Friday, December 26, 2008

Boat Docks by P. Roberts

Boat docks can provide a better option for anglers who prefer to stay close to the bank.
Regardless of how hot the water is or how many fish are holding, there are always bass around docks. Especially the large docks on the main lake, give bass two important elements during the summer - forage and shade. They provide a comfort zone along the shore, while the bluegill and other panfish utilizing that shade give bass an abundant food source.
That's not to say that dock patterns are good on all lakes or that all docks are productive. If there is a lot of vegetation or numerous logs and fallen trees along the bank, the man made structure may not be as appealing.
The main lakes docks that are exposed to wind and boat waves tend to be more lively with fish activity during the summer than docks in calm creeks.
If the water is stained, or if an algae bloom has clouded clear water,the shallower main lake docks will be more productive. But if the water is clear, fish the bluff shorelines where the fish have easy access to deeper water.
The dock pattern may be the best mid-day pattern. Early in the day when the sun is low, bass roam away from the docks to feed. But when the sun is high and heats the water, bass bunch up in the shade and the strike zone becomes smaller.
That doesn't mean you should ignore docks on overcast days, shadows are present and will effect the fish. Bass will feel more secure under the dock, but they are more likely to feed around the edges and can be seduced by topwaters and buzzbaits in addition to the drop baits.
Dock fishing at night can be great, yet it is often overlooked.
During the day, my favorite dock lure is a 1/2 ounce Strike King Jig with a plastic or pork trailer.
A good jig color for clear water is pumpkin green flake because it resembles a bluegill, the most prominent forage you'll find around docks during the summer, in stained or dirty water, use more visible colors.
A small plastic crawdad will work just as well as pork. Pork doesn't get you more strikes, but I believe it does effect how long a bass holds the bait.
When bass aren't real aggressive pork may be the deciding factor in how many fish you hook.
Dock anglers who are thorough and patient will find enough action to keep them on the water.

Lester Paul Roberts, Basic Author

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Ways to Catch Bass in Cold Water by P. Roberts

Winter bass fishing isn't for everyone - just those willing to put up with frigid temperatures and slow bite in hopes of catching a bass.

Try these approaches this winter.

Experienced bass anglers know that bass often gravitate to " transitions," places where one type of bank, bottom, depth or cover condition shifts to a different type.
Bass don't move around much in waters below 50 degrees and instead like to hang out in a spot that offers them a variety of good hunting and concealment options in a compact area.

I catch dozens of bass every winter by fishing ponds and streams. Plus they receive little fishing pressure, so bass have a chance to grow bigger in them.
A jig and pig or a spinnerbait is my top choices for winter bass: I present both baits with short underhand pitches tight to wood or rock cover. The bass strike zone shrinks in cold water.

When bass are holding from 18 to 35 feet, which they are in winter on clear, rocky lakes. A metal spoon/blade or tailspinner is the most efficient way to catch them. These lures sink into the strikezone quickly, and when worked properly, emit the flash and vibration of living baitfish.
I like jigging a spoon for bass suspended in deep water "hallows" ( v-shaped creek arms ), a blade bait on sloping banks and a tailspinner on deep flats. "Fish the spoon vertically, the blade like you'd fish a jig and the tailspinner with a slow, horizontal retrieve just off the bottom, a long, stiff rod will give you the hook-setting power you need in deep water.

Pockets are small, shallow indentations in tributary arms, and they can be great in winter. Baitfish begin stacking up in shallow pockets with a muddy bottom starting in November and usually stay there until the water drops below 45 degrees.
The best time to fish them is on calm, sunny days, that's when you'll often see shad flipping on the surface.
My favorite big-bass approach is to slow-roll a spinnerbait, reeling just fast enough to keep the blades from churning up the bottom. SLOW RETRIEVE!

I like to take a small, minnow-imitating floating crankbaits with chrome or gold finish for this approach. I use a soft-action rod, I slide a 1-ounce egg sinker onto 14lb main line, then place a bead and swivel below the sinker and add a 3=foot leader of 8lb mono filament with a floating minnow lure on the end.
This setup allows you to fish a hard bait 30-40 feet deep. Cast to deep rock piles or ledges, let the sinker hit bottom, twitch the rod tip, pause and twitch again. The crankbait will flash and suspend, imitating a dying baitfish.

Boat Ramp Etiquette by P. Roberts

The most irritating experience for most boaters is at the boat ramp, waiting for someone who doesn't know what they are doing.
Typically, the guy pulls onto the ramp with his cover still on and turns off his car/truck, gets out, takes off the cover, load the life preservers, cooler, fishing equipment. If your lucky, he remembers to take off the rear tie-down straps and put in the drain plug.
OK, we've all done some stupid things at the ramp. If I had a dime for every bonehead move I've made I could probably buy a gallon of gas at a marina. If anyone should appreciate patience at a ramp it should be me. By the time you're waiting for a lane at the ramp to clear, your boat should be ready to go.Fishing equipment should be aboard, life jackets out and boat key in the ignition. And make sure your kill switch is connected too. There's nothing more embarrassing than grinding down the battery in front of impatient boaters.
Unless you have a roller trailer or ice on your bunks, your boat should be completely unstrapped. If your boat might slide off, keep the front winch strap/rope attached but take the rear straps off. Disconnect the safety chain/tie down and then disconnect the winch when the back of the boat is in the water.
The easiest way I have found to launch a boat is with a long line held by a second person, the rope should be 20 - 30 feet long with a clamp that attaches to the bow eye. Back the boat in and allow it to slide off the trailer. The person holding the rope should guide the boat to available pier space or to the shore.Or, even better, have a boat driver already at the helm.
If your launching alone, tie a line from the bow eye to the trailer or winch and let the boat float
off. Then, pull the boat to shore or to a pier before parking your vehicle.
The best etiquette tip is if you see anyone launching alone, chances are he or she would appreciate an offer of assistance.
Every bass boater's biggest pet peeve has to be people who can't back-up a trailer. Saturday morning at the ramp isn't the time or place to practice.
If your new to boating, take you boat/trailer to an empty school parking lot and practice.
Trailering your boat after a day on the water also should be done as quickly as possible. Get that boat on the trailer, attach the winch strap/rope and safety chain and go park before doing anything else. Remember to trim up your motor.
This season, let's practice good boat ramp etiquette. Not wasting the precious recreational time of others is good for every one's well being.