Carl Spande

Carl Spande is a lifelong fisherman and avid outdoorsman. He has been participating in local competitive bass tournaments for the past three years.

Posts about Bait

Winter Smallmouth Bass Fishing in MN

Posted by: Carl Spande Updated: January 27, 2012 - 3:33 PM


With borrowed waders snugly clamped to my legs, I trudged along into a strong head wind along the shores of the Mighty Mississippi. Early January in Minnesota is a great time to fish for smallmouth...right? Right.

Rocks. I slipped on rocks. I lost a newly purchased finesse jig on a rock. And I caught a few fearsome smallmouth bass off of these rocks. I love rocks.

I was very fortunate this day to get out with a friend and fellow BASS Member, Dan, for a morning of great bass fishing. I sought Dan's guidance, as he has spent much more time than me on this stretch of river. I stepped where he stepped, nearly made casts to where he cast, and tried to follow suit with the tackle I was using. My personal gear consisted of a 6'6" spinning rod and reel with 6 lb Seaguar fluorocarbon. As I mentioned, I was casting a 1/8th finesse jig with a round head with a 3" Strike King Rodent trailer. It seemed I was snagging less than Dan with a round jig versus his football head jig. After I lost this finesse jig to a hungry rock, I dabbled with a tube jig and I was snagged up almost every cast.


Our presentation was very basic. Cast and let the jig bounce along the rocks with the current. We had to constantly pop our jig while it was rolling along to hop, skip and jump between and off the rocks. The smallmouth bit very light on a few occasions, and I was fooled a few times thinking I caught a rock until it was trying to shake its way free.The fights were tough, a mix of smallie genetics and a constant current. Awesome.


My largest fish of the day was about 3.5 pounds on the smallmouth, thumpin' richter scale. Dan caught a nice 19" bass that we estimated to be around 4 pounds. It was great to catch bass with open water fishing tackle as floating chunks of ice cruised down the middle of the river and the shores were lined with a layer of snow. Just think, the week before I was fishing on 14" of ice on Lake of the Woods. Minnesota can be awesome. 

Great colors on Carl's Smallmouth Bass

Bass Presentations For Right Now!

Posted by: Carl Spande Updated: September 21, 2009 - 11:10 AM
I had two great days of fishing last week with completely different experiences. The lake, conditions, water clarity...each was different and affected decisions such as my lure choice and presentation. Bass fishing can really be great right now with the lower boat traffic, and recently, our stable weather.

Day 1 consisted of driving 40-50 minutes north of the metro to a great little lake. This lake was ultra clear and thankfully it was an overcast day with about a 5-10 mph wind. I started the day using a white and yellow swim jig. On my first two casts, I caught fish using a steady retrieve, bringing my bait just across the tops of the vegetation. My father-in-law and I also caught fish using a crankbait that dives only 1 foot deep, a spinner bait in white and smoke, and also bright colored swim jigs. It was a fun and furious day of fishing. We boated close to 40 fish, bass and northern pike, and it was a blast for the 4 hours we were there. It was also our first trip to this new-found lake, and I am excited to get back up there and fish again.

Day 2 on the water last week I was fishing a club tournament on Lake Minnetonka. Since I had some success fishing swim jigs for the past few weeks, I decided to try them again. I didn't catch one fish on a swim jig in 8 hours! Needless to say, I ditched that swim jig and started throwing a weightless stick bait under and around docks. I caught a quick limit of five small bass in a few hours so I was doing okay. With 15 minutes to go in the tournament, I stumbled upon a pattern that I wish I would have found a bit earlier. We were on the outside weedline in about 10 feet of water. I cast my black and blue jig and would let it fall completely to the bottom. Then I would reel extremely slow and drag the jig across the bottom, bumping rocks and vegetation along the way. With 15 minutes to go, I caught my biggest two bass using this technique and I was able to bump up my overall weight by a few more pounds to slide me into second place in the club for the day. It was a fun day on the water with my dad as my fishing partner and it was fun to be out on the water as always.

Easy Lure Modifications

Posted by: Carl Spande Updated: July 14, 2009 - 10:55 AM

There are two reasons why I would change or modify a lure; one, to change the presentation by changing the color or action of the lure, and two, to correct a manufacturer's defect. By changing the color, action, or sound a lure makes, one is able to take a standard lure and change it to fit their needs and applications. With regards to correcting a manufacturer's defect, I am talking about fixing a bait so it will run true with the correct "wobble" or action. Most baits are just fine out of the box, but sometimes they need a little "tweaking" in order for them to perform most effectively.

Below are a few examples of some basic lure modifications that I use to modify my lure presentations.

1.) Trimming the skirt and weedguard on my jigs. I typically thin out the standard weedguard by cutting about half of the guard off. There is still protection left to ward off weeds, and the thin guard allows for better hooksets in my opinion. I will also shorten the skirt to about even with the bottom of the hook. This will create a smaller profile so when the fish attacks the bait, they will most likely strike the hook instead of the excess skirt.

2.) Add a rattle inside a floating frog. When I bring a frog across an area thick with lily pads, I sometimes like to add a rattle to add more sound so the fish can locate the frog easier. I will use a small rattle that can be bought at a tackle shop and insert it into the frog where the hooks pertrude.

