Archive for General Bass Fishing

National Hunting and Fishing Day Missouri

Celebrate National Hunting/Fishing Day with MDC Saturday
The Missouri Department of Conservation invites you to celebrate the Show-Me-State’s rich hunting heritage and fishing traditions through our National Hunting and Fishing Day events on Saturday, Sept. 27.

In the Kirksville area, join us at the Northeast Missouri Fairgrounds for a variety of free, family fun including archery, turkey calling, fishing-pole casting, BB-gun shooting, raffles, and more. Get details at mdc.mo.gov/node/29027.

In the Kansas City area, enjoy free outdoor family fun at our James A. Reed Memorial Wildlife Area in Lee’s Summit. The event is in cooperation with Ducks Unlimited and will offer a variety of free activities including trap shooting, archery, and fishing. Learn more at mdc.mo.gov/node/29045. Also join us, National Wild Turkey Federation, Ducks Unlimited, and 4-H Shooting Sports at the Outdoor Youth Event at Centennial Park Fairgrounds in Nevada. It is free and open to youth ages 6 to 17. Lunch and equipment for hunting, shooting, and fishing activities will be provided. Learn more at mdc.mo.gov/node/29143.

In the Ozarks area, discover nature at our Twin Pines Conservation Education Center in Winona during Great Outdoors Day. Enjoy archery, fishing, info on backpacking, Dutch-oven cooking, and more. For more info, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/293.

In the St. Louis area, join MDC, Ducks Unlimited, Boy Scouts of America, St. Louis Audubon Society, National Great Rivers Resource and Education Center, Missouri Water Patrol, US Army Corps of Engineers, and the Spanish Lake Fire Protection District for A Day at the Confluence at Columbia Bottom Conservation Area in Spanish Lake. Enjoy guided river-boat rides, hiking, archery and air rifle shooting, fishing and fish tastings, and more. Learn more at mdc.mo.gov/node/28974.

In the Springfield area, enjoy a variety of outdoor activities at Great Outdoors Day at our Andy Dalton Shooting Range and Outdoor Education Center at the Bois D’Arc Conservation Area northwest of Springfield. The event will include shooting and archery, free fishing, camping, fly-tying, canoeing, and more. For more info, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/29116.

Thousands celebrated early last Saturday in Cape Girardeau during A Day on the River. Get background at mdc.mo.gov/node/29061.

Hundreds celebrated early last Saturday with the MU Tigers in Columbia through pregame outdoor offerings. Get background at mdc.mo.gov/node/29041.

National Hunting and Fishing Day was created by Congress in 1972 to commemorate past, present, and future conservation successes and to honor those sportsmen and sportswomen who began the modern conservation movement. For more info, go online to nhfday.org/.

Pattern Fishing for Bass

By Marc Rogers

 

When asking for the advice of others, many times an angler is informed that bass are being caught on a certain pattern. The pattern may have a name but the name may not really mean anything to the angler receiving the advice. Sometimes the term “pattern fishing” is confusing to a beginning angler so good advice is misunderstood and not helpful.

Developing a pattern is really not very difficult and with a little practice can be done even by a novice angler. The key is to pay close attention to what is happening when fish are hooked. Notice things like wind direction, water temperatures, depth at which the fish was caught and cover and structure. Cover is something in the water like trees and weeds while structure is sharp drop offs in depth, bluff walls and submerged creek and river channels.

Seasonal fluctuations are key to developing a pattern as well. In the winter – water temperatures in the low 40’s and colder – bass are lethargic and do not require much food due to them being a cold-blooded creature. Therefore, lure presentations must be slow and deliberate to catch them. When developing a pattern for winter fishing an angler must use lures that may be presented slowly to the bass. Slow moving lures like the jig will out produce any other lure during this time of year. Size and weight of jigs make a huge difference in the catch rate, as big profile jigs are easy to see and keep in contact with the bottom while small finesse jigs are lighter and must be worked slower to maintain bottom contact.

