinner clouds is less they won’t push the barometer readings as low and these storms tend to be slower moving also so the fish have plenty of time pre-frontal to adjust to a slower change in the atmosphere. What I normally look for with type of weather is the shallow low-light condition. Typically the weather is very steady and the fish have had plenty of time to adjust and are in the shallows hunting and feeding. This has historically for me been a great time for a swimbait mid-depth (5′-10′) or on the surface. I have had some great times under theses conditions and landed some giant bass.

Some storms are packed with winds from all different directions and, once again, the rule of stable conditions in the fishing world applies. The fish will ride out the winds and wait for conditions to stabilize offshore suspended and as soon as the conditions stabilize the fish will start to move shallow and explore the inshore areas once again and begin their hunting and feeding ritual.

I have found that even on clear blue sky during a high-pressure weather pattern that the fish will look for stable conditions and once again if the weather stays in a stable pattern for more than 48 hours you can start to pattern the fish and find them to be much more predictable in their daily migration routes from deep to shallow water and vice versa and now it’s more about the timing of their movements with low-light conditions along with the moon, and sun phases.

So next time you watch the news and see that the weather is changing you’ll know how to change with it and catch more fish.

Mike Long

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

“I just caught my first 10 lb’er!” Those are the words anyone who fishes for bass longs to say! It’s a bench mark all bass fishermen and women strive for. Well, Joe Everett has smashed through that barrier and beyond! Here’s a little background info on Joe so we’ll have a starting point…

Joe Everett is a surfboard builder for PureGlass and lives in Southern California. He’s a family man and one of the premiere Trophy Bass Hunters in the world. His passion and drive to catch the next world record fish is beyond belief. He lives near a private lake called Mission Viejo; it’s a private lake that has the potential to produce the record fish. Each year his pursuit starts in February and runs into early May with a schedule that would kill any normal human being. A typical day starts by being at the gate by 5 a.m. which is three hours before it opens at 8 a.m. Then, he spends sun up till sundown on the water followed by working a full shift and finally he heads home to get just a few hours of sleep. Repeat this cycle for 70 plus days in a row and you will know what it’s like to walk in this man’s shoes.

Joe’s 18 lb’er….

My first thought on this blog was to have Joe take us through the day he caught his PB (personal best) fish which was an 18 lb’er. It became clear that wasn’t the story that needed to be told. You see, Joe has yet to catch his PB. In some ways Joe’s an enigma, hard to explain, driven by his passion for catching the WR (World Record) or one in the 20 lb range. He’s caught so many documented huge fish, yet he still feels the best is only a cast away. Joe told me the story of fishing 5 days in a row on a single fish that could have been a WR and the toll that it took on him physically and emotionally. The fish was never caught, but within a few moments of giving up on that fish, he proceeded to catch a 17 lb’er nearby on his third cast, which would affectionately be called Knot head!

Knot Head

Go figure 5 days of playing cat and mouse with the beast and only 3 casts for the door prize which, to anyone else, would have been the fish of a lifetime!  So, another season will close and in Joe’s mind the elusive fish, the one 20 lb’er that he seeks most, will have to wait. In the meantime, he racks up DD fish which have only become obstacles in his quest. A few folks will question his game but no one can question his drive and passion for the sport! Looking from my position his following is huge and wishes him nothing but the best. I asked Joe how much longer can you keep this up. He replied, “It’s complicated Danny. There’s so much that goes into this game it can take a toll, but being a good provider, husband, and family man is what I want people to know about me.”  He went on to say that when the day comes to end this pursuit it will all be over because it’s an all or nothing proposition for him. The number one piece of advice Joe gives to anyone who is chasing the dream isn’t about a magic lure, specific technique, or even time on the water. It’s “Believe in Yourself.” So what started out as a blow-by-blow on how Joe caught his PB turned into a look beyond the headlines and into the man….trust me folks I only scratched the surface. Until next time …STAY on Em !

Danny Barker

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

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Eliminating water can be very simple, as long as you follow some basic rules to start off with. Finding points, humps, and flats with deepwater access is a very important start in finding fish. Once you have done this, you’ll find that you have eliminated quite a bit of water and now can concentrate your searches on much smaller areas of the lake and can now really focus on what I call the “key spots on the spot”. These are areas of the points, humps, and flats where fish tend to frequent more often in their migration from deep to shallow water and vice versa. They are areas that are typically not much larger than a bathtub in size, but can bas large as truck. And if you can find these unique spots you may be able to pinpoint exactly where the fish should be within the key spot area. How many times have you been on a body of water and seen someone sit in one general area and catch fish all day long? Well, I would bet that person has found one of the “key spots on the spot”, a key area which will hold fish much longer than most other areas of the lake and most of the time where some of the larger fish of the lake will also be hanging out.

In trying to find the timing of these key spot areas this will depend on many factors such as time of year, time of day, moon phase, sunrise, and sunset, moonrise, and moon set, weather (low pressure, high pressure) wind direction, water currents, and, most important, water level. If the water level gets too low around key spot areas this will push the fish deeper to the next key spot area and in some cases if water level drops too fast it will push the fish offshore to open water where they will suspend till the water level stabilizes and remains at a consistent level for at least 48 hours before they will slowly venture towards the shallow water and re-map it.

Main Lake Point

In the picture above of a main lake point, the water level is down well over 60′ exposing multiple rock piles all over the lake point. I used this picture because it is a classic example of different rock piles that will hold fish on a lake point. Using one of the first rules in eliminating water, which is looking for deepwater access and finding the rock piles that are closest to deep water or the deep creek channel, will help you in finding your most consistent rock piles on this point throughout the year. But this is only part of the elimination process, after finding structure with deep water access you will still need to dissect it to find where the key spot is on it and try to figure out exactly where and how fish will use it to ambush other fish. So, as you can see in this picture above, finding a few key areas that will hold fish more often than others areas is not so hard. But what areas on these spots will hold fish and why?

Spot on the Spot

In the picture above I used one of my trophy bass replicas to help show how a large fish might sit in a key spot between some large rocks to ambush fish. The picture shows a key spot within a large pile of rocks on a main lake point and if you can find an area like this you’ll load the boat with fish and possibly a fish of a lifetime, especially if you can set up on it correctly. A Global Position System (GPS) can be one of your best tools to use to be able to locate and save waypoints to where these key spots are and to return to them at a later date and set up on them correctly. I always have two GPS settings per key spot; one is where the actual key spot is and the other is where I want to sit my boat in relation to the key spot to be able to cast towards and effectively work my bait through the key spot area.

Classic Ambush Area

The above picture is another example of a classic rock ambush area along a lake point where a large fish can sit in ambush waiting for prey to swim by. The large rock in the picture where the replica bass is sitting under provides an area of shade and darkness when in deep water, where a fish can tuck up tight almost underneath it and ambush from the shadow of the rock, almost like a ninja-style stealth attack. Understanding an area like this is very important, one thing that helps is to try to envision in your head which direction fish will use in a key area like the rock in the above picture. This will really help in understanding which direction you’ll need to present your bait on in a key spot and why this is so important to execute this bait presentation properly so your catch ratio on a key spot will be as high as possible.

