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Add deep jerkin’ to your year-round arsenal

I love fishing a jerkbait. It’s a lure that most anglers pigeonhole as a cold-water bait, but it’s one I use through all of the seasons. I’ll use it throughout the summer when the bass suspend in deeper water and the water is relatively clear. The jerkbait is a sight-oriented presentation, so you need clear water, but you also need the fish to be in a zone where they can see your bait. That presents a problem when the fish are deep because standard jerkbaits only dive to 3 to 5 feet. Now, when I go into northern Michigan, I can …

Know the differences in baitcast reels

One of the most intimidating purchases a newcomer can make is a new baitcast reel because there are so many choices yet they look similar but can be very different. There are left- and right-handed models, various gear ratios, different materials and prices that range from $50 to $300 or more. The average angler can be confused easily trying to understand what separates reels that look and feel similar. Gear ratios are always a consideration, but remember that reel speed is only partially determined by gear ratio. Other key factors are width and depth of the spool and how much line …

Hints of fall are in the air

It’s crazy how fast summer has blown by. That thought hit me this week as I’m starting to see early signs of fall. The Elite series is winding down and we’ve fished through summer, yet it’s been a strange year weather-wise. It got even stranger for me yesterday when I began seeing signs of falling leaves in marshy areas and some have started to turn already. But a bigger clue – one that other anglers should take notice – is that the bait is starting to move even though it may feel like summer is still in full swing. It’s …

Those magical mayfly periods

This is the time of year when those of us fishing the clear lakes of Michigan have to deal with a mayfly hatch. Although it’s more prominent up here, it happens in the South, especially along the Coosa River. In fact, we encountered one in 2014 when we fished a tournament on Lake Chickamauga. It’s a phenomenon that occurs throughout the summer in some places and can really affect what it takes to catch the fish. Mayflies are just that – flying insects that emerge off the water’s surface, although most hatches occur in early June. They become so thick …

Put some swing in your plastics

I’ve made a good living fishing big crankbaits and Texas rigged worms during the summer, but in the past couple years I’ve added another valuable tool to my arsenal – the swing head jig. Tommy Biffle gets credit for bringing this nifty rig to the bass fishing world when he won an Elite event with his Hard Head and Biffle Bug. That created an explosion of similar rigs and a new technique we’ve all learned to embrace. I have to admit I was skeptical at first. I thought it was a gimmick, but I learned a long time ago to …

Don’t forget buzzbaits!

We have so many tools in our tackle box that an old standby has been pushed to the back shelf. The buzzbait. Trendy baits such as lifelike frogs, toad-style soft plastic baits and other shallow, cover-related lures have captured our attention and rightly so. They’ve proven themselves as solid fish catchers. But buzzbaits remain a valuable tool as a big-fish lure. The technique is one I keep in the back of my mind, especially when fishing early spring on lakes that are beginning to warm up. The buzzbait may be more valuable in the South right now where a ton …

Organized anglers are more efficient

We’ve been hit with an ice storm overnight here in Michigan, so I can’t get outside. But that’s OK; it’s a perfect day to work on tackle while I deal with other business matters in my office. Tackle organization is a never ending process, but the winter makes for a great time to inventory tackle and get it stored properly. It’s even more critical for me this year as I will have to load my truck and boat for the Elite Series that will take us to a variety of different waters where a number of techniques could come into …

Know your baitfish!

Any experienced angler will tell you it’s important to spend a lot of time studying what bass do and their seasonal patterns in different lakes and regions of the country. Knowing those factors will help you narrow the search of where to find and catch them. But equally important, and oftentimes a wild card to being a successful angler, is dictated by a knowledge of the forage - especially baitfish - in a given lake. Much of what is discussed about baitfish is centered on shad and rightly so. Shad are a primary forage in most of our impoundments. But …

Fall bass love crayfish, too

We’ve spent a lot time this fall talking about the importance of baitfish movements during the fall and how it affects where you’ll find the bass. But there’s another element worth considering, and one that we’re already seeing here in the north – the bass are beginning to target crayfish. Indeed, the key to successful fall fishing is to follow the baitfish, but there is a time when bass will direct their attention crayfish. Bass are opportunistic, and when the crayfish get active like they have up here in late fall, the bass start feeding on them. It’s like deer; …

Late can be great

Happy Halloween! Up in Michigan, where I live, it's starting to get cold. The weatherman is calling for snow and even the most optimistic bass angler would have to call this the "late season." But "late" can be great no matter where you live, as long as you have the right attitude and right approach. The bass fishing is still really good. Fish are still feeding, and you can still fish pretty fast and cover a lot of water to catch them. The first point I want to make about late season bass fishing and bass habits is that 50 …