During the winter season I always start with a jig and vary the presentation until I find something to produce. In addition, I pay close attention to what was happening when a fish strikes. Winter fishing can be greatly improved by simply fishing the northern banks where the sun shines on the water surface. Bass prefer water warmer that 40-degrees and the surface will warm a few degrees from the sunshine. This will trigger the bass to become more active in these areas.Also, if the wind is blowing out of the south the warmer surface water will continue to be mixed up on the bank and have a more warming effect below the surface.

During the spring season as water temperatures reach the low 50’s bass will start the migration into shallow water to spawn. They will become more active and tend to chase lures more often. During this time, a jig can still be very effective but you should also try jerk-baits. The bass are in need of more food, as their metabolism increases. Baitfish become a more important part of their diet. Spinnerbaits are also a great baitfish imitator and should be offered to the bass with a slow presentation.

As the water temperatures reach the upper 50’s the smaller male bass can be found searching for spawning areas. Search for males swimming in the shallows near pea-gravel banks and once they are located the larger females can be found in approximately eight feet of water very lose by. Crankbaits, worked slowly and making contact with the bottom are very effective for catching the larger females. Many times the lure deflecting off the cover will trigger a strike.

During the spawn the males are much easier to catch than the females. The females will move to the beds and lay eggs then move off quickly. The males stay behind and guard the beds from predators so they can be caught while defending the nests. If they are caught it is important to release them so they can continue to guard the nest. Once the females move back to deeper water after the spawn they are much harder to catch as they recover from the stress of spawning.

Post-spawn to later summer the bass are generally more predictable. They will find water temperatures that are more comfortable in the lower 70’s and congregate near the Thermocline and/or a good food source. The food source is important as the bass’ metabolism is in high gear and they are in need of larger quantities of food during this time. Crawfish become an important food source along with baitfish. Bottom bouncing lures like plastic worms and jigs are very effective once the fish are located. When searching for information on fishing reports you should pay more attention to the depths of fish being caught that any other information. Once depth is established the summer patterns rarely change. Bass are looking for comfortable temperatures and good dissolved oxygen levels and these don’t change significantly during the summer.

As fall sets in and the surface temperatures begin to cool shad will be abundant in large schools. The bass sense the colder months approaching and will follow these schools of shad. They will stay close to a food source during the fall and this can be some of the best top-water bass fishing of the year. The smaller bass tend to break the surface feeding on the shad and are seen by the anglers easily. However, many times the larger bass will be swimming below the schools waiting on the injured to fall. This is a good time for a slow rolled spinnerbait or lipless crankbait presented under the shad schools. Once the lake begins to turnover in the fall the location of bass again becomes more difficult to determine.

Use these basic for developing a pattern when starting out. However, the most important aspect of developing a pattern of your own is to pay close attention of the weather conditions and where the fish were when caught. Always know the details of the water temperature and cover/structure in the area you are fishing. If you find the fish quit biting in one area it is much easier to duplicate your pattern in another area of the lake of river.

Managing Small Waters for Better Fishing

By Marc Rogers

There are countless opportunities throughout North America for anglers to pursue fish in small ponds. Many of these waters are ponds consisting of one acre or less in size. They are located on farms, golf courses and subdivisions that keep the access private, allowing only select individuals to use them. The ponds may have an abundance of fish lurking beneath the surface because of minimal usage. However, the total population of fish is often not as great as it first appears.

Because the ponds hold such aggressive fish the body of water is sometimes over-harvested. A pond of ½ acre of surface water that contains Large Mouth Bass generally only accommodates a small number of harvest-sized bass. An angler who keeps bass on a regular basis can quickly deplete the population and by doing so will allow species such as bluegill to over populate the pond. Without the bass’ presence to control the population of bluegill the pond becomes home to many small, non-harvest sized bluegill. The small bass left behind have to compete with the bluegill for the limited food supply and a popular food source of bluegill is bass eggs. Once this cycle is put into motion it is hard to reverse.

Another detrimental occurrence in small ponds is for the owner to make them easier to fish by removing weed growth along the shoreline. While doing so makes the access to the water much easier, it also eliminates the major source of cover for the fish. Vegetation along the water’s edge produces oxygen for the fish during sunlight hours and allows cover for small fish to hide until they can reach adult size. If chemicals are used to kill off the vegetation, the dying growth consumes oxygen that the fish population need for survival. Removal of vegetation can be just as harmful as over-harvesting for the fish population.