Ambush Area

These key spot ambush areas that a big fish might use more often are not always easy to find. If the water drops low enough once in awhile, you’ll have a chance to walk around and look for these key spots on a point, hump, or flat with deepwater access and save the waypoints with GPS. But, if the water never drops low enough, then an Aqua View underwater style camera is a great tool. If the water is too dirty for an underwater camera, then your underwater electronics are going to be very important in finding these key spot areas. With the new downscan technology it has made it easier than ever to get a more accurate, underwater snapshot image of what structure is on the bottom with a very detailed image that will really help you to dissect a spot to find the “key spots on a spot”. Remember, what you’re looking for is a key spot area. It may be a rock, stump, a steep ledge, etc., but it has to be one of the best spots in the area where a fish can hide and ambush its prey.

Rock an Wood Ambush Spot

In the picture above is one of my favorite types of  “key spots on a spot” with just a few large rocks on this lake point and one nice piece of wood where a large fish can get up underneath it in the ambush position. I cannot tell you how many large bass I have caught in this type of of structure situation. It is by far a high-percentage area as long as there is adequate deep water access available nearby.

Hard Bottom by Spawning Flat

The picture above shows a very overlooked area. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve overlooked a hard bottom area of a lake. These hard bottom spots in a lake that have deep water access can be very productive, especially if you have a lake with little to no rock structure at all.

Hard Bottom Point

Above picture is another example a hard bottom point or reef which can have hundreds, if not thousands, of holes where crawdads and other small bait fish can live. These hard bottom areas that have lots of holes can have an amazing ecosystem that can thrive in a lake as long as the water level is adequate above it.

Hard Bottom Point

The picture above shows another angle of the hard bottom point where you can see more of the hiding holes and the ledge area on the spot where the 18 pound bass replica can easily tuck up too and wait in ambush for smaller fish to swim by.

A Spot along a Ledge

The picture above is another great example of a key spot along a ledge. There are so many overlooked areas in a lake, but once you start to understand what to look for and why, you’ll start finding these areas in a lake and heading right to them and spending more time catching fish and having a great time. Keep in mind, once you have some key spots to fish, you’re now spending more of your time on them instead of spending time fishing unproductive water.

If you look at creek channels as highways and lake points as off ramps to the shallow water and the spots on the spots as rest and feeding areas, you’ll start to really create a vision of mechanics of what’s happening under the surface of the water.

Rock Step Spot

The above picture shows a three-level rock spot on a point that most large fish will use at different times of the day and when the water color, or depth changes. When finding and fishing a spot like this, it is very important to understand how fish will use the different levels throughout the night and day and when the water gets stained and dirty. I have found that if the water was on average ten feet above the large rock, as seen in the picture above, during the heat of the day the fish will be on the lower ledge levels waiting up tight in ambush mode for any prey to swim by. And in low-light conditions the fish seem to be up towards the top of the rock pile moving and hunting for small fish and crawdads.

Stump Spot

Stump Spot

These two “Stump Spot” pictures are classic examples of very small key structure spots that often get missed and can be very hard to find at times. Once again, this is a 29″ bass replica that demonstrates how a live bass could hide much of its body underwater near one of the stump targets. What I have found is that these type of lone stump areas seem to only hold only one or two fish for brief periods of time. Also, the time of day and sun angle are giveaways of which side of a stump target a fish may be hiding in ambush. And from my personal experience it can be one violent bite if it’s lined up correctly.

Bush Spot

In the above picture is an isolated bush that throughout the day can hold numerous fish of all sizes. These bush spots can be hard to fish without hanging up  your bait once in awhile, but once you find a good weedless lure you’ll have a chance at hooking fish after fish without hanging up your bait in the bush and shaking it and spooking the fish out of it. Underwater brush can be one of the most productive ecosystem spots you’ll find in a lake. The tall branches will get moss attached to them during warmer water months creating areas where aquatic bugs and insects will live and hunt within the moss and branches. And as for some of the fallen branches laying on the lake bottom can make great hiding areas for crawdads, sculpin, and other small fish. I have found that if these bush spots are at a correct depth per the right time of year they will hold fish all day long. The shadows, once again, play a key role in determining where a large fish might sit within the branches to wait in ambush.

Hopefully next time you go fishing you will be able see things a little bit differently and understand why key areas of a lake are so important and how taking good notes, many pictures, and using your GPS to better mark key spots along with understanding how to use your electronics will help you to better understand how to eliminate water and find that productive water and learn to use the key spots on the spot and catch more fish.

 

Mike Long

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

I have caught lots of really big bass in my 40 years of bass fishing and been blessed to live in an area of the world where the lakes produce some true giants. In early March of 1999 my largest bass at that time was a 17lb. 1oz. out of Lake Poway in San Diego, California. I had missed some really large bass over the years, having them breach the surface while shaking their heads and tossing my jigs out. True heartbreakers! So I knew to always stay positive and learn from my past mistakes and push forward with a postive attitude knowing one day I would land one of those monsters 18 pounds or larger.

One of my favorite lures by far is the jig; I have caught more large bass on a jig than any other lure I’ve used. I believe that as a bass ages its metabolism slows and chasing after bluegills, trout, and other baitfish just takes far too much energy. From what I’ve seen over the years, as a bass ages and gets near the end of its life, it becomes more of a home-guard bass. It remains in one area of a lake and hunts in that area at a much slower pace with prey like crawdads being number one on the list since the crawfish colonies can be very structure-oriented and don’t move that fast, or very far so an older bass has a chance at a meal that is one of the slowest on the menu. I’ve seen some monster bass nose down on a rock, or hole for hours waiting for a crawdad to crawl out of its hiding area. So when I think about what lure best matches the crawdad that some of the older giant bass are hunting regularly, a jig is number one on my list.

Well, in late March, 1999, it was a good time to use a jig. We had a very wet winter and the water at most of our lakes was stained and colder than it should have been for late March in Southern California. Most of the lakes were averaging around 62 degree water temperatures so the bass were still loading up on deep water areas close to the spawning flats. They wanted a stable water temperature of around 66-68 degrees before they would move up and spawn and as long as the storms kept coming in every two to three days, the water was going to stay cooler than usual.

Lake Murray in San Diego California

One of the hot lakes in March of 1999 in San Diego was Lake Murray. It is a small lake that measures only 171 surface acres and sits at an elevation of 298′ and at the time was only open three days per week. It was stocked with rainbow trout as small 6 inches and as large  as 14 to 18 inches during the winter and spring months and at a maximum depth of 95′ this lake had become a big bass factory. The water normally had a visibility of around 10′-15′, but due to all the storm activity, it was 0-5′ depending on what area of the lake you were in. So these conditions were perfect for working a jig around deep structure near spawning flats.

