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

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

Joe’s 18 lb’er….

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

Knot Head

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

Danny Barker

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


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

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

Main Lake Point

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

Spot on the Spot

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

Classic Ambush Area

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

Ambush Area

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

Rock an Wood Ambush Spot

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

Hard Bottom by Spawning Flat

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

Hard Bottom Point

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

Hard Bottom Point

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

A Spot along a Ledge

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

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

Rock Step Spot

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

Stump Spot

Stump Spot

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

Bush Spot

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

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


Mike Long

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

As a fan of natural looking swimbaits and receiving a a package of Jackall Swimming Ninja G-90’s in baby bass, and bluegill colors I was excited to get a rod and hit the water to try them out.

Company: Jackall

Lure: Swimming Ninja G90

Lure Type: Soft Plastic

Colors: Baby Bass, Bluegill

Weight:  3/4″

Length:  3 3/4″

R.O.F.: Slow Sinking 6′-8′ on steady retrieve

Bait Swim Style: Kick Tail

Body Style: Natural Look

MSRP: $14.99

MLO Rating: 4 out of 5

Jackall has made some really nice lures over the years and once again with their Swimming Ninja G90 series of small small life-like swimbaits they paid attention to detail with natural fish imitation colors, which for someone who is fishing clear waters with small bluegills, crappie, or baby bass this is a must have bait.

Swimming Ninja G90

Jackall’s packaging has a clear plastic clamshell system that is handy if you want to store your bait after use to help keep the tail straight and the paint from getting scratched.

Baby Bass, Bluegill

For my Swimming Ninja G90 field test review I fished the Baby Bass, and Bluegill colors which really looked natural when I took them out of the package. Jackall offers six colors in the Swimming Ninja G90; baby bass, black crappie, baby bass, spawn gill, bluegill, and thread fin shad, something for everyone.


Here is a underwater picture where you can really see the colors stand out, in my opinion Jackall did a very good job with the real-life imaging on the swimbaits, they looked very life-like in the water with the Baby Bass looking very realistic.


The rod used for this review was a Dobyns DX 744, and a Shimano Calais reel loaded with 12lb. Maxima Flouro-Carbon line. The lake was Lake Jennings Ca. the structure fished was rock ledge drops, small submerged trees, and weed edges.


A top view of the Swimming Ninja G90 shows lots of scale pattern detail along with the eyes, gills, and pectoral fins protruding off the bait giving it a real-life look from the top and bottom view angles.


The tail of the Swimming Ninja G90 is very interesting, it is an upside down boot tail that swam nice in the water. It did not kick hard where you can feel it thump through the rod, it is a very subtle kick tail that is all about the flash. In the clear water the Swimming Ninja G90’s tail looked very natural.


I was very impressed with how the Swimming Ninja G90 sat up on the bottom. it is a very well balanced swimbait that looked very natural in the water like a feeding fish on the bottom. I was surprised that there was an eyelet on the bottom of the bait for a added hook I did not feel that this bottom eyelet was needed at all in such a small swimbait.


On my very first cast of the Swimming Ninja G90 Baby Bass color I got hammered, I had followers on almost every cast, the real-life color really tricked the bass, and I liked the size, and shape of the swimbait and so did the bass.


Towards the end of my six hour field test review the bass were still showing how much they loved the bait. I found that as soon as I starting fishing some new structure that the fish were all over the swimbait especially around rocks, or weeds. The Swimming Ninja G90’s that I used were all 3/4oz. and using them with 12lb. flour-carbon line I found the swimbait to run at a depth of around 6-8 feet on a slow steady retrieve which is exactly how I used them around the weed edges. And with the hard bottom areas of the lake I was letting the swimbait fall to the bottom with a lift and fall back to the bottom type retrieve to get some bass to bite.

Pros: Very realistic looking swimbait, worked great in clear water, had a good size, and shape. After hooking a dozen fish the hook point, and barb still looked  sharp and the hook body was not bent out of it’s original shape.

Cons: The imaging on the outside of the soft plastic swimbait really took a beating and started tearing after a few bass and seemed to lose it’s effectiveness. I did not feel there was a need for the added eyelet on the bottom of the Swimming Ninja G90.

                                  MLO Rating 4 out of 5

Mike Long

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

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

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

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

Lake Murray in San Diego California

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

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

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

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

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

17.96 out of Lake Murray Ca.

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








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

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

Mike Long

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

Do you need an extra boost winding in your next big fish or crankin your favorite bait? Well a new company on the scene called Hawgtech has just what you’re looking for!

Hawg Tech Carbon Fiber Reel Handles

While talking to Steve Parks at the Strike King Booth during ICAST I ran into the guys from Hawgtech. We struck up a conversation and that’s when I found out about their after- market reel handle. Mike Slipy (co-owner) pointed out it’s not your everyday handle, it’s manufactured from carbon fiber plate stock then CNC (computer numerically controlled) machined to produce this high-tech handle which virtually fits all baitcasters. Carbon fiber is 5x stronger than steel and is extremely light; you’ll also notice that the handle is longer giving you more leverage. Also unique are the cork grips which give you a nice soft feel and are light as well. The Hawg Tech handles were easy to install, be sure you look in the small built-in box for the new hardware.

Easy Installation

After using the handles on my Revo SX and Shimano Castaic for just one session I knew that these handles were going to be a great addition! Here’s a couple of nice fish I caught while putting the new handles through their paces, loved the feel and extra leverage.


Hawg Tech is up and running they’re officially open for business. Check out their website and the FaceBook page as well.  

Here are the spec’s:

  • Ultra-lightweight carbon fiber reel handle.  25 grams.
  • 94mm length for maximum cranking torque (typical = 80-90mm)
  • Four ball bearings for optimum smoothness.
  • Cork grips provide attractive, comfortable cranking
  • Premium components:
  • 3k, twill carbon fiber
  • highest grade cork available.
  • ABEC5, stainless steel bearings
  • T6061 aluminum.
  • U-40 sealant and bond epoxy.
  • ReelX lubricant

Pros: Light weight, strong, comfortable, extra leverage and stylish

Cons:  The hardware was somewhat hidden.

Two thumbs up review…..

Until next time, Stay on Em !


Danny Barker

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


When Koppers Live Target sent me the Blueback Herring three piece swimbait from their salt water series I knew right away that I could catch fish on it, not just in the salt water but in the fresh water as well.

Company: Koppers Live Target
Lure Type: Hard Plastic Lipless Swimbait
Lure Color: Silver/Blue
Lure Weight: 1 3/4 oz
Lure Length: 5 1/2″
Bait Swim Style: S-Motion Swimbait
Lure Hinges: Yes
Number of Hinges: Two
Hinge Style: Screw Eye Drop Pin
Hook Style: Exposed Treble Hooks
Lure Speed: Medium to Fast
Custom Imaging: Yes

Model# BBH140FS201 Fast Sinking

MSRP: $15.99

MLO Rating: 4.5 out of 5

At first glance of the Live Target Blueback Herring I was once again very impressed with the imaging on this three piece swimbait. It is a fairly heavy bait at  1 3/4 ounce due to multiple steel balls added in the head section for weight and balance, which also help the Blueback Herring make long cast even in the wind. The steel balls also gave the swimbait a very nice low tone sound in the water to call up the big fish.

