MattLures is at it again with their latest creation in the MattLures series of hard swimbaits with their 7 1/2″ glide bass, with three sink rates; floating, slow sink, and fast sink and five colors to choose from perch, smallmouth, light bass, dark bass, and walleye.
Bait: Glide Bass
Weight: 4 ounce
Color: Dark Bass
Sink Rate: Slow Sink
At 7 1/2″ the MattLures Glide Bass is one of the smaller glide baits on the market today, but having a glide bait in a bass color fills the need of many trophy bass fisherman around the globe
The MattLures Glide Bass is a lipless single jointed swimbait that was designed to glide left and right at slow speeds as well as fast speeds.
MattLures once again stayed true to style of building natural looking swimbaits. Full fins, scale patterns and a lifelike paint job.
The tail of the MattLures Glide Bass is made of a soft material that flexes slightly and should not break for the life of the bait.
Every now and then in life someone comes along who really understands the sport of trophy bass fishing and Brett Richardson is one of those people. Brett is an In-Fisherman contributor and has been chasing trophy bass for over five decades. He is a multi-species fisherman who has chased monster fish from the great USA all the way into Canada. Brett has been a freelance writer as well as guide who loves to do seminars and help people world wide with his articles and incredible DVD’s Brett’s DVD series was created for the serious bass hunters who want to obtain specific info on how to hunt and catch trophy bass throughout the year in any body of water.
Zoning Migratory Bass, and Water Elements are two must have DVD’s for understanding where the big bass and why, and reading the water.
Vertical Spring Bassin is a great DVD to help to understand where and why the big girls group and hold till the warm sunny spring days pull them back to the shallow banks to spawn. And Crucial Factors for Post-Spawn Bass will help answer some of the questions about where those big exhausted females go after the spawn.
Factoring Variables for Summer Bass is a DVD for the true trophy bass hunters and Getting a Grip on Traditional Bass is a great DVD for all levels of bass hunters.
Bite Windows is a great DVD that will really help to answer some of those questions about why bass don’t bite all day and The Hunt for Summer Pelagic Bass is one of my favorites. I promise it will make you think outside the box when fishing for those big stubborn Summer bass.
Equations for Fall Turnover and The Quest for Fall Bass will definitely help to answer some of those tough questions about where those monster bass go in the Fall months and how to pattern them.
If you would like to purchase an individual DVD, or the DVD collection they are available by contacting Brett Richardson at firstname.lastname@example.org he accepts PayPal and all DVD’s are shipped the next day. Thank You for reading and please support Brett anyway possible!
I have used and tested quite a few swimbaits over the years and there is a few things I look for right away in a swimbait, is it durable? was it put together well enough to take hundreds of casts a day? how well will it hold up after hooking a few bass on it? is the price affordable? I tested the Middle Fish Injured Trout Original and this is what I found out.
Lure: Injured Trout Original
Color: Rainbow Trout
Weight: 2.8 Ounces
MLO Rating: 4.5 out of 5
The MiddleFish Injured Trout is a 7″ swimbait that weighs in at 2.8 ounces and is a S-motion swimbait.
I was very impressed with the joint construction, it is a drop pin hinge joint system that is used in many custom swimbaits these days. The inside of the joint is painted to match the outside the bait and helps to keep this swimbait looking natural while swimming in the water.
Another thing I like about the MiddleFish Injured Trout swimbait is the flexibility of the hinges. I am a huge fan of S-motion swimbaits where the tail can almost touch the body of the bait, these baits have much more flexibilty and create more side to side motion in the water than other swimbaits with less flexibility.
MiddleFish did not cut any corners with a natural taxidermy glass eyes that really gives this swimbait some added life.
The Injured Trout has scale textured sides that really make this swimbait look very natural.
Pros: This small 7″ swimbait looks larger in the water and with its bullet shape design is very easy to casts in the wind. When you burn the Inured trout it has an incredible super fast S-motion and if you pause and jerk the swimbait you can make it walk left and right. I would like to see this bait with a jig hook, or frog hook off the top of the first joint.
Cons: Not the best action at a very slow speed. The front hook is a little to close needs to farther back to prevent line grab.
MLO Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Starting this week, guest writer and world traveler Takatoshi Murase shares his unique perspective on bass fishing. In this multi-part article, his enthusiasm and passion for the sport transcends language, showing us that a love of fishing connects every culture on the planet.
Takatoshi Murase Unites the world, one fish at a time.
I was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan. I started ocean fishing when I was 9, then got into bass fishing at age 10. Nothing serious, I just loved how exciting fishing could be. By age 19 in 2003, I moved out to Southern California to train at a tennis academy in Ojai, playing in on a college team thereafter.
This is the only period where I didn’t spend time on the water. While I was at the academy, my English tutor told me about a nearby bassin’ lake called Lake Casitas and that’s when I realized California is one of the best places for bassin’ on the planet. With this famous lake’s proximity, I knew that I would have to start bringing my tackle over from Japan.
Hooking up with those cool local sticks I met while I was in SoCal, I learned a lot of the skills, tips, and knowledge that would push me to fish harder than I ever fished in my entire life. I returned back home in Tokyo in 2010 after my long-term SoCal experience. These last 2 years, I have been focusing on traveling around the world. I have made it to Hungary, Eastern France, Switzerland (Geneva-Montreux), Malaysia, and Florida. My experience abroad in SoCal really opened up new doors and possibilities to the things I’m most passionate about.
Now, a new chapter begins.
Bass fishing is obviously what I’m most passionate since I really started fishing.. But it’s not my ONLY interest in fishing. I have been interacting with fellow anglers around the world through Facebook, sharing experiences, pictures, thoughts, etc. and that really blew my mind, taking me to a completely different level.
I’m very impressed and surprised that they are comfortable talking to me and sharing their passion for fishing; one we share in common even though I mainly fish for bass. It showed me that what we fish for just doesn’t matter. For instance, my fellow anglers in Malaysia would love to exchange tips and thoughts with me knowing that we fish for a different target, but some how the conversations still increase our shared knowledge.
Some of the skills and strategies I use for bass would suitably fit their techniques for catching snakeheads, and their skill can translate for catching bass. So that simple fishing connection creates an intimate atmosphere between us, which really shows fishing is universal.
At some point, this everyday global interaction with fellow anglers out there through the social network led me to a mentality that why not go visit them, fish together, share passion and get experienced in completely different cultures.
My bait is better than yours … Trophy Hunters wanted: fish this way please. Keep in mind that I fish for fun so some of what I’ll say is naive to a degree. I don’t know the inner workings of the bait making business nor do I know what classifies one as a Big Fish expert. What I do know is there’s a lot of back and forth going on about who made this bait first and people drawing up guide lines for being a true Trophy Hunter. It’s a sad commentary on the sport when we have all this drama and division when you realize we’re talking about fishing.
Renowned Poet Ted Hughes once said and I agree …
Fishing provides that connection with the whole living world. It gives you the opportunity of being totally immersed, turning back into yourself in a good way. A form of meditation, some form of communion with levels of yourself that are deeper than the ordinary self.
We need to keep in mind that there’s room for all kinds of baits and fishermen; nothing is cast in stone, nothing is new under the sun. I’m sponsored by a bunch of folks, but it doesn’t stop me from liking other baits or enjoying how one trophy hunter pursues his passion over another. The world has enough trouble occupying our worries, we don’t need any in the sport we love. These are tough times on a lot of people, most of which we never hear about … loss of loved ones, health, jobs, the economy and the list goes on …
My hope is that we can all have fun in this sport we call fishing and not let the noise in the background affect our love of the game. You can draw a line in the sand but you can’t draw one on the water. Stay on Em … Peace!
Finding a giant bass is even rarer than you might think. Over the years I’ve been lucky to have caught many large bass well over 15 lbs. and to have caught one bass over 20 lbs. I have caught them using swimbaits, live crawdads, waterdogs, and jigs. Most of the large catches were during the spring months here in southern California (March-May). Some were blind catches and some were spawning bass. Most of the time, if the water is clear in the reservoir, you’ll get a chance to see one of the giants of the lake and, if you see them multiple times, you might even get a chance to track them and figure out their current migration route between their feeding and spawning areas.
One day early this March, I found a giant bass and was able to figure out its route. I was at one of San Diego’s clear water, trout-fed lakes casting swimbaits in the evening before it closed and had spotted a monster bass that I knew was well over 20 lbs. This giant bass would follow my swimbait all the way to the steep bank I was casting from. She followed the bait and would turn at about 20′ from the shore near a sunken tree in the water and hold off the tip of the tree. She played this game with me for about five casts and then would just sit off the end of the sunken tree and slowly swim under it where you could not see her at all. The following day, I made an early morning trip to the lake and hit the area where I had seen this big bass. After about a dozen casts with no follows and no sign of the big female bass I started to make a move.
I kept with the swimbait hoping to get a bite, or just get a big follower and eliminate water. I worked my way to a fishing dock and that is where I saw this giant bass again from the day before. She had a distinct shape which made me certain it was the same bass and not just another giant bass. This big bass was hanging out at the end of the dock and would not follow a swimbait, or even give it a look. As the sun rose and hit the water, she slowly began to move off the dock towards deep water and in the direction of where I had seen her the day before, which was about 100 yards away. It was about seven days before a full moon with some really nice, warm weather so there were quite a few males up on nests spawning with just a handful of female bass up at that time.
I slowly fished my way back to the area where I originally saw the giant bass and with my first cast I saw her again. She would follow my swimbait to the shore, but not commit. As the sun got higher in the sky and lit up this North-facing steep bank, I noticed a spawning male that was about ten feet to the right of the sunken tree. When I would toss my swimbait near him he would rise up and chase it away from his nests in a guarding posture; he was very aggressive.
As the sun got higher in the sky and the air temperature reached around 80 degrees, the big bass would sink down in the water and disappear into the depths. I played this game through the weekend seeing her early in the day around the dock and then 100 yards away by the steep bank and the sunken tree as later in the day. I had definitely found a big bass with a recognizable pattern I just had to stay on it. Monday came and I had to go to work, but I knew I wanted to return to the lake that day. I rose early so I could get an early start and was able to leave work around 3:00 p.m. and I headed straight to the lake.
