Fishing Different Angles / Baits

The competition is tough out there. Tons of other people out there want to be the best at bass fishing.  Trying to win the tournament and cash that big check.  While pre-fishing you want to make sure you fish the areas you are finding as thoroughly as possible and sometimes that may take some time to learn.  Fishing the same spot from a few different angles can be the difference in placing in the middle or being in the money.

When I fish a spot, especially a new area I am not familiar with, I try to fish it from as many different angles that seem fit.  For instance, lately I’ve been fishing some milfoil and coon tail edges.  When I come to a new area I will start far away and then make perpendicular casts at the weeds. Then as I either progress along or move closer to the edge I will start to make casts parallel to the edge.  Sometimes that seems to be the difference between not catching a fish and moving on or hauling in a tank.


Same goes for other spots, you can fish rocks, other weed beds, and trees with the same approach, start far away then work your way in.  Fish it slow and don’t be afraid to throw something different.  Sometimes after catching a few off one spot you can throw in another bait and it will fire up the school again.

So get out there and try something different and see if you can’t light the spark to firing up a school of donkeys!


Reaction Baits for Pre-Spawners

The ice is finally gone, the water temperature is going to start to rise and pre-spawn bass are going to begin looking for the warmest water.  Along with these rises in temperatures the bass’ metabolisms are going to increase and they will begin to look for a nice meal.

I find fishing reaction baits this time of year the most affective when the water temperatures are anywhere between 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit.   In that 50-60 degree spectrum, baits with a tighter wobble, no rattles or less moving parts seem to work the best.  As the temperatures rise, baits with a wider wobble, rattles, and more moving parts will begin to work better as the bass become more aggressive.


The bass will begin to start staging up in areas that lead into spawning grounds such as:  weed flats, weed edges and first and secondary points.  Typically any transition in cover or structure was proven to hold bass for me this year, such as a mil-foil to sand transition.


Something I have become accustom to while fishing reaction baits this early in the year is so fish almost everything on a low power rod that will really load up on the fish.  This time of year the weeds are not up like they are in the summer, which means you do not have to worry about bringing your lure though and constantly rip of the weeds, which is when a heavy action can be beneficial.  I have experienced so many times when someone or myself will rip a lure or bait out of a bass’s mouth to soon before they really have a chance to get it in their mouth.  With a slower action rod you do not detect the bite as early which will slow your reaction time in setting the hook, allowing the bass to get the bait in it’s mouth more.  Personally I use a 7’ Medium, Med- Fast action Abu Garcia Veracity rod. I find it to be the most versatile and affective in fishing everything from a squarebill / shallow water crank bait to a swim jig.

Next spring try out these tips and see how much more affective you can be in your bass fishing!




“PMA” (Positive Mental Attitude) I scratched my head as I read the title of the fishing seminar I was about to attend.  All I could think was; am I reading this right?  Shouldn’t it be titled something like power fishing, finesse fishing, shouldn’t the word fishing at least be in the title?  I was at a fishing show but I was about to walk into a seminar suited for a self-help conference.  I checked my ticket one more time just to make sure I hadn’t walked into a self-help seminar by mistake.

A Positive Mental Attitude was the topic Elite Series angler Gerald Swindle covered.   I listened as the fast talking southerner; self-proclaimed, proud redneck covered the topic.  I could not help but see myself in his words.  I would venture to say any angler who sat in the room during his seminar at some point could see themselves reflected in some way.

The main point that GMAN was getting at is that anglers can be their own worst enemy.  Anglers let the negatives affect them when we are on or off the water.  Before we ever make a cast an angler can ruin their day by allowing a bad attitude to control them.

I can’t tell you how many times I thought the day was ruined while launching my boat.  Those days are the ones I know I didn’t catch them; sure I might have gotten a few bites but not many.  It’s the days I am relaxed and having fun that I catch them.  The best day I ever had on the water I caught more bass than I ever had, the exact number escapes me now but it was over fifty.  I was relaxed I was enjoying myself I was out to have fun (and maybe trying to catch more bass than my wife).  I believe a lot of times we forget to have fun even during a tournament.

Tournament anglers stand to learn the most from the idea of Positive Mental Attitude.  When the day doesn’t go as we planned or we don’t have a limit by the time we feel we should we get down and begin letting negative thoughts flow.  Be honest with yourself, things seem to go from bad to worse.  The idea of PMA is to not let the little things or even big things get you down.  So what, you aren’t catching them, you lost a fish or two.  Look at the positives you are still out fishing.  You are away from the daily grind.  The phone isn’t ringing off the hook; no office, no boss, it is just you and the fish.

Those outside the world of fishing don’t understand the passion and drive that leads us back time and time again to chase fish.  When anglers stand in their own way by having a bad attitude, we are not only hurting ourselves but the time we have to spend enjoying something amazing.  We allow that attitude to spoil those precious hours on the water.

Having a Positive Mental Attitude while on the water makes the time more enjoyable.  If we think hard about it, I am sure every angler has been on the water with someone who is not catching them or having a bad day.  I know I have shared the boat with a friend and hoped and prayed he catches them because if he didn’t his negativity would ruin my day.  I got to the point I wouldn’t invite him to fish with me because his attitude got so bad.  If we are honest with ourselves no one wants to be that guy.  We don’t want to be the one who ruins a fishing trip.  Allowing a bad attitude to surround us, can and will ruin it.

