Category Archives: Fishing Tips

Fish Allure Tab Placement – Walking Baits

I’m a big proponent of throwing topwater lures, particularly walking baits in spring. One of the reasons I like a walking bait this time of year is that if you can work it correctly, it will stay in the strike zone for an irritatingly long time.

For hard baits, particularly topwaters, using Fish Allure scented tabs can help improve your chances of a bite. I’ve written previously about these water activated adhesive scents designed for hard baits.

It’s easy to determine where to add your Fish Allure tab to a walking bait such as a Heddon Zara Spook.  Because the tab is activated by water, I want it to stay in the water as much as possible, so I’ll place the tab on the belly, just in front of the first hook on a two treble Spook or between the first and second hook on a three treble Spook.

Below is Fish Allure pro staff member Fred “Boom Boom” Roumbanis talking about using scented tabs to catch more bass. Check out Fish Allure on Tackle Warehouse and order some today.

Spring Buzzbait Bass Fishing Setup

Beaver Lake Spotted Bass on a Booyah Buzzbait
Chunky Beaver Lake Spotted Bass on a Booyah Buzzbait

This time of year is when to pursue the spring buzzbait bite early and late to catch bass who are cruising the shallows searching for spawning areas, defending nests or just entering post-spawn, which makes spring and fall key timeframes for buzzin’ the bass. (This previous article for Booyah talks about fall buzzbait fishing)

Because a buzzbait can trigger big bites and reeling in the bass from a long distance, it’s important to me to have the right setup. As a kayak angler I’ve got to have the right equipment to cast the buzzbait long distances with accuracy and then the power to get that fish in the boat quickly. Being closer to the water in a kayak creates a problem of leverage that you have to solve with a few simple keys.

Gear Setup

My primary spring buzzbait setup starts with a 7’3″ medium-heavy rod with a fast action tip.  The tip gives me the ability to zing the bait long distances, and the medium-heavy rod allows for a powerful hookset. To ensure I can retrieve all types of buzzbaits and keep them moving with ease, I use a 7:2:1 gear ratio reel.

Next comes one of the most important factors for spring buzzbait fishing – the line. I’ve been using PowerPro #50lb braid in moss green tied directly to the buzzbait. Because of long casts involved, braid allows for a strong hookset and the ability to reel the fish in quickly. In Northwest Arkansas, ask for PowerPro braid at Southtown Sporting Goods in Springdale and Hook Line and Sinker in Rogers and Bella Vista.

For spring buzzbaits, Booyah is my primary brand of baits. Try the Booyah Buzz, which comes with a clacker in addition to the blade. I will use some with clackers and will cut the clacker off some others for a different sound. I’ve not tried the Pond Magic buzz, but they look interesting for smaller bodies of water.

Good luck and catch some bass this spring on a buzzbait!

 

Observations from the KBF National Championship

Kentucky Lake Largemouth Bass
Kentucky Lake Largemouth

Last week I competed in the Kayak Bass Fishing National Championship on Kentucky Lake for the first time, which was also my first time on Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake. During my days pre-fishing and during the tournament itself, I came to a few conclusions. (admittedly, some more obvious than others)

