Tip&Trick Description 1:
When the weather is nasty, be it in the early spring or late fall, many anglers miss out on some of the best bass fishing of the year. When their boats are in the garage, and their gear is stored away, other anglers in the know, cash in on some of the best fishing of the year using some special techniques. One of the most effective ways to catch big bass in colder water, is a technique known as 'Dead-Sticking.' The anglers who can brave the elements and employ these techniques, catch some of the largest bass of the year.
The name of the technique tells it all. The technique actually involves more patience than action. Some of the best ways to present a bait using a Dead-Sticking technique are Drop-Shotting, using a suspending jerkbait, and fluttering soft plastics to the bottom. These are great ways to tempt early season and late season bass. You won't catch a ton of bass in really cold water, but you can have a memorable day, and catch some of the larger bass of the year. When the water temperature is in the low to mid forties, shad and herring either die off in the winter, or they are so lethargic, that they are a good target for feeding bass. A lure that suspends at the level of the bass, or just falls slowly to the bottom, or in the case of the drop-shot, just sits still in the middle of the water column, offers a tempting imitation of a dying shad.
There are many good Jerkbaits on the market today, but for dead-sticking techniques I like certain baits more than others. Smithwick Rogues, Lucky Craft Pointers, and Rapala Husky Jerks, and Strike Pro USA are among my favorites.
They are excellant baits for dead-sticking because they suspend. You can throw them out, reel them down, and play the waiting game. I have done this, and many times, while getting a drink, or grabbing something to eat, the bass have hit the bait. Sometimes it takes as long as a minute, or even two, before a bass will move up to a suspending bait and decide to hit it. I throw the baits way past the target, and jerk it down to where I think the bass are. In some bigger lakes and reservoirs I like to fish any standing timber they have available. I jerk the bait down, and then stop it right by a tree. I then let it sit as long as a minute before moving it again.
Many times the bass will hit while it is sitting still, or when I first start to move it again. This happened to me quite a few times in Greenwood Lake and in Union Lake, in New Jersey. It is an excellent way to catch cold water bass in these and other lakes. I had great success with this method on Table Rock Lake, and Bull Shoals in Missouri, working the standing timber.
It doesn't really matter if it's a tree, or rocks, or next to a dock. The trick is to let the bait sit there for as long as it takes, without moving it all. A lot of anglers are tempted to impart some action to the bait, but this is a mistake. This is the time to wait as long as you can stand it. Nerves of steel are required for this type of fishing.
Another good location to use this technique is over old roadbeds, like in Spruce Run reservoir in New Jersey. I also like to use them along bluff walls, and across long tapering points. When the water starts to warm in the spring, or after a warm spell in the winter, bass will move up from the deeper water and suspend over or near these areas. These are ideal baits to use to entice them into striking. I like to find a long flat point, near a creek channel, where the deep water isn't far from the shallow water. This is where the bass will be, due to the fact that don't have to move very far, which is important this time of year, but especially true in the winter.
When bass are suspending, if you throw a carolina-rigged bait, you are actually fishing under the bass, if you use a crankbait, you're usually fishing too fast. This is why suspending jerkbaits are ideal, because they get right down into the suspended bass and stay in one place. This is even more important in the winter, than the early spring. I make sure I fan cast the entire structure from many different angles. Many times the bass don't hit the bait until it is presented at just the right angle, and you won't know what that is until you make enough casts to start catching fish.
The most strikes occur in about eight to ten feet of water, and suspending baits that go down to about eight feet are the best. You need at least two feet of visibility for dead-sticking baits, and more is preferable. It is very important for them to be able to see it, as you are not moving the bait, and it doesn't make much noise. My best days deadsticking have been on lakes with a good degree of visibility.
'Dead-Sticking Soft Plastics'
Most bass fisherman use Zoom Flukes, Bass Assassins, and other soft plastics, with a twitch, twitch, reel twitch action, like in the warmer months, but using these baits with a dead-sticking technique in the colder water, works wonders. Bass won't come up and hit these baits on or near the surface when it's cold, but they do hit it when it falls slowly to the bottom. It takes so much patience to work these baits right in cold water that most anglers don't have the patience it takes to work them properly. I use the bait on a unweighted 4/0 or 5/0 WG hook, and let it fall slowly to the bottom. The bait only sinks about one foot every three to four seconds, and this is perfect to imitate a dying shad. I have had the best luck with this in the winter, but in the very early spring, it can be effective also. I just cast it out next to the structure, whether it's a dock, or brushpile, or just over some type of structure that the bass are suspending on. I might twitch it a couple of times as it falls, but not too much, just enough to convince a bass that it is crippled or dying. It is a great bait for areas that have a lot of dying shad in the winter.
