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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

So what should I throw????

So at every show I work Vic's booth at someone asks me what selection of Vic's stuff should they get for smallmouth. So Sunday when things slowed a bit I grabbed a few things in the booth that would make an okay "starter" selection and I'll give my reasons why. I do think it is important to keep in mind that more and more studies all the time show that bass can remember things for a long time. And amazingly enough even learn that something is bad by just watching another fish get caught on it. So these colors are not set in stone and in my mind should be rotated in and out with other colors to be the most effective. I have seen two studies where bass were found to be less shy of soft plastic lures after being caught on them than they are of a hard bait like a crankbait and require less of an interval between capture and recapture on one tho. Anyways here my choices and why. First off is a chartreuse metalflake grub. For some reason unknown to me smallmouth everywhere seem to have a fondness for chartreuse. If I fish the same stretch of river often I'd rotate in a plain chartreuse grub without the metalflake and one of the grubs that has a different color body with a chartreuse tail. Another "attraction" bait that smallmouth love is clear with gold flakes as well. I almost always have a grub with me that is in the "shiney" family, that is clear with metalflake, smoke with metalflake, and clear or smoke with colored metalflake. Smoke metalflake and clear with metalflake just look extremely "fishy" and natural under a wide range of conditions and have always been my answer to the "if you could only use one color" question. I think it is a good idea to have a smaller and larger version of the classic curly tail as well. I'd want at least one or two grubs in darker colors as well. Many riffle species are darker and rounder in profile than pool species and a darker grub is a good choice the closer you get to the riffle. In the photograph I have an electric blue grub as my darker grub. In my eyes it makes a fine imitation of many darter species which have a lot of bright blue in them. Other colors I'd rotate in here would be a brown or motoroil grub with or without glitter. A brown with orange tail grub would also fit right in here. I'd include a couple curly shad which have the great action of a curly tail but also a flatter deeper profile to imitate species like shiners, chubs, shad etc. Most of these minnows are lighter and shinier than the rounded riffle species and I go with something like a pearl with a painted back like the green one I have pictured here. You can get these with different colored backs to change things up. You can also do that with the other curly shad I have pictured which is one of the clear with mylar ones. These come with if I remember right, black, blue, red and clear backs and are just about the fishiest things out there. Speaking of "fishy" last fall Vic came out with a new family of baits, the curly swim, the paddle swim you see pictured (second up from the bottom on the right side) and the fork tail which is the same bait with a fork tail on the back. I just started using these guys late in the year last year but have fallen head over heels in love with them. In my eyes no lure I have ever thrown looks more natural than these guys. And they are tough as nails and last forever. Although I haven't used them nearly as much as other baits they are already number one as my confidence lure. With several different tail styles and colors to rotate in and out I'm sure they will stay that way too. I simply love these things. Last but not least is a USB swimbait (top right). In many of our smallmouth streams shiner species are very prevalent and emerald or spotfin shiners are quite often the most common little fish in the stream. And nothing does a better job of looking like a shiner than a USB.
So there you have it. No hard and fast, you gotta use this, but instead a few proven choices but with reasonable alternatives. I know I'll get some " I kill them on such and such" and I believe you, that's part of the magic of fishing. But the above choices and similar ones work for me and I think are a good starting point for someone new to the game.

Monday, January 22, 2018

What a swell day for January....

So I've been down with the awful bug that has been going around for seemingly all of January. Finally starting to feel myself again and even went fishing twice. Once Friday which produced zip. Which was to be expected since it was the first day it didn't feel like the north pole outside. Today was much nicer though spitting a little rain every now and then. Trying out two new bits of gear. Both passed the test with flying colors. One was a custom rod by rodbuilder Jeff Byrd. He calls his rods Little Miami Rods, if you want a top quality rod put together just the way you want it Jeff is the man. Plus I love the idea of supporting the idea of a local guy building something one at a time that is top quality. Bravo Jeff. The other is a new little bait by Vic. It looks just like his curly swim with the mylar tubing and realistic eyes. Except it has a little split tail for a more subtle action. This thing is the most lifelike thing I've ever seen. I'll have to post some pictures of both sometime soon. Anyways back to the fishing. Today was starting to feel like a repeat of Friday. I'd fished a pretty good while with nothing going on. Well not really, it was warm, ducks were flying overhead, I'd jumped a doe on the way in. It was just good to be out of the house. Then bump and I set the hook. The rod bent double and the drag sang a bit. Something that doesn't normally happen with bass in 35 degree water so I figured it was a carp. After fighting the thing for a bit it rolled on the surface. That is no carp! A few moments more and I had a firm grip on the jaw of an absolutely swell smallmouth bass. A couple of quick pics and back she went. Hopefully no one saw this goofy old man doing a fist pump all by himself back in the bushes

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Fishing’s second sport

"New Zealands's Stuff magazine reports that a spurned New Zealand woman sold the secret locations to her ex-boyfriend's favorite fishing spots online, netting $3,000, which she then spent on herself."

