Category Archives: Fishing Tips

Albright Knot Jig

Do you fish braided line with a monofilament or fluorocarbon leader? The Albright Knot is one of the best for this but to me was a hard knot to tie. I made a simple jig for tying this knot that I keep in my boat. You can make your own jig or modify it anyway you want to but this one works great for me and is very simple to make. Here is a video of the jig and how I tie the Albright Knot.

Humminbird 455 kHz vs 800 kHz Settings

Here are two more screen shoots that i did from a recording from my Humminbird Onix 10 SI Cross Touch unit. As you can see from the first screen shot there is a school of bait fish and to the right there is a small top or stump. Can you spot the top and the possible fish in that area?

Humminbird unit down image set to 455 kHz settings.

Down image set to 800 kHz setting.

Now let’s look at another screen shoot from the same area but this time I have the 800 kHz settings instead of the 455 kHz. Can you see the treetop and or stumps from the first screenshot? As you can see there is a huge difference when you are looking for structure and fish while scanning with your down image unit.

Tight lines…..

Humminbird kHz Does it Matter?

If you own a Humminbird depth finder there are settings that allow you to change the kHz setting for your unit. So you may think does it really matter if I change these? I’m not going to get into the technical aspects of the inter workings of the setting I’m only going to show you three photos of why it matters when you are looking for fish. One thing is that these shots are from recordings taken with my Humminbird Onix 10 Touch SI and Humminbirds AutoChart Pro software. One thing to note is that the water depth under the boat is about 8 feet deep.

Here is a traditional shot of a tree and an old boat. The boat is to the extreme left and the tree is in the center of the shot. As you can see from the dark red colors this means it is a hard solid object. The setting is set to 200 kHz. From this shot you really can’t tell what the object is. If you can see at the very top of tall three shots this is very heavy current from water being released from the spillways at Pickwick Dam. They were actually spilling about 90,000 cfs. There are a few small fish that can be seen in this shot.

Here in the next shot I have the unit set to 455 kHz. With this setting the beam is set to wide and you can see farther out from what it straight under the boat. Again you can see the turbulence created from the current. Now you can see rocks and boulders laying on the bottom and a better view of the fish. The fish as you can tell are suspended and not on the bottom. There are a few very near the bottom and I think these are drum as I did catch a couple of them on a hair jig. The tree and the boat you can barely see them but you can make them out.

Now in the final shot I set the unit to 800 kHz for the down image settings. See how much clearer the old boat and the tree under the boat. Since the 800 kHz beam is much narrower you are able to see much more detail not only can you see the tree but the limbs on the tree. So all three settings have their place while you are fishing. To get the most out of your unit you have to play with the settings on your unit whether its an Onix or a core unit such as an old 597.

I hope this explains a little more about your unit and the settings and what it is capable of doing for you. I’ll post a  few more shots as I find the time to get out on the water.

Tight lines……

Humminbird – My Unit Not Saving Waypoints

I’ve seen on a couple of forums that Humminbird users can’t mark and save waypoints on their units. So I thought I’d do a blog on how to correct this problem, which is a simple solution to fix. Just follow the menu change in the following photos to fix this issue.

snapshot_2In this photo you can see that I have pressed the Mark button to create a waypoint on the map screen. The unit shows Successfully saved which in reality it would only save a snap shot of the screen but did not create a waypoint.

snapshot_6But when we press the Menu button once and scroll down to the waypoint, the unit did not create a waypoint. snapshot_3Now to verify that the waypoint was not created we can check this by doing the following. Press the Menu button twice select the Nav tab at the top.

snapshot_4Scroll down to the Waypoints, Routes, Tracks option and right arrow over to open this option.snapshot_5As you can see there is no waypoint in the list so it verifies that no waypoint was created.

snapshot_7Now let’s start over and make a few changes to the unit so it will be able to create a waypoint when the Mark button is pressed. Press the Menu button twice to go back to the main menu options screen. Scroll over to the Accessories tab at the top.

snapshot_8Scroll down to the Screen Snapshot option and you can see it is set to On this being set to On is the reason it will not allow you to save a waypoint on the unit.snapshot_9  Let’s make a change to the menu Screen Snapshot option screen and arrow to the right to change it from On to Off.snapshot_10Now let’s exit out of the Menu screen and go back to the Chart screen. Now when we press the Mark button to create a waypoint. Now you can see that the waypoint WP001 was created.

snapshot_11Now when we press the Menu button once we see that the Waypoint WP001 is now showing up in the options menu. If you scroll down to the waypoint and pres the Right arrow button we can Edit the waypoint, Goto the waypoint etc.

snapshot_13Now if we press the Menu button twice and go back to the Nav tab you will see that the waypoint WP001 was created and now showing up in the menu.

