Late-Winter Bassin’ Bonanza

June 23rd, 2009

Smallmouth bass

by Dan Kibler

Winter may not be the best season for bass fishermen, but to knowledgeable anglers, it certainly isn’t as bad as it often seems.

ake the case of Kevin Chandler of New London, a guide who operates mostly on the two lakes on the lower end of the Yadkin/Pee Dee system: Badin and Tillery. He loves it when February rolls around, especially when the temperature starts creeping up a few degrees toward the end of the month and spring seems to be just around the corner.

“Tillery and Badin are by far the best early (season) lakes, and Badin is better than Tillery,” said Chandler (704-463-7265). “Early to mid-February, the fishing Kevin Chandlerhas always been spotty – you catch one here and one there – but later in the month, if you get those four or five days of warm weather, you’re likely to pull up on one bank and catch 10.”

Badin and Tillery are the southernmost of the Yadkin/Pee Dee lakes that are heavily fished, so they warm up a little faster than other lakes in the Piedmont. Badin’s advantage may be that it’s normally an extremely clear lake, and clear water and good cold-weather fishing have always gone hand-in-hand. You rarely hear about a lake that’s known for being stained to dingy – like High Rock, for example – being a great late-winter lake.

At 5,600 acres, with water depths approaching 110 feet in some places, Badin clearly qualifies as a deep lake. The clear water also allows for better penetration of sunlight, so shallow banks tend to warm up more quickly. And the clear water allows for a few more fishing options.

“I know for the past two or three years, almost every (late winter) tournament fished down there has won on a jerkbait,” Chandler said. “You can wear ‘em out on it, and it seems like they hit it better at Badin that at other lakes.”

Chandler likes a Lucky Craft Pointer 78 or 110 in Aurora blue color. He fishes it off points and rocky banks where he expects bass to make their first moves out of deeper water. If he finds areas like those and marks schools of baitfish on his depthfinder, watch out.

“Where the bait is will tell you how deep to fish,” he said. “Sometimes they’ll be three to four feet deep; sometimes eight to 10 feet deep. If you get a good warming trend in late February, they won’t be more than three or four feet deep. That’s where a ‘78’ shines.”

jerkbaitJerkbaits are hard-plastic, minnow-shaped plugs that are best utilized by fishermen who wind them down several feet deep, then retrieve them with jerks of the rod tip, hence, jerkbaits. They are usually worked slowly, and most models will suspend on a slack line – staying in front of a hungry bass’s face long enough to draw a strike in 50-degree water.

In Chandler’s opinion, jerkbaits are replacing jigs as the most-productive late-winter/early-spring baits, especially when you’re looking for numbers.

“I think most of the fish you catch on a jerkbait are feeding on shad,” he said. “I think bass prefer crawfish (which jigs imitate) over shad, but shad are a lot more abundant. I never go to the lake without a jig tied on, and I’ll throw it in the same places where I’ll throw a jerkbait.”

One other February-March tip Chandler offers is not to worry about going without a strike before the middle of the day, when warming waters will often jump-start the bite by drawing fish closer to the bank.

“One of the best tournaments I ever won on Badin, I didn’t have a fish at 11:30, then between 11:30 and 2:30, I caught 24 pounds on one stretch of bank,” he said.

Fishing at Night Part 2

June 23rd, 2009

by Captain Paul Rose

Fishing at night

In Part 1 of night fishing, we reviewed a few safety tips, precautions and that sense of readiness which makes your experience a bit easier, safer and more enjoyable. Part 2 is making the fishing productive, which is always a plus. When I think about night fishing, visions of largemouth bass always come to play.

The largemouth is prevalent in our local waters and is becoming, if it isn’t already, the number one sought-after gamefish but not without a price. Lakes pressured by recreational anglers, bass clubs and even the pro circuit can make fishing tough at times, especially for the weekend guy. Add in the summer heat, higher water temperatures and increased pleasure-craft traffic and it’s not hard to understand why ol’ bucketmouth becomes even more elusive. Anglers with a bit of an adventure flare and a lot of caffeine realize night fishing is a way to adjust to circumstances out of their control.

Largemouth along with a host of other gamefish such as crappie, stripers and catfish all adjust to the above problems. Fish will typically retreat to the safety and comfort of deeper waters on long summer days. But this same pattern reverses as the sun goes down. Savvy anglers adjust as well.

Before venturing out, it is imperative to know your lake in the daytime just as you would a bathroom trip in your house at 3am. Not only is it a safety issue but it’s the way you know where to begin. Otherwise, finding spots at night just becomes a shot in the dark, as they say.

Once you’re out, focus your initial efforts around wood and weeds. Find these areas and you will find bass. Docks with light attract all parts of the food chain including predators. Add structure below a light under a dock and you may not need to travel far, always a bonus with gas prices soaring. I heard from a longtime fishing partner who swears by white boat docks. It is felt the white background against a dark sky allows bass to find its prey easier. Bass do tend to miss more at night so the idea has some merit. Be observant during the day when on the water and you just may pick up a few of these night honey-holes.

