Live News:

Rayburn is great and will get better

If you have been tuning into Bassmaster LIVE, I don’t have to tell you that Lake Sam Rayburn is a pretty amazing fishery right now. Admittedly, I didn’t do much the first day of the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest to show off the lake. Although my total weight didn’t show what this lake is capable of producing, the tournament is illustrating just how good the bass fishing is here. And man, are we catching a lot of bass. I caught more than 100 yesterday but couldn’t get the big bites that I needed to move higher in the standings. I know …

Fantasy Fishing: Select big hitters at Big Sam

Right now the only people who want to put Ross Barnett further into the rear view mirror than I do are the pros who finished worse than 100th and the staff of the Weather Channel. It was a great event, with rookie Dustin Connell fending off half of Kalamazoo in the quest for the big blue trophy, but it wasn’t so great for my Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing choices. Four events into the season – five if you count the Classic – and we’re in a situation where none of the clear-cut favorites have taken home the top prize. With capital-R Rookies …

Pros and cons of longer rods

The new Bassmaster Elites Series rule that allows rods up to 10 feet this year hasn’t been a factor, but that could change as we get into summer patterns. Several companies have come out with longer rods, and I’m working with Quantum to develop new spinning and cranking rods that extend beyond the former 8-foot limit B.A.S.S. imposed. Are there benefits? Absolutely, especially in those fishing scenarios where longer casts give the angler an edge. My experience of fishing the ultra-clear Great Lakes has proven that the farther you can stay off a school of fish the more success you can …

Deep Jerks

Jerkbaits are essential lures for every Bassmaster Elite Series pro, as they should be for any serious angler. Although short-billed jerkbaits are big hitters, deep jerkbaits have been slow to catch on. There are several reasons why. Early deep jerkbaits cast poorly. They tumbled in the air and were impossible to cast for distance or accuracy in anything more than a mild breeze. Although long-billed jerkbaits get deeper than short-billed versions, some of them produce elbow-jolting resistance due to their long lips. They also failed to respond with the quick, hard-cutting, strike-triggering action of their short-billed brethren when twitched. Despite these …

It’s a high water year

It’s going to be a high-water year for anglers, and that could require some adjustments in your fishing approach. We saw it at Ross Barnett last week, and it’s ongoing through most of the South. Missouri is flooded out; Texas lakes are high; and even our Midwestern natural lakes are rising. My pond is the highest it’s been in 25 years. Barring severe droughts, this high water could impact lakes well into the summer. The floods and high water can cause dreadful harm to communities, but when it’s controlled, it can create good fishing. As these waters rise, the bass move …

VanDam family showdown

RIDGELAND, Miss. – There’s a family feud scheduled for the final day at the 2017 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Elite at Ross Barnett. In fact, it’s not the first. This is the third time Kevin VanDam and nephew Jonathon VanDam have made Elite Series Top 12 cuts since JVD joined the circuit in 2011. The previous times came during the 2011 season. On the Harris Chain of Lakes, KVD would finish fifth and JVD would finish fourth. Later that season the younger VanDam would find a leg up, finishing sixth while his uncle finished 10th on the Arkansas River. “Our …

Fishing History

No, this week’s column is not about history like that. I’m not going to tell you about the earliest bass anglers or who invented the spinnerbait.  This column is about the tendency we all have — including me — to fall into a comfort zone and continue to fish the same way and in the same places even when we should know better. When I say, “fishing history,” I’m talking about a double-edged sword — going back to the same places and fishing the same ways can be a terrific shortcut to success … or it can absolutely kill your chances to …

‘Pots and pans’ led VanDam to top finish at Ross Barnett 32 years ago

A lot of things change in three decades, so Kevin VanDam is putting in long practice days on Ross Barnett in preparation for this week’s Bassmaster Elite presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors, because the only time he fished the shallow reservoir previously was 32 years ago, at the age of 17. “Back then, I was fishing team tournaments and B.A.S.S. Nation Series tournaments around home in Michigan, and my team partner Don Stevens and I qualified for an end-of-the-year tournament down here at Ross Barnett,” explains VanDam. “To be honest, I don’t even remember what trail it was.” He may …

Attacking the postspawn funk

One of the toughest times to catch bass is during what I call the postspawn funk. We ran into that during the Bassmaster Elite Series event on Toledo Bend, and it is something that occurs everywhere just after the spawn. At Toledo Bend, some of the fish were still spawning, but the bulk had just come off the beds. The fish were scattered and there wasn’t one pattern or theme that worked consistently. You can tell it’s going on when it’s difficult to get multiple bites in one area because the fish have yet to group up. The one pattern that …