The art of the swim bait
by Mike Gerry
When you start talking about fishing a swim bait my ears perk up as it is one of my favorite baits, besides being one of my most productive.
A constant education
by Mike Gerry
As we move into the second half of the year, the one thing I realize is the education process of bass fishing never ends.
Shad spawn significance
by Mike Gerry
Many fishermen are aware that every spring the shad spawn out. This spawn brings tons of small fish for bass to feed on, and it starts the beginning of the bass feeding after healing from their own spawning time. This is a big milestone in the progression of the bass fishing on your lake. The water has generally warmed into the 70’s, and the bass are feeding and chasing aggressively for the first time since their spawn was over.
The biggest change, and most positive change, every year is what it means from a bait perspective. During the past month or so, prior to this period, the bass were lethargic. Generally we fished slow baits like football jigs, worms and creature baits, keeping contact with the bottom and taunting bass with plastics. With the shad spawn you can put those baits back in your tackle box and make your move to aggressive baits: swim jigs, chatter baits, spinner baits and top-water baits. These all become a factor, and catching is very productive and much more fun than it was during the slower period.
It is important to note that the timing of the shad spawn and the time of day that you should be on the water to enjoy this period is first light in the morning or the last 30 minutes of daylight. The reason for this is that as the sun rises and the shad wake up from their berth, they move aggressively over and around the grassy areas or structured and covered areas on your lake.
Depending on your lake, and the type of structure you normally see covering your lake, you must identify the likely spot where the shad spawn takes place. Spotting the right area quickly, for the shad spawn, is important so you can be in the right place, at the right time for the shad spawn. In other words, where it’s occurring on your lake is essential for success.
There is only one way to find this out and that is to cover the structure on your lake, during this period, with fast-moving baits, like spinner baits, while looking for the shad chasing your bait as you work it back to the boat. Once you spot them chasing your bait you will know the spawn is on!
Summertime weather and the bite
by Mike Gerry
As we move on into the summer season, everything we thought we understood about the effect of the weather, changes. The bass fishing changes, and weather patterns change. During the winter we dealt with many cold fronts with cold rain, followed by sunny days with water temperatures, generally, on the rise. In the summer, many things change. We have warm rain, bright, sunny, hot days along with thunder and lightning storms. All this changes from winter to summer and so do the patterns.
To me, the most notable change is the effect of the thunderstorms. Believe it or not, the loud thunderclaps and sizzles of lightning change what the fish are doing before the storms set in. You may have been out on the water, catching fish, in eight feet of water and run in to hide from a storm for 30 minutes. When you go right back out to the same spot as the storm passes – lo and behold – no bites. What changed was the storm.
The lightning drove the fish off the pattern they were feeding on and into deeper water to protect themselves from the noise and the lightning strikes. The bait moved, the bass moved, and you must start all over again to find a pattern. There are a couple of choices for you when this occurs. Often, if the weather stabilizes, after about an hour, the bait and the bass will move back to their respective feeding spots when you were catching before the storm. If the weather stays unsettled, and you are not getting bit, you best move deeper and look for where those fish you were catching moved to.
The winter sun is well known for grouping up the bass, so they compete for food during the mid-part of the day. Unfortunately, in the summer’s midday heat and sun my experience tells me the bright, sunny part of the day, moves them apart and they suspend and become lethargic. The sun depletes the oxygen levels, and they move to areas away from the thermocline and look for pockets of increased oxygen levels. If you are skilled with your electronics you can find the thermocline and find bass in the oxygen levels below it. Understand the weather and you will catch more fish!
by Mike Gerry
As we approach the busy time of year that loads the lakes up with pleasure boaters, jet skis, kayaks, fisherman and others, it’s time to revisit some of the common practices of safety.
It’s hard to believe that a lake of 69,000 acres can get so busy that it presents a safety issue, but it does, and understanding how to maneuver the lake and how to pass each other can make you a lot safer when out enjoying the water.
The first safety measure, and most important, is wearing a life jacket. As someone who was in a boat accident, and had a life jacket save my life, I can attest to how important it is. When the motor is on, put your life jacket on. If you have a child of eight years of age or younger in Alabama the law requires they wear a life jacket while in the boat – at all times.
Often, while out on the main channel, I get questions from my clients as to what the red and green buoys mean. It’s simple – they mark the deep water paths that you can navigate safely without the chance of hitting a shallow part of the lake.
You must stay between them. It’s that simple – unless you’re familiar with the lake, stay in between the markers while running.
The most common mistake is how to navigate on-coming boats. The navigation rules are very simple when approaching an on-coming boat – keep them on your left; it’s referred to as “passing port to port.” If you do this, your ability to safely get around on-coming boats is simple and safe. The tough maneuver is how to cross perpendicular boat traffic.
Who has the right-of-way? Just because you’re in a main part of the channel does not mean you are in the right-of-way. This explanation requires some detail of port and starboard side rules. The easiest way is to assume nothing. Slow down! Be cautious, and if you’re not sure give up the right-of-way; it’s a little safer that way. Most people, without training, have no idea how to determine the right-of-way in this situation and there’s no need to get in an accident just to prove your right-of-way!
Lastly, be aware, alert, and never take your eyes off the water. There are too many boats and too much traffic to not pay attention.