Long tapering points, beach areas, edges and bars are also productive places to fish. Remember an edge is created anytime two opposing or opposites meet. Light vs. dark, moving water vs. stillwater, or weed vs. rock are just a few examples. Any fisherman that learns to recognize edges, whether in freshwater or saltwater, will be more successful. Remember edges can be very dramatic or very subtle.

The same tackle is used at night as in the day. What you are most used to is probably more important. If your not use to a fly rod or bait-caster, I would use the spinning rod at night. Be rigged and ready. Have multiple rods with different lures ready and at an arms reach. Changing lures and tying knots is best done in the daylight. With that in mind I still have a headlamp and extra batteries ready. A small lantern is also nice on-board.

Conventional tackle should include a top-water rod – I still love a black Jitterbug – and a soft plastic rod – great with an 8-inch black rubber worm. These two outfits get me through most nights and they always seem work. Call it confidence if you will. I try to avoid lures prone to snagging such as a crankbait with 3 treble hooks. Go weedless, fish around structure and you will have fewer problems.

Flyrodding is another option and more fun than most methods. Try a deerhair popper for top-water and a dark wooly bugger for subsurface presentations. Clousers and Deceivers around those dock lights in varying sizes will catch anything that swims. Use a stripping basket to avoid line management issues. Regardless of your choices become a minimalist at night, stay organized and stay simple. This actually works well anytime. Spend time fishing with the lure in the water!

With fish becoming less wary at night, more aggressive, opportunistic and feeding shallower the above approaches works pretty well. Plus darkness covers any liabilities an angler may have such as casting distance or pinpoint accuracy. Rather than changing lures, try changing techniques. Let a top-water sit after a cast or try a quick retrieve as soon as it hits the water. Try swimming a soft plastic thru cover rather than bottom bouncing. Keep in mind sound is amplified at night so use it your advantage. Distances can be tough to judge at first but soon you will develop your night vision. Try a dark night or try the full moon night. Werewolfs seem to like it.

Try a night trip this summer and you are sure to like it. Plan it. Do it. The bass – and who knows what else! – are waiting.

Carolinabonefishing.com is a fly fishing guide service owned and operated by Capt. Paul Rose located in Charlotte,NC. Paul offers a saltwater clinic using tailing carp on area lakes as a teaching tool for fly anglers out of a Hellsbay flats skiff. Other destinations include the NC mountains for trout and the Lowcountry for redfish. Paul is also a member of the Southeast Outdoor Press Association. Visit his website at carolinabonefishing.com or call 704-616-6662. For additional information or story ideas, email him at Paul@carolinabonefishing.com.

Eco-friendly Boat Employs Clean, Electric Power

June 23rd, 2009

Twin Troller X10

Now there’s a versatile boat that enables owners to enjoy waterways without polluting them. Providing superior maneuverability, the innovative, electric-powered Twin Troller X10 from Carolina Electric Boats can reach speeds up to 6 mph and operate in as little as 6″ of water.

Perfect for green lakes, the state-of-the-art, 10′ Twin Troller X10 can go where other boats can’t. Protecting the environment, its dual, recessed MotorGuide Electric Trolling Motors can travel over submerged trees, grass and other underwater obstructions without damaging the propellers or marine habitats. Whisper quiet, the emission-free electric motors won’t scare fish or wildlife or drown out the sounds of nature.

A patented Twin Troller propulsion system with variable-speed foot pedals leaves hands free to fish, bird watch or simply appreciate the outdoors. Controlling the motors independently, the easy-to-operate foot pedals can transition effortlessly between forward and reverse. With a 0° turn radius, the revolutionary Twin Troller X10 can rotate 360° in one location and make 90° turns.

Completely recyclable, the streamlined Twin Troller X10 is roto-molded in a single piece using advanced Surpass polyethylene resin. Lighter and tougher than fiberglass, the UV-protected resin resists cracks, won’t take on water and has an amazing 5-year warranty.

Available in blue, green and tan, the well-equipped Twin Troller X10 comes ready to hit the water. It includes built-in beverage holders, outboard motor mount and deep, self-draining rod trays with pockets for reels. A deep cycle marine battery under the back seat will run the boat for 6-8 hours between charges.

The durable Twin Troller X10 can handle up to 585 lbs. and fits two people comfortably. At 48″ wide, the balanced pontoon hull design supplies unmatched stability.

Simple to transport, the light boat can be easily lifted into the back of any pick-up truck or trailer and weighs just 175 lbs. It even features a convenient built-in handle. Padded swivel seats on custom, adjustable tracks also provide effortless removal and storage.

The emission-free Twin Troller X10 from Carolina Electric Boats has a special introductory retail price of $1,895. The 2009 model will cost around $2,295.

Contact
Carolina Electric Boats
501A South Wall St.
Benson, NC 27504
Toll free: 877-882-0099
Fax: 919-207-2522
customerservice@twintroller.com
www.carolinaelectricboats.com.

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