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Those aren’t leaves. They’re crappie—plain as day—thanks to the
clarity of MEGA Imaging®. Using this high-frequency sonar, you
can easily see fish and structure to find productive water more
quickly. And with new MEGA Imaging+™, there’s absolutely no place
left to hide, thanks to extended range and depth, plus 20% more
detail than MEGA Imaging. Visit to learn more.
© 2019 Johnson Outdoors Marine Electronics, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Now search areas
up to 200 ft below and
to either side of your boat.
Available on select SOLIX®
and HELIX® Series models.
The Worldwide Authority On Bass Fishing
January/February 2019
How Too
Z Crank Like
Combs p. 26
Z Throw These
5 Baits p. 22
Z Follow Pirch’s
Playbook p. 64
Busting Winter
Myths p. 36
3 Cures For Cold
Catching p. 68
The All New 2019 FX21 and FX20 Apex Edition showcases one exclusive color package, featuring 2
new colors derived from the Yamaha SHO. The FX Apex Edition comes absolutely fully loaded with a
Humminbird® Solix® 15 on the dash and a Humminbird® Solix® 12 on the bow, Two (2) 8’ Blade PowerPoles® color matched to your boat, an Altlas hydraulic jackplate, Minn Kota® Ultrex® iPilot® LINK 112
trolling motor, back lit red SKEETER deck light & Red LED deck lighting. If you want a truly fully loaded,
tournament bass boat right off the showroom floor, look no further than the 2019 FX Apex Edition.
+Nationally Advertised Price; actual sales price determined by dealer. Price does not include freight, dealer prep, and T.T.L. XManufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP). Prices may vary due to supply, location,
freight etc. Actual prices are set by the dealer. *Terms and Conditions: Nationally Advertised Price with $2,500 Rebate. Consumer benefit for purchasing a new (unused, not previously warranty registered) eligible
MY 2019 and prior boat from 1/1/19-3/31/19 is an instant rebate applied at time of final sale by dealer, at no extra cost to consumer. Actual rebate amount is determined by model selected. NO BENEFIT
SUBSTITUTIONS. Promotion is only applicable from authorized participating Skeeter dealers in the U.S.A. and Canada sold to purchasing consumers residing in the U.S.A. and Canada. Promotion is limited to
available stock in dealer inventory that is sold, PDI completed, delivered and warranty registered in accordance with Skeeter’s promotion and warranty registration requirements during applicable dates. No model
substitutions, benefit substitutions, extensions or rain checks will be allowed. Not redeemable for cash. Boats sold or provided for commercial, camp, resort, rental, promotional/demo, government agency,
competition, tournament or sponsorship use are not eligible. This promotion cannot be used in conjunction with any other Skeeter offer or discounts. Some exceptions may apply. See authorized, participating
Skeeter dealer for complete details. Skeeter reserves the right to change or cancel this promotion at any time. Other restrictions and conditions apply. ©2019 Skeeter Products, Inc. All rights reserved. This
document contains many of Skeeter’s valuable trademarks. It may also contain trademarks belonging to other companies. Any references to other companies or their products are for identification purposes only,
and are not intended to be an endorsement. Remember to observe all applicable boating laws. Never drink and ride. Dress properly with a USCG approved flotation device and protective gear. Boats may be shown
with optional equipment. See your local Skeeter dealer for complete details.
With Yamaha VF25OLA
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With Yamaha VF25OLA
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digital wheel/axle
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F2 Jack Stand &
Winch, and Stoltz
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automotive style
paint scheme to
match the Yamaha
New composite
fender, backlit
badge, 18”
Turismo® wheels,
and Good Year®
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Chirp Mega ST
GPS w/temp and
Networking in the
dash and bow –
Gimble mounted.
Minn Kota® Ultrex
112/US2/IP Link45” Trolling Motor.
Bolstered Full-Flex
Sport Seating
(4 vinyl color
matched seating
with custom
Visit to locate
your nearest Skeeter Dealer.
Volume 52, No. 1
January/February 2019
Anyone can catch a bunch of
dinks, but who wants More
Little Fish? It’s the big ones
that will make your heart
race. Here is how true professionals target monster bass
this month.
Ray Scott And The
Bass Man Of Africa
The tale of how a monster
largemouth created an
January/February 2019
Harry ‘N’ Charlie:
Lunker Of The Month
Our favorite bumbling duo
hatches a scheme to win a
big-bass contest. Will it
actually pan out this time?
Day On The Lake,
Jake Whitaker
A Life Path To AOY
From catfishing to king of
the bass fishing world, here’s
how a young West Coast
angler worked his way to the
Zoning Requirements
Fishing waters that “look
good” tends to become
instinctive after years of
chasing bass. But you can
fine-tune your search for fish
by understanding the
species-specific conditions
responsible for creating
prime real estate.
It’s not often anglers find
themselves facing a warm
front in winter. Elite Series
pro Jake Whitaker confronts
this confusing situation. He
illustrates how to catch a
limit of cold-water bass while
wearing short sleeves.
5 Winter Myths
The bass don’t bite when it’s
cold; you have to fish too
slowly in the winter; blah,
blah, blah. Elite Series pros
blow up your favorite
excuses for staying home
this month. BY MARK HICKS
Cranks For Combing
Winter Bass
Elite Series pro Keith Combs
stays aggressive in cold water
to crank up the weight in his
livewell. BY LOUIE STOUT
enduring and unlikely friendship between two icons half
a world apart.
Land Of Giants:
Winter Whopper Land
Boundless Bladed
Bladed jigs have come a long
way in the past 13 years.
Anglers need to understand
the differences in bait
design to get the most out of
these lures.
Power-Pole, the original shallow water anchor, is the number one choice
of Pro and leisure anglers. We continue to deliver swift, silent and secure
grip in fresh or salt water on all bottom surfaces. Our C-Monster Control
System 2.0 gives you even more control capability. And with the best
customer service in the industry we promise to stand behind each and
every Power-Pole anchor. Now you can pin your boat with confidence.
Go to for more details and to find a dealer near you.
Volume 52, No. 1
January/February 2019
12 On The Hook | A closer look at
Tennessee pro Skylar Hamilton
14 Conservation | B.A.S.S.
National Conservation Director
Gene Gilliland becomes the 61st
inductee into the American
Fisheries Society’s Fisheries
Management Hall of Excellence
14 Datebook | Mark your calendar
for special holidays this month
14 On The Tournament Trail |
Keep an eye on where the
Bassmaster Tournament Trail is
headed in January and February
14 State Of The Nation | The
B.A.S.S. Nation tournament trail is
revealed. Take a look at the topnotch fisheries that made the cut
18 You Write The Caption! |
Submit your best caption and see
last month’s winning response
18 Mail Call | Readers share
14 Astro Tables | Curious as to the best fishing days this month? This
chart lets you in on when you should be spending time on the water
16 Scientific Angle | B.A.S.S. legend Rick Clunn discusses the positive
impact that Hapkido, a martial art dealing with the joints, wrist locks and
throws, has had on his life and fishing career over the years
17 You Ask, Pros Answer | You ask the pros timely questions about
catching bass in cold water
18 Twitter Poll | What is the
biggest mistake you can make
when fishing for bass in the
winter? See what most
Bassmaster readers thought
18 |
Readers share photos of the
magazine and their most recent
17 What’s It Worth | Find out
what your antique fishing items
are worth
64 Pattern Of The Month | Six-time Classic contender Cliff Pirch has a
game plan to help you land winter bass with a football jig
8 First Cast | Proof Of Life
10 Upfront | An Unlikely Reunion
69 Lunker Club | New batch of
66 Bass Basics | Everything you need to know about dialing in craws and
74 Parting Shot | The Legacy of 41
70 Bass By Yak | Learn how to
control a drift anchor
68 Triple Threat | Three pro anglers offer their perspective on how to intersect fish where pilings, rocks and logjams become a winter wonderland
76 Back Deck | Bush, The
17 Bass Boating | All of your
boating questions answered here
20 Gear Grab | Take a look at some of the hottest products on the market
for winter weather fishing
Catching winter bass can be intimidating. It’s cold. The fishing can be slow. Did we mention it’s cold? Still, you can have epic
days if you are willing to get on the water. Elite Series stud Keith Combs attacks winter fish with reckless abandon ... and crankbaits. Check out his system on page 26. Cover photo by Seigo Saito.
Bassmaster Magazine ISSN 0199-3291 is published nine times a year in January/February, Mid-February, March, April, May, June, July/August, September/October and November/
December by BASS, 3500 Blue Lake Drive, Suite 330, Birmingham, AL 35243. Yearly Dues: U.S. — $30; Canada — $45; Outside U.S. and Canada — $55. POSTMASTER: Send address
changes to Bassmaster Magazine, PO Box 420235, Palm Coast, FL 32142-0235. Periodicals postage paid at Birmingham, Ala., and additional mailing offices.
January/February 2019
There’s a reason they say, Curse like a sailor.
That’s why we offer basic plans starting at $100 a year
and options with Sign & Glide® On-Water Towing.
Follow The Sources
The departments and features in this issue lean on the experience and knowledge of Elite Series pros. If you want to stay connected to them year-round, follow
them on their social media channels. You can find their Facebook handles below.
Drew Benton
Chris Groh
Garrett Paquette
Stetson Blaylock
Skylar Hamilton
Chad Pipkens
Brandon Card
Tyler Carriere
Ray Hanselman Jr.
Hank Cherry
Harey Horne
Rick Clunn
Kelley Jaye
Keith Combs
Chad Morgenthaler
Seth Feider
Brian Snowden
Frank Talley
Jake Whitaker
Jason Williamson
Bill Lowen
John Crews
Cliff Pirch
Chris Zaldain
Paul Mueller
Editor-in-Chief: Dave Precht
Editor: James Hall
Managing Editor: Helen White
Art Director/Photography Manager:
Laurie Tisdale
Editorial Assistant: Mandy Pascal
Senior Editor: Thomas Allen
Production Manager/Art Director:
Rick Reed
Designer: Breanne Jackson
Senior Writers:
Steve Price, Pete Robbins,
Louie Stout, Don Wirth
Jonathan H. Milo, Arturo Gonzalez Murga,
Doug Schermer, Jason Simmelink
Photographer: Seigo Saito
Photo Editor: Gary Tramontina
Antique Tackle Consultant: Karl White
Managing Editor: Chris Mitchell
Digital Content Manager: Phillip Lawless
Director, Membership: Mitch Frank
Phone: 877-227-7872
Director, Sales Development and Marketing:
Teresa Wilson Lux
Sales Development Director, Digital and Television:
Laura Rush, 205-313-0934
Marketing: April Phillips, Susan Sutton, Kerri Bonner,
Mary Kathryn Thomas
Senior Advertising Manager: Cindy McKee, 205-313-0926
Lifestyle Sales Director: Rich Smyth, 205-313-0939
Lifestyle Sales Manager: Bill Syrett, 770-367-6622
East Region Sales: Deborah Smart, 860-839-5245,
Advertising & Expo Sales: Katie Hagan, 251-802-4994,
Chief Executive Officer: Bruce Akin
Executive Vice President, Director: Chase Anderson
Vice President, General Manager: Carol Stone
Vice President, Digital: Jim Sexton
Vice President, Sales: Joe Higgins
Vice President, Events & Sponsorship Activation: Angie Thompson
Vice President, Publications And Communications: Dave Precht
Conservation Director: Gene Gilliland
B.A.S.S. Nation Director: Jon Stewart
Tournament Director: Trip Weldon
Founder: Ray Scott
Published by B.A.S.S., LLC
3500 Blue Lake Drive, Suite 330
Birmingham, AL 35243
January/February 2019
Copyright B.A.S.S. Inc. • All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without
the permission of Bassmaster Magazine is prohibited. Bassmaster Magazine cannot be
held responsible for any kind of unsolicited materials. PRINTED IN THE USA.
Daily Boat Takeoffs
Volunteer Landing
Knoxville, Tennessee
Outdoors Expo presented by
DICK’S Sporting Goods
Knoxville Convention Center &
World’s Fair Exhibition Hall
Daily Live Weigh-in Shows
Thompson-Boling Arena
Life and B.A.S.S.
Nation Members!
Register to receive your
personalized credential and
to attend the special Classic
Outdoors Expo Preview Hour.
OR call 877-BASS-USA
University of Tennessee Campus
All events are FREE! Details at
First Cast
Proof Of Life
Elite Series pro Brock Mosley loves to fish
shallow. However, when the mercury drops the
first month of the year, there aren’t many
anglers willing to beat the bank. Mosley bucks
the trend, however, knowing that some bass,
usually the bigger variety, simply never leave
skinny water no matter how cold the water gets.
Here, his theory pays off in a large ... make that
largemouth ... way. When a fish requires your
second hand to move that far up the rod for a
boat flip, you know it will be showcased at the
weigh-in stand. Now that he has found life in
the shallows, it’s game on.
[The Shot]
“I got really lucky with this
photo,” says longtime
Bassmaster photographer
Seigo Saito. “I had just
pulled up to Brock when he
set the hook on the other
side of the boat. The bass
actually ran straight to me,
and he did the boat flip in
the optimal spot for me to
capture the picture.”
January/February 2019 BASSMASTER
| 9
James Hall Editor
An Unlikely Reunion
CAPTAIN STEVE CARTER was practicing for the European Open bass fishing
tournament on Spain’s Lake Caspe in September 1986. He was serving in the U.S.
Air Force in Zaragoza and spent his off-time chasing the bountiful bass population in this young reservoir. He had found a giant school of fish holding on bridge
pilings when a young Spaniard in an inflatable raft approached him. Little did he
know how this chance encounter would change the future of bass fishing in that
country. “He asked in broken English if I had caught anything, so I lifted up a
stringer of 4-pounders and his mouth fell open,” Carter remembers. “I don’t think
he even knew what bass were. They mainly fished for carp and walleye back
then. I tried to explain where to find largemouth and how to catch them, but my
Spanish was worse than his English.”
Carter said goodbye to the young man
in the raft and didn’t think another
thing about the brief conversation. He
and his partner, Chief Master Sargent
Ken Varnes, would go on to win that
tournament with over 90 pounds.
One year later, Carter was again
practicing for the tournament, and
again fishing the bridge pilings when
he saw that same young man fishing.
“We remembered each other and
started another conversation. This time, I
invited him to join me for a couple of days
of fishing to teach him how to catch bass.
I gave him a bunch of worm hooks, bullet
weights and soft plastics before I left and
wished him luck. I never saw him again.”
That young man was Marcos
Calleja. Calleja would become Spain’s
version of Bill Dance over the next 30
years. His feature articles in Spanish
fishing magazines exposed the Texas
rig, which he learned from Carter, to
the country’s anglers. His video series
would ignite a passion for chasing bass
that did not exist prior. Calleja became
a fishing legend in Spain and credits
Carter for helping ignite his career.
Of course, Carter had no idea who the
young man was or what became of him.
At least, not until he walked into
Watson’s Marine in Bluff City, Tenn.,
one cold January day in 2018, more
than 31 years after he last saw Calleja.
Calleja became a fishing legend
in Spain and credits Carter for
helping ignite his career.”
January/February 2019
“I walked into the dealership and
Aaron, the owner, said ‘Son, you’re
famous!’ I had no idea what he was
talking about. Come to find out, there
was a story about bass fishing in Spain
in Bassmaster Magazine and he said I
was in it. Still, I thought he was joking.”
A few hours later, Carter received
another phone call.
“My current fishing partner, Phil
Poston, called me and said I probably
wouldn’t fish with him anymore
since I was a celebrity. And I was
like, what’s going on here?” Poston
then texted him a photo of the magazine story, which detailed the meeting between him and Calleja,
complete with a photo of Carter holding a bass during their day together
in 1987.
“I was flabbergasted,” Carter admits.
Wanting to reconnect with Calleja,
Carter found the legendary journalist
on LinkedIn and sent him a note.
“I never thought I would again get to
see Captain Steve Carter,” Calleja says.
“Then he sees the Bassmaster story,
and I am reconnected with my teacher
from 30 years ago. It is a miracle.”
Carter joined Calleja this past October
in Spain to fish the Caspe International
Bass Tournament with him.
The pair returned to the bridge
where they first met. The reunion was
complete, and at the exact spot where
the story began. Together they fished:
The man who sparked the passion of
bass fishing in an eager student, and
the student who spread those flames to
an entire nation.
Talon is the only shallow water anchor with up to 15' of depth, multiple
anchoring modes, and control from the bow, transom, console or a remote.
So Talon down, and unlock more water, so you never miss another one.
On The Hook
Skylar Hamilton Hometown: Dandridge, Tenn.
Music Maven. Hamilton
keeps over 2,000 songs on a
rotating playlist for the road.
What started off as a
pop-country Top 100 has
morphed into a blur of rock,
pop and country. His favorites right now? Texan Ruston
Kelly — a self-described
disciple of Kurt Cobain and
Townes Van Zandt — and
former Nashville Star contestant Kacey Musgraves.
When people hear your
name, they think about that
Xpress aluminum boat you run.
We know it helps you get into
shallow or stumpy areas that
some fiberglass rigs are
averse to, but does a lighter
rig help you with gas mileage, too?
Oh yeah, for sure. I get better
mileage on both sides of the
equation. I would say that
running a lighter boat is at
least 25 percent better on fuel
for the outboard, especially if
you have the right prop. On the
truck side, I get 14.5 to 15.5
miles per gallon, which is
pretty incredible when towing
a boat.
Your rookie season was in
2017. Two years in, do you
feel like an Elite Series
veteran yet?
My first year was pretty
tough, so really, I feel like
this past year should count
as my first year. In 2017,
there was so much going on
that I couldn’t focus. My dad
was diagnosed with colon
cancer. At the same time,
I found out I had been misdiagnosed and had been living
with E. coli for four years.
Every time I ate meat, it
would grow, and the medicine that I’d been taking
every day was actually the
last thing you’re supposed to
take with E. coli. Aside from
what I went through with my
dad, it was the worst thing
I’ve ever experienced.
Thankfully, Dad is OK now,
and I got well, too. Last year,
I was able to focus on fishing
again, and I think the results
I feel like this coming season
is going to be incredible for
me. I learned to trust my
instincts more. Last year,
I cashed a check in almost
every tournament I did that in.
This year, I know a lot more
about when to do that, and
| BASSMASTER January/February 2019
Classic Cancellation.
Prior to the 2017
Bassmaster Classic at
Lake Conroe, Hamilton
canceled a family celebration in Houston.
Faced with the double
diagnosis of his father
and himself, Hamilton
fished the event with a
dark cloud hanging over
him. He placed 41st.
By The Numbers
50 Total
19 Times in the Money
2 Top 10 Finishes
1 Bassmaster Classic Appearance
Total Winnings
$157,486 Total Weight: 1,018 pounds, 12 ounces
I have to say, I wouldn’t be
anywhere without my parents.
If it wasn’t for them, for still
supporting me during what
Dad went through, I wouldn’t
be here. I made it rough on
them. They could be happy
somewhere at a vacation
home, but they’re out here
supporting me. My family and
my sponsors are absolutely the
reason for any of my success.
A ton of Elite anglers hail
from east Tennessee, but fishing culture extends beyond
largemouth there. What is the
overall fishing culture like in
the area, and how has it
affected your fishing?
I can fish for smallmouth,
largemouth, trout, catfish,
stripers, walleye and crappie
all within 15 minutes of
where I live in Dandridge.
Rainbow Warrior. Hamilton
spent his childhood chasing
wild rainbow trout in the
waters of Big Tumbling
Creek, Virginia. The Virginia
Department of Game &
Inland Fisheries manages
and stocks the water, but
Hamilton’s father would take
him on the hunt for its more
elusive, wild residents.
There, they’d hike high in the
Appalachian Mountains to
places Hamilton says looked
like a movie set.
That’s why there’s so many
Elite Series anglers from the
area, because we all grew up
fishing for those different
fish and it makes you really
well rounded.
