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 Fishing Techniques

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

Spawn Tactics

Posted by: Carl Spande Updated: June 2, 2011 - 5:08 PM
June is a dynamic month for bass fishing in Minnesota, as the fish transition from laying eggs, to guarding fry, to moving on to their more permanent summer locations. Bass fishing commenced this Memorial Weekend and it was great to get out on the water and begin to figure out where the fish were with relation to their spawning cycle. In Central Minnesota, where I spent my extended weekend, I found the water temperature to be 59 degrees and the majority of the bass had not spawned yet. I found the bass on the edges of spawning grounds, seemingly waiting for the water to warm a few degrees. Here in the cities, I have spoken to a few people and they have found fish that have already spawned. My guess is that we will have a large spawning movement this first week of June as the air temperature is supposed to be steady and in the 80s. Below are some tips to help you catch bass during the spawn and immediately after.
*Note: There is some controversy regarding the ethics of catching bass while in the act of spawning. Typically, bass will be shallow and on their beds, thus easy to see and target. Some feel that catching bass while they are spawning hurts the survival rate of the eggs, thus resulting in a diminishing bass population. In my research, I haven’t found a study that clearly shows a negative correlation between catching spawning bass and their population. Bass populations are extremely large in lakes, and when their population decreases, it is typically a result of an invasive species, predator, or chemical (toxic) introduction. A good practice when catching a spawning fish is to immediately release the fish near where it was caught, with the hopes that it will return to the bed. Many times I have caught a spawner and she will race immediately back to the bed or nest.
1. One of my favorite lures during the spawn is a 6-8 inch soft plastic lizard rigged Texas style with a ¼ ounce tungsten bullet sinker. It is in a bass’ nature to hate lizards, so when you drag it across their bed or let it sit on or near the bed, the bass thinks a lizard is eating their eggs so they attack. My favorite color is black with red flake. I pitch these lizards using a 7’ baitcasting rod with 15 pound fluorocarbon line.
2. Another favorite lure is a straight tailed stick worm rigged with the hook placed right in the middle of the worm (wacky rigged). The slow fall of these worms entice the bass to strike. My favorite colors are pumpkinseed, green pumpkin, watermelon green with red flake, and black. I like to cast these worms with a spinning rod and reel using 6 pound fluorocarbon line.
3. Often after the eggs hatch, the females will stick around and guard the schools of fry, protecting them from other fish such as sunfish and perch. Now the bass are moving around a bit, aggressively attacking threats to their newborns. When this is the case, I like to cast spinnerbaits and swim jigs around the spawning areas. A swim jig is just like a spinnerbait but without the spinner, and I like to try both in order to determine if the bass are more likely to strike flashy baits or a more subtle one. Also during this time, I like to pitch a 3/8 ounce custom sunfish colored jig with a crawfish trailer. I can usually get a few really good reaction bites with this jig during this time period.
As the bass progress out of their spawning cycle, they start to transition to their summer homes. These areas could be shallow lily pads, shallow or deep weedlines, or deep rocks. I will discuss some of these areas in my tips for July. Tournament fishing has begun for me, so please visit to read how I do this season. If you are interested in a great deal on plastic lures, please visit
Good luck in June and keep your lines tight! See you on the water…

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!


Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters