Category Archives: Fishing Tips

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.

My Tackle Box – Flippin Box

Here is my flippin component toolbox that I use to put together my system. I prefer the straight shank flippin style hooks with the plastic keeper taps molded on the shaft. Most of the time I’ll be using 4/0 hooks with the plastic I use. If you noticed the small yellow plastic disk in my box those are bobber stops, I like the 8-12 pound ones to hold my tungsten weights in place. Another thing I like is the lead sinker with the screw-lock molded into them. The way I rig those is to run my line through the bobber-stop then the sinker then through one of the jig skirts usually black and blue or green pumpkin. Next I tie on my hook with either a Double improved clinch knot or a Palomar knot. Now I’ll just select the type of trailer I want to use to suit the conditions and rig it on weedless.

flippinThe setup I use is a St. Croix Mojo 7’11’ Flipping Stick or a 13 Fishing Envy 7’11” flipping Stick with a left hand Shimano Curado 200E7 reel spooled with either 30 to 40 pound Suffix 832 braid or Berkley Big Game Monofilament in 20 pound test. I use the left handed reels so I can make my pitch with my right hand and never have to switch hands to set the hook as the lure slowly drops to the bottom. I won’t go into the flipping process as there are a ton of instructional videos on YouTube.

My Tackle Box – Swimbait Jigheads

Here are a few of my swimbait heads that I get from LB’s Custom Lures. As you can see there are different styles and different weights. You must remember that all fishing tackle whether it is a rod, a reel, fishing lines (mono, fluoro or braid), hooks, weights, lures, etc. are all just tools that we use to help us catch fish. Now putting these tools to work only comes AFTER we have located the fish we are after, bass, crappie catfish bluegill, etc.

lbsswimbaitjigs_1

We can fish the most beautiful expensive lures around for an example The Alabama Rig and still not catch fish if we are not in the right locations. And all the swimbaits in the photos below are just that tools. Some of these heads are weedless to a point, some are very heavy to be fished dragging the swimbait along the bottom and others lightweight to be fished on top through weeds and weed beds like a buzzbait for example.

lbsswimbaitjigs_2 lbsswimbaitjigs_3

I can have the best tool set in the world and still not be able to work on a car if I don’t know how to use them! So as a beginner start out with a few SIMPLE tools and learn to use them before buying a complete set and NOT knowing their use.

lbsswimbaitjigs_4. LBsunderspins swimheadjigs

As you can see I have quite a collection of different swimbait heads that I carry in my boat.

My Tackle Box – Spring Crankbaits

Here is my pre-spawn to spawning crankbait tackle box. If you will notice I have a lot of crawfish patterns in this box. When the bass move shallow and are feeding heavy then a crankbait can cover a lot of water faster than say a jig or shaky-head. One tip you can do it to look at the top upper lip or even on the inside of the fishes mouth to see if there is a reddish color. If so, then this let’s me know the bass are feeding on the bottom snatching up crawfish that are either buried in the muddy bottom or in the rocks along the shoreline. Now I’ll be looking for pea gravel shorelines, rip rap and shell mounds if I’m fishing deeper water.

cranks_spring

My Tackle Box – Medium Crankbaits

Here are my two medium running crankbait boxes I usually keep in my boat. I use thes boxes or set of tools as I like to call fishing lures when I need to cover water a little faster when the fish are in the 6 to 8 foot depth range. Most of the lures in the boxes are my custom painted lures but there are a few dependable standard colors in there as well.

cranks_med

smallcranks3

If you will notice I don’t keep any hooks on my crankbaits in my storage boxes. This way the hoos will not tangle with other lures, they don’t scratch the paint off other lures and I can get anyone out of the box very quickly. I keep my hooks in a separate section in my box with the split rings on the hooks. This way I can very quickly add the hooks to the lures with a set of needle nose pliers very fast. I’ll post a blog on how I do this operation faster than using split ring pliers. MedcranksWhen I’m tossing the medium diving crankbaits I’ll be using a 7′ rod for the smaller crankbaits and a 7’11” rod for the larger ones. The reels that I use are geared at 5.4:1 and I spool my rods with either monofilament or fluorocarbon line. Most of the time i prefer the mono over the fluorocarbon line. Speed of the retrieve all depend on the mood of the fish so try several different speeds as well as a stop and go retrieve.

You may have heard or read that the lure must hit the bottom or bounce of an object to catch fish on a crankbait, but this is not always true. But I do like to use a crankbait that runs say 10 feet deep when I’m in 8 feet of water as an example.

Sometimes I burn the lures as fast as I can and then stop the lure and let it float up. This is especially good when you are fishing along drop off on the ledges. I’ve caught several fish two at a time doing this on Pickwick, where i find they really like a fast moving lure during the summer.