Trout fishing, for example,
plays into bass fishing. It
makes you think outside of
the box and it gives you a lot
more knowledge of fish
Angler of the Year, Brandon Palaniuk’s Tundra was more than his ride to the pros. It served as
his rolling hotel for the first season. And to date, he’s earned $30K in Toyota Bonus Bucks.
Chase your dream and earn extra cash.1 Drive a Toyota Tundra, Tacoma, Sequoia, or 4Runner,
register and place the highest amongst participants in qualifying events. To register or find a
tournament, call Bonus Bucks HQ at 918-742-6424 or visit
Brandon Palaniuk
2017 Toyota Bassmaster
Angler of the Year
Vehicle shown with options. Vehicles shown are personal owner cars, and may be modified with non-Genuine Toyota parts and accessories;
may not be drivable, under warranty, or street legal. Trademarks appearing on the vehicles are those of their respective owners. Before towing,
confirm your vehicle and trailer are compatible, hooked up and loaded properly and that you have any necessary additional equipment. Do not
exceed any Weight Ratings, and follow all instructions in your Owner’s Manual. The maximum you can tow depends on the total weight of any
cargo, occupants, and available equipment.
To qualify for contingency payment, you must be a registered participant in the Toyota Bonus Bucks Program and place within the top 50 percent
of the total field in qualifying tournaments. Only specific Toyota models (For the 2019 Bonus Bucks Program: 2015 or newer) are eligible
and must be registered in your name individually or jointly. For complete rules and official registration form, please visit
©2019 Toyota Motor Sales Advertisement.
This Month
learn a new technique this year.
Eastern Open at Harris
Chain, Harris Chain of Lakes,
1 New Year’s Day. Resolve to
3 Fruitcake Toss Day. You can
finally put that leftover fruitcake to use — as catfish bait.
7-10 Bassmaster Elite,
25 Opposite Day. Improve your
ambidextrous casting ability
by using your off hand to
cast. It’ll make you a better
angler, but we’re not liable
for lost baits.
Bassmaster Elite at
Lake Lanier, Lake Lanier,
Central Open at Toledo
Bend, Toledo Bend, Louisiana
Bassmaster College Series
at Lake Norman presented
by Bass Pro Shops, Lake
St. Johns River, Florida
Norman, North Carolina
8 Boy Scout Day. Scouts have to
demonstrate the usage of two
fishing outfits and a Palomar
knot to earn the fishing merit
badge. Find your local troop
and offer to help them out.
14 Valentine’s Day. Share this
day with National Ferris Wheel
Day and National Organ Donor
Day. This could go really well
or really wrong. for you.
Walk The Dog Day. This is
meant for canines, but why
not celebrate with your favorite topwater lure?
B.A.S.S. National Conservation Director Gene Gilliland was
recently inducted into the American Fisheries Society’s
Fisheries Management Hall of Excellence. Gilliland is the 61st
inductee to the group, which inducts people based on significant contributions in fisheries management, research, administration or education or promotion of fisheries resource
conservation and protection. Induction is considered fisheries
management’s highest honor.
“Being inducted into the Hall of Excellence is a humbling
honor, and I am very appreciative of this recognition,” said
Gilliland. “Many of the early inductees were men whose books
I used in college. Others were my advisers and mentors who
guided my career. Still others are colleagues that I work with in
my current position at B.A.S.S. I count many of them as
personal friends.”
B.A.S.S. officials have
announced the locations for
three regional Nation tournaments and the B.A.S.S.
Nation Championship for
2019. The Nation Central
Regional will be held April
17-19 at Lake Guntersville,
Alabama. The Western
Regional will take place May
8-10 at California’s Lake
Shasta. Maine’s Sebago Lake
will host the Eastern Regional
on September 11-13.
Qualifiers for the B.A.S.S.
Nation Championship will
head to South Carolina’s
Lake Hartwell on a date to be
determined, most likely in
October. “We’re excited to
have a schedule that
includes well-known
bass-fishing havens like Lake
Guntersville, Lake Shasta
and Lake Hartwell,” said
B.A.S.S. Nation Director Jon
Stewart. “Obviously, the
tradition that B.A.S.S. has
with those three lakes speaks
for itself.”
ASTRO TABLES To order Rick Taylor’s Prime Times products, visit For more months, go to
25 50 75
For more, visit
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| BASSMASTER January/February 2019
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25 50 75
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Classic champion
Rick Clunn has had one of
the greatest bass fishing
careers of all time. The
72-year-old Elite Series
veteran is at the top of any
conversation for “greatest of
all time” and has fished
more Classics (32) than
some Elite Series anglers
have fished tournaments.
Clunn has always been a
B.A.S.S. trailblazer. He’s
famed for training himself to
fish every tournament “cold”
in the ’70s, going in with
little knowledge of the waterway and finding a way to win.
But for six years in the late
1980s and early 1990s,
Clunn was also trailblazing
the way anglers physically
prepare themselves for the
tournament trail.
He did so under the tutelage of a Vietnamese martial
artist: Master Cau Pham.
Although there were many
benefits to this new training
regime, Clunn believes it
really helped him focus in
bad-weather situations.
“I could tell immediately that
my circulation was better,”
Clunn says. “Especially when
we were fishing in cold
weather, where circulation is
Slips And Falls
“Hapkido isn’t karate,” Clunn says. “Hapkido is a martial
art that has to do with joints, wrist locks and throws. I was
taking it because we are in these rocky boats all of the time,
and I knew that it would help my reflexes and my balance.”
Clunn says Pham’s training was rigorous. For six years, he’d
report back to the master’s dojo in between stops on the tournament trail. All the while, he was locking, throwing and
stretching his way toward a black belt. And the results showed
on the water. During his time in Hapkido, Clunn managed to win
a fistful of Bassmaster derbies, including the 1990 Classic.
Clunn credits the improved range of motion he learned in
Hapkido with extending his career. He cites numerous times
where he slipped in the boat or fell without serious injury.
“One time, I was fishing a championship on the Illinois River
when I got hung up on a bush. I went up to the bow on the
trolling motor area to try to get the lure back, and my leg
slipped. My body went off of the bow and into the water. I had
one leg in the water and one leg over the trolling motor, and
when I freed myself I was amazed that I hadn’t pulled a
muscle or torn a ligament. The gunnel can be your worst
enemy, because you step on it but don’t see it.”
Without training, Clunn is sure that fall would have had a bad
“I’ve seen guys and co-anglers come down a dock when it’s
icy, and here they go. They hit their butts and heads and slide
in the water. You need to be agile around water.”
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Perfect for drop shotting, vertical jigging and lure
tracking, LiveSight is the Tulsa-based company’s answer
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LiveSight transducer will run you an additional $999.
| BASSMASTER January/February 2019
Clunn is hardly the only
fisherman to fall victim to
slippery surfaces and rolling
waves. Knockdowns and fallouts are common when you
spend years around the
water. Many can lead to
broken bones, bruised egos
or even life-threatening
conditions like hypothermia.
And while prevention isn’t a
guarantee, Rick Clunn has
some advice to help you
avoid an embarrassing,
potentially dangerous setback.
Pham taught
me to always
be on my toes in
terrain. Your muscles are
smart. Your bones are dumb,
he’d say.”
By that statement, Clunn
explains that literally staying
on your toes around wet
surfaces can help your
balance in ways that are
unimaginable. “If you step
on your heel first, you are not
turning on your
muscles. But, if
you can go
down on your
toe first, the
muscles start to
react to whatever
you’re stepping into, and
they can react quickly. If it’s
a precarious step, you’re less
likely to turn your ankle or
something like that.”
Knock on wood, Clunn
hasn’t fallen in a while.
Clunn eventually moved
away from Pham’s Houston
Two decades after he left
Hapkido behind, one of the
greatest fishermen of all
time still lives by his old
master’s lessons. “It’s amazing that the stretching stays
with me today. Even though
I don’t practice Hapkido
anymore, my wife and I do
some yoga that involves a lot
of the stretches I would use
with Master Pham.”
Illustrations: Jonathan H. Milo
Scientific Angle
Ask The Experts
The images below were
submitted by Bassmaster
readers, and our antique tackle
expert, Karl White, appraises
the value of each unique find.
To submit yours, email
What does a vented
propeller do?
@hunter_french223, Instagram
Dirk Bjornstad, general
manager of Mercury’s propeller division, says venting a
propeller allows the prop to
spin up quickly by having the
propeller start moving through
a mixture of air and water. This
gets the engine into the meat
of the power band faster and
avoids bogging, which
improves acceleration.
Venting can improve performance on some boats but not
all. It’s best to check with your
Magic Reel
Jim Bolton, email
$100 This is a
spincast reel
which was made
in the 1950s. It
was then made and manufactured in Colorado in 1951. It is
very unique and looks like the
first patent on a spinning reel
in the 1870s which has never
been found. I would value it at
Marble Marvel
Jack McDonald,
The Zebco
model 22 with
marble thumb
stop is older than the Good-all
and was the third production
for Zebra Hour Bank Company.
I would give it a value of
Evinrude Motor
Sonny Hughes,
appears to be a
1930s model
Evinrude 3-horse
motor. It is very desirable
because of the size and it
could be shown easily. I would
value it at $150-$200 in good
Super Spinner
Jeff Welday, email
Illustration: Jonathan H. Milo
spinner is
a reasonably old
item. It
was probably made in the 1930s and
has a value of about $30.
For more information on White’s
History of Fishing Museum, visit
Will a center rod locker throw
off the weight balance of a bass
I use an EWG (extra-wide
gap hook) for drop
shotting around cover.
Do you believe that could
cost me bites by having
a bigger gapped hook, or
does it help for a better
hook set when using a
stiffer rod?
Bassmaster Elite Series pro
Drew Benton
Normally when I drop shot
during the winter I use finesse
Do you decrease line size or
diameter in colder water?
@Lund.owen_39, Instagram
Bassmaster Elite Series pro
Seth Feider
Yes, I do for a couple of
reasons. First, wintertime
tends to provide the clearest
water and the fish are more
likely to scrutinize your offering
before biting. They’re not as
apt to race over and grab a bait
like they are when the water is
warmer, so line detection may
be an issue; if it weren’t, we’d
all be throwing 80-pound
braid. In addition, the lighter
line allows the bait to move
baits and never want to overpower the bait with a hook. It
takes away from the action.
I use an Owner CoverShot, a
straight-shank, light-wire hook
with a bait keeper. It’s small
enough it doesn’t affect the
action, but you can still keep the
bait weedless by Texas rigging.
I stay away from an EWG hook
unless I’m using a real bulky
bait and need an extra gap to
make sure the hook drives all
the way through the bait. Make
sure the gap is big enough to
accommodate the plastic but
not so big it inhibits the action.
If you’re punch shotting in
heavy cover with a big creature
bait, the EWG would be best.
more naturally.
Secondly, cold-water bass
don’t pull that hard in the
winter. You don’t get those
crazy jumps or hard runs at the
boat. With patience and the
right equipment, you can land
big fish on 6-pound line easily
in the wintertime.
For that reason, I will drop
down from 8-pound Invisiline
Sufix 100 Percent fluorocarbon to 6-pound Invisiline with
my finesse applications during
winter months. You could even
drop down more, depending
upon the size of fish, but that’s
what works for me.
@Troyer.outdoors, Instagram
A center-console rod locker
can increase the flexibility in
balancing a bass boat, says
Pat Hawkins, director of engineering at Ranger Boats.
“The relatively light weight of
the rods in the center allows
for heavier gear to be advantageously placed up front and
outwards for better side-toside stability and the operator
may easily offset passenger
load by altering weight placement,” he said. “Storing the
heaviest gear aft will provide a
smooth fore/aft balance, and
this will guarantee an optimally
stable ride.”
How often should you recondition the protective coating of
your boat?
@Bigbearfishing, Instagram
The easiest way to take care
of your fiberglass hull and
protect the clear gelcoat is to
wipe down your boat each time
after loading it on the trailer.
Tracker Boats Marketing
Manager Rick Emmitt recommends using a microfiber
towel and thoroughly wiping
down the deck, hull and motor. “It is also a good idea to wash
the boat with marine boat
wash every few trips to keep
the gelcoat clean. You should
also wax once or twice a year,
depending on usage.”
January/February 2019 BASSMASTER
| 17
On The Line
First Bass Story
Thanks, Bassmaster Magazine
readers! We love seeing images
of you reading the magazine and
of you catching giant bass!
Our 11 year-old granddaughter
Emma Reckman caught her first
bass on Woodcreek Lake. It was a
22-inch largemouth that she
quickly released. The fish came
to surface with its big mouth wide
open, and Emma thought that
she brought in a piece of wood.
Al Reckman, Kentucky
Asian Carp Action
I just finished the article on the
silver and Asian Carp. With the
budget coming up in D.C., may
I suggest that you contact other
fishing magazines and determine
one issue that you will all dedicate
a push for everyone to contact
their congressmen/women and
provide an example of what to say
and emails, addresses and phone
numbers for each state. A lot of
work but well worth the effort, and
coordinating it with other magazines and “Federations” will
demonstrate that this is an issue
that is unifying.
Bob Goldberg,
Madisonville, Tenn.
Fighting With Fishing
Illustrations: Arturo Gonzalez Murga
Wanted to share my catch with
you guys, don’t know the weight,
but for me, it’s a massive catch
and great day! I’m battling a
rare form of congestive heart
failure, so any day on the water
is a blessing. I’d like to thank
David Best from Primary Tackle
(Bartlett, Tenn.) for taking me
out on this fishing trip. I have a
lot of wonderful people pulling
for me to fight this horrible
disease! I just hope to inspire
anyone that’s fighting what I’m
Cory Sutton, Memphis, Tenn.
Mario Marcati
Tyler Iazzetto
It’s your turn to write a cutline for your favorite magazine.
Follow B.A.S.S. on Instagram (@bass_nation) and comment with
a clever caption on this cartoon that will be posted on our feed on
Jan. 5, 2019. If your caption is chosen, it will be printed in an
upcoming issue.
Last Month’s Post
The winning caption:
It doesn’t hurt half as bad as losing that
10-pounder. @opportune_fishing
Two For One
My 8 year-old son Gavin Lane caught these at Siloam Springs State
Park. It is two largemouth that he caught at the same time on the
same lure. One of them was on the top hook and the other on the
bottom hook. They both hit the lure at the same time, and they did
not even hardly fight at all bringing them in. The top fish weighed
2.8 and the bottom weighed 2.10.
Rich Lane, Quincy, Ill.
| BASSMASTER January/February 2019
We caught
these on an
Alabama rig in
the great state
of Michigan.
7.62 pounds
on Kentucky
Lake with a
5-inch swimbait. Third place in
the Cabela’s Collegiate Big Bass
Bash. War Eagle.
What is the biggest
mistake you can make when
fishing for bass in the winter?
42% Fishing too fast
Fishing too slow
Not wearing enough
34% Not going often enough
Jan. 24 – 26
THE Eastern Open
at Harris Chain
Leesburg, Fla.
Harris Chain of Lakes
Feb. 20 – 22 Central Open
at Toledo Bend
Many, La.
Toledo Bend Reservoir
New, expanded ways to follow
the Bassmaster Elite Series!
Follow up-to-the minute coverage on
with live leaderboards, BASSTrakk and photos of on
the water action.
Join Tommy Sanders, Davy Hite,
Mark Zona and Dave Mercer along
with Elite anglers and special guests for
in-depth coverage and analysis.
NEW in 2019:
• Streaming all four days of tournament action
• More cameras – every angler covered on Day 4
• Additional Skype cameras and “super marshals”
providing extended coverage
Feb. 7–10
Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River
St. Johns River, Palatka, Fla.
The Bassmasters TV show – see highlights of every
Elite Series tournament with increased TV program hours:
• ESPN2 – 30 hours
• ESPN Classic – 60 hours
• (NEW!) Pursuit Channel – 52 hours
Feb. 14 – 17
Bassmaster Elite at Lake Lanier
Lake Lanier, Gwinnett, Ga.
Look for the schedule on
Bassmaster LIVE
Streaming weigh-ins
Gear Grab
Winter Weather Fishing
Huk Tidewater 1/4 Zip
$54.99 |
• Packed with performance to
maintain comfort during chilly
fishing conditions from sun up
to sun down, but also works
well off the water for casual
evening dinner attire
• Water resistant — repels boat
spray and light rain or mist
• Stain and wind resistant to
function under many fishing
and social scenarios
• Ideal for all seasons as an
internal or outer layer,
depending on conditions
Fish Monkey Tundra EX
$69.95 |
• Intelligently designed for
function and comfort
• Provides both the warmth of
full-finger protection and the
dexterity of a half-finger glove
• Constructed of water and
windproof fabrics, packed
with Thinsulate insulation
and Polar Fleece for a
secondary layer of comfort
• PU Leather Monkey grip
palm provides a nonslip
grip, while neoprene cuffs
hold the heat
Carhartt Full Swing Cryder
Frabill I4 Series Jacket and Bib
Jacket: $299; Bib: $299 |
• Built for ice fishermen, but extremely applicable for any angler looking to best the cold winter
elements when the bite is hot, north to south
• Both jacket and bib feature durable and
dependable YKK zippers, 150 grains of 3M
Thinsulate, 500 denier nylon reinforced knees,
ankle cuffs and elbows
• Comes with Frabill’s SelfRescue ice pick
set and Ice Safety inter label drainage mesh
• Features an adjustable hood with sun visor,
zipper vents for temperature regulation,
multiple cargo pockets plus an internal
electronics pocket and 3M Scotchlite
reflective materials
• Available in sizes small through 4XL
Under Armour Fish Shoreman Collection
Jacket: $250; Pants: $225 |
Costa Untangled Collection
$149.99-$159.99 |
• Rugged Flex durable stretch
• Features Flex Elbow,
Freedom Gusset underarm,
a mock neck collar and a
detachable hood
• Designed with two lowerhand pockets with internal
rib-knit storm cuffs and 80g
3M insulation
• Features an adjustable
drawcord bottom hem and
drop tail
• Available in two colors and
sizes small through 3XL
Wiley X Climate Control Series
Hodgman H5 Storm Suit and Bib
Jacket: $299.95
Bib: $299.95
• Shoreman jacket and pants feature UA Storm
and GoreTex technologies to conquer all cold
and wet weather elements
• Ripstop fabric boasts waterproofing and extreme
durability, all while ideally packing into bags and boat storage
• Full collection also includes jackets, hoodies, pants and shorts in
several color combinations, with
bibs being added in 2019
• Built to keep anglers dry,
comfortable and mobile without
restricting seams and joints
January/February 2019
Buff in Mossy Oak Elements
© 2018 Garmin Ltd. or its subsidiaries.
Anyone can catch a bunch of dinks, but who wants
More Little Fish? It’s the big ones that will make your
heart race. Here is how true professionals target
monster bass this month
January/February 2019
THE AIR’S CHILLY, you’re looking at your breath, and those
fish aren’t loving the lower water temps, but that doesn’t mean
you have to settle for dismal days and dinky catches. Big fish
may be few and far between, but follow the advice from these
Bassmaster Elite Series pros and you’ll enjoy more shots at
legitimate winter space heaters.
Jason Williamson — Impoundment
Knowing the fish’s seasonal preference
for crawfish, Williamson puts his faith
in a hefty 1/2-ounce Buckeye Lures mop
jig. Complementing the jig’s living
rubber skirt with a Zoom Super Chunk
trailer creates the substantial profile that
entices big fish.
“If we have clear water, I choose the natural colors —
brown or green pumpkin — but as it gets more stained, you
go to your darker colors, like black and blue,” Williamson
During the cold months, Williamson’s usually fishing in
12 to 25 feet and targeting natural or man-made rock, which
keeps him in the right neighborhoods for crawfish impersonations. The rocks are typically some of the warmest
habitat that crawfish and bass can find this time of year, so
that’s where the action centers.