We were now just two days before a full moon and that day the moon rise was around 5:42 p.m. When I arrived at the lake I went right to the spot and, to my surprise, there was the big female bass sitting dead center on the nest with the aggressive male bass. My heart was pounding and I almost fell down into the water from the steep bank I was standing on. It was time to think before making a cast; I got the net near the water and checked my line and knot and planned the fight of how I would I hook her and land her. I had calmed down some and started to make some some casts.
I was using a Revenge Jig with their custom, shad-color skirt tied to 20lb. Maxima line and a Dobyns DX744 rod with a Shimano Calais reel. I was ready. After about 30 minutes of casting into the nest, I started to realize this big bass was not going to move. She was frozen on the nest and the male was sitting outside and would not show any interest in my jig either. Knowing how big this bass was and that I could bump her with my jig it was extremely frustrating that she would not show any interest at all. Sometimes in these situations if you can get the male interested in the jig the female will follow, but in this case both were in a neutral mood. It was now around 6:00 p.m. with only an hour left until the lake closed, the sun was behind the hillside, but I could still see the bass in the nest and that is when I saw another female rogue bass that was around 15lbs. approach the nest.
The male bass instantly worked his way up to this new female bass and they both began rubbing and swimming in a circle around the nest, but the original giant bass was still in the middle of the nest not moving. I watched this for about ten minutes to see if the giant bass would show some interest in the new female being in the nest area, but she did not. So I figured it was time to flip the jig again. Immediately the 15lb. bass showed some interest in it and went nose down on the jig after a few more casts she ate the jig. As I fought her to the bank, I watched the other giant bass slowly rise up and follow her to the bank and as I reached down to land the 15lb. bass with my left hand the giant was about 3 feet away; so close that I could have netted her and yes she was a lot bigger than the 15lber I had just landed. I unhooked the bass I had just caught, grabbed my scale and weighed her at 15-6, and released her quickly so I could make a cast back towards the nest. Unfortunately, I noticed the big girl did not go back; she was gone.
Tuesday morning I was back at the lake first in line and first to the spot. The giant bass was there again sitting in the center of the nest, but this time she was moving around more and rubbing with the small male bass. I retied my jig, checked about ten feet of my fishing line for any cuts, or kinks and started to cast out to the nest. It did not take long to get the big female bass interested; after about 20 minutes she started to back out of the nest area and slowly charged towards it and tilted forward so she could get her big bug-eyes that were almost on top of her fat head to see the jig. BOOM!
I saw her finally inhale the jig and I as I swung she turned toward the sunken tree took off in the blink of the eye and in about all of one second had snapped me off in the sunken tree … and the words I used next I can’t publish. I had just lost a bass I believe to be between 23-24lbs. and I never turned the reel handle once after she ate my jig. All I can do is learn from this disappointing experience and try to find her again or another monster and hope for that window of opportunity to get them to bite and land her.
Wow! I just hit the elusive 70 mph mark on ole Betsy; that’s what I call my bass boat. How did I do it? Taking a look at my gear and figuring out how much of it was tackle overkill & excess weight.
Listen up, it was actually pretty easy. The first item on my list was to get rid of every bait and tackle box that hadn’t been used in eons. An example would be my Senko boxes; I had in excess of 10 different colors and sizes. What stuck me was that 90% of the time, I only used two colors: the green pumpkin/black flake and the Junebug. Now, those two are the only ones I carry, this process of elimination continued throughout the day.
The next item on my list was to get rid of two anchors and since I’ve been using the DigIn shallow water anchor system they weren’t needed, all they were doing was taking up space and adding weight. I’m sure at some point I’ll wish i still had them, but for now, the weight had to go!
Moving on I started looking at how the items in my boat are distributed. After removing all the excess tackle and accessories I re-positioned the rest of my stuff equally on both sides. Here’s the final picture of the tackle that I carry on my boat and, when I’m on the road fishing with someone else, all I have to do is grab my bag … Done!
A few other tips I used to cut down on weight; I never top off the gas tanks in my boat or my truck, why haul around all that extra weight? I’ll get what is needed for the day plus a little extra. Also, don’t fill your live wells up until you get to your 1st stop. Remember its all about keeping your boat weight down.
Batteries are a huge weight consideration; get the lightest ones you can buy. I have a problem with this one because the cost of the new high tech batteries are through the roof, some of them going for a thousand bucks, or more, each. Needless to say I’m running the big ole heavy ones!
Take a look at your boat folks and see what your carrying around and how much needless weight it amounts to. With the gas prices being so high, these ideas will save you a ton of money. BTW I very rarely run faster than 50 mph so the 70 mph I hit the other day was only to prove my point, LOL!
Until next time “ Stay on Em” …. Let the picture below be the reason your boat is overweight !
These days where almost everyone has a camera phone and can take a picture, or even video of their trophy bass and upload it to the internet you get to see lots and lots of bass pictures and video. Unfortunately, one common thing I see is the way the bass are handled and held for that “hero” shot. I have been guilty many times of taking to many pictures, or holding the bass by its jaw with one hand. In this article we’ll take a look at proper bass handling.
When I was younger I loved to try to catch two bass and get the “Hero Shot” it looks awesome, but over time I’ve begun to wonder if it really hurts the bass. I have caught a few big bass in my days and sometimes have caught the same fish multiple times within a few months. On those occasions, I have noticed that a few of the mouths on a few of those fish didn’t close properly anymore. The lower jaw was extended a bit and no longer lined up with the upper lip.
In the picture above of the 20lb-12oz. bass I caught and as you can see, I did hold the fish by the lower jaw a few times. If you look to where the red arrow is pointing you can see some stretching has occurred. I have found no scientific studies to prove that this lower jaw stretching interferes with the feeding habits of these bass, but I have been doing underwater video now for over two years of big bass in their natural habitat and have noticed something. When filming during trout stockings, I have noticed that the big bass have a visual difference in their jaw, one that does not allow it to close all the way and these fish definitely struggle to catch trout and hold on to them.
Bass have multiple small needle like front teeth that slightly tilt inward and work to hold onto large prey and help direct food further into its mouth to the crushers, which also have small teeth on them.
The crushers push down and and slowly roll the prey into the stomach of the bass where digestive enzymes will start to break it down. So if part of this system is not working properly, it can lead to difficulties in successful hunting.
The picture above is a good example of how to properly hold and supporting the weight of the bass.
Even the boys have taught me how to properly handle and hold large bass.
In the picture above of a monster bass weighing over 20 lbs., I am teaching someone the proper way to hold and support it. Over the years I have helped quite a few people take pictures of their big bass and in doing so, teach them what I have learned in proper bass handling technique. I have heard through the grapevine that these same people were passing this information on to others, which is really great news. I do believe it is up to all of us to help teach everyone who is willing to listen, how to properly handle large bass so the next generation of bass fisherman will get a fair chance at catching a healthy trophy bass of a lifetime.
Below is a short video I shot a few years ago about proper bass handling:
The February Contest winner of the Dobyn’s 867 HSB Swimbait Rod is Marty Stone of Evington,Virginia! Hopefully this rod will come in handy when he fishes on his favorite spot on Lake Conner! Congratulations Marty! Thanks for playing everyone and stay tuned for another giveaway announcement on March 3rd!
Over the years while fishing I’ve battled one constant enemy, “Confidence.” I can’t count how many times I’ve second guessed an area where I was fishing, a lure, speed of retrieve, whether to use scent or not, color of a bait, size of lure, and if the fish were even in the area I was fishing. I know it is something I will deal with for the rest of my life while fishing, but my goal is to always have enough confidence to get me to those epic fishing days where everything seems to go right and I stick a few giant bass. Those days definitely fill my confidence tank up and help me get through the tougher days.
I have recognized that one of my strengths while fishing also led to one of my weaknesses while on the water: fishing the same area too much. I have over the years picked apart spots and sat and waited for the big bass to come to me, but that takes time and can make for a dull and boring experience. I found that on the days that I had a milk run of spots to run to, it kept my mind fresh and that resulted in keeping my mind in the game and accessing the water and all the elements above it. Double anchored on one spot too long will make you bored and your brain starts to wonder off thinking about other things besides the when, and why the bass are going to be in your area and biting. Covering water or running a milk run of key spots will keep your brain fresh and I believe that is a huge factor besides luck and thus keeps my confidence high by mixing it up once in awhile and not burning out an area, or pattern.
One of the things I’ve taught myself over the years is to have confidence in the tools I use first. If I feel my rod and reel are no good, and I have the wrong pound, and color line, and my lure is plain them my confidence is low and I will second guess these things all day long. So I have learned to get the best rod and reel I can and try to match my line properly and most important upgrade my lure to make sure it as real life as possible so I will feel confident in it and not second guess it. You may ask how do you that? well if I’m swimbait fishing I always try to match the size and color of what I believe the bass are currently feeding on and then it’s adding real glass eyes, gills, maybe even fins. If 20 boats are fishing the same area with the same bait I will have more confidence if I’m using the same bait they are but I changed it to look a little different than what the others guys are tossing. The little things sometimes can really make the differrence in boosting your confidence to stay with a lure till you find that key area and the fish start to bite.
I get asked all the time in seminars and by editors “do you use scent on your lures?” I look at using scent this way that smell and taste are very low on a bass’ sense chart. A bass’ sense of sight is number one closely followed by lateral line, and then hearing, so smell and taste are not that big of a factor to me most of the time. If I’m using a fast moving lure that a bass will see, or feel the vibration first and the bite is slow and I’m second guessing everything, that when it’s time to put some scent on my lure and stop the second guessing if my lure is good enough. By adding a little bit of confidence that your presentation is almost perfect now your mind can focus on the real issues like water temps, time of day, and area of the lake speed of the lure etc…
For the last twenty years I’ve kept good notes on my fishing adventures and this has really helped to boost my confidence before I get on the water. By looking back at my notes and doing my homework about similar bites per time of year, weather, moon phase, time of day, water temps and levels really gives me a big scoop of confidence before I ever get on the water that I should be in productive water using the right bait at the right time and right depth to catch some giant bass and that alone makes a tremendous difference to my confidence level.
By being prepared and thinking ahead and making a punch list to make sure you have all the lures you’ll need, or making sure you’ll have enough food, water, clothing, and sunscreen will give you confidence while on the water that even if the weather changes you’ve thought ahead and can make it through the day and get to that epic bite and catch that trophy bass of a lifetime.
