The Shotem' and Caughtem' Blog is the place to find the latest reviews and commentary on gear, destinations, conditions, events, and general knowledge to inform our readers and give our opinions to anyone listening.

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Wednesday, 16 August 2017 21:54

It's Dove Season!

Dove Season Baby!

Yes our absolute favorite time of the year is quickly approaching.  Dove season has to be one of our most favorite hunts of the year.  High bag limits and just the overall fun of the hunt makes this one of our most exciting times of the year.  Barring an early cool front to hit our favorite spot we have had the opportunity over the past decade to hunt an outstanding set up when it comes to environment for great dove hunting.  Hopefully some of these key factors will help you find a great spot to hunt these delicious and probably one of the more exciting animals to hunt in our opinion this year.  Favorable weather, in the right spot a large amount of activity during peak hours and the lack f needing to be quiet with your hunting buddies in the field make this a hunt not to miss.

Key Hunting property for Dove

We feel there are four main factors that a perfect dove hunting spot should have in a close proximity to your set up. 

  1. Food
  2. Shelter
  3. Water
  4. Gravel/Sand

Main food sources for dove come in small packages.  Millet, wheat, milo, and sunflowers are probably the top seeds we have seen when harvesting dove.

Shelter in the form of dead branches are the doves favorite roosting place.  If you have ever as we call it "seen someone out planting dead trees", there is a reason.  Dove love them.  We plant dead trees close to our favorite spots in order to not only provide a spot for the dove to rest but a great place for our non moving decoys. 

Water is also needed but not just any pond or watershed will do the trick.  Dove need a pot to be able to land and then walk to a shallow watering hole.  Which means if it rains a good amount a couple days before your hunt....hunting by a water spot will not yield good traffic.  On a dry year it will be the ultimate honey hole for dove.

Lastly is sand or gravel to help digest their meal.  Early evenings and mid mornings the dove will flock to dirt roads, graveled roads etc to find their much needed digestion morsel.  If traffic by your food source and water source is slow during the day I bet if you take a drive you see dove hanging out by the roads.

Once you have harvested your dove we hope you check out this awesome dove recipe as well as post your photos and share your stories with us!

 

Prepping the Best Food Plot Area

When we at Shotem and Caughtem started to think about building food plots on our property we knew it would not be an easy task.  However, one thing we wanted to make sure we did was create a plan before we ever started digging or prepping.  One of the first things we needed to check is where the best place to put a plot and where on the property we had the most traffic.  In other words, you don't just build a plot, then decide where to place your stand. You take stand placement into account before you build the plot.

You must separate "hunting plots" from "feeding plots." Hunting plots are small, maybe just 1/4-1/2 acre in size. They are irregular in shape and seeded with plants that will attract deer during the hunting season. In a hunting plot you want irregular shape. There may be a peninsula of cover jutting out into the plot, positioned in such a way as to take advantage of the wind. Just a nice little plot in the woods that fits into the landscape.

Finding the right place for your Food Plot


The first step in building a hunting plot is to decide where you want it. In the spring, scout the area for trails, and always, always pay attention to the wind. Know where the deer bed. Also consider whether it will be hunted in the morning or evening or both. Determine how you will get to the plot, and when you've taken all these factors into consideration, then decide where you want the plot.

Food Plot Shape and Design


There are various designs for hunting plots. One that really intrigued us is the "hourglass" design, where the narrowest (the neck of the hour glass) is only thirty yards across. If you know the prevailing wind, where deer bed, and build the plot near thick cover, putting your stand at the narrow portion of the hour glass can be dynamite during the rut. We recommend building licking branches and mock scrapes at the neck of the hour glass. Interesting concept..



Other shapes such as boomerang and "s" shaped plots.  Then there is the corner plot that is built adjacent to an existing field. This is really a "food" plot, but is small and is a great place to set a stand.

You may have some small openings in the hardwoods that you hunt that may be adapted to a hunting plot. If so, now is the time to get it ready for the fall. Depending on the terrain if you only need 1/4 acres, you may be able to get by with some chain saw and small equipment tilling to build your own hunting plots.  Next in this series we will talk about what to plant to attract the most animals or specific ones to hunt.  But we always love to get your comments and ideas below.