Fishing his jig on a 7-foot, 7-inch heavy J-Will series
Taipan rod and 20-pound Gamma fluorocarbon, Williamson
favors a presentation that sounds like the formula for a good
brisket: low and slow. Lethargic fish rarely chase, so
moving his jig at a glacial pace gives that bulky skirt plenty
of time to work its wiles on fish looking for an easy
“Crawdads are one of their main forage items this time of
year, and nothing can beat a really big jig presented really
slowly,” Williamson said.
recipe for
winter giants is
pretty simple: Throw a
big bait and move it at a
snail’s pace. Photo: Andy
BAIT: 1/2-ounce Buckeye Lures mop jig
with a Zoom Super Chunk trailer
WHY: It represents a big, juicy crawfish
WHERE: Natural or man-made rock structure
January/February 2019 BASSMASTER
| 23
Paul Mueller — Natural Lake (Northern)
When winter finds his local lakes topped with ice,
this Connecticut pro targets whopper bass with a
technique he’s also successfully employed in openwater scenarios. Mueller rigs a Reins Bubbling
Shaker worm on a 1/8-ounce tungsten Tackle Supply
Depot Micro Finesse Ball Out Jig and wiggles it ever
so slightly with a taunting display that even a shivering micropterus can’t resist.
“Most of the year, you want to use a big bait to catch a
big fish, but when I’m dealing with temperature
extremes in the dead of winter, I go the complete opposite,” Mueller said. “I use this bait a lot for panfish, but
it’s deadly on bass when the water is cold. If I can mark
a fish, I can catch it, no matter where I’m fishing.”
Constantly shaking his rod tip, but not moving his
bait any significant distance, Mueller wants that tiny
worm to float through the water just above the fish
he’s marking. Killing the bait and letting it fall in
front of the fish is usually the deal closer.
He employs Panoptix LiveScope’s down to read the
fish’s mood and increase or decrease bait motion as
needed to trigger the bite. Mueller also stresses the
importance of light line for getting a diminutive bait
down to the strike zone. He likes 5-pound Gamma
Touch fluorocarbon for its minimal water resistance
and fish-fighting strength.
Mueller opts for finesse
when targeting slowmoving winter bass.
Photo courtesy of
Paul Mueller
BAIT: Reins Bubbling
Shaker worm
WHY: It’s easy to eat
WHERE: Open water
Tyler Carriere — Tidal Fishery
When this Youngsville, La., pro needs a big bite in the
coldest months of the year, he goes punching — but not
like during the summer months. From Bayou Black to the
Venice marsh, Carriere targets the densest vegetation he can
find — be it alligator grass or any surviving water hyacinths
— and sends a 1 1/2-ounce Jakked Baits Drunkk Punch Jig
with a Cajun Lures Crackin Craw trailer.
“You just find the thickest vegetation you can find
— as long as it has water under it,” Carriere said of the
heat-holding habitat favored by tidal fish.
Carriere punches his
The biggest difference between his warm-season punchway to success in
ing and this cold-season, giant-snatching technique is the
winter. Targeting shalbait’s fall. When he’s layered in warm clothing, that jig has a
low vegetation, the Elite short trip through the cover.
Series pro shakes the
“I’ll punch the bait through, let it fall a couple of inches,
bait just under mats.
and I stop it,” Carriere said. “I’ll shake it a little bit and then
Photo: James Overstreet
just let it sit. It seems like when I shake it again after a
couple of seconds, that’s when they hit it.
BAIT: 1 1/2-ounce jig with a
“In the summertime, they usually hit it on the way down,
Cajun Lures Crackin Craw
but in the cold weather, they don’t want it on the fall. I think
the fish sit under those mats and pick off crawfish and the
WHY: To penetrate thick grass
worms that we get on the hyacinth.”
WHERE: Matted vegetation
January/February 2019
Chris Groh — River
Although he’d need an auger to reach most of his
home state’s bass, this Illinois pro knows exactly
where to find giants on flowing rivers anywhere
he goes: channel swings. Key locations with
proximity to both wintering spots and
prespawn migration routes, channel swings
gather the big ones, so Groh hits them with a
flashy presentation.
“I’m going to target these fish with a big
spinnerbait — a 3/4- to a 1 1/4-ounce Strike
King Bottom Dweller — and dress it with a
swimbait,” he said. “Whether that channel
swing has a rock or some shell on it, I like to
keep in contact with the bottom.
“The big spinnerbait looks like a gizzard
shad rolling around down there. You’re
trying to trigger wintering fish, and we all
know that largemouth in this situation are a
little lazy. This is a good bait to get one that just
wants to chew on something that fell through the
bait school.”
Groh said the Bottom Dweller’s compact form, antiroll head design and small Raz-R-Blade thin-cut willowleaf blades keep the bait in that deep strike zone. Fishing
the bait almost like a jig, Groh rumbles his spinnerbait
across the structure where he expects to find winter-weary
bass belly-down to the bottom.
Notably, Groh uses the more limber Xcite Shadnasty when
the fish are active, while the Reaction Innovations Skinny
Dipper works best for lethargic fish. With either, he rigs a
small trailer hook to snare the ones that just slap at the bait.
BAIT: Strike King Bottom Dweller
WHY: Represents big shad
WHERE: Channel swings
Groh slow rolls a heavy spinnerbait for bottom-dwelling
winter slobs.
Photo courtesy of Chris Groh
Ray Hanselman — Natural Lake (Southern)
BAIT: Strike
King 6XD
WHY: Reach
deep grass
WHERE: Middle
of drains
When Southern bass — particularly stocked and homestate Florida-strain largemouth — begin their prespawn
staging, Hanselman takes his giant search right to the grass.
Specifically, he’s going to target the hydrilla lining the
bottoms of creek channels leading into spawning creeks.
On lakes like Texas powerhouse Amistad, where grass might
grow as deep as 18 to 22 feet, Hanselman cranks these
carpeted lanes with a Strike King 5XD or 6XD or slow rolls a
big spinnerbait. For shallower scenarios, he likes a Strike King
4.0 squarebill or a swimbait like the Strike King 4.75-inch Rage
Swimmer. He’ll rig the latter on a 3/8- to 1/2-ounce jighead for
low grass growth, but if the lawn’s dense and tall, he goes with
a weedless weighted swimbait hook.
“I’ll start on the outside edge of the grass and work right
into the center of the drain,” he said. “I’ll try to cover as
many of those spots as I can. Typically, the bigger females
will be on the high spots in the center of that channel.
Sometimes, they’ll be on a channel swing, but if it’s just a
drain, they’ll be dead center in the thickest grass.”
grinds a big
Ripping snagged crankbaits from entangling grass will
crank through
trigger bites, but with the swimbait, Hanselman suggests a
grassy drains for more measured tugging. This lets the bait grind through the
winter kickers. cover with a noisy display that attracts the big girls’
Photo courtesy of attention.
Ray Hanselman
January/February 2019 BASSMASTER
| 25
Elite Series pro
Keith Combs stays
aggressive in cold
water to crank up
the weight in his
January/February 2019
WHEN MOST BASS anglers think of winter techniques, tactics such
as inching a jig along the bottom, finessing a soft plastic around
cover or vertically jigging spoon-like lures come to mind.
Those tactics have proved over the years that they work on some
But for Elite Series pro Keith Combs, the more aggressive crankbait becomes the bait of choice even when the water is cold on
Southern reservoirs.
Obviously, winter fishing is relative to the region of the country
you’re fishing. But in Combs’ mind, cranking cold, open water can
create successful bass opportunities that most anglers overlook.
“You can’t base your lure selection on water temperature,” he
explains. “Sure, you may have to slow your retrieve down, but the
crankbait will catch ’em in cold-water situations.”
He should know. When the Texan isn’t tormenting big bass on the
Bassmaster Elite Series, he’s guiding clients on Southwestern reservoirs during a time when most anglers are curled up on the couch.
“Fishing the tournament circuit year after year
can be punishing and rewarding, and my NITRO
keeps me running and gunning all season long.”
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Bass still have to feed, he says,
even on those blustery days
when the wind is ripping and it’s
probably not rational to want to
be outside.
“A lot of times I’m the only
one on the lake, and I’m a firm
believer [that] the fish, especially big fish, know the days
anglers stay at home,” he says.
“That’s when they bite. I’ve had
countless days when I sat on
one spot and caught 40-pound limits or multiple
9-pound bass.”
And on a crankbait.
“As long as the water temperature is in the 40s or
50s, as [it is] in most of the South during the winter,
you can catch bass on crankbaits,” he insists.
There are exceptions, like in Florida, where the
bass get ultra-fussy when water temps dip.
“But if you go to any Southern reservoir or highland lake where the winter months are cold, a good
crankbait bite exists in that lake somewhere,”
Combs insists. “It may not be the best bite on the
lake, but a lot of times it can be.”
He’ll try other baits and techniques but says he’s
found that bites that come on slower tactics like jigs
or Carolina rigs often produce misses.
“Bass just aren’t real active in cold water and
often drop those baits after the initial bite,” he
explains. “But the thing about a crankbait, if you
can get that reaction strike, they are going to get
hooked because of the trebles on the bait.”
Lure Choices
The type of lake and depth dictate which style of
crankbait he’ll fish.
Although he’s usually armed with billed, diving
plugs, lipless crankbaits work equally well on grass
lakes during winter.
“We throw a lot of those all winter, too,” he notes.
“Again, it’s about the reaction, hitting the grass and
January/February 2019
Combs likes to focus on the edges of channels when the water dips
below 50 degrees. Since bass will usually be on the bottom, they
may be difficult to see on electronics, so fishing through the area
is imperative. Photo: Steve Bowman; Illustrations: Doug Schermer
ripping it out. That’s what attracts bass during
winter months on those shallower grass lakes.”
On most lakes with defined channels, however,
he’s likely to turn to deeper divers, like the Strike
King 6XD or 10XD.
“Now, on highland lakes, like Table Rock or Bull
Shoals, the bass are typically closer to the bank and
on steeper banks,” he says. “That’s where shallower
crankbaits that run 6 to 10 feet can be more
Combs also advises anglers to not get too caught
up in the wobble differential of crankbaits. For years
we’ve been told that plugs with tighter wiggles are
more suited for cold-water angling. He agrees with
that in most situations but says water depth and the
bait’s diving capacity are more critical.
“I like the tighter-wiggling 6XD during the winter,
but I’ve sure smoked enough big bass on the widerwobbling 10XD to know the tighter wiggle isn’t
always critical,” he explains.
Where To Look
On most Texas lakes, such as Rayburn or Toledo
Bend, Combs keys on steeper creek channels where
a flat drops into a channel or along the outside
channel bends.
When Combs locates a depression in an otherwise featureless flat, he makes multiple casts through the area. He
believes it is key to slow down and pull your bait with the rod
when you hit something juicy, like a rock or shellbed.
Depressions — something on the bottom that
creates a sudden drop — are key places to look
wherever you fish during winter. If you’re on a lake
that offers a channel that cuts through a flat, bass
will be along the channel and likely the steeper
edges; if it’s a flat lake with potholes on the flats,
they’ll be in the holes.
“Look at a map and seek out the areas with the
sharpest contours or deeper depressions on a flat,”
he adds.
Winter bass are generally hunkered down on the
bottom and can be difficult to see on your graph.
Combs will use his Humminbird Side or Down
Imaging when scanning 15 feet or deeper water to
find evidence the fish are in an area before he makes
a cast.
“Now, if I’m on a highland lake with a shallower
bank pattern, I’m sizing up the bank to make sure it
looks like the kind of stuff they use in the winter or
if there are signs of bait,” Combs explains. “A lot of
times you just have to fish through those areas to
see if they are there.”
If the bass are suspended along a bluff bank, he
doesn’t crank the bait through that part of the water
column hoping to get a suspended bass to react.
“I still want my bait touching something, such as
a shelf outcropping,” he insists. “I’m not saying they
won’t bite a crankbait coming through the water,
but they bite better when you are hitting something
during the retrieve.”
The way you retrieve is just as critical. As noted
earlier, you have to slow the retrieve and still make
contact with cover or the bottom to get more strikes.
He reminds anglers that it’s not just the bass that are
moving a little slower in cold water, but the forage
is, as well.
For example, if he feels the bait hit something
“juicy,” he will pause and then pull the bait with the
rod to slow it down.
“You’ve got to stay in that strike zone and resemble whatever they are feeding on, be it crawfish or
shad,” he says. “That gives you more opportunity to
draw that reaction strike.”
Most lakes are clear during the winter; matching
the lure color to the primary forage is critical.
Combs says bass eat a lot of crawfish during the
winter — hence his preference for crawfish colors.
“The bass may not be as active or hungry this
time of year in clear water, so color can
be very important,” he says.
Whenever he heads out on a winter
day, he will have baits with a crawfish
pattern and a citrus color with some
chartreuse in it tied to a couple of rods.
If the water is dirty, he likes chartreuse
and black.
“But I will always have DB craw on
anywhere I fish,” he says. “That’s an excellent color
this time of year.”
Multiple casts are extremely important during
winter months. He fires numerous casts to any
structure area that he suspects could be holding
fish. Winter bass won’t swim very far to take a bait,
so shredding a prospective hot spot improves your
chances of getting near a bass that will react.
“You’ve got to fish thoroughly,” he says. “I can’t
tell you how many times I’ve gone down a stretch
and got only one good bite, made a slight color
change, and gone back through the area and hit the
mother lode.”
Combs says cover certainly enhances the likelihood of bass holding on a key structure, yet cover
isn’t required during winter months.
“If I’m cranking rock and unexpectedly encounter
some wood, that’s a high-percentage deal where
I want to make more casts,” he explains. “But sometimes they are just holding near the bottom of a drop
without cover.”
Diminish Line Size
Combs also makes some minor adjustments in his
tackle for winter cranking. For example, he drops
down in line size.
“I still use a fast reel [Shimano Curado K200, 7.1:1
gear ratio] and wind it slowly but may drop down to
15- or even 10-pound line [Seaguar InvizX
Fluorocarbon] because I can get the bait deeper and
keep it there with a slower retrieve,” he describes.
“Fish aren’t as frisky during the winter, so you don’t
need heavy line to land them.”
He likes wide-spool baitcasters because they hold
more line and accommodate longer casts; that helps
him keep the bait deep longer. His rod is a 7-0
Shimano Curado Crankbait Rod, one he helped
design. He also switches out the stock hooks on the
crankbait with Owner short-shank ST-35s, matching
the treble size to the bait he’s fishing.
There’s no doubt winter fishing provides some
uncomfortable fishing conditions, but like Combs
said, the fish still have to eat.
“Bass tend to bite better with a little wind and
clouds, but no specific weather pattern is a make or
break situation for winter cranking,” he says. “I’m
going to give it a try and let them decide how
epic the day might be.”
January/February 2019 BASSMASTER
| 29
Ray Scott and Maxwell
Mashandure meet on
the shoreline of
Darwendale Dam in
2004. Photos courtesy of
and the
Bass Man
of Africa
Ray Scott Outdoors
January/February 2019
The tale of how a
monster largemouth
created an enduring
and unlikely friendship
between two icons
Mashandure with an Archie Phillips (Alabama taxidermist) replica of his
record fish awarded personally by Scott.
half a world apart
Scott presented Mashandure with one of his personal watches with a
jumping fish on the face. Mashandure sadly reports the watch was
snatched from him on the downtown streets of Harare.
MAXWELL MASHANDURE AMBLES into the Strike Zone Unlimited Tackle Shop on
Cameroon Street in Harare, Zimbabwe, and takes his reserved seat behind a long table. Store
owners Wisdom Kahiya and Anesu Takarindwa tend to him immediately. The celebrity angler
rattles off a series of soft-plastic baits he wants to see, and the merchants scurry to fetch them.
Mashandure opens packets and tediously
inspects the baits. He likes softness, saltiness
and perfectly formed, high-quality soft plastics.
He sets aside the ones he will purchase, stacks
them in a neat pile and pushes the others aside.
Customers gather around, ask advice and inquire
about fishing conditions. The charismatic Bass
Man of Africa drinks up the attention.
“He is the king of Africa bass fishing.
Nobody catches as many big bass and everyone
wants to know how he does it. He’s a legend
here,” Kahiya tells me.
Mashandure, tall and thin with a quick smile
and cheerful disposition, looks younger than
his age of 56. He is a quiet, humble man who
enjoys the role of local bass heavyweight but
seems oblivious to his standout achievements
and international stature.
The All-Africa record bass of 18.24 pounds
he wrestled from Zimbabwe’s Darwendale
Dam in 2004 still stands and remains within
the top margins of big bass worldwide. His
name is firmly ensconced in the history books
of international bass fishing, and he maintains
an enduring 15-year alliance with B.A.S.S.
founder Ray Scott. It’s a pedigree no African
angler can match, and to hear Mashandure tell
it, there is more to come.
January/February 2019 BASSMASTER
| 31
and the
Bass Man
of Africa
Local anglers know Mashandure as much more
than a record-setting, one-trick pony. His feats
remain legendary among both his fishing companions and others in the tournament bass community.
He has caught bass bigger than the All-Africa record
and never bothered to register them, and he continues to catch giant, trophy bass where others cannot.
“Guys try to follow him and find out what he does
to catch big bass,” Takarindwa says. “Some people
say that Darwendale [Dam] is no longer a good place
to fish, but Maxwell keeps catching them.”
I ask Mashandure about big bass of late and he
pulls out his cellphone to show me a picture from
two months prior. The face of his small, antiquated
phone is cracked, and the photo is hard to see. I have
Mashandure transfer the snapshot to my phone and
see a bass of humongous proportions. I barely get
the question out of my mouth...
“It’s 17.16 pounds,” he says expressionlessly.
Unfortunately, Mashandure recognizes celebrity
does not come free of detractors. The luminary angler
is not among the competitive rank and file and readily admits to feeding his family with bass.
Tournament anglers cannot abide it and snipe at him
regularly. Mashandure shakes off the painful criticism and holds tight to his memories of Ray Scott.
“It felt so great to meet Mr. Scott. It’s a day I will
always remember,” Mashandure tells me. He
remains humbled that such a “great man” traveled
from America to meet him. Mashandure momentarily drops his head and suggests he may have lost
the way when it comes to conservation and hopes he
has not disappointed Scott.
The dust had barely settled on one of the world’s
bloodiest bush wars when Scott made his first bassrelated appearance in Zimbabwe, Africa. The
Rhodesian War had officially ended, but as Scott met
with members of the Bassmasters of Rhodesia (BOR),
the chilling Entumbane uprising raged, white farmers
were systematically stripped of land and unspeakable,
large-scale massacres heated up in Matabeleland.
“One has to remember that we are talking about
Rhodesia [now Zimbabwe], and those were some
rough times. The BOR [formed in 1971] was trying
to build a B.A.S.S. Federation and organize fishing
clubs in the middle of a civil war,” Scott says. Little
did he know, his first bass journey to Africa would
for many wash away the anguish of war.
(Top) Maxwell Mashandure pitching baits along the shoreline.
Photo: George Robey (Bottom left) Mashandure caught the
All-Africa record in 2004 while fishing from a one-man kayak.
Note the B.A.S.S. sticker provided by Ray Scott. (Bottom
right) Mashandure’s trademark fishing hat from 2004. The hat
wore out and was discarded, Mashandure reports.
Photos courtesy of Ray Scott Outdoors
He is the king of Africa bass
fishing. Nobody catches as
many big bass and everyone
wants to know how he does it.
He’s a legend here.”
The daring B.A.S.S. founder side-stepped the
carnage of 1981 Zimbabwe to meet with BOR
members who had in 1979 become the first affiliated
B.A.S.S. chapter outside of the United States. The
lakes of southern Africa teemed with Northern bass,
but the African anglers lobbied Scott for the importation of Florida bass.
“Well, when I learned they had bass in Africa, it
was a surprise. For me, it was a tremendous opportunity for a new market with bass fishing,” Scott
tells me from his home in Hope Hull, Ala.
Scott’s meeting could not have gone better. The
conference room “vibrated with excitement” as BOR
members laid out a strategic plan for raising and
dispersing Florida bass throughout southern Africa.
The tropical climate appeared ideal, and Scott
eagerly jumped on board.
