Friday, March 27, 2009

Headed for Open Water!!!

Finally it's time! I'll soon be headed south for Oklahoma's well known, Grand Lake. I have been doing a lot of homework in preparation and am really liking what I'm learning. I've been to Grand the past two seasons and found success in a lot of different ways. Two Springs ago we where met with a record breaking cold front. It was sleeting and 30 degrees the first day and the high never went above 40 the whole week. Weeks prior to then the average high was 70 - 80 degrees, making fishing more than difficult. The spawn was already over and a vicious cold front mixed with a post spawn funk, made bites few and far between. Although it did take some work I ended up doing alright. The size was never there, with most all fish weighing about 2 to 3 pounds but the quantity was great. I found most fish on main lake points in 10 to 20 foot of water, throwing 5/16 oz. finesse style Jewel Jigs.

Last year the weather still was a bit cooler but it was a pretty chilly Spring all together. The lake had seen record rainfalls and the water level was very high. This also made the water color very dark, almost the same color as chocolate milk. With the water up in the trees it didn't take long to get bit by pitchin' a 1/2 black and blue jig to the timber. I would average 10 or so bites a day, but almost all of them where over 3 pounds, with most being 4 and 5 pounders and a 6.1 pound toad just for kicks. Almost all the bass came on the jig but the big fish came on a 1/2 Jewel Football Jig on a main lake point that has always proven good for me down there.

This year we are looking at a pre spawn bite with the spawn right around the corner. I'm expecting males to be attacking anything shallow and the females just waiting to move up. The water temp is pushing 60 and the week forecast calls for lots of sun and highs pushing 70 degrees. One day will be a bit chilly and lots of rain but to me those are the best days to catch big females. With the warmer days and nights and a full moon on the way, I'm hoping to see a good bed bite by trips end.

I'll be sure to give a full report as soon as I get back. With all the rain we've been getting here in the cities I'm expecting ice out on most metro lakes to be right around the corner. Hopefully before I get home. I'll then be headed down to the Mississippi to get tuned in with those river smallies. Follow this link to know when your favorite lake is officially ice out!

On another note, I'm just got my 2009 tournament jersey's in the mail and I am more than impressed. They look awesome thanks to the people at Gemini Sports Marketing, who were more than helpful and the best part is I got to design it myself. These jerseys are made of the best high grade material on the market. Not only do they offer protection for your skin but also breathe better than anything on the market. I've used other companies in the past but have to admit Gemini knows their stuff. See you on the water!!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Tricks of the Trade - Jig Tying 101

Anyone who knows me at all, knows that I'm a die hard jig fanatic. Any jig really, flippin' jigs, football jigs, finesse jigs, tube jigs, swimming jigs, whatever, there 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 it's packaging isn't ready to be fished until I have put some love into it by tricking it out a bit.

Not all jigs on the market are created equal and I only trust a select few to get the job done. I am a huge advocate for tungsten and the benefits it provides to fisherman. So my first selections are a Tru Tungsten Jig for any weed and wood cover or a Tacklesmith Bronzeback Tungsten Football Jig for the rock piles and points. Other jig companies that I trust are Boivex, Kietech, Jewell and Piccasso.

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 real 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 vice's 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 or so 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 Power Pro. Both are very strong and neither weaken 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, the Picasso 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 add a Vertical Lures ChunkX Sling to keep my trailor in tact. 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. I'll save that for another day though.

Being that I'm getting ready for a fishing trip to Grand Lake in northeastern Oklahoma, I've been tying up some jigs that I know will get the job done. In the past I have done extremely well there on the 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 Bronzeback 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, usually 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 where 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 your 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!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Tackle Update: Gearing Up for the 2009 Tournament Season - Part 2

In the next few weeks I'll be headed South to Oklahoma's, Grand Lake. With the bass season closed in Minnesota I've been just itching to get out and stick some six pounders right in the lips. Lately, in an attempt to get ready for the upcoming season as well as keep my sanity, I've been spending some time looking into the new products that are hitting the market.

The first on my list is the Texas based company, Power Tackle. This company offers some of the best built and most sensitive rods on the market. Every rod in their lineup is built to the most exact specs for ultimate performance. I know I'll be getting my hands on their Ultimate Football Jig Rod to aid me in dragging jigs over the deep rocks for tournament winning bass. This rod reeks of success. It comes with 7 foot 3 inches of the highest quality graphite available, that's not only the most sensitive on the market, but the strongest as well. I have always been a G Loomis guy and have put them at the top of the totem pole, but let me say that they may finally have some serious competition to contend with. I do believe Power Tackle has everything needed to become bass fishing's most elite line of bass rods.

