Archive for the ‘Tips and Techniques’ Category

Fishing the NorCal Coastline

During the past week I headed out to the coast to try my luck targeting new species and perfect techniques fishing nearshore species from the surf and rocks. I grew up ocean fishing, from boats to piers and rocky shoreline.

I never had much success fishing the surf in the past, and set out to target Surfperch for the first time at Stinson Beach. Armed with a 7’3″ Spinning Bass Rod with 18lb Samurai Braid with a 6lb Seaguar Fluorocarbon leader, I set out fishing the south side of the beach. The majority of my fish came on a Berkley Gulp 2″ Sandworm. I used a 1 1/2 oz Egg sinker Carolina Rigged with a 12 inch leader and size 4 octopus hook.

I ended up catching over 14 perch over two days, spending 3-4 hours at the beach each time. Kept one keeper red tail and one barred for a BBQ at my buddy’s.

Friday I headed out to Slide Ranch and Ft. Baker Jetty to poke pole for Monkeyface Eels and Rockfish. My friend Andrew and I were able to land 7-8 Monkeyfaces, keeping 3 for dinner, as well as a keeper greenling.

Made Monkeyface Eel fish ‘n chips, using beer batter (mix of flour, beer, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper)

Sunday I headed out to Doran Park Jetty, and left the Poke Poles in the truck, deciding to focus on trying to catch Ling Cod, Cabezon and other rockfish. Missed one bite on a big hammer swimbait before switching over to try drop shotting for rockfish for the first time. I rigged up a 4″ Keitech Swimbait in Silver Shiner with a 2/0 Medium Wire Roboworm hook and a 3/4 oz drop shot weight.

Caught a pregnant Buffalo Sculpin fairly quickly at the base of a large rock.

 

Worked my way out farther on the jetty. The incoming tide started ripping pretty good, and I casted my drop shot diagonally/parallel with the jetty and let it drift back to me. My line started going the opposite way and I reeled up into a keeper size ling. It was a fun fight with the spinning bass rod and 8lb test.

I released both fish to fight another day. I was able to land over 7 different species of fish including, Redtail and Barred surfperch, ling cod, Buffalo Sculpin, greenling, monkeyface eel, sand dab and a dungeness crab.

You can find all the baits I used at Monster Fishing Tackle. Feel free to email me through the contact button at the top of the page with any questions on how to catch some fish on the Northern California coast yourself.

Winter Cleaning

Annual maintenance of one’s reels is often overlooked by many anglers, for one reason or another. Some are intimidated by figuring out where to start and what to use. Others have messed up their reels too many times or simply don’t want to take the time. Whatever your reasons, take a deep breath, turn on some tunes and open up your reels, because come spring time you’re not going to want to deal with that coffe grinding sound and malfunctioning drag.

There are only a handfull of essentials one really needs to thoroughly clean a reel:

-Oil: Use either the oil that came with your reel, or a versatile oil like Quantum’s Hot Sauce, which you can find at MonsterFishingTackle.com

-Reel grease: I like Cal’s reel grease.
-Rubbing Alcohol: (Isopropyl) and Qtips: To clean off dirt.
-Reel tool: (to take off handle) or small screwdriver

I like to use a small muffin baking pan to keep the parts in order as I take them off the reel, so I don’t have to think about the order when I’m putting them back on or consult a schematic. It also insures you’re not losing your parts by simply lying them on a table. You can use one of the muffin molds to hold some rubbing alcohol for cleaning off dirt.

muffin tin Winter Cleaning

FLW College Fishing- Lake Roosevelt

On September 24th myself and fellow OBT members headed down to Phoenix, AZ to fish the FLW College Fishing qualifier tournament at Lake Roosevelt. Lake Roosevelt is located an hour and a half outside of Phoenix, with the closest town being Payson, AZ, just 45 miles north of the lake. Since I had previously qualified for the FLW College Fishing regional event after finishing fifth at the CA Delta event, I was fishing for a check. My usual partner Ross Richards did not fish the tournament and several new members of the University of Oregon bass team were able to attend.

We had followed the results and heard the dock talk about the fishing all week, knowing it was going to be tough and very hot at 105 degrees. I had previously fished the lake just over a year and a half ago in the Spring, bringing in a decent limit at the time and finishing 8th. I finished 8th once again, as my partner Jacob Bliss and I brought in three fish for 4-02. Going into the tournament we had few spots we felt comfortable with and knew we would have to grind to find the fish. Moments after hooking into my first fish and calling for the net, I quickly realized I was on my own, as Jacob had a fish of his own on the line. We brought the double to the boat, with his fish keeping and mine falling just short. The spot was fairly unique, a shallow flat on the backside of an island, protected from the wind with a solid mudline. We fished the area for several more hours, adding two more keepers, and watching as other boats came and went, unable to find the bite we were on. By 9:30, we still had our three fish and chose to make a move. Hoping to find another spot that would replicate our early success, we scanned the shore, and stopped at some places I had previously fished. By the end of the day we were only able to put two more shorts in the boat. It was very frustrating to not be able to put another keeper in the boat after starting off fairly well for the conditions.