“They were missionaries and did everything they
could to make this joint venture a total success.
They proved right away that Africa was a whole new
dimension in bass fishing,” Scott says with
The project posed huge logistical challenges, but
the American B.A.S.S. boss was so caught up in the
fever that he pushed onward. In 1982, a shipment of
2,500 Florida bass fingerlings left a hatchery in
Auburn, Ala., for Harare, Zimbabwe. The fingerlings were dispersed to five different Zimbabwean
hatcheries and ultimately stocked in lakes throughout the country. Soon, big, heavy bass were being
caught and the news continued to improve.
In July 2004, Scott learned that a Zimbabwean
angler named Maxwell Mashandure caught a documented bass of 18.24 pounds from a lake outside of
the town of Harare. The fish was weighed many
hours after capture, and Scott could only imagine its
true weight.
“I was so impressed and excited that one of the
fingerlings I had sent over to Africa had survived
and grown to such an enormous size. I thought it
was an extraordinary catch and wanted to be there
to congratulate Maxwell personally,” Scott tells me.
He boarded an airplane and returned to Africa.
Scott recalls that Mashandure donned a trademark hat he used as a tacklebox and fished out of a
one-man canoe. His equipment was basic, but he
opted for upscale plastics and crankbaits. Scott
awarded the angler a replica mount of the trophy
bass, a new rod and reel, a custom-made watch and
a membership in B.A.S.S.
January/February 2019 BASSMASTER
| 33
and the
Bass Man
of Africa
Scott tells me that Mashandure is a gentleman in
his approach to angling, but one who spends time on
the water to feed his family. The B.A.S.S. founder,
who instituted many conservation policies over the
years, ponders the ruggedness of life in Zimbabwe
and seemingly gives him a pass.
“I was very impressed with Maxwell. It was clear
that Maxwell loved bass fishing and took the responsibility of caring for his family very serious. He went
through a lot [to fish],” Scott says. He rode a bus from
his home and then walked several kilometers from
where the bus dropped him to reach the lake.
A photograph of the Shona tribesman hangs prominently in Scott’s office today and bears testament to
the unlikely and enduring 15-year friendship
between a successful American entrepreneur and a
fortuneless man from the heart of Mashonaland. It’s
an alliance forged by one of the greatest conservation
stories ever told.
“I will always cherish the time we spent on the
shores of Darwendale Dam,” Scott says of meeting
We launch at daylight from a crumbling, neglected
boat ramp on Darwendale Dam. Clive Harris, owner
of the Master Angler tackle store in Harare, and Dr.
Neil Deacon, a Zimbabwean wildlife biologist, host
me for a day on the water with Mashandure. We each
share a connection, past and present, to Mashandure,
and it’s worrying that he is a no-show.
Harris and his store partner, Andre Stavert, were
responsible for documenting Mashandure’s record
catch in 2004. As Harris tells it, Mashandure would
frequent the shop and weave tales of giant bass.
Stavert suggested Mashandure bring one in for proof
and soon after, the unlikely angler brought them the
record fish. Harris certified the weight, and the original skin mount currently hangs in his tackle shop.
Deacon collects genetic samples from big bass
throughout the region in joint studies with American
fisheries researchers and hopes Mashandure can
assist him in the project. The question scientists pose:
Can imported Florida bass live long enough to exceed
world-record weight? Deacon possesses the otoliths
(ear stones) from Mashandure’s record bass, which
will soon be analyzed for aging.
We decide to pitch creature baits along a weedchoked bank as we await word from Mashandure.
January/February 2019
(Left) Maxwell Mashandure fishing on Darwendale Dam in a
full-size canoe, an upgrade from his original kayak. (Right) Clive
Harris reunited with Mashandure on the shore of Darwendale,
many years after the record catch. Photos: George Robey
Harris quickly ties into a monster bass. It rolls on the
surface and the girth suggests a 10-pounder. The
giant fish wraps up in a mass of lily pads and escapes.
Harris and Deacon, no strangers to trophy bass, show
little emotion and carry on fishing while I squirm and
fidget at the loss of such a trophy, but all is forgotten
when Mashandure calls and directs us to the opposite
We bounce across the choppy lake and find him
floating in a tan-colored, two-man canoe. An array of
soft-plastic baits lies between his bare feet, and
several rods are within reach. He propels the canoe
with a homemade, double-sided kayak paddle made
from a hand-hewn pole with blades cut from a plastic
5-gallon bucket.
Time changes many things. Mashandure no longer
wears his special hat, has doffed his one-man kayak
for the bigger canoe and has aged gracefully from his
photos of 15 years ago. The lake, too, now choked
with impenetrable weedbeds, bears scant resemblance to the lake Scott visited in 2004.
We exchange pleasantries, challenge one another
for the biggest bass and go our separate ways.
Mashandure glides over the water rapidly and disappears in a weed-choked inlet. Several hours later, we
encounter Mashandure a couple of miles from where
we met and muse about the strength and effort
required to battle wind and waves and gain so much
ground. Mashandure has a system, and we are determined to learn about it.
We have little to show for the short fishing session
and beach the boats along a lake point to lament the
lack of a trophy bass. Mashandure and I jump off our
respective boats for a proper chat, and as luck would
have it, we sit a stone’s throw from the spot where he
and Scott met years ago. The shaded tree they shared
is now surrounded with dense vegetation.
Mashandure tells me he started fishing at the age of
7, targeting popular food species like tilapia, but
sometime after 1991, bass appeared in Darwendale
Dam and he became enamored with the sporty gamefish. He learned how to catch them from fellow
anglers in the Master Angler tackle shop and whiled
away many hours of follow-up practice.
(Left) Mashandure with his family: wife, Tambudzai, daughter,
Evette and sons Panashe and Unisonne. (Right) The entrance
gate to Darwendale Dam at National Parks.
“Between 1991 and 2004, the bass kept getting
bigger,” Mashandure says, unaware then of the
Florida bass project that brought these giant bass to
the darkest corners of Africa.
Mashandure began catching bass so big, his stories
at the local Master Angler tackle shop were met with
skepticism. The unconventional angler told them
about fish he weighed at a roadside market that
exceeded 20 pounds. Mashandure had no idea of
world records or trophy catches and ate all the
evidence. Stavert at the Master Angler challenged
him to bring a similar fish to the store.
Soon after, Mashandure caught the All-Africa
record. The giant bass lay under his feet for much of
the day, and he eventually toted it home under the hot
Africa sun. Later in the evening, he wrapped the bass
in newspaper and placed it in a refrigerator. Best
guess is about 36 hours before it was officially
weighed. The true magnificence of the world-class
bass will never be known.
Mashandure occasionally shared brag photos after
his record was certified, but local tournament anglers,
people he respected, disparaged him for killing and
eating bass. Mashandure quit sharing and fished in
the shadows. He decided to go public only with a fish
bigger than the record. The sensitive bass man says he
continues to catch “lots” of bass between 12 and 17
pounds but nothing heavier than the record.
“The criticism stings and makes me feel like an
outcast,” Mashandure confides. He draws a deep
breath and appears contrite when he confesses to
catching and selling bass to local markets for many of
the post-record years.
The Shona tribesman describes to me a hardscrabble life, etched from the dusty veld of Africa. The
father of five lives jobless in a small home with
neither electricity nor water and must provide for his
family in a beleaguered land of poverty. He began
selling fish to pay his children’s school fees.
“For some of us, there is a very thin line that separates hell and life in Zimbabwe,” Mashandure
laments. He flashes a pained smile.
Mashandure speaks fluently about conservation
issues and suggests the amount of legal and illegal
netting, coupled with anglers like him who fish for
profit, could impact fish stocks in the dam. However, he
questions the notion that bass numbers have declined
in Darwendale Dam and says the lake remains full of
trophy bass — perhaps the best it’s ever been.
Deacon suggests Mashandure may be correct when
it comes to Darwendale bass stocks and credits the
abundant weed growth. Bass are ambush predators
that maintain small home ranges deep inside cover
sources. Netters, poachers, fish mongers and anglers
cannot reach the richest areas. However, the biologist
cautions that Lake Chivero, several miles away, has
been wiped out by netters due in part to a lack of
vegetative cover.
“It’s all about the weeds,” Mashandure tells me.
Tournament anglers in big bass boats have abandoned the dam because they can only access 20
percent of the fishable water. Fishing is difficult for
everyone, but the guys in big bass boats can only fish
the outside edges.
Mats of broadleaf pondweed, bulrush, oxygen
weed and lily pads surround the shoreline and form
an impenetrable barrier for trolling motors. Water
levels beneath the weed cover and into the bulrush
range from 5 to 6 feet and create ideal habitat for big,
solitary bass.
Mashandure attributes his big-bass successes to
the use of a canoe that skitters quietly above the
weeds to access anthills (sunken termite mounds)
that jut from the lake bottom in near-shore water. He
suggests trolling motors cannot cut through the
weeds, and for those who try, the electric motors
make too much noise for trophy bass.
Mashandure gets the biggest bites when he targets
specific anthills with surrounding structure and
fishes slowly. The austere angler creeps in silently,
drops a soft-plastic bait through narrow holes in the
vegetation and leaves it motionless for two to three
minutes before giving it a subtle twitch.
Always the optimist, Mashandure suggests a worldrecord bass lurks somewhere beneath the weeds in
Darwendale Dam and points to several fish that have
broken his 80-pound braid. He intends to be the new
world-record holder. While many anglers pursue the
dream for purposes of fame or wealth, Mashandure’s
motivation remains much more fundamental.
“My wish in life is to see Mr. Scott one more time. If
I catch the world record, maybe I will get to see
my friend again.”
January/February 2019 BASSMASTER
| 35
Photo: Alan McGuckin
The bass don’t bite when it’s
cold; you have to fish too slowly
in the winter; blah, blah, blah.
Elite Series pros blow up your
favorite excuses for staying
home this month
January/February 2019
WINTER BASS FISHING is an option in any state where the
lakes don’t freeze over, but only a few die-hards launch their
boats at this time. Many anglers don’t enjoy fishing in frigid
weather, even though today’s high-tech winter garb can keep
you comfortable in such conditions. The misconception that
winter bass are nearly impossible to catch also keeps anglers off
the water. Read on as Bassmaster Elite Series pros dispel five
common misconceptions about winter bass fishing.
Myth 1: You must fish deep to
catch winter bass.
Photo: Thomas Allen
Bass and baitfish are lethargic in winter’s
cold water, but that doesn’t mean you always
have to fish deep, points out Elite Series pro
Chris Zaldain of Nevada.
“Depending on the lake, there are still fish
to be caught in 10 feet of water or less,”
Zaldain says. “When I look shallow for bass in
wintertime, I key on a hard rock or gravel
bottom in little armpits off the main lake
where the bass have deep-water access near
the main channel.”
The “armpits” Zaldain refers to are shallow
feeding pockets typically found on the sides of
main-lake points. He prioritizes pockets that
have stained water.
“The sediments in stained water catch the
sun’s rays and warm the water,” Zaldain says.
“The sun also warms the hard bottom in the
shallows. That provides comfort for the bass.”
The bass are often more active on sunny
afternoons when a light wind blows into the
pocket, Zaldain adds. Another favorable situation is when a strong wind creates a mudline
along the bank that provides ambush cover
for the bass. Zaldain improves his odds by
retrieving his baits parallel to the outside
edge of the mudline.
A 5/8-ounce Megabass Ito Shiner jerkbait in
the GG Illusion Tennessee shad color is a big
hitter for Zaldain during the winter months.
This large, tall-profile jerkbait has a single,
thudding knocker. Zaldain thinks it sounds
like an individual baitfish, whereas a highpitch rattle sounds more like schooling
“Winter bass are sluggish,” Zaldain says.
“They don’t want to chase smaller bait around
all day. They want a big, slow-moving meal
that’s easy to catch.”
Zaldain’s basic wintertime retrieve is a slow
jerk-pause ... jerk-jerk-pause ... jerk-pause
cadence. Each pause must last four to six
seconds so the bass have time to respond to
the bait.
January/February 2019 BASSMASTER
| 37
Photo: Chris Mitchell
Elite Series pro Brian Snowden, a California transplant to Missouri, guides on Table Rock Lake after
the tournament season ends in autumn. When cold
winter weather puts an end to his guide trips, he
takes this opportunity to cast for recreation.
“I catch a lot of bass then way back up in the
major feeder creeks and tributaries,” Snowden says.
“I’ve been doing this for 15 or 20 years. A local older
fisherman put me onto it.”
By “way back up,”
Snowden means navigating
his bass boat upstream to
where the lake narrows to the
actual creek or river channel.
Snowden says he can cast
from one bank to the other. In
warmer seasons, the bass in
the creeks relate to flats,
snags and laydowns, he says.
In winter, the bass group up
in deep holes on steep banks.
“The water in those places
may be only 8 to 12 feet deep,
but that’s the deepest water
available to the bass,”
Snowden says.
Because the water in the
creeks is usually clear and typically 37 to 40 degrees
in the winter, Snowden coaxes bites by slowly fishing Ned rigs and shaky heads.
“I cast straight to the rocky wall and hop my bait
down the little ledges,” Snowden says. “The bites
come from 2 feet deep to the bottom. The fishing is
usually good all day. Sometimes it’s better in the
Myth 3: You must fish painfully slow
to catch winter bass.
People generally think that winter bass are
so lethargic they will respond only to
dawdling retrieves. While this is often true, it isn’t always the
case, says Elite Series pro Bill Lowen of Indiana.
“It’s hard to argue with fishing slow in winter, but there are
times when you can step up the pace a bit with things like jerkbaits and lipless crankbaits,” Lowen says.
One of Lowen’s most productive wintertime baits is the
Blade Bait from Lure Parts Online. This fast-sinking lure
features a flat baitfish-shaped metal blade with a lead belly
molded to it. It vibrates when retrieved or ripped up off the
bottom and flutters as it sinks. For winter bass, Lowen
retrieves the Blade Bait over the bottom with a yo-yo action.
“It isn’t the same retrieve every day,” Lowen says. “On some
days, the bass like it when I lift the rod just enough to make the
Blade Bait kick two or three times and let it flutter down. On
other days, I do better with a hard lift. Either way, it’s a relatively fast way to cover the bottom.”
Lowen often fishes the Blade Bait 15 to 30 feet deep during
the winter months. He concentrates on channel swings,
submerged grass on long points or close to dropoffs and creek
mouths in big rivers, such as the Ohio.
January/February 2019
Photo: Seigo Saito
Don’t Go
2: You must fish on or near
Up a Myth
the main lake where the bass have
Creek quick access to deep water.
Photo: Thomas Allen
Lackluster Myth 4: Strikes are few
far between in the
Action and
That certainly isn’t true of every lake, opines
Kelley Jaye, who lives on Lake Martin in
Alabama. When Martin’s abundant spotted
bass school up in deep water during the winter,
it is possible to enjoy fast action.
“On deep, clear reservoirs like Martin, it’s
pretty predictable where the spotted bass will
be in the winter,” Jaye says. “They’ll be 50 to
60 feet deep in ditches, deep creeks or sloughs
or on the end of long points. That’s where the
bait goes to, and those bass follow the bait.”
Jaye likens it to ledge fishing for largemouth
bass. You have to do a lot of idling and looking
with your electronics. But once you find the
bass, “you catch numbers.”
Vertical fishing is the most efficient way to
pick off the bass in such deep water. Jaye’s
go-to wintertime baits include a chrome
5/8-ounce jigging spoon, a Ned rig and a dropshot rig. He fishes all three baits on spinning
tackle. He simply opens the bail and lets his
offering sink straight down to the bass.
The Ned rig and drop-shot rods sport reels
spooled with 10-pound braid knotted to a
7-pound fluorocarbon leader. The spoon rod
sports 15-pound braid with a 10-pound fluorocarbon leader.
“When I’m fishing for fun, I immediately
release the bass so they can swim back down,”
Jaye says. “If I’m fishing in a tournament, I have
to fizz them or they’ll die in the livewell.”
Photo: Seigo Saito
Bottom Myth 5: You have to drag baits on
Dragging the bottom to catch winter bass.
Bottom baits certainly catch
bass in wintertime, as they do in other seasons, but
you are not limited to them, asserts Elite Series pro
Chad Pipkens of Michigan. In the winter, he will
launch at a clear body of water and attack it with a
Damiki Abyss 90 jerkbait and some type of floating
minnow wake bait.
“I like a hard bottom most of the year,” Pipkens says.
“But in the winter, they could be
suspended over a silt bottom. If
there’s standing timber, they’ll
suspend in it a lot of times. Or,
they could be sitting in guts,
pushing bait back into short
If the water clarity is 4 to 5
feet, Pipkens will fish guts 10 to
15 feet deep. If he can see 10
feet down, he will fish guts 20
to 40 feet deep.
“They can be more active on
low-pressure days when there’s
cloud cover, drizzle and that
kind of stuff,” Pipkens says. “On a high sky day, they
might sit on the bottom and not eat.”
Pipkens will cast the wake bait up into the middle
of a gut and retrieve it slowly to make it wobble on the
surface like a dying shad.
“You normally have to slow down with the jerkbait,
too,” Pipkens says. “But on a good fishing day, you
can fish it a little quicker. The bass also might slide
up from the middle of a gut to the first break or to
the bank.”
January/February 2019 BASSMASTER
| 39
Our favorite
bumbling duo
hatches a scheme
to win a big-bass
contest. Will it
actually pan out
this time?
January/February 2019
ME ‘N’ HARRY was at Zonker’s Tavern celebratin’ the end of the
work week. A copy of the Swamp Gas Corners Gazette was on
the bar, and we spied this item:
Dinkleman’s Hardware on Main Street will host a monthly
“Lunker of the Month” contest, wherein the biggest largemouth
bass caught from area waters each month will win valuable
prizes, store owner Homer Dinkleman announced. “We’ve
installed a fancy aquarium tank in the store to display the big
bass, so even if you’re not a fisherman, you’ll want to stop by
and see it while shopping for all your hardware needs,”
Dinkleman suggested. “Contest entries must be caught by
conventional bass fishing methods within a 20-mile radius of
town and presented alive at the store for weigh-in.” Dinkleman
indicated this month’s prize will be a pro-model baitcasting rod
and reel valued at over $600.
“Holy bilge pumps, that’s some
swell prize!” I gasped. “Finish
your beer ‘n’ let’s go fishin’! Them
great ol’ big ’uns feed up heavy
just before dark!”
“I’m right there with ya, good
buddy!” Harry agreed, hoppin’
off the barstool. “Er, I seem to
have forgot my wallet … you
wouldn’t mind pickin’ up my
tab, would ya? I’ll pay ya back
soon!” Yeah, right!
Quicker than a gar can skin a
minner, we had Ol’ Stump
Jumper, our trusty tin boat,
loaded into the bed of the Lunker
Express and was headin’ for Belly
Button Bayou. We slid ’er off the muddy bank and
chugged to an ol’ flooded stumpfield what had
produced many big basses for us in years past.
Harry had a new lure tied on, a massive topwater
plug called a Sow Socker that was the size of a
Hickory Farms beef log! “All them big-money
B.A.S.S. pros swear by this bait!” he explained,
twitchin’ with excitement. He reared back and flung
the foot-long artificial a city block, then began
slowly retrieving it across the submerged stumps.
BLIPblopBLIPblopBLIPblob — KA-BOOSH! A big
fish exploded on the Sow Socker! Harry hammered
home the hooks ‘n’ wrassled his prize to the boat. It
weighed 8 pounds even on my official Jimmy
Houston Pocket De-Liar. “Whoopie! Let’s put this
big ’un in the livewell and git ’er to Dinkleman’s
Hardware before they close!”
But before we could make a move, who should
come roarin’ upon us but that connivin’ Bass Club
president Crusty Popodopolus and his low-life
tournyment pardner (and Harry’s archrival) Wilbur
Wangle! “What’re you two scumbags doin’ here?”
Harry demanded.