In early March of 1999 I had been fishing a main lake point at Lake Murray between Padre Bay and San Carlos Bay. It had deep water access and was very close to the main channel of the lake and around 50 yards away from some prime spawning flats. The point was loaded with some awesome structure and some old water pipes that were placed all around the point, some of which were stacked two to three feet high, while others were lying alone. And there were plenty of softball to basketball size rocks everywhere for crawdads to hide between or underneath.

One of my favorite jigs to use in stained or dirty water is a black 3/8th ounce football-head jig with a black red/flake twintail trailer. And that is exactly what I had tied on Saturday, March 20th of 1999. I got out on the Lake Murray early at around 6:00 a.m. I was the first boat out on the water which meant I had first choice of where I wanted to go and I headed right for the main point between Padre Bay and San Carlos Bay. There I double anchored my tracker boat in about 10′ of water right in the middle of the point. It was a very wet morning, with the wind blowing right in my face as I looked towards deep water. I could not wait to get a cast out towards deep water and start working my jig up to the pipe structures. On my first cast my jig never hit the bottom before it was bit; the bass were stacked and suspended off the point. I made six casts and hooked six bass in a row each weighing up to 5 lbs. Then I hit a dry spell for a few casts.

It was about 8:30 a.m. when I started scratching my jig on one of the large stacked pipes and I got hammered! I was using a 6’6″ Graphite USA rod with a Shimano Curado 200 reel, spooled with 15 lb. Maxima monofilament line. I knew I had hooked a good bass. It was taking drag and digging for the bottom trying its hardest to take me through the pipe structures. The bass took a few good runs towards the deep water and then started to head for the surface where she was going to try to get her head out of the water and toss my jig free, but I burried the rod in the water down to the reel and just cranked it as hard as as could. This worked and kept the bass from breaking surface and as I got her closer to the boat I got the net ready. Since the water was stained, and it was raining, I had not yet seen the bass. Then, as I slowly cranked her in and could see the line straight down right next to the boat, she made a hard rush towards the surface and shook her head. I know I froze for a second seeing how big she was, but I quickly burried the rod back in the water to keep her from coming up again. She then made another run towards the bottom and once again I was only able to slowly work the giant bass back towards the boat. But, now I had seen her and knew she was big and was a little nervous about making a wrong move. Trying to fight and land a giant bass really is like a chess match. To win you really need to anticipate the bass’ next move and adjust quickly to not lose the battle. That is what I did. As I could see the line get closer to the boat again and she rose up to the surface, I stuck the net between my legs and as she came up towards the surface to jump, I grabbed the net and scooped her up. She had come up and tried to jump in the same direction so I was ready.

Mike Long holds a large bass, one of his first.

17.96 out of Lake Murray Ca.

I knew when I had her in the boat I had finally landed that true giant! I cannot tell you how happy I was to look at and weigh this giant bass on my Berkley hand-held scale. When I saw the 18-1 flash on the scale I knew for sure I had done it. Finally, I had not lost a battle with a giant and I was now officially on the giant bass board.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I put her in the live well and fished for a couple hours more landing a nine-pounder and losing a good one over 12 pounds at the surface. It was one of those nasty rainy days with just two boats on the lake that I was glad I was one of them. At around noon after the epic morning bite had slowed, I decided it was time to take her to the dock and get an official weight. Larry Botroff, our Fish and Game biologist at the time, was called to come to the lake and weigh her. Once he arrived, we put her on the lake scale where she weighed 17.96 -just a water drop off 18 pounds and measured 28″ long with a 25″ girth. After a few more pictures, it was time to realease her. I have to admit I just wanted to keep staring at this giant bass before letting go of her lip in the water, it’s an image in my mind i’ll never forge, a true giant!

Larry took some scales samples and later gauged the giant bass at around 12 years old. As I look back and recall this story I realize that this catch was a huge turning point in my giant bass fishing career. I believe you learn every time you get on the water and I had learned how to finally land a giant bass.

Mike Long

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

Imagine that you have just caught the Fish of a Lifetime and now have a huge decision to make, do you keep the fish, or do you release it? This subject comes up from time to time about C&R  (Catch and Release) of a Trophy fish and what to do about capturing the moment in the form of a Skin Mount, or a replica. Along the same lines of Mike’s recent article titled “Are you prepared for a record catch?” I’d like to reinforce  some of his major points and add that all these measures are very important along with, do you want a mount made of your big fish? If you’re a C&R fishermen then it’s a replica ,if you decide on a Skin mount then the fish will be used to produce the trophy mount. It’s a personal choice that only you can make and you have every right to do what you want to do with your trophy catch. With the advent of good quality fiberglass reproductions, along with a good picture of your catch and measuring all the dimensions then, I would suggest that this is the way to go.

Plus here’s the kicker, the fish gets released for another angler to catch someday and also gets to reproduce for years to come. The merits of C&R are well documented with numerous cases of guys catching the same fish time and again. I have a replica of my PB ( personal best ) 14.63 lb’er hanging in my den and every morning I wake up I get to relive that day knowing she could still be swimming around Folsom Lake, Ca.

Along the same lines there are times when we see folks keeping a huge fish and not releasing her for one reason or another. Emotions can run high on both sides of this situation, remember it’s not against the law to keep any fish caught by legal means. All we can do is promote with good sound advice and not be judgmental. So in conclusion lets educate, promote and leave the next generation with a chance to enjoy the sport that we all love.

Until next time…Stay On EM !

Danny Barker

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

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The truth is no matter who you are, you have the same chance of catching a record fish as anyone else. I am a firm believer in this and have seen it happen many times. But will the average person be prepared for a record catch and know how to deal with the process? Most likely not, and I’ve learned from experience with lake record catches that sometimes the lake will not be ready either.

So what are a few items that you should have in case you happen to catch a record fish? Well, by far the most important item you should have is a portable scale that will weigh at least up to 25 pounds. It’s 2012 and we have some incredible portable digital scales on the market today that are very small, packable, waterproof, and very durable. I have a Berkley digital scale that has to be well over 13 years old and I have never  replaced its batteries and it still works great. So I would imagine that the newer scales out these days are the same, if not better.

Once you have a reliable scale the next thing you want to do is to find a scale company in your area that can certify your scale for you. It is a nominal fee but well worth the small investment if you happen to catch the next world-record bass and need to weigh it immediately. I have learned from experience that the longer you leave a very large bass in a live-well or on a stringer that the stress it’s going through will tightens its body and it will lose  valuable weight. My experiences have taught me that it is very important to weigh your record catch immediately. Just read my story on my 20 lb. catch. I quite possibly had the world record bass, but not having an accurate, certified scale readily available meant that I lost valuable time and quite possibly weight.

Even if you haven’t had your scale certified ahead of time, it can still work out, but the process might take a little longer. You can submit your scale with your record catch paper work to the International Game Fish Association (IGFA), but I guarantee you that you’re just not gonna sleep soundly until you get the scale certification results back from the (IGFA). I should have submitted my Berkley scale to the (IGFA) And by far the most important thing about the weighing of a record, is to weigh it one time quickly after it was caught with a witness, pictures, and video if possible and that is the official weight. A fish can lose valuable ounces if under captive stress, so you don’t want to keep pulling it out of the water for continued weighings.