Great article on Fishing from the Shoreline

Recently we at Shotem and Caughtem had a friend that moved from the midwest where fishing from the shore around farm ponds and watersheds can yield some big fish to the Gulf of Mexico and no boat.  We decided that we needed to do some research on ways to still catch big fish without the capabilities of always being able to have a boat to cruse the waters for the big ones.  Lucky for us we found a great article from our friends Outdoor Life that talks about the top three spots to fish from the shoreline and the best methods those top anglers use.  

Beware of Sharks

One thing this article did not point out was the trouble with sharks.  As is the case with many of the best fishing spots in the ocean, where there are big fish, there are predators.  One thing the news has pointed out recently is that when we travel to other continents or out into the ocean we as humans are not the top predator.  Recent news from Australia or those of us that are addicted to Shark Week already knew that sharks prey the same waters hunting those very fish we are after.  So please be aware of your surroundings when using these tips and tricks when fishing from the shoreline.  You never know what might be hunting beside you!

We hope you share your shoreline adventures with us in the galleries or in the comment section below.  Either way we hope you have a Shotem and Caughtem weekend.  

 

Tuesday, 04 November 2014 21:56

Duck Hunting Gear Tips

Thinking about going on your first duck hunt?

So we at Shotem and Caughtem went on our very first duck hunt.  Let us first say it was a blast.  Think of it kind of like dove hunting only a lot colder and requiring a way more stealthy and gear heavy approach.  As such we felt like the best place to start talking about the experience would be discussing the gear needed for a successful duck hunt.

Duck Hunting Gun, Choke and Ammo Tips

Of course the best place to start would be the proper gun, ammo and choke.  We realize that the only place we could agree to disagree would be the choke.  Between 10 guys in the blind only two of us were using the same gun.  Many were shooting steel shot number 2, however, we had received a choke from www.kicks-ind.com  to try out so we thought we would do a review based on how the choke did firing 3, 4 and 5 as well.  As many hunters know the lighter the load the cheaper the cost per shell.  So if you can successfully strike your target with a lighter load due to choke performance than you are saving money.  We were shooting 3in shells and found that our Kick's choke at the tip of our remington 870 allowed us to pretty much shoot any appropriate size duck load with success.  Though the heavier loads allowed us to reach out further with greater success, at 30 yards and closer our performance did not change.  The choke held a magnificent pattern at 35 yards and the four birds we knew we shot dropped right away (ten guys firing at once kind of distorts performance overall).  As a matter of fact out of the 10 guns 7 were using Kick's Chokes.  

Proper Hunting Waders for Waterfowl

Next top gear need for duck hunting would be waders.  These can make or break a successful duck hunt.  If you don't have a dog, your waders will be one of the few ways you will be able to retrieve your birds and not freeze.  We suggest purchasing these on sale if possible.  We got ours during dove season in the bargain cave of Cabelas and got last years waders for 60% off regular price.

Hunting from a Duck Blind 

A good duck blind can be your best asset.  Whether you spend the big money and purchase a blind our blind was made with what we like to call midwest ranch scraps.  You would be amazed what you can build with some hedge limbs, cedar trees and old rotten hay.  All this appropriately stripped together provided great cover, and a four foot wide lane to perfectly hold 10 guys with a dog at each end to retrieve.  

Duck calls.  Every hunter in the stand had at least 8 different calls on their lanyards and they all require practice.  We will hit this topic again later since there is definitely an art to that science.

Duck Hunting Decoys for First time Hunters

Last but not least would be decoys.  Here is the expensive side of things.  Lucky for us we were able to go on our first hunt with guys that have been doing this for a long time and had acquired a lot of money in decoys over time.  I think we had no less than a couple thousand dollars in the water.  I think this is why duck hunters love to hunt in packs.  I think it is to share the burden in costs for decoys.

Let us know your tips on the best gear for your duck adventures in the comment section below.  As always share your adventures and experiences to the Shotem wall.

 

Monday, 25 August 2014 22:20

Dove Season 2014 Tips and Tricks

Preparing for your Dove Hunt

We at Shotem and Caughtem, like every year, can not wait for the beginning of hunting season which of course starts here in Kansas Sept. 1st for Dove.  "The filet mignon of the sky" always comes with its share of tactical problems.  We try to eliminate as much of the guess work out of our hunting experience every year with planning our favorite hunting spot down to the primary elements.  Water, food and gravel.  However, last year we were plagued with a heavy rain prior to opening day.  This created fresh puddles of water all over the property allowing the birds to come to eat where we wanted but find water and gravel anywhere.  It appears we might be running into this same problem again this year.  A hunters life. Even the most prepared get thrown a curve ball which could ruin the hunt.

