Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Best Laid Plans

For the last week and a half I have been prepping for a tournament on Gull Lake in south west MI.  I studied maps, I spent time just driving around scanning the lake and yes I fished it some as well.

During this time the smallmouth spawn was going on and tournament after tournament was being held.  The first tournaments winning weight was 22lb of smallmouth.  As the week progressed the weight needed to win dropped to about 18lb.  Beds had been picked over and those that didn’t bite moved off the beds.   

I didn’t think going into Saturday’s tournament based on what I had found I could get 18lb, I felt as if I could catch 12 to 15lb and still be in the hunt for a check.  I was confident that I could catch that kind of weight.  I had a few high percentage areas I felt like I could land a big one and then catch a few keepers to help my bag.

As with all best laid plans it seems it didn’t work out.  The first spot on my list never produced a fish that went longer than 13.5 inches.  I honestly thought most of my weight would come from that spot, I was wrong.  I struggled for 6 hours to catch 7.5lbs, just half of what I thought I could catch.

I know where I went wrong, I kept basically one rod in my hand all day.  The rod and bait I was sure were going to catch me some giant bass.  I never made the adjustment I should have or tried something else when the one lure I though was going to work didn’t work as well as I had planned.

Plans are one thing, but as anglers we need to be willing to ditch a plan in an instant if it’s not working for us.  We have to read the water, the conditions around us and adapt to them.  We can’t force feed a bass something they don’t want to eat.  I struggle with this very concept as I think many anglers do from time to time.  We have to be willing to adjust we can force the fish to.  That was my problem not adjusting like I should have.

Adjusting on the water is what separates those who cash checks and those who don’t.  I’m not saying I would have made the right adjustment, I think I know what I should have done as I look back at the day but I can’t guarantee it would have worked.  Even if I had made an adjustment and it didn’t work I would have been better then never making one in my mind.

I know the areas I struggle in.  I struggle when it comes to changing the game plan I have in place when a tournament starts.  It hurts me every time my plan doesn’t work because I struggle to put away the lure or lures I am using and switching to something else.  As anglers we all need to be willing to give up the game plan we have.  We have to be willing to work on areas we struggle with.  We have to force are selves to grow as anglers.  I should have put the rod down and not allowed myself to pick it up the rest of the day or even put it back in the rod locker so I was forced to fish something else.

I had rotated through all of my spots halfway through the tournament and had 3 fish.  Yes I had caught them on the plan and bait I thought I would, but when things slowed down I tried to force the lure and presentation I wanted.  I didn’t listen to the fish.

The next time you are out fishing a tournament or even fun fishing for that matter if your game plan for the day isn’t working don’t be afraid to change, maybe doing a 180 is the answer.  We have to be willing to adapt and change at a moment’s notice.  When we don’t we are left regretting what we didn’t do.  As much as I personally hate change, when it comes to fishing change is a good thing.   

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Installation of V-T2 Livewell System Video

Tournament anglers have two goals when they hit the water.  1) catch 5 legal bass and 2) keep them alive for weigh-in.  Goal number one seems to outweigh goal two in most fishing articles and videos.  Yes catching them has to happen first but keeping them alive is just as important.

A few months ago I wrote about the benefits of adding the V-T2 Livewell System to your boat (read post here).  With Tournament season a mare three days away I finally had a non-rainy cold day to install my V-T2’s. 

The process is simple and painless (assuming you can bring yourself to cut two holes into your bass boat).  The process takes about 15 minutes.  You need a 3” hole saw, a 9/64 drill bit and a 5/16 socket or wrench.   In the video below I used a towel to catch the shavings from drilling the hole.  V-T2 recommends a garbage bag, which after installing my set would have been a better option. 

If you want to find out more about the V-T2 System you can check them out at Newproproducts.com.  The 49.99 you spend might just be the difference between a live bass and a dead one, which could be a check in your pocket.  Make sure you check out the V-T2 System, you don’t want to regret it later.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Chris Lane Starts Bassmaster Event in Flames

from Wired2fish.com
This morning at the start of the BASSMASTER Elite event on Lake Dardanelle Chris Lane woke up to a miserable morning.  This was taken from BASSMASTER.com:

"Chris Lane awoke to a call to move his truck and boat from the hotel parking lot as one of the angler's boats was on fire. It was his.