If possible you want to get your bass in a large cooler, or some kind of covered container that will hold water and use a portable aerator system and a small amount of Ice if you plan on waiting to weigh your record bass. By trying to keep the fish in a dark, cool, aerated container it will help the bass with some of the stress it’s going through. This is by far the best way to hold your record catch for an extended period time if your waiting for a witness, or a scale.

Picture# 2

Most of my monster bass catches have been caught out of a rental boat or from the shore, so a stringer is another very important item to have ready if no live-well, or holding container is available. Over the years, I have refined my stringer system down to a 10′ rope with a small welded metal hoop on one end and a metal poker on the other end (Pic.#2). This style of stringer is available at almost all tackle stores. With a monster bass I never trust the hoop end; I’m always nervous that it will pull open after I place a big bass on it.

Picture# 3

So I tie an overhand knot at the hoop end of the stringer very close to the hoop (Pic.#3). Then I place the metal poker end through the bass’ soft tissue in its lower jaw and then

through the the knot loop (Pic# 4). This method gives me a bullet-proof system that prevents a big bass from making an escape if it were to make a hard charge while tied up. I have also found that by using a longer stringer it also allows the bass a chance to get to the bottom where it can sit and relax and hopefully not lose any weight by swimming all around under stress. If you’re in deeper water you should work your way slowly toward the shallow water where the bass can reach the bottom.

Picture# 4

By letting the bass rest on the bottom and even get its body into some weeds where it will feel like it is hiding, are great for the bass. I believe this gives the bass a false sense of security so it will relax and not try to swim around and stress itself. The goal is if you’re in a boat with no live-well, or you’re fishing from the shore is to avoid towing the bass around the lake, this can really stress out a bass quickly and kill it. Ideally, you should try to have a ranger come to you or maybe a nearby boat with a live-well can assist you to get your catch to the dock.

A measuring tape is by far the cheapest item to have in the documentation process but a very important item to properly measure and document the length and girth of a record catch.

Tailor Tape

The tape I prefer to use is a tailor’s tape. I like it because it can be rolled up into a very tiny ball and stored in your camera case, pocket, or tackle box. The tailor’s tape is nice to use due to its flexibility which makes it very easy  to use when measuring the bass’ girth and is not too reflective when taking a picture of it wrapped around a big ole bass’ belly. I have had the flash of a camera distort the picture off of some other shiny metal tapes I’ve used, so for the cheap price you can quite a few tailors tapes.

Having a good camera is also a very important part of the documentation process. These days, almost everyone’s cell phone has a good camera or has the capability of shooting video, which is even better. However, it might be a good idea to just have a cheap back-up camera. While your record catch is being officially weighed is when the camera and witnesses are so important. If you decide to keep your record catch, just remember it may lose some weight as time moves on and that’s where the pictures and video are your proof of that earlier weight. We could be talking about one ounce or less, but remember you need to beat the world record for largemouth bass by more than two ounces to call it the world record.

Knowing the lake rules and your states Fish and Game rules and regulations in your area and following them is critical; It would be a shame to miss out on the chance of a lifetime because you didn’t follow a simple rule or regulation. This is why I recommend getting an I.G.F.A. rules book and taking some time to read it and understand what steps you need to take before and after landing a record catch. You want the I.G.F.A. to recognize your catch as a new record when you submit it for review.

So a little homework and preparation are part of a good game plan and the first few steps you need to take before going out and chasing your dream of a new record catch.

 

Mike Long

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

One of many huge Bass caught and released by Mike Long.

The second half in the quest for the next World Record Bass continues. Big name players, like Joe Everett and Mike Long, have been logging some big fish as have a number of everyday folks. All of them, chasing the dream.

Most believe that the next World Record will come from Southern California, most likely a Florida Strain bass feeding on a high protein diet of planted rainbow trout, which are small trout stocked as an easy catch for the weekend anglers. Given that scenario one would expect that a Florida strain bass could grow into a huge fish, say in the 16-18 lb range, but still is a far cry away from the 23 lb’s needed to clearly break the world record. So, what is the “X” factor that will propel a bass to reach such a staggering size? The simple answer is genetics. When we look at our own species we see a number of folks that are small or average. But, occassionally, we see the anomaly in the norm.

Joe’s 15.14 lb’er caught and released right out of the shoot this spring!

The Wilt Chamberlin’s or the Shaquille O’Neal’s are rare, but they do exist.

Mike Long points out that two other factors are needed to produce these massive fish in his story about the 20 lb bass he landed. One, the availability of pure protein food like stocked rainbow trout or other bait fish in abundance. Two, areas of the lake that offer deep water access for the fish to go and be comfortable.

Joe Everett spends his early season days chasing the World Record at a pace that would kill any normal human being. The same factors are all in place when he’s hunting the big bass, but his main focus is sight fishing, which offers the best chance because of the oversized condition of a spawning bass.

Folsom Lake, CA 15.12 lb’s caught and released this year by Hal Tacker with son Dustin during a tournament!

So a huge fish during the spawn, when it’s at the largest stage of its life cycle, or one that has just eaten three 1 lb trout, could possibly reach that dream weight. Of course, the odds are low that a bass will reach that size when all these necessary factors are considered, however big bass hunters like Mike Long and Joe Everett are hot on the trail of that elusive of fish.

The nicknames of their catches are legendary: The infamous Dottie (a well-known fish caught by Mike), and Knot Head (caught by Joe), show us that it can happen. So as the season moves in to the 4th Quarter, we all will cheer for all the World Record chasers, from the well-known to the average Joe, that every cast he/she makes will be his personal best or maybe “Andre the Giant”! Until next time…. Stay on Em !!

Danny Barker

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

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20lb-12oz Lake Dixon Bass

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.

Lake Hodges Dam

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.

RANK

WEIGHT

ANGLER

WATER

LOCATION

DATE

1

22.3106

Kurita, Manabu

Biwa, Lake

Japan

2-Jul-2009

2

22.2500

Perry, George W.

Montgomery Lake

Georgia

2-Jun-1932

3

22.0100

Crupi, Robert J.

Castaic, Lake

California

12-Mar-1991

4

21.7500

Arujo, Michael

Castaic, Lake

California

5-Mar-1991

5

21.6875

Dickerson, Jed

Dixon, Lake

California

31-May-2003

6

21.2000

Easley, Raymond D.

Casitas, Lake

California

4-Mar-1980

7

21.0100

Crupi, Robert J.

Castaic, Lake

California

9-Mar-1990

8

20.9375

Zimmerlee, Dave

Miramar, Lake

California

23-Jun-1973

9

20.8600

Torres, Leo

Castaic, Lake

California

4-Feb-1990

10

20.7500

Long, Mike

Dixon, Lake

California

27-Apr-2001

11

20.2500

Dupras, Gene

Hodges, Lake

California

30-May-1985

12

20.1250

Friebel, Fritz

Big Fish Lake

Florida

19-May-1923

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.

