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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Fort Loudon Catfishing

Ok, it's been awhile since I've posted, so here's a recap of what's been happening for me the last month and a half.
First, tournament season for me is over, so I've shifted my focus to bank fishing for trophy channel, blue, and flathead catfish. Over the last two weeks, I have caught several fish over 25 inches from both Sinking Creek and Turkey Creek.  The biggest so far was yesterday in Turkey Creek, which was a 32 inch flathead.
I've been using threadfin shad that I net from the area I'm fishing. As for tackle, I'm using a Ugly Stick Catfish series rod, a Shakespeare saltwater reel, Berkley Big Game 17 lb test line, and Team Catfish sinker sliders and 3/0 circle hooks.
Second, I've been trying to find more time to make and modify lures. I'm still dabbling with airbrushing and lead pouring and really want to get into plastic pouring.  However, I am running out of room in my garage.  So, I'm thinking of getting one of the two story type storage buildings like you see at Home Depot.  Then, I'll be able to move all my hobbies out of the garage and also have some extra storage.
Lastly, the time has changed and I haven't been getting out the boat very often.  It's just not worth the effort by the time I get off work, come home and load up just to fish for a couple of hours. Then, come home and unload everything. 
So, until next spring, there will not be many fishing reports posted on this site.  I will shift to product reviews and other fishing talk.  There may be some tackle making tricks or results posted, too.  I wish all of you a happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Crankbait Modification - Part 2 - Painting

People paint crankbaits using many different methods, tricks, and paints.  I might not paint them the proper way according to some people, but it works for me.  And, besides, I'm still learning!  One day I decided to give it a try because I already have an airbrush, I have too many crankbaits not in use because I don't like th colors, and I am out of jig making materials right now.  (The company I order jig supplies from is relocating and out of commission until October 12.)  So, I will try to walk you through the steps I take when painting my crankbaits.
First, it is important to make sure the lure is smooth.  If it's not, sand it until it is.  Many wooden lures get chunks out of them through frequent use and these chunks can be filled in with wood putty.  The most common flaw I find in plastic lures is grooves where the front hooks rub into the body during use. This can be fixed with any epoxy, but I prefer Devcon 2-ton.  Also, be sure to tape off the lip and any other parts you don't want to get paint on.  It's fine to paint over the hook hangers.
Second, you want to lay down a base coat to work from.  For all practical purposes, this should be done with white.  It allows you to see what you're spraying better and it also makes the colors brighter.  The airbrush I use is a Badger Professional 150.  Before you spray be sure to read the directions of both the paint and the airbrush.  Different paint requires different reducers to spray properly.  If this isn't done correctly, you will get splatters or an uneven design.  Some paint can be reduced with distilled water, while others require paint thinner.  I even have one that reduces best with Windex!  I learned that from a seasoned painter at Hobby Town.
Once the basecoat is painted and had plenty of time to dry, you can start with your pattern.  This is when you can use templates to make scale patterns, gills, or anything else you can think of.  I normally use a scale pattern and if gills are required, I will freehand them.  I made this simple tool out of some scrap wood and drywall mesh tape.  It works great for scales. 



Just hold it up to the lure and spray evenly as far down as you want the scales to show.  Be sure not to move the template or the paint will smear.  If that happens, it is best to start over with a new base coat.  I always go back over a portion of the back (or top) of the lure with the same color I used for the scales, but without the template.  This blends the colors and scales and it looks much better.
After you have all the colors you want on the bait, you can start painting the eyes and any other details.  I use a nail to paint the black dots on the side of the lure and two different size nails for the eyes. I use the bigger nail for the main color of the eye such as red or yellow and I use a smaller nail to put a black dot in the middle.



The final step is to seal the lure and make it durable.  I use Devcon 2-ton epoxy for this.  It's very simple to use, dries quickly, and offers great protection.  Mix it up and use a cheap brush to paint it on.  I've also used a popsicle stick to put it on, but the brush is much easier.  Glitter can be added to the epoxy while you mix it if desired.  Once the epoxy is covering the entire lure body, hang it to dry.  This is where the Devcon pays off, because it dries quickly enough that it doesn't run or leave globs on the lure.  Slower drying epoxies require a drying machine to ensure it doesn't run.  Some people use old rottisseries for drying the lures.  As it spins, the epoxy doesn't have time to run.
Here are the recent lures I painted.  Clockwise from left, Norman DD22 in Citrus Shad, Bomber Fat Free Fingerling in Sexy Shad, and Bandit 100 in Citrus Shad.


Well, that's the way I paint crankbaits.  I'm sure many of you can do a much better job, but I hope this can help some other beginners to not make as many mistakes as I have.  If you have any tips or tricks, please feel free to leave them in the comment sections for everyone to see.  Good luck out there and be safe!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fort Loudon Fishing Report - 9/14/09, Monday Night Mayhem

Brandon was able to make it out to fish with me on Monday night and it paid off. He had our two biggest fish in the Monday Night Mayhem tournament out of the Concord ramp on Fort Loudon, with one winning lunker. It weighed 3.66 lb. We had a total of 4 fish that weighed 8.74 lb, which was good enough for the win.
We caught several fish on topwater poppers, but none were keepers. Three of our keepers came on a 10" Berkley Power Worm and one came on a white Strike King Caffeine Shad. We fished from 6" - 17 ft deep on 5 spots I have had some success with the past few weeks. I've had problems hooking the fish on these spots but I knew they were there. Monday, we didn't have such a problem although we did miss a few. I guess that leaves a few there for next time!
Baitfish are everywhere and you can see them schooled on top. Occasionally, a feeding frenzy will occur and you can catch several fish in a very short time, but they seem to be small ones. The water temperature was around 78 F. The water was calm, with very little wind. The skies were partly to mostly cloudy.
This is a fun tournament to fish. I really enjoy competing against these guys and we have a great time before and after the tournament shooting the bull. The director is Bill Freeman and he has done a great job!
The results were as follows:
Jon Dice/Brandon Dinsmore - 4 fish - 8.74 lb and first lunker - 3.66 lb
Bill Freeman/John Smith - 4 fish - 6.76 lb and second lunker - 2.31 lb (I think)
Jerry and Robby Beck - 4 fish - 6.37 lb (great to see father and son fishing together)
Lynn and Bob King - 4 fish - 5.99 lb
others did not weigh in fish.

Anyone interested should come out and fish! It's not an expensive tournament, $35 (but I think is being lowered to $25 to draw more competitors). We are fishing through the end of October and now is getting to be the best time to catch good numbers of fish on Fort Loudon. It would be a great place for some beginning tournament anglers to have a good time.
Until next time, be safe and catch them big uns!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

USA Bassin' Regional, Douglas Lake Report 9/13/09

Brandon and I fishied the Regional on Sunday 9/13 and didn't do so well. We only had 2 fish that weiged 2.5 lbs and I think finished in 31st place. The good news is that was good enough to qualify for the USA Bassin' Classic which will be on Kentucky Lake in May 2010. The top 3 will win a new boat! The winner on Sunday had 17+ lbs, 2nd was 10+, 3rd was 9, and 4th was 8.9. There were 48 boats.
It was a tough day. The topwater bite was slow in the area we fished in the morning and we only managed a few small fish on Pop Rs and Zara Spooks. Our keepers came off of shady steep rock banks on finesse shaky worms. We caught around 10 fish, but only had the 2 keepers. From 11:00 am to 1:00 pm we didn't get a bite.
If I had it to do over, I would go much farther up the river and find dirtier water. It was just too clear where we were. The water temperature at 7:30 am was 74 F and we found 80 F later in the day in one area. The skies were clear and a strong eastern wind was blowing in.
The tournament director, Joe Cummings, did a great job! It was very organized and efficient. Congratulations to the winners and everyone who qualified for the Classic!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Douglas Lake Fishing Report - 8/26/09

A friend and I drove down to Douglas Lake today and fished from about 12:00 pm - 4:15 pm. It was only the 3rd time I had been on Douglas and the first time in 5 years. We put in at the dam, which was not nearly as crowded as I had expected, and took a left into the Flat Creek area. We jumped point to point and tossed everything at them. Deep diving crank baits, spinnerbaits, jigs, Carolina rigged plastics of all sorts, poppers, flukes, all with no luck. It was very slow, no shad breaking or bass busting. Even the Great Blue Herons seemed inactive, allowing the boat to get extremely close before flying off. We ended up plucking 3 largemouth from the lake using plastic finesse worms. Two of the fish were keepers, a 14 inch and an 16 1/2 inch. Water temperatures were between 77 and 80 degrees, air temperature was around 85 degrees and there was no wind and no clouds. It was hot, humid, and pretty much miserable. But, at least we were fishing instead of working, right? You all have a great day!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

New Look

For something new, I decided to change templates today. I'm not quite sure if I like it better than the old one, though. It does seem a little easier to read with this color scheme. I would like to get some comments from frequent visitors comparing this template with the old one and any suggestions. Also, any first time visitors please feel free to leave comments or suggestions. Thanks in advance!