At  5 1/2 ” and a weight of  1 3/4 oz I knew I needed to fish this swimbait at medium to fast retrieve, and thats exactly what I found the Blueback Herring wanted. The model I tested had a sink rate of one second per foot and I found that retrieving it at a medium speed it ran at about 15′-20′. The body sections also hit against each other making more noise in the water which make it great bait for low-light fishing, or dirty water.

Rod I used for this field test review was a Dobyns 784, paired with a Shimano Curado 300 reel, spooled with 18 pound Maxima line. It is a fairly heavy swimbait that you will need a medium-heavy rod of at least 7′-0″ in length to help you cast this heavy bait.

I was impressed with the flexibility of the Blueback Herring, it had a really nice side to side S-swimming motion in the water and on a hard rip of the rod you could speed up this motion to try to create more strikes, a great lure for ripping and jerking through a bait ball.

Live Target put a pair of realistic taxidermy style eyes on the Blueback Herring which really gave this swimbait life.


I was very impressed with the scale patterns on the Blueback Herring they cut into the body of the swimbait to give the bait added detail and flash, especially when light hits the side of  the swimbait you can really see the grooves between the scales. The head also has some great detail cut into it to make it look as real-life as possible, even the  added pelvic fins have fine grooved detailing.

The Blueback Herring comes in three sizes 4 1/2″, 5 1/2″, and 6 1/2″ also two sink rates, 0.5’/second and 1-0’/second and three colors silver/bronze, silver/green, and silver/blue.


Pro: The Blueback Herring is a very realistic looking swimbait from the realistic eyes, scales, and fins to the color patterns, it also is a very user friendly bait right out of the package very easy to cast and retrieve. The hinges are made out of a heavy gauge wire so you can catch some monsters in the salt water and not worry about breaking any hinges. The split rings are also heavy duty 1o0lb. rings should hold up just fine. The hooks on my test bait were size 2 hooks for freshwater, if your going to use this swimbait in the salt water I would suggest you change the hooks out to salt water hooks.

Cons: I found only one issue with the Blueback Herring, after catching a few toothy salt water fish the paint did scratch off especially around the face area. Would love to see this swimbait in some more colors especially Rainbow Trout.

 MLO Rating: 4.5 out of 5


Mike Long

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

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

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

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

Until next time…Stay On EM !

Danny Barker

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


Jerry Rago, of Rago Baits is at it again with his latest creation, the Weedless Mini a 5 1/2″ swimbait. I have had this bait for about a month now and have tested it at three different lakes where I abused it as much as possible.

Rago Weedless Mini

Company: Rago Baits
Lure Type: Hand-Poured Weedless Swimbait
Length: 5 1/2″
Weight: 1.2 oz (with no hook)
R.O.F.: Depends on weight added with hook
Colors: Six standard Colors
Hook: Not Suplied
Tail Design: Boot Tail
Lure Speed: Slow-Med. Retrieve
Custom Paint: No
MLO Rating: 4 out 5

I have been personally using Rago Baits for well over 10 years and in that time have seen Jerry Rago create some really awesome hand-poured swimbaits. He has a knack for being able to pour colors that are consistent and very clean. If you take a close look at  some of Rago’s clear baits you will not see lots of bubbles in the plastic or other imperfections Rago Baits hand-poured swimbaits.

Dobyns 795, Shimano Anteres

The rod used for this review was a Dobyns 795, reel was a Shimano Anteres loaded with 15lb Maxima flouro carbon line. Lake Poway, Lake Otay, and Lake Dixon in San Diego California were the field test review lakes.

Side View of the Rago Weedless Mini

This small 5 1/2″ weedless swimbait fits right into my game plan I love to use weedless swimbaits that I can fish where some of the big bass are hiding. I testesd this Rago weedless Mini design in tules, light brush and some sunken trees, where I had very little issue with the hook coming out of the bait and sticking into any structure. I did have some light grass get stuck on the nose of the bait from time to time but nothing a good rip of the bait couldn’t remove. Rago Baits is not supplying a hook with the Weedless Mini to try to help keep the price down. So I used an Owner 5-0  1/4 ounce weight hook, it fit perfect in the Weedless Mini and got the swimbait down to about 7′ of water on a slow retrieve.

Bottom View of Rago Weedless Mini

There is a small pocket at the bottom of the bait just under the head section where my weighted hook fit perfect inside of. The pocket did a great job of hiding and holding the weighted hook in place while casting and also on the retrieve back to the boat.

Top View of the Rago Weedless Mini

A top view of the Rago Weedless Mini shows lots of real-life detail like the pectoral, and pelvic fins sticking out.

The Rago Weedles Mini

The side view of the bait shows another life-like view of all the fins. With some small swimbaits when full fins are added it interferes with the swimming action, but I did not find that to happen at all with the Rago Weedless Mini, it was a very smooth swimming bait that swam very straight in the water, very life-like.

Pros: I caught quite a few fish with the mini on a slow to medium retrieve where the bait ran at around 5′-8′ feet with the weighted hook that I used . And if I gently pulled the swimbait through any structure I got my bait back 90% of the time. It also casted really good for such a small full fined bait, even when the wind picked up it flew straight in the air, no tumbling.

Cons: I did have some issues with the the hook staying weedless after catching around a half dozen bass, a little swimbait glue fixed that issue quickly. I also had a few issues with the hook staying in the mouth area, once again a little glue solved this issue.
MLO Rating: 4 out of 5

Mike Long

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

I last wrote about the strategies to use to prevent injuries from wildlife. But what to do if an accident or animal attack occurs, and you or someone else in the group become injured? Today I will be writing on the methods you can use to treat injuries out on the trail.

Before I go into any of these injuries, I want to say that you should always hike in a group. If you must go alone, bring a phone as well as some type of attention grabbing device, like an air horn or flare, to get attention when injured. However, be careful with flares in the dry season-you don’t want to be the cause of a forest or brush fire. Now, on to business.


There are several places on the body in which bleeding can become dangerous, these include creases or places where the body bends and the face. Cuts in these areas may graze arteries, so it is important to stop the bleeding by compressing the area with your fingers. If bleeding is severe, a tourniquet can be used; however, tourniquets are only safe to use on the upper arm and thigh. Rip a shirt into strips and wrap them tightly around the limb with the cut. Make a half-knot, add a stick, and then double knot over the stick. Twist until bleeding stops. Once you are sure the bleeding has stopped, slowly remove the tourniquet, being careful not to release pressure too quickly.

Tourniquet in Use

As far as bandaging goes, try to be as sterile as possible. Rinse the cut/puncture with clean water (and soap, if on hand), and wipe away debris from the inside of the cut outwards. If the wound is from an animal, rinse for at least 5 minutes if possible to remove saliva. Keep the area elevated until bleeding stops, and then get to help as quickly as possible. By cutting some cloth into a triangle, a sling can be made for the trip back.

Internal Bleeding

This type of bleeding is much more dangerous. If you or another person suffers a violent blow, fall or broken bone, it is safest to keep to the ground for some time to watch for the signs of internal bleeding. The injured person will feel faint, and have a pale color as well as cold clammy skin. Their pulse will be weak but fast. The safest bet if you suspect internal bleeding is occurring is to keep the person warm and flat on the ground with their legs elevated to send blood to the heart. Get help as fast as possible.


Carefully examine the injured person before swelling sets in to determine the location of the break. If bone has broken skin,  avoid touching the area, and keep it covered with some clean fabric. Infection is a big risk here, so get to help asap.

