How to Catch the Fish of a Lifetime

I recently had the opportunity to do two seminars at the International Sportsman's Expo in Sacramento. From swimbaits to jigs, even going so far as fishing a chartreuse spinnerbait with willow leaf blades at night, I laid out my tricks for fooling big Winter and Spring bass.  There was a great turnout and a lot of positive feedback. There were also quite a few requests from anglers that live outside the area, that we record the seminar so they could listen and learn as well. The show was extremely loud and there is some background noise but Tim did everything he could to bring you the complete seminar.

From start to finish, here it is! Below you will find a breakdown of the various baits I discuss in the seminar with quick links to see them on Tackle Warehouse.

We hope you're able to glean some knowledge from the seminar and put it to work on your local fisheries. If you have any questions, we're here so feel free to ask.

The following baits were used in the tank:

Photo Courtesy of Sean Moffett

Night Fishing with Infrared Cameras

This past week we attended the International Sportsman's Expo. Instead of fishing we were meeting anglers, shaking hands, and doing seminars on the bass tank. The seminars were recorded so you should expect to see some of the content uploaded here very soon. We know some of you live out of state, and even out of country so we did our best to capture it for anyone that wasn't able to be there in person.

Since you'll have to wait on that footage we thought we'd share something unique with you this week. To our knowledge this has not been done before by bass fisherman. Tacticalbassin used Infrared technology and  highly modified GoPro cameras to record a night of fishing. This allowed them to capture very clear images without the use of lighting so that you can have a true, first person view of what goes on out there in the dark.

The footage is very well lit from the camera's perspective but remember, without the headlamps the anglers cannot see anything. Enjoy the footage, good luck out here this week, and keep an eye out for more infrared fishing clips in the future!

Where Do Bass Go In Winter?

As bass fishermen we're always striving to improve. In the spring we're looking for bigger fish, Summer and Fall we're looking for more fish, but in Winter, it seems like we're just praying to get a bite. Winter bass fishing can be tough! So many of the productive areas have shut down and the bass seem to have disappeared all together.

This week we put together some quick tips to help you locate fish more quickly. We filmed this at Clearlake and while it may not apply to every body of water, it will definitely get you in the mindset to target specific locations and patterns rather than grinding through the day on your same old haunts, waiting for the bass to return.

On naturally occurring lakes we've found that there are 3 key patterns that consistently produce our biggest bites. 

1) HOLLOWS: If you're fishing a body of water that is featureless, has a flat mud bottom, or is generally shallow, this is for you. Often times the bass in Winter will pull off shore and lay in the lowest, deepest spot they can find off shore. If you're on a small body of water this probably means the middle of the deepest coves. If you're on a big body of water this could be the middle of a bay or even the center of the lake, miles offshore. The key to this pattern is to understand that the fish are NOT orienting to cover, its more about depth and the presence of food so don't be afraid to go look in the middle of nowhere. 

2) ROCKS: If you have rock in your lake, this is a key Winter time feature. Rock offers safety to smaller baitfish during the cold water months, attracting bass like a magnet. If the rock is deep, the bass will lay along the bottom edge where the water is warmest. If the rock is shallow, on the sunny days they'll move right up against the shallowest rocks that protrude above water. Either way, this is a key place to look for BIG winter bass. 

3) DEEP DOCKS:  Deep docks or other vertical structure is key in Winter. The pilings offer cover, ambush points, and warmth. Bass cling to them until the water warms in Spring. We've found that the largest fish hold just off the deepest pilings through the cold months, only moving in to feed or to sun on the warm afternoons. 

While these are just generalizations, they'll give you a great starting point as you search for Winter bass. Its important to add, the right electronics makes a huge difference when searching for open water bass. While not everyone can afford high-dollar electronics, if you can it will save you a lot of time. Everyone has their favorites but the graph in this video is a Lowrance HDS-10. If you can't afford a quality graph don't worry about it, its just going to take a little longer to find the fish. Stick to it and you'll find them!

If you're curious what baits to throw once you find the fish, check out our Top 5 Baits For Cold Water Bass video. This Winter you should abandon your same old haunts, run some new water, and you might just catch the biggest bass of your life! 

Happy New Year!

With 2014 drawing to a close its time to celebrate! Its also a time to learn from your experiences and make 2015 the best bass fishing year of your life! Taking the time to review what went right, what went wrong, and how you can improve is what separates good anglers from GREAT anglers.

For us, 2014 was a year of growth. We grew in numbers (Tim joined the team), we grew in size  (youtube hit 2 million views and nearly 10,000 subscribers! Thank you!) and the site has seen unprecedented support. We appreciate each and every one of you and hope that you've been able to learn something along the way that helped you grow in your fishing.

For fun we put together this compilation of some of our greatest moments from 2014. We hope you enjoy the video!

As 2015 approaches we know the importance of learning from the past and setting goals toward the future. All successful people have clear, concise goals that help them reach their target. In order to kick this year off right, Tim and I are laying out our goals for 2015. We encourage you to do the same! Whether your goal is to catch your first bass, catch a world record, or just have fun, we challenge you to leave a comment with your goals for 2015. Here are ours...

Tim: 

  • Help at least 3 friends break their "personal best" while fishing together
  • Catch (another) 13+ lb largemouth
  • Break a bass fishing world record

Matt:

  • Help a minimum of 1 client catch a 10+ lb largemouth
  • Catch a world record of any species (but I'd prefer an 11 lb Spotted Bass)
  • Catch a 15 lb largemouth in Clearlake

Tactical:

  • Continue providing the best content we can, every Wednesday
  • Reach 20,000 Youtube Subscribers
  • Reach 15,000 Instagram Followers
  • Meet more of you in person!
  • Listen to at least 100 success stories from awesome anglers that have caught a new personal best and are inspired to share the experience with us (tacticalbassin@gmail.com)

We look forward to hearing your goals and growing together in 2015. See you next year!