Monday Night Madness - Fort Loudon 8/17/09

I fished solo in the Monday Night Madness tournament from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm. I started out shallow and landed 17 fish in the first 45 minutes with one that was a 16" keeper. The rest were 12-13 inches. These fish were in 1-8 feet of water. I moved out to a hump to try to get some bigger fish. I missed a few on a Carolina Rig. The weather was looking pretty bad, so I decided to head back towards the ramp just in case it began lightning. I often see guys fish through the lightning, but I refuse to risk my life over a few hundred dollars! So, after stopping at a very nice, long point that has been good to me in the past, the wind started howling. The bite instantly shut off contrary to what I thought would happen. I hooked up with one more small keeper that came off as I tried to swing him in the boat. It was dark and windy at this point and I was battling the waves with the trolling motor trying to stay on my spot, so I couldn't find the end of my line. When I tried to swing the fish in, it hit the back left side of the boat and came off. Oh, well. It wouldn't have helped me place in the tournament. The winner had 8+ lbs I think.
On a side note, there were several fish having trouble swimming after release. If you do not know how to "fizz" a fish, I highly recommend you to learn. It's easy to do and enables the fish to swim instead of float. Floaters always die, fizzed fish have a much better survival rate. Also, keep some ice for your livewell and Rejuvenade or some other type of livewell treatment. Good luck out there!


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Fort Loudon Fishing Report - 8/12/09

I took a good friend of mine, Bryan, out for the first time in over a year today from 2:00 pm to 4:45 pm. The sun was intense and it was HOT! My only goal was to get him on some good fish. We started on a hump in the Louisville Point Park area and I caught 1 largemouth, 13 inches, on a Carolina rigged Net Bait Paca Craw. We moved to an area where we noticed frequent surface activity. I let Bryan borrow a popper and a fluke and tied the same on for myself. From that moment we started landing one after another. A school of white bass came by and we had a blast catching them on poppers. We caught 8 of them and all were right at 2 lbs. We also caught 13 largemouth and 1 smallmouth for a total of 22 fish. Three of the largemouth were keepers. We missed many more than that. The smallmouth was caught on a shakey head worm. I tried a crankbait with no takers. I don't believe that I could catch a fish on a crankbait right now if it was starving! One thing I noticed surprised me. There was no wind when we started catching fish, but when the wind picked up, the bite died. Once the wind went away we started catching them again. Usually, it's just the opposite based on my experiences. We had a great time and I encourage anyone that wants to have some fun to go out and get after those schoolers. Now would be a great time to take a kid and get them excited about fishing! Take care and good luck!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Fort Loudon Fishing Report - 8/11/09

Went out from 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm and had to leave due to lightning. Started out near Carl Cowan park and found schooling fish EVERYWHERE! We caught 5 in one school with a popper and fluke and had several others come off. I am currently using the Zoom Fluke because I'm out of Strike King Caffeine Shads. All these were just short of being keepers, so I decided to move. I found a hump that went up to 8.7 ft from 25 ft and noticed bait covering my depthfinder with big arcs beneath the schools. So, I dropped a buoy and backed off to fish it. I missed several at first on a Carolina Rigged fluke, so I switched my plastic to a Net Bait Paca Craw. The second cast I hooked into a 4 lb plus smallmouth. He jumped near the boat and threw the hook. I'm glad I wasn't in a tournament or I would have been really mad! Got a couple more bites there, then several boats started coming by and fishing relatively close. At this point I moved to a bluff. We caught around 10 or 12 more on different plastics and a popper. Missed some smallmouth with the popper. All caught on plastics were largemouth except for one. It was a meanmouth so that was pretty exciting. If you don't know what a meanmouth is, it's a hybrid smallmouth/spotted bass. They fight extremely hard! All in all a great day! Going out in a few minutes to try again. I will keep you posted!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Crankbait Modification - Part 1 - Getting More Depth

Over the next few weeks, I will be discussing and providing examples of modifications anglers can make to their crankbaits to achieve better performance. There are many things one can do to turn an ordinary, mediocre, out of the package crankbait into a great fish catching tool. Perhaps the most common question I hear is, "How can I get my crankbait to run deeper?" So, this topic is going to be the first covered in this Crankbait Modification series.

One of the most important things in getting your crankbait deeper is to be sure it is tuned. Having a properly tuned lure is the basis for catching fish with it. If it's not tuned right, no amount of modifications is going to help. If you cast it out and notice during the retrieve that your line is moving to either the left or right, then your lure is not tuned properly. There are several reasons this could happen with the most common being a bent line tie and uneven lip. To fix a bent line tie is very easy but can be frustrating. Sometimes, you can adjust it too much and it will start running the opposite direction. I have found the easiest way to tweak lure direction is by taking a pair of needle nose pliers and placing one side on the line tie and the other on the side of the lure's lip and gently bend. You should bend the line tie in the direction that you want the lure to run. Photo 1 is an example of me tuning a Norman DD22 that has been custom painted. Do not apply too much force because you will break the lip! If the line tie doesn't bend easily, you will need to grip only the line tie with your pliers and bend. It may also be necessary to bend the front edge of the line tie to the right or left. Photo 2 shows an example of this.










Remember to make small adjustments and test before making any additional adjustments. Definitely take the time to learn how to do this because after catching several fish or getting your crankbait caught on the bottom a few times it will need to be tuned. Sometimes, the lip will crack or break. You can buy replacements from several sites on the internet, but I find it easier and less hassle to salvage the hooks and split rings and buy another lure.

Now that your lure is tuned, let's get it going deeper. The most obvious way to get the lure to dive deeper is by adding weight. There are many ways to do this, but here are a few that I have used and work great. First, you can add Suspendots or Suspenstrips. These are easy because there is no drilling, sanding, or painting required. Just stick them on evenly on each side of the lure and you're ready to go. Placement of these on the lure depend on personal preferences. I like to put them on the bottom front just behind the lip to achieve a more vertical dive.

Some other ways to add weight are a little more time consuming. These include adding lead wire to your hook shanks, drilling into the crankbait and adding BBs (which also makes it louder), drilling into the lip of the lure and adding lead, and changing to different hooks.

To add lead wire, simply wrap it around the shanks of your treble hooks. If you do this to the front treble, it is more useful in getting your lure deeper.

Drilling into the crankbait involves drilling a small hole, but big enough to insert BBs, putting the BBs in, epoxy over the hole, sand, and repaint. This method is entirely too time consuming in my opinion. It also works better with plastic crankbaits.

Drilling into the lip of of a crankbait involves using a dremel tool to hollow out part of the center of the lip and inserting weight with epoxy. This is tricky and can easily throw the balance of the lure off if done incorrectly.

Changing to different hooks is something I do on all my deep diving crankbaits. I prefer size 1 Owner Stingers 2x. They make up to a 4x, but I think that is overkill for bass fishing. The 2x is very strong, heavy and very hard to bend. The main reason I choose this hook is because it is much heavier than those on most factory packaged lures and has great holding power.

Line size is another factor in getting your crankbait deeper. The lighter the line, the deeper the lure will go, which is due to line diameter. I wouldn't use any lighter than 8 lb test on a deep diving lure. There are too many things to break the lure off. With the cost of high quality crankbaits these days, I don't want to lose any more than necessary. In the past, I would use 10 or 12 lb monofilament because I liked the stretch provided. I feel this is best when using treble hooks. However, fluorocarbon line will get the lure deeper because it sinks. I have been experimenting with Berkley Professional Grade 100% Fluorocarbon and have been very pleased with it. You should make long casts which requires a longer rod. I prefer 7' to 7'6" rods for cranking. The farther the lure has to run, the deeper it will go. Lastly, use a slower ratio reel. I use a 6.3:1 and slow down my retrieve, but most pros prefer a 5.2:1. I just haven't brought myself to purchase one yet.