  1. These lakes are huge, particularly for a kayak angler. We knew going in this was the case and would need to do a lot of scouting. During pre-fishing I probably spent almost as much time in the Tacoma as I did on the water. This is a lesson learned for next year, narrow the scope of water and spend more time scouting fewer areas.
  2. There are a lot of parts of Kentucky and Tennessee that look like the good parts of Arkansas. And…a lot of parts of Kentucky and Tennessee that look like the bad parts. We appear to all be in this together.
  3. 362 kayak anglers is a big field, even on Kentucky Lake. Every angler there is a good fisherman, which meant they can also read a topo map. The result was that anglers weren’t as spread out as I had hoped, the good water in many cases was very crowded with kayaks pounding the fish for a week. Those that found good water away from the crowd were rewarded.
  4. Top baits for me on Kentucky Lake during the week were a Bomber Deep Flat A crankbait, Booyah Buzz 1/2 oz buzzbait, Rebel Teeny Foxy Shad Pop-R, ned rig, Goldens Paddletail on drop shot and YUM Thumpn’ Dinger texas rigged.
  5. Ledges. I’d heard a lot about ledges and ledge fishing.  I think this worked for a lot of folks, but I just really couldn’t get it to happen for me. Might be the wrong time of year, so may try it again my next trip over there. Still was fun to say I’d fished the famous ledges on Kentucky Lake.
  6. Mom and Pop’s Pizza in Big Sandy is AWESOME. Definitely what is needed after a long day on the water. Check them out next time you are near the south end of the lake. Protip – pay the extra $1 for cheese on the breadsticks.
  7. The captains meeting the first night was a good event and was important to hear the rules and such. The captain’s meeting the second night seemed completely unnecessary, particularly when they moved it back from 4:00 to 6:30 and people had to wait around for an extra couple of hours instead of getting rest and preparing gear for the next day.
  8. I’ve never encountered a bigger bunch of rude, obnoxious and aggressive boaters than I did on Kentucky Lake. I’m hearing this as well from many other KBF anglers. Stories of invading fishing space, attempts to swamp kayaks and dangerously close fly-bys were common. Come on man.
  9. I made a huge mistake this week and really did a lot of exploring to get to know the lake’ instead of my usual strategy of looking for a particular type of water. Although I do know the lake better by fishing in about 10 different areas, it kept me from learning the area I needed to as well as I should have. Lesson learned for next time.
  10. Day one, I roll up an hour early to my selected spot, 449 miles from home and after a week of looking around for the prime location to begin. What do I see? Fellow Natural State Kayak Anglers member Jeff Mallot sitting there in the exact place I’m headed. Small world. If only I’d gotten there two hours early…ha!
  11. Lake Barkley looks really really good. People had told me to go fish there and I tried it. Loved how it looked. I just couldn’t catch fish there. Maybe next time.
  12. If you lose your assault paddle out of your yak on the crest of the big bridge crossing the lake, it will be gone by the time you go back to get it.
  13. Crazy Chicken night (every Tuesday) is definitely worth the $9.43 at Paris Landing State Park Lodge.
  14. There is a lot of talk about how long it took to judge fish and get final results out. I agree that this was a bit frustrating, but really, if you aren’t in the top contenders, it doesn’t matter that much to get your rank after a day or two. I’m more concerned about talk I’m seeing from some about wanting to implement a cut day after day one, or raising the fish limit to 15″ to limit the number of fish to be scored. In my opinion, this is supposed to be a fun, rewarding event, and both of those changes could really reduce the fun of the overall event for most anglers. People like to catch and card fish, and people like to know they will be fishing two full days before they travel. These changes would depress attendance, I know I may not pay the entry fee and travel over there for only one day. For the ‘hardcore’ anglers asking for these changes, guess what? Fewer participants means less entry fees which means less prize money for you to win. Hopefully everyone will see the big picture that a huge event where everyone has fun is the best thing for the sport.
  15. Can’t wait for next year!

Carolina Rigging for Trout in Arkansas

Rainbow Trout Caught on Carolina Rig at Lake Atalanta, Rogers Arkansas
Arkansas lake Rainbow Trout.

Fishing in Arkansas during January can be a hit or miss situation with the weather. One day it could be mild and in the 50s and the next day you may encounter sleet and ice and below freezing temperatures. One thing that you can count on is lake water temps dropping well into the low 40s and even the high 30s in some small lakes.

This is a great time of year to do some trout fishing in Northwest Arkansas, either in the White River tailwaters of Beaver or Table Rock lake or in some select clear water lakes in the area like Lake Atalanta in Rogers.

As primarily a bass fisherman I don’t own a fly rod, but you can use some bass techniques for some easy trout fishing. One of these techniques is to fish Carolina-style, but with a different and more finesse setup.

Owner Fishing Hooks - Mosquito size 8 Model 5177-031
Use size 8 or 6 hook.

One of the keys to making this work is to have a good quality sharp hook in the appropriate size. When using an egg-style floating bait, I’d select an Owner Mosquito Hook in size 8, or size 6 if you prefer. These Owner hooks are reliable and needle-sharp which is critical in a situation like this. They also have very small barbs that are easily pinched down depending on the waters you fish. If your local tackle store doesn’t carry these, you can find Owner Hooks on Tackle Warehouse.

Simply set up your rig by using a lightweight spinning rod and Shimano reel and attach a small swivel to a 4lb (try P-Line) leader with a small bullet weight and glass bead on the main line. Tie your Owner Mosquito hook to your leader, making it anywhere from 1 to 3 feet depending on water depth. Apply your floating bait egg

Close up of Owner hook in Rainbow Trout Caught on Carolina Rig at Lake Atalanta, Rogers Arkansas
The Owner Mosquito Hook in size 8 is the perfect small size for trout, but is needle sharp for a nice hookset.

on the hook, adjusting so just the tip of the hook is showing.

