Category: River Ramblings
Think Before You Buy

One of the hidden secrets — hidden in plain sight — among good bass anglers is that they fish where the fish are, rather than worry about having the newest baits. Sound obvious? Maybe, but that’s why they catch them. And why we don’t.

Very few anglers have access to anything that isn’t sold to the general public. A few of the top professionals, men like the Elite Series pros with B.A.S.S., might have a prototype lure in the boat or maybe a couple of custom colors at their disposal. For the most part, though, they fish with the same tackle and lures that we do. They just do it better.

The reason is that they start at the beginning. They find the fish and then try to make them bite. Far too many of us work it from the other direction. We tie a “magic” lure on our line — usually one that we paid a lot of money for after reading about it in a magazine or Internet article — and then expect the fish to chase it.

One of the best bass anglers I ever met was once asked what he thought the biggest and most common mistake recreational anglers make. “They don’t think enough about the season of the year,” he replied. “I see guys fishing deep ledges in the spring and shallow shoreline cover in the heat of the summer. They worry too much about what lure to use instead of where to fish. It doesn’t make any sense. It’s backwards.”

If you want to catch fish this spring find the 10 percent of the water that 90 percent of the fish are in. Then worry about what lure or bait to use.

Short Notes

This is a fishing site so most of the articles should be about fishing. That said, however, there comes a time when we need to look beyond ourselves and count our blessings.

The river and her tributaries are beyond bad. There’s no way to even think about fishing them. What little progress was made in a few places earlier this week was wiped out by last night’s rains. And yet, it could be a heck of a lot worse.

If you doubt that — and you’re feeling sorry for yourself because you can’t go fishing in the river — look to the South, specifically Alabama and Mississippi. Much of that state has been destroyed by the tornadoes that swept through earlier this week. They were real tornadoes, too, the kind that leave little or nothing behind.

There are a whole lot of guys down there who aren’t worried because they can’t go fishing this weekend. They’re looking for their houses and, in some cases, for their families.


I was in a local Kroger store the other day and noticed they’re carrying crayfish from the Gulf Region — at very reasonable prices. I also noticed they had a pretty good selection of sauces from around the county ranging from mild to extra hot. For those of you who are fans of the little critters that’s about as good as it gets.

Impress your friends. Serve boiled crayfish this weekend with a unique sauce of some sort.

Note: Cajun sauce isn’t the same as hot sauce. Cajun is spicy; hot is hot.


Don’t forget about the farm ponds. They’re on fire. Several guys have reported nonstop action in the shallows. They’re catching bass, channel cats and bluegill. Don’t let the bad weather get you down. Talk nice to your local farmer. Most likely he’ll let you fish.

Throw topwater plugs or plastics for the bass, stinkbaits for the channel cats and worms for the bluegill. Saturday looks like the best day. Pack a sandwich or two, a bag of chips and a couple of sodas. And don’t forget to take the kids.

Plan B – Fish the Farm Ponds

OK guys, I’ve written enough about the glories of fishing the creeks and the backwaters at this time of the year. Given the weather — it’s horrible — I’d suggest something else. In truth, they’re a mess and not likely to get any better for awhile, especially if the weatherman knows what he’s talking about.

Besides, you’re likely to get stuck just trying to get back into those places. So, let’s go to Plan B. Try the farm ponds.

Every single one I’ve looked at over the last week is overflowing its banks. The water is up into the grass almost everywhere. Believe it or not, this will give you a shot at catching a monster bass, the kind of fish you can brag about for years.

Here’s the thing — flooded grass and shoreline bushes draw insects. The insects draw forage such as minnows and tiny game fish which, in turn, draw the bigger predators. It’s not uncommon to catch bass over 5 pounds in less than a foot of water under conditions like we have now.

You can throw a buzzbait or a trick worm and catch them. The very best bait of all, however, is a frog. Toss it right against the bank, or even right up on it. Bring it back slow at first. Speed it up if that doesn’t work. Two of the best frogs on the market for this technique are the Dean Rojas Bronzeye 65 and the Ish Monroe Phat Frog. (The Phat Frog is made by Snag Proof, a Cincinnati based lure company.)

Be quiet and careful when you approach the pond. Shallow fish spook easily.

As I write this I’m aware that the reservoirs are in the same shape as the ponds. And, I know that the bass are moving and feeding shallow in them just like they are in the ponds. But, I also know that there’s a lot more shoreline around the reservoirs and that your — and my — chances of catching a giant bass are better in a pond.