Another modification for getting more depth is to "shave" the front of your lure's lip. You must be careful to make it even. This allows the lip to slice through the water better, quickly achieving maximum depth. It also decreases the durability of the lip making it easier to break. To do this you need a good fine toothed file. Hold the lure in one hand and file the front of the lip at about a 60 degree angle.
Finally, here is a tip for those of you who want to get to the absolute depths of your lake. It's very simple. First, make a Carolina rig with a 1 1/2 or 2 oz weight. Then, tie your crankbait to the end instead of a plastic. This can be very effective when fish are deep because you can stop the retrieve and the crankbait will float right in their face. The bite can be hard to feel so pay attention. You can use any size crankbait for this because that heavy weight will take it to the bottom.

Hopefully, some of these tips will help you achieve the depths you desire. Some of these will require trial and error, but once you learn them they are very helpful. I recommend trying these modifications on some of your cheaper, least favorite lures until you get the hang of it. That's it for now. The next topic in this series will be about painting and color selection. Have a great day!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Fishing Report 7/30/09, Fort Loudon

Fishing has been great lately in terms of quantity. Quality on the other hand is scarce. The fish have been scattered in different depths. I have caught them anywhere from 3 - 30 feet. I have also caught many suspended fish in depths of 10-30 ft over 50 feet of water.
The shallowest fish are coming off Carolina rigged craws and Texas rigged worms. Many of the deeper fish have been taken with the same techniques, but also on deep diving lures such as Lucky Craft CBD20s, Norman DD22s, and Luhr Jensen Hot Lips. It is worthwhile to have some type of fluke or popper rigged up for when the schools pop up at these depths.
The suspended fish have been taken on topwaters such as the Rebel Pop-R, and Excalibur Pop'N Image. They are actively trapping schools of shad against any type of deep bank and can be easily caught with a fluke type plastic.
The quality fish I have caught have been underneath these schools and have been taken on big worms and jigs. They are biting these on the fall. The only problem is keeping the smaller fish away from the lure long enough for the big ones to respond.
The lake has risen the last couple days from the rain. There is decent current in some areas, so fish any current breaks made by points, docks, or bluff walls. Always fish windblown points and humps. If you catch one fish, chances are extremely good there are more in the same area.
Good luck and be safe!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Strike King Perfect Plastic Caffeine Shad Review

Caffeine Shad

Zoom Super Fluke
Recently, I have been chasing schools of fish that are actively feeding on or near the surface of the water. I believe the most efficient way to catch these fish is with a soft plastic jerkbait. It's also a heck of a lot of fun! Normally, I rig the shad imitation on a weighted 4/0 hook, cast in the middle or just beyond the target school, and retrieve it in a fast jerk-pause-jerk-pause motion. This has been the most consistent and efficient way to catch these fish for me under any conditions.

There are many different manufacturers of these baits with different names for them, but they are generally referred to as "flukes". Technically, the Fluke is produced by Zoom. They have different versions such as the Super Fluke, Super Fluke, Jr., Tiny Fluke, and a few others. Some other makes and models of these type lures are Yum's Houdini Shad, Lunker City Slug-Go, Netbait Super Twitch, Strike King Zulu, and the Strike King Perfect Plastic Caffeine Shad. These are only a few of what is offered on the market.

Lately, I have been using the Strike King Perfect Plastic Caffeine Shad. This lure works a little differently than my normal choice, which is the Zoom Super Fluke. In Strike King's interactive, online catalogue they describe the Perfect Plastic line as follows:

Strike King's Perfect Plastics are the softest, saltiest plastic lures ever produced and feature Strike King's exclusive coffee scent (patent pending). These baits contain the world's best blend of soft plastic ingredients! This allows use of large amounts of salt yet keep the bait soft, pliable and fishable. Coffee adds to the appeal as it masks human scents and oils and causes added bites and longer hold times which increase your hook-up chances.
I will also mention that Perfect Plastics are endorsed by Kevin VanDam and his picture is featured above the image in the catalogue.

When I first saw this product and read the packaging, which says the same thing, I thought to myself, "Those are some pretty bold statements!" So, I decided to find out for myself. I bought one pack of Pearl colored Caffeine Shads and rigged one in place of my Zoom Super Fluke.

Right away, I was impressed. The lures are much softer than the Fluke. The tail is bulbous instead of split. I like this feature because as the lure falls it shakes similar to a senko-type bait. It is also heavier, which provided two more advantages over the Zoom Super Fluke. First, it casts farther to reach schools of fish farther from the boat. And second, it sinks faster allowing for much easier, deeper retrieves.

The only thing I disliked was the lure's durability. I could catch several fish on it before replacing it, but not as many as the Zoom Super Fluke. This is because of the lure's softness, but I would rather replace a few more lures than sacrifice it's pliability.

The reason I chose the Pearl color was because I like to color the top of them either chartreuse, blue, black, or purple. I can change the Pearl into whatever I want it to be.

I highly recommend the Strike King Perfect Plastic Caffeine Shad and give it 4.5 out of 5 stars. Many lures today are hyped by advertising campaigns and this one is no exception. However, it is one of the few that delivers as promised. The Zoom flukes will continue to have a place in my arsenal, but I can easily picture them being gradually replaced.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Trouble Finding Quality Fish

During the past few weeks on Fort Loudon, I have been catching loads of fish. Mostly these have been largemouth and smallmouth, but some have been white and yellow bass. There is only one problem. Only a few of them have been large enough to keep! The catch to keeper ratio for me right now is around 12:1. When I do hook into a keeper it is usually the only fish I'll catch in that area. I'm just having trouble finding the quality fish.
I have developed a few strategies for my next few tournaments based on my thoughts about what the fish are doing. First, I will try the run and gun approach. Based on my experiences with the keepers being scattered with one here and one there, I believe if I hit enough points, bluffs, and humps I can get my limit. In doing this, I will probably fan cast each spot with a deep diving crankbait, Carolina rig, and football jig, in that order. I will also have a fluke tied on and ready to grab for the schoolers that tend to frenzy in these areas.
Second, I may stay in very deep water for my lake (50 feet) and chase the schooling fish that seem to keep appearing in these deep areas. I would be using a fluke, popper, walker, and crankbait to target these fish. The only problem with this is the catch to keeper ratio. One can catch many fish doing this, but most of them are small. However, when the schools of big fish appear, the livewell can fill up in just minutes. To me, this seems like a boom or bust approach.
The last approach I am considering is to target just 4 or 5 areas where I have caught some bigger fish recently and probe every inch of them. For some reason, these areas have not produced lately even though the weather has been consistent. In fact, the only difference is the lake has been dropped between one and two feet. Maybe, I will move out a little deeper and fish really slow. If I decide on this strategy I will be using Carolina rigs, Texas rigs, and heavy jigs. The plastics used will vary from lizards to straight worms. I've not had one particular lure stand out on the Carolina rig or Texas rig this year. It seems like as long as it is some hue of green or pumpkin, they will bite it.
I'm very determined to find these larger fish during these hot months. I fish well in the Spring, Fall, and early Summer. Mid to Late Summer baffles me. I will find the fish! I will succeed! No matter if you love or hate Michael Iaconnelli, his "Never give up!" slogan is a great one. If I do fail, I will continue my Summer pursuit next year. After all, I'm still young.....just impatient!
Any suggestions you may have are encouraged and greatly appreciated!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Check Out This Blog

I was visiting some of the blogs I subscribe to today and came across this blog titled, The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles. From what I read this guy is a really good writer. The blog revolves mostly around hunting and fishing in Florida. Please check it out and I'm sure you won't be disappointed!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fort Loudon Fishing Report - 7/11/09

We fished in a tournament on July 11 out of the Loudon/Tellico canal ramp from 6:00 am to 2:00 pm. Well, we had to quit early because of a brand new starter that ended up being bad. Anyway, we were able to fish until about 11:00 am. We focused on the areas near Lenoir City Park and Concord boat ramp.
There were huge schools of fish feeding on top early in the morning until about 9:00am. It was really easy to catch them, but getting keepers was a different story. They were smokin' any color fluke we threw at them! White Bass, largemouth, and smallmouth. I was looking the other way on one cast and my partner said the biggest smallmouth he'd ever seen rolled on my fluke right behind the boat. He said judging by the size of it's head, it would have been around 7 pounds. I'm glad I didn't see it or I would have been sick! These fish were anywhere between 10 and 40 feet deep.
Poppers were working well in the morning. Any brand and just about any color have been working. Brandon caught some nice smallmouth around 16 1/2 inches, but just short of keeping. Many fish were smacking at it, but just wouldn't take it well enough for a hookset. These fish were close to the bank and the boat was in 25 feet.
Perhaps the most action we saw was on a Zoom worm. At one spot, I caught 8 fish in 8 casts. I probably ended up with about 15 fish on the worm in about a half hour of fishing. The best colors for me were watermelon seed, junebug, and green pumpkin. I had them rigged on a 3/16 oz Spot Remover jighead. These fish were suspended around 15 feet deep over 30 feet of water. You wouldn't feel the bite, but you could tell one had it when the line went limp.
The day started out partly cloudy and ended up being bright, sunny, and hot.
Good luck! Catch the big ones and watch out for other boats!

