I’ll never forget the first bass I caught on a football jig, it literally changed me forever. For whatever reason it didn’t come easy to me, perhaps it was because I was so green that I can recall flipping Maynard’s boat docks on Minnesota’s, Lake Minnetonka with a football jig, definitely not the best choice in a jig but as I said, nothing ever came easy to me.
Though and behold, I did manage to put two and two together and remember like it was yesterday my first bass that I clothes-lined with a ½ oz. football head. I was on Cook’s Bay on Lake Minnetonka’s west end. Lowrance Structure Scan wasn’t available just yet and I was forced to try to figure out where these hard bottom areas were by studying my Navionics Mapping Chip and actually fishing all the underwater points and humps. What a concept right? Actually needing to fish to practice! A lot has changed in just a few short years; I’m surprised I ever managed to catch fish without my Structure Scan.
** Josh Douglas showing off his go-to football jig setup and his hand-tied Outkast Touch Down JIg and new G Loomis GLX series jig rod.**
I recall making the perfect cast to the very edge of the grass line, I snapped the jig free off the grass and as the jig fell from the grass and started banging into the rocks I felt that infamous “tick”. I swung back and loaded into a solid 4 pound largemouth! I can honestly say to this day, I’ve never been the same.
That day changed me forever. I caught that fish on the first cast but after making the same cast about ten times in a row, I managed to catch at least a half dozen fish all three pounds or better. I went from being a shallow water flipper and boat dock skipper to a legit deep water fisherman in a very short time.
Ever since that day, I lean on a football head jig as one of my go-to baits as I continue to climb the ladder of professional bass fishing. Now living in Tennessee and fishing the giant reservoirs that litter the Tennessee River, I use a football head as much as any other bait and there’s no better than the Outkast Touch Down Jig. No matter where I’m at in the country, the Touch Down Jig comes through the thickest cover and is virtually snag free over the nastiest of structures and the stout hook insures excellent penetration on long casts.
I’ve also learned to fine tune my presentations over the years. I’m a firm believer in creating a reaction bite as bass generally only eat for two hours a day. Being that they don’t have hands, they are forced to use their mouths to react. This is often why studded anglers like KVD are so successful, they use crankbaits to force feed unwilling bass. Imagine you are standing next to me but not paying any attention to what I was doing and all of a sudden I call your name and toss you something undesirable and unexpectedly. Even though you have zero interest in holding whatever it is I’m throwing at you, I took you by surprise so your instinct is to put your hands out in an attempt to catch or stop the object from hitting you. In a basses world, bass don’t have hands, so instead they are forced to use their mouths to react, couple in the fact that they are highly territorial and you can seemingly catch bass all day that have no interest in eating your bait, you’re simply forcing them to react.
I’ve used a Biovex Deep Runner Crankbait to do this for years as its erratic swimming action and its ability to grind through the gnarliest of structures makes it an awesome way to power fish and catch both active and inactive bass. Although this is a hardcore power fishing way to catch them sometimes a bit more stealth is required or perhaps the cover is so heavy that a crankbait is simply not an option. When this is the case, there’s no better choice than the Outkast Touch Down Jig but there’s little things you can do to make this presentation better produce.
** Josh Douglas showing a screen shot from his Lowrance Gen2 HDS 10 of a rock pile scattering out toward deeper water. Make note of the upper right hand corner where the rock is the thickest and the smaller little dots showing a school of bass.
First off, pull up to your favorite rock pile and use your Lowrance Structure Scan to map out the rocks showing you everything from the thickest structure, to where the baitfish are concentrated as well as aiding you in setting up your casts so that your jig is in the strike zone for the longest period of time. Generally, I mark a waypoint on my Lowrance where the rocks start and again where they end so that when I jump up on the deck, I can see my boats position to the structure through my ability to sync my Lowrance network together.
Once I’m familiar with the structure, I’ll heave a cast or ten with the Touch Down Jig. It’s important to keep them honest and if they are hungry, they’ll bite it every single time. If I’m not getting any bites working the jig like a crawfish over the rocks it’s time to force feed. There’s two ways I’ll do this but first I need to modify my jig. First off, I’m going to remove any rattle. The fish already know of my presence and after 10 casts are very familiar with my tricks, it’s time to get stealthy. My goal is to creep up on them all finesse-like and then startle them, forcing an angry bite and at this point, the rattle will surely give me away. Next I’m going to trim down my skirt and also put on a smaller more compact trailer like the Lake Fork Tackle 4” Craw. I don’t want a big bulky skirt or a bulky trailer as that will slow my fall, instead I want something that I can snap up and down quickly and at the same time falls fast, again think reaction. One more small modification would be to use lighter line; I generally always use 15lb. Seaguar Invizx as the lighter the line the quicker the fall and the lighter the line, the better action your bait will have. Don’t go too light though remember you are sticking hogs in their terrain, anything from 12 to 20 lb. fluoro will do the trick depending on conditions. Just remember, the lighter the line the better the baits action.