Good luck hope this helps you better learn the features on your Humminbird units.

Bluegill and Shellcracker Fishing

I had a chance to make a fishing trip a couple of weeks ago for bluegill and shellcrackers. Since I have not had a chance to do much fishing in the past few months because of an family medical issue I knew I’d have to take advantage of all my resources. In this case it was time of year, moon phase, electronics and talking to my fishing buddies. I had to work until about 4:00 p.m. so the time on the water was limited.

I launched my boat at the boat ramp turned on my Humminbird Onix side image and started scanning as I left the ramp area. About 30 yards from the ramp I found a bluegill bed and marked it with a waypoint. I figured I’d be able to fish this on the way back to the ramp if there were no other boats around. More on this later.

I ran down river a couple of miles and started scanning cuts and pockets that has gravel or sandy bottoms and I found what I was looking for. As you look at the photo image below you can clearly see all the beds off a point that was on a gravel bar.

PanfishBedsI pulled down current and dropped my anchor. The tackle I used was a 6′ medium action rod spooled with 4 pound Mr. Crappie Hi-Viz line. As for the lure it was a 1/32 or 1/16 ounce unpainted lead head rigged with a Big Bite Baits 1.5″ Panfish Minnow. the best colors were blue and silver and chartreuse brown but did not really matter. I caught 65 fish off this one bed, but I released everyone of them.

Here is a link to a short video I did on this fishing trip: Panfishing May 2015

As I returned to the ramp that I was going to fish the bed I found there I ran into a fishing buddy and told him about that bed. I showed him where it was and in doing so I made 7 cast and caught 5 bluegill off that bed before I loaded my boat up and headed home. Man does electronics make fishing a lot easier these days.

My Tackle Box – Zoom Centipedes

Here is is a little finesse worm that I’ve caught literally hundreds of big smallmouth bass on over the years. The Zoom Centipede is another of my Go-To lures when I need or want to catch fish. This small worm is a killer for spotted bass, smallmouth, rock bass and largemouth bass.

centipedesAs you can see from the tackle box above there are only a few colors that I use on a regular basis and of these the green pumpkin is the one I use the most.The other colors are watermelon-seed and June-bug for darker conditions. In the next couple of weeks at least on Pickwick Lake tie on one of these little finesse worms and fish them around rocks, pea gravel, downed tree-tops and along rip-rap shoreline and you’ll catch some big fish. When I’m on Wilson Lake I like to fish the pockets and coves that have downed trees and logs in the backs of pockets.

My Setup: Rod, Reel , Line, etc.

The rod I use are the same ones I use when I fish the Shaky-head worms. Mine is a 7′ medium action rod in a good quality graphite model. I like the St. Croix Rage rod paired with either my favorite Shimano Symetre or Quantum Smoke size 2500 reels. I spool these reels with one of my favorite lines Mr. Crappie Hi-Viz 6 pound monofilament line. I’ve used fluorocarbon in the past as well but really like the mono better. Most of the bites are very lite and I’ll see my line twitch or move off to one side or another most of the time so the Hi-Viz line is a benefit for me. I’ve caught hundreds of bass on the Hi-Viz line so the fish does not care if it is visible or not.

As for hooks I like Gamakatsu hooks in size #1 or 1/0 in both the 58410  EWG or the 54111 Round bend models. These are both light wire hooks that are required with the light 6 pound test line I use. The use of the medium action rod instead of the medium heavy rod will keep you fro breaking off the fish on the hook-set by allowing the rod to give instead of the line snapping.

As for weights I in the past only used 1/16 or 1/8 ounce lead slip sinkers but now almost exclusively use tungsten weights. The reason I use the tungsten is for two reasons. The first is that tungsten is more dense than lead which gives it a harder feel that transmits through the line and rod for a more sensitive feel of whats on the bottom. When fished around rocks or gravel you can really feel the difference. Sometimes I’m only feeling the bottom composition and when it feels different or I loose contact of the feel then a fish has picked up the lure off the bottom. The second reason is what i can rock hopping in that I make my cast out onto rocky structure such as boulders or rip-rap. I watch my Hi-Viz line for it to go slack and at the instance that it does I hop the worm off the bottom about 6 inches to a foot not really allowing the worm to settle flat back on the bottom. This causes the tungsten weight to make a clicking sound when it contacts the rocks. When i used the lead slip sinkers the lead was softer and I do not get the clicking sound.

