Monday, July 31, 2006

Back-Bouncing Live Minnows

By: Craig Stillwell

This will be the first of several techniques for successful Striped Bass fishing on the Sacramento River.

First the rigging:
  • Rig your rod nearly the same as you would if you were going to set up to back-troll for Salmon.
  • Tie your line directly to a three-way swivel, then use 6-8lb leader approximately 7" long and tie it to one end of the three way swivel.
  • Tie a snap swivel on to the other end.
  • Now cut a 22-30" leader (I use 15 lb. Maxima) and tie one end to the three way swivel, and the other end tie to a minnow hook (use your own discretion on the size hook, I vary mine depending on the size minnow that I am back-bouncing).
  • Use a cannon ball style sinker, attached to the snap swivel. Match the size weight to the area you are back-bouncing. I generally use a 1 to 1-1/2 ounce in the slower, shallow (less than 12 feet) water, and a 2 to 3 in the deeper faster moving water.

Now the fishing:

With your boat facing upstream, come to a standstill and begin to let your line out. Once you have hit bottom, continue to let out more line, and work it back slowly.

Now you want to ease the boat backwards very slowly continually working your rod up and down allowing your presentation to move back with you. As you pump your rod, you must feel the weight bounce on the bottom every time. If you can't feel your weight hit bottom, try letting out more line very slowly. If you still can't feel bottom, then reel in line until you do.

The faster backwards that you allow your boat to go the more rapid pumps you need to make with your rod. I like to move backwards rather slowly, and therefore I would only pump my rod at 2 to three second intervals.

Moderation is the key when you are letting out line, as well as when you are reeling in line to find the bottom. I will usually leave my reel in free-spool for the first five minutes or so when I am starting a run. I just keep pressure with my thumb, and I can let out line more easily in my attempt to stay on bottom. Once I am comfortably out, I will then take my reel out of free-spool and begin bouncing.

Vary your speed according to the experience of anglers present. With beginner anglers I would suggest moving very slowly backwards, It is much easier to stay on the bottom this way. Keep in mind that anytime you pump your rod slowly up and on the way down you can't feel bottom you are either hung up with your weight, or you need to let out more line.

Do not be discouraged if it takes awhile to get the hang of it. Start in slower,shallower water to learn. Remember that the more line you have out, the harder it is to feel bottom. I have had hundreds of fish caught directly under my boat with this method. I will usually put more weight on the beginners so it is easier for them to stay in contact with the bottom.

The bite will be very distinct, sometimes during your pump, other times on the down fall, but you will have no problem interpreting the Striper bite.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Fishing Spinners

By Phil Rabideau

Rod Selection The first prerequisite to effectively fishing spinners or spoons is to select the proper fishing rod. Stay away from the touted "fast" tip rods and go with a "moderate" action rod. Not only are moderate actions more forgiving to cast, you can make your casts far more accurately, Also, moderate action rods "give" the lure to the fish with less resistance and do not pull the lure from the fish's mouth. Expert fisherman have discovered they get far more hook ups with softer rod actions. For big water and longer casts, go with longer rods. In any case, check the manufactures specifications on the blank, which gives you the lure weight for which the rod was designed.

Reel Selection Do not skimp on the reel...all reels are not the same. You should bias yourself towards reels that utilize several ball bearings...the more the better. Good reels are not cheap, but a solid, long term investment in fishing satisfaction. Keep them clean, keep them oiled and they will last a lifetime.

Casting or Spinning Rods & Reels?
Using a spinning rod or a casting rod, is a personal choice, I use both. You can achieve more accuracy with a casting outfit, because your thumb is in control. You need to be able to adjust them for changes in lure weight, and are generally harder to master. A six foot, medium action, casting rod with a fine reel is my prescription for casting accuracy. Albeit longer rods are required for many situations.

Spinning Gear There are tricks to mastering spinning gear too. When you cast with a spinning rod, always stop the lure with your finger tip touching the spool. This does three important things: it takes the slack and twist out of the line; it puts the lure in the proper landing mode, plus it keeps those bothersome loops from forming in the spool. The worst thing you can do when using a spinning rod is cast up into the wind and stop the lure by cranking the reel. You will spend all day trying to keep the loops out of the spool.

