Wednesday, February 24, 2010

el Lago de Falcon, Zapata, Tejas

Man, what a lake! Falcon is no joke and either is the size of the fish that inhabits this 80,000+ acres of ridiculously good looking water. For those who have never been, imagine flooding a national forest and calling it a lake, the cover in this fishery is beyond conceivable. Everywhere you look there's trees that could hold the bass of a lifetime! The problem, is which one?

The forecast for the week was favorable with the exception of cool nights. The moon phase was also a negative strictly because this time of year you ideally want warm days and nights and a full moon phase. Some of the bass have spawned and are in a funk, the biggest group of bass are on the verge of moving up to spawn but the cooler water temps in the high 50's and very low 60's are keeping them back. The only common denominator is that these fish are scattered and if you can find the key staging areas, your liable to catch the sack of a lifetime. With all the structure and cover in this lake, that little chestnut is easier said than done.

Joining me on this trip to the Texas/Mexico border is good friends Brent Haimes and Don (Hootch) Hanson. Both Brent and I had goals of catching the biggest bass of our lives. Brent's big largemouth of his life was 6 lbs. flat and mine was 7.14, caught last April on Grand lake in Northeastern Oklahoma., barely edging out my 7.6, caught in Northern Minnesota. Falcon, known for it's gordo largemouth, gives us the best shot of accomplishing this very feat.

Things started tough and bites where few and far between, though when we did set the hook it was a good one and Brent's second bass coughed up a new personal record at 6.33 pounds. I managed a nice 4 pounder on a 3/4 oz. Picasso Football Jig, fishing deep hard spots on the main lake. We couldn't get anything going shallow at all, which is extremely humbling when everything shallow looks better than anything I've ever seen before. So after three days of desperately trying to make the shallow trees work, we refocused all of our attention on deeper staging areas that had bigger females on it. Though the bites where scarce, the result was far worth it.

We used a combination of our Lowrance Sonar and Hummingbird Side Imaging units, to carefully dissect the deeper areas, keying in on hard bottom areas that held bigger fish. Without the use of Side Imaging, we never would have found all these areas, and that's a pretty powerful statement, but it couldn't be more true. Over the next few days we where able to find a dozen or so very small areas that when everything was right, held big fish. The key was simply being there at the right time. On one day in particular, we fished these areas for five or six hours without a bite and all of a sudden I caught back to back six pounders on consecutive casts. That's a first, never in my life has that happened to me and I have to say it's easily the most addictive feeling in the world. Then a few minutes later, Brent hauls off a new record and boats a solid 8.33 lb. giant, crushing his personal best!

The very next day, after a really slow start I finally got bit and also got to celebrate my new record when I boated a 8.27 lb. largie, out of about 24 feet on a Hootch Plunker rig. In fact, all of our big fish came of this rig with the exception of a 4 and a 5 that came on the Picasso Football Jig. The key about this rig is that it's a heavy finesse presentation and with all the pressure these fish had, I truly believe it was the difference maker between getting bit and getting blanked. Though the heavy equipment was essential in winning the battle to the boat, I was using a G Loomis GLX (BCFR 894) Flippin' Stick with 50 lb. Power pro braided line, perfect for hook penetration and steering the fish away from all the cover.

On the last day of the trip, I joined FLW co angler Jeff Ziermann, who was on a shallow flippin' bite down lake. We where able to boat around 35 bass total by flippin' the trees, no giants but no peanuts either. Jeff caught two nice ones going five and six respectively and I managed a couple just shy of four. Both of use where using 3/4 - 1 oz. Tru Tungsten Flippin' Weights and I added the MiHatchii Pro Flip Hook and several different soft plastics. Meanwhile Hootch and Brent found success by winding a spinnerbait through the shallows and because of the stormy front that moved in the fish where in the mood to chase.

In the end, the trip was awesome and I can't wait to get back down there. I learned a lot and was able to catch some real nice bass even when the lake was fishing tough. If you've ever had thoughts to fish Falcon, GO!! You won't regret it. I'm expecting this lake to bust wide open in the next couple weeks!