20-12 from Lake Dixon

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.

Weight at the Boat Dock 22lbs-5oz

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.

The Release

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.

 

 

Mike Long

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

From the West side to the East side in search of Trophy Bass, what’s the difference? This was going to be my challenge when 6 years ago we decided to move to Florida to be near my oldest daughter and grandson. Having caught my personal best, a 14.63 lb bass, on Folsom Lake in California and numerous other big fish from Clear Lake and the Delta, I felt like my luck was pretty good in California.

Most of the folks I hang with know the whole story about my PB bass. In fact, I think some of them are getting tired of hearing it. (LOL) I’ll tell ya’ll the story some time.

Swimbaits are a tool to target huge fish, but by no means are they the only way. One of my favorite baits in California was a Lucky Craft Pointer 128 or the 100 with an extra long feather  on the back treble hook, which gives the bait a big profile and  some additional action. Some other baits that worked well were the Basstrix, 3:16 Mission fish, Hudd 68’s and, one of my all time favorite baits, the Senko. All these baits shined at one time or another, so how would the move to the East coast be different from the West coast?

That was the big question.

The first thing that hits you when fishing in Florida is WEEDS, WEEDS, and more WEEDS. Then the fact that most of the water you fish is shallow — at the most 8 ft deep. If you find depths of 12 feet, it’s a miracle. Honestly, it was a huge adjustment and still is to this day.

I knew that Flippin heavy matts, pads, and weeds were going to be something that would come into play. My friend Danny Miller created a new  weight for punching through the heavy cover called Miller Punchin weights. These weights by far have made fishing for me in the thick cover possible where just getting a bait in front of a bass is such is tremendous challenge. Then it was on to the topwater weedless frogs, birds, and skinny dipper-type lures, which were very productive as well. Now it was time to figure out what kind of swimbaits I could use that were fairly weedless and the 3:16 mission Mission Fish did the trick. As I started using larger lures, my fish catches went down. It was almost like the fish were intimidated by our big California-sized baits. To this day, the biggest bait I’ve used in Florida is the Hudd special 68; it is the only one I can get them to eat.

The learning continues. I’m always looking for new weedless-type swimbaits and rumor has it Hudd has something in the works. Fishing on the East side of the United States is a work in progress, but I’m having a blast!!

I’ll keep ya posted, oh BTW the fish love the West Coast drop shot — it has accounted for fish up to 9 lb’s …

Until next time,

“Stay on em”

Danny Barker

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

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Lake Hodges 14 lbs. 6″ Huddleston Deluxe Swimbait

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.

Two styles of Swimbait Tails

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.

Stocker Trout (left) Castaic 12″ (right)

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.

8″ Huddleston Deluxe Tail

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.

Rainbow Trout

 

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.

Some of the best soft swimbait copies of rainbow trout

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.

MattLures Rainbow Trout

Rainbow 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.

(Pic.5)  6″ Huddleston Deluxe before and after alterations

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.

Rago Lures Hand Poured Boot-Tail Swimbaits

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.

 

Mike Long

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

You’ve just caught that trophy bass the adrenaline is flowing and your thinking about getting the perfect shot. Relax for a moment take a deep breath put your fish in the livewell, your whole focus now is on the health of your fish. Look, what I’m hoping to do is get folks thinking about how we care for and handle our fish after we catch ’em. Let me say first that I, for one, need to do a better job! There’s been lots of talk about holding a very large fish by the mouth with just one hand and possibly breaking the jaw. I would suggest it would apply to any fish if you’re flexing the jaw outward. The best case would be to support the fish with two hands-one in the mouth and one under the belly. I still think if you hold the fish with one hand and let all the weight hang straight down, you’ll be fine so long as you don’t torque the jaw. One would venture to say that many of the Pros on tour are the worst offenders. How many times have you seen the guys holding the fish in air while shaking a fist after a win or near win? It isn’t just the everyday fishermen who are to blame; we all need to do the best we can to protect the resource.

Along the same lines, in an effort to get a picture we often just lay the fish on the ground or on the bottom of the boat to get a shot. It would be better to have a cheap tripod and a camera with a timer always ready to get the picture you want. This will help a bunch by keeping the fish from losing the protective film they have on their bodies and get a better shot. Sometimes it’s just hard due to one thing or another to properly care for the fish you’re going to release. Most of you guys know what I’m trying to convey. I’m not pointing any fingers at anyone because I’ve done all these things myself, but I’ve been thinking more about this subject lately. Let’s all try harder when it comes to fish handling and caring for the fish we all love to catch and release…..

Stay on ’em!

Danny Barker

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

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Fishermen are known to go to extremes to increase their chances for catching big fish. Bass fisherman are no exception and Mike Long has spent a life time gathering data on what works and why. While many people think fishing is equal parts luck and gear, the truth is a lot more scientific. Knowing when to fish and why is as important as knowing where. That’s where the philosophy behind the “scientific angler” comes from. Taking copious notes over 25 years has landed Mike dozens upon dozens of trophy sized bass and unlike a lot of fisherman, he has absolutely NO problem sharing his knowledge with anyone willing to listen.

If you’re interested in increasing your chances of landing bigger fish, then you should catch Mike Long talking about the ideas behind becoming a “scientific angler” on Bass Angler Magazine’s Youtube Channel. Learn what it takes to be among the world’s most prolific big bass hunters as well as the science behind the movement with this informative video interview.

Mike Long

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

Over the years of bass fishing I’ve caught some large bass and some very large trophy bass. We all want to take a photo before releasing the bass and it is important to handle the bass properly to avoid harming her. Wanting that “Hero Shot”  in the past, I’ve held two bass vertically or even worse tried to hold five very large bass up vertically and I’ve learned that this is a very bad habit. Doing something like this can be really damaging to that big bass’ lower jaw which could possibly dislocate it and make it where that trophy can no longer function as well as she did before I caught her and took the trophy pictures.

I now try to always practice holding a bass with two hands supporting its weight and trying not to over-handle it and compromise it’s slime coat. I will still grab its jaw as I would if I were going to lift her with one hand, but, as it’s body is coming out of the water, I get my other hand under it  towards the anal fin so I’m able to support the weight and have some control of the bass.

Sometimes to get a good shot I have found it helps to give yourself some time. Often after I catch a really good bass I’ll put the bass in the livewell for 20-40 minutes to let her calm down. This also gives me time to get my camera ready for the best shot. If you’re on the shore or in a rental boat, you can use a long stringer or small rope. A 10′ rope provides enough distance and length down so the bass can sit on the bottom and recoup. Once I feel the bass has recovered, I make sure everything is ready to go and only then do I get out the bass of the well or water. A good rule of thumb is to not keep her out of the water for more than 30 seconds because any longer out of water can cause brain damage to the fish due to lack of oxygen. I try to get all of my shots into two photo sessions and then release her back into the water hoping I did everything right so she will be fine and grow even larger to be caught again.

