Bass Fishing Tactics: Fishing Flooded Shorelines

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floodflish2The topic of this post may seem a little strange considering the previous article (scouting during low water periods), but observations made during those scouting trips can benefit times when fishing for bass along flooded shorelines as well.

Think about it for a moment … While scouting, you are not only observing exposed offshore structures on these scouting trips but you are also noting the “dry” shoreline conditions at the same time!

Getting Ready To Fish Flooded Shorelines …

Lakes and rivers often flood their shorelines, inundate adjacent real estate and the flood waters remain stable for several days, bass and other game fish often follow baitfish into this newly created aquatic realm.  Knowing how the bass adjust then position themselves around new cover is the key to finding enough quality bass to make the trip worthwhile.

Depending on the nature of area where the flooding occurs and level of development adjacent to the water body, this new territory usually has a number of possible fish holding structures ranging from stands of bushes/trees, flooded fields with fence rows or other man-made items.

Quite often cover in the newly flooded area is so thick it appears bass could literally be anywhere! Identifying a specific bass fishing pattern (and not just cast to every piece of cover) to maximize your efforts is, to say the least, daunting.

One approach to address this dilemma; focus on isolated cover rather than try and hit each and every tree trunk in forest in the area you are fishing.

Tactics For Fishing Flooded Shorelines …

I remember fishing a tournament several years back when a series of exceptional spring storms combined with snow melt runoff causing the reservoir we were fishing to flood extensive areas of the shoreline.  Timing was during the latter part of the spring and some bass were in all stages of the spawning cycle (pre-spawn, spawn and post spawn).

Most of the flooded areas covered extensive areas of brush.  Fortunately we located a couple of coves where the brush was only present in scattered pods.

By focusing our efforts in the coves with scattered brush pods, we were able to locate decent concentrations of quality bass including one largemouth weighing 5 lbs. 13 oz.; the largest bass caught during the two-day tourney!

treefloodA few years earlier, another lake went into flood after heavy winter snows and a fast spring melt sent torrents of water discharging down mountain streams.  Water entering the lake was frigid but warmed quickly once it rose and flooded the adjacent camping and picnic areas.

Even though there were extensive stands of flooded brush and trees, the areas with the scattered picnic shelters again held both the greatest numbers of quality bass.

So the next time you are fishing for bass along flooded shorelines or backwaters, remember that sometimes it is alright to be a little “scattered” in your approach!

I’m Gonna Miss Her – Brad Paisley’s Take on Bass Fishing?

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brad-paisleyIt’s been a few years now since Brad Paisley released his “fishing song” titled … “I’m Gonna Miss Her” but it sure struck a chord with many fishermen and still does today.

Though some may have believed this was just a song performed by a country singer with little bass fishing experience that is not the case with Mr. Paisley.  Considering where Brad was raised (northern West Virginia on the Ohio River) it seems bassin’ and country singin’ were inbred from the start.

So here for your enjoyment is a video of Brad Paisley performing the song at the Grand Ole Opry  …

Makes you kind of wonder though … would he really miss her?

Fishing Lure Nostalgia 2: The White Bush-hog Rides Again

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One week after catching the 7-pound plus largemouth, I was back on the water armed with the same quarter ounce white Bush-hog bait.  This week, both the purpose and weather for this fishing trip than was the case for the previous week’s trip (see previous post for more info).

Last Club Bass Tourney – November, 1976

When I arrived at the ramp early on November 7th (1976), I met Harry and the rest of the bass club members who were fishing the last tournament of the season.  Harry was the person who introduced me to organized bass fishing tournaments and the club earlier that year.

Now this wasn’t one of those big-money deals you see on the ESPN or the cable sports channels, this was a small club event to qualify a team that would represent the club at the state fish-offs during the Summer of 1977.  As a matter of fact, there was no money involved in the tournament at all, just points to help earn a place on the team.

Hi-Tech (?) Bass Rigs!

A Hi-Tec 70s Bassboat!

A Hi-Tec 70s Bassboat!

As we loaded the equipment into the boat (a 14-foot, v-hull aluminum boat altered to serve the needs of most fisherman in the 70s (seats, livewell, electric trolling motor, depth finder, etc.), we both noticed the increasing cloud cover and talk of snow by the afternoon weigh-in.

Perfect weather to catch pneumonia errr I mean a boatload of bass!

Once everyone had launched and the start time passed, the armada of boats powered by 20 HP outboards (yes that is 20 … not 200 HP like today … LOL) zoomed down the lake to their various “honey holes” (a.k.a. – secret spots most everyone knew about).  Since this was only my second time on that lake, I yielded to Harry’s experience and we headed off to one of his spots on the northwest side of the pond.

The Quest Begins …

His main “honey hole” was located in a shallow bay (actually the whole lake is pretty shallow) with a creek in one corner delivering freshwater and nutrients on a continuing basis.  Another key feature in the bay is the number of boulders, some small and submerged while others were large and partly exposed, scattered across different parts of the cove.