The Cursed Home Lake?

Recently, there have been several unfortunate events happen on my home lake, or reservoir, Fort Loudon. First,I would like to say that I'm not one of these people that believe lost souls of the deceased wander around at night trying to find peace to move on to the next world. Frankly, I don't believe in most paranormal activity. Before moving on, let me explain. If these poor souls did exist, where are they during the day? Certainly, billions more people have died throughout history than are alive today. So, wouldn't there be ghostly images everywhere? And lastly, the Bible says we die and go to heaven or hell.
By now, I guess you're wondering where the heck I'm going with this! As I stated in the first sentence, there have been some unfortunate things happen on my home lake in the last week. The worst thing that happened was at a Thursday night tournament, July 9, out of the Concord boat ramp. A friend and fellow fisherman and his brother were idling to the no wake zone to weigh in around 9:45 pm. A drunk in a wake boat came barreling through and ran over top of their Nitro. One of the brothers is in ICU with broken ribs, an injured liver, and cracked vertebrae. The other wasn't hurt. The drunk was arrested and taken to jail. Please keep these guys in your prayers.
On a not so serious note, my brand new lower unit went out last Monday night during the Monday Night Madness tournament. We won the tournament with 5 fish that weighed 10 lbs and some change, but now my boat is back in the shop for warranty replacement, which leads to the last event.
We have been using my fishing partner's Ranger fish and ski as a backup boat. We installed a brand new starter on July 10 in preparation of the USA Bassin' tournament on July 11. We were tied for first place and the division championship with one other boat. Whoever finished higher would win the plaque. All was going great and we were getting ready to head back to some spots closer to the weigh in which was about 15 miles away. I went to start the motor and the starter just spun! It wouldn't jump up to hit the flywheel! Here we were drifting in the middle of the busiest bay on the lake with no motor and a trolling motor that was almost dead. I was so aggravated that I just said to Brandon, "Forget it! Just hand me a damn sandwich! We might as well eat!" So after eating my sandwich, we flagged someone down and got a tow to the nearest ramp, where Brandon's wife picked me up and took me to get the truck and trailer. Needless to say, it was impossible to fish anymore and we lost the championship by 1 point.
Now, some folks might think I'm crazy, cuckoo, or losing my mind. Heck, they might be right! But, until a string of good things begin to happen on this lake in my presence, I have to believe in the paranormal, just a little bit, and say that this lake is cursed!
Y'all have a great week and please remember to keep the Durham family in your prayers!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Fort Loudon Fishing Report - 6/29/09

We fished the Monday Night Madness church tournament out of Concord on 6/29 from 6:00pm to 10:00 pm. We won with 10.3 pounds, 4 largemouth and 1 smallmouth. Right from the start I was on them! I started with a shakey head and landed our two smallest keepers in about 10 minutes on a rip rap bank. Moved down lake about 100 yards and landed another keeper largemouth on a Texas rigged worm in the heart of a fallen tree. He was about 16 inches. By this time, it was about 7:15 pm. We made a move another few hundred yards down the lake to a very large point, where on the 2nd cast I landed another largemouth that was about 18 inches on a Carolina rig. A few casts later I landed the smallmouth on the same rig. It was about 19 inches. Now, it was about 8:30 pm. We spent the rest of the tournament trying to upgrade our smaller fish, but just couldn't hook up with any more keepers. Altogether, we caught around 25 fish. It was cloudy and overcast almost all day until we launched. Then, it was clear and sunny. There was a little current moving and I believe they were pulling water at the dam. The water temperature was around 80 F and the outside temperature was about 85 F. Had a good night and caught some on some new lures I've been trying. You folks have a great day!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Fort Loudon Fishing Report - 6/23/09

Brandon and I fished the Tuesday Night Thunder out of Louisville Point Park this week and could have performed much better, to say the least. On my first cast, I hooked up with a largemouth on a Carolina rig that would have been about 3.5 lbs but he threw my hook less than an inch from the net! Brandon was stretched out so far, I thought he was going in after him! We caught a few more dinks when, finally, I caught a small keeper that weighed 1.52 lb. Brandon hooked into a nice keeper smallmouth that ran under the boat and came unbuttoned from a crankbait. We caught several more short fish and had a good time.
Primarily, we fished the Concord area. We didn't want to make a long run due to all the logs and trash in the lake. Driving back to the ramp in the dark right now is absolutely horrible! My lower unit is brand new and I don't want to break it again. We used Carolina rigged worms, lizards, and craws, deep diving crankbaits, shakey heads, Texas rigged worms, poppers, and spoons. We caught fish on all except the spoon. I think we landed 20 or so fish.
The winners, Doug Yonce and Troy Dyer, had 18.18 lbs. Great job guys!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Vacation at Myrtle Beach, SC

It's been awhile since I last posted because I have been incredibly busy. I've been in at least 2 tournaments a week with little success, but it's hard to win when FLW guys are showing up. It must be nice to fish everyday! That's a great topic for a future post.
I finally got to go on vacation last week and just got back last night. My wife, son, and I had a great time! It was great to be able to spend everyday on the beach and in the pool with them. It was also great to be able to enjoy some real seafood!
I only got to fish for one afternoon on the beach. I was using frozen mullet, frozen shrimp, and Berkley Gulp! shrimp. I caught a 13" sand shark on shrimp and another on mullet. I got bit on the Gulp! shrimp but couldn't hook up. I also caught an 18" bluefish on mullet. The most exciting thing that happened was when I hooked up using mullet and my line started running and my reel started screaming! We fought for about 5 minutes when, suddenly, my line went limp. I reeled in and found my 2/0 hook broken in half! So, I lost the big one and will never know what it was, although I suspect it was a shark. That just made me even more determined to try again, so when they quit biting I kept trying. Finally, I called it a night around 11:00 pm.
Another highlight of the trip was meeting a man named Jack. Jack was in his 70's and was a marine before he started working for a chemical company right here in Knoxville, where he retired after 37 years. He was over the marine boxing team at one point in his military career and was a very feisty man. Some of the stories he told reminded me of why this country is so great and what we could lose if the lazy, no good, bums don't stop depending on the government! To all of you young people like myself out there, when an older person wants to chat with you, take the time to listen. They are a living history lesson and you can learn so much from them. Talking with him was a much needed break from Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, who I have to suffer through everyday at work in the tabloids! This was real unlike what I call the "fake reality tv."
My son was so much fun on the beach and in the pool. He loves the pool, ocean, and sand in that order. He learned how to count to three and how to say beach, ocean and shell. Also, he became quite good at waving and yelling "Airplane!" We had a hard time getting him to go to the room for lunch and his nap.
My wife is precious and so good with our son! When he throws a fit, I have a hard time figuring out what he wants, but she knows right away. I try to help her out the best I can but sometimes I just have to step aside and let her take over! I guess that's a mommy thing.
In closing, remember this: Love and spend time with your family, listen to and respect your elders, and fish when you can!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Update

It's been awhile since I've been able to post anything, so here is an update of the fishing on Fort Loudon and our tournament results.
The forecasters were calling for some bad weather on 5/9/09, the same day our 3rd USA Bassin' was to be held. We loaded up Brandon's boat since mine was still in the shop and headed to the lake. Only us and the tournament director showed up! Since we made the effort to chance the weather, get up at 4:00 am, and head to the lake we decided to go ahead and fish the tournament. If nothing else, it would separate us in points from the rest of the group. So, we fished and I caught 7 keepers on one of my homemade jigs and we won with 5 largemouth that weighed 8.41 lbs and lunker of 2.12 lbs. This qualified us for the Regional tournament on Douglas Lake in September.
On May 5, we fished Tuesday Night Thunder and our plan for the evening backfired, completely! We ended up with 1 largemouth that weighed 1.4 lb. I think that put us around 15th or 20th place.
The next Tuesday, May 12, we tried again. On a hunch, we decided to try a different area that we hadn't fished all year. A short stretch of that area yielded 3 largemouth that weighed 6.12 lbs and we caught about 16 or 17 fish. We wasted alot of time on unproductive stretches of that area, but at least we learned something. If I had it to do over, I would double back over the productive stretches and fill our limit, but it didn't occur to me at the time. We were using my jigs and several different types of big plastic worms, with the worms being the better "keeper" lure for the afternoon. We ended up in 9th place out of 36 boats.
Yesterday, I got my boat back out of the shop. It now has a new lower unit, gears, impeller, propeller hub, and gaskets with a one year warranty. I can't wait to get it back out on the water. Brandon's boat has been running great and we've had no problems, but I just don't like tournament fishing in a fish and ski because the windshield is always in the way! But, at least we had a backup!
To sum it all up, we've not had our best days in recent tournaments, but we always learn something new each time we fish. Even if you don't catch anything, you learn something....the lure you were using don't work under the conditions you were fishing. I strongly believe the big females are no longer in the shallows. All our quality fish have been close to the main channel and the mouths of coves. The fish are moving into their summer patterns. Thanks to all the rain we've had and the TVA leaving the lake levels up, I think the results of this year's spawn will be a huge success. The smallmouth are getting much harder to find. We only saw one weighed in last week. Have a great time on the water and introduce someone to the sport!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Good Night, Bad Night