Once I’m ready and I’ve fine tuned my jig there’s two ways to create that reaction strike, first I’m going to make a long cast but my goal is to land the jig into the edge of the weeds alongside the rock structure. This annoys some but I catch giants doing this, as soon as I know my jig has landed in the thick vegetation I’ll snap it free and almost every time that motion will create a bite. I’m convinced that largemouth live in the weeds and cruise the rocks when they’re hungry. This technique pulls the big ones away from the cover and startles them into biting. The other presentation is very similar but instead I use the rock boulders to my advantage and try to snag up my jig, once I do this I stroke the jig with a hard upward motion of the rod and then allow the bait to fall on a slack line and repeat this technique all the way back to the boat, creating an erratic action and coaxing that big bite.
It’s important that you use the right setup for this technique as you’ll need a long rod for long casts and ultra sensitivity for detecting these bites out in deeper water. My setup that I use is a G Loomis GLX 855C, which has a extra heavy backbone to pull the bass away from cover and helps penetrate the hook on a long cast. I always use a fast gear ratio reel to help pick up the slack line quick, because when stroking a jig, the bass will grab it on the drop 90% of the time. I like the Shimano Chronarch 200E7, which has a large spool that will hold plenty of Seaguar Fluorocarbon for making long casts.
To take it to the next level, Bassmaster Central Open Pro, Andy Young, who resides right off the shores of Lake Minnetonka in nearby Mound, goes further yet to entice that reaction bite. He agrees that the weedline is the super highway that feeds the deep rocks but also knows that the end of the rocks, wherever the bottom transition changes from rock to mud will hold another school of bass and generally fat ones too.
** Andy Young showing off two giant bass caught off the same rock pile on consecutive casts with a 3/4 oz. Outkast Touch Down Jig.**
“I’ve found that the Outkast Touch Down Jig has specific properties that produce more bites,” explains Young. “The stand up head design keeps my craw style trailer pointed up exactly like a live craw does when it feels threatened.”
Andy also tries to create a reaction strike when the bass aren’t cooperating but he too finds it beneficial to think outside the box by switching out his craw trailer for that of a 10 or even 12 inch ribbontail worm. “A lot of times, I just need to trigger a single strike from one in the school and that will activate the rest of them to start eating,” explains Young. “That big ribbontail worm will not only compliment a reaction strike by allowing my jig to hop up but it’s large profile size will elicit a strike from the largest bass in the school.”
With all the outdoor consumer shows coming up and the cabin fever consuming your every thought, get out and check out these fine products because the big bass will be roaming the deep haunts before you know it! See you on the water!
Josh Douglas is a professional tournament bass fisherman who spent endless hours fishing Minnesota’s, Lake Minnetonka. Now living off the Tennessee River, Southeastern Tennessee, he’s got the Bassmaster Opens, FLW Evertstarts and the PAA Tour slated for the 2013 season with the ultimate goal of qualifying for a world championship. When not on the water, Josh enjoys writing about his passion of bass fishing through numerous outlets including his personal website, www.joshdouglasfishing.com.
Andy Young is a professional angler who has years of experience on Lake Minnetonka and is a perennial tournament check casher no matter which body of water he fishes throughout Minnesota’s vast waterways. Andy has the Bassmaster Central Opens slated for the 2013 season as well as many local tournaments. For more information, check out his website at www.flipnfool.webs.com.
Bass fishing is a one man sport and in this sport, there isn’t anyone to help but yourself and fate. Fate is often times mistaken for luck; people create their own luck which ultimately dictates their fate. A hard work ethic will excel you in both. Bass fishing is a true David vs. Goliath style matchup. You make up your team, yet you face the best and most well oiled team in existence, Mother Nature. Your opposition holds all the cards, it’s up to you to unfold her hand and use what is shown to capitalize on these given opportunities.
Developing a work ethic will not only help you succeed off the water, but will also develop into a confident approach to both your practice and the tournament as well. There are three stages to a winning pattern; location, presentation and execution.
Locating active bass hangouts is always the first step but not always the easiest. However, thanks to today’s electronic advances we now find ourselves inching ever so close to better matching up with good ole’ Mother Nature.
The fishing world has never been as sophisticated as is now in regards to what’s available to us as consumers. Navionics, who is known for producing the best and most accurate lake maps available, allows the public to view their maps and study them well before launching your boat, from your own home simply by visiting their website, www.Navionics.com. This works great for me as I use this technology to help develop my game plan by considering the natural migration of bass and using the HD Navionics mapping to give me a starting point, familiarizing myself with any complex waterway.
On the water, I’ll break these areas down using my Lowrance HDS Gen2 Touch system. There’s not a better or faster piece of equipment available that offers all the technology and ease of use than does the new Lowrance Touch System. These touch screen HDS units offer many features such as GPS, traditional sonar, StructureScan, StructureMap, DownScan as well as a camera function, that all expose a significant piece of the lakes puzzle.
I combine my Navionics Platinum Mapping Card with my Lowrance Structure Scan to quickly turn a relatively large area into just a few casts. I idle up and down points, ledges or weed edges in search of something different. This could be baitfish, a brush pile on a flat, a stump out on a ledge or a rock pile protruding from a weed bed. Once I find something that attracts my eye, I’ll start to break it down further using DownScan to get a perfect view of the structure as well as what inhabits it. Bites are precious in tournament fishing and making one too many casts can result in hooking and burning a fish that a day or two later may have been more than willing to go for a boat ride. Once you get familiar and confident in the advantages of Lowrance’s HDS advancements, you’ll find that you don’t need to make extra practice casts, in return saving you fish and enabling you a more efficient practice.
