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.

When It's Hot, Look For Shade

Posted by: Carl Spande under Fishing, Bait, Bass, Equipment, Family Fun, Fishing Techniques 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 under Fishing, Bait, Bass, Equipment, Events, Fishing Techniques 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 www.teambassackwards.com. I learned so much that I am breaking down each day and my experiences with each angler.

Fighting the 'Postspawn Blues'

Posted by: Carl Spande under Fishing, Bait, Bass, Equipment, Fishing Techniques Updated: June 1, 2009 - 10:41 AM

Last weekend officially opened bass fishing for the entire state of Minnesota. Since the seasons change so rapidly in Minnesota and the water warms so quickly, the bass have a narrow window in which the water temperature is ideal for spawning. I was lucky enough last weekend in Aitkin County to experience the large females preparing for their spawn. I was able to find their spawning beds, or nests, in 3-5 feet of water using my polarized sunglasses to see below the water's surface. I caught the majority of my fish on a salamander soft plastic bait utilizing the Texas rig set up. It was exciting fishing and all fish were released so they could return to their spawing beds.

This past weekend I traveled to a north metro lake in hopes of finding similar fishing conditions. The first detail I look for to determine my fishing strategy is water temperature. I notice that the water was around 64-65 degrees, up a few degrees from the previous weekend. I started looking for fish in the shallow water in hopes of spotting bass hanging around their beds. Unfortunately, all I observed were empty beds with fry bass and sunfish cruising around. This led me to believe that the bass may be in postspawn mode, which typically can be one of the most difficult times to fish.

During the postspawn, the bass are trying to recoup and re-energize after the spawning event. This is often a period of very difficult fishing, as the fish do not have the energy to chase bait and aggressive presentations. Often, the bass will retreat to deeper waters in search of deep weedlines to use as cover. During this period, I have found that using subtle techniques and a precise presentation can still land many fish for an enjoyable outing. Here are a few tips to help in your postspawn search...

1. Once you have found a deserted spawning ground, head to deeper water adjacent to this area. Often the bass will still be relatively close, as they don't have much energy to do extensive traveling.

2. Once fish are located, try downsizing your lures and presentations. Fish will still bite during this period, but their strike zone is small, so getting the bait in their face is key as well as a bait that can be easily eaten. 

3. Try many different colors and mix up your lures. Sometimes these finicky times call for using a variety of baits until a pattern is found. Don't be afraid to use that hot pink plastic or that impulse lure buy you purchased 2 years ago. Who knows, it might make your outing. 

4. Have patience. Fishing can be tough this time of year, but with patience and practice, many fish can still be caught, and you will have a sense of pride once you figure them out. 

5. Have Fun! Heck, your still fishing and time on the water is still fun! If you bring your kids along and the bass are not cooperating, try fishing for panfish as they are cruising the shallows now. 

 

Fishing tip: Try to 'walk the dog'

Posted by: Carl Spande under Fishing, Bait, Bass, Equipment, Family Fun, Fishing Techniques, Muskie, Northerns, Panfish, Trout, Walleye, Outdoors Women Updated: May 19, 2009 - 2:45 PM

Topwater baits offer some of the most exciting strikes known to bass fishing. I have found that when I introduce someone to bass fishing, I almost always have a spot on the lake where a topwater presentation will draw strikes and blowups, whether it be a floating frog across lilypads or casting a popper in a shallow bay. Kids and beginners will never forget that bass they caught when it jumped out of the water to attack the bait.

One of my favorite topwater lures is a Heddon Spook or Spook Jr. These types of surface baits will exhibit a "walking" motion, moving side to side, if presented correctly. The technique for manipulating this type of bait is called "walking the dog". Here are a few tips to help you "walk the dog" during the "dog days" of summer...

1. Tackle is just as important as the actual technique. I prefer to use a 7' rod, medium to medium heavy, with a fast action tip. A baitcaster or spinning reel will work, it's personal preference. I like a longer rod to make long casts with, and also I like some give in the tip and rod so I don't pull out the hooks when the bass strikes the lure.