Pond owner should consider keeping records of catch and harvest data to better understand what is happening below the surface in their ponds. Good record keeping is key to knowing the growth and harvest situation in any given small body of water. Owners should record the specie and length of each catch and note if it was consumed or returned to the water. Because pond owners do not generally have access to electro-shocking equipment like state agencies use, this is the next best way of knowing what is happening in their pond. Good record keeping means the fish must be measured exactly. Guessing at the length is not good enough to be successful in this approach.

Ponds generally cannot be managed to produce great size and numbers of several species of fish. The owners should make a decision about what specie they want to produce.Good bass fishing ponds will not have great numbers of big bluegill available as the bass eat most of them prior to reaching a few inches long. The ones that do survive to grow large can quickly be removed with one outing if an angler keeps them for the table.

On the other hand, if big bluegills are abundant bass generally will not reach large sizes because the bigger bluegill will compete with them for the limited food source. Both of these scenarios become clear with good record keeping of the catch from ponds.

Fish can grow bigger and more abundant if supplemental feeding is done in a pond. The drawback is if and when the feeding is discontinued. The extra feeding will produce more fish than the carrying capacity of the water and when the feeding is stopped all of the fish will suffer from malnourishment. When considering supplemental feeding a pond owner must remember the feeding will have to continue indefinitely for this approach to have a lasting effect.

Harvesting fish is a good way to keep a pond healthy and productive. The Missouri Department of Conservation has a great resource for pond management available on their website called the Missouri Pond Handbook by Ken Perry. This publication covers everything from the design and building of ponds to maintaining them as a fishing resource.

Fishing on a Budget

By Marc Rogers

 

Bass Fishing Tackle on a Budget

When thinking about all the possible choices of bass fishing tackle, things can get over-whelming. The lures, rods and reels, boats and tackle storage system choices are plentiful. There are not any products that will do all things well and each choice is a compromise. It is not uncommon for an avid angler to carry thousands of dollars worth of tackle in his/her boat. However, on most outings much of this tackle is not used and fishing on a much smaller budget is still quite enjoyable.

During this discussion I will not consider a boat because many anglers do not have access to one. Fishing from the shore and wading is still an exciting way to catch fish and puts the angler much closer to the natural habitat. Boats for small water situation do not have to be expensive but the higher end bass-boats can easily carry a price tag of $50,000.00 if all the options are included.

Some of my more enjoyable outings have been fishing with a handful of tackle and one rod and reel. The rod and reel can be as simple as an inexpensive spin-casting outfit to the high-end bait-casting models. Simply put, rod and reel outfits are tools used to catching fish. There is not one that will do everything well. The best compromise is purchasing a medium action outfit that will handle lure weights from one-eight ounce to one-half ounce and line from eight to fourteen pound test. This style of outfit can be purchased for as little at $15.00 up to several hundred dollars. This article is about fishing on a budget but I advise you when making this purchase to buy as much “quality” as you can afford. You will get a longer lasting and better outfit.

Spin-casting equipment is the easiest to use but for one general-purpose outfit I recommend purchasing a spinning (open-face) reel matched with a similar rod. The rod is more important than the reel. Simply put, the reel is a line holder; while the rod is making the difference in feel, lure control, casting distance and accuracy. I love the feel and smooth action of an expensive casting reel but when it comes time to choose which to spend the most on, the rod always wins out.

A much harder choice is lure selection. Here I am going to concentrate on bass fishing but the general principal applies to all species. There are countless manufacturers of fishing lures and each has an abundance of color choices. Hard plastic and wood lures, soft plastic lures, spinnerbaits, buzzbaits and jigs are the basics.

Hard plastic and wood lures are usually in the categories of crankbaits and top-water lures. Soft plastic lures are most often in the form of worms, lizards, grubs, crawfish and shad imitators. Spinnerbaits and buzzbaits are made of wire, lead, blades and hook dressings while jigs are lead molded onto a hook with a dressing in skirt material or soft plastic lure.