 

Winter Jig Fishing

As fall fades in the rear view mirror and the freezing Winter mornings arrive, many bass fishermen put their boats away for the season. If you're one of the few committed anglers who continues fishing regardless of weather, temperature, or season, this week's post is for you. While Winter brings cold weather and uncomfortable conditions but it also brings your best shot of the year at a GIANT bass on a jig. 

Let's begin by breaking Winter jig fisheries into two categories:

1) Reservoirs or lakes with sparse cover and/or clear water

2)Shallow water fisheries, often containing heavy cover, including river/tidal systems

Category 1)  I focus on small, compact football jigs. My jigs of choice are the Dirty Jigs Finesse Football and HP Football. The finesse football is my most consistent jig. It comes equipped with a light wire hook, allowing me to downsize my equipment and draw bites, even under tough conditions. Coupled with a double tail grub or smallie beaver, this jig is deadly throughout the cold water months. 

Clockwise From Left: HP Football jig with 4" Double Tail Grub, Pitchin' Jig with Paca Chunk, No-Jack Flippin' Jig with Sweet Beaver, Finesse Football Jig with 5" Double Tail Grub

If I know that I'll be encountering larger fish, or if I feel that I may need to step up to a heavier weight line to combat heavier cover, I'll transition over to the HP football. This jig has a slightly heavier wire "EWG" style hook and is great for powering fish away from snags. With both versions of the football I'll start out with a light weight and go with the lightest line possible, only stepping up to match the conditions or size of bass. 

Day in and day out these jigs get critical bites when I need them most. For colors, I keep it as simple as possible. My two most consistent colors lately have been "Go To" and "Super Matt Brown". In the past "Molting Craw" has been a consistent producer as well. Trailer color is a matter of preference. Some days I'll stick to complimentary colors, other days I'll use a clashing color to change the overall profile of the bait. You'll need to experiment to see what your fish prefer. 

Left to Right: Finesse Football Jig, HP Football Jig

Category 2) When fishing shallower water, especially around cover I will use either a Dirty Jigs Pitchin' Jig or the No-Jack Flippin' Jig.  The pitchin' jig is a go everywhere, do everything jig with a medium-heavy wire hook. I'm confident that I can show up to any body of water and use this head shape to catch bass. 

If I'm specifically dealing with heavy cover, grass, or giant fish I'll step up to the No-Jack Flippin' Jig. The No-Jack hook is the stoutest hook on the market. While this isn't necessary for fighting the fish during their cold water dormant season it can be vital to getting them through thick vegetation. With these jigs I prefer either a beaver-style trailer or a pork chunk. I will generally start with the plastic trailer but if I can't get bit will switch to pork

Color selection in shallow water fisheries depends upon water color. If the water is fairly clear I will stick with "Go To" or "Molting Craw" but if the water becomes dingy or muddy I'll transition into "Black and Blue" , "Black Emerald" or "Black Red". 

Another quick tip is to add a section of chartreuse plastic to the shank of the hook before adding your primary trailer. This works for murky water largemouth but is also deadly on clear water smallmouth. 

We hope these tips will help you refine your cold water jig fishing this Winter. This is prime time to catch a monster bass so bundle up, grab a pair of gloves, and head for the water. Good luck out there!

 

Winter Maintenance for Rods and Reels

With the holidays upon us its a great time to take a break and maintain your equipment. This week Tim breaks down the steps he takes to keep his gear in tip top shape. Take a few minutes over the holidays to winterize your gear, it will pay off when the new year starts. 

Step 1) Clean The Cork

After a long season of flipping, pitching, frogging, etc... the cork can get pretty dark. A quick scrub with denatured alcohol will have it looking like new. When you're done with the cork rub down the rod and reel as well. 

Step 2) Clean and Inspect the Guides

Cork Before Cleaning

One of the most common causes of lost fish and nicked lines is damaged guides. Inspecting the guides by sweeping a cotton ball through them will show you if there is any damage. Any chips or cracks of any kind will require a guide replacement. Better now than when there is a 10 lber at the other end of the rod!

Step 3) Adjust and Dry your Reels

We're not going to go into a full breakdown of reel maintenance as its is a whole video series by itself. We do however recommend backing off your drags and drying your reels thoroughly. This is especially important if you use braided line. Braid holds moisture long after you're done fishing and if you have a perforated spool that moisture is going straight into the reel's interior. 

4) Clean the Braid

Clean the braid? Really? That seems like overkill until you do a little research. Cleaning your braid with a product like Braid Aid (recently recommended to us and man does it work) will extend the life of the braid and drastically increase your casting distance. Its a time consuming process to strip all the line and clean it properly but its worth doing. Besides, its the holiday season... its this or fruitcake so get to work. 

5) Rod Gloves

Cork after Cleaning

Last but not least, use rod gloves. They're your friend. Matt spent years making fun of Tim and his rod wraps but fast forward to Matt's equipment falling apart and Tim's looking brand new... get some rod gloves. Not only do they keep your rods protected (no more broken tips in the rod locker) they also keep lines from tangling and can help with organization by color coordinating rods (wrap all your sissy spinning rods in pink rod wraps so everyone knows you're actually using those things).

We know this isn't a typical fishing tactics video but with the year coming to an end its important to take a few minutes and maintain your equipment. You'll be glad you did when you hook a giant on your first trip back to the lake!