Fighting a Fish Never crank against the drag while fighting a fish. Drags are only to let the fish run and keep the line from breaking, not to meter the pull exerted when fighting the fish. Use the bend of the rod to fight the fish not the reel. "Pump" the fish in by alternatively pulling with the rod tip then cranking the tip back towards the fish, always keep a bend in the rod.

With spinners and spoons, I use monofilament line for several reasons. First, the lines stretch aids in "giving" the lure to the fish, plus fight and land the fish without harming it. Second, rods can sometimes break with braided line, and you just do not need that to ruin a good fishing trip. Plus, monofilament gives you great flexibility in sizing the line to the circumstance. Buy your line in bulk and change it frequently.

I have seen little evidence that fish are line shy, particularly in faster moving water. I size my line depending upon the lure size, the expected size of the fish and the obstacles to be encountered in the water. I also size my line to be able to clear snags without loosing too many lures. It is important to note however that heavy lines limit the depth a given lure can effectively be fished. With ultra light tackle, and #00 or #0 lures you need four or six pound test line. For size #1 and #2 lures I usually use eight pound line to be able to clear hang ups. I use 12 pound test a lot starting at size 3 and larger because of bigger water and bigger fish. You can catch very big fish on moderate test lines depending upon your rod and reel plus your skill level.

Line Selection Once in a while salmon fishing, I will go to 17 pound test with larger lures. Once in a great while in Alaska, I will go to 30 pound test line for major fish where there are lots of obstructions with which to deal. When trolling, go to the smallest line practical as not to impede depth control.

Hooks One of the easiest ways to improve your fishing success, is to make sure all your hooks are razor sharp. Mepps uses the highest quality hooks, but they too can be dulled through time and use. The best way to sharpen hooks is with the inexpensive, Cone Hone, by Mister Twister. With a press of a button you can hone your hook points to an ultra strong, precision, conical point.

Swivels Mepps makes the World's #1 Lure, the Aglia spinner, plus other spinners and spoons of the highest quality and effectiveness. But, all that is for naught unless the spinner or spoon is tied correctly to the line. Use swivels sparingly, if ever, as they do more harm than good. Spinners are designed and balanced for optimum performance without such encumbrances. Quality spinners are not the cause of line twisting problems. Fish the spinner as described earlier, plus a quick glance at the spinner before each cast to insure it is clean. The main causes of line twist are poor casting practices and strands of bottom materials clinging around the blade's attaching clevis or the hook.

Barrel or crane swivels do not swivel effectively under tension. For trolling, where the lure is checked infrequently, it is all right to use a ball bearing swivel, but make sure it is well back from the spinner or spoon.

When I begin fishing, I may use a black, interlock wire snap to easily change spinners. However, once I have determined to proper lure, I tie directly to the spinner's eye. This precludes the snap from catching under the spinner's blade, which can happen all too frequently. On the other hand, always connect a spoon to the line with a rounded, interlock wire snap. Because a spoon wobbles sideways, we want the spoon's eye to act freely from the constraints of the line which is in tension. My favorite spoons are the Mepps Syclops for casting and Syclops Lite for trolling, and fished as prescribed are outstanding spoons.

Knots The weakest link in using terminal tackle is the knot. Poor knots account for the majority of lost fish and lures. There are only two you need to know, the Palomar and the improved clinch knot. The Palomar will never slip, but is cumbersome for tying on large lures. The improved clinch knot is an old standby, but you need to insure that you make enough turns around the standing line. The smaller the line, the more turns that are needed. When tying knots, always lubricate them with saliva before snugging them tightly and finish off by pulling the tag end firmly.

Fish Holding Areas Fish spend the majority of their time in rivers or streams on or near the bottom. This is because fish hold where there is less current to conserve energy. Also, fish hold behind rocks and logs for the same reason, plus taking up ambushing positions. Fish will move to shallow water, for example in tailouts and ripples when the food is there, but do not stay long in fast current. It is important in streams and rivers that the spinner or spoon tick to bottom frequently to insure the lure is working along the bottom. That is why casting upstream is essential for stream and river fishing. Quarter casting and allowing the spinner or spoon to tumble into the fish keeps you on the bottom too.

