Douglas LRS Rod Review

I had the opportunity to fish with Dave McKenna from Douglas Outdoors and try out some of their bass fishing rods for the first time. We took the day to fish in Lake Mohawk of Sparta NJ a 800 acre private lake filled with largemouth, smallmouth, pickerel and hybrid striped bass. Our strategy was to locate and find some of the bigger fall bass with football jigs. Being the air temperature had recently dropped to its lowest temp of the year we knew it could be a tough bite to locate. Not only did we have the severe temperature change we were battling 13 – 15 mph winds from the south.

Dave set me up with a 6’8 Douglas LRS C685XF medium heavy fast action casting rod and the LRS C715F medium heavy fast action casting rod. The first advantage i noticed about the rods was the sensitivity to help feel the bottom and structure. This was extremely helpful especially with the high winds and deep structure we were targeting. I credit the rod to helping land a quick hookset on a soft bite from a smaller bass while swimming the jig over a rock wall about 12ft down. The sensitive tip allowed me to determine the bite and give a quick hookset to land that specific bass. It is difficult to find a jigging rod that is sensitive, but has enough backbone for a deep hookset. The LRS X-fast rod gave me both!

As an avid bass fisherman finding quality rods at an affordable price is not always easy. One thing I always say is “maybe I do have more fishing poles than my wife has shoes but every rod as a purpose.” You need the right rod to fish a bait correctly. The Douglas rods we fished delivered the key characteristics of a top level rod at a mid level price point. The LRS series includes top grade components and reel seats that are extremely comfortable and ergonomic. I loved the detail and construction put into the guides to help keep them from bending or breaking when traveling or storing in your rod locker. Also there were significantly more guides on all their rods compared the other rods I use regularly. Their attention to detail and craftsmanship separates Douglas LRS rods from others in their class.

We also got a chance to test their spinning rods The LRS S6103F specifically to try a little drop shot action. Although the drop shot was not successful at catching fish the rod was no disappointment. The comfort and sensitivity helped control the bait and bounce it off rocks and hard bottom even though we were being pushed all over by the wind. One aspect of the spinning rod that stood out to me is the comfort of the handle.
All the rod combinations and applications used that day, the consistency of comfort, durability and sensitivity was outstanding. It is tough to find all those characteristics in a rod for under $200 but the LRS series delivers. I am looking forward to trying their DXS series rods and to see what they have to offer. When looking for a new fishing rod or multiple rods that won’t break the bank but deliver tremendous quality Douglas rods is a great choice.

Click here to check out the rods from Douglas.

Boat Safety Tips: How To Safely Operate Your Vessel

Boat safety is not something often talked about but it’s an important topic that needs to be covered. High-powered outboard engines help anglers get to their spots faster than ever before but have drastically reduced their margin for error in boating traffic. Quick decisions must be made to avoid disaster when running a bass boat 70 to 80 mph. Increased boat traffic also makes it imperative that anglers know the basic “rules of the road” to navigate safely on our nation’s waterways. The following rules of the road can be found in the Chapman Piloting Seamanship & Small Boat Handling book by Elbert S. Maloney, a reference guide recommended by the U.S. Power Squadrons and the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.

Boat Safety: Meeting Another Boat Head On

When two power-driven boats approach each other head-on, the drivers should pass “port to port.” Neither boat has the right of way, so each boat should pass on the port (left) side of each other. This rule doesn’t apply if it appears two boats will pass clear of each other if each maintains its present course and speed. However, the Coast Guard recommends if you’re unsure of the other boat’s direction, assume you are in a meeting situation and act accordingly by turning to starboard. If a close quarters situation occurs, make a substantial course or speed change to avoid a collision.

During the day, you can see whether or not another boat is approaching on a reciprocal course, but at night you must detect the navigation lights of the oncoming craft.  If another boat approaches head-on, you should see its masthead lights (white) in a line or both of the boat’s sidelights (red and green).

Boat Safety: Crossing Paths With Another Vessel

Boat Safety

When two boats approach each other at right angles with the risk of collision, the boat on the right (stand-on vessel) has the right of way and should hold its course and speed. The other boat (give-way vessel) must yield by directing its course to starboard and passing behind the stand-on vessel.

Any boat approaching yours in an area from the bow of your boat to a point 22.5 degrees behind your boat’s beam to starboard is considered in the “danger zone’ and should be given the right of way. Altering your course to starboard is usually the best method of keeping out of the way of a vessel on your starboard bow.