Splint with Newspaper

For those on limbs: If it hasn’t broken skin, and help is far away, try to reduce the fracture. Pull slowly and     strongly to realign the edges of the fractures. Create a splint using some fabric and any sort of strong item like a stick, roll of newspaper/magazine or even parts of your gear, like the straw to your water bottle. Pad the area, align the splint, and tie with fabric. Elevate arms with slings to keep swelling down. For legs, keep the person lying down and make a flu body splint if possible. If not, try to create some padding between the legs and tie legs together to keep movement minimal. For breaks on the ankle, it is best to elevate the foot while leaving the hiking boot on for stability.

For those on the body: Keep the person flat on the ground. If bending the area causes pain, use padding to find a position that is most comfortable. Don’t try to walk on these type of injuries, as this can make the injury worse.

Heat Stroke

There are signs to watch out for to prevent heat stroke. Usually, it begins with heat cramps, which are accompanied by dizziness, shallow breathing or vomiting. Get to a shaded area, rest, and drink water with a little salt in it to replace lost body salts. Next comes heat exhaustion, in which the person becomes pale, cold and dizzy/weak. They may become delirious, or even pass out. Treat this the same way as you would heat cramps.

A handy guide to prevent heat stroke

If the person continues to remain in the sun, they can get heat stroke. Symptoms are hot, dry skin, flushed face, fever and headache. Get to the shade, and lay down with the head and shoulders elevated. Remove outer layers of clothing. Cool the body with lukewarm water (cold water will make symptoms worse) by sprinkling it over the person’s body. Once temperature has stabilized, immersion in cold water is safe if there is a stream or lake nearby. Do this slowly, feet first, and remove the person from the water as soon as temperature begins to drop. Cover them immediately to prevent temperature from plummeting too quickly.

The chart to the right can help you assess whether it’s a good day for a hike.

That’s all for today. Be safe out on the trail!

This article features work from several MLO staff writers. Some provided the research, others testing, and others editorial contributions. Articles that do not have one specific writer will feature the Staff Writers byline to prevent confusion about the contents origins. If you have any questions about the content, please email us at! We’d be happy to hear from you.

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

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

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

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

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

Picture# 2

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

Picture# 3

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

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

Picture# 4

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

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

Tailor Tape

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

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

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

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


Mike Long

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

What a HOT, Humid day on the water today in North Central Florida! After my morning coffee wore off around noon it was time for something else to pick me up. Here’s where the folks from Reel Adrenaline Energy Drinks come into play. Reel Adrenaline Energy Drinks may be the first custom designed energy drinks specifically for fisherman.

I met Stephen Fill along with Amber Block at ICAST where they introduced me to their new product and gave me a few samples to review. Stephen stated that the drinks have B vitamins, taurine (organic acid involved in muscle and eye function), caffeine, glucuronolactone (derived from sugar), sucrose and glucose (sugars), it’s offered in two named versions: Big Game and Light Tackle.

The light indicates the sugar free version. Both are citrus flavored, with the regular version having 112 calories and the sugar free version having just 5 calories. The drink was designed for the fishermen in particular, but also divers, surfers, snorkelers, boaters, and others who love the water now have a tasty flavorful drink.

I’ve always loved the taste of lemon/lime and the drink reminded me of it. Next time you’re on the water and need a refreshing boost check ’em out.

Here’s the website link, or you can follow them on Facebook.

Pros: Great way to stay alert on the water, refreshing taste

Cons: Still a little hard to get, but they’re working on getting some distributors lined up!

Two thumbs up Review!

until next time…..”Stay on em”

Danny Barker

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


Wow, once again I got to field test a lure for a product review that was just incredible. Here in San Diego during the hot summer months almost all of the lakes have weeds in the shallows where you can toss a hollow-body frog on them. We also have lots of tules in our lakes which we normally just flip a jig or a senko at. But today when I field tested this new lure, Flip in The Bird, I had to retrain myself to just toss the bait at the tules and let it sit. Holy cow! I was very impressed that it got blasted on the first half dozen flips. Even in open water, just letting it sit, it got blasted. From only three hours of field testing I ended up with over 20 bass and only lost a few. It was an incredible experience with a new bait and technique for using it.

Company: Flip in The Bird

Product Color: Red Wing Black Bird

Style Lure: Topwater

Weedless: Yes

Hook Brand: Unknown

Length: (3″ Body)(Tail 1″)(Wings 1′-2″)

Weight: 5/8 oz

Colors Available: 9

MSRP: $11.99

MLO Rating: 5 out of 5


When I first got my Flip in The Bird in the mail and opened it, I was not sure what to think. I have thrown many frog imitations and it’s mid-Summer when the bass are in full gear, hiding and ambushing around the weeds, trees, and tules.

There is some good information on the package to take note of. It has a reminder to visit the Flip in The Birds website for instructions on how to trim your bird’s wings as well as some tips on where and how to work this lure.

At first glance of the bait out of the package, I could see it was different from any other hollow-body topwater lure I had used before. The main difference is the body shape and where the wings and tail tassels are placed that give this bait a whole new profile for hollow body imitations.

The body has an imitation feather look to it that really stands out when you first look at the bait.

Even the belly of the bait had bird feet imaging on it which looked very life-like.

The rod used for this field test review was a Dobyns 764 and the reel was a Shimano Core filled with 50lb. Power Pro Braid w/10′ Flouro Carbon leader. The lake was Dos Picos in Ramona, California and conditions were perfect for field testing a weedless hollow-body bait.

After tossing the Bird on the weeds in the shallows and getting a few bass, it was time to start fishing the bait in the places it was designed for like right next to the tules and around the trees.

Flip in The Bird looks awesome in the water; it’s exactly what a small bird looks like when it’s stuck on the water. I did not trim the wings of the lure before my field test review and this needs to be done to give the wings a more natural look.

There are two grooves where the hooks ride in to help keep the Bird weedless.

From the front of the Bird you can once again see the real-life detail with the yellow eyes.

The Flip in The Bird has an exclusive lever-action hook system, which I found to work just fine with the hollow-body lure system.  

I did find that the eyelet of the Bird pulled out about 1/8″ after a cast and pointed downward a bit making the bait walk on the surface of the water during a slow retrieve.

Flip in The Bird has some very realistic bird imitations to try which is awesome if you’re fishing a lake that has baby birds nesting close to the water and you’re looking to match the hatch. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen bass jumping out of the water trying to catch a bird close to the surface.

Pros: It is a very realistic looking lure with a great weedless hook system that did great for my field test review. I found the Bird to be very durable after catching over 20 bass. The tail and wings were still intact and the hooks did not bury into the sides of the bait. Also, I was very impressed with how well the bait flew in the air on each cast.

Cons: After a one day field test review I could not find anything wrong with the Bird. This was a first for me.

MLO Rating: 5 out of 5


Mike Long

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Danny Barker

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


One of the best parts about overnight camping, at least for me, is waking up in the great outdoors with the sounds and smells of nature serving as your alarm clock. A fresh-brewed cup of coffee sends that experience into something on par with a spiritual event. Of course, coaxing a good cup of coffee out of your standard camp coffee makers can be a bit of a hassle. If you do find a coffee maker that actually brews a good cup of coffee it is usually too bulky to bring along on a backpacking trip or hike.

Not so with the GSI Outdoors Personal JavaPress.

In addition to brewing a perfect cup of coffee, the nesting feature makes this a very space and weight efficient coffee maker and mug combination for 1-2 people to use while camping or backpacking.