On Tuesday, April, 28, Brandon and I fished in the Tuesday Night Thunder tournament again. When we took off we ran about 300 yards and the motor made a funny noise, then everything died. When I tried to restart it, all the electronics powered off. So, to say the least, I was fuming! I had a new powerhead installed 2 years ago and have been through 3 lower units in the last year. I'm not hard on the boat at all, though. I always run it under the recommended RPMs, keep it well maintained, and continuously check my gauges for water pressure.
So, we dropped the trolling motor and headed toward another ramp that we launched from that night. About ten minutes into our 5-6 mile troll, Brandon lands a 5.18 lb largemouth on a deep diving crankbait. Well, now we had to weigh in thinking we might win lunker. We kept going and I managed to pick up 3 more keepers in the 2-3 lb range. One on my homemade jig, 2 on plastic worms.
We still had 2 hours left at this point, but no way to get back to the ramp the tournament launched from. So, we called one of the tournament directors on his cell phone and he and his partner came to our rescue. We put our fish in their livewell and Brandon rode to the weigh-in in their boat and I trolled to our ramp and loaded up to go meet him.
We ended up with 4 keepers that weighed 11.6 lb, which is our best weight of the year. It earned us 3rd place out of 35 boats and we also won lunker largemouth.
Our year to date placings in the money are 2 wins, 2 3rd places, and 3 lunkers. So far, so good. We've won more than we've paid and for once I don't feel like a donater every week. I believe all the studying, reading and learning new techniques has made the difference.
As for the boat......I wish it knew how close it came to being at the bottom of the lake! It's now in the shop waiting on a verdict and I hope it isn't too bad. If it is, it will have to stay parked for awhile until I can find a new motor. I refuse to pay thousands of dollars to fix a motor that lists for $1200.00 in NADA.
I wish you all the best and hope your boats run well and you catch a bunch of big 'uns!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Suspending Jerkbait Comparison

This past week I compared five different suspending jerkbaits. These five were the Smithwick Rogue Limited Edition, Strike King S, Lucky Craft Stacey King JGK100, Lucky Craft Pointer Sp, and the Rapala X-Rap. They were all tested with the same setup, which was a Pflueger President spinning reel, a 6'6" Bass Pro rod, 10 lb Berkley Big Game line and 65 F water. Please keep in mind this is not a scientific, by the book, completely accurate experiment, but it is my own experience with these lures.
Also, I want to make it clear that I am not sponsored by nor endorse any of the products mentioned in this article.

Casting Distance:

The Lucky Craft Pointer Sp, Strike King S, and Smithwick Rogue Limited all casted about the same distance. The difference was negligible.
The Lucky Craft SK JGK100 casted the farthest. In fact, I could launch it a good 50 -75% farther than the first three.
The Rapala X-Rap casted the shortest.
More...
Suspendability:

None of these lures were completely suspended, staying in one spot as long as I wanted it to. The closest to doing this was the Rapala X-Rap. It did eventually rise, but very slowly.
The worst suspender was the Lucky Craft SK JGK100. It rose fairly quickly to the surface.
The Smithwick Rogue Limited and Lucky Craft Pointer Sp were the second best suspenders behind the X-Rap. They did rise, but very slowly.
Surprisingly, the Strike King S suspended for a couple seconds, then sunk very slowly.

Action:

The Rapala X-Rap had a very predictable action. Each time I twitched it produced almost identical movement.
The Lucky Craft Pointer Sp and the Smithwick Rogue Limited also had a very predictable action, but not quite as predictable as the X-Rap.
The Strike King S had a more erratic action. The most intriguing movement of this lure is when it was paused it turned to the side, making the next twitch almost like a "walking the dog" action.
The most unpredictable and erratic action was the Lucky Craft SK JGK100. I couldn't tell what it would do next. One twitch it would go right and one it would rise and go left. A very unpredictable lure.

Hooks:

Smithwick Rogue Limited and Strike King S both had 3 treble hooks.
Lucky Craft Pointer Sp, Lucky Craft SK JGK100, and Rapala X-Rap all had 2 hooks.

Cost:

Most expensive - Lucky Craft
Least expensive - Strike King
In-between - Smithwick and Rapala

My Opinion:

I liked different aspects of each of the lures I tested, but overall, I believe the Smithwick Rogue Limited was the best for me. The reason is although I couldn't cast it as far, it had a very predictable action when retrieved on any type of cadence, and it suspended fairly well. I think one suspend dot added to the underside would make it suspend almost perfectly.
My least favorite was the Lucky Craft SK JGK100, because I couldn't tell what it was going to do next. I guess sometimes bass like this unpredictability, but I like to know how my lure is going to react.
The others were all usable, but I tend to pick the one I like and stick to it.
Also, if one wanted to factor in price, you can buy 3 Smithwicks for the price of one Lucky Craft.
Once again, these are my opinions based on my testing. You do not have to agree with my results. I strongly encourage you to test the products for yourselves and use the ones that you prefer. After all, if we are to become better anglers, we need to know what to expect when we tie on a lure.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Coming Soon - Comparison of Popular Jerkbaits

I am currently testing products in order to write an article comparing several types of suspending jerkbaits, including Smithwick Rogue, Lucky Craft Pointer, Lucky Craft Stacey King, Strike King, and Rapala X-rap. I am trying to be ready to post the results and my opinions on Saturday night, 4/25/09. Please check back.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tuesday Night Thunder 4/14/09 - 3rd Place

Brandon and I fished in the first Tuesday Night Thunder of the year and finished in 3rd place out of 20+ boats. We had 3 fish that weighed 10.26 lb. Two were smallmouth, 19 and 21 inches, and one was a largemouth, 14 1/4 inches. We also won lunker smallmouth with the biggest being 5.12 lbs.
We started out where we had planned to, but didn't move as soon as we had planned due to the fact that we caught 2 keeper smallmouth in that area and believe there are more there. We tried a different technique that we were not very comfortable with, but after tonight we are. I think we could have had a huge bag if the sun would have stayed out longer.

First place was Joel Wheelon and John Dunn with 13+ lbs and 2nd place was 11.2 lbs, but I forgot their names.

We had a great time, learned a new technique and are planning on using it all day this coming Saturday during the Blount County Habitat for Humanity tournament. So, the rest of you better eat your Wheaties! I may have to eat these words later, but that'll be alright.

Hit the water and have fun!


Sunday, April 12, 2009

My Son's First Fishing Experience



My wife and I took my 21 month old,Caleb, fishing on April 5 on Fort Loudon at Admiral Farragut Park. We went with our best friends and there 27 month old, Ethan. Needless to say the boys had more fun throwing rocks in the water than fishing, but that's alright. It was great just seeing them enjoy the outdoors.

Brandon's son, Ethan, caught his first fish, a bluegill. When he realized he had something on the end of his line he threw his rod down and ran beside his mother. It was really funny! Then, neither of the boys knew if they wanted to touch the fish or not. They finally did and said, "Eww!"

Even though Caleb mostly threw rocks and climbed around on the bank, he did play with his Star Wars fishing rod a little. He is learning how to reel in the line, but hasn't quite got the hang of it yet. That's fine because he isn't even 2 years old yet. But, to be honest with you, I had fun catching some bluegill on that little rod! The gear ratio must be something like 1:1, because it seemed like I had to reel forever when I hooked one!

Get your kids involved in the outdoors! It's going to be up to them to keep the tradition alive and they need to know how to do it. If you don't have kids, take a friend and his kid. Good luck to all and have a Happy Easter!

USA Bassin' 4/11/09, Ft. Loudon Division

Brandon and I won the second USA Bassin' tournament on Ft. Loudon yesterday, making it 2 in a row in this series. Our total weight was 9 lbs 15 oz and our biggest fish was 3lb 9 oz. The big fish of the tournament was 5 lbs.