These methods are good practice for catch and release and hopefully we can all get the word out in a very polite way so we will have even more healthy trophy bass to catch and enjoy in the near future.

Mike Long

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

Why use a swimbait? Well, in my opinion, based on years of  using swimbaits I feel they are one of the best search baits on the market. They allow you to go out and cover miles of water in a day and have a high percentage chance of hooking a trophy bass while seeing lots of water and finding key spots along the way. Additionally,  you can fall back on your milk run too and no other bait allows you to truly match the hatch better than a swimbait. Swimbaits or as I like to call them swimmers can have no lip and have soft bodies with a life-like paint job. These are the type I look for first. When first choosing a swimmer I want something that in the crystal-clear water that I fish here in Southern California will trick the bass while under close inspection from the bass. I have seen bass of all sizes just swim beside my swimmer and eyeball the bait as if something is off just a bit.  It might be the shape, color, vibration, size, and even smell causing them not commit and bite the swimmer.

 

So pay close attention to what type of forage your bass are feeding on in your area of the world; it is very important to take detailed notes about everything you can see regarding the forage, size, shape, and color. Also remember that the bait will change in size and color throughout the year.

Now that you have an idea of what size, shape, and color to choose it’s about how much are you willing to spend. Soft, plastic swimmers can range in price anywhere from one dollar to $100.00  and if you’re fishing and losing baits you may want to avoid  the high-end baits unless you can afford to buy more.  The next thing I pay real close attention to is the type of water I’m going to be fishing. If it is crystal-clear then that life-like paint job is a must, but if it’s stained or dirty that high-dollar paint job is no longer a factor and now its more about shades and colors of the swimmer and this can really vary throughout the year. If the water is dirty you only need to find the predominant color of the bait you’re trying to match. For example, if it’s a bluegill then you need to determine what single color sticks out the most on that bluegill. Sometimes it’s very easy to see say light grey, brown, white, or silver. You might need to catch some bait and put it in a clear container with the same water to determine what predominant color you can see. Once you determine the color now it’s finding a swimmer that matches it. Another factor in determining color is depth of the water you’ll be fishing. At a certain depth in your lake some colors disappear and some become more visible. Clarity is a key factor in trying to determine what color to use. Bass can see most colors much like we do but see red and green much better than we do.  Many people use this simple rule of thumb: sunny and clear water use lighter and brighter colors and on cloudy or darker days or with stained or dirty water use darker colors. For me in California when it’s sunny and the water is clear, I use light baits that are almost translucent and they create very little silhouette. I like shades of sliver, smoke, grey, pink, and sometimes yellow and purple. And when the skies darken or there is low light in that same clear water, I go to a darker bait in green, brown,  dark purple, and sometimes black all of which present a more prominent silhouette. So hopefully after reading this you have a better understanding of where to start in choosing a soft, plastic swimbait. I will have more articles and video in the months to come as well as interviews with some of the best in the bass fishing business here on Mike Long Outdoors.

Mike Long

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

I’ve always been a little paranoid about having my hands clean while fishing. I always fuel up my boat and truck the day before I fish to keep the fuel residue off my hands. Also, if I’m using  paints on a lure project, spraying insectisides around the house, or doing any other project that would leave any type of residue on my hands, I always use rubber gloves. Even applying sunscreen can affect your bite. What I’m getting at is I try hard to keep my hands as clean and natural as possible. Bass, like most other fish, have a superb ability to sense the chemical dynamics of their surroundings.

Bass are constantly using their senses to gather information they need to survive. Their senses of smell and taste are called chemoreception which means they use sensory receptors that respond to chemical stimuli. These are two of the ways they sense the world around them and if something is off  just a bit they will be weary and may not feed. They sense in parts per billion so these information senses are capable of detecting a wide array of minute particles in their environment. So if you have a chemical residue on your hands, it is very possible to transfer it to your lures or baits which may create a negative response from the bass.

One solution is to use a soap made just for fishing.  One brand that I like to use is “Thee Fishermans Soap.” It comes in a bottle like some sunscreens do and is very easy to use by just applying to your hands. I have kept statistics on each fishing trip I’ve been on over the last ten years and on a quick computer search it has shown that the times I used the soap my catch ratios were very good.

One thing I’ve learned while bass fishing is it can never hurt to try something new.

 

Mike Long

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

I did a little teaser video on a small portable rigging box that is always in my boat or travel bag and I got  many email requests asking what was in that box.

Well here is a breakdown of the basics I keep in one easy to get to box:

– Treble hooks of about 10 different sizes
–  Single hooks quite a few sizes and shapes
– Hook  sharpener
– Split rings of up to five different sizes
– Split ring pliers
– Needle nose pliers
– Small screw drivers
– Tweezers
-Swivels five sizes
– Swimbait glue
-Super glue
– Rubber cement
-Matches-Small Lighter
– Tungsten Sticky Weight
– Line Wire
– Tube weights of at least five sizes
– Tape weights
– Nail weights many sizes
– Magnets
– Speed clips
– Rattles. and Rattle harnesses
– Stick on eyes of many sizes and colors
– Taxidermy eyes, four pairs of 7mm, and 8mm
– Very small crescent wrench
– Super small zip ties
– Small spings
– Exacto knife and blade kit
– Twist ties
– Fine wire 24 gauge
– Couple Q-Tips
– Reel oil
– Paper clip
– Reel grease
– 3’Mylar (few pieces)

These are the things that I have packed into a small box that is almost always with me in the boat and when I’m shore hopping I keep it in the car. After 36 years of doing this I have learned that I want to be able to keep my lures in tune and make any adjustment needed while using them in the field. For those of you who watch Nascar it’s like making pit stop; they have everything that the driver needs to keep going and can make adjusments to his car. That’s how I feel when tossing lures. I want to be sure I can fix and adjust as quickly as possible and keep my bait in the water. A good friend of mine Aaron Martens said it best, “If your bait is not in the water you have no chance to catch a fish.” So if my bait is in the water and it’s working well at the depth and speed I want it, I’m in the game!

 

Mike Long

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

What fishing line to use is a question I get asked about all the time and it can be a very tough question to answer. There are so many good brands of fishing line out on the market and sometimes it just comes down to how much are you willing to spend. That being said, there are some things I look for in a fishing line. I want a line that is very durable and I want it to have a good, elastic response. If I toss a heavy swimbait all day and my line starts to stretch on every cast, my line is no longer the same diameter and will not have the same strength it had when I first put it on my reel. This could result in losing fish and that’s not acceptable in my world.  So once I find a durable line, I try to use the heaviest pound I can get away with.

There are times when fishing very clear calm water where fish are super spooky. To compensate for this you have to use light line to trick these fish due to their sense of sight being so unrestricted that they can see that heavier line in the water and be on on guard. Also, their lateral-line system works better in this calm water and they can easily detect heavier line in the water. In Southern California we have learned to fish 2-5lb lines in this clear, calm water and  by downsizing the baits as much as possible so not to overrate the line.