 

My Tackle Box – Casting Jig Box

Here is my casting style jig box in that I usually cast and hop these jigs instead of dragging football jigs. I keep my football jigs in a separate box. As you can I don’t use a lot of different color jigs. All my jigs are custom made for me by LB’s Custom Lures.

jigbox

Most of the jis are either black and blue that I normally use in stained water or in low light conditions, early dawn, heavy overcast days or before dark. The rest of the time I’ll be tossing a green pumpkin, watermelon orange or BER color my buddy Larry at LB’s Custom Lures makes for me. My favorite weight jig is the 5/16 ounce. But I do have jigs from 3/16 to 1/2 ounce in my box. Once I go over about 10 feet of water then I normally will be throwing a 1/2 to 1 ounce football jig.

One note that when I’m throwing a football jig I seldom ever lift the jig off the bottom. I’ll make a long cast let the jig settle to the bottom and very slowly – depends on the mood the fish – and drag the jig across the bottom feeling the bottom the whole time. Sometimes I’ll raise my rod almost straight up and just turn the reel handle to move the jig. Most bites on the football jig are usually that you will lose contact with the bottom or the fish will pick up the jig and slowly move off to one side ot the other.

The equipment I like to use for the smaller jigs is a 6’6″ to a 7′ medium heavy rod with a 6.3:1 geared reel spooled with 15 pound Seaguar Red Label fluorocarbon line. If I’m tossing the football jig then I’ll be using a 7’6″ rod with a 6.3:1 gear reel spooled with 30 pound Suffix 832 braid with a 6 to 8 foot leader of 17 pound monofilament. I like the braid for the long casts and the no stretch. But I want the mono that I do have a little stretch so I don’t break off on a larger fish on the hook set.

How to fillet a Sunfish

I love to catch and to eat Bluegill, shellcrackers and other of the sunfish species. One problem with these fish is usually their size. I like the fillets but because they are so small you just don’t get much meat off the fish. I learned through trying different ways to clean these fish now only use the following method.

After you have the fish filleted wash the fillet good and now you can start the cooking process. I pre-heat my oil to around 375* then place the fillets in a zip lock bag filled with corn meal. Let them stand for a few minutes before placing in the pre-heated oil. Cook the whole fillet for 3 minutes. when you are ready to eat them stand the fillets up on your plate, take a fork and starting from where the top fin was pull the meat off the fillet and you will end up with a piece of fish without any bones.

the first step is to scale the fish. Lay the fish on it's side and take a standard knife and scrape towards the head starting at the tail.

The first step is to scale the fish. Lay the fish on it’s side and take a standard knife and scrape towards the head starting at the tail.

I use an electric knife to do the rest of the work. Slice off the tail straight down with the knife.

I use an electric knife to do the rest of the work. Slice off the tail straight down with the knife.

Now slice off the head right behind the gill plate.

Now slice off the head right behind the gill plate.

Now stand the fillet on it's end and slice off the bottom fin.

Now stand the fillet on it’s end and slice off the bottom fin.

Now slice off the top fin and now you are finished with the cleaning process.

Now slice off the top fin and now you are finished with the cleaning process.

 

 

 

 

Bass Basics 101 – Spring Location

The key to catching bass is first and foremost locating them. Once you determine their location then we can get down to trying to figure out how to catch them.

There are three things to bass fishing and those three things are location, depth and speed. If you want to become a better fisherman even if it’s trying to catch bluegill or crappie or bass and that is learning their seasonal locations.

As you know fish don’t stay on the same location all year long. For instance on river lakes such as Pickwick my home lake, the water levels fluctuate as much as five to six feet over the late fall and winter months. With the water dropping this much the shallow water locations are now dry land and all the fish holding cover is out of the water. So the fish move to their winter holding areas until the water rises in the spring. On TVA controlled lakes this rise to summer levels usually on April 15th. And the drawdown is usually on November 15th each year.

Now let’s start finding were the fish are at this time of the year and we will call this pre-spawn  spawn.

Pre-spawn: [Water Temperature: 45-55] This is the time when they are in the deeper cold water haunts. When the water starts to warm up to around the lower to middle fifties, they will start getting the urge to move shallow for short periods of time. They will almost never move very shallow unless the weather has been hot and sunny for several days in a row.

The fish in most parts will be holding in the main lake near the main lake channels or in the major creek channels. You can also find them on main lake points that the original river channel swings in close to. Most off the fish will not be near the bottom but usually suspended out over the channels. This is the time that the Alabama Rig it’s so good. Other lures to try now would be suspending jerkbaits, slow sinking Senko’s or lighter weight jigs. You might also try deep diving crankbaits and jigging spoons.

Spawn: [Water Temperature: 55-70] Now that the water has warmed up into the upper fifties the fish are going to be on the move towards the shallows. During this time with the weather being stable without the cold fronts coming through can be done of the best fishing of the year. You can also catch some off the largest bass of the year. They want to move shallow and if they are there they are usually feeding. This was what happened early this year when we were catching all those huge smallmouth. They had moved into shallower water and they were feeding.