A new function to the Gen2 Touch line is the built-in plug and play camera attachment. I find this feature to be very useful in developing confidence in recognizing what my DownScan is telling me. If in question, simply plug the camera in and drop it down and have a look for yourself.
Here’s a little secret for when I find myself on a good flippin’ bite in practice. A milfoil bed makes a canopy where there is actually open water underneath the bushy vegetation; this vegetation also cleans the water making the water in these beds very clear, all perfect conditions for a camera. Once I get a bite or two in the grass, I simply drop the camera down and analyze the size of school I’m dealing with, save a waypoint and leave with the mindset that I’m going to come back and jack their jaws when the dough’s on the line.
Another tool in my arsenal is my HydroWave, which is no secret to any die hard bass angler. I know the importance of this technology on tournament days but it especially shines on practice days. The sounds that the HydroWave omit stimulate the entire underwater community and I can accurately assess how healthy the area is that I’m fishing. The better the environment the better chance I catch a big bag. This goes for all fishermen up north for that matter, the HydroWave excels at pumping out big bags and that goes for you walleye guys too!
On practice days, I turn the HydroWave’s volume up, way up, and excessively stimulate the environment in the areas I’m fishing. If the area is good, the “activity” level will definitely pick up. The forage will start showing themselves as they start to sense the presence of feeding predators. No matter if the forage is shad or bluegill; they all resemble each other when they’re swimming scared by getting all erratic and twitchy like, these are the exact traits that will stimulate a predatory response from inactive bass.
Once you’ve located fish, now it’s time to figure out how to make them bite and who better to offer advice than Rapala Pro, Seth Feider. Seth has a knack for busting big bags and has the versatility to do it anywhere and at any time but even he acknowledges that finding a productive area and capitalizing on its potential are two different deals. “Depending on what region you’re fishing dictates where the largest group of active bass will be, in the upper Midwest it’s all about the grass,” claims Seth. “All underwater life utilizes the grass, both predator and prey”.
So if you want to catch bass, fish the grass. Something which is much easier said than done. Anyone who’s ever spent time fishing some of the natural lakes that litter the Upper Midwest knows that there is no shortage of vegetation and some of the most productive areas can be the largest grass beds the lake harbors.
Seth breaks it down by season and again if you have any knowledge of bass fishing north of Illinois you know winter is not in our game plan, the lakes are frozen solid. “Spring, summer and fall are the key seasons up north and all offer up different scenarios in order to successfully bag a nice limit,” explains Seth. “During the spring, I focus most all my attention to the inside weedline, the bass have just finished the spawn and are slowly working their way out to the main lake. I like to find areas that have a solid edge with good weed growth on one side and a sandy to rocky bottom on the other, the added presence of spawning bluegills doesn’t hurt none either.”
Post spawn fishing can be very hit or miss as the bass are on different agendas this time of year and more often than not, its one fish here and one fish there. Seth agrees and chooses his tackle arsenal accordingly, “I like to stay moving while searching for quality bass, my go-to this time of year is a Terminator Swim Jig in green pumpkin or anything that resembles a bluegill. Come tournament day I’ll still throw the swim jig around but my main choice will be a wacky rigged Trigger X Flutter Worm, this finesse presentation gets finicky bass every time”.
As spring makes way to summer, outside weedlines starts to develop, the bass move deep and so does Seth. “Bass start schooling up this time of year and stay that way well into the fall”, he says. “Basically I work the deep weed edge looking for any and all irregularities I can, this can be turns, points or hard bottom areas.”
Similar to his spring time approach, Seth likes to move water to find better concentrations of bass and finds the buoyancy of the Rapala DT-6 or DT-10 to be a perfect choice when dealing with a thick weed edge. “Since the bass are schooled this time of year, they get very competitive over food and won’t hesitate to jump on my DT when it comes wheeling past their face,” he says. “Once I find them, I put on the breaks and switch to something that will penetrate the grass better by flippin’ a ¾ oz. Terminator Pro Series Jig. I can get away with a stronger rod and heavier line when pitching the jig and that’s important when dealing with thick milfoil. You can’t afford to lose them this time of year; one spooked fish can shut down the entire school.”
As the cooler nights set in and the water temps start to plummet, the grass starts to die off as well. Seth reads the grass by finding the healthiest and thickest mats he can find. “Fall is a great time of year to catch big fish, but you need to go shallow” he explains. “I use a Terminator Tandem Buzz buzzbait as a search tool all the while keeping my eyes peeled for quality mats. Once I find a good clump of weeds I penetrate the mat with a heavy texas rigged plastic such as a Trigger X Goo Bug. I find it important to use a heavier weight than most do as I don’t want to give the bass anytime to think about eating my bait; it’s all about the reaction bite. I also pay extra special attention to my presentation and making sure I have a no-splash entry. The bass are shallow and it’s important to not spook them, especially with a heavy sinker!”
Once you’ve put in the practice and you’ve located the fish, there’s still much to be done, you still need to execute. Minnesota bass pro John Figi agrees that finding fish is only part of the battle, bringing them to the scales is a whole other. “You’ve got to have the right mind set both on and off the water,” explains Figi. “You need to develop discipline in your life which will spill over into your fishing.”
