Monday, May 18, 2020

My Best 5 Largemouth Bass Tips

Entire article can only be seen in The Iowa Sportsman Magazine:

The largemouth bass, the most familiar fish in the country lives all around us.  No matter if you fish a farm pond, a local river, county park, one of the 100’s man-made lakes around Iowa, or the Mighty Mississippi River, the largemouth bass is waiting for you.  Typically we all got hooked on bullheads, or bluegills as a young outdoor person, but I bet most of us can remember that first big bass that we caught.  If you are like me, you can remember the exact details.  That day, way back in the 80’s hooked me for life on chasing these beautiful fish all around Iowa.  I was about ten years old and fishing a farm pond with my dad.  The bass, at the time, was the biggest fish I had ever caught in my young life.  It measured just over 18 inches and the old ZEBCO scale marked it just over 2.50 pounds.  It was a monster in my eyes, and the largemouth bass and I have had a serious relationship from that day on.
Fast forward about 30 years, four boats later, hundreds of days on the water, a few dozen rod/reel combos, hundreds of lost baits and countless numbers of bass caught...like all of us, I have learned a few things.  Here are my top 5 tips and tricks that have kept me busy catching these green fish all over Iowa.

#5- Go Small:  To consistently catch bass all over the state anglers must be willing to go small with their baits.  Some of my favorites include a 4-inch ring worm on a shaky head and a 5 inch stick bait.  When the bite gets tough and the usual bass baits aren’t catching them it is time to bring out the small stuff.  One common time this occurs is when the barometric pressure is high or you have one of those blue skies, no wind kind of days.  Those are two common times when bass just don’t want to chase around fast baits and you must slow down and give them an appetizer.  Spring and winter cold fronts can be other times when going small will end up getting a few baits when other baits will not.  The shaky head can be fished like a jig, try different speeds, but slow is typically what these lethargic bass will like.  The stick bait can be rigged a number of ways depending on what cover you are around.  Texas-rigged for heavy cover, t-boning the stick weighless for those windless days and if needed adding a split shot a foot above the stick to move it around more quickly.  Again, when the bass turn negative, it is time to go small.

Braided line and an Optimum Baits Furbit Frog
make frog fishing a deadly combination.
#4- Topwater Baits: If you are a bass angler I know you have a dozen or so of these, perhaps many more.  Too many anglers think that these can only be used in the first and last hour of the day.  This is something that you need to forget from this point on.  It is true that using them in low light conditions will help get more strikes.  Other times that topwaters shine are ANYTIME!  Buzzbaits are great whenever it is cloudy out, and if you are fishing in the rain, you should be fishing a buzzbait.  In my opinion there are only two different kinds of buzzbaits; a white one or a black one.  Keep this bait simple on your next purchase and as long as it is one of those two colors you picked out a good one!  Buzzbaits and prop baits work well in areas with current all day long.  When fish are congregated in current areas, they are hungry and they are feeding, they will smash a topwater bait.  If fishing clear waters with structure like wood and docks is your cup of tea, then a Pop-R should be tied on your rod during the warm season months.  Pop-R baits work well to slowly present a bait to fish feeding around structures.  Try to match the hatch on the colors of baits, as the fish will often have plenty of time to examine your bait before blasting it.  It is vital to try many different cadences of a Pop-R when fishing it.  Some days the bass will want it to sit still for up to twenty or thirty seconds.  It is a patience tester, but it can be very rewarding.  Lastly, and my favorite way to fish is to throw a hollow body frog.  These can be fished every minute of the day and are best on top and around the weeds.  Many people do not like to fish around weeds, this is a huge mistake.  Weeds have everything a bass needs; shade, high oxygen levels, and food.  Frog fishing is a book in itself, but a few quick tips; make sure your frog has big hooks and you are using braided line.  I have used just about every brand of frog, one rises to the top, the Optimum Baits Furbit Frog.  It has a dual 6/O hook and is everything you need in a frog.









Thursday, May 14, 2020

Eastern Iowa 5-Hour Challenge

Small lake, middle of May with a overnight temps in the 20's.  I didn't know what to expect on this day, but things turned out for the better.


Wednesday, May 6, 2020

1st Attempt at Video in the Boat

As I do each and every spring, I try to hit smaller lakes to take advantage of the warmer water they provide, and the chance at catching a giant.  Some of the smallest lakes in the state hold the biggest largemouth bass in the state.  This time I traveled to an old "stompin' ground" that I frequented many times when I lived in Marshalltown.  It had been 4 years since I have seen this lake, but not much had changed. 

Well...as the title suggests let's get to the first video, which captured some cool fish catches.  I hope I can do a few more of these throughout the year.