He watched in horror as the Russellville Fire Department attempted to put it out.

"They got the call at 2:02 a.m. and it was out by 2:20. It didn't want to go out," he said, adding the cause of the fire is being investigated. "I lost pretty much everything. Fortunately, nobody was hurt."

 He can't say enough about everyone who helped him. He was at the launch with Fred Roumbanis' old boat, which now has Jodie Haralson's name on the wrap.

 During launch, anglers were still offering him tackle. He thanked them and said he would be OK.

 "The boat's a total loss. There's no reason to tow it home," he said.

 Lane was still working on getting the electronics set up on the loaner as the last of the Elites blasted off.

From Wired2fish.com
 "It is what it is. You have to make due," he said”

There are conflicting reports Jeremy Starks posted on Facebook this morning: “Someone broke into Chris Lanes boat then burned it last night. Lost all of his tackle. Wish him luck today.”

Whatever the cause it was a tuff start to his day.  Despite this Lane has to put it behind him and fish today.  I am sure more details will be given after the investigation has happened.  If his tackle was stolen and boat set on fire I hope they catch those responsible.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Is Keith Combs The Best In Texas?

From TexasToyotaBassClassic.com
Keith Combs has set records in the Texas Toyota Bass Classic (TTBC) over the last few years.  Last year when he won his 2nd TTBC title, he was the first angler to repeat as champion.  After winning again over the weekend he has now won 3 TTBC titles and is in a league of his own. 

This year Combs did it in dramatic fashion on Lake Fork with a weight of 110lbs for a 3 day tournament.  Being the 2nd time in his career he has broken the century mark.  In 2013 at the “Elite Series Rigid Industries Falcon Slam,” Combs weighed in 111lb over 4 days.

 When you do the math Combs bass averaged 7.33lb pounds this year in the TTBC.  That right there says something about Lake Fork, the lake proved it is still one of the best bass lakes in America.  Being a guide on Lake Fork most likely helped him in understanding the lake.  This weekend Combs proved he knows how to find and catch big bass in Texas.

When you look at Combs career in B.A.S.S. he only has the one win on Falcon but in other tournaments held in Texas by B.A.S.S. he has cashed a check with the exception of the first B.A.S.S. Open on Lake Amistad this year.

Looking at Combs record with FLW as well you see the same pattern when he is on Texas lakes.  Combs continually cashed checks.  Time and again is in contention to win the event as well.  The one lake that stands out as his achilles heel seems to be Amistad.

Combs talent on Texas water cannot be over looked.  He understands the water and the bass in his home state.  I would say it is safe to say that he will be a front runner next year to win the TTBC once again.  If they move the event to Amistad I might not say that with his results on that lake.

Truth be told Combs is a great TTBC champion and I think over the last four years he has helped the
From FishPAA.com
event.  In 2011 Combs won by beating Mike Iaconelli in a sudden death fish off.  In 2013 he won by 12lbs leading all 3 days of the tournament.  He capped it off this year with his 110lbs of bass.  Even
though he didn’t win in 2012, he finished 3rd in the TTBC.  The run Combs is on in the TTBC event is reminiscent of KVD’s run at the classic in 2010 and 2011.

As I followed the TTBC this weekend I could help but wonder what Combs might have done in the MLF event in Denton Texas that is currently being aired.  Would he have put a smack down on the field like KVD did in the Alpena MI event?  Personally I would have liked to see Combs be part of the MLF field in Denton TX.  It would be interesting to see how Combs would do on Texas waters in the MLF format where the anglers don’t know where they are going and are not given an practice time.  

Keith Combs is a force to be reckoned with in TX and he has proven it time and again.  If the TTBC wants a new champion my suggestion would be to move the event to Amistad, but I said it once and I’ll say it again I think Combs has been good for the TTBC.  I think it is safe to say he has not held the TTBC trophy for the last time.  The TTBC is right in his wheelhouse and it seems like it was almost made for him.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Misfire Leads to FLW Win

From FLW Website
Jonathan Henry won the FLW Rayovac event on Lake Guntersville on April 26th.  On the last day Henry weighted in 30.14lbs, the heaviest bag of the tournament.  He fished bridges and community holes on his way to the win.  FLW told of his winning bait like this: “Most of his damage was done on a 6-inch Scottsboro Tackle Company Fringe swimbait in a color called “shad # 1” tied to 20-pound test Gamma fluorocarbon line.”