Crankbaits have running depths from just below the surface to 20 feet. When choosing the styles of crankbaits for general purpose angling, purchase the basic colors from shallow to medium running models. Basic colors include shad, chartreuse (most often used for dingy water color) and crawfish patterns. An angler is far better off to get a few of the same styles of lures in basic colors than what I call “the one of everything” approach. Many times the colors are so similar the fish could not tell a difference and he/she will end up with a tackle box full of lures they never use.

Soft plastics come in a wide selection of lengths, colors and scent additives. Day in and day out it is hard to beat the plastic worm for catching bass. The worms come in a variety of lengths but six to eight inch lengths are the best all around choice. Color selection should also remain simple. A few shades of dark colors for stained and muddy water and a few shades of light colors for clear water. As odd as it may sound, darker lures are more easily seen in stained and muddy water.

Choose spinnerbaits and buzzbaits in one-quarter and three-eight ounce in three main colors; white, chartreuse and black. Top-water lures are generally best in shad imitating colors. Jigs in one-quarter and three-eight ounce in dark and light colors similar to plastic worms should be an anglers first choice.

The following list of general prices will show that for an angler wanting to fish just a few times each season, fishing does not have to be expensive. This does not consider live-bait, which is purchased as needed. Also, part of this list may already be in your tackle box.

Rod/Reel $50.00
Crankbaits ………(6 @ $5.00) $30.00
Top-Water ………(4 @ $5.00) $20.00
Spinnerbaits …….(6 @ $5.00) $30.00
Buzzbaits ………..(6 @ $4.00) $24.00
Plastic Worms …(6 @ $3.50) $21.00
Hooks/Sinkers ………………….$10.00
Jigs ………………..(8 @ $3.00) $24.00
Premium Line ……………………$10.00

Total ………………………………$219.00

Developing a Game Plan For Unfamiliar Waters

By Marc Rogers

 

Bass Fishing Tips for New Water

Your fishing trip has been planned for many weeks.You and your favorite fishing partner have gone over every detail to assure nothing has been forgotten. The night before leaving you will find it hard to sleep. The thoughts of where and how you will catch the fish have been filling your mind most of the night. The reasons for the meticulous planning are because you have limited time on the water and you have never been on the body of water you are about to visit.

When most anglers arrive at an unfamiliar body of water they have already obtained as much information about it as possible. Anglers are notorious for knowing what the fish are being caught on before they ever leave home. We will have our whole weekend planned around how others have caught fish at our destination. However, the information we receive may not be current or even correct. The information may have come from a newspaper fishing report that is only as good as its source.While I was on a guided trip in Florida’s Lake Okeechobee, the guide told me when the local newspaper and radio stations contact him he will either tell them the productive lures or the areas, but never both. The best way to avoid the problems of other angler’s information is to listen but remember it is not etched in stone. Fishing is a very dynamic sport where productive methods can change in a very short time.

Many anglers feel that most productive fishing days are the result of a systematic, analytical approach. The best way to get started is to eliminate as much water as possible; break down the whole area into many small areas; eliminate water considered very deep for the particular body of water. Bass are generally more active when positioned in shallow water. The most important things to consider when developing a game plan are the type of water you are fishing, the time of the year, water condition, and weather condition.

The type of water will play a major role in the areas and lure types I begin with. When I refer to type of water these questions arise. Are you going to fish a shallow lake or river where anglers consider deep water ten feet or more; are you visiting a mid-land reservoirs where there are lots of small creek and a few large river channels present; or is your destination a high-land lake where there are sheer bluff walls and deep, clear water? The answer to this question is the first step in a series of items you must consider. The others, though they seem simple, are major pieces to the puzzle.

The time of year must be considered. Fish will behave certain ways during particular seasons. During winter months the water temperature is cold and the fish are lethargic. In the summer fish tend to be the most active but can become lethargic when the water temperatures rise to extremes and the oxygen levels fall. Water condition, particularly temperature and clarity, must be thought about carefully. Bass are a cold blooded creature and their metabolism is directly affected by the water temperature they live in while water clarity dictates how well and far fish can see in the water. All of these things play a part in the sport we call fishing. When you arrive at your destination consider all the things mentioned and use past experiences to get started. Also, look for areas like points, roadbeds, ledges and breaks, underwater humps, and ditches. These types of structures have proven to hold concentrations of fish.