Zapata, I'll see you soon....

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

From Smallies to LARGIES, Literally!

Being that I've been a worthless pile the last week because of my upcoming trip to both Lake Falcon and Fork, I decided I had to get out one last time and do some much needed smallmouth fishing before our season ends. I went with two of my real good buddies, Chris Campbell and Eric Aske. The bite was slower than usual, but in the end we all managed a few good ones and a couple dozen mid sized smallies as well. It's odd to think that in a few days I'll be fishing in extremely different ends of the spectrum. Instead of chasing 3 pound smallmouth in 20 degree weather here in the north country of Minnesota, I'll be fishing for 15 pound largemouth in 80 degree weather in extreme southern Texas along the Mexico border.

Yeah that's right, I said 15 pound bsndckssqld wsmndkswnd qlkdsqapjkd.

(Sorry, I couldn't type there for a second, my arm was twitching from the very thought of it.)

I'll be joining two others, one being my good buddy Brent Haimes. This trip is sure to be a good one, every time Brent and I get in the boat together we manage to catch some good fish. Late last summer on a trip to northern Minnesota's Lake Pokegama, we managed to catch all sorts of tanker smallies and had a blast doing it. This trip should be no different, all things are coming together to potentially set up for a whack fest. The temp should stabilize perfectly the whole time we're down there and the shallows should warm up quickly into the low 70's, forcing those giant Jim's (or should I say Betty's) to move up and put on a feeding frenzy preparing to spawn.

**Above Picture: Brent and I with some Lake Pokegama tankers smallmouth.

The reports are saying that fish can be caught anywhere between 2 feet to 40 feet, but the vast majority of the fish are staging in about 7 feet and hanging tight to all the submerged trees that litter the entire reservoir. They're simply waiting for a solid week of high temps and they'll be all over the place, as long as the weather report holds true, we just may be there for the best week of the whole year. It's safe to say that both my fingers and toes are crossed.

After doing a ton of research I was able to zone everything down to about six rods, mostly all are flippin' sticks of course and if the rod blank doesn't have the word "heavy" on it than it doesn't make the trip. I made the commitment that I was after quality not quantity, I don't care if I catch one bass as long as the scale tips past 10 pounds. I've never caught a 10 before and I would love to check that off my list of things to do.

I've attached pics of my set ups that I'm anticipating will do the trick. I'll be sure to give a in depth report on what did and didn't work once I get home. Here's the starting line up.

This rig is sick!! It's a Zoom Brush Hog on a MiHatchii Pro Flip Hook, a Gambler KO Flippin' Skirt, with a 3/8 oz. Tru Tungsten Flippin' Weight pegged with a Tru Tungsten Smart Peg. I'll be using this to flip the wood on a G Loomis GLX Flippin' Stick, and a Shimano Core, lined with 65 lb. Power Pro Braid. I'll be hard pressed to set this rig down.

Here I got a 1/2 oz. Tru Tungsten Jig with a YUM Trailer. No matter where I'm fishing around the country, you can always be rest assured that I'll have one of these tied on.

With reports of some real lunkers still being caught deep, and when I say deep I mean it, up to 40 feet, there's no way I won't be employing my favorite technique of throwing heavy roller jigs. If I can catch a 10+ out of deep structure on a football jig, I don't even know what to say, I'd be speechless and anyone who knows me knows damn well it's tough to make me speechless. Here I got a 1 oz. Super K Football Jig with a Gary Yamamoto Twin Tail Grub.

When you think prespawn shallow water, a spinnerbait better come to mind and this is no ordinary spinner. It's a 3/4 oz. Biovex Stangun Spinnerbait, after I land the fish of a lifetime I want this bait to be absolutely pretzled beyond repair, it'll be a trophy all on it's own!

All for now, be sure to follow me via Facebook for updates from this trip and all others in the future. Wish us luck!

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