Live News:

A funky time of year

We finished up the Bassmaster Elite Series season last week with the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of Year Championship at Mille Lacs Lake. My hat’s off to Brandon Palaniuk for having an a amazing season. Brandon showed his maturity the way he kept his cool despite the tight race and formidable opponents breathing down his neck. The fish at Mille Lacs were beginning to show signs of the transition to fall patterns. Some were caught deep and others were caught fairly shallow. That’s what happens when we start having cooler nights. But this appears to be shaping into a funky start to …

Don’t overlook spinnerbaits this fall

Spinnerbaits. Remember them? They still catch big fish and can really catch ‘em in the coming months of fall. Admittedly, they have kinda been pushed aside. Years ago, no one fished without having at least one tied one on. But over time, our lure arsenal has grown to include baits that perform similarly but with different actions. We’ve got swimbaits with more eye appeal and some vibration; square bill crankbaits that emit action, vibration and erratic movements; bladed jigs with some vibration and less flash than a spinnerbait; and swim jigs that move horizontally through the water column but more subtly. …

Give me fluorocarbon for drop shotting

Drop shotting has become a staple on the Elite circuit, especially during the second half of the season when we fish a lot of smallmouth waters. A huge drop shotting trend among Bassmasters is to spool their spinning reels with a small diameter superline (braid) and add a long fluorocarbon leader. Even so, it’s interesting to see that an equal number of touring pros still prefer straight fluorocarbon over the braid/fluorocarbon combination. And while I will use the braid combo on occasion, I am among those who prefer to fish with straight fluorocarbon when drop shotting. There really isn’t a right …

Lake St. Clair’s all-time classic lure

There are two things you can count on at Lake St. Clair – the wind will eventually blow hard enough to stir its 430 square miles of water into ocean like proportions – and the smallmouth will usually bite a 4.5-inch tube jig. The second day of practice for the 2017 Advanced Auto Parts Bassmaster Elite Series on St. Clair was no exception. “A man could use a Motrin after a day like this,” said Kevin VanDam upon finally reaching calm waters near the protected harbor of a Harrison Township boat ramp. VanDam had been riding the spine-jarring waves for more than …

The versatile swimming worm

When fishing shallow cover, most anglers think of swim jigs, swim baits, frogs or topwaters. But what about swimming worms? Now, there’s a tactic that has been used since the day plastic worms were created but in this era of trendy baits and techniques, it’s been forgotten. Not for me. I love swimming a worm over shallow grass, especially in places where you can’t fish a buzzbait, spinnerbait or other types of lures that might hang up. You can use a standard plastic worm, but some manufacturers offer a more specialized swimming worm that works more efficiently. Years ago, I used …

How trout fishing helped me win

Most bass pros credit their success to their early days of chasing bass. While this may come as a surprise to most of you, many of my river skills were honed from fishing for trout and salmon. The knowledge I gained as a kid while fishing the streams and rivers of Michigan for several species of trout and migrating salmon came into play last week when I won at the St. Lawrence River. The time I spent learning how trout and salmon use current, position themselves in it and react to lures presented to them has been helpful throughout my career. …

An eye on new products

The so-called break for Bassmaster Elite pros comes to an end this week as we gear up for the annual ICAST show in Orlando, then back on the tournament trail the following week. I call it a so-called break because our time has been filled with working with sponsors creating new videos and advertisements for new tackle being introduced at the ICAST show. I can’t complain though. I enjoy working with sponsors to develop products and then seeing the world’s reaction at ICAST to those new ideas. It all comes together next week in Orlando, one of two places where new …

Licenses are critical and worthy

As I prepare for our Elite schedule northern swing to New York and back to Michigan, it reminds me of important considerations all anglers should remember when going on out-of-state fishing trips. Fishing licenses and regulations. It’s something touring pros must take seriously at every event we attend. We have to buy licenses everywhere we go and sometimes we are required to have multiple licenses. For example, when we’re in New York we have to have a New York license and an Ontario Canada license. When we are St. Clair, we’ll need Michigan, Ontario and an Indian Reservation license. (For details …

My thoughts on sound and being stealthy

I get asked a lot about the effect of underwater sounds on bass. One reason people inquire about sound because they know I’m a longtime believer in HydroWave system that emits natural fish feeding activity through an underwater speaker on my trolling motor. The HydroWave is as much a part of my arsenal as a spinnerbait, a jerkbait and side-imaging electronics. But there are other manmade sounds that anglers need to be cognizant of that can have a negative effect – at times – on bass. Given the hours I spend in the woods as a hunter, I know the importance of …

Gearing up for our smallmouth season

We’re on our so-called tournament “break” between events before we make the northern swing to my beloved smallmouth waters in late July. For several Elite pros, the “break” is only from tournaments. For example, last week I flew to New York to appear on Fox and Friends for Bass Pro Shops. I’ve also be busy filming commercials, TV shows and will soon head to Daytona for the Coke Zero 400 NASCAR race on behalf of Bass Pro Shops and Toyota and to do some work with Driver Martin Truex. And then there’s the annual tackle show in Orlando where all the new gear …