In large bodies of water, fish are stalking bait fish which are at specific depths. Depth control is very important in fishing to insure the lure is in proximity of the fish, and they can see the lure. Lure color and brightness are a significant factor in lure effectiveness, but is covered in detail in other Mepps' articles.* All this is to say is that you must select the right lure for the fishing conditions and operate at the right depth. Mepps makes three outstanding spinners for depth control. The classic Mepps Aglia with the famous French blade, which is designed for fishing at moderate depths. The Mepps Aglia Long, with a willow leaf type blade, which will runs deeper than the Aglia, and is necessary to get to the bottom of larger rivers. And, the Mepps XD (Extra Deep) with hole mounted blade and extra heavy brass body which is unequaled in deeper, faster waters. The Mepps Sylcops spoons are suitable for larger bodies of water, long casts or trolling. Here line weight, lure size and speed are the depth determinants.

I have fished Mepps spinners since the fifties. I do all kinds of fishing, but casting spinners and spoons is by far the most fun. Mastered properly, you can out fish anyone, yes even the fly fisherman...I do it most of the time. But it is like any other skill, it takes practice and utilizing the above tips. Like many of your fathers and grandfathers, I have been using Mepps spinners for nearly 50 years...they are the absolutely the very best.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Tackle Tips

by Vic Carrao

Have you noticed every time you walk into a tackle store, your wallet becomes much lighter? You go in thinking you just need a couple lures and line, by the time you hit the cash register you're down $30.00 or more. There are so many lures that catch fish, it's hard to resist adding one more to the tackle box, and fishing line is not cheap either. In my business, if you don't learn how to shop wisely, you'll soon find yourself working just to keep the tackle box full. There are some things you can do that will save some money in the tackle store.

Lures and Hooks

Most species of fish will bite a lure or spinner. Many of my fondest memories come from casting a lure for Coho, Chinook or Steelhead. Most of the lures on the market today come complete in a package with swivel, split ring and hook. The hook is usually made from a harden metal or alloy which is great until you get snagged on a branch or log. Snagging up on the river bottom usually means the loss of that $5.00 lure. For years now I have been changing the hooks on my lures strait out of the package to a softer hook that will straiten on a snag.

Most of you are probably thinking that if the hook will straiten on a snag then it would also straiten on a fish, not true. When a lure gets snagged on a branch or log, the point of the hook is penetrated into the structure; this puts the stress on the point of the hook. When you pull hard, the hook either straitens (if it's soft) or breaks the line (if it's hard). When the hook is penetrated into a fish's mouth, the stress on the hook is not on the point but on the bend of the hook. I have never had a hook straiten when fighting a fish that was hooked cleanly in the mouth.

Changing hooks

I change the hook on my lures to an Eagle Claw or Gamigatsu Si-wash Hook. A Si- wash hook is a hook with an extra long shank and an open eye. The open eye allows you to attach the hook onto a split ring or swivel quickly with very little effort. All you need is a pair of pliers to close the eye once placed on the swivel or split ring. When you purchase your next lure, pickup a pack of Si-wash hooks, make sure you match the size of the hook on the lure to your Si-wash hooks.

Leader and lines

There are many brands of line available on the market today; my favorites are Berkley Trilene for spinning reels and Maxima Ultra Green for levelwinds. The Berkley Trilene offers a larger variety of lines for specific methods and species that is more suitable for the majority of the fishing fraternity. There are many factors that must be taken into account when putting line onto a reel; Berkley has covered them all from Berkley Sensithin for lighter applications through to Berkley Big Game for your larger game fish. Maxima make a great product for your standard levelwind applications with Ultra Green being the most popular. Both these brands are readily available at most tackle stores in your area.

Saving $$$ on line

There are 4 basic spool sizes available, leader spools - 27 yards ($4 to $5), mini packs - 110yds ($9 to $10), one shot - 220 yds ($17 to $22.00) and Bulk line purchased by the yard, 4-8 lb ($4 per hundred yds) 10-15 lb ($ 5 per hundred yds) 17 to 20 lb ($6 per hundred yds). The bulk prices above are available at Hub sports in Abbotsford.

If you take a close look at the differences between purchasing leader spools and bulk line you'll soon realize the large saving if you purchase your line by the yard. Lets take the leader spool at 27 yards for $4 to $5, which works out to approximately $12 to $15 for a hundred yards. Bulk line for 100 yards is between $4 and $6, that is over 50 % saving on just one purchase. When you purchase the larger One- Shot spools for re-spooling your reels you pay between $17.00 and $22.00 for 220 yards, most reels only hold 120 to 175 yards of line. You don't want to use the same diameter for leader as mainline so that extra 45 to 100 yds becomes waste. If you take your reels into the tackle store for re-spooling, you only pay for the line that goes on the reel. That now means on 120 to 175 yards your only paying $6 to $10, saving again over 50%.