To fish it, simply toss it upstream in a current allowing it to then slowly bounce along back to you, taking up slack as it goes. This is a great system for fishing ponds or lakes with trout because you can either cast it out and leave it until you get a bite, or periodically move it a bit. The floating bait will look like a natural snack for the trout. Once you get a bite, the sharp Owner hook doesn’t require a strong hookset.

Give this technique a try the next time you want to try some trout fishing on a cold day. It’s an easy transition for a bass fisherman to find some success with trout.

Golden Retrievals With Crankbaits

I once heard Bassmaster Elite Series Pro Angler Greg Hackney say that he can “…make a fish bite with a crankbait.” He continued by saying “…because a fish is kind of like a dog. No matter how good of a dog he is you can make ’em bite.” Since poking a stick through a fence won’t work for a bass what’s the magic formula to making it bite? The answer may partially lie in the art of presentation via the retrieval. Let’s look at an example to illustrate some points:

It’s a beautiful day. The sun is out, a slight breeze is blowing and it’s lunch time. You settle down to enjoy your meal and suddenly a pestering fly takes on the persona of Tom Cruise in Top Gun. Ole “Maverick” is coming in to buzz your tower and spoil your peace. First it flies right by your noggin causing your head to flinch. Next it hits your fingers holding your beloved BLT sandwich. You flail your hand to try and shoo the quarter inch pain in the posterior away. Next, as a coup de grace, the fly zooms up to your face and hovers a mere inch from your eye. You instinctively grab for the fly with your Cheeto stained free hand.

Your head moving, your hand shooing, and your grab for the pest are all reactionary actions. You don’t think about it, you just do it. This is why a crankbait is considered a “reaction bait”, because the fish isn’t necessarily biting out of hunger. It’s biting because your goading it into an involuntary, non-hunger induced reaction.

So, let’s put yourself in the place of the fly and run through some progressions. You’ve got your favorite Skirmish crankbait tied on and you’re going to give Billy Bad Bass enough incentive where he can’t ignore your masterly hand painted crankbait any longer.

First Progression: The Steady Retrieve
Probably the retrieve most new anglers use. Throw it out and real it back. It can be effective but the fish need to be in a more aggressive, or arguably a hunger driven, mood. Like the fly buzzing by your head in the example above, a crankbait rolling in and steadily rolling on can cause an action but not necessarily the aggressive bite reaction we are looking for.

Second Progression: Bang It Into Something!
This is a big one and where most strikes occur. Make sure your crankbait is either bouncing along the bottom or colliding into something. Like the fly above your hand will move if a fly runs into it. It’s just instinct. If the bass are relating to wood, brush, or rock don’t be afraid to send that Skirmish hunter killer in there and let it deflect off of that cover. Hitting something near the bass causes the crankbait to rapidly change direction and, as a by-product, creates a slight pause in the retrieve. Bass are opportunistic predators and many times nature will dictate that they react by biting.

Third Progression: The Pause
Here’s a nugget I’ve watched some of the best crankbait fisherman I know, or watched pros, do. Let’s say you’re moving down a bank that doesn’t have a lot of cover. Like the fly above that hovers in front of your face we want our crankbait to do the same. You can reel the crankbait down to running depth, and then give it a short pause. Real it a few turns and then pause. Or, like I’ve seen Elite Series crankbait expert Kevin Short do, the pull and pause. Just like it sounds you reel down the crankbait to running depth, pull the bait, pause while reeling back in the slack and then pull again. Rinse and repeat. In this action you try to mimic our hovering fly with the pauses. A bass will have trouble passing up an easy meal that swims up and pauses right in front of it.

While you’re out this season with your Skirmish crankbait tied on try these methods and watch your strike percentages increase. If your friends take notice and ask you what your secret is, just smile and say “fly fishing!”

— Justin Phillips

Power Plant Lake Winter Fishing

I want to share a technique I used this past December on a power plant lake in Arkansas to catch a large number of big bass, probably my most fun month of fishing this year. Almost all of them were caught using a Norman Lures DD22 or Deep Little N crankbait.

This fatty had been feeding on shad when it bit my Norman Deep Little N in white green fleck.
This fatty had been feeding on shad when it bit my Norman Deep Little N in white green fleck.
Bass about to move up on some shad.
Bass about to move up on some shad.