State fisheries agencies are tasked with conducting stock assessments each year in the lakes and reservoirs across their regions. During these annual surveys, biologists gather large amounts of data that are used to assess current population parameters, assess how these parameters are changing through time by comparing to data from previous years surveys, and determine if the population structure is meeting management objectives. During surveys fish scales are collected to assess the age and growth of the population. Age and growth are the keystone data of annual surveys. These data reveal more insight into fish populations than any other type of data. When combined with other types of data, biologists can form a clear picture of a population, identify temporal trends, and make well-informed management decisions soundly based on data.
Trophy anglers can use age and growth information to their advantage. The most successful trophy anglers are also those that choose the right lakes to fish (and the right time to fish each lake). Anglers can focus their fishing time on lakes with age and growth characteristics that promote the trophy potential, and equally important, avoid fishing lakes with poor trophy potential. Trophy anglers put themselves in the best position to catch the largest bass and catch more each year when they target lakes having a high trophy potential. It boils down to efficiency; increase efficiency in all aspects of your fishing and you will be more successful and more likely to achieve your goals.
Age and growth are two different parameters. Age refers to the age of a fish and age structure (which I don’t expand upon in this article) refers to the age distribution of a population. Growth can be looked at in several ways, but the most important is to understand incremental growth. Incremental growth is defined as the amount of growth in length a fish grows in one year, and it’s very important to understand how the annual growth increment changes through time. Lakes producing trophy bass, those exceeding 10 pounds, in the fewest number of years and that have high incremental growth throughout a bass’s life are the types of lakes trophy anglers should focus on.
The best trophy fisheries produce trophy bass fairly quickly. Defining fairly quickly is tough because it depends on what region you are interested in. In California, 5 to 7 years is exceptional and I would consider 8 to 11 years about average. For example, Mike Long caught Dottie from Lake Dixon in 1999 when she weighed 18.06 lbs and was 7 years old and again in 2001 when she weighed 20.75 lbs and was 9 years old. Compare this with a bass from the CA Delta that weighed 10 lbs and was 12 years old. If you had a choice which lake would you fish? Lakes producing trophy bass as quickly as Lake Dixon have high trophy potential, likely have a large population of trophy fish, and probably host some very large bass. It also tells me the trophy potential can recover quickly following collapse (assuming other factors affecting the trophy potential don’t change). Collapse can be caused by all sorts of events such as high harvest of trophy fish in small lakes, water quality issues causing die-offs, discontinued trout stockings, etc.
Incremental growth decreases with age. Bass typically grow very quickly in the first 3 to 4 years of life, and then show a sharp decline thereafter. Growth increment in lakes with high trophy potential show less of a decline through time. What I look for in terms of trophy potential is comparatively good incremental growth and consistent incremental growth among years in the latter years of a bass’s life. In lakes with poor trophy potential, it can be very difficult to age fish because incremental growth is so poor that the annular marks (called annuli which are counted to age a fish) are too close together to accurately count. Lakes with good incremental growth usually have a good predator to prey ratio and the bass are well fed and healthy. Bass with good incremental growth throughout their life have a better chance of weighing more because they have a larger frame. It goes without saying Dottie had excellent incremental growth in the latter years of her life.
There are two ways an angler can figure out the age and growth characteristics of a lake. State agency biologists can be contacted and they are usually very willing to discuss their data with inquiring anglers. Anglers can also gather their own data by collecting fish scales from their catches and if they do this will see immediate and, through time, long-term trends in the trophy potential of their lakes. Accurately ageing fish scales can be very tricky and subjective because it takes a little time to figure out what a true annular mark is and what isn’t. The internet provides plenty of information an angler needs to get started but I will try to provide a crash course on the basics of ageing fish using scales. The only thing an angler needs to do is gather a few scales from the fish they catch and make sure each sample is labeled with capture location, date, length, girth, and weight.
The scales can be stored in coin envelopes (wrapping scales in wax paper before placing in the envelope helps) with the catch information written on the outside of the envelope. Scales should be removed from just behind the pectoral fin and just below the lateral line and 10 scales per fish is plenty. I use a butter knife to remove scales and am very careful not to cause any damage to the fish or scales during removal. Preparing scales for ageing is very simple. Scales need to be cleaned by placing in water and using a small, soft bristled paint brush to remove dried mucus and dirt. After drying the scales they are placed between two glass slides and then the glass slides are taped together. A microscope can be used to read scales but most anglers don’t have one lying around. Microfiche readers work perfect and can be found in most public libraries. Ageing a fish scale is exactly like ageing a tree; you simply count the number of opaque rings that you see. Each opaque ring represents one year of life.
Growth increments on fish scales are formed by deposition of calcium carbonate and protein. The bony layer of the scale is characterized by concentric ridges that represent growth and are called circuli. Spacing between circuli provides information on the growth history of the fish. Growth is greatest during the warmer parts of the year and circuli are spaced farther apart. Circuli are spaced closer together during the colder months because growth is slower. The more closely spaced circuli appear as opaque bands. Each opaque band is an annular mark, or annulus, and represents one year of life. Count the number of opaque bands to determine age and look at the spacing between each annular mark to get an idea of incremental growth.
To show how easy this process is, I gathered a few scales samples I had lying around and went through the exact process I described above. I selected one good scale from Dottie and one from a 7 year old bass that weighed about 3 pounds, placed them between two glass slides taped together (Figure 1), and headed down to the Sacramento public library. I printed images of each scale from a microfiche reader, scanned the paper copies to digital format, saved them to a memory stick, and headed home to have some fun. At home, I opened the scale images in Photoshop, enhanced the images (brightness, contrast, and sharpen filter), and placed text on the images showing points of interest. The images were saved in an appropriate folder on my hard drive for future reference.
Developing a digital library makes long-term storage quick and easy, and makes future referral simple. Remember, collecting scales through time is how you will really see what is going on in your lakes so it’s very important to have a well organized database. I also name my files with a standardized naming scheme (i.e., the naming scheme is identical for all my images) that tells me date of capture, capture location, and weight. This ensures I will never lose this information (without it you have nothing) and allows me to quickly look at a file and know exactly what it is. Another thing I like to do is highlight the file in Windows Explorer, right click, and open the file properties. On the summary tab there is a comments section and I fill in all the information I want to remember about that sample. It’s very easy to lose sample information when you have been collecting samples for many years and a little forethought goes a long way.
Figure 2 shows a scale section from a 3 lb bass that was 7 years old. I chose this image because it shows how the annular marks typically don’t appear as perfect opaque bands, instead appearing as areas where the circuli are broken and sometime not present. Annuli show this pattern in many fish scales. The image also shows excellent incremental growth in the first few years, a sharp decline in incremental growth with age, and the typical poor incremental growth in the latter years of a fish’s life. Another pattern to note is each annulus wraps around the entire scale; you may see a few patterns in this scale that appear to be an annular mark but these patterns are not present throughout the scale.
These patterns are called false annuli, or false annular marks, and are formed during stressful periods that suppress growth. False annular marks are most often formed during the spawn which is a particularly stressful period for fish. Counting a false annular mark as a true annular mark will yield an inaccurate age assignment I did not annotate all of the annular marks present in Figure 2; there is an additional annular mark on the structures edge. Figure 3 shows a scale section from Dottie. This scale sample was taken when she was found floating in May 2008 at the ripe old age of 16 (the oldest trophy bass I am aware of that at least in part had Florida strain genes was 18 years old and was from Castaic Lagoon; 16 to 18 years can be considered the maximum life expectancy for a trophy class bass). The annular marks in this sample are clearly identified by opaque bands. Beware of the false annuli in this sample because there are several and I only annotated one which is marked FA.
There are also a few annuli in this image that I did not mark. Note that the opaque annular bands are strong throughout the entire scale, and the false annular mark only has a strong pattern in the corner of the scale. This is a very typically pattern of annular marks and false annular marks. A true annular mark wraps around the entire scale and what you need to look for, because they are not always obvious, is what appears to be a seam around the entire structure. You will also notice that incremental growth is better between some years than in others, and the better growth years can correlate to, among other factors, higher numbers of trout stocked, better water quality, or a greater number of warmer days. The other characteristic to note in Figure 3 is the excellent incremental growth, and fairly consistent among years, in the latter years. Remember, you are looking at the teen years of this fish, and this is excellent incremental growth for such old ages. Seems reasonable for the heaviest bass ever captured and what I will always consider the world record until a fish exceeding 25.10 lbs is caught.
Figuring out the age of the bass in the lakes you fish is not difficult. You only need to have a few items with you when you fish to gather scales samples and have access to a microfiche reader. Having some computer skills will help you develop and maintain a well organized long-term database. Accurately ageing scales can be difficult and subjective but through time any angler can learn to do it. Using information available on the internet will cut the learning curve. Understanding bass age and incremental growth is nothing more than another tool trophy anglers can use to target lakes with the highest trophy potential and increase the odds of catching a trophy bass.
Last year at ICAST Orlando I ran into the guys from Boomerang Tool Company who have this really cool tool called the Snip. It’s a line cutter that’s light and strong; it uses rust proof “Grade 420” stainless steel blades that cut through monofilament, fluorocarbon, and braid, like butter. By far the most convenient line cutter I’ve used.
- Dimensions: 3.25 x 1.25 x 0.75″ (8 x 3 x 1.5cm)
- Weight: 1.25oz (35g)
- Jaws: 420 Stainless Steel
Their other product which was not available at the time of this review was the Grip Pliers but wanted to mention it. This tool is a great general purpose plier and it also has a spilt ring feature on the end which makes changing out hooks a piece of cake. Having been a machinist for 35 years the machine work is top notch! Two more things the jaws are replaceable and so are the carbide blade line cutter . Check out both of these tools you’ll agree that they’re a must have…
|GRIP Fishing Pliers Specifications
||CLIP Tether Specifications
You can buy the bonus pack for $61.85 check out this link …http://www.boomerangtool.com/shop/grip-snip-clip/Until next time….Stay on Em!
Growing up in the “concrete jungle” that is Southern California, the lakes I fished and studied were typically 60% full year round, often more than that.
An exception was Lake Hodges and its natural loss of water every few years, which exposed the structures that held some of the old legendary trophy fish for which Hodges was famous at one time, but the other lakes were, more often than not, mostly filled.
Having grown up in SoCal, I have not experienced a real “rainy season.” Our local lakes remained mostly filled because they are the primary source of water for the Southern California residents. This water is diverted in from the snow-capped western mountains through a maze of canals throughout the western states. Low water periods aren’t common unless a drought lasts for years at a time.