What you don’t know is the rest of the story about the swimbait that help Henry win.  The following is from Fringe Tackle Companies Facebook page:

“Here's the story on the bait that won so you get it straight from the source. On April 5th I posted a
From Fringe Tackle Companies Facebook page
picture of the bait along the lines that it was a good bait but I wanted a mulligan. It was what I term a color misfire where it didn't achieve the illusion I was trying to. Truth be told I wasn't even going to finish putting eyes on them. At some point shortly after I offered them to Scottsboro Tackle as a "one of" not to be duplicated. Jonathan Henry got them from Scottsboro not me directly (I've never spoken to him) Then Saturday happens which causes me a panic because as is my norm when I have a misfire I put the recipe in a pile of to be "thrown away" papers, I do this so they don't get mixed with "good" recipes. Luckily I found the recipe and that's what I duplicated for Scottsboro under the "Basswhacker Shad" I pictured yesterday. There you have it, the bait was in a word a "dud" to me...a $40K dud that under normal circumstances I would've probably not sold but Scottsboro said they'd take them so they actually deserve credit for taking a chance on it. Just one of those flukes that happens in life...who'd a thought..”

A simple “misfire” led Henry to a win on Guntersville.  “Just one of those flukes that happens in life,” is an understatement.  Anglers should learn from this, a simple not what I was looking for, lead to a bait that won.  Just because we think something won’t work doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give it a try.  If you think there’s a chance it might, even a small chance, give it a shot.  You don’t have to commit to it forever but pick it up and try it for a few minutes, you never know a misfire might lead to something big, just ask Fringe Tackle and Scottsboro Tackle Shop.

From Fringe Tackle Companies Facebook page: Swimbaits
being shipped to Scottsboro Tackle Company 
If you are looking for the winning bait you are going to have to wait, they are currently sold out at Scottsboro Tackle.  You can get on the waiting list from what I understand.

You can find Scottsboro Tackle Company on line at www.scottsborotacklecompany.com.

Fringe Tackle Company can be found at www.fringetackle.net
You can read the whole story about the tournament on Guntersville HERE.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Flat Sided Choice

By Pierce Productions
Anglers know the power that lies within a crankbait when using it in the right place, under the right conditions.  The round bodied models anglers know catch fish, so getting them to change to a different style of crankbait can be a struggle.
Though round bodied crankbaits are a staple in anglers tackle boxes there are other options for anglers who are willing to put their reservations aside.  Flat sided crankbaits have been around for years although they are not on many anglers’ radar.  This could be because finding a flat sided crankbait used to be difficult.  You had to find a lure maker since most were handmade; they cost more, it could also be that change is uncomfortable and challenging.    Whatever your reservations are about flat sided crankbaits you might want to put them aside this spring.       

BASS Elite Pro’s Jimmy Mason and Mark Menendez both know how good a flat sided lure is.  Mason uses them on Alabama lakes from fall to spring.  He always has a selection of Bomber Flat Deep A’s rigged and ready during those months.  Menendez favors a Strike King KVD HC Flat Side Crankbait, when the conditions are right.

Bomber’s flat A has been on the market for years; those who know about it and fish it understand what the lure can do and why it has been a staple in the Bomber Line up.  Strike King introduced the KVD HC Flat Side Crankbait in 2013.  Strike Kings offers one size the 1.5 which runs 8-10ft.  Bomber offers two models the Flat A which dives to 3-5ft and the Deep Flat A that runs 4-8ft.  Other manufacturers make flat sided crankbaits, companies like Lucky Craft, Bandit and 6th Sense to name a few. 
By Pierce Productions
Flat sided baits not only look different, they also come through the water differently.  They have their own special signature in the water that separates them from other crankbaits.  A flat sided crankbait “has a much tighter wiggle which looks like a subdued shad,” the tight wiggle gives the lure a “stunned look,” says Mason.  Menendez likes a flat sided crankbait because they “have a realistic profile” that round body crankbaits don’t capture as well.

Mason will fish the Deep Flat A in water ranging from 40 to 60 degrees.  Mason fishes the bait until the bass move onto beds.  Menendez has caught bass on flat sided baits in water colder than 42 degrees but favors them in clear cold water that is 48-52 degrees.   Once the water temp moves above 60 degrees or the bass have locked onto beds both Mason and Menendez will switch over to other lures that work better under those conditions.