“The same thing you is, only it appears we is doin’
it better!” Wilbur sneered. He opened the livewell of
Crusty’s Hydro-Blaster ‘n’ pulled out a bass what
had to weigh 12 pounds! “C’mon, Crusty, let’s tote
this pig yonder to Dinkleman’s! It’s a shoo-in to win
the monthly contest! I cain’t wait to get my hands on
that fancy rod ‘n’ reel!”
“Talk about bad luck!” I commiserated as Harry
slid his 8-pounder back into the murky Bayou.
“I figgered you had Lunker of the Month sewed up
for sure! Heck, we could fish here fo’ decades ‘n’
never catch a bass as big as that hawg Wilbur lucked
into! We might as well take up golf!”
But Harry had an alternate plan up his sleeve.
“Charlie, I ain’t a-gonna stand fo’ that Wilbur
snatchin’ that lunker prize out from under me!” he
grumbled. “But I agree that we’ll be hard pressed to
catch a fish bigger than
Wilbur’s from this skanky
mudhole, or from any of
our other usual bassin’
haunts, fo’ that matter!” So
… what then? Harry’s
eyeballs took on a diabolical glaze. “Does you
remember that giant stuffed
bass that’s a-hangin’ over the
foot X-ray machine in
Freeble’s Shoe Store?”
“Yep,” I replied. “That
lunker weighs almost 18
pounds! But so what?
Ever’body knows Ol’ Man
Freeble caught that pig in some
remote Florida lake! That’s about
500 miles outside of the 20-mile range limit fo’
Lunker of the Month contest entries!”
“But what if I told you that Florida malarkey was
just a clever cover story that Ol’ Man Freeble
concocted to keep nice folks like us from findin’ out
where he really caught that monster?” Harry
“Which would be where, pray tell?” I laughed, not
wishin’ to fall for another one of Harry’s loony
conspiracy theories.
“In his own backyard, that’s where!” Harry
insisted. “I learnt from a secret source that Freeble’s
got a private lunker pond on his property that’s just
loaded with monster bass, and that selfish ol’ coot
never lets nobody fish it!”
“A ‘secret source,’ eh?” I replied skeptically.
“What, like Deep Throat?”
“More secret than that, even!” Harry insisted. He
leaned in close enough so I could smell his Vienna
sausage-scented breath and whispered, “Last fall
I was paintin’ center lines with the county road
crew out yonder on Taterpeeler Road. I got to talkin’
with this other feller on the crew about bass fishin’,
and he told me his uncle’s next-door neighbor
knows a guy whose cousin’s father-in-law helped
put in a security fence around a pond somewheres
nearby where we was a-workin’! He said that pond
was chock full o’ state record basses, and that the
dude who owned it was paranoid about keepin’
people from sneakin’ in to fish it!”
“I dunno ... that story sounds fishy to me,”
I allowed.
“It’s fishy, all right, as in lunker bass fishy! If we
could sneak in there just long enough to make a
couple casts, we should be able to bag us a contestwinnin’ hawg!”
“Count me out,” I said firmly. “This sounds like
another one of your hairbrained schemes, and I ain’t
havin’ no part of it!”
January/February 2019 BASSMASTER
| 41
Of course, fool that I am, I gave in
to Harry’s ploy. Ol’ Man Freeble
always opened his shoe store
promptly at 9 a.m., so we waited till
then before headin’ for his forbidden hawg pond. “Watch out fer
them #@%& potholes!” Harry
snapped as I steered my rusted-out
pickup down the dirt trail bordering Freeble’s spread. We’d put a big
washtub full o’ water in the bed to
hold a bass till we could rush it to
Dinkleman’s for the lunker contest,
and it was sloshin’ ever’ which way.
Down the road aways, we spied a
locked gate. Bass rods in hand, we
climbed over the gate easily
enough, but the tangled maze of
brush that stood in our path looked
like perfect habitat fo’ chiggers,
redbugs ‘n’ turkey mites. “Here,
dose yo’self up with this potion,”
Harry suggested, tossin’ me a spray
I sprayed some of the stinky
liquid on my arm. “Phew, what is
this stuff?” I gagged. “It smells like
the dumpster behind a Chinese
“It’s some baloney lure scent
I got tricked into buyin’,” Harry admitted. “I sprayed
it on my Jelly Worms fo’ three months and then
never got a bite, so I figger if it’s that good at repellin’ basses, it ought to repel bugs even better!”
We slogged through the underbrush and finally
came to a clearing. There, gleaming before us like a
turquoise jewel, was the purtiest lil’ ol’ bass pond
you ever did see … safely encased inside a 10-foottall fence! Fortunately, Harry had brought along his
Mister Handyman Instant Folding Ladder, a gadget
his wife Maybelline had gifted him with for
Christmas some 10 years ago in hopes that he’d use
it to clean out their gutters, which he never did.
Although the ladder had gathered dust in his garage
for a decade, it was about to become one of Harry’s
favorite Christmas gifts ever!
“How does this here ladder work?” I inquired,
examining the confusing contraption. In its foldedup state, it was no bigger than a computer
mouse pad.
“Danged if I know!” Harry replied. “Best I can
remember from the TV infomercial, there’s a lil’
button on it somewheres that you push, and WA-LA,
it instantly expands into a full-sized ladder!”
I looked closer. “Wonder if that ain’t the button
there, right by your thumb?”
January/February 2019
Harry leaned in, squinting. “You mean this here
THA-WOCK!!! Harry pressed the button and the
Mister Handyman Instant Folding Ladder unfolded
at warp speed, smackin’ him in the jaw as it rocketed upwards a good 12 feet! Stars ‘n’ planets
danced around his head from the impact, which
unfortunately had also caused him to bite a couple
inches off the end of his tongue! “Ngggn,” he
muttered dizzily as he came to. “Wrrt appunn?”
“You almost kilt yo’self with that cockamamie
ladder, that’s what happened!” I replied. “C’mon,
shake it off and let’s get over that fence! Ol’ Man
Freeble closes up his shop at noon and comes home
for lunch, so we ain’t got much time!”
I’ll give Harry one thing — the ol’ boy was tough!
He had to be, to survive all the head bashin’ that’d
been dished out by Maybelline with her cast-iron
skillet over the years! So over yonder the fence we
went, and yep, we actually remembered to bring the
ladder with us so’s we could scurry back to the other
side after we’d caught the Lunker of the Month!
But as luck would have it, the coast was far from
clear. As soon as we approached the pond, we heard
a frightful growlin’! Then suddenly, the biggest,
meanest guard dog in all creation appeared out of
nowhere, barkin’, snarlin’ ‘n’
foamin’ at the mouth like somethin’ out of a low-budget horror
movie! “Yikes!” I whimpered.
“We’re toast now!”
“Relax, pal!” Harry winked as
he pulled a package wrapped in
butcher paper from his pocket.
“I‘ve thought of ever’thing!” The
package contained a pound of
fresh, raw hamburger meat!
Harry tossed it to the massive
mongrel, which quickly turned
its attention away from us while
it chowed down on the bloody
beef. “Heh-heh, I figger we got
two minutes to bag us a big ‘un
and make our escape before Fido
here runs outa food,” he said.
“C’mon, let’s boogie!”
Harry flung the Sow Socker
across the pond. The bait hit the
water with a loud splash, he
commenced to reelin’, and
suddenly a wake appeared
behind it big enough to surf on!
“Thar she blows!” Harry
announced as the plug disappeared in a swirlin’ toilet-flush
“She’s a giant!” Harry
exclaimed as the megabass ripped line off his
creaky baitcastin’ reel. His pool cue rod bent
double as he steered the monster away from a
sunken log. Then the bass leapt skyward, rattlin’
its gills ‘n’ thrashin’ its massive tail! But Harry
gained the upper hand ‘n’ gradually worked it to
shore. Then he did a swan dive into the pond ‘n’
grabbed the fish! “I got ’er, Charlie!” he sputtered,
spittin’ out a bluegill. The behemoth bass was even
bigger than the mounted trophy in Ol’ Man
Freeble’s shoe store!
Mission accomplished, we raced up the ladder to
scale the fence. But just as Harry neared the top,
Freeble’s hellhound, having finished its main
course, decided to grab Harry’s backside for dessert!
Its slashin’ teeth ripped the seat plum outa his jeans,
but we somehow managed to clear the summit and
race back to the truck. “Hurry, we gotta git that fish
to Dinkleman’s!” Harry panted. “She’ll win Lunker
of the Month fo’ sho’!”
Well sir, Harry’s bass weighed 19 pounds, 2
ounces — a shoo-in fo’ the lunker prize! On the last
day of the month, a crowd gathered at Dinkleman’s
to see Harry awarded the high-dollar rod ‘n’ reel.
Unfortunately, his glory-baskin’ abruptly ended
when Ol’ Man Freeble appeared with a policeman in
tow! “Officer, arrest those two hoodlums!” Freeble
insisted. “They trespassed on my property and stole
that bass from my pond, and I’ve got the forensic
evidence to prove it!” He handed a ripped piece of
cloth to the cop. “I discovered my guard dog chewing on this, and I’m certain it came from that criminal’s trousers!”
“Turn around, mister,” the policeman demanded,
and Harry reluctantly did a 180. The cop placed the
torn cloth against the patch Maybelline had sewn in
the seat of his jeans. It was a perfect match, alright.
“B-b-but officer, I k-k-kin explain…” Harry
“Well, whaddaya know, looks like I win the
lunker prize after all!” Wilbur gloated as he
snatched the rod ‘n’ reel from po’ Harry’s grasp.
“Now that we’ve been arrested for trespassin’,
ain’t you sorry that you done got us into this mess?”
I asked Harry as the cop loaded us into the paddy
“Buddy, I’s learnt my lesson, all right,” he replied.
“Next time I sneak into that thar lunker pond, I’ll be
sure to bring along a bag o’ dog biscuits to keep
that mangy cur occupied!”
January/February 2019 BASSMASTER
| 43
Day On The Lake
Jake Whitaker
[Winter/Spring Transition]
It’s not often anglers find themselves facing
a warm front in winter. Elite Series pro Jake
Whitaker confronts this confusing situation.
He illustrates how to catch a limit of coldwater bass while wearing short sleeves.
Photo: Don Wirth
January/February 2019
6th Sense Crush 50X squarebill
Date: Feb. 15, 2018
Venue: Lake R, a small
flatland reservoir
Water: 46 to 55 degrees,
stained to muddy
Weather: Warm front, 70s,
cloudy to sunny, windy
Pro: Jake Whitaker, 26,
Fairview, N.C.; 2018 was
his rookie season on the
Elite Series; he qualified
through the B.A.S.S.
Northern Opens
Boat: Triton 21 TrX with a
250-horsepower Mercury outboard,
Minn Kota trolling motor, Lowrance
electronics and twin Power-Pole
shallow-water anchors
DOTL Challenge: Put a Bassmaster
pro on a small lake he’s never seen
before. Give him seven hours to
locate and catch bass while we log
his every move
JAKE WHITAKER MAY be a dreamer, but
he’s also a man with a plan. “I’ve dreamed of
fishing professionally ever since I was a kid,”
he says. “I fished club tournaments with my
dad through high school, then attended the
University of North Carolina-Charlotte and
competed on the college bass circuit. My tournament partner and I won the College Series
National Championship in 2014, then after I
graduated with a degree in civil engineering, I
decided to take a stab at fishing the B.A.S.S.
Opens before trying to find a ‘real’ job. I did
well enough in the Opens to qualify for the
Elites in 2018, and now here I am, doing a
‘Day on the Lake’ article!” Ah, the enthusiasm
of youth! You go, Whitaker!
January/February 2019 BASSMASTER
| 45
Presented by
February 21–23
Carhartt Bassmaster
College Series at Lake Norman
presented by Bass Pro Shops
Lake Norman
Cornelius, N.C.
Day On The Lake Jake Whitaker
Z 6:26 a.m. It’s pitch dark, windy and
an unseasonably warm 68 degrees as
Whitaker and I arrive at Lake R’s
deserted launch ramp. “They’ve had
a really cold winter in this region, but
it’s been rainy and mild the past
couple of days, so I’m hoping the bass
will start waking up,” Whitaker says
as he pulls an arsenal of ALX rods
paired with Lew’s reels from his
boat’s storage locker. It may be
February, but he’s wearing shorts and
a T-shirt. “It’s supposed to get up to
78 today, but I expect the water will
be cold. If it’s not too muddy, a jerkbait should work. I don’t mind muddy
water in winter if it’s warm runoff,
but cold, muddy water is tough to
March 2
Mossy Oak Fishing
Bassmaster High School Series
Eastern Open
Lake Hartwell
Anderson, S.C.
• Streaming weigh-ins
• Photo galleries
• Leaderboard
Z 6:40 a.m. We launch the Triton.
Whitaker checks the lake temp: 46
degrees. “Don’t let one 70-degree day
in winter fool you; that water is cold!
But it’s not muddy here, so I’ll start in
this area, then gradually work my
way uplake. I’ll target some windy
spots first; wave action oxygenates
the water and gets the bait moving.”
Z 6:45 a.m. Whitaker makes a quick
run to an offshore rockpile cordoned
off by warning buoys. “Rock is
usually good in winter; bass will
scour rocky areas for crawfish.” He
makes his first casts of the day to the
shallow structure with a chartreuse
shad 6th Sense 106DD jerkbait,
retrieving it with aggressive jerks
interspersed with brief pauses.
Z 6:51 a.m. Whitaker switches to a
craw colored 5/8-ounce TrueSouth
Rockstar jig with a green pumpkin
Zoom Speed Craw trailer and crawls
the lure across the rocks. “This spot
looks great! It’s shallow on top, but it
drops off into deep water all around it.”
Z 7:01 a.m. The wind is blowing 20
mph. Whitaker switches to a 6th
Sense Quake 70 lipless crankbait in
the Texas (red) craw pattern on the
9:12 a.m. To make his spinnerbait more
visible in muddy water, Whitaker replaces
one of its gold blades with a hot orange
blade. Photos: Don Wirth
January/February 2019
Z 7:07 a.m. Whitaker abandons the
rockpile for a nearby cove and casts
the lipless crankbait to a seawall.
“The water is 3 degrees warmer in
this cove, probably because it’s sheltered from the wind.”
Z 7:09 a.m. He hits a residential boat
ramp with the Quake 70.
Z 7:11 a.m. The lipless crank ticks a
submerged brushpile during the
retrieve. Whitaker reels in quickly
and casts the jig to the cover.
Z 7:15 a.m. Whitaker moves deeper
into the cove while casting a
1/2-ounce chartreuse and white
TrueSouth Bullet spinnerbait around
boat docks. The lure has gold blades
— one willow, one Colorado. “It’s
cloudy now, but it’s supposed to clear
up as this front moves through.
Personally, I like sunny conditions
way better than cloud cover in winter.
The sun warms up shallow water and
positions bass tighter to cover.”
Z 7:21 a.m. He casts the jig to a dock,
hangs it on a piling and retrieves it.
Z 7:29 a.m. So far, the docks in the
cove have proved unproductive.
Whitaker casts the jerkbait toward a
steep bank. His line loops around an
overhanging limb; Whitaker pops it
free with a light twitch of his rod tip.
“Pretty impressive for a rookie, huh?”
he jokes.
9:49 a.m. Whitaker’s first
keeper of the day, 1 pound,
hit a squarebill crankbait on a
windblown channel bank.
Z 7:36 a.m. The cove
becomes progressively shallower, so Whitaker speed
trolls to the opposite shoreline and hits more docks
with the spinnerbait, lipless
crankbait and jig.
Z 7:40 a.m. Still looking for
his first bite, Whitaker
moves rapidly down the
bank with the lipless crank.
Z 7:51 a.m. Whitaker hangs up his jig in a
submerged brushpile. He breaks off, ties on an identical lure and adds another Speed Craw after painting the tips of its claws with an orange marker “for
added attraction.”
Z 7:53 a.m. He hangs up in the brushpile again and
shakes the jig free. “If there were any bass there,
I’ve spooked them by now.”
Z 7:58 a.m. Whitaker moves to the creek entrance
and tries the jerkbait on a windblown bank.
Z 8:03 a.m. Whitaker ties on a craw colored 6th
Sense Curve 55 round-bill crankbait and hits a
main-lake retaining wall. “This is a compact
medium diver with an erratic ‘hunting’ action.
There’s a mudline starting to form around these
windy banks; bass will move right into that
churned-up water to grab crawfish.”
Z 8:10 a.m. Whitaker is wind-drifting his way
uplake, rotating between the Curve 55 and the
Z 8:20 a.m. Whitaker cranks the Merc and idles
around the mouth of a big cove, eyeballing his electronics for structure, baitfish and bass. “I haven’t
seen any sign of life so far. Are you sure there are
bass in this lake?”
Z 8:26 a.m. Whitaker moves to a steep channel
bank. A fish bumps his jerkbait but doesn’t hook up.
“Aha! A sign of life!”
Z 8:30 a.m. He casts the lipless crank to a flat point.
The wind is gusting 30 mph and waves are crashing
against the shoreline. “I’m glad we’re not on Lake
Erie! It’s rough enough on this little lake.”
muddy and 55 degrees.
“Wow, that’s a huge
temperature difference
from downlake! Runoff
from recent storms has
really warmed up this
area.” A nearby chunk-rock
bank looks like a prime
target, but several bank
fishermen are stationed on
it. “I really want to fish that
bank, but I need to stay out
of their way, so I’ll poke around some other spots up
here until they leave.”
Z 9:06 a.m. Whitaker moves into a shallow pocket
and tries a black-and-blue Rockstar jig with a matching trailer around shoreline wood cover.
Z 9:08 a.m. He casts the spinnerbait to a stickup and
bags his first bass of the day, but it doesn’t measure.
“That’s OK; now I know there really are bass in the
Since 1989
Z 8:40 a.m. Whitaker idles farther uplake to another
steep bank, where he tries the jerkbait. “I’d have
more faith in a jerkbait presentation if it were sunny,
but I’ll stick with it a while longer.”
Z 8:47 a.m. He cranks the Curve 55 without success.
“Come on fish, wake up! I realize that shouting
angrily at them doesn’t do any good, but it makes
me feel better.”
Z 9 a.m. Whitaker makes a high-speed run to the
extreme upper end of Lake R, where the water is
January/February 2019 BASSMASTER
| 47
Day On The Lake Jake Whitaker
(Above) 10:24 a.m. Whitaker pitches a jig to wood cover on a
steep bank. (Right) 12:28 p.m. Whitaker’s fifth keeper, 2
pounds, 1 ounce, smacked his squarebill on the exact same
spot where he caught three other keepers. Photos: Don Wirth
Z 9:12 a.m. Whitaker swaps out the spinnerbait’s
small, gold Colorado blade for a similar blade painted
hot orange. “I like that little orange blade in muddy
water; it adds just enough visibility to trigger a reaction strike.”
Z 9:14 a.m. Whitaker combs a shallow flat with the
lipless crankbait. He hangs a fish and swings it
aboard, but it’s not a bass — he’s foul hooked a huge
gizzard shad! “Good grief, that’s the biggest shad I’ve
ever seen!”
Z 9:25 a.m. Still hunting his first keeper bass,
Whitaker heads a half-mile back downlake and slow
rolls the spinnerbait on a windblown bank.
Z 9:34 a.m. Whitaker reaches a long, steep channel
bank with a mixture of clay and chunk rock. He
fishes the spinnerbait and lipless crankbait down its
entire length without a strike.
Z 9:40 a.m. Whitaker ties on a chartreuse/black back
6th Sense Crush 50X squarebill crankbait and heads
upwind, casting it parallel to the rocky channel bank.
His reel backlashes on his first cast; he quickly dials
it in to meet the gusty conditions.
Z 9:49 a.m. Whitaker catches his first keeper largemouth of the day, 1 pound even, on the squarebill.
“This fish was in that rough water at the end of this
channel bank, about 3 feet deep.”
Z 9:53 a.m. Another cast to the same spot nets
Whitaker’s second keeper, 1 pound, 3 ounces.