I remember growing up and seeing the lake levels fluctuate and seeing structure exposed for the first time and taking a mental photograph of it. Later in the season, when the structures were once again under water, I’d use points of reference (trees, rocks and the tops of the hills) near and far to line up on those structures that were now occupied by a trophy fish.
I have recently moved my family from that previously mentioned “concrete jungle” to the beautiful and peaceful Pacific Northwest. Of course, one of the first excursions I made in our new hometown was to one of the many local lakes.
The natural beauty was breath-taking. I found myself sitting down with my wife watching our kids playing in the water and picturing what had to be some incredible rock piles, tree stumps and other forms of natural structure for the Rainbows to cruise and hide from their predators. This internal imagery was based off of the incredible beauty of the tree-lined shore and grass fields surrounding this mountain lake.
A couple of months have passed and summer has turned to late fall. The trees have turned colors to vibrant Reds, Greens and Yellows. The rain has fallen for 10 days straight, just a steady rain, nothing torrential. One day coming home from work, I thought I’d make a trip around that lake to see just how much the water level has come up since my last visit.
When I got my first view of the lake, I was in absolute disbelief! The water level was incredibly low! The lake was now at roughly 15-20% full. I continued to drive to the same spot I sat in next to my wife as we watched our kids play and found it also incredibly low. I could see lake bottom from the shoreline I was standing on, all the way across the lake to the marina. The lake had turned to a large puddle. I thought to myself, How could this be? With all of this rain and the constant flow of rivers feeding into it. That night, after dinner and the kids went to bed. I hopped onto my laptop and did some research to find out more about this phenomena.
What I discovered was comical to me. It was comical due to my own preconceived mindset based on everything I had experienced growing up in Southern California. In the Pacific Northwest, they actually have to purposely draw down their lake levels to accommodate the upcoming winter rains. A wonderful concept for an area that receives more rain than the typical SoCal city.
My mind starts to turn and the very next weekend I take my wife and kids up to this lake and bring along a camera. We are all suited up for the conditions. Rain and mud, here we come! We walked the lake bottom, looking nothing like what I had pictured.
The lake bottom was roughly 8-12″ of soft mud with the occasional rocky areas and very sporadic tree stumps. A vast channels zigzagging throughout the lake bottom became exposed. Some of these channels were 10 feet deep and went for hundreds of yards. Tree stumps within these channels created what I would now understand as the new prime spots on this lake.
Taking hundreds of pictures and making mental notes to transfer to my computer file as soon as I got home, these newly discovered spots would minimize my learning curve of this new lake. Sure, today’s new HD graphs give us a far better understanding of what is beneath us, but nothing is better and clearer than our own eyes and mind.
Seeing a tree stump within the channel and the way that channel creates a clearing on one side of that channel. Even more so, having a general understanding of how a preying fish would position itself in order to capitalize on the lazily cruising trout, school of bait fish or even a crawdad that has come washing through that channel when the rivers feeding that channel are flowing, will help me catch more and better quality fish.
The subject lake in this story goes through this intentional draw down every fall and it does not affect this fishery in terms of quality. There was team tournament here 2 years back and the winning 5 fish weighed in just under 38 lbs!
The take away from this story is that I encourage all fisherman to take advantage of these situations. Get out to explore any nearby lake during low water level periods and walk it, study it, photograph it and study it again. Make notes and refer back to your pictures and notes before you head back out to fish that lake when the water level has come up.
You’ll be glad you did.
Customizing your gear can result in more and bigger catches. In this video tutorial, Mike Long walks us through how he helps himself by adding gills to a swimbait for a more realistic presentation to a bass.
All you need to add gills to a swimbait are a pair of wire cutters (dykes), some red pipe cleaner, a razor blade (exacto knife), and some Mend It Swimbait Glue.
1. Take your swimbait and cut a slit along the gill plate of your swimbait with your blade or exacto. (depth varies on your swimbait, but deep enough that you can insert something in the pocket you make). Make sure to cut at a slight angle with the tip of the blade towards the head. Your goal is to cut your gill plate as it would look on a live Rainbow Trout.
2. Take a red pipe cleaner and cut it to a length that will fit along the slit you have just created (varies in length, but you want it to reach from the top to the bottom of your cut lengthwise). Pull at the cut ends to make sure they fluff out a bit.
3. In the slit you have created, liberally dab some Mend It Swimbait Glue into the slit (take care to not allow the slit to close after applying the glue as it will glue shut).
4. Quickly take your pipe cleaner you have cut previously and insert it into the cut you have made.
5. Once the pipe cleaner is inserted into the cut and seated firmly into the space, take a little more Mend It Swimbait Glue and dab over the top of the pipe cleaner and the cut. This gives it a wet appearance and seals the pipe cleaner (the gill filaments) into place.
Make sure you visit Mike Long Outdoors regularly for more tips to help increase your chances of catching a big bass!
The contest to win a Dobyn’s 867 HSB Swimbait Rod is now over! Make sure you enter to win our next contest ending March 30! Sign up for the contest here!
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Finally got to field test one of the Rago Glideator Trout on a clear water reservoir and I’ve got to say this is one of Rago Baits best looking lures to date. I tested a 9″ Rainbow Trout color which looked just incredible in the water.
Company: Rago Baits
Lure: Glideator Trout
Weight: 4.5 Ounces
Color: Rainbow Trout
Hooks: Owner 2/0 Trebles
Composite: Hard Resin
R.O.F.: Slow Sink
Style: Glide Bait
MLO Rating: 4.5 out of 5
I have been fishing Rago Baits for a long time and this is truly one of the cleanest looking well put together baits Rago has built so far. One of the first things you’ll notice is there is no dorsal, anal, or adipose fin and the pelvic, and pectoral fins are built on the bait to help give this lure a smooth glide motion through the water.
You might be asking “what’s a glide bait?” it is a bait built to glide left, or right by just turning the reel handle slightly between glides. So after you cast the bait out and let it sink to your desired depth you simply reel up the slack till you feel some resistance while keeping the rod tip down and pointed towards the bait, while giving the reel handle a 1/2 to 3/4 turn depending on your gear ratio. A pause between each turn of the reel handle allows the bait to glide in the opposite direction.
In the picture above you can see the detail put into the Glideator Trout especially around the head area. The gills are slightly flared along with the mouth partially open really gives this bait a very realistic look of a Rainbow Trout just gliding through the water.
The belly shot above shows how the pectoral, and pelvic fins are in a laid-back position and built into the bait which helps in not being able to break them off, or get in the way of the hooks setting.
The Glideator is a single jointed bait which is key in helping the bait glide left and right. Rago Baits used two heavy duty screw eyes and a steel drop pin to secure the joint which should be strong enough to land any largemouth bass.
Rago Baits used a super strong lexan material to make an indestructible tail which can be easily replaced for a different size, style, or color by just removing one screw.
Below is a video showing the Glideator in action as well as rod position and reel cadience.
Pros: Very clean bait. All baits are factory balanced and tested. Incredible paint job. Tail easy to replace. Fins can’t break.
Cons: As always I’m a fan of the eyes sticking out a little farther.
MLO Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Another fish makes it safely into the boat and is quickly released, and in a house on the shore, a thumb rises into view from the window. With that, the bass fishing season in Florida has begun. The fish are staging and the males are preparing their nests. You may wonder about that lonely thumb in the window right about now as I did then and therein lies my story.
A lot of my fishing takes place in areas where houses dot the shoreline and the residents must be pretty well off to afford such awesome water front property. Fancy cars, plus beautiful landscaping, leads you to believe that they don’t have a care in the world. What’s odd is that you never really see any of them fishing, it makes you wonder why?
This one house with a dock always has nice fish around it and is one of my favorite spots. A while ago I noticed a window with the blinds cracked to reveal what looked like an elevated bed, a crumpled up pillow and nothing else, or so I thought. The fishing comes easy this day and in the process of releasing a fish I notice something out of the corner of my eye coming from the open window. A single arm raised into view and at the end of it, a thumbs up signal.
“Ok,” I think to myself. Now, I’m getting curious, since very often these home owners feel like they own the water and can be rude. So I want to wait to see what happens before passing judgement. Another fish bites, I land it, and back in the water it goes. Looking directly at the room I see that same arm rise slowly and the thumbs up sign is given again. This same motion repeats throughout the day and on many occasions thereafter.
It wasn’t until sometime later that I spoke to the caregiver and found out the story about the man behind the window. She related that he was very sick and bed ridden. She explained that he loved to fish off his dock and that I had reminded him of a better time in his life.
The caregiver went on to say that every time I showed up he would instruct her to crack the blinds and prop up his pillow. To this day when I catch a fish by his house and see his thumbs up, mine goes up as well. It’s a reminder that sometimes our problems are so small compared to what goes on in the life of others.
This quote is by my fellow fisherman and friend… “Appreciate the water, man. Appreciate how lucky you are to be out on the water, whether you catch a fish or not, you know.” – Mike Long
Until next time my friends enjoy your fishing or whatever your passion is because nothing is guaranteed and we never know when our health will leave us…
There hasn’t been a “game changing” innovation when it comes to fishing equipment in at least a decade. You can, of course, point to any number of recent products and claim they are innovative, and while true,”game changing” design or ideas are few and far between. One area in need of innovation is the mobile fish finder category.
ReelSonar, a product being developed by serial entrepreneur Alexander Lebedev and a team of engineers from a variety of disciplines, hopes to change all that.
It all began when Lebedev asked himself a simple question. “I was fishing with my brother on Lake Union (Seattle) last April and thought to myself, why no one has yet to come up with the mobile fish finder?”
He quickly found out that SmartCast by Hummingbird was such a device, but it is relatively obsolete and a lot bulkier than what he envisioned. He thought about how bringing mobile technologies to an outdated system seemed like a logical step. A casual fisherman himself, he knew many people, including his father-in-law, an avid bass angler, who might benefit from a mobile fish finder.
With a background in medical ultrasound technology Lebedev thought he could improve upon the system and incorporate a variety of newer technologies that would help bring a mobile sonar system to the masses. With that, ReelSonar was essentially born.
Already an old hat at building technology start-ups, Lebedev took what he learned from Mirabilis Medica (a therapeutic ultrasound treatment for uterine fibroid) and JeNu Bioscience (an aesthetic ultrasound for wrinkle reduction) and applied it to developing this idea into a functioning prototype. First, Lebedev assembled a team of knowledgeable experts who shared his vision. Then, along with a team of hardware Engineers, RF Engineers, Embedded Software Engineers, Mechanical Engineers, App Designers and Anglers, the team spent hours bouncing around ideas, talking to professional and amateur anglers, researching, designing and testing ReelSonar technology.