How to buy bulk line

Save all your small, medium and large spools, take your large spools down to the nearest tackle store and have them spool the diameter of lines that you most often use for mainline, 15 to 20 lb test is what I use. When your reel is in need of new line, just re-spool your reel with your bulk line. For leaders have them spool the medium size One-Shot spools with leader line, usually 8,10 &12lb test. When your small leader spools that you carry in your vest become empty just re-spool them at home with your bulk leader. You'll save a lot of wasted money that can be applied to that new rod or reel that you've been eyeing up.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Pier Fishing

By Joshua
There are many advantages and disadvantages to pier fishing. If you do not have a boat, pier fishing is the next best alternative. Some of the advantages that you have while fishing from a pier is :
  • The height advantage, you can target fish easily when you can see them
  • Bait is normally very plentiful around bridges and piers, so you have the bait right under you.
  • You save a tremendous amount of money on gas, especially today, with the gas prices like they are.
  • Pier fishing is overall more efficient for the pocket book.
  • Catching great game fish is a very common thing because where there is bait; there is always game fish of some kind around.

If you are trying to target certain species of fish from a pier, there are some things that you will need to know. Such as, the understanding of that specific species, how they feed, when they feed, what type of structure they are housing themselves in and the specific fishing tactics. For example, if you are going to fish for Mangrove Snapper, you do not want to fish the non structural sandy part of the pier. First, you should ask the people around you because believe it of not this is one of the most efficient ways to learn about the different areas to fish. If there are bait house employees ask them, they are usually very helpful. Now you want to try and find structure because snapper are structure loving fish! Usually where there is structure there is bait, so you should figure out what they are eating and the best way to do this is match the hatch. Therefore, in other words what type of bait that is plentiful in your area because this is most likely what the fish are feeding on. Now that you have location and bait figured out the only thing that you need now is the rig and technique. Following these steps for each of the different species will improve you odds for catching fish from a pier. To learn more about different techniques be sure to visit Pier Fishing Guide. You do have to become a little more creative when fishing from a pier because you are not going to the fish you have to get there attention and get them to come to you. There also disadvantages when fishing from a pier some of the disadvantages are:

  • You have to be extremely patient, because you have to draw the fish to you.
  • Boater sometimes has the tendency to spoil things by rudely going through your fishing lines in search for bait.
  • Landing large game fish can be a tad bit tricky if a novice pier fisherman, you must learn to rope gaff your fish or use a drop net.
  • You must learn to maneuver around pilings when you do get a good fish

As you can see there are many advantages and disadvantages to pier fishing with that being said all fishing is fun you just have to learn and be creative in order to be successful.

Friday, July 14, 2006

A Guide to Modern Rigging

By Russ "Bassdozer" Comeau

How goes it? It's Bassdozer here. You know what I am thinking? Maybe this is a good time to review a number of basic rigging options that are used nowadays with soft baits. Nothing fancy, just bass rigs you basically make with a bait, a sinker, and a hook. So here goes.

1) Weightless Rig. The purest form of rigging, and most deadly with the Senko. No sinker is used and the hook can be tied directly to the main line. Optionally, tie the hook to a 12" to 24" inch leader tied to a free-turning swivel that dissipates the line twist which often occurs with unweighted soft baits.

2) Unpegged Texas Rig. A conical sinker is allowed to slide freely on the main line, with the hook tied directly to the main line. Optionally use a bead. The sinker will jackhammer constantly against the bead and make a tiny clicking noise that can attract fish at times.

One difficulty is an unpegged sinker can slide far up the line on the cast, making for inaccurate casts and imprecise presentations. An unpegged sinker can also slide far down the line and get your rig stuck in snaggy cover. For more control over an unpegged sinker, you can contain it on a short 12 to 24" leader tied to a swivel. This gives you the desirable unpegged lure movement (and bead-clicking option) while at the same time, the short leader gives you better control over the cast and presentation.

3) Pegged Texas Rig. Pocket a few toothpicks the next time you pay the check at the diner. Then jam one in the butt of a bullet weight and break it off. Keep in mind, don't jam it in so tightly that you risk weakening the line. Slide it down the line, and the toothpick will hold the weight securely against the nose of a soft bait used in heavy cover. The weight and bait will act like one unit that slips through weeds and resists snagging in cover.

4) Florida Rig. An advancement over the toothpick-pegging method, Florida rig sinkers are molded around a thin Teflon tube, and a corkscrew wire that screws in to the nose of a soft bait. Slip the sinker on the main line, tie the hook directly to the main line, and screw it into the bait. This provides the ultimate in weedless and snagless presentation for big bass in heavy cover.

5) Mojo Rig. Mojo sinkers are long, thin, and shaped like pencil leads. They're part of a complete system which includes rubber pegs that thread through the Mojo weight to peg it from 12" to 24" inches above the bait. The rubber strand cushions the line from any potential damage that can occur with wooden toothpicks or crimping splitshots on the line.

The thin Mojo sinker will slink through weeds better than most other weight types. Mojo rigs also work for vertical fishing in deep water where baits are suspended for bass lurking in or under the tops of flooded trees or brush.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

9 Principles of War Applied to Flyfishing

by Harry P. Davis, Author of Guerrilla Flyfishing

The nine Principles of War, as defined in the Army Field Manual FM-3 Military Operations:

  • Concentrate combat power at the decisive place and time.Put your mind on fishing when you are on the water. Worry and fret about problems at home or the office have no place here if you are going to have a productive day of angling. You may as well just splash around in the water and smack your rod against the rocks if you lose your concentration.This hour and this place are the decisive destination and time. All your planning, equipping and scheduling have come to naught, if you fail toconcentrate your angling power now.
  • Direct every military operation towards a clearly defined, decisive, and attainable objective.From the time you plan a trip to the time you pull out of the water, drive your thoughts toward the objective of hunting, deceiving and hooking the species you are after. Every species has habits, patterns and personalities...learn them.
  • Seize, retain, and exploit the initiative.Spot, imitate and cast with confidence.
  • Strike the enemy at a time, at a place, or in a manner for which he is unprepared.Sneak, hide and move slowly. Make all efforts to keep your presence unknown to your quarry. Your approach, casts and imitations should all be your best as to give the quarry a big surprise when he is hooked.
  • Allocate minimum essential combat power to secondary efforts.Turn off your cell phone.
  • Place the enemy in a position of disadvantage through the flexible application of combat power.Change methods, patterns and approaches often if your quarry is not taking what you re offering.
  • For every objective, ensure unity of effort under one responsible commander.Always remember, you are the angler, not some book, manufacturer or world class pro. Go with your intelligence and your instincts . . .this is fishing, not a Mars landing.
  • Never permit the enemy to acquire an unexpected advantage.Remember to check you lines, flies and hooks. Replace your lines whenneeded, make sure your flies are clean and realistic looking and sharpen your hook often with your whet rock. Don t hook yourself or fall out of the boat! Remember, cork is a choking hazard when taking those pictures of your trophy catch with your rod in your teeth.
  • Prepare clear, uncomplicated plans and clear, concise orders to ensure thorough understanding.Make sure all your fishing buddies and family know when, where and what of the trip. It fouls up great bonding moments when a buddy shows up in a wet suit and spear gun and the guys unload their canoes rigged for white perch.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Fishing Pontchartrain Under the Bridge

Wanna do some fishing this weekend? Wanna catch a bunch of fish? But you don't wanna fish in the sun? Well, you solve that dilemma by launching into Lake Pontchartrain, heading over toward the Twin Spans on the South side, and anchoring under the bridge. That's the precise spot where you'll begin pulling in all kinds of fish--trout, reds, flounder, sheepshead, drum, croakers, and lots more (just like my fishing team and I did on Thursday).

But you know the trick to mastering such a magnificent catch? Live shrimp! Some might say you can use plastics. But I’m telling you first hand you gotta have live shrimp!

“I mean y’all saw the difference it made for us this morning,” Capt. Kenny Kreeger reiterated to the league of anglers who had gathered at the backdown ramp at Rigolets Marina. “Like when we first got to the south side of the Twin Spans, we used market shrimp. It’s all we could get! Oh, it was fresh as could be, but it was still market bait nonetheless. And if you noticed, we weren’t even getting a nibble!

“Yet, a couple of you guys anchored next to us were smokin’ them. And the only difference in what you were doing and what I was doing was ‘live shrimp.’”