When we only think about the negatives we are also affecting those around us.  If we want to pass our love of fishing on to the next generation then we have to stay positive.  We cannot be negative on the boat with those we are trying to introduce to the sport.  No one will find joy and a love for fishing surrounded by negativity.

On your next trip out fishing, think about having a positive mental attitude when things go wrong.  Don’t let the issues at the boat ramp or the birds nest in your bait caster get you upset.  Instead think about the fact that you are out fishing, the fact that you could be at work but instead you are doing what you love.  Swindle said one thing that really hit home.  He basically said if you have a positive mental attitude on the water it will carry over into the rest of your life.  So keep your chin up the next time things go wrong on the water, don’t think about the bad instead focus on the good.  You never know what else might change in your life if you have the right attitude.

Early Spring River Bass

Here in Minnesota we can’t really fish for early spring bass. Our bass season opens at the end of May each year. But, with certain areas bordering Wisconsin and the Mississippi River in-between, we have the ability to fish year round because the river has no designated seasons. Learning to fish so early in the year, especially on the river, is a skill that I have had to work hard to acquire.

This is my first year at Winona State University and I have been able to experience some different bass fishing that I am not necessarily use to being able to do this early in the year. Winona is located on the lower eastern part of Minnesota and borders Wisconsin on the River. Because of our location, we have access to the river at all times which the Winona State University (WSU) bass fishing club and team takes advantage of and has annual club tournaments on.

One of the biggest obstacles to conquer when targeting these river bass is the search for warmer water. The bass will be in search of the warmest water because they are starting to think about pulling up into shallow water to spawn and to feed on baitfish. The water temperatures fluctuate so much this time of year because of the constant rising and falling of the water. Weather conditions really affect these bass this time of year because they are so sensitive.

Along with finding warm water, you need to be able to find what the bass are relating to, whether it be wood, rock / rip rap banks, grass, or muddy banks. Typically man made structure with any sort of metal or wood will heat up the quickest in the sun and retain that heat the longest, which gives the bass something to relate to. This time of year, bass seem to relate to steeper cut banks that still have access to deeper water, the reason for this is it gives fish somewhere to pull up fast but go back down with the fluctuating weather conditions. Another thing to look for when targeting largemouth is lack of current, backwater areas act as wintering holes and can really be popular this time of year. When targeting smallmouth, current seams and eddies, or simply just anywhere that has slack water can be a holding ground.

Finally, after figuring out where you fish are located and what they’re relating to, you need to be able to catch the fish. Typically the bass’ metabolisms are low and they are not looking to exert a lot of energy to catch a meal which means you need to slow down your presentation. Around this time of year when the water temperatures are below 50 degrees the fish are more likely to eat baits such as jigs, texas rigged plastics, and finesse techniques. My go to in this situation is a texas rigged Berkley Powerbait Chigger Craw with a 1/2 oz. pegged bullet weight. Once you start to see waters in above that 50 degree mark, moving reaction baits like jerk baits, swim jigs, chatter baits, rattle traps, and square bills, tend to shine because fish become more active and begin their pre-spawn feeding frenzy.

These three basic steps can really be a starting ground for locating early spring river bass and help you put more fish in the boat.


Time on the Water

Time on the Water


It’s one thing to think you know how to fish in a certain condition; it’s another thing to go out and do it.  The last weekend in April is a holiday to me.  Michigan opens its bass season, or should I say the catch and release season.  It’s the first time in 4 months anglers can chase bass.


This year Michigan had a harsh winter, one that has not been seen in years.  I remember ones similar to it as a kid they were not nearly as bad as this one.  This spring has been cold which has just been a follow up to weeks of below freezing temps during the winter.


I bring this up because over the last five years or more on opening day the water temp has been 60 or above, last year at this time the bass were in post spawn already.  I thought I understood how to fish for cold water bass.  I was greeted instead with a realization that I don’t know as much as I thought.


In the digital age we live it easy to watch a video, or read an article on a site like this and think you understand how to fish cold water or bass just moving up.  In truth there is nothing that can beat time on the water in those conditions.


I can say it “I don’t know how to fish cold water like I should or thought I did.”  In Michigan I have not been able to fish these conditions, and when I have gone south during pre-spawn the bass are moved up the water temp is hovering near 60 and they are close to spawning.


Yes I believe you can learn from reading and watching videos, I read more about bass fishing then most guys I am sure.  The problem becomes can you take what you have read and make it work on the water?  Can you adjust to the conditions or the bass?  When the bite dies do you know what to do then?  Can you make the adjustments need?


This is why I think time on the water cannot be over looked.  Anglers become better anglers by doing, learning from time spent on the water.  I equate it to something a professor in college told me.  He basically said you can learn everything in the books we have you read but the real world does not always play out like in the text books.


Don’t get over confident, instead put your time in, log things in your mind that work and learn every time you are out.  I learned that I need more cold water experience this year.  I need to spend more time on the lake over the next few weeks well the water is in the low 40’s and slowly climbs higher into the 50’s and then 60’s.


Don’t be afraid to admit you have a weakness that needs to be worked on.  Instead embrace what you don’t know or what you need to work on.  Use that weakness to become a better angler.  Keep reading; keep watching videos but remember that there is no substitute for time logged on the water.  Those who are smarter then I say it takes 10,000 hours of physically doing something to master it.  Think about that, think about all of the different ways we can catch bass and all the different situations we can face.  If you have to put in 10,000 hours for a jerkbait, crankbait or any technique to master it time on the water is the only cure.