Z 10:01 a.m. Whitaker casts the squarebill to the
channel bank again, and a gust of wind blows it into
a shoreline tree. Rather than bang up his trolling
motor in the shallow rocks to retrieve the lure, he
breaks it off, ties on an identical plug and resumes
cranking. “Hopefully, some kid will find that lure and
catch a big one on it some day!”
Z 10:08 a.m. Whitaker hasn’t had another strike on
January/February 2019
the channel bank, so he replaces the chartreuse 50X
with the same lure in citrus shad. “This color pattern
is similar but has some blue in it. Sometimes even a
slight color change will get ’em fired up again.”
Z 10:11 a.m. The citrus shad squarebill wedges
between shallow rocks, and Whitaker reluctantly
breaks it off. What’s his take on the day so far? “Other
than the fact that I’m burning through my crankbait
stash, the bite has picked up some, and I definitely
think windy banks will continue to be a key factor
today. I’ve been pretty much limited to fishing
moving baits in shallow water because of the windy
conditions, and I’m hoping more fish move up shallow as the day progresses. I need to run back uplake
and fish that rocky shoreline, if those bank fishermen
ever leave it; the water’s a lot warmer there. Until
then, I’ll stick mostly with the crankbait and spinnerbait and keep covering water.”
Z 10:19 a.m. Whitaker has moved 100 yards uplake to
hit a steep bank with the spinnerbait and crankbait.
Z 10:24 a.m. Whitaker pitches the black-and-blue jig
to the bank. “There’s some sunken tree limbs and
brush on this bank that should hold fish.”
Z 10:32 a.m. Back to slow rolling the spinnerbait.
“This water color looks perfect for that orange blade,
but I don’t think many fish have moved up shallow
Z 10:40 a.m. Whitaker idles across the lake to a clay
bank with a pronounced mudline, where he tries the
spinnerbait. He gets a hard strike and swings aboard
keeper No. 3, 2 pounds, 4 ounces. “This fish was
about 10 feet off the bank. I guarantee that little
orange blade helped trigger that strike.”
Z 10:46 a.m. Whitaker reverts to the chartreuse
crankbait on the clay bank. “It’s too deep here for my
Power-Poles and I don’t want to spook the fish by
constantly turning my trolling motor on and off, so
with this wind, I’m better off just drifting and
making lots of short casts into that mudline.”
Z 10:58 a.m. Whitaker has run back to the rocky
channel bank where he caught his first two keepers.
He positions his boat downwind of the sweet spot at
the end of the bank and chunks the chartreuse 50X to
the submerged rocks.
Z 11:05 a.m. He bags his fourth keeper, 1 pound, 5
ounces, off the end of the bank. “They must really
like that spot; it’s the third keeper I’ve caught there.
Now I need an 8-pound kicker fish!”
Z 11:13 a.m. Whitaker does a 180 and re-cranks the
rocky bank. “Sometimes they want your lure coming
from a certain direction.”
Z 11:19 a.m. Whitaker runs uplake far enough to see
that the bank fishermen haven’t vacated the spot he
hopes to fish, so he blasts back downlake to a cove
with several docks. He locates a big brushpile in 12
feet of water and crawls the crawdad jig through it. It
hangs in the submerged shrubbery, and he breaks it
Z 11:23 a.m. Whitaker retrieves the spinnerbait
around a shallow pocket. “It’ll probably take a few
days before they move into this spot, but it looks too
good not to try it.”
Z 11:31 a.m. Whitaker rigs a green pumpkin finesse
worm on a 1/4 ounce shaky head and casts it to a
brushy point. “I’m out of the wind here, so I thought
I’d slow down a bit.”
Z 11:40 a.m. He catches a short fish
off a stickup on the spinnerbait. Then
the lure accidentally smacks into his
trolling motor on his next cast,
breaking his line and sending the
spinnerbait to the bottom of the lake.
“Rats, there goes the only orange
blade I’ve got with me!” He locates a
similar spinnerbait in chartreuse and
white and ties it on. “I sure hate to
lose that bait.”
Z 11:47 a.m. The sun finally appears
as Whitaker runs straight across the
lake to a clay point, where he tries
the spinnerbait.
Z 11:54 a.m. The point transitions
into a steep channel bank, which
Whitaker probes with the spinnerbait and squarebill.
This color pattern is similar but
has some blue in it. Sometimes
even a slight color change will
get ’em fired up again.”
Z 12:09 p.m. Lake R is churning under 35 mph wind
gusts as Whitaker drifts steep banks while chunking
the spinnerbait.
Z 12:17 p.m. Whitaker runs back to the rocky bank
where he’s caught three keepers. He dredges the
squarebill around the rocks without success.
Z 12:28 p.m. Whitaker catches his fifth keeper, 2
pounds, 1 ounce, off the end of the bank on the
squarebill. “I should probably park on this spot, but I
really want to run way back uplake before my time is
up. Surely those bank fishermen won’t stay there all
Z 12:40 p.m. Whitaker starts uplake, then stops at a
clay point to try the spinnerbait.
Z 12:53 p.m. Neither the squarebill nor the spinnerbait provokes a strike on the point, so Whitaker
continues uplake to find that the bank fishermen
have finally departed. He drops the Minn Kota and
begins cranking his way down the rock bank.
Z 1:19 p.m. All Whitaker’s squarebill can dredge up
in two trips down the bank is a wad of old fishing
line. With minutes remaining, he races back downlake to crank a point near the boat launch.
Z 1:40 p.m. Whitaker’s time is up. Conditions have
been tough on Lake R, but he’s managed to boat five
keeper bass weighing a total of 7 pounds, 13 ounces.
The Day In Perspective
“Today proves that one day of unseasonably warm
weather isn’t enough to wake up sluggish winter bass,”
Whitaker told Bassmaster. “The lake is cold and I
believe the fish are still
WHERE AND WHEN JAKE WHITAKER on their deep winter
patterns, but the
1 pound; end of rocky channel bank;
extreme wind condichartreuse/black back 6th Sense Crush
tions prevented me from
50X squarebill crankbait; 9:49 a.m.
effectively fishing
offshore structure. The
1 pound, 3 ounces; same place and lure
water was warmest in
as No. 1; 9:53 a.m.
the upper end, but it
2 pounds, 4 ounces; mudline on clay
may take two or three
bank; chartreuse and white TrueSouth
calm, sunny days to
Bullet tandem spinnerbait with gold and
activate the fish there. If
orange blades; 10:40 a.m.
I were to fish here
tomorrow, I’d move
1 pound, 5 ounces; same place and lure
deeper off the points
as No. 1; 11:05 a.m.
and maybe drag a heavy
2 pounds, 1 ounce; same place and lure
football jig, provided it
as No. 1; 12:28 p.m.
didn’t blow as hard
as it did today.”
January/February 2019 BASSMASTER
| 49
From catfishing to king of the bass
fishing world, here’s how a young
West Coast angler worked his way to
the top
Justin Lucas hoists the 2018 Toyota
Bassmaster Angler of the Year trophy.
Photo: Seigo Saito
January/February 2019
JUSTIN LUCAS’ LIFE path to the 2018 Toyota Bassmaster
Angler of the Year title got off to an ominous start.
Not as a touring bass pro, but as a 12-year-old boy in
northern California who really didn’t care much for fishing.
Until he cranked in his first bass.
“My uncle was a bass fisherman and took me to Lake
Oroville,” recalls Lucas, who locked up the title at Lake
Chatuge, Georgia, in September. “It was a cold, rainy day
and I wasn’t dressed for it, so I curled up under the console
and shivered.”
But when his uncle hooked his first spotted bass later that
day, he called Lucas out from under the console and let him
fight the fish to the boat.
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“I thought that was the coolest thing and fell in
love with bass fishing,” recalls Lucas. “My parents
owned a marine construction business, so every day
after school I’d spend an hour or two fishing for
That simple experience cultivated what has
become one of the hottest young stars in bass
Except for a bad year in 2017, Lucas has second-,
seventh- and 11th-place finishes in AOY races since
qualifying for the Elite Series in 2014.
“It’s been on my radar every year, and after finishing high in previous years, I always felt I could win
it someday,” says Lucas.
He had a phenomenal season, finishing out of the
money only once (73rd at Kentucky Lake) and was
in the Top 12 his last four events. Nonetheless, he
had to battle good friend Josh Bertrand right down
to the wire before locking it up at the Chatuge event.
He won two events during his Elite career,
finished in the money in 51 of 66 Bassmaster events
and logged 21 Top 10s. In four seasons, he has
earned more than $850,000.
“There was no doubt in my mind he would win
an AOY someday,” offers good friend and fellow
competitor Brandon Palaniuk, 2017 AOY champion.
The biggest adjustment
I had in fishing the Elites
was learning how to break
down a lake in 2 1/2 days of
January/February 2019
Lucas leaned on his spinning rod and a bevy of Berkley baits
to put himself in position to win the AOY title.
Photos: Seigo Saito and Garrick Dixon
“There are certain guys you can look at that are
consistent enough that it’s just a matter of time
before that pays off. He’s been one of those guys.”
Lucas’ grandfather Jack Schmidt may be biased,
but he saw that “it” factor when he used to haul
Lucas around to bass tournaments in the
Sacramento area before Lucas was old enough to
Schmidt was a catfisherman and admits he knew
little about bass fishing, but he could see how
driven the boy was and made a point of getting him
on the water often to test his fishing talents. Schmidt
converted an old aluminum boat into a bass boat for
them to use in competition.
“You could see that specialness in him as an
angler, but I have to admit, he taught himself,” says
Schmidt. “I didn’t even know how to tie bass knots.
The boy was 12 or 13 at the time and I let him run
the boat, run the trolling motor and make all the
decisions. All I did was drive him to the lake, back
him into the water and sit in the back of the boat
and fish.”
Schmidt says Lucas was a true student of bass
fishing, reading everything he could get his hands
on to learn more about the sport.
The duo finished in the money in several events
and won a few. Gramps kept most of the money,
offering the youngster some cash to buy a raincoat
or more tackle.
Meanwhile, Lucas worked odd jobs — everything
from selling pumpkins to newspaper subscriptions
outside a grocery store — to save money for his first
bass boat. When he did, Gramps surprised him with
a check for $2,500 — money he had saved from
those tournament winnings.
Lucas became a household name during his fight for the AOY
title thanks to coverage on and The
Bassmasters TV show aired on ESPN2. Photo: Thomas Allen
Lucas insists his experiences with his grandfather
fishing northern California lakes helped make him
the angler he is today. He says several anglers have
come from that region who are fishing pro trails
throughout the country today.
“I grew up fishing all types of lakes, from the
[California] Delta to the deep, clear waters of Lake
Shasta, and that’s part of the reason that I am the
fisherman I am today,” says Lucas, who now lives in
northern Alabama. “The only thing it didn’t prepare
me for was river systems, like the Tennessee, with
locks and dams.”
After high school, Lucas began fishing as a
co-angler to further his pro career development.
While he worked for a Sacramento tackle shop to keep
his tournament craving financed, he won two boats
and four tournaments that produced $25,000 each.
“That set me up for the next level,” he says. “I did
four years as a boater in FLW tournaments [and]
had a little success, but nothing great.”
In addition, the tackle shop job not only helped
him gain knowledge of tackle sales and how to work
with the public, it also spawned a relationship he
developed with the local Pure Fishing sales rep.
What started as a discount on equipment evolved
into a full-blown sponsorship with Berkley and Abu
Garcia, a relationship he has relished for the past 10
In 2013, Lucas fished the Central and Northern
Bassmaster Opens and qualified through the
Northern Opens for the Elites.
“I chose to fish those because I knew I wasn’t very
good on shallow, dirty rivers or Northern natural
lakes,” he said. “My intentions weren’t to qualify for
the Elites; it was to get better on those kinds of
He married his wife, BreeAnna, in 2015 and won
his first Elite tournament on the Sacramento River
that same year — where his interest in bass fishing
was conceived.
If the world is ever coming to
an end, I’m grabbing my
drop-shot rod before I run to
the woods. I can catch enough
fish on that to trade for
whatever I might need.”
“The biggest adjustment I had in fishing the Elites
was learning how to break down a lake in 2 1/2 days
of practice,” he says. “I was more accustomed to
practicing longer for other tournaments; but once
I got in the flow of it, I figured it out.”
Perhaps one of the most impressive factors of
Lucas’ success last season was that it came on the
heels of his worst year (2017).
Lucas says he turned it around by getting back to
his roots and staying within his comfort zone.
“In 2017, I tried to get better by fishing techniques
like crankbaiting and spinnerbaiting, techniques
I figured I needed in my arsenal,” he notes. “I wasn’t
good at it, nor did I have fun. You’ve got to be
comfortable with a technique to be effective, so
I went back to what I do best.”
He fished his strengths in 2018 — either with a
spinning rod (drop shots, wacky rigs, shaky heads)
or with a topwater rod in hand.
“It’s what I did in California, and it works out
east, as well,” he says. “I tell people that if the world
is ever coming to an end, I’m grabbing my drop-shot
rod before I run to the woods. I can catch enough
fish on that to trade for whatever I might need.”
Lucas admits that winning AOY has been a
surreal experience, although he always thought it
was a possibility.
“But when I look at the true stars of the sport,
guys like KVD or Aaron Martens, it’s hard to think
that I’m better,” he says.
“But this year, I was.”
January/February 2019 BASSMASTER
| 53
Fishing waters that “look good” tends
to become instinctive after years
of chasing bass. But you
can fine-tune your
search for fish by
the species-specific
conditions responsible
for creating prime real
FRESHWATER BASS ARE about as ubiquitous as any fish
can be. Provide perennial waters, in a pond, lake, reservoir,
creek or river, and there’s a good chance that you’ll find at
least one of several species. They’re found throughout their
native range in the eastern and midwestern United States,
and have been successfully introduced in most states west
of the Rocky Mountains. The only waters void of bass are in
Alaska. Largemouth have also been exported to dozens of
other countries.
Dr. James A. Henshall, in his 1889 publication Book of the
Black Bass, wrote, “He [Black Bass] has the faculty of asserting himself and making himself completely at home wherever
placed.” And although these prized sportfish are highly
adaptable to a variety of conditions, there are waters in which
bass do not persist.
Casting to isolated rocky outcroppings from any sandy
beach along the Atlantic or Pacific coasts would be futile.
Black bass cannot, of course, survive in saltwater. They’re
also not found in high-elevation lakes and streams that never
warm sufficiently for bass to successfully reproduce. Other
places without bass include waters that dry annually or in
which oxygen levels drop to near zero.
January/February 2019
“Habitat conditions can be responsible for As scientists collect data,
such as dissolved oxygen
preventing bass from becoming established
content at different depths,
in some locations,” says California fisheries
and then mesh those
biologist Peter Banash. “But the environresults to the types of bass
ment that fish experience can also influence
shocked in different zones,
their distribution within bodies of water.
preference concepts are
There is overlap, but every species has wellsupported.
defined habitat thresholds, or zones, in
Photos: Brian Sak
which they not only survive but thrive.”
Understanding the needs of black bass,
along with the conditions of a body of water,
will help determine the best places to fish.
But knowing the preferences of the species being
explains Banash. “Physical zones describe the structargeted takes it one step further, greatly increasing
ture of a body of water and include water temperathe chances of success in locating concentrations of
ture, depth and cover. Oxygen concentrations and pH
quality fish.
fall into the water-quality zone category. And the
“There are three types of habitat requirements to
biological zones involve interactions between bass
think about when evaluating fish preferences,”
and predators, prey and competitors.”
Biologist Terminology
ALKALINITY: The amount of any of
several dissolved compounds in water
that shift the pH to the alkaline side of
neutral (greater than seven).
COMPETITORS: Two or more individuals
of the same or different species striving for
the same thing (cover, food, mates, etc.).
COVER: Any natural or man-made
object that affords protection for species
using it, including submerged vegetation,
woody debris, rocks, boulders and docks.
CURRENT: The steady, onedirectional movement of water, generally
measured in cubic feet per second or
feet per minute.
January/February 2019
entered into solution (water). Levels
below 3 milligrams of oxygen per liter of
water are stressful to fish.
DISTRIBUTION: All of the areas within
a body of water, or waters within a
geographical region, where a particular
species can be found.
HABITAT: Conditions that define the
environment in which a species lives in a
particular location (shallow, weedy
areas; deep, rocky areas; etc.).
PH: The measure of acidity or alkalinity of water. A range of 4 to 9 is considered normal for most fresh waters.
PREDATOR: Any individual, group or
species that naturally preys on other
individuals, groups or species (bass are
predators of baitfish).
PREY: Any individual, group or species
that is naturally hunted and killed for
food by other individuals, groups or
species (baitfish are the prey of bass).
TEMPERATURE: A physical property
expressing how cold or hot something is,
typically measured in degrees
Fahrenheit or Celsius.
TURBIDITY: The presence of
suspended solid materials that muddy
the water, typically measured in
Formazin or Nephelometric Turbidity
Units (FTU or NTU).
Turbidity is the most important factor for
largemouth. Although they can tolerate
turbid waters, and even use it as cover, it’s
far from ideal.”
The physical, water quality and biological conditions of still or moving waters can vary greatly with
geographic location, altitude and time of year. But
there can also be significant differences between
bodies of water separated by just miles, or only days
apart within the same pond, lake or river. There can
even be differences between areas, within larger
waters, at any one time.
There are a variety of parameters within the three
environmental habitat types that combine to describe
the overall requirements of black bass. But there are
some that are more important than others when it
comes to influencing ideal conditions for fish.
“Everyone knows that bass like cover,” says Joe
Sullivan, fisheries program manager for the East Bay
Regional Park District in Oakland, “so that’s the first
physical factor we look at when managing fisheries.
Although we can’t do much to change it, turbidity is
the most important water-quality feature. In terms of
biological elements, bass, being a top predator, do
best when there isn’t competition for food.”
Both biologists stress that, although there are a
handful of general habitat requirements that can help
to locate fish, it’s really the species-specific zones that
anglers should think about when casting for largemouth, smallmouth or spots.
factor. They can survive in extreme conditions, in
waters ranging from near freezing to 94 degrees, but
their preference zone is 75 to 89 degrees. Largemouth
become lethargic, and mostly stop feeding, when
waters dip below 50. Unsuitable spawning temperatures are a primary reason for the failure of the
species to become established.
“Tahoe, a high-elevation lake on the California/
Nevada border, is an example of the role water
temperature plays in the distribution of largemouth,”
says Sullivan. “The marina areas, due to their shallow
nature, are warmer than the main body. And those
are the only areas where we’ve ever observed bass.”
Largemouth almost always choose muddy bottom
areas over rock, gravel or sand when
There are plenty of fisheries that
available. It’s not actually the soft
house both smallmouth and largebottom that they like — it’s other
mouth bass. However, they will
closely related factors that draw
most often be found in different
them to these areas.
zones on the same body of water.
Largemouth Preference Zones
Largemouth bass are considered generalists and have the widest range of
requirements. A generic description of
their preferred habitat would be relatively shallow, warm, quiet waters with
low turbidity and lots of aquatic
Turbidity is the most important factor for
largemouth. Although they can tolerate turbid
waters, and even use it as cover, it’s far from
ideal. The biggest problem with suspended
materials is the reduction in spawning
success when particles settle out and
smother fish eggs. Reduced feeding success
is also an issue when waters are turbid.
“You may have bass in muddy water
areas where they can’t see a foot in front
of themselves,” says Sullivan. “But if
those conditions persist, the fish aren’t
going to thrive. Largemouth are ambush
predators that rely on their vision to feed,
and they need clear water.”
Despite largemouth being a highly tolerant species, temperature is still an important
January/February 2019 BASSMASTER
| 57
“Dark-colored, nutrient-rich mud
ranges. Their inflexibility has led
absorbs sunlight,” explains Banash,
to only moderate introduction
“which in turn helps heat the water. It also
successes. A general description for
provides optimal conditions for plant growth.
their preferred conditions would be cool,
And suitable temperatures, combined with lots
clear waters, where the bottom is hard, there
of aquatic vegetation, are a juvenile largemouth’s
is no vegetation, and there’s a light current.
best defense against predators.”