Points have long been a productive place for anglers.Bass use them for migrations routes and staging areas when traveling between deep water. As air and water warm in the spring bass move up from deeper water into shallow areas to spawn. During the summer they will often travel from deep to shallow water on a daily basis. They will move to the shallow areas at night as the surface water cools and return to deep water as temperatures began to rise during the day time hours. Points have long been a favorite of both the bass and the angler.

Bass use roadbeds as migration routes and anglers can easily find them. A good topographical map is an excellent tool for finding roadbeds, but a keen eye on the bank of most reservoirs will most often do just fine. These areas will offer cover to the bass in the form of broken asphalt and concrete, gravel, ditches along the side of the old road, and an occasional bridge. The flat area of the roadbed becomes an avenue for both bait fish and the bass. Also, roadbeds are prime spawning flats, especially the old gravel roadbeds.

Ledges and breaks are similar to points that extend into the water. They are a prime area for the angler interested in structure fishing. The drop offs may be in increments of only a few feet, but can also have vertical drops of twenty feet or more. When approaching these areas watch for bait fish, if present the bass will most likely be close by. Drop offs and ledges are perfect locations for vertical presentations like bouncing a jig or working a spoon.

Under water humps and ditches will quite often hold bass. Humps give a bass an area to locate in water shallower than the surrounding water and the security of being away from the shoreline where anglers often prowl. Ditches are usually found a short way from the shoreline and often create the subtle depth changes bass are looking for.

In your search for areas to fish don’t overlook obvious targets like man made brush piles and fallen down trees. These targets are bombarded with lures every day but if you fish them thoroughly they can pay big dividends. Also, don’t pass up a boat dock that has good cover or deep water close by. On many older lakes docks are a major source of cover for the fish.

Current and sun, or lack of, can influence the way a bass will hold on a particular piece of cover or structure. In most situations when current is flowing bass will be facing into the current for a better position to ambush bait fish. Therefore it is always a good idea to present your offering with the current. Bass have a tendency to swim around more when current is not prevalent. Sun light, in most cases, will cause bass to hold tighter to cover. For a long time it was thought this was true because bass don’t have eyelids and the bright light hurt their eyes. However, now it is believed the reason is due to the fact it is much easier to ambush prey from a darker area looking into the more lighted area.

There are a lot of conditions to consider when putting together a plan of action on unfamiliar water.All the above-mentioned conditions play a major role in the way a bass will behave.The areas mentioned are by no means a complete list of areas to locate concentrations of bass. However, if you will take a close look at both water and weather conditions as well as the time of year when considering these areas, it will make you a better angler. Fishing is a thinking game and bass will generally react the same way as in the past when conditions repeat themselves. Bass are creatures of habit and anglers should count on the oldest and biggest ones to usually follow the same routines to get that way.

When Choosing Fishing Line – Things to Consider

by Marc Rogers

 

Choosing Fishing Line

When choosing fishing line anglers are bombarded with enormous amounts of information from manufacturers. Line packaging lists many features and specifications of each product. The information can be overwhelming to anglers and it seems there are so many different lines available, finding an all-purpose line is nearly impossible. Fishing lines made for specific purposes are here to stay.

The four major categories of line available are monofilament, co-polymer, braid and fluorocarbon. All four have advantages and disadvantages for use by anglers. With these different qualities comes a variety of prices from inexpensive to very expensive.

Monofilament lines have been available for several decades. It was one of the first lines made of nylon.  As the name implies, it is a single strand of nylon material extruded into a thin line for fishing applications. Monofilament line is buoyant making it a good choice for topwater applications. The line will float on the water and reduce the downward pull on the lure. This reduction allows topwater lures to ride higher on the surface.