Friday, April 24, 2020

The Fish Mystery

With the COVID-19 shutting down schools across the state, I have had more time to fish this month.  I have used this extra time to try and follow bass through the local river I live on, the Wapsipinicon River.  I have had my successes but a few days left me shaking my head all the way home.
One in particular I still can't get over.  Last Sunday evening I decided to chase some smallmouth.  I caught them well on two popular areas of the river that anglers frequent often.  I tried many baits, but with water temperatures in low 50's I only got bites on an IMA Lures Jerkbait and a wacky-rigged stickbait.  Alternating the baits kept bass coming the in boat throughout the few hours on the river.  A good day for the Wapsi in April.  Fast-forward just 3 days, same time of day, same water clarity and same water temperature.  The weather did cool down Monday and Tuesday but a warm front pushed through Wednesday.  I decided to do the same exact thing I did three days ago, I figured why not, it was a good day on the water and I can learn about the smallmouth, which is something of a mystery to me.  I hate to say it, but it is still a mystery, as I threw the same baits and others at the two locations with smallmouth caught literally half the size they were three days ago.  I did not go away from the two areas to keep "my study" the same, however I did try adjacent deeper holes, and shallow flats with no success.  It is like the better smallmouth had disappeared...I know they didn't but it is just another day that those brown fish fooled me.  It won't be the last, but I also know that I will knock them good again too!  Fishing...it is what makes you get out there and try again.

The biggest for the trip: 2.88# Smallmouth

Saturday, April 4, 2020

EASY TO DO: Re-lining Your Reels

Spring is the time to get fresh line on your reels, if you haven't done so yet you are in luck.  The following video will walk you through the method I use to re-line reels throughout the year.  It is easy, quick, and will save you some money in the end.  Works with spinning reels and baitcasting reels. 

Friday, April 3, 2020

"Long Stick" Time

This spring has been one to remember for a lot of reasons, mostly negative, like NO baseball, NO late ice, No regular work schedules and the world being affected by the Coronavirus.  In our household we are doing our best by staying home, only visiting the grocery store once a week.  However, April can be the best time of year to catch your biggest bass of the entire year.  I have made it out a few times, but haven't hooked into that big one yet.  I have had a lot of time to organize the boats, tackle boxes and get the Quantum Rods and Reels ready to go. 

I am often asked, "What do you like the best, ice fishing or regular fishing?"  My simple answer has always been BOTH.  However, the enjoy of finding some fish and then catching them is always the purest enjoyment for me, hopefully that will always stick with me and I am able to do both for decades to come.  No matter if I am floating in one of my boats, or drilling holes in the ice, it is always about that next bite.

Get out and enjoy if you can, keep things simple and do your part to be safe and those loved ones at home.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Fish Cakes- Bake or Fry

To say the least, this past week or two have changed a lot of habits for people in Iowa.  The Corona-Virus has hit and is rapidly spreading, causing Iowans to stay home to slow the spread of the virus.  To no surprise people are making/cooking more of their own food, thus the purpose of this update on my blog.  In the past ten days or so I have been asked by three different friends about the fish cakes recipe I had published a few years ago.  I decided to do another post about this recipe that was originally found in The Iowa Sportsman Magazine.  Each month they highlight wild game recipes, each that I have tried have been great, just another reason to subscribe to the only made for Iowa outdoors magazine.

I have updated a few things that made these cakes even easier to cook, including a baked and fried version.

The recipe calls for bluegills, but I have substituted Yellow Bass in, and they are awesome as well.

The Iowa Sportsman Magazine Recipe



INGREDIENTS:
12 Bluegills/Yellow Bass- filleted 
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Onion Powder
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1 Egg- separate yolk from white
2/3 cup Milk
1 Tbsp butter, melted
Lemon or Tarter Sauce to flavor


A few notes about the process; I just placed the 24 fillets in a casserole dish after spraying with PAM and baked for about 25 minutes (these can also be baked in a toaster oven).  Flaking them is as simple as taking a fork and stirring the baked fillets into small pieces.  Try to drain or soak up unnecessary water from the fillets before you put them into the ingredient mixture.  Having the burner set a little above "medium" seemed to fry them the best on the stove top.  Make sure and flatten the cakes so the middle cooks thoroughly.  Not much oil is need in the fry pan.  This made 7 cakes like you see in the picture, large enough for a couple really hungry people or 3 if there are other items to eat.

BAKED VERSION: spread cakes thin and place in an over/toaster oven for about 25 minutes on 350 degrees.  This is a healthier choice without the added oil needed in the frying process.
I hope you enjoy this recipe from "The Iowa Sportsman Magazine".