How Far Do You Live From A Bass?

How Far Do You Live From A Bass? thumbnail
How far do you live from a bass? Ok, how far do you live from a 5-pound bass?

Living in Chicago, you might think my fishing options are limited, but fishing life in the big city honestly isn’t that bad…

I live 2 miles west of the shores of Lake Michigan. And if you know anything about the great lakes, you know they hold great big smallmouth. My middle-school classmate actually broke the Illinois State Record this past October with a 7-pound smallmouth bass! And this mega football was landed just a few miles from my place. I’ll post a picture and link blog link below.

The Illinois RECORD Smallmouth Bass caught by old classmate Joe Capaulupo.

My chances of catching a local, big-bellied largemouth become more challenging—but it’s still within the realm of possibility. The local harbors, public ponds, and most importantly, private country clubs (keep that one between us) all hold lunkers.

For living in the third-largest city in the USA, my fishing options aren’t THAT limited. In fact, I can get to three spots within 20 minutes and each one holds enough fish to encourage me to come back for more.

Lake Michigan fishing isn’t always easy but this lake holds BIG FISH. And it’s right down the road.
The South Branch of the Chicago River runs through my neighborhood. One considered the dirtiest river in America, the south branch has bounced back.
I grew up fishing the Des Plaines River in Lyons, Il. The same area where French explorers realized they could get from the Chicago River into the Des Plaines River. This connected the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River, helping grow Chicago into a major city.

Driving Past Bass

In recent years, I’ve spent so much time venturing out of state; it has caused me to look past (and drive past) local fish. Don’t get me wrong, I love loading up the truck and hitting the road, the sense of adventure a fishing trip provides, is unlike anything else. But I need to stop looking past the fish that live closer to home.

The landscape may not be as pretty, the fishing will probably be tougher, and the species might be less abundant—but, the feeling of reeling one in will remain the same.

Now, think about where you call home… Is there a lake, river, creek, or ditch pond in that you’ve been skipping over? You might have driven past it on your way to work, or noticed a little lake on Google Maps. Little fishing gems are surrounding all of us It’s on you to see what kinda fish they hold.

They Do Exist!

Here are a few memorable catches that I caught in or around Chicago:

A Des Plaines River pike that I caught in the Spring of 2018
I caught this Chicago River crappie during my lunch break this past May.
A Chicago harbor. Check out those colors!
This is just a sweet pic I took one night I probably got skunked.

Balance is KEY! Matching The Right Size Spinning Reel With The Right Size Rod

Balance is KEY! Matching The Right Size Spinning Reel With The Right Size Rod thumbnail

A spinning reel ranks as my top choice for pursuing a variety of freshwater game fish because of the wide range of reel sizes available. I can match a small reel with an ultralight rod for trout and panfish or I can opt for a mega-sized reel matched with a big surf rod for chasing trophy catfish. Reels generally are rated differently in size by each manufacturer so there is no uniform numbers for the various sizes. Some manufacturers might list their reel as a size 25 whereas another manufacturer will list the same size reel as a 2500 model. The best way to determine size then is the smaller the model number the smaller the reel.

Here’s the lowdown on spinning reel sizes and how to match each size reel with a compatible spinning rod for freshwater fishing. The 1000 or 10 size reel is ideal for fishing with 2-to 4-pound test monofilament line. I pair this reel with an ultralight rod measuring either 4 1/2- to 5 1/2- feet long. This is a great combination for trout fishing and small panfish such as bluegill and yellow perch.

Small Spinning Reels

I opt for a 2000 or 20 size reel when I am fishing for crappie and white bass and use lines ranging from 4- to 8-pound test. I combine this reel with a 6- or 6 1/2-foot light or medium-light action spinning rod. This is also a great setup for trout fishing with jigs, jerkbaits or drift rigs with bait.

Medium Spinning Reels

Pflueger President Spinning Reel

The 2500 or 25 size reel is my choice for dock shooting for crappie or finesse tactics for bass such as drop-shotting. I spool the reel with 6-pound line and match it with a 7-foot light action rod for dock shooting. For drop-shotting, I use 8-pound fluorocarbon line and a 6 1/2-foot medium action rod. My choice for working jerkbaits, wacky rigs and shaky head worms for bass is a 3000 or 30 size reel. This reel works great with 10- and 12-pound line and a 6 1/2- or 7-foot medium or medium-heavy action rod.