Monofilament line has more stretch than most fishing lines available today. Once monofilament line gets wet, it begins absorbing water, further adding to its stretch. There are times when line stretch can benefit an angler but modern rods, now built for specific applications, have reduced the need for lines with stretch. Crankbait anglers benefit from line stretch allowing the fish to get a better hold on the lure before anglers set the hook. However, modern crankbait specific rods have flexible tips and compensate for the lack of line stretch. In addition, the floating characteristics of monofilament reduced the depths anglers could reach with crankbaits.

Line memory is another reason anglers shy away from monofilament lines. Once spooled onto a reel it will retain the tight coils of the reel spool, thus reducing the casting distance. Casting distance is not the only drawback to using monofilament. When setting the hook, the line has to be fully stretched, removing the coils, before pressure is applied at the business end of the line. In addition, when monofilament is used on spinning reels, anglers risk loops being added to their reel spool, which can cause terrible tangles and knots on the next cast.

Co-polymer lines are made of two or more strands of nylon monomers combined during the manufacturing process. By adding more than one material, line manufacturers enhance the benefits a line offers to anglers.

Co-polymer lines are more abrasion resistant and stretch less than monofilament. They are also less buoyant and generally are smaller in diameter. Co-polymer line is still effective for use with topwater lures but being less buoyant allows crankbaits anglers to reach depths not available to anglers using monofilament line.

One of the greatest benefits of co-polymer line over monofilament is the added abrasion resistance. For bottom bouncing lures, rocks and submerged cover will weaken line as it rubs and nicks the line. This blend of nylon materials have made affordable lines that hold up better than monofilament. Co-polymer lines, which are very resistant to abrasion, do have more line memory than those less resistant. They are stiffer and this characteristic is more evident when used in cold temperatures.

Braided lines offer great line strength in a small diameter. Many manufactures have braided lines that are the diameter of 10-pound test monofilament but offer strength equal to 50-pound test or greater.  Braided lines are ideal for fishing lures in heavy cover because of their added strength and abrasion resistance.

Braided lines can cut through vegetation instead of it wrapping around the line as it often does on monofilament and co-polymer.  Anglers in Florida, where vegetation is heavy above and below the water surface, many time prefer braided line. Braided line if very abrasion resistant, almost zero stretch and has little memory. All great characteristics for a line used for flipping and pitching into heavy cover.

Due to the abrasion resistance of braided line, many anglers use braid for main line when Carolina Rigging soft plastic lures. With a leader of monofilament or co-polymer, if the lure hangs in cover, the leader will break prior to the main line breaking, saving sinker, beads and swivel.

Braided line is harder on equipment. Many line guides will wear more rapidly when using braided line.  However, modern line guides are manufactured with braided line in mind and hold up well to its added wear. In addition, braided line will spool more loosely on a reel. This can create a learning curve for anglers using it for the first time on level wind reels and it does not perform as well on spinning reels.

Fluorocarbon line began it rises in popularity in the early 21st century. One of the best selling points of fluorocarbon line was its “near invisible” characteristic. In addition, fluorocarbon line exhibits abrasion resistance, and low memory.

Fluorocarbon line offers benefits for crankbait anglers. The line sinks allowing crankbaits to reach maximum depths and the line diameter of fluorocarbon is smaller than both monofilament and co-polymer lines. For shaky head and drop-shot presentations, fluorocarbon line offers greater sensitivity than both monofilament and co-polymer line. When presenting lures in deep water the lack of stretch and added sensitivity fluorocarbon line offers is unmatched.

When choosing a line it is best to do so with lure offering in mind. Lighter – smaller diameter – lines will allow better lure action while heavier – larger diameter – lines reduce lure action. Limp line will also allow for better lure action. Cover will damage less abrasion resistant line, especially close to where the line ties to the lure or hook. Monofilament floats and is good for topwater application while fluorocarbon line sinks making it ideal for crankbaits and deep-water presentations.

Regardless of the line anglers choose, each is a compromise if used for every situation. If I were going to use just one type of line for every situation, my choice would be a co-polymer line. However, I have different rod/reels equipped with all of the four major categories to be prepared for each lure presentation encountered.