“We usually find smallmouth bass in
Most waters have limited food
clear, colder water, along banks with
supplies, with heavily vegetated
steep, rocky edges,” says Sullivan.
areas also aiding bass in their firstIn our lakes and reservoirs,
come, first-served battle for a meal.
they’re almost always in
The effects of prey competition are
deeper water in comparison to
most severe on small bass because
largemouth. They also do quite
their preferred foods are also the
well in flowing rivers and streams
favorites of other fish. Submerged
as long as there are current breaks.”
plants help by giving prey a place
Like largemouth, smallmouth
to hide.
bass are sight feeders and prefer
Largemouth bass prefer
clear water. In areas with regular
waters with little to no movement
occurrences of high turbidity,
and do best in ponds, lakes and
especially over extended periods
reservoirs, and in the quiet backwaof time, smallies do not do well.
ters of tidal sloughs, streams and
Scientists have documented
rivers. They’ll often hold in low-flow
several cases in which elevated
areas adjacent to moving water to
turbidities have prevented the
ambush prey swimming or being
establishment of smallmouth
washed by.
The importance of pH, dissolved oxygen and other
“Water temperature is the single most important
water-quality parameters to largemouth survival are
factor for smallmouth bass success,” says Banash.
negligible in most waters throughout the year. The
“They do good in habitats with summer temperatures
most common exception is when oxygen levels drop to
between 68 and 80 degrees, but prefer waters closer to
70. Like their deeper-bodied cousins, they become
“There are times when we have to worry about
lethargic in colder waters — but that’s more like 40
oxygen levels,” admits Banash. “The first is when
degrees and below for smallies.”
larger lakes and reservoirs stratify — a lack of mixing
Smallmouth don’t do as well in man-made waters
uses up dissolved oxygen in the deeper waters. The
where summer water temperatures exceed their tolerother is when dense vegetation, that eventually dies
ance level. This is especially true in farm ponds and
and decomposes, lowers oxygen to dangerous levels.”
smaller reservoirs. Larger reservoirs tend to work
because they have sufficiently cold conditions in both
Smallmouth Preference Zones
upstream and deep-water areas.
Smallies have the most restrictive habitat requireLakes and reservoirs with large gravel- or rockments, with factors having relatively narrow and rigid
covered bottoms, and streams and rivers that have
lots of submerged boulders and deep pools, are ideal
for smallmouth. They can persist in waters with other
types of substrate as long as there is little aquatic
One of the biggest differences between largemouth
and smallmouth is that smallies prefer to have some
degree of current, with a preferred range of 7 to 19
feet per minute. They can live in faster waters, but
once the speed tops 45, they’ll move out of the area in
search of calmer conditions.
“Water-quality conditions aren’t usually a concern
for smallmouth,” says Banash, “because they have a
Water temperature is the
single most important factor
for smallmouth bass success.”
January/February 2019
Spots are the most
adaptable of the bass
family. They can thrive
in muddy water, don’t
mind the cold and will
thrive in both shallow
and deep water. Current
doesn’t bother them,
Photo: Brian Sak
wide tolerance for most parameters. They are,
however, intolerant to moderate increases in alkalinity, which can be an issue in drier parts of the
Spotted Preference Zones
Spotted bass habitat requirements are best
described as midway between those of largemouth
and smallmouth. And it’s common to find them coexisting with one or the other. A basic description of
their preferred conditions is deeper waters along
main-lake points with either rock or gravel and with
sparse or no vegetation. They do equally well in still
or moving waters.
“Spots are far less discriminating in their preference for clean, clear waters,” says Banash. “They
commonly do quite well in muddy or moderately
turbid conditions. That being said, highly turbid
rivers and reservoirs can still preclude their
Optimal temperatures for spotted bass fall between
74 and 76 degrees. They can survive in both colder
and warmer waters, but not to the lower and upper
extremes exhibited by smallmouth and largemouth.
Spawning takes place when temperatures hit about 64
In lakes and reservoirs, spotted bass tend to favor
deeper habitats, or areas that at a minimum have
deep-water access, and they are usually found close to
the bottom. Spotted bass live in pools, where they
avoid both fast currents and backwaters that often
have heavy vegetation, in streams and rivers.
Spotted bass tend to favor deeper habitats, or areas that at
a minimum have deep-water access, and they are usually
found close to the bottom.”
January/February 2019 BASSMASTER
| 59
Bladed jigs can be found
in all shapes and sizes.
This is a new one by
Terminator: Shuddering
Bait Bladed Jig.
Bladed jigs have come
a long way in the past
13 years. Anglers need
to understand the
differences in bait design
to get the most out of
these lures
January/February 2019
THE Z-MAN CHATTERBAIT, the original bladed jig,
languished on tackle shop shelves for two years before it
won a major bass tournament at Lake Okeechobee in the
spring of 2006. Suddenly, bass fanatics everywhere were
clamoring for the ChatterBait and singing its praises after
they fished with one. But, would the lure have staying
power? Now, nearly 13 years later, it is obvious that the
bladed jig is here for the long haul.
Z-Man and a host of other companies have introduced
bladed jigs that jack bass from the shallows to the depths
and even in cover. To take full advantage of the bladed jig’s
potential, you need a variety of these baits in your arsenal.
No single bladed jig covers every situation.
Riding High
Most 1/4- to 3/8-ounce vibrating jigs will run in the upper
water column with a medium to fast retrieve, but some of
these baits tend to ride higher than others. When Alabama’s
Joey Nania wants to retrieve a bladed jig no deeper than 3
feet, he ties on Z-Man’s Project Z. Nania is a full-time guide
on Alabama’s Coosa River system and has been competing
in the Bassmaster Opens since 2010.
“The Project Z rides up higher in the water column,”
Nania says. “It comes through grass the very best, like when
I’m fishing eelgrass or hydrilla that’s just under the surface.”
Strike King’s Rage Blade and Naked Rage Blade are two of
the highest-riding bladed jigs available. The weight is
molded to the bottom of the blade and not to the hook, as
with most other bladed jigs. This lets the blade fold back
during the strike for a higher hooking percentage. Because
the weight makes the initial contact with cover, the hook is
less inclined to snag.
The Rage Blade features a metal blade, a skirted hook and
a twin-tail trailer. The Naked Rage Blade has a clear-plastic
blade, no skirt and a Gamakatsu hook dressed with a Strike
King Perfect Plastic Blade Minnow. It was designed to be a
finesse bladed jig for clear-water conditions.
When targeting bass high in the
water column, Joey Nania opts
for the Z-Man Project Z (below).
Photo: Andy Crawford
Strike King’s Rage Blade is
another good high-rider.
January/February 2019 BASSMASTER
| 61
Riding Low
Nania’s go-to bladed jig in most
situations is the Z-Man Jack Hammer
in 3/8- and 1/2-ounce sizes. He says
this bait is well worth its $16 price tag
because it hunts when retrieved at
medium to fast speeds.
“The key with that bait is its hunting action,”
Nania says. “It likes to jump and cut to the side
without bumping cover. Even when I’m slow rolling
it on bottom 5 to 15 feet deep, I can make that bait
cut to the side by making one hard turn on the reel
handle. I dress it with a Z-Man DieZel MinnowZ
almost exclusively. It lasts for months because it’s
made out of ElaZtech plastic.”
Picasso’s Shock Blade boasts a rounded blade that
is thicker than most. It causes shorter, quicker vibrations and tends to make the bait dive when retrieved,
said Terry Monteleone, president of Picasso Lures.
“The Shock Blade doesn’t ride up because the
blade isn’t directly attached to the bait’s head,”
Monteleone says.
The Shock Blade comes in six sizes, from 1/4
ounce to 1 1/2 ounces. The 1/4-ouncer does the job
to about 5 feet deep, the 3/8-ouncer down 10 to 15
feet, and the 1/2-ouncer to 20 feet.
Riding Deep
Picasso’s 3/4- to 1 1/2-ounce Shock Blades and
1 1/2- to 2-ounce Shock Blade Large Blades may be
fished deep on offshore structure for paunchy bass.
Try dressing these bladed jigs with large swimbaits,
such as the 7-inch Jerky J and Zoom’s 7-inch
Magnum Fluke.
“These baits are more efficient than crankbaits for
deep summer ledge fishing because they stay in touch
with the structure way longer,” Monteleone says.
For bottom-grinding presentations, consider
Picasso’s Shock Blade Tungsten Knocker bladed jig.
It features a 97 percent tungsten football head for
maximum sensitivity and more volume when the
blade contacts the head. The Tungsten Knocker
comes in fives sizes from 1/4 to 1 ounce. Fish it as
you would a regular football-head jig.
Anglers looking to get really
deep with a bladed jig can
opt for Picasso’s Shock
January/February 2019
When Nania opts for a bladed jig in 5 to 15 feet of water, he
selects the Z-Man Jack Hammer.
Phenix offers its Proline Stand Up Football Wobble
Jig for bottom grinding. Available in 1/4- to 1-ounce
sizes, it boasts a fiber weedguard to reduce hang-ups.
“When I want to fish ledges 20 feet or deeper with
a Jack Hammer, I use the 3/4- or 1 1/4-ounce size,”
Nania says. “The only other way bass see that kind
of vibration in deep water is with a crankbait.”
The Cover Busters
The biggest drawback with the basic bladed jig
design is that it readily hangs up in cover that
wouldn’t be a problem for a spinnerbait. Booyah has
addressed this issue by molding a polycarbonate
head around a lead core with its new Melee Vibrating
Jig. The head design, the blade placement and the
extra-thin blade give the lure a unique vibration and
sound. More importantly, the Melee comes through
grass and wood cover.
“The Melee is really good around boat docks,
stumps, brush and stuff like that,” says Bassmaster
Elite Series pro Stetson Blaylock of Arkansas. “The
unique head design of that bait allows it to stay deeper
on a fast retrieve instead of coming up like other
bladed jigs do.”
The Melee also has a different action than other
bladed jigs, and the blade hits the head every time it
cuts back and forth, Blaylock added. When he casts
the Melee to schooling bass, Blaylock removes the
skirt and dresses the hook with a small swimbait.
Z-Man’s Project Z Weedless ChatterBait gets the
call when Nania fishes shallower cover, especially
water willow on the Coosa River chain of lakes.
Fat Trailers for Better Hookups
Davy Hite dresses
Terminator’s Shuddering
Blade Bait with a Gary
Yamamoto Zako, a 4-inch,
soft-plastic jointed
“That bait was
designed to be a
trailer for a vibrating jig,” Hite says. “I like that it is
bulky. When a bass opens his mouth to engulf the bait,
it creates a vacuum. It’s hard for a bass to suck in a
vibrating jig with a bitty trailer. I hook and land more
bass with a bulky soft-plastic trailer like the Zako
because it gets sucked deep into a bass’ mouth.”
“That bait has a jig-style brushguard,” Nania says.
“I fish it like a swim jig. It comes through the thickest stuff.”
NuTech and Phenix also make bladed jigs that
have hookguards molded into the head of the lure
to make them snag resistant. You may choose
from a variety of head designs, including a football head.
A3 Anglers and Decoy offer bladed jigs that have
offset hooks for Texas rigging. The A3 Anglers
Tungsten ShudderBlade Clear bladed jig comes with
a 1/4-, 5/16- or 7/16-ounce tungsten weight that is
attached to the line snap in front of the clear plastic
blade. The Decoy Zero-Dan Flash has a 3/0 hook and
a 5/16-ounce weight that is attached to a split ring
behind its metal blade.
Picasso’s new Tungsten Knocker Heavy Cover
bladed jig has a unique three-prong nickel titanium
weedguard that prevents snagging even when the
head rolls on its side as it comes through wood cover.
Available in 1/4- through 1-ounce sizes, the tungsten
head makes a unique sound when the blade hits it.
Offbeat Bladed Jigs
Some bladed jigs are so unique they stand apart.
Picasso’s FX Shock Blade is, essentially, a hair jig
fitted with a blade. Another offbeat design is
Terminator’s Shuddering Bait Bladed Jig. Its
forward-facing, cupped plastic lip grabs the water
and creates an exaggerated wobbling action. Former
standout Elite Series pro and current Bassmaster TV
and writer Davy Hite said the
Shuddering Bait puts out more vibrations than other
bladed jigs he has used.
“It moves a lot of water,” Hite says. “It’s especially
good in low-light conditions and in stained, muddy
or tannic water. I’ve learned through the years that
the amount of water a bladed jig moves and the
The design of Booyah’s Melee
bladed jig allows it to come
through cover where other
baits may hang. Elite Series
pro Stetson Blaylock leans on
it when targeting bass around
wood cover.
Photo: Andy Crawford
amount of vibrations it makes is a big difference in
certain situations.”
Hite thinks many anglers fail to take full advantage of the bladed jig because they think all of these
lures are, essentially, the same. He asserted that this
makes as much sense as thinking one crankbait can
cover every situation.
“There are a lot of vibrating jigs out there, and
most of them have different characteristics,”
Hite says.
I’ve learned through the years
that the amount of water a
bladed jig moves and the
amount of vibrations it makes
is a big difference in certain
January/February 2019 BASSMASTER
| 63
[Pattern of the Month]
Once you find an area with rocks, put your football
jig to work. However, make sure you know precisely
what color will match the crawfish bass are eating.
Pirch’s Pigskin
Illustrations: Doug Schermer; Photo: Seigo Saito
Six-time Classic contender Cliff Pirch has a game plan to help you land
winter bass with a football jig
[Tackle Tips]
Cliff Pirch wants you to go outside and kick
rocks. He wants you to find your nearest reservoir, locate a stone and turn it over. There, he
says you’ll find what you need to catch winter
bass: a local crawfish, covered in mud. “They
really do bite it through the winter and early
spring,” he says. “It’s always a go-to.”
Make a mental note of what you find, then
proceed to the jig aisle of your favorite tackle
store to replicate the crawfish. There, you can
put together the puzzle pieces of his favorite
winter pattern: rockpiles filled with bass, a
perfect presentation and a football jig.
“It’s a three-prong deal,” explains the six-time
Bassmaster Classic qualifier and Arizona native.
“It works really well in the Southwest, but I’ve
seen it work all over the country.”
“A lot of times, prespawn bass relate to crawdads, and crawdads relate to rocks. They seem
Rod: 7-foot, 7-inch Phenix
heavy action MDX rod for
3/4-ounce jigs; 7-foot,
7-inch heavy action Phenix
Feather rod for 1/2-ounce
and 3/8-ounce jigs
Reel: Ardent Apex
Grand, 7.3:1 casting reel
Line: 15- to
Seaguar InvizX
fluorocarbon for
3/4-ounce jigs;
12-pound Seaguar InvizX
for 1/2-ounce and
3/4-ounce jigs
January/February 2019
to be the No. 1 food prespawn bass target, and a
football jig is a great technique to imitate a
Pirch’s formula for success is simple. If
you’ve got experience fishing a jig, it’s an easy
one to follow; if you don’t, it’s an easy pattern to
learn. All you need is the determination to brave
winter weather and a set of eyes capable of
spotting rocks.
The first step to catching fish here is to hit the
water and find some rocks. For a general starting area, try the upper third of Western lakes like
Lake Roosevelt, Powell or Havasu near river
arms. In the Southeast, at a place like Table
Rock, Lake Murray or Lake Hartwell, Pirch
begins his search on the dam end of the
Regionally, your choice of rock may vary, but
Pirch says the formula applies nationwide. “In
the Ozarks, you’re looking for chunk rock. In the
West, it might be river rock. In the Southeast,
on lakes with a clay bank, there might be veins
of rock. Anywhere that stuff occurs could hold
bass. They could be in 20 feet of water, or they
could be in 5 to 7 feet. A lot of times, what you
see on the bank continues under the water, so if
you see rock veins, you can usually follow them
out with a football jig.”
[The Pro]
“Any little tick, you
Cliff Pirch
want to jerk back
Total B.A.S.S.
tournaments: 74
Top 10 finishes: 9
Bassmaster Classic
qualifications: 6
Total career winnings:
Total career weight:
2,601 pounds, 4 ounces
Once you’ve identified your
target area, you’ll need to
master the presentation.
Here, Pirch positions his boat
on a diagonal with his target
and makes a long cast toward
the strike zone. He hesitates
to name a standard distance
but says 30 yards is not
uncommon. Heavy jigs fly
far, and in many cases, you’ll
be tossing a 3/4-ounce lead
bullet into the depths.
The football jig’s built-in
attributes help to negotiate
the rocky terrain, Pirch
explains. “Football jigs are
best at bouncing through
rocks. The shape of the
jighead helps it deflect better
through the rocks than a flipping jig or casting jig. While
it’s on the bottom, I’m staying in contact with the rocks
by dragging or hopping it
through those rocks. That
lure makes a lot of noise and
Locating bass with a football jig can be a methodical
process. To speed things up,
Pirch usually begins targeting
an area in the fastest way
possible: by hopping his jig
through the cast.
and reel. Actually,
anything that
doesn’t feel right is
worth setting the
hook on.”
If hopping doesn’t work,
Pirch will reluctantly slow his
retrieve down to a drag.
“Any little tick, you want to
jerk back and reel. Actually,
anything that doesn’t feel
right is worth setting the
hook on.”
That’s it. Locating a target
area is a no-brainer.
Presenting this technique is
simple. But much of its
success comes down to
preparation. That’s where the
final piece comes in: the
football jig itself.
He customizes his jigs,
trimming skirts on 3/4-ounce
jigs to the bend in the hook,
and going even tighter on
1/2-ounce and 3/4-ounce jigs.
His heaviest jigs get a Big
Bite Baits Double Tail Grub
as a trailer. Meanwhile,
smaller brethren are most
often paired with a Big Bite
Baits Finesse Grub. “Either
way, you want to make sure
the tails kick freely without
being tangled up,” he says.
Pirch is a keen connoisseur
of crawfish colors. His mind,
like a database of crawfish,
contains a listing for dozens of
lakes around the country. “At
Table Rock, if you flip over a
rock and find a crawdad, you’ll
see what color Missouri craw
really mimics. It’s kind of a
green pumpkin, pale tan mix
with bars on it. Here in the
desert southwest, it’s a watermelon brown mix with patches
of brown and green on their
back. In Georgia, I’ve seen
where they are almost a light
pumpkin color with orange
tips on the claws. Every region
is different.” Thus, the importance of local knowledge.
But preparation doesn’t
end at the paint shop. Before
heading out, consider the
water temperature. In relatively warm water, he’ll stick
with the 3/4-ounce jig, but
the colder the water gets, the
lighter he will go with both jig
and line. In extreme situations, he’ll go all the way
down to a 1/4-ounce jig.
Armed with a game plan from
a veteran player, you’re now
ready to score big with winter
bass. “This is something I
picked up on my home lake
years ago,” Pirch concludes.
“It may not be glamorous,
but in the winter, it really
shines.” Z
Partly cloudy,
slight breeze,
ripple on the
Cliff Pirch says the presence of motion on top of the
water tends to make the fish
more aggressive and less
aware of your presence.
Water temperature doesn’t
play a role, as he’s fished the
pattern in water ranging from
37 degrees into the 60s.
Worth a shot:
Windy, choppy
These conditions are not a deal breaker for
a football jig. In fact, they
could play further into your
hands as long as the water
isn’t too rough. Heavy jigs are
adept at flying in the wind,
and the bottom-focused fishing pattern deployed here
keeps you clear of some of the
surface chaos.
Change it up:
Sunny, calm
conditions are
not your ally. If you see glasslike water with no wind and
calm surroundings, consider
changing your strategy.