Large Spinning Reels

Ardent Arrow Spinning Reel

There are multiple sizes of larger reels primarily used for saltwater fishing, but the largest I use for freshwater fishing is the 4000 or 40 size reel. I fill this reel with 20-pound test monofilament and fish for catfish with an 8- or 10-foot light surf rod.


Shimano Introduces New SKIXX Musky Rods

Shimano Introduces New SKIXX Musky Rods thumbnail

Fishing for freshwater’s apex predator is always a marathon, never a sprint. It’s casting big lures with big, powerful reels and rods that take a toll on an all-day fishing adventure.  While they won’t make a musky follow or engulf your lure, Shimano’s new SKIXX rods offer a slew of performance features, most notably the combination of Spiral X and Hi-Power X blank construction, to provide an edge for more success.

Offered in seven casting models in sizes from a heavy power eight-footer up to an extra-heavy power nine-foot-six, the new SKIXX musky rods will officially be introduced on January 23 at the Chicagoland Fishing, Travel & Outdoor Expo at the Schaumburg Convention Center.  Noted ‘musky hunter’ Jim Saric – who played an integral part in developing the new rods, will be in the Shimano booth at various times during the show to talk musky fishing and about the new SKIXX series.

Shimano’s latest advancement in fishing rod technology – first showcased in its saltwater rods – gives anglers the ability for both longer and more accurate casts, increased fish-fighting ‘catching’ power and control, along with added blank durability. According to Trey Epich with Shimano’s product development team, Spiral X provides the foundational basic structure to the rod, where an inner and outer layer of high-strength carbon infinity tape is tightly wrapped diagonally in opposite directions with a vertical sheet of carbon material in between. This allows Shimano to build thin, strong, and lightweight blanks that prevent rod twist to improve casting distance, accuracy, and control and also prevents blank ovalization for better lifting power and blank strength.

Hi-Power X is the reinforcing structure to the SKIXX rods, contributing to the lightweight blank construction, along with enhancing torsional rigidity from carbon tape being wrapped diagonally on the outer layer of the blank.

“With how the SKIXX rod blanks are made, not only do I notice added casting distance with less effort, it also eliminates any lateral vibration and provides more control while fighting muskies,” explains Saric. “From all my field-testing over the past year, what I really noticed is with the rod not twisting, all the rod’s energy is focused on direction and distance. In most conditions, I was seeing casts going 20-percent further, and was able to it without being completely drained at the end of a long day on the water.”

While the SKIXX eight-foot heavy and extra power rods are one-piece models, the eight-foot-six heavy and extra heavy power, and nine-foot medium-heavy and extra heavy power rods feature a two-piece handle. This unique construction process – proven with saltwater rods – solidly joins the pieces at the foregrip, “delivering strength and performance rivaling any one-piece rod,” Saric said. “Plus, the added bonus makes these longer rods easier to transport or store in any rod locker or vehicle, which was also considered by making the longest rod in the series – the nine-foot-six SKIIX 96HX – with a telescopic handle.”

Shimano SKIXX Musky Rods Payne OutdoorsWhen casting up to one-pound soft plastics, Saric recommends SKIXX 90XH paired with a Tranx 400. For big bucktails, he said the SKIXX 96XH with a Tranx 400 equipped with a power handle is a treat to fish with, “and when I’m using Top Raider or any other topwater prop baits, I’m rigged and ready with SKIXX 90MH with a Tranx 400.”

All the SKIXX rods feature Fuji Alconite guides and premium cork fore and rear grips. Except for the biggest SKIXX 96XH with a Fuji reel seat, the other SKIXX rods are all designed with Shimano’s CI4+ reel seats to further reduce overall rod weight.

Shimano SKIXX Musky Rods Payne OutdoorsTo see the SKIXX rods in action and learn more, watch Jim Saric here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=5&v=o7PF2Jn36VI&feature=emb_logo.

For more information on Shimano’s new SKIIX musky rods featuring Spiral X and Hi-Power X rod blank construction, visit your local tackle dealer, or visit the SKIXX page on the Shimano web site at: http://fish.shimano.com/content/fish/northamerica/us/en/homepage/NEW_PRODUCTS/NEW_PRD_TEMPLATE21.html.