The first place team, CSU Long Beach, won with only 7lbs 10 oz, not a bad limit for the week, but surely very attainable. Bass fishing is about preparation, on the water decisions and a little bit of luck, and I was not happy with the decisions I made before and after the tournament. With each tournament I can reflect and learn from my mistakes, making a better effort each and every time. With regionals just over a week away, there is no room for error and each and every day I will have time set aside to prepare as I start my final year of school at the University of Oregon and FLW College Fishing.

Preparation

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

I just came across this quote and it struck me just how relevant it is to bass fishing. The most controllable aspect of bass fishing is without a doubt preparation. As a college angler, we are often unable to pre-fish due to limitations such as the inability to pack up and leave school for a week and the thinness of our wallets. Not being able to physically fish the area leading up to the tournament certainly has major disadvantages, and makes preparation that much more important. In the weeks leading up to every tournament there are several questions I will ask myself, and I will often lay awake thinking about the answers and what they might imply. Firstly, I will make sure I have a good topographic map of the lake or river system. Second, I will do as much research as I can on the current water level, and how exactly it has changed the dynamics of the lake. What part of the lake is no longer fishable, and does my map reflect this? What is the primary forage?

As a young angler, I have not had the opportunities to fish every lake I set out to compete in. I will be competing in over three national level tournaments this season, in states I have not even stepped foot in. For each tournament I have already begun asking myself, who do I know that lives in the area? Who do I know that has fished the lakes previously or has had success? Networking is an important aspect of tournament fishing, and while many people surely keep their best secrets to themselves, a majority of anglers will quickly help. I met an angler at a local club meeting just last week, that had fished Fort Loudon, TN (the lake of my next upcoming major tournament) for the last time in what he believed was the year 1996. I listened with open ears as he tried to remember every detail of his outings. His recollection of the lake amazed me as he described some of the same features I had been studying on my maps and plan to pre-fish in the upcoming week. Do I expect his same patterns to hold up? No.. but I will soak up every bit of information I can.

Preparation leads to confidence, and the combination of the two is just as deadly as any “secret” lure, and with a little bit of luck it can be the difference in earning the success we yearn for.

Winter Bass Fishing.. Because we CAN’T stop

While many anglers are cooped up at home and buying tackle to ease the pain of ice out; some of us are lucky enough to be able to continue to fish throughout the year. For many of us, fishing is the perfect stress release, but come winter time bass can drive even the most consistent anglers to the brink of insanity. Winter time causes an angler to step out of his confidence level, as anglers must adjust to the fish and do everything in their power to entice the rare strike. Secret holes that have produced on countless occasions no longer hold fish, and the one bait that has produced all year long becomes the enemy; begging to be picked up after proving time and time again that it simply isn’t working under the current conditions.

We hear it time and time again, during the winter months it is essential to slow down your presentations. However, slowing down should not translate into never tying on a reaction bait. One of my most consistent producers during the winter is the jerkbait. The jerkbait gives one a unique presentation, allowing the angler to target suspending fish that refuse to make the effort to travel to deeper depths. During the winter months a bass’s main goal is to absorb as much energy as possible through consumption, while spending the least amount of effort. This makes the location of your bait placement increasingly important. To target suspending fish with jerkbaits, I will generally use a Lucky Craft Staysee 90SP, allowing me to get my bait deeper and focus on drop offs as well as primary wind blown points that are more likely to hold baitfish.

To search for suspending fish, I will often try a drop shot rig equipped with two different baits at varying depths. If fish are consistently striking the shallower of the two baits, I can conclude the fish are not holding as close to the bottom. The drop shot rig is one of my confidence presentations throughout the year, and there are few baits I find more effective during tough conditions. A common misconception is that only finesse baits can be drop shotted. During the winter, I will mix it up and experiment with bigger profile baits, such as beavers, lizards and minnow imitations in hopes of presenting a more energy packed meal. I will use the same baits in murky water, when I want my bait to move more water and cause commotion.

Sometimes small changes can make all the difference. While a crawdad may not seem like a formidable opponent to a hungry bass, it is important to remember crawdads and baitfish will do anything they can to defend themselves, while bass are looking for an easy meal. Tearing one of the claws off your craw trailer, and creating small imperfections in your plastics can imitate wounded bait, and can be the changing factor in helping you entice the increasingly wary bass. Downsizing your line and the use of scent also increases your odds of keeping a bass interested, and can give you enough time to detect the bite.

When fish are holding tight to the bottom, jigs and carolina rigs can produce big. Jigs can either be slowly crawled or twitched, with the occasional pop in hopes of landing in the strike zone of a fish holding just above the bottom. Carolina rigs can be slowly worked through brush or rock, with a 2-3 foot leader, giving the bait a subtle action. When carolina rigging I like to use a 3/4 to 1oz weight, and a regular sized brush hog in natural colors. Big worms such as the Rage Tail Anaconda or Berkley 10″ Powerworm can also be effective when worked slowly along the bottom.

In the end, it can take many hours to find the right depth, bait and location. The only way to truly become a better winter angler is to get out there and fish. So bundle up, haul your overstuffed tackle bag to the lake, and keep your lines tight!