We had planned to make a long run from the canal, where we launched, up toward Louisville Point Park, but decided to stop at a spot shortly after takeoff. We got into them and they seemed better quality than what we had been catching farther up the river, so we stayed. We launched at 7:00 am and had our limit by 9:45 am. Then, the bite just died for us. The rest of the day we caught 2 more keepers, culling our 2 smallest, and 4 more non keepers. We caught 26 total fish, 25 largemouth and 1 spotted.

All our fish came on plastics and crankbaits on or close to the main channel. The water temperature where we were was a fairly constant 58 F. It was cloudy all day and the wind was horrible.

We had a great time fishing with these guys. If you are near Knoxville, I suggest you come out and fish with us. I have been in hundreds of tournaments and have never experienced the fellowship like I have in this one. Charlie Gibson is the tournament director and does a great job.

Here are a couple pictures.


Monday, April 6, 2009

TUESDAY NIGHT THUNDER CANCELLED THIS WEEK!

One of the directors of Tuesday Night Thunder out of Louisville Point Park, Frank Woody, called me this morning and said they were cancelling the tournament this week. It was supposed to be the first week, but we are expecting bad weather including snow and ice and I agree that it isn't worth getting someone hurt. Also, if the ramp freezes, we're all stuck. So, TNT will begin next week on Tuesday, 4/14/09.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Fishing Report 3/30, Fort Loudon

We fished the Monday Night Madness tournament out of Concord ramp. Caught 16 fish in first hour and a half, no keepers. Night bite was non existent for us. We used jigs that I made, plastics, and crankbaits. Most came off the jig. We were fishing 3 to 10 feet deep. The tournament was from 6pm to 10pm, but we quit about 9:30pm, because I had to get up very early the next morning and we couldn't get bit after dark. Water temperature was 58 - 60 degrees where we fished. We were near Carl Cowan park.
I have a broken steering cable on my boat right now, so I took it to Kingsport where my wonderful Dad, Frank is fixing it for me. Thanks, Dad! Hope you enjoy the picture of Caleb!
I believe the area we are fishing is full of male buck bass and I believe if we keep hitting it, the big females will be there very shortly. When they arrive, watch out!
Good luck to all!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Fishing Report 3/25/09, Fort Loudon

Brandon and I made it on the lake today about 12:30 pm. We put in at Louisville Point Park and fished until about 5:00 pm. We fished the areas between Concord Ramp and Lousville Point Park and caught 19 total fish. Eighteen were largemouth, 1 was a smallmouth. All fish were caught on crankbaits or rattle trap. We had 2 keepers, 1 about 3 lbs and 1 about 2 lbs. Water temperature was about 58 degree average. We had a great time today, but we missed some fish and lost a good keeper. Good luck to you all!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Fishing Report 3/18/09, Fort Loudon

Went out today to try to find some big ones deep and up river. We started out at George's Creek ramp off Topside and went as far as the cove at I.C. King (or should I say IC Queen?) park. Water temperature was 58 at 10:30 am when we began fishing. We found 63 degree water at 4:30 pm when we stopped. We didn't have much luck deep trying deep diving crankbaits and jigs. We managed to catch a couple slicks on some rock banks in about 15 feet of water on soft plastics and caught a couple more in George's Creek just before we loaded up on plastics. TWRA was out and asked us if we would answer some survey questions for him and we did. He said he hadn't seen anyone catching much that day. We saw several BFL guys out practicing and watched them haul water for a little while. It seemed to be a tough day out there. If I were to do it over I would target 15-25 feet of water and use soft plastics and try dragging a jig. Good luck to all!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Tournament Results - Dice/Dinsmore Take First Place

Here are our results from our first tournament of the year, the USA BASSIN Fort Loudon Division.
We Won!
'Nuff said!....just kidding.
We did win with 2 fish that weighed 5.52. We also won lunker with a smallmouth that weighed 3.72. Two other boats weighed in 1 fish each.
The weather was horrible. It was cold and rained constantly. I mean it didn't let up all day! In fact, it was so bad that we only had 5 boats show up today. I'll probably end up with pneumonia, but hey, at least I wasn't at home inside, nice and warm, sippin' on hot chocolate....like a pansy!
I'm just joking!
Honestly, I can say that the guys that did tough out the weather and fish today were some of the friendliest and nicest people I have had the pleasure to fish against. At weigh-in, we all talked as if we'd known each other for years. I had a great time!
As for the fish, we caught 18 all on crankbaits and only had the 2 keepers. Seventeen were largemouth and 1 was the lunker smallmouth, caught by my partner Brandon Dinsmore. (Pics may come later if I can get them emailed to me)
The warmest water we fished was 49 degrees. I know some other guys found warmer water, but with our catch rate it was very hard to change locations. Our success was on the lower end of Fort Loudon. We tried Tellico near the dam for about an hour with no bites. The big fish are still out deeper and everyone is catching the small buck bass in very shallow water. Our keepers were a little deeper than I anticipated.
All in all, it was a good day. Sure, the weather was bad, but we finally got a win that has eluded us for some time now, our wives were happy for us, and we all went out to dinner at Texas Roadhouse. Now its time for me to crawl in a warm, dry bed, read a book to my little boy, watch some television and catch some zzzzs!
Best of luck to you guys and always be safe!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Upcoming- My First Tournament of the Year

This Saturday 3/14 I will be competing in my first tournament of 2009. It is the USA Bassin' tournament on Fort Loudon and Tellico Lakes out of the canal.
I fished on 3/7 to try to find some fish in areas close to the ramp for a quick limit with no luck. I have a good idea on what they will bite and where they will bite, but I tried everything I had and only had one bite in 6 hours. Hopefully, this isn't a sign of things to come.
I've decided to make a long run at blast off to areas that I'm more familiar with. I will thoroughly fish 5 to 6 areas and if my gut feeling is right we will be at or near the top of the field at weigh-in. Wish us luck and good luck to you this weekend!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Jon's New Truck

I saw a truck on Wednesday, 3/4/09, at a used car lot in Maryville, TN. I took it for a test drive, called my wife, and after she suggested I have one of my friends look at it, I made the purchase. It is a 2001 F150 XL 4X4. It has an extended cab where all four doors open and has a long bed. It drives great and so far I love it.
Tomorrow, I'll get to see how well it tows. We are forecasted for 74 degrees and you guessed it....I'm hitting the lake!
Can you believe my own mother called me a "Redneck" because I bought a Ford?

Good luck on the water this weekend and BE SAFE.

Here is a picture:




Monday, March 2, 2009

Goodbye, Old Friend.

Well, today was kind of tough for me. I finally broke down and sold my 1995 Toyota 4-Runner SR5. I owned the vehicle for 7 years and it was responsible for many firsts in my life. Here is a list:

First 4X4
First vehicle that wasn't a 4 cylinder
First SUV/Truck
First vehicle purchased while married
Towed my first boat
and towed my second boat when I won my first tournament.

So, the vehicle had some sentimental value to me. I will admit it was hard to watch the new owners drive it out of sight, but I did not cry, for I was holding a wad of cash! I hope the old 4-Runner is taken care of and gives its new owners as much enjoyment as it did me.

As for myself, I am in the market for a used 4 door or extended cab V8 pickup. I want something I can tow with and haul away trees, brush, trash, and other things I couldn't before.

I will leave you with this.....Guys, when you sell that car or truck that has great memories with it, don't feel like a wimp if you get a bit sentimental or choked up. It happens to all of us.

Here are some pictures of the 4-Runner. Goodbye, old friend.




Thursday, February 19, 2009

Check Out These Blogs

I have added 2 new blogs to my blogroll, Kenny's Great Outdoors and Bassin' the Net. I reviewed both of these blogs and am now a subscriber to both. I highly recommend that you do the same!

Kenny's Great Outdoors is a blog based out of Missouri. I found this blog very appealing due to the wonderful images and informative articles. The author, Kenny, seems to be a great story teller as his posts flow smoothly and are very enjoyable to read. Please check it out as it's pictures are outstanding and it's very relaxing to browse through.

Bassin' the Net is a blog by Capt. Dick Loupe out of Florida, who used to air on an outdoor TV show out of Knoxville, TN. (GO BIG ORANGE!!) This blog is being rebuilt and if the articles posted so far are any indication of what's to come, then it'll be a good one!

