Monthly Archives: March 2015

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.

Map Cards – Lake Master 3.0 versus Navionics

In this Blog I’ll try to show the difference in the Navionic’s Hot Maps Premium and Platinum map cards and the Lake Master 3.0 map card. First off I’ll tell you that I have had to personally buy all three of these cards and I do not get any cards from either company. Price points on the cards are pretty close with the Navionic’s Platinum running around $199.99, the Premium at $149.99 and the Lake Master cost at $129.99.

One thing you need to understand is that the Lake Master cards are designed to work only in the Humminbird unit and not in the Lowrance units. Garmin and Ray Marine use their own mapping programs.

Both cards come with the SD card micro chip holder with the micro chip included. So no matter which unit you have they will work in either the full size SD card or the micro chip slots. These screen shots are from my Humminbird Onix 10ci SI unit. Also please note that the cursor was very close to the same location as I could get them for these screen shots.

Looking at the first card the Navionic’s Hot Maps Premium you will see that there is a lot of vacant blue areas on the map. This means that no one has taken the time to record the lake bottom and upload it to Navionic’s for update downloads. You can record the lake data and create an account with Navionic’s and upload the data to them and a day or so later you can download the updates and then it will show the contour lines for the area you did the recording on. If you will notice on the Navionic’s maps there will be contour lines that all of a sudden just stop. These are where the user recorded the sonar log and uploaded only to that spot and no further.

Navionics1

The map card screen shot above is the Navionic’s Platinum card and the brown area in the photo above is the original creek channel in this part of the lake. The white area is a feeder or ditch that is located on the flat. The closer the lines are together the steeper and faster the depth changes. The circular areas indicate either a high spot on the lake floor or a deeper depression on the lake bottom. The small dotted lines represent an old field road that ran on the flats before the lake was impounded. You might notice that there is some 3D highlighting on some areas of the creek channel and high spots. This is one of the features with the Platinum cards.

Navionics2

In the above screen shot is from the Navionic’s Premium map card. You can tell by looking at the light tan colored portion which is the land around the lake that there is no Google Earth overlay data. This to me is useless data that was not necessary at least for what I use the cards for. The colors are a lot lighter on the Premium card versus the darker colors on the Platinum cards.

Now let’s look at the Lake Master 3.0 map card. As you can see from the screen shot below there is a lot more contour lines which represent more of the lake bottom detail with this map. Looking at the map below there is very little areas in these snap shots that does not have the contour lines.

Lakemaster30_1

 The above screen shot has the Shallow Water Highlight option set to 5 feet.Lakemaster30_2

So wrapping up this Blog I would have to say that the Lake Master 3.0 card has a lot more lake data than either of the Navionic’s map cards.

I hope this will help you decide which map card is best for your fishing use.

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.

Colby’s Big Cat’s

I had the pleasure of meeting a fine young man Colby Calhoun  this past week at Gander Mountain in our fishing department. We were talking about larger size spinning tackle when the subject came up about what he likes to fish for. Colby pulled out his smartphone and started sharing photos with me of the huge catfish he catches from shore. As you can see from the photos below he catches some huge catfish. Nice fish Colby and thanks for sharing with me and mt readers.

BigCat1 Bigcat2

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 – Bladed Jigs

Here is one of my bladed jig (Chatterbaits) boxes. Most of my newer lures are in another bag lost in my boat along with a ton of other tackle I have. As the water is starting to water up and the fish are starting to stage getting ready for the spawn these lures are great search baits. As the days warm up and especially when the days get longer and the light levels are increasing. The bass now want to start their move to the shallow water to feed up getting ready for the spawn that will be starting when the water temperatures get in the upper fifties and lower sixties.

bladejigs

I have a separate bag that I keep my skirts in and I’ll change out skirt colors to match the water color but my favorite one is a chartreuse and white color. The key to using these style lures or tools is to have the right trailer on the jig. I really like a Yamamoto Swimming Senko in white or a similar color. I usually pinch off about an inch or two to downsize the Senko’s. To fish these I prefer a 7′ medium heavy rod on a 6:3.1 geared reel spooled with 15 pound Seaguar Red Label fluorocarbon line. You can fish these around piers and laydowns in shallow water but still near deepwater. When the water warms up or late in the day fish them in the backs of pockets around wood cover. I’ve found a slow steady retrieve works best for me.