At Swepco Lake in Gentry, Arkansas, bass boat and kayak anglers fill the parking lots and storm the water when winter arrives. This year is no different, with a chill in the air and ice on the banks, the “hot tub” was a nice 74-76 degrees near the plant discharge. There are a lot of ways to catch good fish at a lake like this, particularly when the bite is on.

For me, the most effective and consistent method for bigger bass this time was to do some deep cranking, going after bass which were herding shad and then feeding. A second key was identifying the depth of the bass and then choosing the correct crankbait to use so that it would run just a few feet above the bass. A Norman DD22 runs as deep as 17 feet and a Deep Little N runs as deep as 12 feet.

When a school was identified and depth determined, I’d simply deploy the crankbait and repeatedly retrieve it in the vecinity of the bass. To keep things moving slowly, my setup was a 5:4:1 Lews reel on a Dobyns FR 705CB crankbait rod.  To get the bait as deep as possible, I used a light 8 lb mono and thumbed the reel instead of setting my drag. Finally, for some extra persuasion, I used a Fish Allure scented tab (shad) on the baits, on the body, just behind the front treble.

Norman DD22 in Firetiger gel coat and Deep Little N in white green fleck.
Norman DD22 in Firetiger gel coat and Deep Little N in white green fleck.

This technique netted dozens of bass and was a fun combination of electronics, crankbaits and gear that all came together at this power plant lake. Hopefully this gives you some insight or ideas on something to try on your next trip.

Applying Scented Tabs to Hard Baits

Many bass fishermen use scent on their baits when looking for an edge in creating a bite. When using a crankbait, topwater or otherfa1 lure there is a way to add scent to help trigger strikes – applying Fish Allure tabs.

Fish Allure tabs come in various sizes to fit different types of lures.
Fish Allure tabs come in various sizes to fit different types of lures.

Unlike spray-on or gel scents, Fish Allure scented tabs can be applied to hard baits and will not immediately wash off once in the water. When water hits the tab it activates the amino acids. This puts out a scent designed to help convince the bass they are chasing live prey. The tabs last for up to 60 minutes in the water, so you can be confident it is working.

Using Fish Allure Tabs
This Bandit 100 is ready to catch fish with the tab placed right behind the front treble hook.
This Bandit 100 is ready to catch fish with the tab placed right behind the front treble hook.

I utilize Fish Allure tabs the most on topwater lures like a Heddon Zara Spook or on a squarebill crankbait like the Bandit 100. When applying the tab I try to place it where the bait will stay in contact with the water but the tab is protected from the harshest action of the lure. After 60 minutes, simply peel off the tab and replace, or, if finished with the lure before time is up you can dry off the tab and use it again on the next trip.

On a Zara Spook I will place the tab just in front of the front treble hook.
On a Zara Spook I will place the tab just in front of the front treble hook.

For tournaments or other outings where I’m tying on early or the night before. You can go ahead and add the scented tab in advance – unlike other oils, gels or sprays. Fish Allure comes in various scents. I generally prefer to use the Shad scent on most baits. If you are looking for an edge in your fishing and something different than what others are using, try Fish Allure.

Boost your confidence when fishing for Largemouth Bass, Spotted Bass or Smallmouth Bass.  Improve your success with hard baits by using Fish Allure tabs.

 

Plastic Bait Organization for Kayak Fishing

Organizing soft plastics in the limited space provided on a fishing kayak can be a challenge. I tried a few different methods before settling on the one that works best for me.Organizing soft plastics for kayak fishing.

When bass fishing from a relatively small kayak with little
storage space I had to find a system that ensured I had the right plastic worm, creature bait, trailer or swimbait with me at the right time.

Lurenet.com Article on Organizing Soft Plastics

Lurenet.com recently wrote up an article about my system using temperature and technique to keep the right baits with me on the water in an easy to manage way:

Organization Means Everything

While fishing from a kayak offers many advantages over angling from a boat, copious storage space is not among them, which means a smart kayak angler has a well-thought plan before venturing onto the water.

 “Without some type of system, you’re always having to swap tackle and reorganize gear before every trip,” said Jason Kincy, YUM brand Organizing soft plastics with ziplock bags.ambassador and host of the Kayak Fishing Focus website. “Because there are so many types, sizes and styles, soft plastics can be a particular challenge.”

Kincy’s approach to organizing soft plastics is system that incorporates...READ MORE at Lurenet.com 

Kayak Fishing Tournament Packing List

What gear do you need for a successful run in a kayak fishing tournament or kayak bass tournament series? The dog days of summer are about over and it is almost time for fall tournaments and year end championships to take place. Whether a first time tournament angler or a seasoned pro, you have to make sure you have what you Kayak fishing tournamentneed before a day on tournament waters.