A New Player in the Mobile Fish Finder Category
ReelSonar is a new wireless, mobile fish finder that uses sonar technology, embedded into a bobber, that fisherman can use to locate fish. The device then transmits the data via Bluetooth to nearby smartphones and tablets. Embracing current technology, its patent-pending elements combine more expensive fish finders functionality with the convenience, community, and affordability of mobile apps.
“My goal was to create a unique fish finder that utilizes advanced technology in an inexpensive way that is easy to use – paired with a device that many people already have,” related Lebedev.
Live tests for the device have worked out quite well so far. Said Lebedev of the process, “Development has gone perfectly; though there is still work to do, but all technology hurdles are now solved. We are now in fundraising mode to bring the ReelSonar mobile fish finder into production.”
Currently ReelSonar gathers data on whatever is in the surrounding water up to 150 feet deep. “My goal was to create a unique fish finder that utilizes advanced technology in an inexpensive way that is easy to use – paired with a device that many people already have,” said Lebedev.
Feature Rich Product
Several features allow the unit to be priced well below other fish finders on the market, and still use a 3 Volt rechargeable battery. Low frequency ultrasound transmits strongly through water without the signal getting lost, and fish are highly reflective surfaces, making the signal easier to process. “When there is enough sensitivity on the receiving circuit, paired with a well-designed signal processing unit, there is no problem with power,” explained Alexander Lebedev. The app (on Android and iOS devices) displays data and images in a dynamic, user-friendly interface – no separate display panel is needed.
Lebedev has a bright outlook for his developing product and can see how this product will change how people fish. “It is great learning tool for youngsters. Teach kids what is under the water. This tool will help to be a little bit smarter about the surroundings and water conditions. Its got water temperature and salinity meter. Great tools to see if it is a good spot for bass or trout.”
Some details about the ReelSonar device:
- Locate fish and underwater structure up to 150 feet away, and 150 feet deep
- Map the entire water bed using synthetic aperture, from a composite of multiple images (this feature is also useful for boat navigation in unknown areas)
- Check water temperature and salinity
- Bite Alarm – the smart bobber lights up, and the app signals when fish are near the bobber
- See relative sizes of fish, and estimate how many there are
- Get suggestions on bait and lures based on data and location
- Keep track of favorite fishing ‘hotspots’ and location history using GPS tags
- Tap into or contribute to aggregate ‘hotspots’ based on other ReelSonar bobber data
- Record location, date, size/weight and photos of the day’s catch all in one place
With R&D nearing completion, ReelSonar will retail for under $100. Besides the app itself, it consists of the bobber and its USB recharging cable, making it easily portable. Because users cast the ReelSonar bobber as far as they like, it extends the under-boat views of existing boat-mounted fishfinders. It works in any water temperature, in fresh and salt water, in boats or on the shore.
Want to take part in the development of this great new product? Get more details and updates at Indiegogo
As we all search for that competitive edge, whether that’s against another tournament opponent or the fish we love to catch, we are constantly looking for any additional edge we can find. We try to capitalize on any benefit we can gain and do so hopefully efficiently. One of the easiest ways to get that edge is to invest in Japanese fishing line.
I continue to see guys dropping $600 on Rod & Reel combos and yet continue to make sacrifices on the only connection between that set up and the fish. I often hear, “Those Japanese lines are just so expensive”. If that’s you, I challenge you to try some. I only say this as believe it or not, these Japanese lines actually SAVE you money and increase your performance and confidence.
Domestic company’s line’s integrity breaks down (abrasion, UV/Sun, Heat or age) much faster than the JDM line’s do. Which equates to you having to re-spool, re-tie and re-purchase much more frequent using domestic lines. It’s common for guys to spool up Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) fluorocarbon and not have to re-spool several months later.
I have had 5 lb fluorocarbon spooled on a tournament spinning reel during an entire tournament season without having to re-spool and that line was just fine. In my 6 previous years as a JDM line Sales rep, I was lucky enough to be a part of a few meetings with the production lab manager and product designer of that JDM line company. In these meetings, attended by very well known big time tournament anglers, a lot of technical information was gained. These meetings confirmed what I already knew in regards to the quality of these JDM lines.
Whether it’s a big tournament you have or a simple fun fishing from the bank, do yourself a favor and try out these JDM lines. The processes in which these JDM companies manufacture, test and quantify their products is on another level. The JDM market is constantly pushing the envelope of technology and one look at their online Japanese catalogs is mind-boggling! It’s not just a fishing line to them, it’s a passion and a product to specifically excel in their purpose.
I will say that the gap between JDM and Domestic lines is much greater when the lb test is between 4-7 lb test. These Japanese lines really prove their worth in the finesse sizes. If you aren’t familiar with what companies are Japanese line companies, here’s a brief list of some of the top ones: Sunline, Seaguar (aka Kureha Co.), Toray and YGK.
All of these companies offer premium quality lines that you will love! So, when it comes time to purchase some new line, go down to your local Tackle Shop or your favorite website you purchase from and add a spool of one of the previously mentioned lines.
The 3:16 Mission Fish is the KING of all weedless swimbaits. It was designed well over ten years ago, but by far is one of the best kept secrets in the bass fishing world. This is a swimbait that can be fished with a cast and retrieve technique, or flipped in the tules, or sunken trees, or through one of your favorite rock piles where you will very rarely snag up due to its weedless design.
Company: 3:16 Lures Co.
Lure: Mission Fish
Weight: 2 ounces
Style: Weedless Paddle Tail
Hook: Gamakatsu 8/0 G-Mag
Sink Rate: Med.-Fast
MLO Rating: 4.5 out of 5
When I was first introduced to the Mission Fish lure I knew right away this swimbait would fit perfectly in my play book. I am a huge fan of stitching jigs and here was a lure that could be worked on the bottom like a jig through the rocks and sunken trees and with a large profile I knew this bait would work well for lunkers. The Mission Fish comes in five sizes 4″, 5″, 6″, 7″, and 8″. I have had my best success with the 7″ and 8″ Mission Fish in the bass color. 3:16 offers plenty of colors to match the hatch where your fishing.
The Mission Fish comes in two tail styles, boot-tail, and curl-tail. I prefer the boot-tail for its open water swimming action and the way it slows the bait down some when falling to the bottom.
The weight is incorporated into the head which really makes this bait unique by itself. The design of the head weight allows the line to go through the weight and into the center of the Mission Fish.
3:16 Lure Co. uses a very cool Gamakatsu G-Mag hook which works perfectly in the Mission Fish. The 7″ bait comes with a 8/0 G-Mag hook.
In the picture above you can see the slit on the bottom of the Mission Fish where after you run the line through the head weight it will come out into the slit where then you can then tie the hook on. I like using 12lb-15lb Fluorocarbon line with the 7″ and 8″ baits with a med-action rod.
After tying the hook on you’ll need to Texas rig the hook by lining up the G-Mag hook in the bait, then poking the hook point through the top of the bait from the inside of the slit. Now you can pull on the main line while holding the bait in the other hand and you will see the eyelet pop into the bait. Now your ready to fish. A little tip is if you want your bait to be 100% weedless after your hook is in place you’ll need to get the point of the hook to stick back into the Mission Fish.
There are two things about the Mission Fish that really help with your hook-up and catch ratio. One is the Mission Fish is a very collapsable bait which really helps during the hook set, and two the Mission Fish will ride up your line after the hook set which is key if a big fish gets her head out of the water and starts shaking it. I like having just the hook it a large bass’ mouth instead of the entire weight of the bait.
The Mission Fish is a very thin swimbait which I really believe helps this weedless model during the hook-set. There is a very small channel along the back which helps keep the hook in place and weedless.
Pros: The Mission Fish is an incredible bait in the rocks, and when flipping trees, or brush piles. The hook-up ratio is really good for a weedless swimbait, the G-Mag hook is a big reason why. Very durable bait.
Cons: Not many, I would like to see a larger boot-tail to give the lure more kick. After catching a few bass the plastic will tear on the back from the hook ripping out, some swimbait glue will repair this quickly.
MLO Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Over the years I have learned a few secrets for catching giant bass that I just flat out keep under wrap, but while working on Mike Long Outdoors and getting such incredible feedback from people all over the world on what I’ve shared so far, it made it just that much easier to want to share some more fishing lures and techniques that have worked well for me over the years. One of these lures is the Giant Tora Tube.
I’ve gotta say, one thing I’ve noticed about bass over the years is they love baits that have arms, legs, or tassels on them. In the case of the Tora Tube, lots of thin tassels. The Tora Tube, when rigged right, can be fished up under trees and docks, along ledges, through grass and branches, and in open water. I’ve had tons of success when fishing them in open water above trees, and rocks that have some giant bass waiting in ambush.
When it comes to rigging, i’ve found using a 6′-6″, – 7′-0″ medium action rod, and light weight reel spooled with 12-15lb fluorocarbon line works best. I like a light weight reel due to due the rip, and jerk style retrieve while working the bait back in. If your a jerk bait fan then you’ll love using a giant tube. The way I rig the tube it has a super slow fall that makes it deadly. You can slow glide the tube left and right, and while pausing between retrieves, you can see the tassels flare out some and just tease those big bass that are watching.
The Giant Tora Tubes are made by Canyon Plastics and come in three sizes 7″,8″, and 10″. For all those bass fisherman that have used Gitzits over the years and had success with the smaller tubes these Tora Tubes are just Gitzits on steroids.
As for Tora Tube colors I like to use here in California, I prefer the Canyon Plastics Rainbow Trout color, which looks incredible in the water. It has a green top with pink/pearl sides and belly with some black flake added. It is important when rigging this color to make sure you rig the tube with the green side up. You want it to mimic a real trout and look as natural as possible to create a strike.
In the picture above you can see the hollow chamber in the lure that makes this bait a tube and is really helps with the buoyancy of the bait and is perfect for placing a custom rigged harness inside.
One of the best things about using a hollow tube is how collapsable it is which really helps to get a good hook set when a bass bights down on it and compresses it in its mouth. In my many years of using this lure I believe the Tora Tube is by far one of the best lures for setting the hook for its size.