Knowing the type of line you will need, next you need to find a line that fits your price range because you will be buying a lot of it. No matter what line it is, it has a shelf life and will only last so long after being exposed to water and sun along with all the abuse of fishing it. When I purchase fishing line, I try to ask someone in the store when they stocked the line that I want to purchase because I don’t want a line that’s been sitting in a store for over six months.  For me that is just too long. I’ve had bad times fishing with line that has sat in stores for far too long. After that I examine the line by taking it out of the box and feeling it.  I look for a line that has a smooth, silky feeling. This has always been a true sign of a good line and when I pull some off the spool I want it to be as straight as possible. I don’t want it to have a lot of memory because that may indicate that the line is old or was sitting in a hot container during shipping too long and the chemical make-up of the line may be compromised. This can sometimes give the line a dull look and feel kind of chalky and rough.

Taking good care of fishing line after you purchase it is very important. I always store my line in an air-tight sealed bag and then put in a refrigerator when there is room. I don’t want to freeze it; instead just keep it at a controlled cooled temperature.  When I take it out to spool up a reel I try to let it get to room temperature before I begin.

When spooling up a reel I try to make sure if it’s a bait caster that I always take line off the top of the spool towards the reel. This helps with any memory the line may still have. Using a line conditiner on a small cloth or a paper towel pinched on the line as it goes on your reel will help tremendously with tangles and twists. This can also be applied to your line while on your reel from time to time to continually help with tangles and twists. An old-school trick if you do have a lot of tangles and twists in the line while you’re out on a boat, is to move at idle speed and with no lure or hook attached, just line only, let out about 50 yards of line while out on the water and pull it behind the boat for around five minutes. This will help get tangles and twists out of your line.

Another thing I try to always practice while fishing in the boat is to only have rods out that I will be using right away sitting out on the deck.  This helps keep the sun off the line and also the heat from the deck of the boat from damaging the line.

Mike Long

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

Hi folks, MLO asked me to check out some of the new swimbaits at ICAST since he wasn’t able to make the trip this year. There is a ton of new stuff coming out with good selections from Castaic, Optimum, River2sea and Jackall. These are only few; you could find a swimbait company down every isle. Below you’ll see some of the baits from the show.

On a side note, have you noticed a lot of the new hard swimbaits are just a bigger version of a Rippbait? They’re starting to crossover; swim baits are becoming large ripp baits and vice-versa. Swim baits used to be these huge 12” trout baits and now you’re seeing small swim baits that are only 3-4 inches. The lines are closing on the difference between the two baits. One case is point is Lucky Craft and Optimum which are forming a team to produce a new line of small, soft swim bait which is a killer looking product. Stay tuned …..Here’s some pictures from the show…

 

 

Danny Barker
Trophy Bass Hunter
Writer/Blogger/Field Editor
Fish Explorer.com Writer/Field Editor
UFC Writer/Moderator
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Danny Barker

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

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One of our goals as fisherman is to catch fish, lots of fish, how many times have you had  one of those epic trips where you caught lots of fish, and wondered why you have not been able to catch fish like that more often, well the truth is you can, you just have to practice some simple rules of eliminating water to find productive water.

Yes, you need to understand how to read and eliminate unproductive waters to find those rich productive waters. I have been doing this for years and it’s helped me catch thousands of fish from bass, catfish to panfish.

The first basic rule to understand in the water elimination process is to look for humps, points, and flats with deep water access, the later is key “deep water access’ this is the on ramp, and off ramp for the open water migration highways fish use. One of the first things you should do is find a topographical map one that you can write notes on would be great. Once you have this and you have studied the topo lines on the map which show water at different levels you can use a yellow highlight pen to draw a straight line over the deepest channels of the lake. Once this is done you can use a darker highlight pen to highlight the points, humps, and flats next to your deep water channels that you have marked in yellow. Now you have completed one of the major steps in the elimination of water process before you have ever visited the lake, you could call it some of your fishing homework.

Topo maps are not 100% accurate and if your serious about catching more fish, then you need to try to take pictures of the lake at lower levels. This can take quite some time. Where I live most of the lakes are high in the winter, and spring, and low in the summer, and fall, so taking pictures is not a problem.

Google Earth is another great tool for looking at a lakes at different water levels. They have a time bar so you can go back in time to see if they have an image at  a lower water level.

Another way too explore the lake to find the key areas is to meter them and take good notes or mark them with GPS to find where the deep channels are in relation to the points, humps, and flats. This is something that will be very accurate and really help you out, the key is to pick small areas of a lake and take your time. Some graphs have map chips that you can install which make it very nice to mark your waypoints on and build a milk run of these key areas.

So doing some homework is key in eliminating water, I have spent hundreds of hours looking at topo maps and reducing hundreds of surface acres of water down too just couple of surface acres or less of productive water, and now I can spend more time figuring out the timing of these areas in relation to fish migration through them.

 

Mike Long

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

The net is something that we all forget from time to time and it can make a difference when catching that trophy bass of a lifetime. I can’t tell you how many times I have gotten prepared for a trip with rods, reels, lures, food, clothing, water, and maps and gotten all the way to the lake only to realize that I forgot my net because I did not think the whole trip through. One good remedy for this is to put a smaller version in your vehicle so, if you do forget your net at home, you have a backup ready to go. This also helps with other essentials such as fishing line, water, and food.  It’s always good to have a few backup supplies close to where you are.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk about what kind of net to use.  ]if I’m in the boat I prefer using the Frabill Power Stow Net.  I like it for three main reasons: the hoop and handle are very light and strong, you get a net depth of 24″which is great for those monster bass, and finally I love the black tangle-free micro netting which is lure-safe and very durable. Having a net that is very light and very large is key, especially when you’re fishing by yourself and have to net a very heavy bass with one arm. Having a frame and handle that will help you keep control of the situation is very important too.  A good-sized handle I like is about 24″-30″ long. The micro netting is awesome and very convenient. Once you land that bass and get it in the boat, if your lure pops out of the bass’ mouth it will not get caught in the net like with the fabric style nets. It is very important to get your bass back into some water as soon as possible and if one hook is stuck in his mouth and another in the net, that’s not going to help you accomplish that. If you’ve ever watched any of my videos on catching bass while in a bass boat, you’ll always notice the net handle  is always just behind my right foot (if you’re left-handed you’ll want it behind your left foot). I always try to have it in the ready position and I have a routine of setting the hook, getting control, and then I go for the net and get it in the landing-ready position. This is something that works for me but you might have to find your own way to work it into your bass landing routine in your boat. The key is to always have it handy and upfront. When shore fishing, I don’t use a net 80% of the time unless it’s maybe Spring and I’m sight fishing a monster bass and then I might have a net. But, if I’m in a rental boat, I have my net and once again it’s always very close where I can reach it with my right hand.