I have competed in different types of tournaments and tournament trails – including single day events, year long trails, weeknight yakpots and online kayak fishing tourneys.

Kayak Fishing Tournament Checklist
  1. Hawg Trough and camera – The cornerstone of kayak bass fishing tournaments is that you measure the length of your fish instead of the weight. This Catch Photo Release (CPR) approach requires you to have an approved measuring device like a Hawg Trough on board along with a way to take photos such as a camera or phone. Be sure to understand what is allowed in the tournament rules for submitting pictures and choose the one that works best for you. Tip…practice, practice, practice taking and submitting your photos!
  2. Tackle appropriate for the waters – When hitting the lake or river for a fishing tournament in a kayak, space is at a premium. Think about the water condition. Is it clear or stained? Rising or falling? Temperature? Spending some time here can make sure you have the right baits on your yak throughout the day. Some of my go-to baits on board include Heddon Zara Spooks, Booyah jigs and spinnerbaits, YUM plastics and Norman crankbaits. For an extra boost take a look at Fish Allure scented tabs for hard baits.
  3. Safety gear – Make sure your kayak is lit, has visibility flag, whistle and that you are wearing a PFD.  Here are articles by Paddling.net and NRS about safety gear. Tip…if it is a roadrunner style event or a big body of water, make sure someone else knows where you generally are in case you don’t make it back to weigh-in.
  4. Miscellaneous items – Some other items I always take into a tournament include a watch or clock I can see to monitor time, extra reel and line, snack and drinks, net, sunscreen and foul weather gear from Stormr.
Make Your Own List

Every kayak fishing tournament angler is different and likely has additional tips, but this list hits on some of the main items I’d advise someone to consider having on board as they launch in the next tournament.

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Summertime Kayak Night Fishing for Bass

Here is an article from Lurenet.com describing kayak night fishing during the dog days of summer. This article explains my I always use YUM soft plastics when kayak night fishing.approach to find night-time bass. I’ll use a YUM Thumpn’ Dinger or YUM Ribbontail on a Texas rig with a 3/8 Gambler weight and a 4/0 hook. On the weight I’ll add a Fish Allure scented tab to help trigger the bite. My full rigging setup is an 8:3:1 reel on a Dobyns Fury 7’0″ 704C rod with 14 lb line.

Here’s the article from Lurenet.com:

The dog days of summer are neither comfortable for fishermen nor fish. But while anglers have the option of retreating to the air conditioned indoors, largemouth bass can only seek deeper water or thicker cover. In either case, it makes them more difficult to find and catch during the heat of the day.

Jason Kincy, YUM brand ambassador and diehard kayak angler, solves both problems by fishing at night on the lakes near his Bentonville, Ark., home. “It’s hot and muggy and water temps are running at around 94-degrees right now,” he said, “so I’ve been starting my fishing day at about 8 p.m.”

Angling after dark isn’t particularly unusual on southern waters during the summer, but for Kincy, who hosts the Kayak Fishing Focus website, it means first pinpointing the most promising spots to make his 3 or 4 hours on the water as productive as possible.

“The ideal is a rock bank, or a bank that has some rocks on it, that’s fairly steep and close to deep water,” he said.

When kayak night fishing, Kincy targets depths from 15 feet up to the shoreline at night and a steep bank, he explained, often means the fish will simply get there earlier in the evening. “If there’s sunken brush in that 8-to-12 foot range, so much the better.”

When his kayak is sitting a good, strong cast from the shoreline and in 20 feet of water, Kincy knows he’s in the right spot for a YUM Thump’N Dinger Texas-rigged behind a 3/8-ounce bullet sinker. “It’s a good nighttime lure because the U-shaped tail adds vibration bass can zero in on after dark. I usually start with Watermelon/Red Flake and Black/Blue Flake as it gets darker.”

A 7½-inch Texas-rigged YUM Ribbontail, or a Bad Jamma on a Booyah Bankroll Jig, are other solid options for his drag/hop presentation, which is fast, but not too fast, he explained.

“The fish can be anywhere from the shoreline on down,” he said, “so I want to cover water, but at a pace that allows the bass time to react.” 

– See more at: http://www.lurenet.com/blog/fishing-dog-days-at-night/#sthash.m1xuqY1n.dpuf