When not on the water, Figi counts on a disciplined routine of exercising and muscle building to up his game and give him an advantage over his competition. “Nobody wants to work out every day, but forcing me to do something that I don’t necessarily want to builds discipline, giving me much more than just the obvious,” explains Figi. “Lifting weights and taking care of my body obviously will assist me on the water with longer and more accurate casts, stronger hook setting power and better endurance in less than ideal weather conditions, but will also help mentally by providing me more confidence, probably the most important tool in a fisherman’s arsenal.”
There’s no denying that to be at the top of your game in any sport you need to have both physical and mental endurance. Whenever Figi is not on the road preparing for tournaments, he finds himself at his local Anytime Fitness, always working on his ultimate goal of competing at the highest level of bass fishing. “I try to focus on exercises that inevitably help me perform out on the water, simple exercises like wrist curls and bicep curls, as well as stretching all prove effective on the water when the money is on the line,” he says. “Anytime Fitness has all the equipment one would need and works with my hectic fishing schedule by being open 24/7, 365 days a week”.
It’s important that you make your workouts convenient to your lifestyle and no one knows this more than Figi. “I’m always on the go, but no matter where I am, I always have an Anytime Fitness just down the road,” he explains.
With over 1800 stores worldwide, Anytime Fitness is perfect for a tournament angler providing the ability to go month to month instead of being locked down in a contract. “It’s important that I have the ability to freeze my membership when I’m not able to get to the gym, “explains Figi. “It’s bad enough knowing I’m missing out on my routine; I don’t need to get charged on top of it!”
Figi knows that keeping a disciplined workout as a part to his daily routine is a major player to his success and will continue to assist him down the line. “Really, its simple.” he says. “If you feel good physically then you’ll feel good mentally, all key ingredients for making the right decisions when the money is on the line.”
Josh Douglas is a professional tournament bass angler and a full time guide on Tennessee's Lake Chickamauga and the Tennessee River. He's slated to compete in the Bassmaster Opens, FLW Everstarts and PAA in hopes of qualifying for his lifetime goal of competing on the elite tour levels. When not on the water, Josh enjoys writing about his passion of bass fishing through many different outlets including his personal website, www.JoshDouglasFishing.com.
Seth Feider and John Figi are professional tournament bass anglers as well as guides on Minnesota’s Lake Minnetonka. Follow their Facebook pages to find more information and to learn more!
Every morning I awake to the sound of my coffee machine brewing a fresh pot of joe. Like clockwork I roll out of bed, pour a fresh cup and off to the lake I go.
This daily habit got me thinking. If I'm self-programmed to respond and react to the sound of fresh coffee being brewed, will lethargic bass become active off the sounds of other bass feeding?
This very question got me looking into the effectiveness of the feeding emulator known as the HydroWave. As a professional bass fisherman, I'm always looking for ways to up my game and give me that needed edge over my competition. The HydroWave is an electronic devise that omits prerecorded sounds of feeding bass underwater and as their slogan reads, creates a feeding frenzy.
Despite powerhouse bass anglers such as Kevin Van Dam, Jeff Kriet and Gene Eisenmann proudly sporting them, I still found myself a bit skeptical on the whole idea. Even when Paul Elias caught that mega sack every day of competition on a very tough fall bite at Alabama's Lake Guntersville, I still wasn't quick to chalk that win up to much more than a great presentation on a few great areas. It wasn't until looking into the actual physical science behind HydroWave that I started to believe in the product.
Tactile Sound Transmission (TST) is the primary output of the HydroWave's speaker system and uses finely tuned amplifiers to deliver the sound. Tactile sound is much different than ordinary sounds because it delivers a noise that you can actually feel. As described on HydroWave’s website, if you have earplugs in you will not be able to hear a sub-woofer but you will be able to feel it. Fish hear on that same frequency, the same frequency and sound produced by the HydroWave.
To continue to break it down one step further, HydroWave incorporates both Lateral Reactive Technology (LRT) as well as Vibration Reactive Technology (VRT) to elicit predatory feeding responses.
LRT is a vibration wave technology that operates at a frequency level that stimulates a predatory response through a fish's lateral line. The lateral line is naturally tuned to detect low frequency vibrations created by small prey such as shad, herring, bluegills and crayfish. The LRT of the HydroWave, produces these exact vibrations and creates a natural predatory response.
VRT is a vibration wave that operates at a frequency that stimulates a predatory response from the fish through their inner ear. It's well known that a fish's ear is nothing like a humans, a fish's ear consists of dense bones under the skin that detect and translate vibrations. This vibration detection is so accurate that a bass is able to differentiate between vibrations of various preys. This explains how a fish can be so visually impaired but still be able to feed and know what it's feeding on before it attacks it.
Alright, enough with the science mumbo jumbo, let's take it to the water. After looking into the hype that is the HydroWave, I decided to borrow a buddy’s unit for a Bassmaster Open event on Lake Lewisville, in north Texas. I used much of my practice time playing with the different settings and options trying to quickly familiarize myself with the contraption. For those of you who don't know, the Lewisville Open broke a record for the toughest tournament in B.A.S.S. history with only 3 anglers catching a limit in technically 4 days of competition. My first realization of the potential of the HydroWave actually came as a surprise. While struggling to find more than a bite or two in the first couple days of practice I decided I better start probing a bit of deep water. I recall idling out of a creek and as I was idling out through the mouth over the creek channel I noticed my Lowrance unit "light up" with what looked like bass and enormous schools of shad on the bottom in 20 feet.