Note: When line is stored on a reel or on the manufacturers spool, ultraviolet light (sunlight) and heat breakdown most types of fishing line. It is best to store fishing line in a dark, room temperature area.

Fishing Lessons

By Marc Rogers

 

Teaching Kids to Fish

Over the years I have been blessed with many fishing partners. Some have become regular partners while others were just a one-time event. All of them have shared knowledge while on the water and I have learned something from every one of them. A few have become a fishing hero of mine..

Many years ago a gentleman took it upon himself to become my mentor and take me fishing at every opportunity we had available. He made time during my spring and summer vacations to teach me everything he knew about fishing for many species but he concentrated on my desire to catch bass. It was this wonderful man, my Uncle Larry, who built the foundation for my love of fishing.

Prior to him making it his job to educate me on tactics and techniques my limited experience of bass fishing had been approached using simple means. Live bait was the best way I knew of for catching bass even though I knew there were many reasons anglers spent hard earned money to buy artificial lures.  My knowledge was lacking on how to use anything but live bait and my confidence in using artificial lures was extremely low. I had caught very few bass with lures and looking back it was due to lack of knowledge and confidence in them.

At approximately the age of ten years is when my fishing lessons began. My Uncle Larry took me on many outings and continued to keep the fishing simple using techniques I was comfortable with. While doing so he slowly added information on using many other techniques and was so subtle in doing so I did not realize he was conducting a class.

My most memorable lessons were given on a lake in Georgia that was surrounded with a golf course. If my memory is correct the lake was about 200 acres. The lake had a channel running through it at a depth of about 20 feet. The channel was very pronounced for such a small body of water and had shallower water on both sides creating a drop of about 10 feet into the channel. It was the middle of March in Georgia and the bass were ready to move into the spawning areas. The bass were in the pre-spawn stages and starting to feed heavily. The bass’ first stop on the way to the spawning areas were the edges of this channel and Uncle Larry was ready to teach me how to exploit them.

For over a year I had been carrying two bags of Culprit plastic worms in my tackle box. Both bags were still full but Uncle Larry convinced me to open them. He taught me how to use a Texas rig worm that day and the technique was very productive. We caught many bass that day and kept some for our meal that night. The lesson on that private Georgia lake started something that has still not ended.

My confidence in using plastic worms caused my curiosity to lead me to using many different types of lures. The confidence my uncle helped create kept me using them while in the past I would make a few casts with each and set them aside for more simple techniques. Slowly I began getting better and more confident with every lure type

It was not long before I was not satisfied with walking around a pond or fishing from a rented johnboat.  My first boat purchase was a 14-foot johnboat with a 7.5 horsepower motor and I rigged up a mount on the front for a trolling motor. This first watercraft was not a high performance machine but it did widen my opportunities for fishing.

Not long after my first boat purchase I joined a bass club and began competing in tournaments with the other club members. Because my boat was slower and not suitable for tournament fishing I competed as a non-boater. This is where I also learned a lot about bass fishing. Everyone in the club shared information and techniques and I soaked up all the information they were willing to share. This lead to my second and third boat purchases so I would be equipped to compete as a boater in the club and many open tournaments.

Many years and tournaments later I was blessed with the first of two little boys and once again I began learning more about fishing. While I did enjoy the competitive fishing these two little anglers took me back to a time of walking the shores of farm ponds. My years of getting fishing lessons from others made me a better teacher for these two little anglers. While teaching my sons to fish I immediately started them fishing with beetle spin lures small enough for eager bluegill to take. They did not have the patience to watch a bobber float on the pond surface and wait for the fish to come to them so I took advantage of this weakness. Also, this rig made it easier on me by not having to bait hooks. Not only were the bluegill eager to eat these tiny lures some bass up to 14 inches also attacked them. A 14-inch bass on a kid’s small rod gets quite exciting for all involved.

Now my fishing lessons have started all over again from learning the basics to the latest techniques and back to teaching the basics again. I learned two very important lessons from these three anglers. Great relationships develop between anglers regardless of age when they share fishing time together. Also, fishing is just as much fun whether covering a lot of water in high powered boats or walking around a pond with young anglers eager to learn more on each outing.