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Featured Fly Tyer: Pat Cohen

Featured Fly Tyer: Pat Cohen thumbnail

Odds are if you love fly fishing for warm water predators, you’ve caught a few glimpses of Pat Cohen’s (@rusuperfly) fly patterns. Pat is renowned for his deer hair work, fly tying tools, and original patterns. A New York native, Pat grew up fishing, but once he gave fly fishing a try, the rest was history. We sat down with Pat to chat about fly tying, developing fly tying products and his art-fly-tying. Check it out!

Flylords: Tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you got into fly fishing.

Pat: I think it was in 2008 or so, and it was kind of a random event. I was out fishing with my dad and my brother, and my brother had this eagle claw fly-slash-spin combo rod, and I check it out and I decided I wanted to learn how to fly fish. And haphazardly put it together, walked out in the middle of the creek, started whipping the thing around frantically, and did not catch a fish. But, fell in love with the whole process. And it all started from that, really. Yeah, it was an accident.

And fly tying started in 2009, and it was really…well, that was an accident too. I was going through flies like crazy trying to learn how to catch smallmouth, and I decided that I needed to learn how to tie a couple for myself because where I’m at, there’s nothing as far as fly shops and stuff like that go. So, for me to replenish flies, it was an hour drive one way to go get flies or whatever. So I said, all right I’m going to learn how to tie a couple of these things. And at the time I was only using like bead head crystal flash wooly buggers. And so I tied tons of them, and then just accidentally stumbled upon bass bugs and fell in love with that, and it just kind of went from there.

Flylords: When did you first start tying with spun deer hair?

Pat: That was within a couple of months of tying flies in general. I kind of ran through the gamut. There was this little fly shop around here, it was a trout focused fly shop and I had gone in and I went and talked to them. I said, “Hey you know, I’m really interested in learning how to catch bass”, and they basically told me to leave, in not so many words.

So it wasn’t a good reception there, so I said, all right well that’s kind of rude. And then left and went … There’s another little shop, like I said, about an hour from here. It’s closed now unfortunately but, I’d gone in there and that’s where I started seeing all these bass bugs and all these various things. And bought a few and then started using them.

The first one was just a standard Dahlberg diver. And fell in love with the whole premise of catching bass on topwater. And I said, “Well geez there’s not a lot of selection.” I would see all the available lures and spin tackle gear, and then go back and looked at these fly selections, I said to myself, “Boy, there’s nothing here, why are all these crazy colors available in poppers and Hula Poppers and that kind of thing but, I can’t get anything like that in a fly.” So I started making them. 

The first time I tried to spin a bug, I had no idea what I was doing, or what the material was. I had some bucktails around, so I tried to spin bucktail, and I was getting angry. I went back to that shop that I bought the tail from, and I met this guy Tom. And I said, “Hey, Tom I want to learn how to make these things.”, and he’s like, “Well I don’t know how to make them but, I can tell you what material you need.” 

So I bought belly hair, went home and I was like, holy hell it flares, it does what it’s supposed to do. Yeah. And then I just kind of went bananas with it. 

Flylords: Was there an “A-ha!” moment you discovered or something that kind of accelerated the learning curve for you, where spinning deer hair is concerned?

Pat: Thread tension seemed to be the thing that was the most important, at first. It was like, “okay how do I make this hair stand up off the hook at 90 degrees,” because that’s the whole premise behind flaring deer hair. You want to get that thread in the middle, compress it down nice and tight and boom that hair stands up. So I guess, one of the first things that you try to figure out is, all right I’m putting a ton of tension on this, I’m getting it flared and then when I put a little bit extra, my thread breaks, now what. So using the right thread, and when I was told finally what I should be using, that really made a big difference. 

Flylords: And what was that thread?

Pat: GSP. At the time, I was told a million different things. I was told, hey use Kevlar, use this thread, that thread, use mono, use all these different things. And nothing really worked. I think I read an article or something. I have no idea exactly how but, I discovered GSP and started using GSP. And I was like, oh yeah this is where it’s at, this is the missing ingredient.

Flylords: Tell us a little bit about the hair packing tool you developed.

Pat: Yeah. The Fugly Packer. The problem that I was having was, if wanted a super, super dense bug, I was bending out all of the little brassy packers and stuff like that. You can’t put enough pressure on that hair. You can get them dense with the other packers, but you can’t get them really dense. Some of these bugs, you can literally take and sand them with a piece of sandpaper when you’re done trimming them out.

So, that was kind of what I was going for. The denser you make the hair bug, the better it floats and the more durable it becomes because you’ve got all this super tight-packed glued hair that’s firmly secured to this hook.