Lures to try this time of the year can be vast, squarebilled crankbaits, spinnerbaits, jigs and many others work now. But the key now it’s slow and shallow. Flipping reeds, buck-brush, and even piers can be good now as well.

As the fish get ready to start the spawning process you can now start looking for beds and bedding fish. Other places to search for the fish now is in pockets off the main lake out in the creeks. I found fish here this week on a fishing trip this past Tuesday. The lure I had the best success the on was a 1/8 ounce shakeyhead with a Zoom Watermelonseed Trick worm. The bites were very light with most of them the fish simply picked the bait up and slowly moved off. I caught at least three limits doing this that day. Other lures will work as well. If the fish are not in the pockets try the secondary points and even the main lake points. Remember all the lake does not warm up at the same time and all the fish do not move shallow at the same time either. The spawn period can last a couple months and the fish usually spawn during the full moon periods.

Good luck and tight lines…..

Will Warren – How to Catch a 10 pound Bass

How to catch a 10 pound bass (in Alabama (or anywhere for that matter)

Well first off there are certain techniques to use for a giant. In my mind at least the best five are:

  • 1. Jig
  • 2. Alabama rig
  • 3. 12″ worm
  • 4. 10XD
  • 5. 6″ swimbait.

These don’t always catch numbers but they catch size. First lets explain why I chose each lure. Ok we all know that the average jig fish is at least a pound bigger than the lake average. So in theory a jig will assume many state records as it is very popular and very potent against a big fish’s instincts. We have all heard the fads about The Alabama Rig. Well frankly, it lives up to the rumors. That’s enough said for me. Just go to a local tackle shop and ask about some of the fish caught off of The Alabama Rig. It’s almost as if fishing 5 jigs at once in mind with the quality of fish caught.

My personal best (a giant 11.5 largemouth) was caught from the bank with a 12″ worm on Pickwick lake. As I said earlier, ‘Nuff said. Now onto my all time favorite summer bait for TVA lakes *drumroll please* the Strike King 10XD. From the moment I first saw it on Strike King TV on Falcon Lake with Mark Rose catching 7-8 pound hawgs I was in love. Just be prepared to use a 7′ 11″ Heavy rod with 14-15 pound test. Lastly a 5-6″ swimbait is potent in the summer and fall. It can get the same bites as a big crankbait. Since it has a more subtle action than a crankbait it generally gets a bigger bite.

Now the best way to fish these is during peak performance time. Let’s go over that. For the jig my ideal day would be 70 degrees 5 mph winds in late May. That’s when those big post spawn females leave the spawning bays and flats in the stump fields in the backs of the creeks. They then move out to the mouth of the creek, a bluff wall, or a point at the mouth of the creek. They will relate to normal cover suck as brush or rockpiles.

For The Alabama Rig the ideal day is 60 degrees with a 5-10 mph wind in late September to early October. I would look for a point with lots of riprap and slow roll it, head to the back of a creek and throw at shore cover, or fish below a dam still slow rolling the rig with all five hooks rigged with 6″ swimbaits.

Now on to the 12″ worm, my perfect day would be the last week of May or the first week of June, 80-85 degrees and wind doesn’t matter but I would focus on fishing an overcast day. I would focus on fishing deep points, shell mounds, or ledges. Since the water is warmer large hops are great when bass are a few feet off the bottom. If they are hugging the bottom, small hops or dragging the worm produce best.

Ok first off a Strike King 10XD is pretty much foolproof. Find a rockpile or brushpile on a deep point or ledge with a school of shad and expect some giant fish. The peak time of year can happen twice, once in late May after those post spawn females go to the secondary points. The second time is when bass get lethargic and dont want to expel much energy to get a big meal. Starting to sound about right? Well it should. As to working it, don’t even ask me. A straight reel is the best, it’s the meat and potatoes of crankbaits, so trust it and use it. And if none of those catch a 10 pound bass this one will.

The 6″ swimbait is a trusted top-to-bottom bait depending on the weight used. Slow rolling works the best for me as it just looks more natural. The best kind of swimbait is of course a hollow belly (just wanted to share that info) as they are more natural looking. Another plus about this bait is that it works around all types of cover and structure. So as to catching that fish of a lifetime on this bait, frankly throw it and throw it a lot. Now that I have passed on my knowledge to you go ahead and catch that giant fish.

-IXI-WILL-IXI-

Pickwick – Feb. 19, 2014

I made a fishing trip for crappie on Pickwick Lake yesterday for the first time I have had to go fishing since back in December. The water temperature was still low at around 46* with a slight stain in the water. The bite was very slow with only one small crappie being caught. We caught a few small yellow stripe and couple of drum, one small bass and one small bluegill. We did not fish live minnows only small crappie jigs. The best lure for me was a small 1/32 oz. maribou jig red-head with white feathers. Over all the bite was almost nothing but the weather was pleasant with the air temp around 65* with a slight breeze blowing. Man it was good to get on the water after a very long delay for me.

Tight lines…..