When fishing the Centipede worm I cast out watching my line sink slowly on a semi-slack line. The instance it makes contact I slowly raise my rod tip up and move the worm as I said 6″ or so and repeat for about 6 feet to 12 feet and then reel in and make another cast. I’m usually fishing for active feeding fish or for fish that are on the beds. Almost all the bites are when the worm moves the fish pick them up and move off to one side or the other. Since the worm and light weight hook and weights have almost no feel to them to the fish they seem to hold on to them a long time. When I detect a fish or bite, I slowly reel down and sweep the rod while reeling in the slack line. Since I’m using a light wire hook the fish will set the hook its self. this way you will not likely snap the line of break off the fish. I like my drag a little on the loose side and will loosen the drag and back-reel on a larger fish. I’ve caught a lot of 5 to 6 pound smallmouth using this method over the years.

Good luck and now try out the little Zoom Centipede worm and see if it also becomes one of your Go-To tools in the tool box…

My Tackle Box – Shakyhead

Here is my go to box anytime I just want to catch bass, it is my Shakyhead box. This little technique was introduced to me by an old fishing buddy years ago. Before the shakyhead was a popular and now well known way to catch fish my buddy and I were winning tournaments and catching lots of fish on them,

shakyboxMy buddy called me on his way home from a fishing trip in south Alabama and was telling me about a black man he had drawn out for the tournament. He told me that the guy was using a bait-casting rod turning it upside down and putting a spinning reel on it. Then taking a 1/4 ounce lead-head jig that he painted with fingernail paint. Putting on a Zoom Trick worm and tossing it out and shaking it and was catching a lot of fish on it! I thought what the heck you gotta be kidding me.

The next weekend I was heading to Waterloo to fish for crappie but of course the wind was howling about 15 to 20 mph where I wanted to fish. I quit the crappie fishing and got out my Carolina rig rod and caught a couple of fish on it. While unhooking a fish and sitting in the bottom of my boat I saw a 1/4 ounce lead-head laying there and thought back to the conversation I had had with my buddy about the shakyhead. I thought what the heck and dug out one of my spinning rods with six pound test line on it and rigged up the lead-head and a Zoom Finesse worm as I did not have any Trick worms. Now remember I had never seen or talked to anyone that had fished it. So I made my first cast with the thing and since I did not know how to fish it, I let the worm hit the bottom and started to really shake the thing with hard high hops of about two to three feet hops. Wham, fish on and it was one about four pounds. I thought good grief this thing really works! To make a long story short I caught at leat fifteen bass including another one over five pounds shaky-heading!

On the way home from the lake I called my buddy and told him about the results I had had with the rig and told him we had to go to Wilson Lake the next day and try it out there. At that time there was a 15″ length limit on Wilson Lake and we caught about 35 keeper size bass on the setup. With me hard shaking it and him slowly hopping it on the bottom as your were suppose to. But I caught almost as many fish as he did fishing it my way.

I told him not to tell anyone about it and we named it the Brother Man so no one else would know about what we were fishing. We went on to finish up in the local club we were in first and third place that year with most of our catches on the Shakyhead!  I fished a local pot tournament with another buddy and we won a lot of cash using the shakyhead and no one knew what we were throwing as we always hid our rods before we returned to the ramp.

How to Rig and fish the Shakyhead:

Rigging: I personally use the following setup and I know that others may laugh at me but I know it works for me and a few of my buddies. The rod I use is a 7′ medium action rod with a fast tip. The medium action rod is important since I use Mr. Crappie Hi-viz 6 pound test line.  the medium action rod allows the rod to give a little so i don’t break off the lure on the hook set. The reel is of course the same spinning reels I use for all my other spinning rod fishing the Shimano Symetre 2500FL reels. The lead-heads I use are hand poured from a Do-It mold that I modified to accept Mustad 38109BLN jig hooks in 3/0 and 4/0 sizes. I also mold in the wire screw locks to make my worms last longer. With this hook I get solid hook up and seldom lose any bass. The weight of the heads I use which I never paint is 3/16 ounce 95% of the time. Since the lead head is always on the bottom I think the painted head is unnecessary. The worm I like best is the Zoom Trick worm in Green Pumpkin or Watermelonseed colors. I usually dip about a 1/2 inch of the tail in homemade chartreuse dipping dye just for confidence.

Fishing: How I fish the shakyhead it to make my cast near or next to the structure and allow the rig to settle to the bottom on a semi-slack line while I watch my Hi-viz line as it settles to the bottom. When the line goes slack I know the lure is on the bottom. before i move the lure I slowly raise the rod tip just to take the the slack line out. I’m trying to feel if a fish has picked up the worm. If so I will feel it get taut or a slight mushy feel to it or I’ll see the line slowly move off to one side. If i don’t feel anything I’ll slowly shake the worm with the tip of my rod about a foot and let it settle back to the bottom and repeat the process of slowly taking the slack line out to again feel for a bite. I’ll do this for about 6 feet or so and reel it in and make another cast.