In clear cold water Menendez will tie on a KVD flat side.  Visibility has to be 18 to 24 inches and sunny skies will help the bite as well.  Because of the clear water Menendez believes the bass “respond to the sight.”  The KVD Flat Side “stands out in cold clear water.”
Mason works the Bomber Deep Flat A on a Dobyns 705 CB glass rod, 7ft Med/Hvy Fast Action cranking rod.  He pairs that with a Lews BB1 with a 5:1 gear ratio.  Mason spools up with Vicious 10lb copolymer line.  Menendez also goes with a Lews BB1 5:1 but uses a Lews 7ft medium light action rod.  Menendez opts for 8 to 10lb Seaguar fluorocarbon line.

Mason chooses copolymer line over Fluorocarbon because in the colder weather he fishes the Deep Flat A the copolymer is more manageable than fluorocarbon.  He likes “a little cushion to get the bait deeper into the bass’s mouth.”  The copolymer does that.  The copolymer also helps the flat sided lure during the pause that occurs after deflecting off of cover.  Fluorocarbon will drag the lure down instead of keeping it neutrally buoyant.

Menendez fishes the KVD flat side around rip rap, rock and gravel.  He looks for key areas where the rock or gravel begins to change size.  Fish it “where golf ball size rock changes to softball size rock” says Menendez.  Those transitions are the key.  If Menendez can find any change in the rock size he is going to probe it with his lure.

Mason fishes offshore on shallow ledges and canals, he looks for rock and rip rap but will also use his flat sided around grass edges and stumps.  Mason looks for areas where hydrilla and milfoil meet he will not overlook areas with new and old growth either.  He probes both with the Bomber Flat A model that fits the depth.
When fishing rock Mason keeps his boat close to the rocks; casting parallel with them.  He uses a slow and steady retrieve.  He walks and grinds the bait through the rock.  Letting any contact the bait makes create the action for him, instead of starting and stopping his bait.

Menendez believes the speed and angle of his bait is more important than deflecting it off of cover.  The key in getting strikes according to Menendez is the “thump” the bait makes.  He says you want the bait to feel like a spinnerbait with a Colorado blade.  He fishes the bait more like a lipless bait instead of a normal crankbait to accomplish this.

The only change Menendez makes to his KVD Flat Side is switching out the hooks.  Menendez will add number four Gamakatsu treble hooks.  If the bass are short striking Menendez will go to wide gaped trebles to increase his hook up ratio.  Mason doesn’t make any changes to the Bomber Flat A he believes “the bait is that good right out of the box.”     

Menendez uses three colors.  He likes red craw colors in late winter thru pre-spawn, but will also use something with a white belly like a sexy shad or one with a chartreuse belly.  Mason’s colors vary some from Menendez, he likes a red craw color but if he is fishing dirty water he will change to a black back (like chartreuse with black back).  He also likes fire tiger and a discontinued slim perch color.           

One of the secrets of the pros with flat sided baits is hand crafted wooden models.  One of the premier crankbait builders is Herman Oswald.  Oswald owns Catching Concepts Crankbaits, a small company in California; that makes flat sided crankbaits out of red wood instead of balsa like other companies.

Wooden baits are sought after because they hunt better than their plastic counterparts.  Wooden lures wobble different.  When they deflect off of cover they do not correct as quickly and return to true as fast as plastic baits.  These qualities give bass a different look, creates more noise and disturbance making them sought after. 
Oswald points out that when buying a wooden flat sided crankbait knowing what it is made out of is important.  Each type of wood will make a different sound when it deflects off cover.  Balsa makes a dual thud where harder woods, like red wood; resonates in the water.
Anglers might be wondering which is the better choice when it comes to buying a plastic or wooden flat sided crankbait.  Both have their own positives.  Plastic baits are normally cheaper and can be easier to get your hands on.  Wooden flat sides have a special quality maybe even a lore that has made them a “premium” amongst anglers.  Oswald puts it best though when talking about the difference between the two “It’s hard to capture what you get out of wood bait.”  Having a few of both is probably the best options so you can give bass a different look.