Once again, please check out these blogs and subscribe to them. The more of us Sportsmen that are connected together through any means, the stronger we are to oppose legislation against the activities that we love.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Please Rate This Giant Flathead Catfish


Location: Ft. Loudon Reservoir

State: Tennessee

Fish: Flathead Catfish

Description: Actually, I was fishing for smallmouth bass with a 3.5 in Yum Tube, watermelon color on a Bite-Me tube head 3/16 oz, using 10 lb Berkley Big Game line, a BPS Extreme rod because my other was being repaired, and a Pflueger President spinning reel. It was about 11:00 am, sunny, mid 50's, no wind. I was in my 94 Hydrasport L185.


Please Create Your Free Account Membership & Rate at Website: http://www.bigfishtackle.com/wall/2009/February/Flathead_from_Ft._Loudon_2515.html

Knowing Baitfish Movement Increases Your Bass Hook-Up Percentage

Most average amateur fishermen are not book worms on studying the habit of baitfish movement, including myself. However, this year I plan to do more research and learn about the forage my next lunker bass is feeding on. I began my research at http://www.bassresource.com/fish_biology/biology.html and it offers detailed articles about Bass Biology, Bass Habitats, Finding Bass and many more. Baitfish frequently move or interact under different conditions, such as the weather, water temperature, phases of the moon, season change, light variation, and lowering of lake water. One tip from this site that stands out to me the most is from the Bass Biology article on schooling fish. This section recommends placing every bass that you catch in the livewell instead of back into the lake due to spooking the other bass in the area and decreasing the amount of fish you catch in one spot. This is a very interesting thought that never crossed my mind until I read this article. You can always cull out or separate your livewell with a divider to keep the keepers in one section and the dinks in the other until you reach a good spot for release and have caught all the fish from the area you are fishing. I’m definitely going to test this theory out next time I go fishing. Please check out http://www.bassresource.com/fish_biology/biology.html for more helpful tips on the basics of Bass Biology.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Fishing Report 2/8/09, First Time Out in 2009

Well, hopefully my first trip on the water this year is no indication of what is to come. My friend, Brandon, and I took out my boat to test the new, used lower unit for the first time. The good news is the boat ran fine. The bad news is we couldn't get a bite!
We started out at the Concord ramp on Fort Loudon here in Knoxville. After a short 1.5 mile ride we stopped on a bluff and tried hair jigs, tubes, and worms about 20-35 feet deep. No takers. Then we moved to a good clay cranking area and tried crawdad and shad colored crankbaits. No bites. Finally, we moved into the back of Sinking Creek between the Concord Marina and Fox Rd. Marina along the deep side. We saw shad dying everywhere, but could not get a fish to bite.
At least we got to be on the lake and the weather was beautiful. Temperature was in the 60's, very little wind, water temperature was 45-47.5.
Good luck and be safe!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Is Fishing Scent Needed For Catching More Bass?


I have been using scent for most of my fishing career and I believe that a little scent is always helpful. Bass are very picky when it comes to smell and any weird scent from your hands or on your lures may turn them off and keep you from getting a solid bite. I know that sight or sound usually gets their attention first, but don’t count out the smell because it helps the bass hold on to the lure long enough for you to easily detect a bite.More... I prefer to use garlic and crawfish primarily, but I will occasionally use shad scent too. I like to use garlic and crawfish scent on plastic lures and jigs, and shad scent seems to work well for crankbaits, jerkbaits, spinnerbaits, and buzz baits. I would pay attention to what baitfish bass are feeding on at the time you are fishing and try that scent first until you are comfortable with a favorite scent. There are several articles on this from the web and I really like the explanation given at http://www.bassfishin.com/article11.htm, which is written by Ken Kross. Ken is a Chemist by profession and is currently the president of Scientific Bass Products, Inc. Ken describes about how fish react to smell or scent and outlines the factors involved in producing his own scent to maximize bites and landing more fish. I have not tried his Kick’n Bass scent yet, but I may give it a shot this fishing season. Currently, I like to use Smelly Jelly Pro Guide Formula in the bass feast scent for jigs, and I prefer Berkley Gulp Alive crawfish scent for all my plastic lures. These are the two I prefer, but you may find a diamond in the rough, so I suggest you try many and experiment all until you find the scents that work best for you and your lures. You can find both of these scents in most major fishing tackle stores, but for ease of access I pasted the links from Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s, so you can see what’s offered in the marketplace today.
Berkley Gulp Alive can be found in Bass Pro Shops.
Berkley Gulp Alive and Smelly Jelly can be found at Cabela's.

Happy scent searching!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Which Knot Should I Use?

Everyone has different knots that they prefer to use when fishing in different situations. In the past I have only used a few knots for attaching the line to the lure, but after reading a previous post written by a friend of mine titled "Tying the Right Knot With the Right Line", I was inspired to learn more.More...
Normally, I use a Palomar Knot for about 90% of the time. I find it is the strongest when flipping jigs, using any kind of plastic worm, and on spinnerbaits and buzzbaits. I also use it on crankbaits, but I am considering making a change to either the Homer Rhode Loop Knot or the Brubaker Loop. These two loop knots would allow the lure to swing more freely, resulting in better action. It will be really hard for me to make this change, at least until I gain confidence in the new knot's strength. Some variation of the loop knot should also be used on jerkbaits and topwater lures.
As for fluorocarbon line, I have tried the Palomar Knot and the Uni-knot with limited success. I have had many line breaks. In an article I found on the Washington Council of Trout Unlimited website, a Berkley Trilene representative was said to have recommended the Crawford Knot for fluorocarbon line. Instructions for tying the Crawford Knot and the Brubaker Knot can be found at fishingknots.com. Several others have recommended a Berkley Braid Knot for fluorocarbon. Instructions for the Berkley Braid Knot can be found at probass.net.
Another great site to learn all kinds of knots is marinews.com.

My trial setup for this season is going to be:

1. Palomar Knot for worms, jigs, spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, and most other plastics when using monofilament or braid.

2. Homer Rhode Loop Knot or Brubaker Loop Knot for crankbaits, topwaters, and jerkbaits when using either monofilament, braid, or fluorocarbon.

3. Crawford Knot or Berkley Braid Knot when using worms,jigs, spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, or other plastics when using fluorocarbon.

I look forward to reporting my experiences over the course of this Spring. Happy fishing!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

How To Make A Jig

For all of you who ever wanted to try and make your own jig, this is how I do it. Hopefully, this will help you or at least give you some ideas. Keep in mind, this is how I do it and every lure maker has his own way of doing things. If you can use any of this information, great! If not, I won't be offended.
video

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tying The Right Knot With The Right Line

Last year I decided to try out the new popular rave in fishing fluorocarbon line. I spooled up nearly all my reels with the most expensive fluorocarbon money could buy, with the exception of my top water reels. I read great results from the pros that use fluorocarbon and they seem to love the line. More... It’s most commonly known for its ability to help increase the amount of bites you receive because the line is invisible to the fish. It also sinks faster, is more sensitive, and has less stretch than monofilament so you get a better hook set. This line compares closely to braid, but is looked at to be a much better line due to the invisibility aspect and fast sinking for deep diving lures. So, I thought I would give it a shot last year. However, when I started fishing the line I did not research which knot was best to tie or use, and I paid dearly for loosing good quality fish due to my line breaking. I was using the Palomar Knot and it was not working with this line or at least not for me. There may be other reasons my line broke, such as not getting the line wet enough upon tying or brushing up against some rocks, or who knows what else may have happened. I do know one thing for sure, and that is my line broke a lot last year and this was the only change I made. I do have another problem that could have caused the line to break and that’s a hard hook set, but I have always been known for breaking a jaw and I really don’t want to stop any time soon, so I must find something else that works for me. So, even though I’m still not confident in the strength of fluorocarbon line I have researched more and it appears that the Berkley Braid Knot, Trilene Knot, Uni-Knot, and even the Palomar Knot I was using are all preferred when fishing fluorocarbon line. After doing all this research I come to the conclusion that I need to work on making perfect knots and focus on tying my knots much better than before. I will begin to work on my knot tying this year and hopefully it will lead to landing those lunkers I lost last year, which caused my team from placing or winning a tournament. If you are just beginning to test fluorocarbon line, then I recommend wetting your line, making a perfect knot from the knots listed above and testing its strength before casting into the big gulp. If you follow these simple rules I did not last year, then you will get those extra keepers into the livewell.