One of the best five fish limits I had was about 27 pounds all caught on a shakyhead. I caught and released at least a dozen four pound fish that day on the rig catching over 35 bass that day. Almost all the big fish I never felt hit the lure i just lifted my rod and there was a mushy feel to the worm. So if you want to catch a lot of fish learn to fish the shakyhead and see if it becomes one of your go to lures.

My Tackle Box – Grubs

Ahh the ole grub, this lure was once my favorite lure for big smallmouth bass. I’ve probably caught more smallmouth on these lures than anything else in my tackle box. But then again back then that’s about all i ever threw. A local smallmouth guru Leon Tidwell was the person that got me throwing these little fish magnets. Back in the late 70’s and early 80’s Leon caught lots of huge limits on them. And me being in Quad cities Bass Club with him and the other great anglers such as Ray Gresham, Sam Moody, Paul Cantrell, Jack Nesmith, Johnny Bryant, Wallace Smith just to name a few. We all threw these lures especially when we were on Pickwick Lake home of the world class smallmouth fishing.

grubs

When I did throw these baits I used a 5′ to 6′ rod as these were the only thing available at that time. Now I use a 6’6″ or a 7′ medium to medium heavy rod with a Shimano Symetre 2500 spinning reel spooled with 6 or 8 pound line. I like both monofilament and fluorocarbon line. If I’m around a lot of rock or shell-beds then I’ll use the mono instead of the fluorocarbon line for the extra abrasion resistance.jigheads

How I fish the grubs, the first thing is make sure there is current running on Pickwick especially. I like anything over about 50,000 cps current flow for the grubs to work their magic. On Pickwick I love to anchor while fishing, I discovered a long time ago that if you catch two fish and for sure three fish off of a spot then there will be lots of schooling fish around the area.

My favorite grubs were Harville that are no longer made in the 5″ length and of course the smoke with silver glitter on a 1/4 ounce lead-head. Action Plastics made a good grub back years ago that I caught a lot of bass on in their 3″ version of the same color. Pearl white along with chartreuse and pearl chartreuse were other favorites if the water was stained or muddy.

I’ll make a long cast upstream ahead of the shell mound and let the grub rigged on either a 1/4 or 3/8 ounce lead-head depending on the current flow. I work the grubs two different way, the first is to allow the grub to land on the bottom, and allow the current to slow roll along the bottom while very slowly reeling in the slack line. If the current is really rolling then I’ll use the 3/8 ounce lead-heads to keep it on or very near the bottom. And the second way is, once the lure hits the bottom start your slow retrieve and don’t stop, twitch or impart any extra action to the grubs. About the only thing I will do is that if I’m fishing near a sudden bottom structure change such as a drop-off or stair stepping bluff walls with several ledges under the water. I’ll allow my grub to sink back down to the bottom and start my retrieve again with the non-stop retrieve.

Almost all the bites will be very light with the smallies just coming from behind and inhaling the grub and just swim off with it. Sometimes they will hammer the grub with a sudden hard jar. This usually happens when there are a lot of active fish that are competing over the bait. Another fish the drum, will knock the heck out of the grub as will catfish.

So get a few lead-heads and grubs and see if you have as much luck on them as I did.

My Tackle Box – Hair Jigs

Here is my hair jig box that I depend on mostly during the cold water months and in the late fall season. Most of my hair jigs are as you can see are black. The white ones are used mostly for smallmouth fishing. When fishing these lures I use the cast and drop method in that I make a long cast and let the hair-jig slowly drop to the bottom.

hairjigs

The equipment that I use is a 6’6″ to 7′ medium action spinning rod, of course the more sensitive the better. I use a Shimano Symetre 2500 spinning reel spooled with 4 to 6 pound fluorocarbon line or the same sizes in monofilament except I use Mr. Crappie Hi-Viz line so I can watch the line as it falls. Jig weights I use vary from 1/8 ounce up to 3/8 ounce most of the time. In the summer when the bass get in those huge schools out on the ledges I throw a jig up to 3/4 ounce and then I’ll just work it fast with hops off the bottom. When I use a trailer they are usually either a Zoom Split Tail Trailer or their Salty Pro Chunk.

 The best places to fish these are usually on steeper structure such as bluffs, main lake drop offs and steep end main lake point drop offs. Rate of fall (ROF) is the important thing to remember when fishing hair-jigs. Make a cast and watch your line as it sinks, almost all hits will be on the first drop. Fish are very aware of their surrounding area and anything that comes through it will be detected. I count the lure down and watch my line as it settles to determine the rate of fall. When the jig hits bottom I jerk it off the bottom with a sharp upwards jerk of my rod and watch the line as it settles back down. If nothing has hit the lure or no hits then I’ll real in and make another cast about ten feet further away and start all over again.

Add a few of these tools to your tool box and get out there and learn to fish them and they will put a few more fish in your live-well.