Mike Long

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

When I was young I got one new spinning reel a year, normally around Christmas, and I had to make it last for the year. This was really hard to accomplish with as much fishing as I did growing up.  Most of the time I was catfishing and you could catch some nice cats up to 15lbs that really put a hurting on your tackle. My reel drags were cheap and always got smoked so I would have to tighten them down to where there was no drag at all.  Then I’d turn the anti-reverse off if I hooked a big fish and it made a run for it. So, by accident, I learned the power of back reeling a spinning reel.

If you watch a spinning reel’s spool while fighting a strong fish, you’ll notice that there are times the line is going out a lot faster than the drag setting and the line is stretching.  This is not good, especially if you are using light line. The idea is to use your rod the way it was built to be used and that is to keep it between 10:00 to 12:00 o’clock. This always allows you to keep pressure on the fish and keep the hook set in the fish’s mouth and bottom line to be in control.

By setting your reel’s drag to a firm setting for the pound line you have on the reel, turning your anti-reverse off, and keeping your rod at the right angle, you are now in control. If that fish makes a really fast charge, you just keep the rod in position and simply back reel and slowly start to forward reel.

It takes times to master this technique, but when fishing lighter lines you will land more fish and not strees your line to the maximum limit.

 

Mike Long

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

Back when I was much younger, if I needed to repair a soft plastic lure I had two choices: if it was a tear I could heat it with a match and weld it back together, which was not always easy to do, or I could heat some plastic and fill or patch the lure. At first I used Super Glue because with it’s secret ingredient, an acrylic resin called cyanocrylate, it bonded instantly.  I found that I had to make a smooth, oil-free surface to make a good bond and with soft plastic lures which have a lot of oil in them that could be very hard to do. Fortunately, over the last ten years, a few companies have discovered better ways to make incredible glues that will work on our soft plastic lures.  One of them is Mend-it, which is my favorite, because you simply apply wherever needed and hold it in place for a few seconds to let it cure. It gives you a super strong bond which is almost better than new. I glue tails and fins on soft plastic swimbaits all the time and rarely have any issues. When using these newer glues, you need to get the cap on the bottle as soon as possible to keep the glue at full strength. Leaving the cap off will eventually compromise the glue’s strength and it will eventually dry out. Another thing that is key is to storing your glue and getting a longer shelf life  is keeping it in a dark, cool place. Sunlight or hot air temperature will heat the bottle up and also compromise the glue. Be careful when using these glues to not get the glue in contact with your skin. If you do, some companies make a glue nuetralizer to help if this happens.

Mike Long

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

A bass uses all five major senses and the lateral line system.  In this article I’m going to talk a bit about how bass use their sight to help with their survival in their underwater world.

Two groups of light-sensitive cells known as rods and cones, much like we have as humans, help the bass to see colors much like we do. At night or during low-light conditions, the rod cells are primarily used and during the day the cone cells are primarily used.

The bass eye is constructed in a way that its large round lens protrudes through each pupil. This protrusion provides the bass with a wide field of view. The negative side of this is that it prevents the pupil from closing and opening. If the ambient light is intense, the pupil is stuck wide open. As humans we can control how much light comes in with our pupils.  If there is too much light then the pupil constricts and, when light levels are low, our pupils open to let more light in so we can operate comfortably under a wide range of light conditions. So for the bass, who has no eyelids or can’t open or close its pupils, it must adjust to whatever light there is to be comfortable. To compensate, it means they might go deeper down into the water where its darker and use mud lines or the shades of structures  (under docks, rocks, plants, etc.) to feel safe and have good visibility.  The clear waters of Southern California, where very clear water sometimes 30′-40′ visibility, pushes the bass to depths of 40′-60′ during the intense mid-day sun. This is due to the clear water absorbing light and allowing it to go to much deeper depths. As it gets stained, dirty, or algae blooms, the water does not allow light to penetrate as deep. Therefore, the bass can adjust to shallow water much more comfortably.

All colors are filtered out by even pure water, but some colors, such as red, are more strongly filtered than others. In waters that contain amounts of algae and sources of chlorophyll both the blue and red ends of the light spectrum are more strongly absorbed leaving primarily yellows and greens. These waters at times can have a greenish look. In waters that are very stained or muddy often appear reddish, while little light of any wavelength is allowed to pass through, the blues and greens are absorbed more than the reds. In trying to understand how to choose a color for a lure you must first understand the environment that the bass lives in first.  This means that understanding light absorbtion in water is a must in your home work.

Bass have photopic vision which is normal vision during the day and scotopic vision which is the ability to see in reduced illumination (as in moonlight). These two types of vision are dramatically different. What a bass sees at night is not what he sees during the day. When a bass changes from scotopic vision to photopic vision and vise versa it can take quite some time; anywhere from 20-30 minutes. This is one of the reasons why after dusk, when it first becomes dark,  that the bite slows down; the bass needs some time to adjust her vision. One cool thing about when it’s dusk is that the bass and schooling prey switch to scotopic vision. Here is when the bass has a huge advantage over the prey which have primarily a cone-dominant eye system which is better for daylight use.  They are at a slight disadvantage in seeing the bass while the bass’ eyes adjust in scotopic vision. He knows he has this small window where the prey is blind which leads to that epic evening bite we hear about all the time or experience for ourselves.

When bass are using eyesight to hunt quickly, they disregard anything that has no movement at all as a non-living. Other senses may detect life, but if the bass sees no movement it may just keep moving onto the next target. As it matures into an adult, it may recognize prey shapes and give them a longer look. Giving it a close inspection and using another sense will surely detect life.

Mike Long

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

Looking for bass fishing tips? Many wonder where to start in the bass fishing world. One of the first questions you must ask yourself is what do you want from the sport. Do you want to be a tournament bass fisherman, a trophy bass chaser, a weekend warrior, or just have a good time?

If tournament fishing is what you want you need to join a local bass club in your area and pay attention and learn from the club members. From there move up to local team tournaments and your final goal should be the Pro status. Not everyone has got what it takes to fish tounaments so don’t get to discouraged.  If that’s not your niche, there are also small “turkey shoot” style derbies put on for very little money that might be right up your alley.

If you think you’re that guy or gal who can catch the next trophy bass in your area then you have the fever I have. This means you pay attention to detail, keep very good notes about all bass catches, weather, and lake conditions.  In addition, you understand how to make a spread sheet to refer back to and find productive trophy bass water. Chasing the monster bass in your area can be very time consuming with very little reward and you most likely find yourself often wondering, “Why am I sitting here all day for no bass bites?” Hunting for the trophy bass is not for everyone because it takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and patience.  For me, these are all worth it when I hook the big bass.

While searching for trophy bass is definitely my passion, I find myself having the most fun with the sport of bass fishing by just being able to enjoy the outdoors and have a good friend to talk with sharing some bass catching memories. This is where most of us in the sport fit right in.  We can all buy lures, tie them on, and throw them in the water knowing this is where and what we should be doing.  It call comes down to having a wonderful time in the great outdoors.

Mike Long

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