With that in mind what is the best thing we could do to make sure we still have a successful hunt.  Other hunters.  With all a doves needs met they tend to stay in an area.  However, that area can be expanded with hunting pressure.  Therefore the more hunters the more area we can cover and keep the birds circling to different areas.

Dove Hunting Decoys

Next is a mojo.  Dove like company and will flock to other areas they think they have some company around.  Making sure you have your decoys out will make sure other dove head your way.  For some great decoys you can find out more at www.mojooutdoors.com

The right hunting location

Location, Location, Location.  If water and gravel is abundant your food source will be your most active target.  Wheat stubble, sunflower patches, milo and millet are all high sought after food sources for dove.

We hope you share your tricks before the start of the season in the comment section below and as always share your adventures to the Shotem walls as they happen with our app straight from the field.

 

Monday, 21 July 2014 22:04

Prepping for Hunting Season

Getting ready for the Hunt

As many of you already know their is no such thing as an off season when it comes to those with a passion for hunting and fishing.  As such with hunting season quickly approaching DOVE SEASON!, sorry we love this time of year, there are plenty of things that need to be done way before the season arrives.  The last thing one wants to do is have their human scent on every leaf of a property before the season gets into full swing.  As such there are plenty of things to do before hunting season so here are just a couple of the things we tried to get accomplished this past weekend and lets see if you agree.

Preparing your hunting location

First things first.  Mowing.  We have neglected much of the property since the pasture was burned due to large amounts of rain.  As such the grass is tall.  Too tall as a matter of fact.  Any prey species is weary of walking into heavy tall grass that could slow escape or cover a potential predator.  With the grass being 3 feet tall and thick the deer are only using their own usual worn paths and the turkey are using surrounding properties or fields, which doesn't work for us.  The best way to bring them down our paths is to make sure the appropriate paths are mowed and permit travel of turkey and deer to our feeders and snacks and open up large areas allowing the animals to feel safe from predation.

Create Shooting lanes and hunting environment

Also many new trees have sprouted or limbs that are now blocking our shooting lanes.  Trees have fallen, limbs litter paths all creating an obstacle that could deter animals from moving into areas we would rather them not move.  Maintaining and looking for new potential avenues and foraging areas can help grow your potential shooting locations for different animals.  Making sure your animals have places to hide, paths to walk and a great place for you to hunt requires a little up keep every year. (tip:  dove for some reason love to use dead trees to perch.  Clearing an area, planting some of those dead limbs and or trees in an open field or close to water will give you a great spot to hunt).

Proper Scouting for Hunters

Scouting your area once your upkeep has been done can help you track your improvements and make sure you have time to tweak your ideas prior to the season.  Once you have done a little prep set your trail cameras up with the intent to move them around and see where animals are heading.  Just because you feel you have made the perfect animal oasis does not mean that they might not be using the path you like to take to get there as their path as well and you could be spooking animals with your scent before they ever make it to you.  Should you need to move stands, feeders etc. starting to see your animals movements earlier can give you plenty of time to adjust prior to hunting season.  

Scent eliminator suggestions

Have any early prep tricks and tips you like to use.  Share with us in the comment section below.  As always the early bird gets the worm and then gets to share their prize to one of the walls once the season is in full swing.  

 

 

Thursday, 26 June 2014 22:01

Warm water fishing tactics and tips

Warm water fishing brings out an abundance of Bait

With the holiday of our independence and the warming trend in temperatures across the country we felt it was a good time to start talking about warmer water fishing tactics.  Warm temperatures and an abundance of bait fish in the water makes the summer time a little more difficult for fishing.  However, they are there and still catchable.  Some might just need to switch their tactics a little.

As water temperatures warm different species of fish will move seeking cooler water temperatures at whatever the comfort level is for that particular species. Oxygen supply is also a factor since the warmer water typically holds less oxygen that fish need.

Facts about Pike and Trout Movements

People used to believe that northern pike lost their teeth in summer since they were difficult to catch. Now we know that this is not true. The pike just move to different locations such as much deeper and colder water where there may be openings in the weed beds for them to ambush baitfish.
In streams the trout will seek cover, cool water, and oxygen. This typically will be deep riffles or rapids or maybe a deep, shaded pool with a riffle at the head. These riffles provide aeration and trout typically will be in or just below the oxygenated water.