Tournament Preparation

Well, it's almost that time of year when I start competing in tournaments and thought I'd share some things I do to get prepared.
Most of the pros talk about studying lake maps, calling local tackle shops and doing internet research to prepare for their upcoming season. That's fine because they fish many different lakes all over the country. However, to me this information is kind of useless because I only fish 3 or 4 lakes a year. As a matter of fact, most of the anglers I know only fish a few lakes a year. More... We have become familiar enough with these lakes to eliminate map study and such. If you are fishing a lake for the first time, by all means, get a map and use it for as long as you feel you need it. I used maps of the lakes I fish for a couple years until I felt comfortable without them. Having said that, I would like to talk about some things to prepare you for the tournament season that would apply to both amateur and professional anglers.
The most important thing in preparing for tournaments is making sure your gear is in good shape, especially your boat, rods and reels. Following is a list of things I do to make sure they are in good working condition. I continue to do this several times a year due to the frequency of use.

Rods:


  • Check for any hairline fractures. A broken rod is a useless one.

  • Make sure your cork is in good shape.

  • Check all guides and tip. Run a cotton ball through them and if it snags, you need to sand down or replace the guide. Snags lead to broken line.

  • Clean rod and eyes to remove any dirt.

Reels:



  • Remove all old line.

  • Clean exterior with a good product designed for reels. I like Ardent products.

  • Take apart and completely clean insides.

  • Grease the gears lightly, don't gum them up.

  • Lightly oil any moving parts such as handles, spools, roller balls.

  • On baitcasters, make sure the line guide is smooth and clean any dirt out of it.

  • Put new line on all reels. Write down what line you have on each reel so if you don't like the setup, you'll know not to use it again.

The other equipment you need to prepare is your lures. Here are some of the things I do.


Crankbaits:



  • Touch up any paint you feel is necessary. I do this on some baits, but mostly I like them beat up and rough looking.

  • On heavily used baits, change the hooks. I prefer Owners on lipped crankbaits, and Mustad Triple Grip on lipless. I change factory hooks on everything except Lucky Craft.

  • Make sure the split rings aren't bent.

  • Sand the diving lip if it's beat up. This will help it dive.

Spinnerbaits, Buzzbaits and Jigs:



  • Sort by size

  • Sort by color

  • Sharpen hooks

Plastics:



  • This may sound silly, but make sure they haven't melted in storage before you throw them in your bag.

  • Arrange them so they are easy for you to find. A previous article recommends using a cake pan that you can get at WalMart or Target and it works great. I carry about 50 plastic bait bags in one of these.

  • If you have several bags of particular bait, consolidate them into one to save space.

Lure Storage:


I used to be a lure fanatic. I would buy everything just to try it. Those days are gone! I try new lures occassionaly, but I mostly know what works well where I fish and what I am comfortable with. Here is what I carry for lure storage in my boat to tournaments.



  • A Shimano bag that holds four boxes in it and has a front pocket, 2 side pockets, and a zipper pocket in back. In the boxes I have one for spinnerbaits and buzzbaits, one for flipping jigs, one for football jigs, and one for smaller buzzbaits, inline spinners, hair jigs and bucktails. The side pockets hold extra blades, trailer hooks, sharpie markers and scent. The front pocket holds plastic trailers and pork trailers. Tha back zipper holds my caplight, scissors and pliers.

  • Two Falcon hook utility boxes. One holds shakey heads, drop shots, and other finesse type hooks and sinkers. The other holds heavy hooks and sinkers for Carolina and Texas rigging.

  • 2 Plano utility boxes. I like to make these season specific as far as colors and types of lures, but generally it is this. One for deep diving crankbaits. One for other crankbaits, topwaters, lipless crankbaits, jerkbaits.

  • 1 cake pan for all my plastics.

So, to sum it up, I carry one bag, 4 utility boxes, and 1 cake pan. This really helps me decide what to use on the water by limiting my choices to only the lures I am comfortable with and I know work.

Last but not least, you need to make sure your boat, trolling motor, and electronics are in goodworking condition. I change my lower unit oil, start the boat in the driveway and let it idle for a few minutes. I also put it in and out of forward and reverse gear. Be sure to keep up with regular maintenance on your boat. I just turn my electronics and trolling motor on to make sure they're working after being stored for a couple months.

Everyone has their own preseason rituals which may or may not include things in this post. These are some of my practices, but I am a firm believer in doing whatever works best for you. Have a happy and safe tournament season!



Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Off Topic - "Popcorn" Sutton, taxes, and bailouts

Well, we have news that known moonshiner, Popcorn Sutton, has been sentenced to 18 months in jail. Authorities found moonshine stills on 3 of his properties and 800 gallons of moonshine in an old school bus on one of the properties. More...

Here is my beef. Alcohol is completely legal in the U.S. What is the difference in going to the liquor store and buying a gallon of Jack Daniels Whiskey or going to see ol' Popcorn and gettin' a jug of shine? The government doesn't care if he makes moonshine or not, but they can't stand him making a profit and cutting them out of the tax revenue.

So it goes in this day and age. The government can't stay out of anyone's business. Just look at these ridiculous bailout plans. As long as the government controls our money, they control us.

When you get your next paycheck stub, look at the money taken out for income tax and imagine if you could keep that money over the next 12 months. You would have enough to buy some new fishing tackle, pay tournament fees, make an extra mortgage payment, or spend on anything you want. If you're like me, you may even buy the new truck or boat you've been wanting. As an example, I would have about $150 dollars a month or $1800 a year. $150 a month would buy roughly 9 Lucky Craft lures, 37 packs of Zoom plastic worms, 3.75 entry fees to $40 tournaments, 1 Shimano Crucial Rod, or 1 quality reel.

It seems to me that would be a better way to stimulate the economy, rather than taking our money and spending millions on abortion providers, birth control, $600 million on new government cars, etc., etc.

My plea to you is whether you are a democrat or republican, hold your elected officials accountable on how they spend your money (they tend to forget that it is not their money to spend, it is ours). If you don't like it, complain. If you do nothing, then expect this trend to continue.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Location, Location, Location!

Location, Location, Location! It does not matter whether you are talking about real estate, business, or fishing because location is important in every aspect of life. Realtor’s profit, business thrives, and fishermen’s dreams come true being in the right place at the right time. One common mistake fishermen make is not being prepared or understanding how to locate bass quickly and efficiently. Bass are a difficult species to understand, but if you want to fish like the pros, then I suggest you start studying the movement of forage or baitfish. More... It’s highly important to educate yourself on where the bait is at all times of the year. If you can think like the bait and understand where the forage would be, then you had better hold on because poppa bass is not far behind. Read books, magazine articles, watch DVDs, search the internet or anything else, which you can learn about baitfish or forage and how it moves to other parts of the lake during different conditions. Baitfish move around depending upon different weather conditions, seasons, and phases of the moon. A great fisherman understands all these aspects of fishing and knows where the bait will most likely be under these different conditions. Another thing I suggest is to practice like you compete, if you are a competitive fisherman. Keep a journal. Mark your honey holes with GPS, and remember the time of day you caught your keepers along with where they were positioned when you caught them. This will help you establish a pattern to try in other parts of the lake, as you move from spot to spot. I can’t stress enough the importance of location and how this can make or break your fishing adventures. Also, let’s not forget how important your electronics play in the success of locating bass. All professional fishermen know their electronic fish finders like the back of their hand. If you master the art of using electronics and how the weather, moon, and seasons effect the movement of baitfish, then I bet this fishing season you will be surprised how many limits you will catch.


Best,

Dittmore

Be Responsible!

As I was sitting here thinking about how much trash can be seen washed ashore on Ft. Loudon Lake when the water is dropped, I recalled two experiences that really bothered me last year. More... First, I was fishing in a very popular area of the lake called Prater Flats (or Ish Creek) and I saw a dead kingfisher and a dead osprey that had become tangled in discarded fishing line. They were on opposite sides of the bay. The kingfisher was hanging from a tree and the osprey was hanging from one of the nest sites that have been built in the lake for them. After all the heat that fishermen take from environmental groups, I cannot believe that someone would leave fishing line behind like that. Sure, we all break our lines now and then, but there is a big difference in leaving behind 5 feet of line accidentally and intentionally discarding 150 feet of line.
The second thing that really got under my skin was during a tournament. Just as we were launching, I happened to look over and see an older man in a small, aluminum fishing boat dump out a small garbage can into the lake. There were soda cans and snack wrappers floating away in the current and he didn't even think twice about it! Give me a break!
All that I ask is for fellow fishermen to be responsible, dispose of your trash properly, and if you see something on the ground you can pick up and put in the trash, then do it. Also, it's not a bad idea to cut your old fishing line with scissors so it cannot create tangles before you discard it. Or you can take it to one of the tackle shops with a recycling bin for old fishing line.
Remember, it is up to us to protect our lakes, rivers, streams, and ponds for future generations. If we don't, there are always special interests groups that will have more leverage to stop us from doing what we love.