After shutting down the outboard and switching over to the electric motor, Harry let me know he had been catching fish off the numerous rocks for the last week or so. He suggested jigs, thin-bodied minnow plugs (Rapalas) and spinnerbaits.  Once we were close enough to the boulder area, we both started fishing jigs by bouncing them slowly across the bottom.  Each time the jig would contact something hard (a boulder), we noted its position so we could fish it again later when hopefully things “warmed –up”.

Cold Water Bass = Slow

Cold Water Bass = Slow

We continued fishing through the area with the jigs catching yellow perch and an occasional short bass (less than 12” long) but nothing to put in the livewell.  Definitely not the most engaging conditions (few fish, cold temps tend to drain energy and attention) but at least the coffee in the thermos was hot keeping us in the game.

A couple of other club members stopped to say hi (checking out Harry’s honey hole of course) and find out how we were doing.  Based on the information exchanged it sounded like the first few hours of the tournament were pretty slow for everyone and only a couple of anglers had keeper bass in the livewell.

Spinnerbait Time!

So as the last visitor headed off to their next spot and Harry turned the boat around for another pass through the boulder field.  While approaching the area, a plan was set so each of us would get an equal shot at a boulder first before the other would fish it.  We changed baits, both switching to a spinnerbait, Harry throwing a chartreuse and white Bomber while I threw, you guessed it, the white Bush-hog.

The first few boulders produced nothing then suddenly Harry set the hook and reeled in a nice 14 inch bass weighing a little less than two pounds.  He quickly let me know to stop the lure the moment it came over the top and was at the edge closest to the boat letting it “helicopter” back to the bottom.  His bass hit just as it started to flutter towards the bottom.

Another couple of rocks later, Harry again hooked up, this time with a much bigger fish, albeit a big chain pickerel!  Though the pickerel was around four pounds, it didn’t count since it was bass tournament not a pickerel tourney.

I have admit, though I was happy for Harry, I was starting to get a little antsy and cold since he was doing all the catching!

With the next cast, however, that all changed …

As my lure made contact with the next boulder, I quickly remembered what Harry had said about letting the spinnerbait helicopter one it cleared the edge.

So the moment bait cleared the boulder, I stopped reeling then “pop”, the line straightened and I set the hook quickly feeling the weight of the fish.  As the fish started to move off it definitely felt better than the usual keeper bass and after carefully playing the fish for a few minutes, Harry netted it and swung it into the boat.

ManBassColdsml220A beautiful, chunky 17” bass weighing just over three pounds lay wriggling in the nets web … cool!  (Actually, I wasn’t cool or cold at all after catching that fish since the juices started flowing.)

Over the next hour and a half, I caught two more fish of similar size on the white Bush-hog spinnerbait while Harry caught his second, a 16.5” bass weighing ~2.75 pounds.  Suddenly finding ourselves within the last two hours of the tournament and with the wind was picking up speed, we headed back do to the south end of the lake near the ramp to finish out the day.

Beginning of the End …

By the time our watches showed 3:00 PM (the end of the day and beginning of the weigh-in) we were already on shore; the wind had really started to howl; and snowflakes were beginning to fly.

After Harry and I both weighed our fish, we loaded the boat on the trailer and waited final word of the day’s effort.  When the standings for the day were finally announced, Harry’s 4.25 pound weight had netted him fourth place and my 10.1 pounds landed me in first!

I had my first bass tournament win and on the white Bush-hog to boot!

As I loaded the tackle and rods into my car, I noticed the white Bush-hog spinnerbait had some of the paint chipping off the head and blades.  While driving back home from the tournament, I started reflecting on the two trips of the last several days. It didn’t take long before I decided to retire the white Bush-hog spinnerbait and place it in the mouth of the 7 pound bass once it returned from the taxidermist …

Some bass lures truly are special and I am very glad to be the owner of one!

White Bush-hog Spinnerbait

White Bush-hog Spinnerbait

Fishing Lure Nostalgia: Glory Days of a Bush-hog Spinnerbait

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Is it true that one particular fishing lure (not just a type or brand) hold a special place in the memory of days gone by?

Absolutely …

As I think back to the days when my bass fishing fever arose from a spark, I fondly remember using one particular spinnerbait like it was yesterday …

106HWhiteBushHogsmlThe bait, an all white, quarter ounce lure with tandem white Colorado blades called a “Bush-hog” spinnerbait.  It’s actually somewhat funny because if you consider my first choice in spinnerbaits today, the other Bush-hog spinnerbaits in my collection have been relegated to “B-Team” status.

Thinking back to the Fall of 1976 (OK, I just dated myself!), however, one particular all white, ¼ oz. Bush-hog definitely experienced its “Glory Days” over a short week long period.