Warm water Stresses Fish Habits

Something we should be aware of is the effect of stress on fish in warm water. A trout that has fought for a long time in warm water often will not survive, no matter how carefully you handle and release it. At the very least, put away those darn ultra light rods – or better yet give them to some kids.
Many trout anglers avoid fishing and stressing out trout in small or medium streams. Instead they concentrate on larger waters like West Canada Creek which may be cooler and more oxygenated. Many fishermen do not bother to fish for native trout under these conditions, but concentrate on the waters where much of the fishing is put and take anyway.

Bass will also seek cooler water. For smallmouth bass this usually means deep water along some rocky structure where they move up in evening to feed. Deep water tactics such as live bait, jigs, or jigging spoons are usually best.

Largemouth bass will move deeper for cooler water, although they tolerate warmer water than smallmouths. They will usually seek shade from the bright sun by holding deep in cover such as dense weeds during the daylight. Plastic worms rigged weedless, sinking worms, or drop shot rigs with Berkley “Gulp” minnows may be your best bet. Top water lures in the evening are effective and fun.

Even though bass are hardy fish that are used to warmer waters, their chances for survival are greatly diminished when kept out of water for long in this warm weather. Fight the fish quickly, and if at all possible unhook it while it is still in the water. Using circle hooks which tend to hook a fish in the edge of the lip makes it easier to quickly release a bass.

Of course anglers are still taking some nice salmon, steelhead, and brown trout on Lake Ontario. But it is easy for salmon and trout to move a little bit deeper or further from shore and be in colder water. Check fishing reports on FishNY.com or lakeontariooutdoors.com for the latest depths, lures, etc.
For increased fishing action try fishing during periods of low light or even at night. Trout fishing at dawn or twilight is your best bet. Fishing for big brown trout at night can be an exciting and rewarding experience. Trout fishing on a rainy day is usually good.

Night Fishing can Increase Success for Predatory Species

Night fishing for bass is great since the action is often at its best and you can take them using surface or shallow water lures and tactics. Instead of battling weeds, try fishing after dark with poppers, chuggers, and other top-water lures. Know your waters and fish over relatively shallow weed beds.
The fish usually are not where you found them in May and regardless they are wary or lethargic. But adjust your tactics and you can still find fun and action. It sure beats the alternative of watching “reality shows” on TV.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014 20:31

Turkey Hunting Decoy Placement and Tricks

We at Shotem and Caughtem could not be more excited for our favorite time of the year.  Yes.  Shotem and Caughtem Season is on the horizon.  It will be only the second time we have gotten to celebrate this special time of year officially as a company.  The time of year when we can tempt both our senses with the smell of gunpowder and the sweet sound of fishing line leaving our reels.  In this celebration we decided to offer some tips and a bit of research on all things Shotem and Caughtem.  Today we decided on decoy placement for good turkey hunting.  Let us know your tricks of the trade in the comment section below.

Have the jake turkey facing you at 25 to 35 yards. An adult gobbler can and usually will go to a jake decoy, and face it although they sometimes slip in from the rear. The gobbler, once his attention is riveted on the jake decoy, usually forgets everything else. Wait until the bird turns his body and lifts his head and neck to make that area visible for an accurate shot. Don’t shoot at gobblers when their head and neck is down to their shoulders.

If you know where the gobbler will come from, it's possible to position the jake decoy 20 yards out and 20 yards to the opposite side of your position. The adult gobbler will walk past you on his way to smack the fake jake around. It offers an ideal shot. Just make certain you have the shotgun up to your shoulder and be ready for a shot before he reaches the decoy. Things can get a bit frenzied when a gobbler goes after a jake.

An adult bird that spots a jake decoy may come or may not. He may be ready to fight, and may hang back. A long-spurred gobbler, once he gets riled up, will put the spurs to a jake. I’ve had more than one jake decoy shredded by the hooks of a big gobbler, and it doesn’t take long for it to happen. It’s a sight to behold, and there’s nothing nice about it.

Take an old aluminum arrow, cut it in half, and put a target point on the end that goes into the ground. The end of the stake that went into my decoy had a washer next to the insert, and then another target point was used. The threads went through another washer, and screwed into the insert. This allowed the decoy to move slightly in the breeze, which adds a convincing touch of realism to a decoy spread.