Boat Safety: Overtaking Another Vessel

Boat Safety

When two boats are running in the same direction, the leading boat is designated as the stand-on vessel and the following boat is the give-way vessel.  In passing situations, the driver of the overtaking boat must give a sound signal with a horn or whistle. Two short (one second) blasts of the horn signals the stand-on vessel that you intend to pass the boat on its port side, while one short blast signifies you pass the boat on its starboard side.

When passing a boat, you must yield to the overtaken vessel, which has the privilege to hold its course and speed. If your boat is being passed, you should maintain your course and speed to allow the trailing boat to safely overtake your vessel.

HOW TO FISH POWER PLANT LAKES IN WINTER

by Curtis Niedermier

FLW Tour pro Colby Schrumpf isn’t one to let winter’s cold keep him off the water. The Illinois pro competes in a wintertime tournament league on small warm-water power-plant lakes in his area. Water from the reservoirs is used to cool the plants’ innards and then discharged back into the lakes. The heated effluent causes the reservoirs to be much warmer than surrounding fisheries, setting up a unique winter opportunity.

“I fish a couple circuits up there,” Schrumpf says. “They start at the end of October and run until March. They literally have tournaments there every weekend, so I’m able to continue to fish all year. Most of our hot-water lakes around here have grass in them and generally are a little clearer because of the vegetation.”

Many of the lakes Schrumpf targets have horsepower limitations, so in order to compete he swaps out the 50-hp Mercury on his aluminum Ranger RT 178 for a 25-hp Mercury. The boat is kitted out for competition (he fished BFLs out of it in 2018) with Power-Poles, Lowrance electronics and a Minn Kota trolling motor.

Along with having the right rig for the job, Schrumpf also has the bass pretty well dialed in during the winter months, when he typically finds them transitioning from true wintering areas to prespawn spots near where they’ll eventually spawn in early spring.

Some of the power-plant lakes throughout the Midwest are borderline legendary. If you live near one or are willing to travel to keep your open-water season alive, Schrumpf’s system could work on just about any of them that have grass.

TEMPERATURE ZONES
Power-plant reservoirs typically have a warm zone near the plant’s discharge, and water temperatures taper off the farther you get from that zone.

“It [water temperature] all depends on the plant,” adds Schrumpf. “The temperature is dependent on how much energy they need to produce. Generally, this time of year temps are in the upper 40s to mid-50s.

“I like to stay on the cold-water end because that’s generally where the better grass is, and that’s where the bigger fish hang out.”

HOT-WATER PRESPAWN STAGING
The spawn comes earlier on power-plant lakes in Schrumpf’s region, though the difference is not extreme. He says some bass make it to beds by late February up adjacent to the discharge while the bulk of the spawn kicks in near the end of March or early April.

Because the pro doesn’t spend much time fishing the hottest zone, and he starts fishing bigger waters and traveling for other events around the end of March, most of his focus is on prespawn patterns, particularly from December through February.

“The fish are more or less starting to stage and work toward spawning-type areas,” he says. “Right now the temperatures are getting as low as they will all year up here, and the bait actually moves shallow. It’s kind of a fall-type thing in a normal lake. Bass follow them into these feeding locations.

“Bait is very, very important,” Schrumpf adds. “If you can find the bait in areas or on points or stretches, that’s key. You have to have bait present to really get these fish activated.”

Schrumpf says some anglers like to follow the bait and bass clear up into shallower grass – say, 5 feet deep. He prefers to target them from about 8 to 15 feet.

“A lot of it is point-related stuff,” he says. “That’s the first place they’re going to set up. They’ll settle on points outside the spawning coves.”

The main-lake points and points in the mouths of creeks are early prespawn spots. As the fish transition, he follows them to large secondary points inside the creeks.

“As they move in, I’m still generally fishing a little bit deeper,” Schrumpf adds. “I don’t get shallow until they’re ready to take their location up shallow to spawn.”

Fish group up better out deep, says Schrumpf, and fishing there helps him avoid pressure up shallow, where other anglers like to sling lipless crankbaits in the grass. It also enables Schrumpf to fish out where the hydrilla beds taper off, where he can work crankbaits, jerkbaits, jigs, umbrella rigs and shaky heads easier than if he was to target the thicker grass nearer to the bank.

WINTERTIME TACKLE AND TECHNIQUES
What bait Schrumpf throws depends mainly on the water temperature.

