Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Jig vs Texas Rig

When it comes to getting bass out of cover, especially wood, these two baits are by far at the top of any bass anglers list.  Which one is better?  When should I pitch which one?  What about color?  These are great questions that are asked of me very often.  Let me take a minute to break down what I have learned to be the best answers to these questions.


What is better, a jig or a Texas-rigged plastic?
~ Both of these baits are great to use for bass.  Bass won't always chase fast moving baits like crankbaits or bladed jigs, so you have to slow down at times.  To say one is better than the other for catching bass is impossible.  I will say this though, the jig over a long period of time will attract bigger bass.  I am not saying you won't catch big bass with a Texas-rigged plastic, but over a long testing period the jig will produce bigger bass.  On the flip side, a plastic craw, worm or tube will tend to get you more bites in a day of fishing for bass.

When should I pitch a jig or a Texas-rig?
~ Again, these baits are both designed to fish around a specific type of cover, weeds and wood being the most common.  I have found that a Texas-rig can be pitched in the tightest of areas a little better than a jig.  When I am pitching into the heaviest of trees and laydowns I will often "peg" my bullet sinker allowing me to have even better control over my bait.  Another variable that helps me choose which one to throw is the amount of bites I am getting.  If I am getting a lot of bites and catching some bass on a Texas-rig, I will switch and try a jig to see if any bigger fish are around.  The opposite is also true, when I am fishing a jig and not getting many bites, I will switch to a plastic, typically a tube bait on a Texas-rig to see if I can get some more bites.


What color is best?
~ This is a day by day and even a minute by minute decision.  Color should be depicted by the color of the water you are currently fishing.  Simple and an easy thing to remember is this; if the water is dirty you will want dark colors such as black and blue.  If the water is clear then use more natural colors such as green pumpkin and shad colors.

Conclusion:
~At almost all times when scouting or fishing a tournament, I will have both of these high percentage baits tied up on different rods ready to go at any moment.  Some days a Texas-Rigged Tube will out produce a jig, while on most days the jig will catch the biggest bass of the day.  As always, experiment and let the fish tell you what they want.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Weeds...Weeds Everywhere

As the weather warms around the state, not only does the grass in our yards take off, but so does the aquatic grass in ponds, lakes and rivers.  Some anglers do their best to avoid fisheries that have a lot of the aquatic vegetation or grass, I however, look forward to a lake or river section looking green. 

Green weeds offer fish of every species a great place to hide and capture their next meal.  Bass certainly love the weeds that grow in lakes and rivers, making it a favorite target of mine in these hot summer months. 

Too many times anglers are using baits to catch bass on the wrong rod/reel setup.  There is not a rule book of combos that need to be followed and can vary from angler to angler, however having some guidelines when spooling up for your favorite baits is a good way to double check to see if you are on the right path to catching more bass. 

You cannot tackle bass hanging around weeds with your typical bass fishing gear, it takes some specialized gear.  Here are some key rod/reel combos and my 3 favorite baits to tackle bass swimming amongst the weeds.  Please contact me by the email link on the side of the site if you have any further questions, I will be glad to help.

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1- Frog:
Rod- Med/Hvy, Extra Fast tip
~My Choice: Quantum Smoke 7ft MedHvy xfast tip
Reel- High speed reel in the 7.0:1 or higher gear ratio
~My Choice: Quantum Smoke S3 8.1:1 speed
Line- 50+ pounds braided line
~My Choice: 65# Power Pro Braid
Bait- hollow body dual-hook frog
~My Choice: OptimumBaits Furbit Frog
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2- Swim Jig:
Rod- Medium, fast tip
~My Choice: Quantum Special Issue 7ft Medium Fast tip
Reel- anything in the "6" gear ratio
~My Choice: Quantum Tour S3 6.1:1 gear ratio
Line- 30# Braid
~My Choice: 30# Power Pro Spectra
Bait- 1/4 or 3/8oz swim jig
~My Choice: Custom, Hand-tied Bill Lowen or Brovarny 1/4oz swim jig
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3- Texas-Rigged Tube (rigged to punch through heavy grass)
Rod- Heavy, xfast tip
~My Choice: Quantum Tour 7ft 6in Heavy xFast tip
Reel- something with over a 7.0:1 gear ratio
~My Choice: Quantum Energy Flippin Switch 7.0:1 gear ratio
Line- 40# or more braid
~My Choice: 50# Power Pro
Bait- 1oz Tungsten bullet weight, 4/O EWG hook, tube
~My Choice: 1oz Reins Tungsten bullet weight, 4/O EWG hook, Hot Rod Baits tube

These three baits will do you very well when you are faced with weeds in your local fishing spot.  They will work on the smallest of ponds, and biggest of rivers across the state.  Don't be afraid of weeds and grass, just get a few baits that you have confidence in and use them to their fullest potential.  You won't be disappointed.



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.