Company: GSI Outdoors
Product Name: Personal Java Press
Gear Categories: Personal, Portable, Hiking, Camping, Gourmet Backpacking, French Press Coffee
Material: BPA-Free Infinity clear polypropylene
Capacity: 20 fl. Oz.
Weight: 10.8 Oz.
Dimensions: 4.30″ x 4.20″ x 6.10″
Colors: Clear w/Blue Insulating EVA wrap or Smoke w/Maroon Insulating EVA wrap
Features: 20 fl. oz. Carafe w/Lid, Insulating Sleeve, Patented Plunger Mechanism, Separate 17 fl.oz. Mug, Insulating wrap, Sip-it Lid
MSRP: $29.95

Pros: Separate mug and carafe eliminates over-brewed, muddy coffee produced by most personal French Presses. Split-ring plunger design virtually eliminates coffee ‘blow-by’ for the most flavorful, mud-free coffee. Nesting, insulated mug includes Sip-It Lid and is made of lightweight, shatter-resistant, BPA-Free Infinity clear polypropylene. Insulating EVA sleeves on mug and carafe remove easily for cleaning.

Cons: The lid for both the cup and the press excel at keeping heat in without taking up space, but fail at preventing spills and allowing access for pouring or sipping.

Rating: 5.0 out of 5

This article features work from several MLO staff writers. Some provided the research, others testing, and others editorial contributions. Articles that do not have one specific writer will feature the Staff Writers byline to prevent confusion about the contents origins. If you have any questions about the content, please email us at! We’d be happy to hear from you.

20lb-12oz Lake Dixon Bass

How does it feel to catch a 20 lb. largemouth bass? It’s something that has only happened twelve times in our bass fishing history. When I was a young kid, I used to dream about catching, or just seeing, a bass over 20 lbs. Every time I went into a tackle shop and saw one of the giant bass mounts that were hanging on the wall, some of them pushing the 17lb mark, I got all excited and could not wait to get back to the lake to begin my quest for a giant bass. I would always read the articles in Outdoor Life and Field and Stream magazines about the monster bass catches and all the stories about the big ones that were over 20 pounds, but not weighed properly.

Where I grew up and still live, here in San Diego, we have some very small lakes compared to the rest of the United States; they can be as small as 60 surface acres or as large as 2,000 surface acres. Lake Miramar, which was the first San Diego lake to kick out a 20lb. bass  in 1973, is only 162 surface acres sitting at an elevation of 714 feet and stocks Rainbow Trout during the winter months. Lake Hodges, which also kicked out a 20lb. bass in 1985, has 1,234 surface acres and sits at an elevation of 330 feet and still to this day has never received any Rainbow Trout.

Lake Hodges Dam

None of the lakes in San Diego are natural lakes; they are all man-made reservoirs for storing drinking water and in 2001 only a handful of these lakes in San Diego planted Rainbow Trout. Lake Dixon (76 surface acres), Lake Poway (60 surface acres), Lake Wohlford (146 surface acres), Lake Murray (171 surface acres), and  San Vicente Reservoir (1100 surface acres) are all lakes that had very large bass for lake records most well over 17 lbs. However, the smaller two lakes, Dixon and Poway, were stocking so much trout into these little lakes that it was basically like force feeding these bass to grow into the giants they would soon become, as long as the genetics of the bass in the lakes allowed this.

I spent many years fishing all the lakes in San Diego, but hit Lake Poway and Lake Dixon especially hard since they were so close to where I grew up and lived. So I got a front row seat at these two lakes watching the monster bass grow while they hid under boat docks, hung out in the shaded areas of the lake, or chased trout. Keep in mind that these are drinking water reservoirs and a section of the lake per water district codes are sanctioned off for no fishing or boating. So in the smaller lakes like Dixon and Poway these sanctioned-off areas are almost a third of the surface acreage of the entire lake. And in both lakes the boat docks are very close to the sanctioned areas creating a perfect environment to grow giant bass. This is a very important part of both lakes’ ecosystems.

I believe in all my years of chasing these giant bass and keeping data and reviewing it that three things seem to always stand out for growing a giant bass over 20 pounds. One is the genetics of the bass must be there; if the bass’ body frame is not large enough then it cannot support the weight. Second, is the availability of pure protein rainbow trout that are stocked all Winter and are easy to catch and very quick and easy to digest and turn into stored energy and body mass. Third, is the sanctioned-off areas of the lake that gives these giant bass a deep water sanctuary area to go to and recover without the stress of boats or fisherman overhead. I believe this is key in helping these bass grow to their massive size quickly.

Well, on April 27th, 2001, it was my turn to add a chapter to bass fishing history. It had been ten years since a 20lb. plus bass had been caught and at that time only nine over 20lbs. had ever been caught and documented. Two of those were caught in San Diego: Dave Zimmerlee’s Lake Miramar 20.93 lb. bass and Gene Dupras’ Lake Hodges 20.25 lb. bass. So the odds of actually catching a bass over 20 lbs. wasn’t looking very good.

                                         TOP LARGEMOUTH BASS Over 20 lbs.









Kurita, Manabu

Biwa, Lake





Perry, George W.

Montgomery Lake





Crupi, Robert J.

Castaic, Lake





Arujo, Michael

Castaic, Lake





Dickerson, Jed

Dixon, Lake





Easley, Raymond D.

Casitas, Lake





Crupi, Robert J.

Castaic, Lake





Zimmerlee, Dave

Miramar, Lake





Torres, Leo

Castaic, Lake





Long, Mike

Dixon, Lake





Dupras, Gene

Hodges, Lake





Friebel, Fritz

Big Fish Lake



I had been working with two freelance photographers, Dusan Smentana and Mike Barlow, for about four years every Spring and had just finished a photo shoot with Dusan on April 22nd at Lake Poway. There we took some photos of a beautiful 14 lb. bass for Field and Stream magazine. It was late Spring and bass were at the tail-end of their spawn throughout the county. At Lake Dixon the water temperature was 77 degrees and you had lots of post-spawn bass with some bass chasing shad in open water. The weeds were growing a few feet off the bottom and there was bass fry everywhere along with bluegills coming up into the shallows to start their spawning. There are four docks or piers at Lake Dixon and there were always some really large bass holding under one of them if not all of them.

On April 23rd, I noticed a very large bass holding under the South side fishing pier, but she was in a negative mood and not moving at all. I tossed numerous swimbaits beside the dock and she never moved once towards them. This is how things were at times; you would see these monsters and you just had to keep going out to the lake and try to get one of them to bite when they were ready, but the key was to try to figure out what they were doing; were they in feeding mode, recover mode, or spawn mode?

I had put in about 4-6 hours every chance I got at Lake Dixon. I worked just a few miles away so it was easy to fish the lake before and after work. I would always take at least one loop around the lake in a rental boat just looking to see if any giant bass were up in the shallows spawning or in any their ambush spots waiting for a trout to swim by. When I got back to the South side handicapped pier and looked under it, I was a little bummed out when I didn’t see that huge bass hanging out underneath it any longer. As I worked my way to the west side of the dock, there was a large, 50-yard flat with deep water access and few very small males were still up spawning in this area. It was about 20 feet deep on average and the water was very clear with weeds growing everywhere. As I moved down the flat to middle of it, staying close to the deep water edge, that is when I saw a giant hanging out. She was big and very black in color and super spooked of the rental boat I was in. I had to get the boat out to deeper water about 10 yards away and just kept still,watching to see what the big bass was up to. She did not seem to be spawning but was staying very close to a bathtub sized opening in the weeds where a very small bass was also hanging out.