Jerkbaits – “If it’s in the 40s to mid-50s, a lot of times I will throw the jerkbait,” he says. “That works really well. From that point I’m concentrating on a crankbait. At all times a jig will work. And ever since the invention of the Alabama Rig, that works really well up until the spawn.”

Schrumpf’s jerkbait of choice is the Lucky Craft Pointer 100 in a shad pattern. It gets about 5 feet deep, which is perfect for working over the top fringes of deep grass.

Crankbaits – “For crankbaits, primarily I’m throwing anything that’s going to dive 8 to 15 feet. I use natural baitfish colors,” says Schrumpf. “Occasionally, if the water murks up some or is in the lower end of the water temperature spectrum [low 50s], I’ll use an orangish-red color. I like the Bomber Fat A and Bandit 200 or 300 crankbaits.”

The crankbait technique is classic grass fishing. Rigged with 12-pound-test Berkley Vanish Fluorocarbon and a G. Loomis CBR 783 moderate cranking rod, Schrumpf’s typical approach is to sit out on the deep end of a point and up over the outside edge of grass and bring the bait back. The edge will often form around 12 feet deep, and he works the bait out to 18 feet. Adjustments can be made based on the condition of the grass each year and the particular lake.

“I’m getting my lure down to where I can rip it through the grass,” Schrumpf adds. “It’s more dense the shallower you go. That’s generally why I put in the majority of my time in that 18-foot range. The grass is sparser and easier to move through.

“I’m triggering bites with the crankbait,” he continues. “With a Rat-L-Trap, I don’t seem to be as successful as with the crankbait. It just pulls through the grass totally different. The crankbait gets stuck harder, and it takes more resistance for me to rip it free. That extra rip breaking it free is what makes that bait work. Plus, I can fish the crankbait faster in deeper water. I get it down there and work it relatively quickly back to the boat while making contact with the grass.”

Jigs – The jig technique is similar to the cranking technique.

“I’m crawling it across the bottom, and as I feel grass I kind of rip it through,” Schrumpf says. “It’s the same type of deal; they’re biting it as it rips through.”

Shaky head – “A lot of times, once it gets in the upper 50s, I’ll introduce a shaky head with a finesse-style worm in green pumpkin or junebug,” Schrumpf says. “I cast up toward the banks or points and work it back. I’ll work it through a little easier than a jig just because it comes through easier due to its profile.”

STAY WARM
Schrumpf says some of his best days on the power-plant lakes in his region are the nastiest, coldest, windiest days to be on the water. Obviously, the bass don’t mind the cold above the surface. Their unique warm-water habitat keeps them active, and it provides a nice opportunity to stay on a hot bite during the chilliest months of the year.

Gear Review: LiveTarget Hollow Body Craw

WHAT IS IT?
LiveTarget Hollow Body Craw

WHAT SETS IT APART?
It’s a craw bait that looks amazingly close to the real thing. Known for ultra-authentic designs, LiveTarget gave this craw a hollow head and midsection with a set of hollow pinchers that create a snag-resistant profile. An extra strong hook is anchored by the weighted abdomen sculpted to resemble a craw’s tucked-under tail. With the hook eye situated atop this abdomen section, retrieves pull the Hollow Body Craw in a natural reverse orientation. The bait’s pinchers and silicone skirt flare upward to mimic a craw on high alert.

HOW DO I USE IT?
The Hollow Body Craw’s internal jig head weight attracts fish with it’s tapping, clicking, and clacking sounds. For greater appeal, the body accommodates inserted rattle tubes, as well as scent paste. Sizes 1 1/2-inch (1/2-ounce), 1 3/4-inch (5/8-ounce) and 2-inch (3/4-ounce). Eight color schemes (725 Grey/Brown, 723 Natural/Brown, 144 Brown/Red, 306 Red, 145 Olive/Orange, 146 Green Chartreuse, 147 Mud/Blue, and 148 Junebug/Chartreuse), allow anglers to match regional and molting variations.

HOW MUCH?
$9.99-$11.49 (Includes one fully assembled body and one spare pincer.)

MORE INFORMATION:
LiveTargetLures.com

ANGLER’S INSIGHT:
So much of what we flip and pitch is intended to mimic the popular freshwater crustaceans, but doing so has typically required pairing bait with weight and hook, or bait with jig. This bait simplifies the operation with a streamlined package that falls and flees with a fish-fooling ruse. Effective for rock/shell bottom, as well as heavy cover, this one should interest largemouth and smallmouth bass.