3.) Use dye to add color to my plastics, jig skirts, and crankbaits. Sometimes just adding a bit of color to the tail or end of the skirt will entice more bites. There are many different ways to apply color. There are dyes that worms and skirts can be dipped in, paint to be used with a brush, or markers that will work just as well.

These are just a few simples modifications to try. It is said that bass can become conditioned to the same lures being thrown over and over, so trying a few easy changes can potentially put more bass in your boat and a more enjoyable time on the water.

When It's Hot, Look For Shade

Posted by: Carl Spande Updated: June 23, 2009 - 10:11 AM

A hot summer day is one of my favorite times to be out on the lake. The bass can be somewhat predictable as they feel the heat and search out areas of the lake to provide them a break from the heat. I love fishing lilypads and docks, so these areas are where I begin my search.

When I pull up to a dock, I like to start on the shady side of the dock. I typically will start with a fast moving lure such as a spinnerbait, and then move to such baits as a jig or a wacky-rigged worm as I figure out the most effective presentation. I want to be as efficient as possible, so if I find fish on the shady side of a dock, I will only fish the shady side of the next dock, and so on. I like to focus on the dock posts, as these are potential ambush areas for the bass. I also try to put my bait in the hardest to reach place under a dock using a "skip' cast. Typically, these hard to reach places will hold the fish that the other anglers cannot reach or didn't attempt to reach. If this means I might get hung up a little bit, so be it, as I know I will eventually catch that hiding lunker. The best docks or rows of docks are those adjacent to deeper water. The fish will migrate from deeper weedlines to shallow water throughout the day, so find a few docks that have deeper water nearby.

When I head to the lilypads, my go-to bait is a frog. Fishing a frog can be some of the most exciting fishing around. I typically try to make my frog seem as real as possible. I hop him from pad to pad and I will stop him and shake him a bit in the open water between pads. My suggestion is to use braided line. I typically use 50 pound braid so I can rip the bass through the vegetation. The key to catching a bass on a frog is to wait about 2 seconds once the fish takes the frog down from the surface. This will allow the fish to get the frog in its mouth and ready for a strong hookset. Two seconds can feel like a long time when you see a bass explode on your bait, but trust me, taking a pause will increase your hookup ratios dramatically. If a bass misses your frog and it is left there on the surface, I follow up with either a repeat cast with the frog or I try throwing some sort of jig to penetrate beneath the pads. Often the bass will not have moved far and will strike again with that follow up cast.

The next time you are out on the water during one of these hot summer days, head to areas on the lake that will provide shade for those lunker bass. As the sun rises and moves in the sky, check back on the docks you hit and cast towards the new shaded area. Good luck and bring lots of water and sunscreen!

Being A Marshal for Bassmasters Elite Series

Posted by: Carl Spande Updated: June 17, 2009 - 11:03 AM
This is the inaugural year for the Bassmaster Elite Series Marshal program. The Marshal program is where members of BASS can sign up for a minimal fee to ride along with their bass fishing heros for 2-3 days during the Elite Series tournaments. The first and foremost function of the marshals is to observe the Pros and make sure that all the tournament rules are followed. The second part of this program is to allow the fans an upclose and personal fishing experience to learn from the best through observation, questions, and conversations with their respective pros. 

I traveled to Fort Madison, Iowa to be a marshal for the tournament being held on the Mississippi River, June 11th-14th. I signed up back in November and I had been waiting anxiously for this opportunity to marshal the "River Rumble", as it was titled by BASS. Fort Madison was alive and one could tell that the town was also waiting with great anticipation, as last year the tournament at this venue was cancelled due to high flood waters. Every shop and store had signs welcoming the anglers, and specials and discounts on food were seen on store-front windows and lighted signs. 

My first day I was randomly paired with Guy Eaker. Guy has been fishing in BASS events for over 30 years and even into his 70's, he can still fish with the best of them. Guy's bait-of-choice for that first rainy day was a chatterbait. He utilized the chatterbait because the water was so murky, it looked like chocolate milk. The chatterbait gives off incredible vibrations, and Guy was able to land a few 3 pounders to place in the top 50 after the first day.

On the second day, I was paired with the angler Matt Reed. Matt was also a great guy and we conversed a lot as we traveled down river 70 miles and had to go through two lock and dams. Matt's bait-of-choice was a spinnerbait rigged with two Colorado blades to project the most vibration in the water. He ended catching one keeper fish above the 14 inch size limit to put him in 46th place after two days. The top 50 after two days earn a spot to fish on the third day, and this also guarantees these anglers to cash a check. He was excited and high-fives were given.

I learned a ton from Guy and Matt both, and I also was fortunate to pick Kevin Wirth's brain outside of our hotel on Friday night. I asked anything that came to mind and he answered the questions graciously and in-depth. I would suggest to anyone who is interested in bass fishing, whether it be a beginner or a tournament angler, to sign up for next year's Marshal program. It was a great learning experience and the pros were great.

For a more in-depth look at what I learned from Guy, Matt, and Kevin, visit my website at I learned so much that I am breaking down each day and my experiences with each angler.


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