After about ten minutes of watching, I tied on a pearl-blue jig to my spinning rod and made a cast to towards the area where she was hanging out. And to my surprise, she immediately showed interest in the jig. I knew she was big; I figured she was at least an 18-pounder. So my plan was to hook her and take her towards deep water and land her. I kept tossing the jig in her area where she would charge up to the jig, tilt forward, and then slowly back away. She did this about a half-dozen times until this one cast that I can still see in my mind. The jig hit the water and was sinking and was about a foot from hitting the bottom when she charged at it and with gills flaring inhaled it.

Well, the next few seconds seemed like minutes. After she hit the jig, she made one violent headshaking run through the weeds and made this turn towards me and shook the jig free. I was devastated! I had just lost a giant and I felt sick to my stomach. As I sat back down in the boat, I could not stop replaying in my mind what had just happened. I eventually got back up looked around the flat and under the dock and did not see her anywhere. I made a phone to a close friend and told him what had just happened and he told me that he too had lost a large bass recently a 13 pounder. But he came back later to see her back in the same area again, where he got a second chance and landed her. This gave me some peace of mind and hope that just maybe that giant I lost would come back.

I did a loop around the lake tossing a small 4″ swimbait and catching a few small bass along the way here and there. I was coming back up to the south side handicap dock and as I approached it really thought I would see the giant bass under it.  But I saw nothing. I started to lose faith that this giant bass would be back, but as I approached the area where I had hooked and lost her, there she was again. She was really spooked now and swimming away from my boat about 20 yards away. I had played this game so many times before in the past with these large bass and knew what I needed to do. I had to get my boat as far away as possible so she would relax and stay in the general area. So I put my rental boat on the shore and stood up in the back of it where I could just see her and the target area where I had hooked her earlier.

I tossed out the same pearl-blue jig that I had earlier hooked and lost her on. After about ten minutes, she slowly came towards the jig , but stopped and stayed back about ten feet. After about 20 minutes of watching her sit and not move, I re-cast and she spooked again. We played the same game again; I knew it was time to change lures, but I was limited since I was in a rental boat with a small backpack of lures. I looked at what was in my pack that had a good strong hook and the 6″ Castaic swimbait looked to be the best choice. I tied it on and made a cast just past where I could see the giant bass and did my best to swim the lure just in front of her face. I could see she had some interest in it, so I continued to cast it out and swim it by her. Eventually, I let the swimbait fall in the area where she had hit my jig earlier in the day and I noticed her start to move towards it. This chess match was on again.

20-12 from Lake Dixon

After about ten minutes of keeping the swimbait out in the open area, close to where she hit my jig earlier and just slightly shaking the swimbait, she finally flew in and hit it. Once again, it was game on. I did a double hook set because I wanted to make sure this time that I got the barb of the hook to set good in her mouth. The next couple of minutes seemed like forever. She fought hard staying on the bottom shaking her head violently while taking me towards the pier and the cable which secured it to the bottom. My plan was to take her towards deep water keeping the line tight and the lure in her mouth and to not let her get her head out of the water where she could  possibly shake the swimbait free. My plan had worked and after a few minutes of a hard fought battle she gave up a bit and was in the net.

Once this monster bass was resting on the net in the bottom of the rental boat, I was in shock to see how big she really was. I had never in my life seen a bass this size out of the water. It was impressive seeing the girth she had, how big her eyeballs were,  the giant scales on her belly, and the big thick fins and tail. It was just incredible!

I had a Berkley hand-held scale which I got out of my backpack and hung the behemoth on it. It read 22-4. Seeing that I was really in shock now and thought to myself,  “My God, I just caught the world record bass!” I had a ten-foot rope stringer which I took out of my pack. I tied one end up to the bass and tied the other end of the stringer around my leg. I was not taking any chances! I then headed toward the boat dock. It was a two-minute boat ride that seemed like an eternity. I had one hand on the trolling motor and the other hand grasping the big bass’ bottom jaw while keeping her body underwater. Once I arrived at the boat dock I yelled at the dock hand to get the head ranger, tell him that I had just caught the world record bass, and to get the scale ready.

There was a young bass fisherman who witnessed me catch and land the giant bass that had made his way to the boat dock. I got out of the boat and asked if he would take a few pictures for me. I showed him how to use my camera and then proceeded back to the rental boat where I pulled on the stringer and once again lifted this mammoth bass out of the water. This young kid was in shock just like me and as he took a few pictures I stopped and went back to the boat to get my Berkley scale to weigh her again. I wanted to get a picture of the giant bass on the scale. What it read over and over again was 22-5 which I even got a picture of.  I had the stringer still attached which I weighed later to be exactly one ounce.

Weight at the Boat Dock 22lbs-5oz

The day was perfect so far until the head ranger and lake manager got to the boat dock and told me that their digital lake scale was broken. I immediately started making phone calls. The first was to our local Fish and Game biologist Larry Botroff, who was out of town and then to Fish and Game which had no one available at the time to make it to the lake. Next, I called the local newspaper outdoor editor who was up in Northern California 10 hours away on assignment. I finally got in touch with Bill Rice, bass editor for Western Outdoor News which was a state  fishing newsletter, but still found no one who could bring a good scale. The Lake Dixon manager made a call to a the manager at Lake Wohlford, which was about 30 minutes away, and they had a scale they would drive over.

Two hours after I had tied the rental boat to the boat dock, a scale had finally arrived. It was an old, meat market spring scale but it would have to do. It had been certified recently so I got the monster bass with Bill Rice, a few of my close friends, lake staff, and a small crowd watching and placed her on the scale which read 20 pounds 12 ounces. I was in shock because I was sure she was larger, but what could I do? So she went in the record books as 20lbs-12oz, 27″ long x 27″ girth. Despite the difference of weight between the two scales, I was just elated at the moment that I had caught a 20 lb. plus bass.

The Release

After the weighing of the monster bass, we took some more pictures and it was time to let her go. I had one friend look at me say I was crazy to let her go, but I never even had the thought of keeping her and killing her. She was still alive and looked very healthy and I was very grateful to have caught her so it was time to let her go. That was by far the most peaceful moment of the day. It was very quiet while I released her and as she swam away some people started clapping.

I have to say, looking back on the whole experience 11 years later, I still feel very grateful to have been able to hook and land such a monster bass, a true giant over 20 pounds. I do wish that the lake’s digital scale was working so I could have weighed her immediately to see if maybe if my hand-held scale was correct and she was the world record. But it was all a lesson for me and believe me I’m way more prepared now than I was then.



Mike Long

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

Every now and then I use a bait and get a smile on my face, and that is how I felt when I was field testing the Koppers Live Target  3 3/4″  Bluegill Wakebait.

Company: Koppers Live Target
Lure Type: Wakebait
Model: BGW95T
Length: 3 3/4″
Weight:  1 3/8 oz
Colors: Metallic/Gloss and Natural Matte
Bait Swim Style: Side to Side
Hook Style: Exposed Treble Hooks
Hooks: Daiichi
Hook Size: #8
Custom Paint No
Lure Hinge: Yes
Number of Hinges: One
Hinge Style: Screw Eye
Lure Speed: Slow to Medium-Fast/ Rip & Jerk
Depth Range: 0′-1′
MSRP: $12.49
MLO Rating:  4.5 out of 5

The lake I chose for this field test review was Lake Jennings Ca. it was mid-summer and there were bluegill in the shallows everywhere, so I knew this was going to be a fun field test for a shallow running bluegill imitation lure.

