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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!