 

Flylords: How do you get such intricate color layers and patterns in your deer hair flies? 

Pat: When you’re making all those patterns the technique is called stacking. Stacking is basically working from the bottom side of the hook shank to the top side of the hook shank. And what stacking allows you to do is control every bit of hair that goes on that fly. So we talk about it in terms of pencil thicknesses although, rarely do the clumps of hair that we use actually resemble a pencil thickness. I mean, if you’re really getting into this, you’re using a fair amount of hair but, as a reference point, pencil thickness.

So, if I have three pencil thicknesses is my first clump of hair on the bottom of the fly. Let’s say I want the belly to be orange. So I get my clump of hair, my three pencil thickness clump of hair to the bottom of the fly. Now, I’ve got this orange belly. Then, I want the top of the fly to be segmented. Let’s say I want chartreuse, kelly green, and olive with some black barring in between. So in theory, you want the amount of hair on the bottom of the fly, and the amount of hair on the top of the fly to be somewhat close to the same. If you’re going to go over, you want more hair on top than you do on the bottom but, you try to keep it somewhat close.

So for easy math, let’s just say we separate the three main colors, which is that chartreuse, kelly, and olive. So one pencil thickness of each of those. And then, you want those black bars. So let’s say we take two other little clumps of black, maybe it’s a quarter of a pencil in thickness, not even enough to measure against the bottom clumps of hair. So you put your chartreuse down, and then you separate that in the middle, and then you put your kelly green right in the middle on top of that. Then you compress that and you put your little black bars in, and then you put your olive in the middle of that, and then you put another chunk of black on top of that. Meanwhile, you’re compressing the hair the whole time and adding more thread. You’re adding minimal wraps, two wraps per color. And then you’re pulling down real tight in between. 

And as you build that up, you’re creating these patterns. So on your last wrap, you put an extra wrap of thread through and then take your packer and you pack all that back. Then you advance your thread and do it all over again until you run out of hook space. But, basically, what you’re doing, as long as you’re not migrating your thread within those stacks of hair, is you’re just creating a pattern stack of multiple colors of hair. When you trim that out, you end up with all those bars and spots. That’s a simplified version of it because you can do all sorts of different things but, that’s the general gist of how to do that kind of a process. It does take some practice, don’t get me wrong, you can’t figure it out overnight. It took me a very long time to become somewhat competent at it.

Flylords: So tell us a little bit about the trimming process. The first cut you make with a razor always seems to be so oddly satisfying to watch. 

Pat: That first cut on the bottom, that’s your most important cut. That’s the telltale, did I pull my thread tight enough, close enough to that hook shank or is my first cut going to slice through that thread and 45 minutes of my life is going to fall on the floor. It happens either way. After a while, you start to figure out, all right okay, I got enough tension on this, I’m not going to worry about it. You trim carefully every bug that I trim, and I make thousands of bass bugs a year. I still trim every one of them very carefully.

Flylords: Where do you get the inspiration new patterns that you’re going to play with or develop?

Pat: So, whenever I’m developing a new fly, I’m trying to solve a problem on the water with that fly. The main reason that I tie flies is that I absolutely love to fish. So when I go out to fish and I’ve got my box loaded up with whatever flies I stuff in it for the day, I’m going out and I’m observing and I’m trying to figure out, okay these fish are doing A, B and C and I’ve got X Y and Z fly. Can I solve the problem? Can I catch fish? Can I fool them? And if I can’t, then I check a couple of things. I have a systematic approach to all fishing situations. 

So I start out with a fly that I like, and then move on from there, if that fly doesn’t catch fish, I look for obvious things. Are they feeding on crayfish, are they feeding on minnows, what size is the minnow, what’s the minnow doing. And then I choose a fly accordingly. And if I get my ass beat on the water that day, then I go home and I say, okay what was going on that I was not able to do with the selection of flies that I had. And then from there, I try to figure out, what is it that I think that I can do with a fly to entice more aggressive feeding behavior. Maybe that’s a color, maybe it’s size, maybe it’s an action. So then I come up with whatever it is I think is going to solve the problem, and then I go back out and hope that that same problem exists tomorrow. And test that fly for a while and see what happens, and then make changes and go from there. But it’s always related to something that I want the fly to do.

I get a lot of inspiration from the tackle world. Honestly, I’m obsessed with wooden lures. So all these swimbaits and glide baits, and jerk baits and all these cool things that are being made, hand-carved out of wood and stuff. I look at those things and I go, okay how do I make a fly do that or jigs and things like that, creature baits. That’s how that whole series of creature tails and all the things that I make came about. I wanted to be able to fish that stuff on the fly rod.