One of the things that the internet age has brought us is a brand new sport: spot hacking. I know I spend half the winter at it when the weather is just too bad to go out and actually fish. I can think of a few great successes. Once a few years ago a fellow posted a photo of himself and a 20 inch smallmouth bass. In the background was a nondescript photo of a section of riverbank with nothing notable in the background. Nothing that is except for a electrical tower and a set of wires crossing the river. And under his name he had posted his hometown, a "Chris from Columbus" sort of throw away tag line.. So I first brought that up on Google maps. Now his town wasn't on a river but it was five or six miles away from a good smallmouth river. So I then zoomed in on the river about ten miles downstream. Really tight, as close as Google would let me zoom. And then began crawling the mouse slowly upstream. A few minutes later Voila! Towers and wires crossing the river. The next day I drove out to test my theory. I parked the truck, grabbed my rod and headed over the bank to the river. And there he was, standing there fishing his hotspot! Sometimes it's just that easy.
Sometimes it's harder of course. You have to match bits of different photos and try to name unnamed features. Tying to match a piece of smokestack sticking above the trees with photos of power plants in the area you find on Google images. Or take tiny snipits of text from two or three different posts and add them together. It can become a sport all unto its own. And I'm not alone, I know at least six or seven guys that I know personally that practice the art to varying degrees. And of course these are the guys you have to watch out for. Never con a con man as the saying goes and never trust these fellows fishing reports. Oh they caught those big fish for sure. That's a thing of honor. But where they said or implied? Probably not. If I say what river I caught it in then it was that river. After all my favorite two rivers are well over a hundred miles long each so I don't have to worry about that. But give you details? Never. And every photo is checked for landmarks in the background before it's posted. Not everyone does this. I have a friend who last year posted some dandy fish he caught mid winter. But the river he said online was an hour drive from the river he caught them in...Caveat Emptor
And today’s electronic fishing world has brought us the photoshopped trophy pic. You've seen them, the ones where the background is all blurred or just painted over with a layer of white. Sometimes it's even done in an artful manner. I once went fishing early one morning with a good friend. It was a picture perfect morning, mist rising, the sun just kissing the treetops. And he caught a huge fish, a trophy bass. Well back at home on the computer in the background of the photo was an obvious landmark. Anyone that lived within a dozen miles would know instantly where we were. A little bit of photoshopped mist and it became a calendar quality shot. Minus the landmark of course.
Then there is the opposite of the paranoid fishing zealot. The guy that makes us all cringe with fear when he posts. The fishing neophyte that lucked out and hit a good spot on a good day and managed to catch a few quality fish. Now he doesn't do that very often so he has to share his good fortune with the world. "Yeah you park behind Larry's used appliances and follow the path to the river. It's a super spot!" And he's just posted it on a website that gets thousands of views every week. My biggest fear in life is one of these jokers is going to unwittingly stumble on one of my most secret spots. It's enough to keep you up nights and make you shudder on a warm day. If you want the guys who are good fishermen to think you’re a good fisherman for God's sake don't go posting directions to where you caught that hawg.
The best use a serious fisherman can make of the internet though is to find spots on his own. Google maps and sites like it have made it possible to look at more water in a day sitting at home than you could in a lifetime on your feet. My favorite site is Here besides the usual map and satellite views you can also get a topo map. I'd hate to add up all the time I've spent doing this. If it's in southwestern Ohio and its flowing water I've looked at it at least once. Some spots dozens of times before I finally go there in person. So you zoom in close and begin slowly working your way up the river, noting the rock bars, the riffles, the bend pools. Now of course maybe only half of these will pan out in the real world. At least at first till you gain some experience at this sort of thing. But even half is way better than just going out blind. After all the old saying 90% of the fish are in 10% of the water is gospel truth.
But then it possible to turn that on its head too. Me, I'd rather catch one 19 or 20 inch smallmouth than a hundred smaller ones. It's what I live for. I'm not after the 90%. And let's face it, a really big 20 inch smallmouth is something like one tenth of one percent of the total population in a river around here. It takes well over a decade, sometimes more like two for a fish to grow to that size. So back we go to those mapping sites. Now, instead of obvious classic spots I'm looking for that out of the way not so obvious spot that might hold just a few fish. But hey look, it's away from any good spot to park so there's little pressure. And it's not so fishy that some guy on a float trip is going to beach his yak or canoe and get out and fish. It's pretty ordinary except that it gives the few fish there that magical thing they can't get anywhere else, time.
All of this also takes time as well. Lots of it. You can spend a lifetime developing a library of tried and true hotspots. And an even bigger list of hoped for hotspots you just haven't tried yet. But will. Just as soon as you get time. But to quote one of my favorite writers:

"Angling is extremely time consuming. That's sort of the whole point." - Thomas McGuane

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

first fish

First fish of the new year. Caught two more about the same size, plus several gills. Nothing too exciting but not bad for an hour after work in this weather