By Darren Jacobson - There’s something going on with our sport that we need to talk about. Mike Iaconelli wrote a column about it this year, but I’d like to give you my take on things. It’s close to what Mike had to say but, at the same time, a little different. When I’m done saying what I have to say about that I’m going to give you some unsolicited — but free and useful — advice.
I struggled at Mille Lacs. That’s on me. At the same time though I didn’t get any help from some of the fans. I’m not saying that anyone was targeting me as an individual. They weren’t. Other anglers complained about the same thing. Here’s how it all went down.
My plan was to flip and pitch reeds. The water was gin clear, and they were really shallow. Two feet was the deepest. Most of the time I was fishing shallower than that. The strips of reeds were between 50 and 150 yards long. These were one or two fish spots. I fished them two or three times a day.
Much of the time I’d start at one end and work my way towards the other end. But, within a few minutes a recreational angler would start fishing the other end and work towards me. Obviously, much of my spot was ruined. Just as bad, some anglers would bump the reeds. That not only ruined their chances of catching a quality bass, but it also ruined mine.
I know this was tournament specific. I stayed a couple of extra days. After we left there was never more than three trailers at any ramp. Full Article
In the springtime, when the water is just starting to warm, bass can be easy to catch. But once the heat of the summer starts to set in, that’s when things get complicated.
While there are often big schools of fish out deep, Ish Monroe contests the conventional wisdom that they’re all out on offshore structure. He “firmly believes that only a certain percentage of the fish move out there.”
It’s not that he can’t fish deep – he has three Lowrance Gen 3 HDS 12s on his Ranger and he’s well versed in their operation, but the big-bass guru would rather stay shallow, particularly if he can have that zone largely to himself. That’s why you’ll never find him without a topwater ready to go when the mercury climbs.
He fishes all of his topwaters on 7-foot to 7-foot-7 medium-action composite rods, which allow the fish to inhale the lure, yet are still lightweight and sensitive. His current favorite topwater, like that of much of the bass fishing fraternity, is the River2Sea Whopper Plopper. It produces vicious strikes, he said, because “the fish get angry at it.”
When the grass is too thick for the Plopper’s trebles, he’ll turn to a buzzbait for the same reasons. While he might move to a 7.3:1 gear ratio Daiwa baitcasting reels for his poppers, walking baits and frogs, with the Whopper Plopper and the buzzbait he sticks with 6.3:1, so as not to overwork the lures.
When the water is just starting to warm, he’ll go with a popper, like the River2Sea Bubble Pop or the original Pop-R, and when it comes to walking baits, the River2Sea Rover is his choice. He called it “the evolution of what a Zara Spook has become” thanks to its easy walking action, its three trebles and updated ultra-realistic color choices. Of course the hollow-bodied frogs, particularly those of his own design, never leave the boat.
With the topwater bite, he encourages anglers to seek out shade – whether it comes in the form of trees, sea walls, bridge pilings or even buildings. Most importantly, it’s critical to understand how the shade pattern changes over the course of the day, and which places will provide windows of opportunity. If you’re fishing a relatively cover-free body of water, it makes sense to look for other sources of shade, which may include placing your own “cages” under the surface to achieve the same affect.
While topwater is an exciting and effective way to target big fish when it’s warm, Ish notes that fish are lazy when it’s hot and they don’t want to move any more than they have to. Accordingly, you have to be prepared to change and slow down. Often, that means finesse.
It’s not an easy switch for Monroe, who admits that he’d “rather go to the dentist…than fish a spinning rod.” Nevertheless, he’s not too proud to pick up a Carolina rig, a shaky-head, or even “old faithful, the splitshot rig.”
As with his casting gear, he doesn’t go under 7-foot with his spinning rods, and prefers a carefully-spooled 2500-size Daiwa spinning reel for most finesse applications. While you can use straight 6- to 8-pound fluorocarbon, increasingly he uses a braid main line attached to a fluoro leader with an Albright knot.
To see Monroe's full video seminar on this topic, subscribe to The Bass University TV.
Photo by Saito - It’s no secret that Ish Monroe would spend the rest of his days bass fishing with a flipping stick in his hand and a frog at the ready. While he’s widely known as one of the top shallow-water anglers among touring pros, his tactics aren’t so much.
Recently, he placed third at the Toledo Bend Bassmaster Elite Series, using a strategy he calls “dropping bombs on ’em.”
Outside the Box
Anglers have been conditioned to pitch the lightest weights possible when fishing shallow cover and to be as stealthy and quiet while presenting their bait. If the fish are spooky, covert tactics are useful, but Monroe prefers to pitch and flip heavier weights to create a reaction strike.
At Toledo Bend, he fished a ¾- and 1-ounce River2Sea Junkyard Jig designed by Tommy Biffle to run up the leaderboard. Read more
There are many lakes around the country that face extreme amounts of fishing pressure. Bass in lakes that are the size of a small state can become less hospitable with the amount of pressure that they get when a big tournament is in town.
We’re not just talking big as in the terms of a Bassmaster Elite Series or FLW Tour event coming to town; but also big as in sheer numbers of boats on the water.
For instance, the week prior to the FLW Tour hitting Grand Lake this past week, there was reportedly a 400 boat tournament that happened on the lake. A Nichols Marine tournament there routinely draws over 250 boats and they host four events a year. During the peak season, Guntersville; or any other TVA lake for that matter, can look like a parking lot with bass boats lined up fishing ledges. California’s Clear Lake will have tournaments scheduled for at least 90-percent of the weekends each year. Read More
Just got back from Major League Fishing in Florida– you know, we got hit by big Sandy out there – she was pretty harsh on the boys out there on the East Coast.
But, other than that, I have been back at home in the gym as much as I possibly can for preparation of the body; spending a lot of time working on tackle – getting all my baits together because I am going to be running two Ranger 25c's next year with Yamaha 250SHOs on them. So I have to double up on my tackle – and that is getting all the tackle prepped.
Hey, just spending some time on the internet prepping for next year mentally; you know, looking at the lakes; looking at past conditions; thinking about future conditions – getting the head ready to go out there and do well on tour, because if you do your mind, body and tackle prep getting ready for the next season, you’re pretty much going to have a good season out there. If you don’t prep yourself, you don’t know what you are going to encounter and you can have a really bad season.
So, like they say about luck, it is preparation meeting opportunity – and if my preparation is good and the opportunity arises – then I guess I am going to be lucky.
So, until next time, good fishing and remember – always have fun! Visit me on my website www.ishmonroe.com