Flylords: Do you have a go-to pattern these days?

Pat: It depends on where I’m fishing, honestly. One of the flies that has always been good to me as a searching pattern is my … it’s called a Fat Head deceiver. It’s basically a big muddler that I fish on a sinking line, has always been a go-to fly for me. But, when I’m on these smaller streams, I do fish a lot of smaller waters for bass. My Jiggy Craw, is an absolute starter, go to because where I’m at, 70% of these smallmouth’s diets are made up of crayfish. Crayfish and then hellgrammites, so I use that a lot too, my Devil’s Drifter (above), which is a hellgrammite pattern. The Jiggy craw is definitely one, the Fat Head deceiver is definitely one. I like the Fat Heads on bigger waters although, I use them in the small streams too.

 

Flylords: How do you keep fly tying fun and challenging for yourself when you sit down just to tie for your own box or just to let the creative juices flow?

Pat: That’s a good question. So everybody’s got to do something. You got to do something for a living. So I look at fly tying, I look at it two different ways. So I still absolutely love tying flies and creating flies, and to me, it’s just fun. When I sit down, and I have an idea, I don’t think about the commercial aspect of most of the flies. I look at them and I’m trying to make what I want to go and fish with.

And if it’s successful after a season or whatever, and usually I send them around to a couple of buddies. And we all fish them, then talk about them and, get some feedback together. And I’ve got more failures in my box than I do successful flies because that’s just part of the process. 

I’m creating all these flies that I want to fish with, and tying flies for everybody else. It’s still exciting because I’m still excited to fish those flies. And if you look on my website, I only tie flies that I use. If people call me up and they’re like, hey man we need 16 dozen Adams, I will point them in the direction of somebody that can do that for them. 

I enjoy it, really. Part of that is getting those photographs back from people or getting the excited email like, “Hey man I just went on the trip of a lifetime and caught my biggest fish and blah, blah”… It makes it very satisfying and it keeps it very satisfying. 

Flylords: How does your approach differ when you’re tying an art fly?

Pat:  The art flies have no rules because they don’t need to perform in the water. So you can get a little crazy with those things. You can make whatever you want, really. If you don’t have to worry about it balancing or keeling or moving a certain way, so you can just have fun. A lot of the time when I’m … Like, the Punk Rocker, that was the first display style fly that I had ever made. And it was just about … really it was just about having some fun with deer hair. Like, hey can I make this crazy looking thing. And from there, people were like, dude can you make a fish, can you make this, can you make a bird. And I was like, well all right. I was already making the fishable birds but, I do these display birds every once in a while too. It was just kind of a challenge, really. What can I make deer hair do that I didn’t think I could do yesterday? And it’s still kind of like that. 

I made a Death Head hawkmoth for my stepfather for his birthday. I did all these crazy realistic legs on it, and just fun stuff. I made this popper for this dude a few years ago, and I carved out Papa Smurf.

Flylords: What’s next for Pat Cohen in 2020?

Pat: Well, I wrote a book. That’s coming out at the end of January, Super Bass Flies. It’s got anglers and fly tyers from all over the place in it. Basically, I put everything that I know about smallmouth and largemouth fishing in this book. I wrote about the water column, the food sources and how those two interact. I wrote about how bass behave, so there’s a lot of biology, there’s a lot of fishing technique. And then there’s 42 step-by-steps of my flies in this book. I think the count was like 108 flies from other fly tyers, representing all those various food sources. It was quite a project. It took almost two years. So that’s coming out like the end of January, and that’s pretty exciting!

We’d like to say a big thank you to Pat Cohen for taking the time to sit down with us and give a glimpse into his ever-creative mind. His latest book will be coming out later this month, but you can pre-order it at the links below!

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Continue reading “Featured Fly Tyer: Pat Cohen”

When the Stars Align – Giant Kyped Brown Trout

When the Stars Align – Giant Kyped Brown Trout thumbnail

Sometimes the stars align, and sometimes they don’t. Fly fishing is notorious for leaving us with a plethora of “what if’ moments that haunt us when we sleep. “The one that got away,” isn’t just a saying, but a harsh reality that most experience far more often than they would like to admit.