2. Use Monofilament line. Mono line floats, and this is critical in the presentation of the bait. You want the nose of the lure to be slightly higher than the back of the lure. This will allow the bait to look more natural, like a struggling baitfish, and it will also allow the bait to move from side-to-side more efficiently, without nose diving below the surface.

3. Knot Selection: There are many knots available to the common fisherman. My suggestion for a "walk the dog" type lure is to utilize a Loop Knot. A Loop Knot allows one to maximize the action of these baits by allowing the bait to move freely along the loop created, thus resulting in a more natural presentation. There are many different loop knots to tie, so I would find a source for knots and find one that has strength and is fairly easy to tie. I would be more than happy to share the knot I tie if interested.

4. "Walking" your bait: To get the most out of these lures, one needs to practice "walking". Most of these lures are weighted so that they will exhibit the "walking" motion fairly easily, but it is up to the angler to perfect this technique. Just to be clear, when one "walks the dog", they are manipulating the bait so it moves side to side in a forward motion. Horizontally, it would look like this:
Start /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/ Finish
After the cast is made, I let the ripples caused by the lure landing to subside. I then proceed with my rod tip down, to jerk the bait with a regular cadence. A helpful hint is to have a little bit of slack in your line. When you jerk your rod tip away from the bait, try to bring your rod tip back to its starting position very quickly. This will allow the bait to dart from side to side because there will be slack line. A taut line will only move the bait forward, similar to a popper.

5. Once you are able to "walk the dog", try different speeds and cadences. Often I will walk the bait for three pulls quickly, let the bait rest for 3 seconds, then do another series of 3. Try out different patterns and see how you do! This is a fun technique, plus, if you are fishing with a beginner or your buddy who only fishes on occasion, you will look like a bass fishing pro! I hope this will help someone add another technique to their arsenal...

Developing a Pattern

Posted by: Carl Spande under Fishing, Bait, Bass, Equipment, Family Fun, Fishing Techniques, Muskie, Northerns, Panfish, Trout, Walleye, Outdoors Women Updated: May 4, 2009 - 5:27 PM
When I am fishing for bass, walleye, or even crappie, I am constantly in search of developing the most effective fish-catching pattern. Creating a pattern can be explained in simple terms...one fishes until they figure out a bait, lure, or most effective presentation technique to optimally catch the most (or largest) fish during their given time frame.

A simple example would be you are taking your child bobber fishing for panfish on your local lake. You are at the shoreline and see a nice patch of lilypads in the water. You instruct your child to make a cast in that general direction. After about 15 minutes there are no bites. You realize that maybe the fish are not biting the minnows you brought along in the minnow bucket. You reach in your pocket and remove a container of mealworms, or grubs, and bait their hook. On the next cast, they catch a nice sunfish worth celebrating. After several casts and more fish caught, you come to the conclusion that the grubs were the ticket. Also, you realize that if that cast were only a few feet farther, you could catch sunfish the size of your hand. With or without knowing it, you just established a sunfish pattern that can be duplicated down the road at possibly another lake location.

The overall key to developing a pattern comes down to making observations while fishing. When I am in a bass tournament, establishing a pattern is critical, and often this pattern will change as the weather and time-of-day changes. In the morning, the fish may be striking topwater baits aggressively, but as the day goes on, I may need to switch to a 6" worm in watermelon color. Maybe I have the right lure tied on, but I am not working the lure as effectively as I could be. Instead of a straight cast and reel-in retrieve, I switch to a stop-and-go technique and catch my five fish.

Developing an effective pattern is fun. You are able to observe and use trial and error to determine the best possible way to catch fish. If you are ambitious, keep a fishing journal to record your observations and your catches. You will be amazed at how you will be able to repeat your patterns on various lakes under similar conditions.

The next time you are out, find that fish-catching pattern and put more fish in your boat in a shorter period of time.

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