Dobyns 795, Shimano Scorpion Anteres Reel.

Equipment used for this field test review was a Dobyns ML795 rod, a Shimano Scorpion Anteres reel, and 20 lb. Maxima flouro carbon line. I went a little heavy with the equipment on this trip due to all the weeds that were in the shallow water, and after hooking and landing over 30 bass up to 6 lbs it was the right choice. I really pulled hard on a few of the larger bass that took me in the weeds, but afterward upon close inspection of the Bluegill Wakebait the hooks, split rings, and eyelets all looked as good as new.

Live Target Bluegill Wakebait

The color I tested was a Metallic/ Gloss which is a great color in slightly stained to stained water which was exactly what I was fishing in at Lake Jennings. Once again I felt Live Target hit a home run on the bluegill imaging it looked great in the water and the fish seem to like it too. As the sun set and water got a little darker the bass were still finding a killing the Bluegill Wakebait, I could see the flash of the bait in the mud-lined edges of the lake and that is where some of the bigger bass bit for me. So all in all the gold color I felt was really a good idea for this style lure. There is also some steel balls inside the bait to give it some added noise to call up the big ones.

Bluegill Wakebait two piece lure

The Live Target Bluegill Wakebait is a two piece bait which I found did two things, one gave the lure a tight S-swimming motion during the retrieve, and two a little sound in the water and thump you can feel with your rod tip. When the wind died I could hear the two body sections hitting together on slow surface waking retrieve.

Blugill Wakebait (front)

There is a bill on the Bluegill Wakebait so if retrieved at a medium to fast speed it will get down to around one foot of water, which was perfect for the shallow Summer conditions I was fishing. The Bluegill Wakebait looks really good at a very slow retrieve with the lure body staying around 85% under the surface and creating a subtle V-wake, but I found on the field test that I could rip the bait then pause, and let it rise for a few seconds and start the rip and jerk process all over again. This technique is what I caught almost all my bass on during the field test.

Picture of the life-like eyes


The eyes on the Live Target Bluegill look real from all angles and really finishes off the life-like appearance to this bluegill imitation.

Belly shot.

Every angle you look on the Bluegill Wakebait  you’ll see life-like imaging even on the belly it has pelvic fins added.


Pros: A great lure right out of the package, very life-like, having a joint really gives this lure more action and noise in the water whether fishing it slow, fast, or ripping and jerking. The imaging looks really good the just enough gold but not too much for stained, or dirty water. Very durable finish, i hit the shore a few times and hooked lots of toothy bass and the bait still looked good as new. An old school touch the package comes with some instructions on how to use the Bluegill Wakebait. The Live Target Bluegill Wakebait  just flat out got the job done for me on test day.

Cons: The eyes needed to come out just a little it has a bit of a dying sunken look. After a ten hour day of abuse and catching lots of bass, I found two piece joint to have opened up slightly, it had more rotation than when I first started using it. The package says the bait weighs 1 3/8 oz., but when I weighed the bait I found it to be only  1-0 oz.


     MLO Rating: 4.5 out of 5 



Mike Long

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

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

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

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

That was the big question.

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

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

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

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

Until next time,

“Stay on em”

Danny Barker

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


Lake Hodges 14 lbs. 6″ Huddleston Deluxe Swimbait

What is a swimbait and why does it work so well? Well, as fisherman, we want nothing more than to always catch fish each trip to our favorite lake or stream and have a chance at hooking and landing that trophy fish of a lifetime. I have been on this quest for over 40 years and it never changes. I want to catch more bass with the goal of finding and landing that one true elusive giant bass, that for most of the year is just a myth, that giant fish you dream about day and night. And there is no better way to accomplish this task and finding that mystic bass than by using a swimbait. It is that one lure that most represents the larger food that the monsters of our lakes and streams feed on. It is by far one of the most productive lures for covering water throughly to find where that trophy size bass lives and hunts and when it comes to trying to match the hatch, or in some cases, matching the prey in which these giants are feeding upon, the swimbait is the perfect tool for the job. In this article I’m going to focus on the soft plastic swimbait.

With a swimbait I look for three things: the shape of the bait, the internal and external rigging system, and the paint job or colors added to the plastic. These three things are basically what gives the swimbait the ability to imitate life and trick the fish into biting. If one of these features is incorrect or missing, your swimbait will not be as effective thus your hook up ratios may be very low.

Soft plastic swimbaits are made out of plastisol, which is the main material for making soft plastic swimbaits. Once the plastisol is heated up to around 325 degrees, colors, glitter, and salt may be added to the mixture to give a bait a desired look, and texture. Then it can be hand poured ,or injected into the swimbait molds and allowed to cool. Every swimbait manufacturer may use a different brand of plastisol, or a different recipe of softeners or hardeners that will give the baits a different feel and swimming action in the water. Their procedures for heating up and pouring the plastisols can vary as well and even the machines they use can make a difference in how the swimbaits are poured, or injected. These are a few of the reasons why one swimbait may look, feel, and swim differently from all other brands of swimbaits on the market.

Two styles of Swimbait Tails

The tail design of the swimbait is something to pay very close attention to since with most swimbaits this is the motion engine of the swimbait and where vibration from the bait is started. And that vibration of the tail needs to be as life-like as possible to fool the fish and its lateral line system into thinking that this is a real fish. If the bait does not swim right, the fish may not bite. There are two basic designs of swimbait tails on the market today: the “wedge” style tail and the “boot” tail. The wedge-style tail, which is more of a balanced tail design, will give the lure an S-motion swimming action and, depending on its size, will determine how much S-motion. The smaller the wedge tail the less S-motion out of the swimbait and the larger the wedge tail the more S-motion out of the swimbait (see pic.5). With the larger tails the swimbait head and body will shake so much that you can see and feel the vibration through the rod tip. The girth of the swimbait will also determine how much side to side movement will be allowed. Keep in mind in low-light conditions, stained and dirty water the swimbait vibration is a huge key to a swimbaits success since it is displacing water which a fish will feel through its lateral line system and give it the ability to hunt that swimbait.

The “boot” tail design is one of the oldest swimbait tail designs. It is an unbalanced design which will give the swimbait more of a rocking motion than an S-motion. It too gives the swimbait more motion depending on its size of the tail and generally it will give upward lift to the rear of the swimbait. This lift, which wants to lift and push the head of the swimbait down, is what creates the uneven rocking motion. Some swimbait manufacturers have designed the heads to be more oval shaped and flatter. This helps with boot-tail designed lures to take that energy from the tail that is moving towards the head and distribute it outward toward the sides of the bait. The combinations of tail sizes and body shapes go on and on.

Stocker Trout (left) Castaic 12″ (right)

There are some soft plastic swimbaits that use a diving bill under the head of the bait help generate energy to create S-motion to power the swimbait as well as swimbaits that have hard U-shaped wings in the middle of the bait to simulate side to side swimming motion. These baits typically have straight tails and  have very natural fish shaped bodies.