Well, to make a long story short, Kenny and I and my cameraman Willie Wilson made a snap decision just seconds after watching the guys in the adjacent boat pull in trout after trout—yep! on live shrimp! The decision was make the 25 minute run to Chef Menteur to Chef Harbor Marina and get some live shrimp.

The entire picture changed under the bridge when we began throwing live shrimp on a Carolina rig…and catching beau coup fish as a result of it.

“See all the different species, Frank,” Kreeger pointed out. “That just goes to show you that with the right bait you can catch—in one spot—speckled trout, white trout, redfish, sheepshead, drum, flounder, croaker, gafftop, and, yes, even those pesky little hardheads. It was like they all had a craving for live shrimp.”

I feel that I should explain to all you “plastic devotees” why such emphasis on live bait. It’s not because live bait is an end-all guarantee for catching fish. It’s indicative, though, how important it is to have all your bases covered when you pull away from the dock. To do it right, you need your favorite plastics, a couple of pounds of fresh market bait, a bucket of live shrimp, maybe a livewell full of live Cocahoes, and maybe even a cast net on hand to collect your own shiners or pogies or baby mullets should the opportunity present itself.

“It’s like I say all the time,” Kreeger jumped in, “you gotta give ‘em what they want! And if you want to play it stupid and stubborn and stand rock solid on “they’ll take what I give them” attitude, you just might have to stop off at the fried chicken joint on the way home, if you know what I mean!”

So where has all the activity been in the lake for the past couple of weeks? Here’s the list:

--The Twin Spans on the south side;
--Between the eastbound and westbound roadbed on the bridges.
--The cross-over between the two bridges at mid-lake.
--The trestle on the south side at about the third firebreak.
--The area at South Shore that’s been staked with PVC pipe just off the point.

Focus on fishing these areas first. Then move around and scout out a few spots of your own.
Fish very very early in the morning, preferably right at sun-up. The fish seem to be more hungry at that time and it’s the optimum “cool time” of day for you and your fishing buddies.
And understand that what bites, when it bites, and how ferocious the bites are depend heavily on the tidal range. Ideally, 8/10’s of a foot is what you want; under 5/10’s is considered poor and over 1.8 feet is way too strong. In a nutshell just make sure you fish when the tide is moving and not slack. And if it’s slack when you get out there, you’ll just have to wait it out until it starts up again.

So till next week, be courteous and be safe out there!

Frank Davis - Frank's Website

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Spring Baits and How to use them

by Jim Reaneau

I wrote this article several years ago and thought it would be a good time to redo it. The spring is and exciting time of the year. Whether you are a beginner or expert you will be able to catch fish from the bank or a boat. The shallows will be alive with all species of fish. Most all fish start spawning at the same time. Crappie, bass, perch, and many others.

First I will start with the most popular the spinner bait. This bait is the easiest to fish as you throw it out and reel it back. This sounds easy, but sometimes this is all you have to do. This bait doesn t hang up as much as other baits. As long as you keep it moving it will slide over limbs and stumps. There are many sizes and colors to choose from. I like a three quarter ounce because I can slow roll it and it will stay down and not fall over. The lighter baits will rise quickly when retrieved quickly. This may not be bad as the stop and go retrieve is a good pattern. Colors are pretty important but I like chartreuse and white with gold and silver blades. I like willow leaf blades. This color will work well in muddy and clear water. Fish this around the grass and timber or parallel to the bank as this will be the best strike zone. I fish this on a medium heavy Falcon rod with a Shamino curado reel. When you get a strike set the hook hard and hold your rod up to get the fish coming towards you.

The lipless crank bait is the next easiest bait to fish. You can chunk it a country mile which we all do. But this is not a good ideal as with all that line out it will be hard to set the hook. Everyone thinks just because it has two treble hooks the fish will hook them selves this is not true. Bass can close their mouths over a bait and hold on till they break water and out the bait comes. This bait comes in many colors and sizes. Lake Fork is known for red baits. So red would be a good color. The fire tiger and lemon OB are good colors. Some days the fish want a half and some days the quarter ounce is the size. Try both sizes and let the fish tell you what they want. The way to fish bait is cast it out and start your retrieve soon as the bait hit s the water. Keep it moving just fast enough to tick the top of the grass or just off the bottom. If you get caught in the grass jerk the bait out and let it fall and sometimes this will trigger a strike. Some days the fast retrieve will work better than the slow retrieve. Remember when the fish hit s the bait set the hook quickly and firmly.