Today was a good day, I finally picked up the new Shimano Chronarch D. I've been waiting a long time to own this reel and see myself getting a lot more of them in the future. I'm a giant fan of both the Chronarch and the Core and this new reel is the perfect mix of them both. It's the Core MG with an aluminum body and a fast 7.0:1 gear ratio. It will make the perfect addition to that Power Tackle Football Jig rod. I plan to use that combo as well as the new Tacklesmith Tungsten Football Jig on Grand Lake in the next few weeks. There should be a pretty solid pre spawn bite and the big fish should be found on the deep points of the creek arms that lead back to the spawning flats. Making this the perfect setup for picking those points apart.

Other tackle that has found it's way into my tackle compartment is the Jackall Giron swimbait. This small sized sunfish look alike is the answer to swimbait fishing in the Upper Midwest where bluegill populations are plenty. Swim these under boat docks or along submerged weedlines and prepare to get bit.

I'm also looking to the Biovex Bio Jack Hog Master to flip up giants from the thick mats that litter the gnarly backwaters of the Mississippi River. These soft plastic baits are designed to entice the biggest bass out of the roughest terrain. Match this with a 4/0 Youvella Pro Flip Hook, a 1/2 to 1 oz. Tru Tungsten Flippin' Weight, along with some 20 lb. Gamma Edge Fluorocarbon and you'll be flippin' up toads one after another.

Jackall Giron SwimbaitBiovex Bio Jack Hog Master
**From left to right:the Jackall Giron Swimbait and the Biovex Bio Jack Hog Master.

Just when I was about to pull the trigger and add the Hummingbird Side Imaging Unit to my boat, I found out that Lowrance is soon to release their version of side imaging. This will be an accessory that will adapt to Lowrance's new HDS line of sonars. I have also heard that they will work with LCX units as well. I don't know that for fact but will update something as soon as I have a definitive answer. This is going to be a very hot product once it releases and I'm imagining demand to be pretty high. I'm thinking they will be found in stores and online by mid to late summer.

That's all for now. Check back soon for my preview on Grand Lake. The weather has already been in the 80's down there and I'm expecting a strong bite again this year. I can't wait!!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Tackle Update: Gearing Up for the 2009 Tournament Season - Part 1

With the start to the upcoming tournament season right around the corner, I have been staying real busy preparing tackle and stocking up on the baits and equipment I know will be needed through out the year. I've been going through all my hard baits and cutting off any old line as well as checking hooks and replacing the ones that are needed. I'm also cleaning all my reels and lubricating them to assure they will perform as well as they did the day they came out of their box. Shimano makes great reels that last forever but a little love assures better performance. I also check all my rods especially the guides for any issues. A broken guide will cost not only a tournament angler precious money, but can cost any fisherman the fish of a lifetime.

As I wrote in my last post, I also have been starting to get my boat ready. First on my list was to add a Loc-R-Bar. These are one of those things you'll wish you had but probably won't realize it until the day you walk out of your hotel room and find all the tackle and equipment you have spent a lifetime to put together is gone. I have been very fortunate to not have this happen to me, but after walking out to a smashed window on my Suburban and finding my briefcase missing along with a digital camera and some Navionics chips, I decided to do everything in my power to prevent that from happening to my boat. Sure everything is insured but not everything is replaceable, and I have no problem dropping $300 dollars on a rod the least I can do is spend a hundred or two and get a Loc-R-Bar installed. It's an extra insurance policy that also could save the headache of missing a big tourney because I don't have anything to catch fish with!

Gamma FishingTackle is a necessary part of the game but some things are far more necessary than others. One of those necessary things is fishing line and I make sure to stock up plenty of it. I would guess that I use fluorocarbon 90% of the time and one of my favorite brands is Gamma. It can run a few dollars more than some of it's competitors, but I feel like it's well worth the money. I have played around with a lot of different brands but Gamma is one that always prevails in both sensitivity and strength. It doesn't break and handles awesome. One way to cut down on the cost is to look into buying bulk spools. Line is the one things you know you'll always need so it shouldn't be to hard to buy in bulk, and buying a 1000 yard spool knocks a couple bucks off what you would spend on a smaller spool off the shelf.

That's all for now. Be sure to check back later for part two of this entry where I'll show off some of the newest and hottest baits to hit the market, as well as proven must have baits for any serious bass anglers tackle box.

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