I quickly got on the deck of my Ranger and started making casts with heavy spinnerbaits, a deep running Biovex crankbait, and an Outkast football jig. After a solid 25 casts with not a bite and zero activity around me, I remembered I had the HydroWave on my deck. I turned it on and within a minute fish started blowing up all around me. Unfortunately for me they were not largemouth they were stripers that had started blowing up on shad. I had literally sat there for 15 minutes with not a ripple on the water and less than a minute after turning on the HydroWave all pandemonium broke out around me and in that moment my confidence quickly started growing.
My next tournament was just a couple weeks ago on legendary Table Rock Lake. In practice I had found a couple fairly deep rock piles that were the size of my boat and sat on the ends of some long tapered points in 35 feet of water which I located by slowly scanning the points with my Lowrance StructureScan. On my very first cast I caught a 4 pound smallmouth on a 3/4 oz. Outkast Touch Down Jig. The fish instantly coughed up crayfish all over my boat so I saw no need to make another cast, I knew what they were eating and where, so I saved a waypoint and left.
The first day of the tournament, after spending all morning and early afternoon trying to make something happen shallow, I made my way to my deep rocks and within about 2 to 3 hours I probably caught close to 30 and culled a dozen or so times and put myself in strong contention going into the second day.
Day 2 of competition opened with a day full of extremely high winds and fishing these rock piles efficiently in the middle of the lake was close to impossible. The rocks were so snag filled that I couldn't fish them without breaking off and since the piles were so small, all I was doing was shutting down the school.
A sure thing was turning into a nightmare and my nerves got the best of me so I blew out of there in search of some shallow fish. This was not the best scenario considering I wasted the first few hours and the best morning shallow bite trying to force something to happen out deep. My worst fears became reality when afternoon rolled around and I only had one small keeper in the box, with two hours left before I had to weigh in. I decided I'd leave it all out there on those deep fish. This time though I'd take a different approach, instead of sitting back and trying to fight the wind I'd idle up to the rock pile and jump up on my trolling motor and use my Lowrance HDS 10 Gen-2 to show me a single fish and then try to catch that one fish and just try to put together a limit one bass at a time. The only problem was that I wasn't seeing the bass any more; I knew they had to be there but I couldn't see them. Desperate, I turned on my HydroWave unit and I started seeing fish pop up on my graph and could sit on top of them, flip my 3/4 oz. Outkast Touch Down Jig off the side of the boat and use the wind to drift the bait right past the bass's face and within an hour I filled my limit!
On my ride home to Minnesota, I couldn't help but be disappointed that I didn't put two and two together earlier in the day as I could have easily been right up there in the standings. At the same time, I was so grateful that I did figure it out and was able to prevent a horrible day on the water as well as gain valuable points in the Angler of the Year standings. Even though those bass were on a crayfish bite, the sounds from the HydroWave was just enough to pull them off the rocks by about a foot so I could separate them from the bottom with my Lowrance unit and make fishing those rocks way more efficient without snagging. Like my coffee machine, the HydroWave was just enough to turn those fish from lethargic and sitting on the rocks to active and ready to eat; regardless of what their prey was.
Speaking of Minnesota, anglers from the south regions of the country already understand the importance of the HydroWave as they've been dealing with shad their entire angling lives. Bass anglers from my neck of the woods are slow to connect the dots. For my sake I probably shouldn't be going into this. Like I said before, at the level I fish, I need every advantage a guy can get. Regardless, just because we don't have shad as our main forage here in the upper MidWest, doesn't mean HydroWave's technology isn't just as useful to us, in fact it's better. The prerecorded sounds that the HydroWave omits are actually the sounds of bass actively feeding and the crunching you hear are the shad's swim bladders crunching. The same sounds that are made when bass start putting the smack down on bluegills, it's nature ringing the dinner bell.
The reason I say that we northerners have it better is for the simple reason that not too many savvy bass fishermen have HydroWave’s equipped on their rigs yet in this part of the country. It's totally new to our bass and like with anything else new, bass aren't at all conditioned to it. It's like showing a bass that's never seen an artificial lure in its entire life a spinnerbait for the first time. Game over.
Also, for those that are still wanting more, the rumor is that the powers that be at HydroWave are in the process of developing bluegill and crayfish sounds that will be available as an update to the already existing units. Let me be the first to tell you, if you think largemouth respond well, wait till you see how smallies react.
There's still so much I need to learn with my HydroWave but I'm eagerly learning one bass at a time.
About the Author – Josh Douglas is an active tournament bass fisherman and a full time guide on Minnesota’s Lake Minnetonka. He’s got the Bassmaster Opens, FLW Evertstarts and the NABC Tournament trail slated for the 2012 season with the ultimate goal of qualifying for the tour level as well as competing in both the Forrest Wood Cup and the coveted Bassmaster Classic. When not on the water, Josh enjoys writing about his passion of bass fishing through numerous outlets including his personal website, www.joshdouglasfishing.com.