One of the baits that I have had the most success with last year using these dead-sticking methods, is the Yamamoto 'Senko.' This bait is perfect to use dead-sticking. Although it is nothing more than a thin, straight piece of plastic when it is out of the water, it literally comes alive with just the right action to entice bass in colder water. The new 'Netbaits' have also worked very well this year, as have the 'Bearpaws' 'Lazy Sticks'. It is perfect for letting sink slowly to the bottom, or for drop-shotting. Because of the salt content in these baits, it sinks a little faster than an unsalted lure. These baits are perfect for a lot of different situations, as long as you have to patience to let them sink. You really don't have to do anything to these lures, except let them sink slowly on a slack line. I rig them on a 2/0 or 3/0 Daiichi or X-Point hooks, on fourteen pound test Spiderline Super Mono, or P-Line.The trick is to pay very close attention to the line, sometimes you might feel a bite, but generally you will not. I just move the rod tip a little bit to see if I can feel the weight of the bass. If I can't, I just let it fall slowly to the bottom again. The action really comes when the bait is falling, so you have to lift the rod slowly, and let it fall back again as you work it across the bottom. There is even a new larger Senko for this year that I am looking forward to using. Even the new Cut-Tail worm may work well in these cold water situations, and I am looking forward to trying them out this year.
The best technique to come along for cold water or suspending bass is the Drop-Shot technique. Drop-Shotting can tempt bass into striking in the cold water at all times of the year. In the late winter, or very early spring, I just cast it out, let it hit the bottom, and tighten my line up. I use very little action at all. I don't really shake my rod tip or anything, I just let it sit.
The less action the better! I do fish them around some structure also, and generally when I do this I work the bait with a little more action up to the cover, and then just let it sit when I get next to it. It is a very effective method in the winter or spring. I generally use a three to four inch bait on drop-shot rigs, but other baits have worked at different times. The hardest part of fishing in the winter or very early spring isn't the fishing itself, but motivating yourself to get out there and go when the weather is less than desirable.
This is where the patience comes in, as it is very hard to sit still for long periods of time, and work the bait as slowly as is necessary to produce the strikes. Dead-Sticking really works if you remember exactly what it means. I like to use a high modulus graphite rod for the Dead-Sticking techniques, in a 6 1/2 to 7 foot length, with twelve to fourteen pound test line. I use spinning gear on little finesse baits, or a light line baitcaster. I use a baitcast rod, and up to fourteen to seventeen pound test line, in the deeper water, and for larger baits. Try these techniques this year, and your recreational and tournament fishing will improve greatly.
Delaware Tackle www.delawaretackle.com
Tip&Trick Description 3:
Winning Tournament Tactics
By Steve and Kurt vonBrandt
Mar 5, 2005, 23:40
There are certain tactics that give a tournament fisherman an edge over the other competitors, and produce a win. Sometimes just doing a little extra homework and preparation is all it takes. Planning, practice, and confidence are the keys factors that helped us win local, state, club, and regional tournaments consistently while working our way up the ranks of competitive bass fishing. Here are some of the most important things to do to prepare yourself mentally and physically for the challenge.
MENTAL AND PHYSICAL PREPARATION
Before you even can consider embarking on a tournament trail, or even local, and club events, you must be in good physical condition. This involves being able to lift, bend, twist, and move in a variety of positions, without getting injured. Many people think that fishing is a leisurely sport, but in order to be in top shape for winning tournaments, you must prepare ahead of time. We not only eat and sleep properly, but do regular physical workouts, to get in good shape to lift equipment, jump from the front and back of boats, maintain good balance, have quick reflexes, and be able to go long periods of time, without wasting time eating and drinking. Being able to jump down to your knees quickly, and maneuvering many directions efficiently can mean the difference in winning or losing. One lost fish can mean the difference in first place and last place many times. Not only do we work out physically to prepare, but we practice our techniques in the off season as well. In the winter, and all times of the year in between tournaments, we practice our flipping, pitching, and casting techniques. In the colder months we set up boxes, simulate docks to practice pitching and flipping, and cast to targets in the yard. Knowing your equipment like the back of your hand, and being able to quickly execute a maneuver is critical in a tournament. Practicing all techniques constantly is vital in giving you the confidence that you need to win when you get to the tournament. Being able to control your emotions, and relax in the prior days and nights can give you an edge over the more inexperienced anglers. Most tournament pros even at intermediate levels are at the top of their game, and take it very seriously, so a slight edge can mean a great deal. The people who can maintain their composure and confidence, and can stick to their game plans under pressure, are the ones that consistently place in the rankings.
STUDYING THE COMPETITION SITE
Before we even start to prefish the lakes or rivers, we obtain all the information we can in the way of lake maps, topographical maps, baitfish, and lake conditions from a variety of sources. Talking to anglers at the lake and local tackle shops can sometimes reveal some interesting information. By no means, do what they say dictate what our plans will be, but it is another tool to use in planning a strategy for the lake. Knowing the lake age, composition of the bottom, structure, both natural and manmade, along with water quality, fertility, and oxygen levels, all come into play when deciding how to start pre-fishing the lake. Contacting local guides, and having some experience on the body of water all help, although sometimes this isn't always possible.