In these periods of fishing hardship, I find myself second-guessing my motives. “Why am I out here?” “Is this really worth it?” It becomes easy to separate the real ones from the weak ones. Subzero temps, frozen guides, and fishless days are what make or break a fly fisherman. This sport is demanding. True grit is required, and without it, dreams stay dreams.

At some point, the opportunity presents itself. The countless hours and numb fingers pay off in one magical moment. The fish of your dreams comes out to play, and everything comes together in perfect harmony. Time itself freezes. Screaming drag, racing heart, 27 inches; kype. The moment when adrenaline sucks the cold from your bones, surroundings fade, and there is nothing in the world but you and that fish.

It’s what we are all after; that shining feeling of success. It drives us day in and day out, cast after cast after cast. The ever-elusive fantasy fish always lurks somewhere in the depths. Maybe today’s the day, maybe next year.

Any true fly fisherman understands that these moments do not happen all the time. They must be earned through dedication, suffering, and unwavering passion. Without putting in the hours, you never know what is truly possible. Your one moment may be waiting just behind the next bend, in the next riffle, or on your next cast.

Next time you find yourself with little motivation, questioning if getting out of bed at 4:00 am is even worth it; the answer is simple. Maybe. Just maybe; but you’ll never know until you’re out there, on the stream, in the moment, with nothing on your mind but the fish of a lifetime. Grind, grind and grind some more because sometimes, the stars align.

Angler and article by Ameen Hosain, check him out on Instagram @thefishboulder. Additional photos from Mark Rauschenberger (@markierausch), who was able to provide Ameen with mental support in landing this epic fish.

Breaking First Water, Dawn Till Dusk Fly Fishing

Artist Spotlight: Anthony Annable

Artist Spotlight: Anthony Annable thumbnail

Flylords: Who is Anthony Annable?

Anthony: I’m a fish artist based in the UK behind @antartoutdoors. The majority of my art consists of freshwater gamefish with also a few saltwater species.

Flylords: What came first the fish or the art?

Anthony: From an early age, fishing was always a big part of my life. It was only until I discovered flyfishing at the age of six I was completely hooked. I started drawing small sketches of trout in my spare time or at school, mainly in the back of my maths books haha.

Flylords: What is your Go-To medium? When did you start working in it?

Anthony: I painted and drew with colored pencils for many years until I transferred over to digital art.

Flylords: Do you have a favorite piece of artwork?

Anthony: Currently, my favorite piece of artwork would be the ”12 Trout Species” or my ”Brown Trout Growth Chart”

Flylords: Favorite catch on a fly rod?

Anthony: My most memorable catch on a fly rod was landing my first Atlantic salmon.

Flylords: Biggest accomplishment as an artist?

Anthony: To date, my biggest achievement as an artist was reaching 10k followers on Instagram as this was a big milestone for me.

Flylords: Any advice for other artists in the fishing space?

Anthony: Some good advice is to always be persistent with your work. Create art which you find motivating, you will go further as an artist making things you enjoy.

Flylords: What’s next?

Anthony: I am very devoted to my work and wish to continue creating more new artwork for my audience and social media. My future goal is to cover a more different verity of fish, freshwater & saltwater.

You can follow along with Anthony on Instagram @antartoutdoors or at https://www.antartoutdoors.com/.

Artist Spotlight: Mandy Hertzfeld

Artist Spotlight: Eric Estrada

Artist Spotlight: Ed Anderson

 

Winter Bass Fishing Hacks For Big Bass

Winter Bass Fishing Hacks For Big Bass thumbnail

When bass get sluggish in the wintertime your tackle selection shrinks considerably to cater to the mood of the fish.

The key to choosing winter lures is to think about slow-moving lures because a bass will usually be swimming slowly even when the fish are in a feeding mode. So I choose lures I can work slowly to tempt winter bass.

The weather also dictates the lures I throw during the winter. If the weather is calm and sunny I prefer throwing a spinnerbait, jig or a double-tail plastic grub around shallow rocks. As the day gets warmer I will favor slow-rolling a spinnerbait more than bottom bouncing a jig or plastic grub.

Peric and Jon B with an epic bag of Winter largemouth. Most fish were caught using finesse jigs.

Suns Out Guns Out

On windy, sunny days, I opt for a faster-moving lure such as a suspending stickbait or a medium-diving crankbait. Bass tend to suspend rather than move to the bank during windy conditions because wave action continuously churns up colder water preventing the shallows from warming. Suspending jerkbaits and medium-diving crankbaits work best in this weather condition because the lures can be retrieved slowly through the water column where the bass are suspended.