Ever since I was a little kid I get excited about the return of the Northwest Sport Show. I remember like it was yesterday, my uncle coming to pick me up early in the morning because "the early bird gets the worm" and my mother handing me thirty dollars as I ran out the door "in case I find anything that would look good in my tackle box".
The Sport Show meant a lot to me every year. I'd see the pros with their jersey's demonstrating the newest baits in the bass tank. I remember all the brand new shiny boats that I could only stare at and dream of one day when I was bigger I was going to get one of my very own or the G Loomis fishing poles that I eagerly saved my allowance for. I'd always get a bag from one of the vendors and you'd think it was a personal competition to make sure I filled that bag with as much stuff as I possibly could. New tackle! Put it in the bag. Ranger boats new boat catalog! Put it in the bag. Resort pamphlets from Vancouver to Saskatchewan to Mexico! Put them in the bag. Are you kidding me? That guy with that new ShamWow towel can do some amazing cleaning tricks! Mom needs to know about this! Brochures, in the bag!
I'd spend the entire day with my uncle and we'd talk fishing and hunting and tell stories, fabricated ones of course we are fisherman. It was great and at the end of the day we'd leave full on whatever they were cooking on the Big Green Egg, even though it's meant for samples to showcase the green grill, I think we used it more like a buffet. By the drive home we were both overly anxious to get out and actually catch some fish.
Fifteen years later and now I'm all grown up and still have that same excitement as I did when I was a kid. The roles have changed though, now I'm that fishing pro wearing the jersey and promoting the products that have helped me get to where I'm at today. This weekend I'll be spending most of my time working the Navionics booth and promoting their new products and apps that are taking the fishing and boating world by storm. It's no secret that Navionics has been consistently pumping out the best lake maps for the entire country including maps for ocean and Great Lakes fisherman a like. They've recently begun releasing over 1,000 totally revamped lakes throughout the country and we'll have a list of the new northern lakes available at our booth.
The past couple of years the hot talk with the consumers visiting the Navionics stands was the development of the Navionics app for smart phones that literally has taken hand held GPS systems out of the game. Now with the introduction of the Navionics NewsStand that comes with every Navionics App download, people can also read up on boating and fishing articles from some of the world's best.
This year is especially exciting at the Navionics booth as they'll be doing a special Sport Show promotion. Anyone who buys a Navionics NEW Marine & Lakes USA or HotMaps Premium Special Edition Midwest States chip at the show from any of our dealers can come to our booth #734 with proof of purchase and will gift you your choice of the iPhone/iPad Navionics app or our PC app! Also, anyone who stops by the booth can register to win a brand new Lowrance HDS 5 just for stopping by, no purchase necessary at all! Just come by and say hi.
Speaking of Lowrance, I'm chomping at the bit to be able to show people the magic that is when you combine Navionics Mapping with Lowrance's new StructureMap that is available in their new HDS Gen-2 line of fish finders! This allows you to overlay all the structure around you on top of your Navionics Map. Making finding fish related structure a breeze and completely eliminating the guess work. Whether your a die-hard tournament angler or just planning a fun family fishing trip, this setup will making your days on the water a success. There's no denying that Lowrance is continually developing the mold to which the competition can't break!
Even though these days I spend most of my time working at the show, I still find a way to sneak over to that Big Green Egg and see what's on the grill and don't think for a second that I don't still have the habit of filling a bag full of brochures of all the things I just have to have and though my Mom may now be off the hook, my wife Bri get's the pleasure of seeing and hearing all the "stuff" that I just have to have. Unfortunately for Bri my taste may have also gotten a bit more expensive from that of a 14 year old. The days of the ShamWow Rag and little fishing float boats are in the past, now were dealing with Lowrance Graphs, Power Poles, RV's and hey, how's about a brand new shiny Ranger Bass Boat Bri? Does it help that it'll be sparkly and pretty?
To all, I hope to see you at the show! Be sure to stop by the booth, say hello or simply talk shop. See you there!
About the Author - Josh Douglas is a professional tournament bass angler and a full time guide on Minnesota's, Lake Minnetonka. He competes in the Bassmaster Opens, NABC Tournament Trail as well as other select tournaments across the nation with the ultimate goal of qualifying for the tour level as well as the Bassmaster Classic and Forrest Wood Cup respectively. When not on the water, Josh enjoys writing about his passion of bass fishing through numerous outlets including his personal website, www.JoshDouglasFishing.com.
Spring is in the air! Actually, it's only mid March in Minnesota yet it feels way more like summer than it does spring, really it should feel like winter but no complaints here, the lakes in the metro area are ice free! This weather is sweet!
I've been chomping at the bit to be fishing ever since I got back from competing in the Bassmaster Open event down on Lake Lewisville near Dallas, Texas in early February. I've gotten away a few times to a couple different Minnesota "secret" open-water spots and the fishing was so good it drove my anticipation for ice-out through the roof! To pass the time, I've been going through my tackle and restoring my old and most favorite baits.
Rust is killer to your tackle and I have so many baits that in my heart are truly irreplaceable. I have old pre-Rapala Wiggle Warts, high end Japanese tackle and other hand crafted crankbaits. I also have proven winners such as the Biovex Deep Runner and Biovex Wake that I have so much confidence in that I can't bear to see these baits get ruined. I need to show them love so they produce for me when I need them the most!