The Lizard is another popular bait. It is one of the fishes biggest enemies. Bass will attack this intruder on site. The salamander which is what the lizard looks like will invade the nest and eat the eggs. I like to fish the lizard on a light weight Carolina rig. I use 20 pound big game and a quarter ounce weight pegged about a foot up the line. Cast this around trees and parallel to the bank. The fish will attack this bait aggressively. Some times they will grab the bait and swim out of the nest and blow it out before you can set the hook. Their protective nature this time of year is to kill it or remove it from the nest. Colors can vary from the water clarity. I like pumpkin with a chartreuse tail, black with a blue tail, and watermelon. I use a 3/0 hook on this bait because of the length. This is a good bait to pitch around trees and brush. Weightless baits are a good choice as they will fish over the grass and slim that invades the shallow water in the spring. These baits come in different styles.

The New Tiki Bamboo stick is a great bait for dead sticking. Lake Fork Tackle Ring fries, flukes, and big lizards are other good baits for this style of fishing. They all will come through the grass and slim. You will need a wide gap hook in the 3/0 or 4/0 size. Don t use any weight or if you do use a one thirty second weight. Finish nails can be inserted into the body of these baits to give them weight. You don t want much as this will take away from their action. Cast the bait out and let it sit for as long as you can. Then sweep your rod up slowly or twitch it slightly. You don t want to over work the bait. I fish these baits on a medium heavy Falcon six six with fifteen pound line. When you get a strike let the fish have the bait for a two count then set the hook. This will cover only a few of the popular spring baits and I hope this will help you catch more fish.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Using Maps for Fishing Success

by John Leech

Being able to find fish on a lake before you put the boat in the water is a great help to the start of a successful day on the water. Reading the bottom of the lake and finding the migration routes the fish will follow to and from the feeding grounds and where the feeding grounds are from a map is a huge key to success. This ensures time spent fishing will be in the more productive areas of the lake instead of casting blindly at some unproductive shoreline in the hope there may be a fish in the area that will bite.

A good contour map is worth its weight in gold if you have the knowledge to read it, and not worth the paper it's printed on if you can't. The lines represent the depth breaks. Each line shows changes in depth that graduate from shore to the deepest water in the lake. The value of the map is in the accuracy of the contour placements and changes. Most Government and geological survey maps are for the most part the most accurate. These agencies are a good source for maps as are any Aerospace contour map. Army Corps of Engineers is another good source. The tackle shop plastic maps are the most readily available but often lack true accuracy. These maps will get you in the right area and give you some good starting places; some even come with GPS reading of good fishing areas. The real key in catching fish is being in the area where the fish are. Good map reading can take you from one productive area in the lake to another just like it simply by looking on a map.

Finding the break or desired depth change on a map is the same as looking for it on the water. During the warm water seasons the fish will relate to a more gradual slope or break and during colder water seasons a sharper drop into deeper water will be their preferred choice. Once you've located the desired place on the map, finding the location on the water becomes the next challenging task. A GPS and a compass are needed tools and, for any structure fishing, a good depth finder is a must. Finding these places still requires time driving around on the water; good map studies just mean less wasted time. You can find the right areas with site and direction searches. A site and direction search starts with identifying two landmarks on the map and on the water. Take a bearing from one mark towards the other watching your depth finder. When you come to the desired depth throw a buoy marker. Marker buoys are a must to be able to picture what the area really looks like. Good map reading is one thing that separates the top anglers that win on a regular basis. By good map study, the areas of the lake that will be holding the most fish at a given seasonal period can be found days before ever seeing the water.

There are always changes to the bottom that are not on some maps and these places, if conditions are right, can be gold mines. Fewer people will know of these places and thus less pressure on the fish that live there. Other key pieces of structure and breaks to look for that are not on some maps are springs, wells, old house foundations and old pulp wood roads. Most of the newer reservoirs have maps showing all these details, but the older lake most of these details were not noted on maps before the lake was flooded. Sometimes fishermen will share good fishing areas on different bodies of water. Studying these areas and looking for similar areas can also increase the success of a fishing trip. I talked to a man at a Jiffy store on the way to a lake I was fishing miles away. He told me about a break in the river where a creek came into the channel. Sure enough that place was a great holding area but, after studying the map at the hotel, so were the next two creeks that entered on down river. Good patterns will reproduce themselves time and time again. Map study can just show you where.