When the weather turns overcast and the water’s surface is slick as glass, I bounce a jig or double-tail grub along ledges of bluffs to catch winter bass on the main lake. I also head into creeks and twitch a suspending jerkbait along ledge rock banks and secondary points.

Winter Fishing Hacks - honey hole fishing
Fish often bunch up into tight packs during the winter. This can make hot fishing holes extra crowded.

Crank Them Up

Cloudy, windy days in the winter means really cold weather, but I know if I can brave the cold I can still catch bass on clear-water lakes. If the water temperature is still in the middle 40s to low 50s, I can depend on a crawfish- or shad-pattern crankbait to catch bass along main lake bluffs or areas where the bank changes from a bluff to a flat or point. If the water temperature is in the upper 30s or low 40s, bass stay in the same area but drop deeper, so I switch to a suspending jerkbait.

Winter Fishing Hacks - Suns out guns out
Sunny days

It might sound crazy, but winter bass fishing on my home waters of Lake of the Ozarks and surrounding clear-water reservoirs can be great on snowy or rainy days. When it’s snowing and a north wind’s blowing, bass will bite a Wiggle Wart crankbait if the water temperature holds around 45 degrees. In colder water, I rely on a suspending jerkbait to catch bass during snowy weather.

Top Winter Fishing Lures

Slowing down is a common and effective approach for targeting bass during the winter months. Here are four baits we recommend

Jerkbait

Finesse Jigs

Blade Bait

Winter Fishing Hacks - Googan Lipless Crankbait
Googan Squad Klutch

Bahamas Adventure: Delphi Lodge Spotlight

Bahamas Adventure: Delphi Lodge Spotlight thumbnail

When people say fly fishing trips are all about the adventure of getting to the destination, I’m not sure they factor in flight delays…

Our simple hour-long puddle jumper flight from Fort Lauderdale to Abaco turned into a 24-hour nightmare. Some local rain showers and technical difficulties on the part of Silver Airways made the journey a little longer than expected.

The good news was that the West Palm airport had a putting-green and bar in the terminal….

When we finally made it to Abaco, we were greeted by a large SUV and an even larger smile from Marjorie, a local Bahamian woman driving the shuttle for Delphi. We drove about 30 minutes south of the airport and pulled down a long driveway that felt like we were going on a jungle safari.

Pulling up to the Delphi Club, we were greeted by Max, the charismatic manager, who quickly helped us get our bags into our rooms, simultaneously cracking open a few local Bahamian beers. After my first sip, I could tell this was going to be the first beer of many for the week.

We walked out onto Delphi’s front balcony and were greeted by one of the most spectacular views I had ever seen. Not another person, building, boat in sight, just pure solitude, an endless view of the ocean and a gigantic front porch. Our rooms were upstairs from the dining room and the lodge itself felt like an old school mansion from one of Quentin Tarrantino’s movies.

We plan out our week of fishing that night, and talk about some of the photos / videos we would like to try and capture. We are creating a short film for the lodge, and want to capture what this place is all about.

We spent our first day in the Marls with Robin, one of the many legendary guides that work for Delphi. Robin pulled straight onto one of his favorite flats and we sight fished to tailing bonefish in crystal clear calm water all morning. We even gave Robin the rod for a few casts and he caught the biggest fish of the day!

At night all the lodge guests would gather for cocktail hour on the front porch. Fried zucchini, local conch, and tuna sashimi were served to guests as they chatted about who caught more fish. Appetizers were followed by an insane dinner at the large dining table smack in the middle of the lodge. It was on these nights that I realized this place was about a lot more than just catching fish. It was amazing sitting across from a complete stranger, and having so much in common…

Over our few days at Delphi, we had fantastic fishing, made some new friends, and learned a ton from the knowledgable guides at the Delphi Club. Beers were drunk, laughs were had, and we even found a pod of Tarpon, which was just icing on the cake.

As far as Bahamas trips go, we couldn’t have asked for better accommodations, guided fishing, and overall fishing experience, we would highly recommend this place and are looking forward to the chance of heading back.

Check out the Delphi Club online here or check them out on Instagram @thedelphibonefishclub.