I did a lot of research on restoring overused or old baits. This is a very simple process that requires very little expense, basically you'll need just a few things for cleaning and replacing terminal components. Basic equipment includes a Eagle Claw Lazer Split Ring Pliers, a fingernail clipper, white distilled vinegar, Huggies Natural Care Wipes and paper towel. I also had the new Trokar treble hooks in both the round bend and wide gap in several sizes 2, 4 and 6, as well as Eagle Claw's Split Rings in size 3 and Eagle Claw Lazer Oval Split Rings in size 3 as well.
The first step is emptying all baits out of their respected boxes and thoroughly expecting each and every one including the box as well for any signs of rust. Usually hooks and split rings are the first to show signs of rust but if left for a long period of time, the rust will actually move to the body of the bait and other baits in close proximity as well as the tackle box itself.
The Eagle Claw Lazer Split Ring Pliers is an excellent tool for removing all tainted hooks and split rings. I keep one of these in my boat as at all times as it makes switching trebles on the fly a breeze. Next I fold over some paper towel and generously apply vinegar and I use this to thoroughly clean each and every bait and then leave it sit to dry. I also take that same vinegar rag and clean out every compartment in my tackle trays. It's important to leave these sit out over night to dry thoroughly. There's also a few decisions to make as vinegar will work extremely well at cleaning and counteracting rust but it will not completely remove it. Since the rust is usually fed by cheap hooks and split rings, removing them should do the job but if a bait is just too eaten by rust it's best to get rid of it all together. This holds true for the tackle storage box as well, if it has a lot of signs of rust, get rid of it. It's probably time you flipped the extra ten bucks and bought yourself some new ones anyways.
I use vinegar because it's an excellent cleaning agent and it's environmentally friendly but also won't leave long lasting scents on your baits. I'm very weary of chemical cleaners as they could leave a bad scent or possibly even ruin the finish of the bait. After much searching I found Huggies Natural Care Baby Wipes to be a scent free wet wipe that doubles up as an excellent crankbait cleaner and polisher. I thoroughly clean the baits and polish them up with the wipes and leave to again dry overnight. I do the same with whatever tackle storage containers I deem safe for future use. It's important to again leave everything out to dry overnight as moisture is one of the reasons your precious plugs got rust covered in the first placed.
This brings me to another point, though moisture is probably the most likely candidate for rust it's not the only one, cheap components are equally to blame. In fact, I've had some old school crankbaits that never have left their original box and hooks have already begun to rust. This is just a sign of cheap hardware and though I won't throw any present tackle manufacturer's under the bus, let's just say it's not all old bait companies that are guilty of this. Even though a present day "popular" company employs cheap components doesn't mean they don't produce a great bait, you just need to pay attention and have the proper equipment to fix this situation. This is also why I always carry extra Lazer Trokar hooks and Eagle Claw Split Rings with me every time I'm on the water as I will also need them for when a hook goes bad or dull. Even a company like Biovex who uses top of the line components can't always help when a hook gets hung on a rock and having spare Trokar hooks fixes that problem before I loose a fish over it.
Once everything is fully dry, the next step would be putting the baits back together with quality components. I start by putting on new Eagle Claw Split Rings, generally I always go with size #3. For the line tie, I use Eagle Claw Lazer Oval Split Rings as I think they give the bait a little better action and again I use a size #3.
When it comes to putting on new hooks I really like the new short shank wide gap trebles that Trokar just released. Fish bite these hooks and stay pinned all the way to the boat plus the short shank allows me to size up my hooks by a full size. The only exception to this is with topwater and jerkbaits when instead I tend to favor the Trokar Round Bend Treble. The reason for this is that these baits are notorious for bass "slapping" them instead of actually engulfing them. Crankbaits are generally eaten when dredging bottom or ricocheting off of an object and bass tend to eat them whole making the Trokar Wide Gap and excellent choice. However, being that topwater and jerkbaits are more of an open water presentation, I think bass tend to kill the bait first by slapping at it and that's where the round bend will do an excellent job of stapling the fish from it's mouth to it's tail.
Well that's all for now! I got a boat to get full of fresh new pimped out crankbaits for my upcoming weekend down on Table Rock Lake for a little pre pre practice for the upcoming Bassmaster Open held there the end of April! With ice-out on most of the Twin Cities lakes I can finally say once again, see you on the water!
About the Author – Josh Douglas is a professional tournament bass fisherman and a full time guide on Minnesota’s, Lake Minnetonka. He’s got the Bassmaster Opens, FLW Evertstarts and the NABC Tournament trail slated for the 2012 season with the ultimate goal of qualifying for the tour level. When not on the water, Josh enjoys writing about his passion of bass fishing through numerous outlets including his personal website, www.joshdouglasfishing.com.
Anyone who knows me at all knows that I'm a diehard jig fanatic. Any jig really, flippin' jigs, football jigs, finesse jigs, tube jigs, swimming jigs, whatever, they’re all awesome. Plain and simple, they're big fish baits and I'll happily go on record saying that at least 70% of the real big bass that I've caught over the years have all come on some sort of jig. I absolutely love it! It's all about the bite and the hook set, they eat it and I jack their jaw for it.