In the clear water, during bright light periods, a subtle swimming swimbait is what I prefer to use, it seems to work better for me than a harder kicking swimbait. I believe in this situation that the bass are watching and waiting for the right opportunity to ambush the trout, or in this case hopefully my swimbait. A subtle swimming swimbait with a rip or jerk thrown into the retrieve occasionally can trigger the bass into biting. If you watch a live trout in the lake this motion is very similar to how the trout swims when a big bass is in close proximity. When I have used a hard-tail kicking swimbait in this same situation with very clear water, I have found the bass to be very curious and follow the swimmer and maybe taste the tail but not commit and attack the swimmer head first.

8″ Huddleston Deluxe Tail

In a low-light situation, or dirty water, the bass uses its sense of hearing and lateral line system more than its vision for hunting its prey. I have found that a noisy larger tailed  swimbait is a good match for this situation versus the small subtle-tail swimming swimbaits in this environment. The bass seem to always be a little more aggressive when searching for a lure in low-light and dirty water. So as you can see the water conditions play a huge factor in determining which style of swimbait tail to choose from. Once again a little homework on the water you plan to fish is needed to determine which lure to use.

Rainbow Trout


Most of the lakes I fish here in Southern California stock rainbow trout from hatcheries here in the state. These Rainbow Trout are the primary reason the bass I fish for and catch here in Southern California have the massive size they do. These trout are high in protein, easy to digest, and at times very easy for the bass to catch due to the trout being transplanted into a very foreign environment where the bass live and rule and have a huge advantage in ambushing the trout. The lakes here get stocked an average 25,000-30,000 lbs. of trout per year and if you average the trout size at two pounds a piece that’s about 13,000-15,000 trout that are stocked between November and April. So when I need a lure to match the hatch, to catch some of the true giants of the lake, I need a swimbait that will imitate as closely as possible the Rainbow Trout that are being stocked into the lakes.

Some of the best soft swimbait copies of rainbow trout

Matching the size of the trout that are being stocked in the lakes, or streams is very important. I have found in my years of using swimbaits that if I don’t match the size of what the bass are feeding on, I will get lots of followers and very few takers. I am someone who at the end of a day fishing takes a few minutes to take some notes on what happened during that day. I am a firm believer in statistics and I always try to review my  past notes carefully to help remind myself of what the bass were doing on average during similar stockings, weather, moon phases, lake conditions, etc. And my statistics show a huge success rate in large bass catches when I have matched the size and color of the rainbow trout that are being stocked. For example, we have the Department of Fish and Game stock a few of our lakes with 5″-8″ rainbow trout and when I used swimbaits that were the 6″ or 8″  range I had lots of success compared to using swimbaits in the 10″-12″ range and vice versa when the lakes stocked the 10″-14″  sized trout.

MattLures Rainbow Trout

Rainbow Trout

Another huge factor in choosing a swimbait is the color of the water where you plan to fish. Here in So Cal. most of the lakes I fish have very clear water so the visibility is really good. This makes finding a picture perfect paint job on my swimbait a must if I want to trick those lunker bass into taking my artificial swimmer. As you can see by the picture above, the swimbait need a life-like paint job. When the trout are stocked, they will be one color and that color can change as they get adjusted to their new environment. So my advice is to do some homework and try to take a look at what some of the trout fisherman are catching. This can really help in choosing the proper color and size of what the bass are chasing and eating at the moment. Keep in mind the trout will change colors due to weather, water temperatures, oxygen, and what foods they can find to eat. So pay close attention to this because sometimes a slight different strain of Rainbow Trout will have different characteristic colors. I find where I live the DFG trout that are stocked are very small and have lots silver to their scale color, while the bigger trout that are stocked, normally from cold-water hatcheries, have more of the pink and green colors with lots of dark green, brown, or black dots throughout the body.

The little details for me have made a difference in helping me catch some of the largest bass of my fishing career. The little things I’ve done include adding glass eyes and red gills, maybe a touch of paint here or there, or a new larger tail. These are a few of the alterations that I have done at times to give my swimbaits that added edge towards making them look as life-like as possible and different from what all other swimbait fisherman are using. I have always been a firm believer here in Southern California where pressure on these small lakes is tremendous and lots of people have been fishing the same style of swimbait, showing the bass the same lure over and over that finding a way to separate myself from the rest of the pack is crucial. This does not mean that the bait was not designed to catch fish. I just believe anyway that I can enhance the bait where the bass will take a second look because it looks a little more realistic than the stock lure he’s seen over and over give me good odds of getting the fish to bite on these highly pressured waters I fish.

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

There are two ways that soft plastic baits match the color of the prey: one is painting the bait and the second is mixing colors into the plastic during the hand pour process. I have found that on the highly pressured clear waters here in So.Cal that the painted swimbaits look much more realistic than the hand poured swimbaits do. You will normally see this in the price you pay for the painted bait too since the paint is another expensive process that has to be added after the bait is poured or injected.

Rago Lures Hand Poured Boot-Tail Swimbaits

This does not in anyway mean that the hand-poured swimbaits don’t catch fish; it all depends on what company did the hand pour to how well they will look. I have caught hundreds of quality bass on hand poured baits, in low light conditions, or dirty water. And for the lower price of the baits I tend to fish them in the cover more not as chicken as I might with a more expensive painted bait. And some hand pour companies are really good at pouring a very light, almost transparent, bait which actually works better sometimes under clearwater very bright-light conditions. This “ghost” pattern hand pour, if poured to the colors you desire, can really put a hurting on the fish. I have had plenty of days where this was my go to bait, especially in the deeper clearwaters down to 30′, 40′ even 50′.

In conclusion, pay very close attention to what season it is and what your fish are feeding on and try to match that prey as much as possible. Once this is done you can start to look for lure-making companies that make the sizes and colors of swimbaits you need and then it’s more about the rigging and fine details to give you the best chances to catch more fish or that fish of a lifetime. And as for hard resin swimbaits, that is a different article for a another day.


Mike Long

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

Columbia Custom Tackle has built the next generation of custom swimbait storage boxes with the 6″ swimbait box and the 11 1/2″ swimbait box. The 6″ swimbait box has the ability to hold up to 14  six-inch or smaller swimbaits while the 11 1/2″ swimbait box has the ability to hold up to seven 11 1/2″ or smaller swimbaits.

The boxes are made by Plano and modified into the custom swimbait boxes by Columbia Custom Tackle.

The Plano boxes are waterproof models with custom black gorilla hand latches that keep these boxes sealed until you’re ready to open them.  Inside the boxes, you’ll notice a hard, steel bar that runs inside a hard, plastic sleeve with snaps and vinyl-coated wires for swimbait attachments. The 6″ box has eight snaps and six wires which can accommodate bait with eyelets or line-through swimbaits.

Company: Columbia Custom Tackle
Box Type: Swimbait Box
Material:  Impact-resistant polypropylene
Box Capacity: 6″ swimbait Box 14 baits / 11 1/2″ swimbait Box 7 baits
Color: Clear w/Black Latches
Water Resistant: Yes
Box Size: 13″L x 7 3/4″ W x 2 1/2″ deep
MSRP: $34.99
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Close up of Columbia Tackle Box Snaps & Wires

Snaps and wires to hold your swimbaits in place in the 11.5″ box

The Swimbait boxes are modified with a threaded bar which can be removed so the snaps and wires can be adjusted to add more or less.

The black hinge latches are some of the best ever put on a lure box. They latch easily and stack and store with ease in a boat or a storage cabinet with a notch built into the box to make it easy to grab and carry.