Two of my other favorite colors are the pearl white and melon smoke w/red and black glitter. Canyon Plastics offers well over ten colors, from solid white, to black, to purple. Plenty of colors for any occasion, or lake. I believe when using the pearl-white Tora tube it sort of looks like a small group of shad in the water and I have had bass hit this color at full speed as if they were after a single shad. I also have dead-sticked the melon color tube, with an occasional pop off the bottom, with tons of success when the water gets cold and the bass are deeper and lethargic.
My secret for using the Tora Tube is the hook/rattle rigging. I start by taking a Gamakatsu 5/0 offset shank hook and a rattle chamber box, along with some resin from your local hardware store. Your also going to need a pair of pliers and some source of heat like a cigarette lighter, or your kitchen stove. Once your ready, you want to heat up the first bend, under the hook eyelet, once the bend has heated up enough you’ll need to grab it with a pair of pliers at the eyelet and bend it toward the hook point side of the hook and bend it to a 45 degree angle. Once this is done dip the hook in some water.
Now with your hook bent it’s time to prepare a small amount of resin. For a perfect template, take a Tora Tube and cut it at one inch from the nose end of the tube, it should look like a small bowl. Now set your hook in the template with the eyelet poking out of the template start pouring your resin into the template. Once the resin sets up a bit, its time to add your rattle chamber by placing it about 1/4 of the chamber length into the resin. I make my own rattle chambers from thin 1/4″ tubing from the hobby store and some broken glass and small brass balls. You’ll need some plastic ends and rubber cement to seal the rattle chamber.
When your finished your rigging should look like the hook/rattle rig in the picture above.
Once you have a hook/rattle rig ready it’s time to place the rig into the Tora Tube. Push the rig all the way into the bait untill the hook eyelet pokes outside the plastic and add a small quick clip to the hook eyelet, this will hold the rig in place in the tube like in the picture below.
Now that your hook/rattle rig is inside the tube it’s time to push the hook point outside of the Tora Tube and your ready to fish your Tora Tube Pro-Rigged!!
Keep watching MikeLongOutdoors for a future video of the Giant Tora Tube in action catching monster bass.
Professional athletes usually become professional athletes because they not only have the natural ability that raises them above normal folks, but also because they possess the innate drive to succeed… or put another way, the need to feed the unquenchable fire of competition.
Long after their professional careers are over though, that fire doesn’t die down to a warm glow. Instead, it usually manifests itself in other pursuits. For Andy Ashby, retired MLB pitcher, the fire to succeed simply shifts to different pastimes including hunting, fishing and golf.
A brief run down of his baseball career:
– One of only 24 pitchers in MLB history to pitch an “immaculate inning” on June 15, 1991, when he was with the Philadelphia Phillies, playing against the Cincinnati Reds (Struck out Hal Morris, Todd Benzinger, and Jeff Reed on 3 pitches each)
– Won 98 games over 13 professional seasons
– Pitched in the 1998 World Series with the San Diego Padres
– Member of the 1998 and 1999 National League All-Star team
– Career stats: 1173 strikeouts and a 4.12 ERA in 1810 innings pitched.
Ashby now lives in Scranton, PA with his wife and 4 daughters and now that the time-consuming world of the MLB is no longer a factor, he spends his days with his family enjoying retirement and all the trappings it affords.
Andy Ashby’s friends describe him as having a never-ending passion for learning and for always having a positive attitude. It is obvious to anyone who spends even a few moments speaking to him about the things he loves as we did when we recently caught up with the former MLB pitcher to get his take on his favorite outdoor pursuits.
Andy Ashby: I fish, I golf, I hunt… and I love spending time swimming… you know pretty much anything that has to do with the outdoors I love.
MLO: Do you do these things with your family or prefer to do them solo?
Andy: Well the fishing I take my kids, going out on the weekends, but they can get burned out sometimes. I do fish alone often.
When we are out in San Diego, we go out on a four-day camping trip with the family. That’s like our dad and daughter trip every summer.
Hunting I go with buddies. I do take my kids sometimes. Everything else I do by myself most of the time including golf.
Oh I do go swimming with the kids a lot, at the beach.
MLO: Out of all those things, what is your favorite?
Andy: My favorite thing is fishing.
MLO: You seem to enjoy it. I’ve seen pictures of you fishing with Mike Long a few times, is Bass fishing predominantly what you prefer or do you go for other types of fish like catfish, trout, etc?
Andy: You know, it’s mostly bass fishing. That’s my number one thing to do. I love hunting, but the fishing is by far my favorite thing to do.
MLO: How old were you when you first started fishing? Who introduced you to the sport?
Andy: Probably about 10 or 12 years old. When I was in Missouri, my family and I used to go to the lake every weekend. My dad would take my brothers and I out to fish.
Andy: Oh my gosh! That’s tough. I love Lake Castaic up in Los Angeles because I’ve caught so many fish there. Mike has taken me to so many lakes, and Lake Jennings is right up there at the top two or three. Yeah, Lake Jennings and Lake Castaic are the top two probably.
MLO: Do you prefer fishing for smallmouth or largemouth?
Andy: You know, I fish for Smallies when I am out here, but I guess it depends on where I am at. When I am in California I love to fish for largemouth bass, but here in Pennsylvania the small mouth are the thing to catch because the largemouth don’t get very big like they are in California. Recently we fished at Lake Wallenpaupack and we caught over a hundred smallies, all of them over a pound or two pounds, some of them upwards of 4 pounds. I’m gonna have to say, I love catching largemouth more better than small mouth, but it really depends on where I am at.
MLO: Have you considered joining the pro tour?
Andy: (Laughs) You know what, I would love to, but if I knew as much as Mike Long about fishing, I think I could do it. But honestly, travelling and being away from my family would be hard. Bass fishing, I hear the professionals talking and these guys fish every day, and they’re gone quite a bit. I don’t know if I am willing to do it, but I would love to do it later on, maybe get into so smaller tournaments, but right now that’s in the real distant future.
MLO: What’s the best advice anyone has given you that applies to fishing or hunting?
Andy: Patience (laughs).
MLO: Speaking of which, the last time I tried talking to you for this interview, Mike told me you were out deer hunting, sitting up in a tree blind.
Andy: Yeah. I was sitting up in a deer stand for about 12 hours.
Andy: Well, you know, you kind of text every once in a while to let everyone know you didn’t fall out of a tree or anything. Otherwise you’re just sitting there trying to be quiet. Really you’re just sitting there waiting for the moment, just like waiting on that bite, you know?
Fishing is a little bit different because you can actually cast and do something. The hunting is obviously different because you have to wait for the animal to come to you. I think the main thing is just patience and try different things. You know, you see Mike Long, and I know I bring up Mike quite a bit, but he has taught me a lot about trying different things because you never know what’s gonna work.
MLO: What is your favorite bass lure?
Andy: I would have to say the Senko.
MLO: What is your favorite style of fishing?
Andy: I fish a lot of plastics, so slow retrieve stuff is something I like more. I think you catch a lot more and bigger fish that way. I do a lot of night fishing so slow retrieve works a lot better in that environment.
MLO: How would you compare fishing and major league baseball?
Andy: Anything in life, I think you have to be patient and you have to believe in yourself, trust what you are doing. When I am on the mound I have to trust what i take out there is going to get these players out that day. When I am on the lake, I have to believe in what I throw at the fish and have confidence that it’s gonna work.
MLO: When you were playing how often did you fish when the team traveled?
Andy: When I was in LA, I would fish every night when I knew I had four days off. So I would fish 2 or 3 days in a row. When we’d go on the road trips, I would try to fish, definitely Houston, chicago… I would definitely fish once or twice, but it was harder because you didn’t want to carry all that gear on the road with you. I would try to fish four or five cities throughout the season.
Andy: As I kid, growing up, it would have to be George Brett. As a player, just being around somebody, I had the privilege of playing with guys who are in the Hall of Fame now. Dale Murphy helped me out a lot. Terry Mulholland, Bruce Ruffin, because these are the guys who were around when I first came up. Kevin Brown, Trevor Hoffman, we all played together. There were so many guys who influenced me just playing with them, at different parts of my career.
MLO: Who did you enjoy fishing with?
Andy: Kevin Brown, Mike Long obviously, I fished with Bruce Ruffin a few times, and Tony Gwynn a lot. Brad Ausmus I fished with a lot in San Diego. Bruce Bochy is a big fisherman.
MLO: How did it feel to be on camera fishing with Randy Jones?
Andy: You know, it was awesome. I wish we would have caught more fish on camera. I enjoyed the pressure of trying to catch fish on camera. It was so funny though because I caught four fish off the dock and we caught one on the boat when the camera was rolling (Laughs). It was all good though. It was pressure, but it was fun. It was my first time fishing on camera, so it was a good first experience. Randy is a good guy!
MLO: When you fish do you still have the same competitive fire as you did when you were on the mound?
Andy: Yes. Definitely. I usually want to catch big fish and if someone is catching fish and I’m not, I’m like, “what in the world is going on?” It’s funny. You fish with Mike though and you learn to accept you’re gonna get beat every time in the boat.
MLO: Do like night fishing, or daytime fishing better?
Andy: You know what? I like night fishing. I just a really enjoy it. Obviously I fished at night into the mornings because I had to be at the ballpark in the daytime. It was, more or less, the time that I had to go fish, then sleep a little bit, then be back at the ballpark for a game.
MLO: Do you think you’ll ever burn out on fishing, or have you in the past?
Andy: No. I know that the time I have doing it is special. It is like a stress relief for me. And my wife is like, “you have no patience for doing stuff around the house, but you can sit out in the woods all day long or fishing all night long, I don’t understand it!”
It’s a relaxing thing for me. On the Golf course, I snap every once in a while, but fishing and hunting part of it relaxes me. It’s a peaceful time for me.
MLO: Making multi millions in Baseball you can fish anywhere you want in the world, so what is your game plan for the future?
Andy: You know I’d love to go to Mexico and fish El Salto. Ten pound fish there are like two pounders everywhere else. El Salto would be cool and I’d also love to go out and fish for Peacock Bass because they get huge and fight like crazy. Definitely the Peacock Bass and Mexico are on my bucket list.
MLO: What is the largest bass you have ever caught?
Andy: 14 lbs, 3 oz.
MLO: What bass have you caught in your life sticks out the most and why?