Being that I'm 100% comfortable when I'm slinging a jig, I have picked up a few tricks of the trade that I truly believe help me catch more and bigger fish. In my opinion, a jig directly out of the package isn't ready to be fished until I have put some love into it by tricking it out a bit.
First thing I do is rip the factory skirt off the jig I'm going to be using. When deciding what color skirt to tie on, I take a couple different factors into consideration. The two most important factors are water clarity and forage. I always use one of three different colors as my primary color when tying a jig. These colors are black, brown and green pumpkin and no matter where you are in the country those are fish catching colors. If I'm fishing dirty water I'll go with black and when the water is clear I'll go with brown or green pumpkin. I usually go with about 50%-75% of the skirt being my primary color and 25% as the flair color. Some good flair colors are blue, pumpkin, orange, purple and chartreuse. By combining these colors I make my version of the already popular skirt combos like black and blue, green pumpkin/brown and peanut butter and jelly.
To tie your own jigs you'll need to purchase some equipment to get started. The following is a list of what you'll need to have.
Jig Tying Vice - Also known as fly tying devices, these range in value from $10 to $500. It doesn't matter what you spend on these as long as you get one that's sturdy and will easily hold a 5/0 hook. A lot of the vices on the market don't get that large as they're more meant for small flies and not bass jigs.
Bobbin and Tying Thread - The bobbin holds the spool of tying thread making it a lot easier to tie the jig. These also vary in price but I have never spent more than five dollars on a single bobbin. As far as the thread needed to tie the jigs, I go with Gudebrod 3/0 Kevlar Thread or feel free to use small diameter braided line like Seaguar Kanzen Braid. Both are very strong and neither weakens when saturated in water.
Skirt Material - I like to use a lot of round rubber when tying my skirts. I believe the action is second to none, however I also like to add a little silicone skirting as well. The one thing round rubber or hydro silk skirts lacks that silicone doesn't is the printed patterns. Round rubber is a solid one color where silicone comes in many different patterns and colors, making it ideal for adding that bit of flare to the jig.
Accessories - These are rattle, trailors, and chunk slings. I go with a good rattle, a Tungsten Pod Rattle. Trailers I switch up a bit but usually prefer the Yum Chunk or a Gary Yamamoto Twin Tail Grub and I always use a Vertical Lures ChunkX Sling to keep my trailer intact. You really can get more out of your trailers by taken the time to rig one up. One other trick that I have been getting into is removing the factory brush guard and replacing it with a homemade fluorocarbon one or at very least one that matches the skirt.
Being that I'm getting ready for a bass tournament on Missouri’s Table Rock Lake, I've been tying up some jigs that I know will get the job done. In the past I have done extremely well in that part of the country fishing deep points with football jigs and one color that has performed well for me over the years is peanut butter and jelly. For the demonstration I will be tying up a 1/2 oz. Tacklesmith Tungsten Football Jig in the peanut butter and jelly color.
The first step in tying your own jig is to securely clamp your jig to the vice. Then take your tying thread along with the bobbin and tie a over hand knot along the very top of the jig collar. Using a tight line start wrapping the upper collar as this usually takes about 10 to 15 full wraps.
Next, start adding in small strips of skirting material. I always get all the skirt strips in on one pass. For this jig, it goes one strip of brown, then a strip of purple, another strip of brown, followed by another strip of purple and finally ending with a strip of brown. When first starting out, this part proved to be the most challenging, but after just a few attempts you'll have this mastered. It just takes a few tries to train your hands to work with all the different strands while trying to keep a tight wrap on the thread and the material at the same time.
Once I get all the material tightly in place I'll continue on wrapping the skirt. Again I stress the importance in keeping a tight line while wrapping. A tight wrap insures the skirt will not easily unravel on me. I wrap about 15 more times before doing the first set of three consecutive overhand knots. After I get done with the last knot, I make 5 more wraps, followed by three more knots. This helps insure the wrap will not come undone. Once I have the jig all wrapped up nice and tied off securely, I'll cut the thread and start preparing it for a haircut. This is also where I would cut the crown on the head of the jig if I were looking for a finesse cut. Simply cut the outer strands of the skirt, leaving just a inch, that will make the skirt stick up and form a crown on the head of the jig. For this jig I left the outer strands long so it provides a bigger profile in the water.
The jig is now ready to go with the exception of adding a few accessories. First I thread up a Vertical Lures ChunkX Sling, followed by a rattle, and then a trailer. For this jig I went with a Gary Yamamoto Twin Tail Grub (Green Pumpkin).
A big part of having a successful day on the water is having confidence in what you’re doing and that comes with having confidence in what your using. I hope this helps anyone that is looking to give themselves an edge against the bass in their lakes. If you have any further questions on any of the information I just went over, please don't hesitate to contact me. Happy Tying!
About the Author – Josh Douglas is a tournament bass fisherman and a full time guide on Minnesota’s, Lake Minnetonka. He’s got the Bassmaster Opens, FLW Evertstarts and the NABC Tournament trail slated for the 2012 season with the ultimate goal of qualifying for the tour level. When not on the water, Josh enjoys writing about his passion of bass fishing through numerous outlets including his personal website, www.joshdouglasfishing.com.