Larry’s Bait Shop’s Big Bass Challenge

I’m sure we’ve all been there; the little “hole-in-the-wall” bait and tackle shop down the street from our home …

In my case it was “Larry’s Bait Shop”, a short drive from my first apartment in Bridgewater, Massachusetts.  Even though Larry’s specialty was really live bait, he carried a few lines of lures not common in most of the other stores in the area.  He also sponsored a “Big Bass Challenge” lasting from opening day (in April) through the end of October.  During one of my early-season shop visits, I decided to pay the entry fee ($10.00 I think) and take a shot at the pot (100 % to the person weighing the largest bass by the close of business on 10/31).

One day during August, a friend introduced my to a “secret” honey hole on the west side of Plymouth and on that fateful day I managed to catch my first fish over 6 pounds (6.5 pounds actually; very nice for the New England States).  On the way home from the lake, we stopped by Larry’s, weighted the fish only to learn  a larger bass (7.25 pounds) had already been weighed.  What a rush and crash within a few hours time!

In Pursuit of the “Big One”

After stopping by Larry’s shop on October 29th and learning the 7.25 pound fish still held the big bass lead, I decided to return to the “secret honey hole” and take a final shot at the shop’s big bass pot.  It was about 7:30 AM on Sunday the 31st as my brother and I set out for a few hours fishing before the weather turned nasty (a major Fall front was moving in); perfect time to catch a big bass!

So off we went and hit some of the normal spots where we were catching fish over the last few weeks.  We both caught several fish in all the regular holes but couldn’t hook a fish over 3 pounds.

Just as the weather started to head downhill, we ran back across the lake to the north cove where we had launched.  Before we headed over to the ramp, we started hitting the last of the vibrant deeper weed edges with minnow baits and plastic worms.  The same story as on the other end of the lake, we were still catching decent-sized fish but nothing spectacular.

Noticing a patch of weeds on the edge of a submerged hump, I decided to switch lures and picked up a rod rigged with … you guessed it, the white Bush-hog spinnerbait.  Aiming the lure at a pocket in the weed edge, I fired off a cast.

Just as the white spinnerbait fell to the surface, a huge swirl erupted and the bait disappeared from view!  Rearing back on the rod, the line sang as it tightened against the weight of the fish and the battle of bass versus man (and line) was underway.

pelican-marsh-hogsml

Kinda Like This!

The bass made several runs back towards the weed edge then off toward open water (thankfully) before finally giving in being landed at the side of the boat.  Hoisting the beauty over the gunwale and measuring it to find she was over 24 inches; I smiled at my little brother chortling … I think she’s the one … I think we did it!

Time to Face the Music …

With all the excitement of hooking, landing and admiring the bass, we hadn’t even noticed the skies had opened up soaking us to the skin.  So off we went to load the boat and head back to Bridgewater to catch Larry before he closed.  Arriving just before his closing time (though he admitted he was considering closing early due to the weather), we opened the cooler and handed the fish to Larry who smiled as he positioned the fish on the scale.

The smile quickly left his face as he turned to report … 7 pounds, 2 ounces!

Our fish was two ounces short of the weight of the previous fish!!!  There was a very big sigh (and perhaps a few other choice colorful words) and then acceptance of being “close but no cigar”.

After congratulating us, Larry gave each of us a few lures for our efforts and to help relieve the frustration … ohhh so close!

We left the bait shop and headed up to my parent’s house to drop off my brother and the boat followed by the drive back home to unload my gear. As I stowed the rods in the closet, I showed my wife the lure that caught the fish now in the freezer and re-told the story about the day’s events, the thrill of victory (the catch) and agony of defeat (the weigh-in).

Taking one last glimpse at the white Bush-hog spinnerbait, I told myself I would use that same bait at the start next Sunday’s fishing trip …

My final bass club tourney for the year …

That, however, will be a story for the next post … shortly …

A Bass Fisherman’s Online Mapping Dream Tool?

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Have you ever been in a situation where you are heading off on a trip and wanted to investigate the local bass waters?

I know I have and usually fire up tools like Google Maps or Google Earth to identify the likely bass fishing haunts that may be worth visiting.

One of the problems with traditional online mapping sites, the built-in tools are fairly general in nature and do not include things like depth contours, fishing spots and structures, etc.

A company named Angling Technologies, Inc. is in the process of changing the online mapping world by creating a website with a tool-set that will warm any bass fisherman’s heart.

It seems the founders of the company are not only avid fishermen but also are online mapping experts with a perfect combination of knowledge and skills to give the bass fisherman just what they need!

Watch the following video and I will lead you on a short video tour of the website and some of the mapping tools that brought a big smile to my face 🙂 when I found them!

Enjoy!

If you would like to learn more about what the Angling Technology mapping system can do, click on the following links to access the mapping system or the AT YouTube channel:

Angling Technology Site & Angling Technology YouTube Channel

Some features are free but the best require a nominal annual fee ($15/year in 2013) to access…