Catching Concepts has many models of flat sided baits for all situations.  When fishing cold water
Left to right; Bomber, Strike King, Catching Concepts
pre-spawn conditions there are two baits Oswald would recommend, the DTC2 and the Rippin C2.  Oswald recommends Orange Craw, Chartreuse black back and Tennessee Shad colors.  If you want to see Catching Concepts lures or make an order, look them up on Facebook, (Catching Concepts Crankbaits), you can also find lures on their Ebay store as well.

Oswald points out anglers need to set aside their reservations about bills on crankbaits when considering a hand crafted bait.  A variety of bills are used and though many anglers have not accepted the use of fiber board ones there is a reason for using them.  Not only are they strong, they cut through the water better, “which allows the bait to have more action.” 

No matter what version of flat sided crankbait you tie on, a plastic or wood, when the water is cold they will catch bass and fill your livewell.  Despite the difference in shape don’t let the look of a flat sided crankbait stop you from tying one on.  Try one out this spring and don’t let your reservations hold you back.

Monday, March 17, 2014


“PMA” (Positive Mental Attitude) I scratched my head as I read the title of the fishing seminar I was about to attend.  All I could think was; am I reading this right?  Shouldn’t it be titled something like power fishing, finesse fishing, shouldn’t the word fishing at least be in the title?  I was at a fishing show but I was about to walk into a seminar suited for a self-help conference.  I checked my ticket one more time just to make sure I hadn’t walked into a self-help seminar by mistake.

A Positive Mental Attitude was the topic Elite Series angler Gerald Swindle covered.   I listened as the fast talking southerner; self-proclaimed, proud redneck covered the topic.  I could not help but see myself in his words.  I would venture to say any angler who sat in the room during his seminar at some point could see themselves reflected in some way.
The main point that GMAN was getting at is that anglers can be their own worst enemy.  Anglers let the negatives affect them when we are on or off the water.  Before we ever make a cast an angler can ruin their day by allowing a bad attitude to control them.  

I can’t tell you how many times I thought the day was ruined while launching my boat.  Those days are the ones I know I didn’t catch them; sure I might have gotten a few bites but not many.  It’s the days I am relaxed and having fun that I catch them.  The best day I ever had on the water I caught more bass than I ever had, the exact number escapes me now but it was over fifty.  I was relaxed I was enjoying myself I was out to have fun (and maybe trying to catch more bass than my wife).  I believe a lot of times we forget to have fun even during a tournament.
Tournament anglers stand to learn the most from the idea of Positive Mental Attitude.  When the day doesn’t go as we planned or we don’t have a limit by the time we feel we should we get down and begin letting negative thoughts flow.  Be honest with yourself, things seem to go from bad to worse.  The idea of PMA is to not let the little things or even big things get you down.  So what, you aren’t catching them, you lost a fish or two.  Look at the positives you are still out fishing.  You are away from the daily grind.  The phone isn’t ringing off the hook; no office, no boss, it is just you and the fish.

Those outside the world of fishing don’t understand the passion and drive that leads us back time and time again to chase fish.  When anglers stand in their own way by having a bad attitude, we are not only hurting ourselves but the time we have to spend enjoying something amazing.  We allow that attitude to spoil those precious hours on the water. 
Having a Positive Mental Attitude while on the water makes the time more enjoyable.  If we think hard about it, I am sure every angler has been on the water with someone who is not catching them or having a bad day.  I know I have shared the boat with a friend and hoped and prayed he catches them because if he didn’t his negativity would ruin my day.  I got to the point I wouldn’t invite him to fish with me because his attitude got so bad.  If we are honest with ourselves no one wants to be that guy.  We don’t want to be the one who ruins a fishing trip.  Allowing a bad attitude to surround us, can and will ruin it.

When we only think about the negatives we are also affecting those around us.  If we want to pass our love of fishing on to the next generation then we have to stay positive.  We cannot be negative on the boat with those we are trying to introduce to the sport.  No one will find joy and a love for fishing surrounded by negativity. 

On your next trip out fishing, think about having a positive mental attitude when things go wrong.  Don’t let the issues at the boat ramp or the birds nest in your bait caster get you upset.  Instead think about the fact that you are out fishing, the fact that you could be at work but instead you are doing what you love.  Swindle said one thing that really hit home.  He basically said if you have a positive mental attitude on the water it will carry over into the rest of your life.  So keep your chin up the next time things go wrong on the water, don’t think about the bad instead focus on the good.  You never know what else might change in your life if you have the right attitude.