Andy: That fish sticks out because it was the biggest I caught, but I remember watching this 10 pounder swim back and forth. I’d throw a bait out there and it would go out and come back to it and never hit it. Finally I threw out the right one, I think it was a curly tail worm, and she hit it. You know I tried for this fish for over an hour and I finally caught it and it was a ten pounder. It was awesome, because she didn’t want to hit what I was throwing, but I stuck with it and put something on there that made her mad enough to want to bite it. There’s different memories but that was kind of cool. It’s similar to being out on the mound with a 3-2 count and trying to figure out how to get that batter out. I had to figure out how to catch that fish, and kept throwing until I got what I wanted.
Ever wonder what goes on down there with the big ones? How they relate to other fish? What they see? What their food choices are? Big Bass inhabit a world of wonder and intrigue. Get to know the life of the big bass with this fantastic bass-eye view of their world.
It was an up and down year for me personally from a fishing standpoint: I lost three out of four double digit bass. However, I caught more fish in the 5-8 lb range than ever. As the year draws to an the end, I can only look back and say that it’s great to live in a country where we have the freedom to pursue our passions. Thanks to our men and women of our Armed Forces who make this possible!
I also saw the underbelly of the big bass scene that I never knew existed. Where guys look to tear down people and disrespect one another because of one thing or another. Fishing should be about having fun, sharing our experiences and communing with nature. Nobody’s perfect we all make mistakes, can’t we make our points in a private and decent manner as opposed to a public undressing? I hope so since we have too many fish to catch and dreams to chase. We already have enough trouble in this world without adding to the noise with hate for ego’s sake.
On the positive side, we have seen lots of huge fish caught and released by a larger group of anglers than ever. Guys are focusing on doing battle with the big girls with an unbelievable line up of new baits and some of the old proven ones. The top big bass anglers are sharing what they know and where they’re catching them as well. 2013 is shaping up to be a banner year, who knows maybe the World Record will fall and hopefully in the USA!
Here’s one of my highlights from 2012… I’m buzzing the shoreline, looking for any signs of fish and I come across a small 12″ male. I watched him for a few minutes and then a big female swims by! The adrenaline starts flowing I grab my Senko rod and make a cast, she stands her ground. After a few more cast with no response, I change to a White jig with a curl tail worm. She starts to get annoyed, then starts to elevate, lightly picks it up by the tail and swims off. SWING nothing but air, she’s mine now, the next cast with no worm trailer she just crushes it and the fight is on! In the livewell she goes moments later. I do all the measuring, weighing and a quick photo session. She went 10.3, 26 inches long. Watching it all happen is such a thrill but the payoff is the release knowing she’ll spawn and live to fight another day.
As we reflect back on 2012 and look forward to 2013, lets all do our part in keeping the sport fun, handling our fish properly and respecting the outdoors. Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, until next time “Stay on Em “!
Huddleston Deluxe Huddle Bug is by far the most realistic looking artificial crawdad lure ever made. It is absolutely amazing how real the Huddle Bug looks from its black eyes to the custom painted colors to the shape of the bait and best of all it looks even better when it’s the water.
Company: Huddleston Deluxe
Lure: Huddle Bug
Weight: (un-weighted .02 oz)(weighted .03 oz)
Length: 2 3/4″
Colors: 10 colors
Composite: Soft Plastic
MSRP: 5-Pack $10.99
MLO Rating: 5 out of 5
Huddleston Deluxe offers over ten colors from red to white to greens, purples, and browns. I guarantee Huddleston made a color that will match the crawdads where ever you live. The detailed hand paint jobs are just incredible and look even better in the water.
Huddleston Deluxe even paid close attention to the belly of the Huddle Bugs to make sure these little 2 /3/4″ artificial creatures looked as natural as possible from top to bottom.
It is hard to believe the detail on the body of the Huddle Bugs. The claws are flawless along with the antenna and black eyeballs that really stand out when the bait is in the water. Even the eight legs look real when the Huddle Bug is crawling on the bottom.
The Huddle Bug comes in a weighted, and un-weighted version, I strongly recommend the weighted version it comes with a custom made hairpin harness that has cylinder weights added at the ends.
When finding a hook for the weighted Huddle Bug, I prefer going with a Gamakatsu wide gap finesse hook weedless in size 1, or 2. This is a good fine wire weedless hook that really works well with the Huddle Bug and rigging it weedless you can take this bait to the structure where it was built to go.
The weighted Huddle Bug has a small wire loop under the head of the bait where you insert the hook through the wire hoop and then through the nose of the bait and out the top.
Above picture shows a fully rigged weighted Huddle Bug ready to fish. I use 6-8lb fluorocarbon line which works really well with this little bait. The retrieve is simple just toss the Huddle Bug out let it sink to the bottom and slowly work it back in. Since the Huddle Bug is so light it is really tough to feel the bait on the bottom and since it is a small light bait it really goes through the rock and branches well like in the video below.
Pros: The most realistic artificial crawdad ever made, this natural looking bait is made to trick the bass and works on the bottom as natural as a real crawdad. The weighted version is very easy to rig and the Huddle Bug is a very durable lure. I have caught well over 20-30 bass on one bait.
Cons: Still looking.
MLO Rating: 5 out of 5
It’s only a few days before Christmas and you may be scrambling to find just the right gift for that “outdoorsy” type on your list. Never fear! Aside from all the great products we’ve reviewed in the past year, like MattLures 7″ WakeBait Bass or the Huddleston Deluxe 8″ Weedless Swimbait or even the Flip In The Bird Topwater Lure, we’ve compiled a Last-Minute Holiday Outdoor Gift Guide just in time for you last-minute shoppers. Okay, so we’ve procrastinated a bit on this list as well, but it’s never too late to highlight the perfect gifts for the outdoor fanatic in your life. Sure some of these are pricey, but that’s the price you pay for being late too the party! We’ve also thrown in a few for more realistic budgets to make sure there is something for everyone regardless the current state of your bank account. In no particular order:
I don’t own an iPhone, but plenty of my friends do. What could make them scream with glee come the morning of the 25th? How about a case that turns their iPhone into a sports camera? The Hitcase Pro is more than just the toughest iPhone case on the market, with it’s wide angle lens, it turns your iPhone into an action camera like the GoPro®. Photographers often like to say the best camera is the one you have with you. Very often these days that happens to be your phone as well. Hitcase embraces this trend with the Hitcase Pro, a waterproof and shockproof case for your iPhone with a wide angle lens. The combination of a ruggedized case with a wide lens effectively turns your iPhone into an action sports camera like the GoPro. Combined with Hitcase’s free iPhone app, Vidometer you can record GPS, speed and elevation data right onto your action sports video.
Get it: $129
There really isn’t a tool that is as universally loved as the original Swiss Army Knife and no outdoorsman or woman is complete without this classic pocket knife. I can’t tell you how many times this little handy pocket knife has saved the day, whether it was the cork screw to open that bottle of wine at the top of a peak, or the file to smooth out a broken nail that keeps catching on your sleeping bag, the Swiss Army Knife is the most used tool on every camping or hiking trip I take. The Sportsman knife is as classic a Swiss Army model as there ever was, including a blade, file, screwdriver, tweezers, corkscrew, and the requisite toothpick. A can’t-go-wrong gift for outdoorsy folks on your list.
Get It: $26
You can last days without food, but water is an essential element in survival, which is why every hiker/camper should have a water purifier in their pack. Of course, a great many water purifiers are just to bulky or unwieldy to take on every trip, but that would change if you had this little gizmo in your backpack or camp kit. Zap your water to purify. A great gift for backpackers or world travelers, this small device puts out UV light that destroys bacteria, viruses, and protozoan cysts—such as giardia—that can make you sick.
Get It: $79
I’m a fan of innovative products that multi-task and I think I’ve found a product that fits that bill quite well. One of my pet peeves when hiking or camping is finding used batteries on the trail or campsite. With this particular power source, you can eliminate some if not all your battery needs. The PowerPot® is a robust, lightweight generator that converts heat into DC electrical power. Simply add water to the pot and place it on a heat source appropriate for boiling water. The PowerPot® will immediately start powering up your mobile electronics. The PowerPot® comes equipped with a standard USB (5V) port, making it compatible with devices you already have. The cable has three feet of heavy-duty, flame-resistant wire. The solid-state voltage regulator provides up to 5W of power to charge your high-tech devices. The PowerPot® gives you the power to charge your electronics anytime, in any situation. Use it in the backcountry or at home during a power outage. This model is suitable for charging cell phones, GPS units, iPods, and lithium ion batteries. The power can also be used directly to run speakers, lights, fans, or other low-power appliances.
Get it: $125
I think I have 4 or 5 tents in my gear collection. Aside from having one-person and multi-person tents, I also seem to have picked up tents for every weather condition. I’ve been in the market for a lightweight tent that I can use no matter what the elements and the Apex 2XT is the perfect way to eliminate at least two other tents from my gear list. This lightweight, compact tent was built to withstand the elements. The two-person Apex 2XT tent is ideal for backpacking and wilderness camping. This versatile three-season tent assembles easily with a free-standing fiberglass frame. Durable waterproof fabric, raised floor seams, bathtub floor, and a full coverage fly, provide reliable protection from the elements.
Get it: $149
Up until a few years ago I thought all sunglasses were the same. So long as they shielded my eyes, I was good to go. All it really took was a day out on the water with Mike Long to prove that idea wrong. He was spotting fish 40 or 50 feet away from our boat while all I was seeing was the sun reflected off the water. Polarized sunglasses are the way to go and the Suncloud King polarized sunglasses are the best I’ve found below $50. Polarized lenses reduce 99% of visible glare from water, snow, sand and pavement for increased visual acuity and decreased eye strain. The Polycarbonate lenses are 20 times more impact resistant than glass and a third the weight; they’re also acid- and heat-resistant, which means i’m not gonna break them as easily as the other pairs of sunglasses I’ve purchased in the last decade.
Get it: $49
I’ve tried out a number of camp lanterns through out the years, but few of them have ever really done what I need them to do when I need them to do it. I wanted a lantern that I could carry easily or that I could attach to some part of my body when I was walking around and then was small enough that I could attach it to my tent when it was time to sack out. I had relied on my headlamp for years, but I found it awkward to hang from my tent at night and easily turn it on or off as needed. The Snow Peak Mini Hozuki Lantern solved a great many of my issues with camp/hiking laterns. It’s lightweight, can attach to a variety of objects, and has multiple settings that allow you to use it as a flashlight, camp latern, or tent light. The candle mode setting allows the LED to flicker like a candle, which is kind of neat! Choose from 3 brightness settings (low, medium, high) in both candle mode and standard mode so you can illuminate the whole campsite or just the tent
Get it: $39.95
Got some other great ideas you want to share? Put them in the comments and we’ll add them to our Last-Minute Holiday Outdoor Gift Guide!