Lodge Spotlight: Thatch Caye Island Resort – Blue Horizon Belize

Yellowstone Angler’s 2020 5 Weight Shootout

Yellowstone Angler’s 2020 5 Weight Shootout thumbnail

Every year, George Anderson, owner of the Yellowstone Angler in Livingston, Montana, assemble a list of the best 5-weight rods, broken into two categories: presentation and performance, available on the market and put them head-to-head against each other. This annual list is an amazing reference point for anglers looking to upgrade their 5-weight, and the insights provided by the list are far worth a read for anyone looking to pick one up. The team at the shop goes into insane detail to show exactly how these rods perform, using the same reel and line in every test. Yellowstone Anglers’ half-century of fly shop and fly rod experience makes these annual lists invaluable.

32, 5-weight rods entire, two leave. That’s how the Shootout works.

For full results and in-depth discussion of reach rod, check out the Shootout’s page, here.

This Year’s Entrants (Alphabetical):

Presentation: Rods “more suited to fishing dry flies that give you the ultimate in accuracy, delicacy, and presentation.”

Beulah Platinum G2 – $550

Douglas Outdoors Sky G 9 – $795

Fenwick AETOS – $199.95

G. Loomis NRX + LP – $795

Hardy Shadow – $359.95

Hardy Zephrus – $699

Orvis Helios 3F – $898

Sage Trout LL – $800

Scott G Series – $845

Thomas & Thomas Paradigm – $875

Winston Air – $975

Power: Rods “that have the strength to cast more wind resistant dries, and also chuck nymphs with indicators, and even small streamers with ease.”

Beulah Guide Series II – $295

Douglas DXF – $395

Echo Base – $99.99

Echo Trout – $349.99

Fenwick Fenlite Streamflex – $339.95

G. Loomis NRX + – $795

G. Loomis Asquith – $1,100

Loop 7S Medium Fast – $950

Orvis Clearwater – $198

Orvis Recon – $498

Orvis Helios 3D – $898

Sage Foundation – $325

Sage X – $900

Scott Radian – $795

St. Croix Imperial – $300

Taylor Anomaly -$559

Taylor Truth – $649

TFO BVK – $259.95

Thomas & Thomas Avantt – $845

Thomas & Thomas Zone – $499

Winston Alpha – $935

To find out which 5-weights took home the top rung in each category, check out the Shootout results on the Yellowstone Angler’s page, here!

Continue reading “Yellowstone Angler’s 2020 5 Weight Shootout”

The One SIMPLE Jig Modification That Will Hook You More Bass

The One SIMPLE Jig Modification That Will Hook You More Bass thumbnail

The bass pros love tinkering with their lures and a jig is one of their favorites to modify.

Heeding the advice of the pro anglers, lure manufacturers have designed jigs that you can take right out of the package and catch bass. However, some pros still prefer tinkering with their jigs to improve the lure’s design and hook-setting potential.

All Jigs Are Not The Same

All jigs feature a simple design of a weed guard and hook molded onto a lead head and a rubber skirt attached to the jighead. While some jigs are equipped with better hooks or other components, all of these lures can be improved by tinkering with the three main body parts: the weed guard, skirt and hook.

What’s With The Weedguard?

A jig’s weed guard is designed to make the lure snagless, but the pros made certain alterations so the guard works even better. One of those alterations has now become a standard feature on all Googan Jigs.

Stretching Things Out

The pros increased their jig’s weedless qualities by flattening the weed guard and spreading its plastic strands into a V-shape. The new Googan Jigs are equipped with a U-shaped weed guard designed to be fanned out for less snags and improved hookups. The hook point sits in the middle of the U, so when you pull the jig through a tree and it rolls over a limb, the weed guard hits the wood and turns the hook point away from the limb to prevent it from snagging in the cover.

Googan Squad Jigs Are More Snag Free

The U-shaped weed guard helps keep the hook in line with the guard. On jigs with straight-line weed guards the hook would sometimes get knocked out of alignment with the weed guard when the lure would bump into hard cover. When that occurred the hook would catch on a piece of cover at the slightest touch. You never have to worry about the hook on the Googan Jig being exposed after banging into cover because it remains encircled by the U-shaped weed guard no matter how hard the jig hits something.

Driving the hook through the clump of plastic bristles of a straight weed guard can lead to missed fish even with a hard hook set. However the U-shaped weed guard has only a couple of bristles in front of the hook, which allows the hook to easily slide through the guard to ensure a solid hookup.

Pay Attention To The Details

In addition to having a slick weed guard design, each Googan Squad jig is hand-tied and comes with a double trailer keeper.