These conditions expose your
boat to the bass, especially
in clear water. Calm conditions can also mean less
aggressive bass this time of
[On Deck]
Cliff Pirch keeps a jighead worm on deck for occasions when the football jig
bite is too slow or the conditions are calmer than he prefers for the pattern. “If
it’s slick out there, you have to go a little more finesse,” he explains. “That’s
when I turn to spinning gear.” Pirch’s preferred finesse setup is a 4.5-inch
Roboworm mated to a 20-pound Seaguar Smackdown Braid — which has the
same diameter as 6-pound line — and an 8-pound Seaguar Tatsu leader. He
uses a 7-foot, 7-inch medium action Phenix rod and an Ardent C-Force spinning reel with this setup.
January/February 2019 BASSMASTER
| 65
[Bass Basics]
By DON WIRTH Senior Writer
Dialing In Craws & Creatures
2 [Where To Cast]
Rocky Points
These structures are
loaded with crawfish! Use a
plastic craw or chunk as a
jig trailer and simply reel
the jig slowly across the
bottom. Or, drag the structure with a craw or small
brush bait on a Carolina rig.
Matted Vegetation
Crawfish thrive in
grassbeds, too. Texas rig a
creature or craw with a
heavy (1- to 1 1/2-ounce)
pegged sinker, pitch it to
the grass mat, then shake
your rod tip until the lure
drops straight down to bass
holding below.
1 [Imitating Crawfish]
Craws & Chunks
A live crawfish uses its
large claws for grabbing prey,
and raises them in a combative defense stance when
threatened by other predators. Many lure manufacturers offer artificial craws;
while their degree of realism
varies from “dead on” imitations to minimalist “chunks,”
they all feature those oversized claws that present such
an important visual feeding
cue to bass. Craw mimics can
either be Texas rigged or used
as jig trailers.
Brush Hog Baits
If soft-plastic chunks represent the most basic end of the
craw/creature lure spectrum,
brush baits are easily the most
extreme artificials in this category. These lures incorporate a
laundry list of anatomical
features from live worms, salamanders and crawfish into a
single, enticing presentation.
Their multiple wriggling, vibrating and flapping appendages
create a great deal of disturbance, making them easily
noticeable to bass in murky
water and dense cover.
January/February 2019
These ingenious baits are
designed for short-line
presentations to dense
aquatic vegetation and snaggy
submerged wood. The thin,
flat body, reminiscent of a
beaver’s tail, slides easily
through the thickest cover.
The tail section can be separated into two flapping craw
claws, if desired. Elite pros
Texas rig these baits and often
use heavy sinkers so they sink
straight down into cover,
thereby provoking reaction
strikes from lethargic bass.
Stream Structure
Crawfish are a major food
source for stream bass.
Texas rig a realistic 3-inch
craw with a light slip sinker,
cast it to slow-moving
eddies, deep holes, logjams
and scattered rocks, then
retrieve it with short hops.
Illustrations: Jonathan H. Milo
With crawfish being one of the most important food sources for all species of bass, it’s
little wonder that soft-plastic lures mimicking these creeping crustaceans are among the most
effective bass baits. Here’s how Bassmaster Elite Series pros use craw and “creature” baits to
whack bass in a variety of structure and cover scenarios.
3 [Shopping List]
Cold-water bass would much rather scarf down a slow-crawling mudbug than chase after
a scattering school of baitfish, making right now prime time to pitch, drag or hop a craw mimic!
Grab this righteous gear and bag a winter lunker.
A Yum Crawbug
One of the most
realistic soft-plastic crawfish
mimics on the market, Yum’s
hollow-bodied Crawbug is
superaccurate, all the way
down to its googly eye stalks,
delicate antennae,
segmented body, four pairs
of walking legs and
spike-studded claws.
D Fenwick Elite Tech
Baitcasting Rods
Fenwick invented the flipping stick, and its Elite Tech
rod series offers jig-and-rig
fishermen 10 ultra-sensitive
sticks at a great price. These
lightweight, high-modulus
graphite workhorses feature
a supercomfortable handle
design that won’t get slippery
when wet. ($149.99)
Jackall Scissor Comb
It’s a craw! It’s a
shrimp! It’s a centipede!
This alien-lookin’ brushbait
sports a bottle-shaped body,
eight lively legs and two
elongated claws that writhe
and kick with the slightest
shake of the rod tip. (3.8inch/7 for $4.99 or 6-inch/5
for $4.99)
E Lew’s American Hero
Speed Spool Reel
This amazing 6.4:1 baitcaster is perfect for craw and
creature dragging or pitching.
It features five premium
stainless steel bearings and a
stainless zero-release clutch
for incredibly smooth action.
A portion of the profit from
each reel supports Lew’s
American Heroes veteran
programs. ($59.99)
C Berkley MaxScent
Creature Hawg
Designed for drawing
savage reaction strikes from
big bass in thick grass and
brush, this 4-inch creature
unleashes a potent field of
supercharged PowerBait
scent as soon as it hits the
water. Available in eight realistic matte colors. (8/$6.99)
F Venom Lures Glass Worm
This premium glass
worm-rattle insert contains
stainless steel ball bearings
to cop the distinctive clicking noise of a live crawfish.
The pointed end allows easy
insertion into any style craw
or creature bait. Available in
three sizes. (10/$4.29)
[Quick Tips]
Elite Series pro
Live crawfish come in a
zillion different
colors, but you only need a
few basic hues in your craw
and creature lure arsenal.
Green pumpkin, watermelon, and black and blue
will work just about everywhere. Dip the bait’s claws
in chartreuse dye for added
Elite Series pro
Harvey Horne
Vary craw/
creature hooks
according to
presentation style.
In clear lakes, drag these
lures on a Carolina rig with a
lightweight leader and a
light-wire offset hook. In
murky lakes, rig them on a
stout flipping hook and
pitch them to submerged
stumps and brush.
Elite Series pro
Frank Talley
alarmed, live
crawfish flip
their tails and
shoot backward a short
distance before sinking
slowly back to the bottom.
This presents a huge feeding cue for bass, which you
can mimic with a few intermittent pops of your rod tip
whenever you’re fishing a
craw lure.
Elite Series pro
Winter bass
often gravitate
to steep channel
banks, and a brush bait
rigged on a jighead with its
hook point exposed is lethal
here. Fish it exactly like you
would a Texas-rigged worm.
January/February 2019 BASSMASTER
| 67
[Triple Threat]
Winter Bridge Boogie
Bridges can lead to a highway of bass
when the water is frigid. Here are three
ways to intersect fish where pilings, rocks
and logjams become a winter wonderland
Water type:
Water temp:
Main river bridge causeway
45 to 48 degrees
2 to 3 feet
1 to 4 feet
Riprap, shallow pilings
Scattered wood and logs
Threadfin shad, bream, crawfish
Sunny morning with building
Wind: 5 to 10 mph
Experts: A trio of Elite Series pros with the
skills to find and engage bass
beneath bridges
Brandon Card Knoxville, Tenn.
First move: “I would go to the opening
where riprap turns and forms the point
and try to determine if there’s any current
coming through. If there is, I’ll key on the
corners of the downcurrent side.”
Baits/tackle to use: Card starts by banging
those rocks with a Duel Hardcore Crank
Shad 2-Plus, alternating between crawfish
and shad color. Once he’s swept his area
with the reaction bait, he’ll pick it apart
with a 3/8-ounce black/brown finesse jig.
Angle/boat position: With current, Card
keeps his boat parallel to the causeway
point so he brings his bait through the
current seam. “I’d stay one cast from the
point and try to cover that entire seam. If
there’s not much current, I’ll sit at a
45-degree angle and fancast the point.”
What to key on: Bridge points often have
several rocks that tumbled loose over the
years, and each one may hold a big fish.
“Keep them honest; keep fishing out a
little deeper to try and find some of those
rocks that have tumbled.”
January/February 2019
John Crews Salem, Va.
First move: Crews starts on the bridge’s
windward side, where he expects to find
the more active fish, and then makes a
quick run-through to get an overview of
the bridge’s layout and to gauge their
overall mood.
Baits/tackle to use: Knowing that the fish
are close to breaking loose with
prespawn fury, Crews uses a Spro Little
John MD in spring craw to quickly locate
fish. Once he has them dialed in, he’ll
target key areas along the riprap with a
1/8-ounce Ike’s Micro Jig and a Missile
Baits Drop Craw.
Angle/boat position: “I really like to parallel the riprap that time of year. Adjust
your angle to really find what they want;
you may have to get really close to the
rocks and throw out.”
What to key on: Crews drops to 10-pound
Sunline Crank FC fluorocarbon so he can
hit rocks out to about 7 to 8 feet. Once
he makes contact, a stop-start retrieve
can be killer this time of year.
Hank Cherry Lincolnton, N.C.
First move: “I’m going to watch my
depthfinder to see if there’s any bait
around. In addition to my electronics,
birds and wildlife on the bank (are)
always a big key. This time of year, they’ll
be relating to wind or sunshine, and
that’s also the side the fish will be on
because nature works together.”
Baits/tackle to use: Cherry likes the
Livingston Primetyme 1.5 crankbait, as
its coffin bill deflects well, even on a
creeping retrieve (shad color for clear
water, craw color for stained). He backs
this up by slow rolling a single Colorado
blade spinnerbait right along the bottom.
Angle/boat position: Diversifying his
presentations allows Cherry to dial in those
particular angles the fish like. Once he
gets a bite, he can usually repeat the cast
for multiple bites.
What to key on: “I would key in on the
stuff I hit that I can’t see. It could be
rocks; it could be debris or man-made
brushpiles. Pay attention to these.”
Illustration: Doug Schermer
[Lunker Club]
Congratulations to the newest members of the Bassmaster Lunker Club™. Membership in the
club is free and open to any B.A.S.S. member who catches a largemouth bass weighing 10
pounds or more, a spotted bass weighing 5 pounds or more, or a smallmouth bass weighing 6
pounds or more, from Jan. 1, 2018, to the present. New Lunker Club members will receive an
official certificate with holder and a Minn Kota hat.
Paul Christopher
Anthony Compagni
Yuan Liu
Lake Chickamauga, Tennessee
1/4-ounce Zoom Big Critter
Craw (watermelon red)
Lake El Salto, Mexico
6-inch Senko (watermelon)
[Trophy Trends]
Water Clarity
Gary Linkowski
Bobby Gaston
Private lake, California
1/2-ounce Z-Man Jack Hammer (black/blue)
Private lake, California
5-inch Strike King worm
(watermelon/black flake)
Lake St. Clair, Michigan
Megabass Vision 110+1
Noah Whitten
Archie Neal
Long Lake, Washington
Strike King 5XD (delta craw)
Water Temperature
40-49 degrees
50-59 degrees
70-79 degrees
Time of catch
Lake Jocassee, South Carolina
1/4-ounce Buckeye Lures Spot Remover (green pumpkin)
80-89 degrees
Amber Phillips
Lake El Salto, Mexico
3/4-ounce Dirty Jig (green/brown)
Month Caught
April 1 2 3
May 5
July 4 6
October 8
Weather Conditions
*Average temperature: 63.1 degrees
To request an application, write to or B.A.S.S., The Lunker Club, 3500 Blue Lake Drive, Suite 330, Birmingham, AL 35243. A
photo documenting the catch must be provided, along with the length and girth of the bass. Only suitable photos will be published in Bassmaster Magazine.
We will only accept entries for bass that are released alive. View lunker photos and get your application online at
January/February 2019 BASSMASTER
| 69
[Bass By Yak]
Drift Anchor Control
When the wind is whipping, anglers typically spend more time with a paddle
in their hand positioning the kayak for the perfect cast than they do actually
casting. A wind sock can fix this, if you have your boat set up the right way to
deploy and retrieve the device. Follow these steps to turn wind into your friend.
A drift chute can quickly change wind from a
kayaker’s foe into a best friend. Also called drift
anchors, sea anchors and drift socks, these aquatic
parachutes can keep your stern facing into the wind
and provide a slow, controlled drift that lets you
thoroughly fish an area. With wind from the right
direction, you also can probe shelves and weedlines without setting the rod down to paddle.
Deployed off the stern, you face downwind for
wind-assisted casts and to keep the drift sock out
of the way of the fish you hook.
Attach the chute off the
rear handle. A carabiner
is handy. Most sea anchors
have long enough cords,
but you might have to add a
bit of rope to allow the parachute to open and stay
behind your yak’s rudder.
To set up properly, stretch the
parachute and tie a rope or cord
to the chute’s tip. (Orange paracord
is easy to see to keep fish away from
it.) This is your retrieval line.
Attach the other end of the retrieval
line to where you can easily reach it.
We used a RAM Vertical Tie Down. Cut
your excess line. Pull this line to collapse
and retrieve the sea anchor.
We used a bigger drift sock than necessary
for these photos. Drift socks with 18-inch
diameters are sufficient to render excellent
kayak control. To stow and paddle or pedal,
just pull the retrieval line.
Floats fixed to the line near the tip
of the bag help the bag open up
when deployed and keep it from
sinking down into grass. A float for a
water-ski rope is ideal; we repurposed
a couple of rod floaters.
[Gear Up]
Bonafide RS117
Brooklyn Kayaks
RA220 Angler
January/February 2019
Drift Control
18-inch Drift Sock
2-Pack Vertical Tie Downs
CellBlok Battery Box
Cool prizes will
be awarded each
issue to lucky
B.A.S.S. members!
If you see your name listed below, your prize will be
shipped soon.
Find the “Free Tackle Giveaway” ad in the current issue
of B.A.S.S. Times Magazine. If you see your name,
your prize will be shipped soon.
This month’s winners will receive these
4 baits from your friends at B.A.S.S.
Dept. BM019L
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Port Jefferson, NY 11777
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Weighs just 101 lbs.
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Customer Rating
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ITEM 30756/63604/63758
98025/69096/63759/90899 shown
Cannot be used with other discounts or prior purchases.
Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 5/5/19
while supplies last. Limit 1 FREE GIFT per customer per day.
Limit 1 coupon per customer per day. Save 20% on any 1 item purchased. *Cannot
be used with other discount, coupon or any of the following items or brands: Inside
Track Club membership, Extended Service Plan, gift card, open box item, 3 day
Parking Lot Sale item, compressors, floor jacks, safes, saw mills, storage cabinets,
chests or carts, trailers, trencher/backhoe, welders, Admiral, Ames, Bauer, Cobra,
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Customer Rating
ITEM 64545/64552/64832
68053/62160/62496/62516/60569 shown
&$)!)& Customer Rating
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Weighs 14.3 lbs.
11-1/8" L x 4-1/2" H
SAVE 140
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&x& "%&"$!&
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$ 15,704 cu. in. of storage
Customer Rating 1200 lb. capacity
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ITEM 62859/63055/62860 shown
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ITEM 64023/64012 shown
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Air delivery:
0.6 CFM @ 90 PSI, 1 CFM @ 40 PSI
ITEM 62774
SAVE 59% ITEM 60637
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At Harbor Freight Tools, the “Compare to” price means that the specified comparison, which is an item with the same or similar function, was
advertised for sale at or above the “Compare to” price by another national retailer in the U.S. within the past 90 days. Prices advertised by others
may vary by location. No other meaning of “Compare to” should be implied. For more information, go to or see store associate.
Lifts from 3-1/2" to 14-1/8"
Weighs 34 lbs.
Why You Need The
Sea Eagle® FishSkiff™
[Parting Shot]
The Legacy Of 41
Bass anglers lost a stalwart of the fishing
fraternity on Nov. 30, 2018. President George
H.W. Bush died, aged 94 years, 171 days. He
was the longest-lived president in U.S. history.
And if you asked him what likely inspired such a
long, fruitful life, there is little doubt that, whispering down from the heavens, he’d say that
spending time with a bass rod in his hand was
an important part of the equation. When he was
inducted into the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame in
2016, he said this in his letter of acceptance: “I
love bass fishing. I love everything about the
sport. As you might have guessed, fishing is my
favorite source of relaxation. It is with a rod and
reel in my hand that I count my blessings.”
President Bush was a lifetime member of
B.A.S.S. and once told The New York Times that
Bassmaster Magazine was his favorite periodical. His love for the sport and his friend Ray
Scott, founder of B.A.S.S., likely shaped the
efforts of our nation’s 41st president related to
the future of fishing. Bush was key in passing
the Wallop-Breaux amendment to the Sport
Fish Restoration Act, as well as passing the
Clean Air Act. So, as we reflect on a great
American and a passionate angler, we can
count our blessings that he held the world’s
most powerful position, always with an eye
towards the water.
[The Shot]
These photos were pulled
from the Bassmaster
archives. Top left, Bush was
photographed boarding Air
Force One with his favorite
magazine. Bottom left, Bush
is pictured with Ray Scott,
Dave Precht and James
“Pooley” Dawson when
entertaining a presidential
January/February 2019 BASSMASTER
| 75
Back Deck
Dave Precht Editor-in-Chief
Bush, The Bassmaster
NUMEROUS TRIBUTES WERE published in the outdoor media following the
passing of President George H.W. Bush on November 30. Some lauded him for
pushing through the Wallop-Breaux amendment, which provides $650 million a
year to the states for sportfish restoration. Others praised him for the Clean Air
Act and other environmental contributions.
I won’t replow that ground, but I’d like to reminisce about a turn of events that
shaped Bush’s views on outdoor recreation, especially fishing.
In the spring of 1979, a few months after I had moved from Houston to work in
Ray Scott’s young B.A.S.S. organization in Montgomery, Ala., Scott asked me
what I knew about Bush.
I only knew him by reputation. He was considered a good, ethical man ... a
dedicated public servant ... a two-term congressman who failed in two attempts
for the Senate ... ambassador to the
United Nations ... CIA director.
“I’ve been invited to meet him,”
Scott told me. “Why don’t you come
The next day, Scott and I were
ushered into a hotel meeting room for
what was to be a 10-minute meet-andgreet with Bush, who was considering
running for president. Scott had me
hide a small tape recorder in my blazer
pocket for the meeting. If I had
replayed the tape after we left the
meeting 45 minutes later, I would have
heard mainly Scott talking. Bush could
barely get a word in as Scott sold him
on the importance of bass fishing to
American culture and campaigned for
the expansion of the federal Sport Fish
Restoration Program.
But Bush saw some things in Scott
that he liked, and then and there
began a nearly 40-year friendship
between the two men.
The day after that meeting, a Bush
campaign official asked me to help
persuade Scott to become Bush’s
Alabama state campaign chairman.
Reluctant at first, Scott soon joined
the campaign trail with all the fervor
Bush used Teddy Roosevelt’s
‘bully pulpit’ to promote
sportfishing and the protection
of aquatic resources.”
January/February 2019
he had when he launched the world’s
first bass tournament trail.
For his part, Bush clearly enjoyed
spending time with Scott, staying
overnight in Scott’s home in
Montgomery and fishing the little lake
on which it sat. Scott prevailed on the
candidate to trade his business suits
for open-collar shirts and posed with
bass, a bird dog and trophy deer for
publicity photos.
Scott couldn’t help Bush outpoll
Ronald Reagan in the Republican
primaries. But according to some
reports, he did organize such a boisterous demonstration for Bush at the
Republican National Convention that
year that Reagan was inspired to tap
Bush as his running mate.
As vice president, Bush delivered on
his commitments to support sportfishing when he helped push through the
Wallop-Breaux Amendment to the
Sport Fish Restoration Act. That legislation, which Scott worked tirelessly to
get approved, was circling the drain
until Bush got involved.
After he succeeded Reagan as president, Bush used Teddy Roosevelt’s
“bully pulpit” to promote sportfishing
and the protection of aquatic resources.
He loved reading Bassmaster Magazine
and was proud to have been inducted
into the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame.
I liked him for that. But I most
admired him for trying to make
America a “kinder, gentler nation.” We
could use some of that right now.
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Follow Yamaha Outboards on Facebook®, Twitter ® and Instagram®
REMEMBER to always observe all applicable boating laws. Never drink and drive. Dress properly with a USCG-approved
personal floatation device and protective gear. This document contains many of Yamaha’s valuable trademarks. It may
also contain trademarks belonging to other companies. Any references to other companies or their products are for
identification purposes only, and are not intended to be an endorsement.
© 2018 Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A. All rights reserved. 1-800-889-2624
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