Recent events have reminded me of how difficult it is to be a kid today. There aren’t any real safe havens for children if what we’re seeing on the news over the last few days is any indication. I have wondered these last few days if the world is that much different today than it was when I was growing up. How modern entertainment in the form of video games and smart phones and other electronic devices have turned us away from exploring the natural wonders all around us. Whether these electronic pursuits desensitize us, making us lose the connection with the things that make us human. I don’t have all the answers, but one thing is obvious to me. We need to get our kids away from their laptops and smartphones and video games more often.
In this day and age of craziness and where we don’t really know what tomorrow will bring, I believe it is more important than ever to take a kid fishing and introduce them to the great outdoors where never ending adventure always produces a smile.
I grew up as an outdoor explorer, mapping out my town from one end to other, always trying to find where every fish lived and every creature called home. In doing this I got to enjoy the great outdoors and appreciate what God gave us all to enjoy, but I was lucky. I consider myself lucky because I had the opportunity to experience a variety of outdoor activities mainly due to where I lived. It allowed me to be an outdoor explorer.
I had friends, when I was young, that I literally had to drag out of their houses to go on an outdoor expeditions with me. Almost every one of those adventures ended up at some pond or creek fishing, which at the end of the day, I could see by the smiles on their faces how happy these trips made them. I was one of the lucky ones for sure.
When my kids were growing up I loved to take them out and explore the lake with me and they always had a good time even if we didn’t catch a fish. When I involved them in the preparation, letting them pack their lunches and get their fishing gear ready, there was always that pure excitement about getting out of the house and going on an outdoor adventure. I believe being outside has a way to keeping your mind fresh and can heal you when you’re feeling down.
I always hated when my kids were stuck in the house playing video games because they became very addicted and obsessed with virtual reality when I knew reality was infinitely more entertaining. I’ll admit that it came out in their the attitudes at times when I’d force them outside, but not one time going on a fishing trip did my kids ever get upset. Mother nature is a powerful force and always has a way of making you enjoy the great outdoors.
For the last 15 years I have donated my time and gathered products for the Lake Poway Youth Derby in the city of Poway along with my partner Captain Ronnie Baker, the true King of youth derbies here in Southern California. We have had tremendous success teaching some of the young kids, from 5 years older to 14 years old, how to catch the outdoor bug. Along with an army of volunteers, we teach and help every kid enjoy the outdoor experience of fishing. It is such a great feeling seeing so many kids enjoy a day fishing, and competing with each other, catching trout or catfish. The smiles on their faces say it all.
If each one of us takes just some of our free time to take a kid fishing and introduce them to nature’s great gift, I truly believe we can heal some of the damage all these virtual entertainments have done to our young people. The violent video games popular today are definitely not the answer, but in my experience, taking a kid fishing will not only make you feel good and young again, but teach a child how to go out and enjoy the true gifts of the great outdoors.
As an outdoor enthusiast, there are a number of tools and gadgets I use regularly that I take for granted. Things that make life a little easier, a little more comfortable. Recently I added yet one more item that seems to be one of those useful things you wonder how you got along without previously.
While I do a lot of physical activities when I camp, there is also periods when I am in the great outdoors where I’m sitting, like fishing, or cooking, or even socializing. Often, whatever I am drinking tends to get knocked over or simply prevents me from using both hands since I have to hold on to it.
I’ve tried various ways of multi-tasking, holding my drink in one hand while doing something else with the other, and it rarely turns out well. Now, thanks to the ROBOCUP, i have a consistently stable way of holding a beverage and anything else I may need within arms reach.
The ROBOCUP is marketed as a “patented portable caddy for drinks & poles” but I’ve found plenty of other uses for this simple device.
On a recent surf fishing trip, I attached the ROBOCUP to my beach chair and it not only held my drink, but my phone, my fishing pole, and whatever else I could stuff into its deep holders. There are even little straps I can use to secure my pole or other items so they won’t get lost or tumble out.
I actually even used it while working in my garden to hold some tools! I’m sure I’ll find more uses over time… it’s just that useful!
Company: The RoboCup LLC
Product Name: The RoboCup
Gear Categories: Personal, Portable, Fishing, Camping, Boating, Accessories
Material: Lightweight Plastic
Features: No tools required, squeeze to open. Bottom cap unscrews for fishing poles, umbrellas, or other long-handled tools.
MSRP: $24.95 (available from Kotulas.com for $19.95)
Pros: Easy to attach, simply squeeze the cup holders. Easy to clean, and highly portable.
Cons: Non really, but if I could change anything, I’d ask that the clamp be on a swivel to allow you to attach it to horizontal bars and structures as easily as you can vertical bars and structures.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
For well over ten years now I have been using the Rago Rat and it is by far one of the easiest swimbaits to use and highly effective. Long over due, here’s my Original Rago Rat Lure Review.
Company: Rago Baits
Lure: Original Rago Rat
Weight: 1.7 Ounces
Length: (Body 4 1/2″)(Tail 4 1/2″)
Lure Speed: Slow-Medium
Composite: Hard Resin
Sink Rate: Floater
MLO Rating: 4.5 out of 5
The body of the Original Rago Rat is 4 1/2″ and the tail is 4 1/2″ with a weight of 1.7 ounces this little bait casts like a dream. It is built from very buoyant hard resin which keeps the Rat on the surface. When Rago Baits made the very first Rago Rats they were made out of wood which and were about 1/4 ounce heavier and sat in the water perfectly to make a beautiful surface V-wake.
The Rago Rat has a small hard plastic lip which helps to pull the Rats first section just under the surface, while the second section of the Rat wakes the surface.
The tail of the Original Rago Rat is made from soft plastic and works in a S-motion behind the Rat to tease any bass watching into biting.
The single joint of the Rago Rat makes a knocking sound in the water from the front, and rear sections hitting together while the Rat is swimming and this is a great noise attractor to the bait in dirty water, or low light conditions.
The Rago Rat only has one treble hook on the first section which works out perfect to help give the second section more freedom.
Below is a small video of the Original Rago Rat in action:
Pros: Very compact durable wake bait, cast good in windy conditions. The joint makes a great knocking sound to attract bass as well a soft plastic tail for a teaser. The lip is built into the bait to survive shore, or rock hits. Hinge is built to handle very large stripers, and the eyelets are heavy duty with a 100lb. split ring to hold the hook on with the big fish.
Cons: Tail does come off and is difficult to reattach in the field, make sure you have a few extra when you go out on the water with a tooth pick to help reattach one.
I get asked all the time what my favorite swimbait color is, and you might think it would be Rainbow Trout because of where I live, but it’s not. It’s a bass color. Since I was a little kid, I have witnessed largemouth bass eating each other. I grew up in an area where there were creeks and small ponds to fish and the majority of what was in these creeks and ponds were bass. I watched numerous times where small bass were being chased and sometimes caught by larger bass.
So it was a no brainer to try to match the hatch, but when I was young we did not have the choices of swimbaits and colors that we do today. It was not until Castaic, and Optimum Lures came along that we had soft plastic realistic imitations in the 4″-6″ length. These days, we have a plethora of choices and it is easy to find a favorite swimbait color that matches the forage in your local waters.
The lure in the picture above is one of the first Optimum swimbaits to be made in the bass color. This is a 5″ bait that opened up a whole new world for me when using swimbaits. The color, along with the body shape and size, were close enough to some of the smaller bass that were getting eaten by some of the larger bass in the waters I fished. When I first used this new color it was unbelievable how aggressive the larger bass were when they chased and bit the swimbait.
I believe that a large bass living in a creek, pond, or lake will try to eat almost anything that moves. So if a smaller bass is in the larger bass’ strike zone, look out! He now is the target meal.
I have always wondered, “If a large bass had a choice of a crawdad, minnow, or a small bass, right in front of him, what would he choose?” Well after years of pondering this, I truly believe if a bass is hungry it will go after whatever is around it. I have also closely watched smaller bass seem to have their guard down around larger bass and especially around structure where they must feel they can escape if needed. I have seen large bass grab another fish and when it does, scales and sometimes small parts of the fish come free around the larger bass and the small bass move in and eat the small scraps. Another thing I have witnessed during spring is small males guarding their nest get eaten by some of the monster females that come up into the shallows from their deep water spots. This could be because a small male may not mature enough to emit any pheromones that drug out the big monster female, so she feeds instead of spawning.
During the colder months of the year when most of the smaller bass have pulled off the bank and have moved to deeper water, I have watched through an Aqua View camera groups of small bass hiding around and under rocks. Meanwhile, large bass are on vigilant patrol waiting for a crawdad, small panfish, or small bass to come out of these rock sanctuaries. Once out in the open, the larger bass can hunt them down and pin them against the bottom, or one of the rocks.
These few examples are a key reason to use a bass-colored swimbait once in awhile to see if that is what’s on the big bass’ menu. In this day and age of incredible paint jobs on soft plastic swimbaits, we now have a huge list of tools to choose from to make sure we always have access to their dinner choices.
Above are a few of the latest swimbaits made over over the last few years, with sizes ranging from the Decoy at 5″, the MattLures at 4 1/2″, and the Huddleston Deluxe at 6″. If you notice one theme besides the color in the pictures, it’s the size. I’m a firm believer that an effective bass-colored swimbait needs to be 6″ or smaller.
MattLures makes one of my favorite small bass-colored swimbaits with his 4 1/2″ version. Matt paid close attention, making the body shape look as natural as possible as well as matching the color almost perfectly.
Jason Scott, former owner of Castaic Lures, a company known for realistic looking swimbaits, now runs Decoy Baits, another company that pays close attention to making realistic looking swimbaits. The 5″ Decoy in a bass color is on the top of my list as one of the best looking soft-plastic paint jobs on a small swimbait.
The Decoy bass, and the MattLures bass have both become my go to lures when I need a small bass-colored swimbait. So next time you’re heading to your favorite pond, or fishing hole, pick up a few small bass-colored swimbaits and start having fun while catching some of the larger bass in your zip code.