When we start to prefish the lake before a tournament, we break the lake down into sections. We eliminate the unproductive water for that time of year, and then section it off on maps. We pick the most likely locations where the fish should be holding for the water temperature and lake conditions, and then make a complete run around the lake to view it physically before fishing.
We start by looking for sandbars, points, humps, structure, laydowns, grass beds, etc., all the time watching the shoreline in the area for contours to indicate dropoffs and other structure. After surveying the lake, we then section off several of the best possible locations, and start fishing there. First starting with a search bait, such as a spinnerbait, buzzbait, and a crankbait for active fish. We mark the locations of where the active fish are on the GPS, and move on to the next spot. We never stick more than two fish in an area. Sometimes we fish the baits without any hooks in them, and when they hit you just pull it away from them. Try to find three good sections of the lake with decent fish first, before exploring further for the kicker fish. You can go back to these areas later the next day, and slow down to find the fish that you need to win. Sometimes early in the year bass will stage on a single piece of cover as small as a stick or blade of grass. It doesn't even have to be real structure sometimes, they just hold next to it. Most of the time, the larger bass, five pounds and up, are alone. They occupy the structure in the area by themselves, rarely schooling with fish of the same size.
Most pros won't reveal what they really catch the larger fish on. Most of the fish in lakes that are highly pressured by recreational and tournament anglers for years and years, become conditioned to certain baits. There are always fish that can be caught on conventional baits such as spinnerbaits, worms, and jerkbaits, but these generally are the fish that don't win tournaments. You can come in with a decent bag of five fish weighing ten to thirteen pounds, but it generally doesn't get you a check except in some local and club tournaments. The larger fish, the fourm five, and six pound bass, and up, are usually caught on baits such as frogs, prop baits, walking baits, and other types of new freak baits. Jigs will always take some of the better fish, but will not always win. Old style topwaters, such as a Devils Horse, Dying flutters, Nip-A-Dee-Dee's, and others, take many large bass. Let me emphasize though, that i like to get a limit in the boat first before pursuing that big 'kicker' fish!
Creek Chubs, Zara Spooks, Jitterbugs, and others, take more quality fish than you can imagine, due to the fact that they are fooled by the baits they just don't see. Of course, there are specific ways to work these baits, that will produce the better fish, even if you are using the same baits as another angler, and that is the trick.
When casting to structure with a topwater bait like this, dead sticking, and casting directly to the target, and not past it, can be critical. Patience and steady nerves are required to do this properly. Deadsticking a bait is an extremely effective way to win a tournament on highly pressured waters such as Table Rock Lake. In colder water, this is extremely important also. You should let a Senko or other bait such as a fluke or 'Sizmic Flugo' fall weightless for a long time by the structure, without giving it any movement at all. Suspending jerk baits worked in this manner also produce the bigger bass in pressured waters. Don't give the bait to much action, and let it sit for a long time in between movements. This is the key.
You must learn how to manage your time properly also, as you have to be thorough with the baits, but know when to switch and when to move. Plan this out in advance and be able to adjust to the water conditions and mood of the fish that day, as things can change rapidly from one day to the next on a body of water, especially when a clod front moves through. Practice at all times of the year, when the weather is bad, and cold, odds are, that many tournament days will be in the rain and wind. You need to know how to catch these fish under adverse conditions, not just fair weather. Plan your trips when the weather is poor. It's the only way the learn what to do. You must get practice in real tournament conditions. Make sure you time your run to the spots, and spend your time wisely there. Make as many casts as you can until the very last minute, and then open it up and get back as quickly as you can. You need to practice driving your boat in bad weather, under rough conditions, at high speeds, if you really want to win.
PRACTICE LANDING BIG FISH
You should try to join a private lake and a club, or make trips to Mexico, Texas, Florida, and wherever else you can experience fighting and landing a lot of larger fish. Confidence is the key to success in this business. You must have the confidence in your ability to land big fish without getting overly excited. This is hard to do, so as much practice as you can get doing this before entering major tournaments is a definite plus! A big part of this game is mental. You must learn how to to maintain a high level of concentration also. Don't pay attention to other things other than your line, the lure, and the fish. Ignore other anglers and spectators that are close by. Keep your focus, and stick to your game plan. Don't try to show off. That comes later at the weigh in with a twenty pound bag! Maintain and use the best quality equipment that you can get. This plays a big part in confidence also. It doesn't always have to be the very highest quality equipment, but you must have confidence in it, and in your own ability to use it properly. Sometimes I go through thirty crankbaits and jerkbaits before I find the best ones. Don't neglect the basics either. Learn how to tie all the proper knots for the baits you are using, and use the highest quality hooks available. I can't stress this enough. Follow these guidelines, and get out and practice as much as you can, and your recreational fishing as well as tournament fishing will improve drastically.
More specialized techniques are available by joining our 'Premium' section at our site at www.skguideservice.com