Columbia Tackle Boxes Removable Gasket

Removable red water proof gasket in the lid of the box

The Columbia Custom Tackle swimbait boxes hold plenty of baits in place while keeping them dry and it is easy to take the holding bar out to add snaps or wires.

Pros: These swimbait storage boxes are waterproof, with some of the best latches available on a lure storage box, and the threaded lure holding bar is very easy to remove and realign with the removal of one threaded nut.

Cons: Your lures can move around a lot and tangle, but a quick fix is to add a little foam to the underside of the lid which will help keep the baits in place.

Mike Long

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

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

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

Stay on ’em!

Danny Barker

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


Decoy , the maker of the 5″ Hydra Tail, has made a swimbait that looks awesome in the package and even better when it’s in the water. It is a soft-plastic swimbait in the shape of a small narrow fish with a beautiful soft plastic paint job that comes in 16 different colors.

Company: Decoy
Lure Type: Soft Plastic Swimbait
Bait Swim Type: Kick Tail, Hydra Tail

Weight: 1.2 oz
Custom Paint: Yes
Lure Hinges: None
Number of Hinges: None
Hinge Style: None
Lure Speed: Slow-Medium
MLO Rating: 3.5 out of 5

These Decoy Swim Baits are single hook baits with an eyelet on the bottom of the bait where a treble hook could be added. I found with the small size there was no need for a second hook. To give the bait some of its real life-like look it has dorsal, pectoral, anal, and adipose fins in the swim position which really gives the bait an awesome look and does not inhibit the swimming motion of the bait at all. The tail is a new Hydra Tail design that has a very subtle and natural side to side kicking motion with a slight figure eight motion. I found the Decoy swimbait wanted to be retrieved between a slow to medium speed.









The head has many fine details in the gill plate and mouth areas which is rare for such a small plastic bait and it also has a very realistic 3D eyeball.

I have been using the Decoy swimbait for well over a year and have found it to be a very good bass catching bait in clear water. The size and incredible paint jobs seem to be the major reason for this, but with the bait’s subtle kicking tail I have not had the same success in dirty waters.

If you want a good swim bait for your umbrella rigs for some larger bass the Decoy Swim Baits are a great choice.

Pros : It has a very realistic scale pattern and gill plate detail and the 3D tear drop pupil gives this bait life. Along with the incredible paint jobs this is one of the most realistic looking soft plastic baits on the market.  Hooking up with all sizes of bass was not an issue at all, so there is no need for a second hook.

Cons : This bait was built to be a realistic looking slow kicking swimbait for clear water fishing and is not as effective in dirty water. The paint jobs are incredible but not as durable after a few catches but a little clear smelly jelly smeared on the sides of the bait helped the paint last a little longer.

MLO gave this bait a 3.5 out of 5

This article features work from several MLO staff writers. Some provided the research, others testing, and others editorial contributions. Articles that do not have one specific writer will feature the Staff Writers byline to prevent confusion about the contents origins. If you have any questions about the content, please email us at! We’d be happy to hear from you.

It’s one of the things that everyone fears the most when spending time in the great outdoors-getting injured out in the wilderness, where help is not near. Whether it be a snake bite, twisted ankle or dehydration, there is always danger on the trail, and one should always be prepared for it. Here are some things you should know about preparing for and responding to emergencies on a hike

It doesn’t matter if you are an experienced hiker or a first timer, accidents happen, and they can happen to you. Before embarking on any hike, it is important to understand the trail and the potential dangers it holds. Over the course of three articles, I will go over 3 of the most common scenarios to be prepared for, as well as some tips to reduce the chance of finding oneself injured deep into the trail.

1. Encounters with Wildlife

The most important thing to remember is that animals on the trail are much different than those you find in your home or backyard. They are likely unfamiliar with people, and can be very unpredictable. Never approach any wild animal, no matter how docile it may appear.

How about when wild animals approach you? Most will run if you make some noise, but the three to be most concerned about are bears, mountain lions and snakes.


Black Bear

An encounter with a bear is very unlikely, but it is good to be prepared for it. Bears don’t like to be surprised,  so the best way to be sure they don’t come near is to be noisy on the trail. Talking, singing or clapping your      hands are all great ways to alert any bears to your presence. If you see a bear on the trail, quietly make a detour to avoid it. If the bear spots you, make some noise so that it recognizes you as a human, and not as a predator or threat. Soft talking and slow

Grizzly Bear

movements of the arms are a perfect way to make yourself known in a non-threatening way. Avoid any direct eye contact, which is predator behavior.

In the chance that the bear feels threatened, it may charge. This is usually a bluff, and attempting to run or climb a tree will only make the situation worse. Hold your ground, and it is likely the bear will leave you alone. In the case that it attacks, there are two different tactics to remember, depending on the type of bear. If it has a hump, it’s likely a Grizzly, and you should play dead. Roll on to your stomach and cover your neck with your hands to protect your vital organs. If it doesn’t have a hump, it’s a Black bear, and your best chance comes by fighting back. This is where bear spray comes in handy, as black bears are less likely to continue attacking if you fight back or spray them.

Mountain Lions

Like bears, mountain lions are more likely to avoid humans if they sense their presence. If you do see a mountain lion from the trail, your best bet is to scare it off by making yourself as threatening as possible. Hold up your arms, backpack or jacket, and stay close to other hikers in your group to appear larger. Make as much noise as possible, yelling and banging together any items you may have on yourself.

Make direct eye contact, and never turn away or crouch down. If it does not move, continue to make noise and maintain an aggressive stance while backing away down the trail, giving the animal space to run away. If it attacks, fight back, using sticks, rocks or anything on hand. Protect your neck and throat. Continue to be loud and aggressive, you want the animal to see you as another predator, a potential threat, to reduce the chance of a prolonged fight.


Snakes may be predators, but they typically will not purposely go after humans. Be very aware of your surroundings, as most snake bites are the result of getting too close to the snake, which is very easy when you go off the trail into the brush. If you see a snake on the trail, stay back and throw some rocks to scare it off. Go around it, giving it a wide berth, if it will not move. It is important to be familiar with the snakes in your area, so that you can recognize a venomous snake. Some things to look out for are triangular shaped heads with slit shaped eyes (cottonmouths, copperheads and rattlesnakes) or bright coloration (coral snakes). Coral snakes are easily identified by the rhyme: “Red touch black, friend to jack. Red touch yellow, kills a fellow”. Red stripes next to yellow means it’s a coral snake, red next to black makes it a non-venomous king snake.

If you or someone else is bitten by a venomous snake, do not try to suck out the venom. If you have a snake bite kit       Keep the bitten area still and remove any jewelry or clothing that may constrict when it swells. If the bite is on a leg or arm, splint it to keep it steady. If possible, try to keep the area at or below the level of the heart to slow the movement of the venom. Clean the wound, but do not use a tourniquet. It is very important for the bitten person to stay calm to prevent shock from setting in. It only takes 2 hours for the venom to fully take effect, so get the person to a ranger or hospital as quickly as possible.

That’s it for dangerous wildlife. Keep posted for the following articles on treating heat stroke/dehydration and other common hiking injuries.

This article features work from several MLO staff writers. Some provided the research, others testing, and others editorial contributions. Articles that do not have one specific writer will feature the Staff Writers byline to prevent confusion about the contents origins. If you have any questions about the content, please email us at! We’d be happy to hear from you.

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

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

Mike Long

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