Want to go a bit further?  Find another scrap aluminum arrow, cut it in half, paint it dark brown. Which moves the decoy tail back and forth, and insert one of the stakes at each end of a half-circle swing. If the wind gusts, the decoy would move a bit but not too much, and it added even more realism to the set-up.

We dislike a motionless decoy. Watch real hens, and they are head-up, head-down, flapping their wings, shaking their feathers and moving around. Your decoy should do the same, but it’s hard to make that happen unless there is enough breeze to stir the decoys and make the move.

Have the hen decoys out about 15 yards past the jake decoy and away from where the gobbler  will come. Separate the hens (if using more than one) by at least 15 to 20 yards. They can be positioned facing in most directions away from the jake.  Most decoys are made so the stake can be placed at an angle. I like at least one hen decoy to be tipped forward with its head near the ground as if feeding. It makes your rig look more realistic.

One way to use an old shredded hen decoy. 

Use this hen and lay her flat on the ground, and place a jake decoy astraddle her. This can bring a longbeard streaking in to rescue the hen for his personal pleasure.  Spread your decoys out. Don't jam them together because this is what threatened birds do before they fly or run. Do not use decoys with erect heads. One with its head up is fine, but change the body and/or head position of the others. Don’t have all the hen decoys facing the same direction.

Decoys require some experimentation. Move them around, but we've found that keeping a jake decoy between hen decoys and the woods gives the illusion that the jake is keeping them corralled.

If a gobbler is seen coming fast or slow to the decoys, let the fake birds do their job. Too much calling  is a major mistake. Two or three hens, if they are feeding and spot an approaching longbeard, will usually shut their beak. Take a cue from the real birds. Don’t call too much but play this part of the hunt slow and easy. Do this, and you’ll probably punch that gobbler’s ticket when the season opens about three months from now.

Monday, 03 March 2014 23:06

Spring Bass Fishing Before the Spawn

As we at Shotem and Caughtem watched the bone chilling weather move across the Midwest this weekend our thought began to dream of spring.  The time of year right before the spawn when the fish come out from hiding with a ferocious appetite prior to the spawn.  It is a great time to catch fish.  It is a cool time which means you can wake up a little later than in the summer and enjoy a full day of fishing.  With this in mind and before our minds turn to the upcoming turkey season we thought we would pass along some tips we use when heading out to capture the first bites of the year.  Let us know your tricks in the comment section below and we hope to brag with you in the galleries as the water temperatures rise.  

Seasonal cold fronts in the spring will send bass back into their deep-water haunts. They will feed less but they will still feed. Fish from 8–-15 feet in depth, using electronics to locate suspending bass and target that depth. The wind and spring showers continue to warm the water, be as patient as the bass are.  Watch the water temperature to become 55 to 60 degrees. Warm water means bass will come out of the lethargic state and begin to move and feed. This is the time when some bass begin to move toward their spawning flats, as other older mature females will hold in areas from 8-15 feet for their turn and perfect conditions. 

Creek channels are traffic areas for bass, as the fish move into the spawning flats to reproduce. Points on these creek channels are great places to fish with a crankbait. Fish deep enough to scrape the bottom around points and drop offs. Use natural colors like green to imitate small bluegill or perch and reds, orange and brown to resemble crayfish colors.  In addition to fishing points and drop offs ledges, look for old road beds and focus on the ditches along side the road beds, these ruts that were once used to drain water off of a road, are now the road for moving bass. Also try rocky rip rap as well as grassy areas with close access to deeper water adjacent to shallow spawning flats.  When fishing the channel points located close to a spawning area, pull a scented tube along the bottom slowly. Try crayfish, pumpkinseed, and black and blue colors.  If you are not getting any bites, simply slow down your presentation. Remember that the temperature of the bass at their holding depth is the deciding factor that turns on the instinct to feed heavy before the spawn. 

The weed beds adjacent to a channel are a preferred area for emerging spring bass. On calm mornings and afternoon use topwater baits for a blast. Late morning through early evening, try big worms or lizards, or a slow-rolling spinnerbait through and between mats of weeds.  Look for sharp bends or humps in channels near large flat shallow areas, begin in the shallow area and fish back toward deeper water.  Look for shad and signs of crawfish in deeper coves. Try fishing a small jig with a craw colored trailer using a slow retrieve. The jig and pig fires up the smallmouth on the rocky bluffs at Dale Hollows deep coves.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014 23:32

Landing Monster Bass Prime Time

We at Shotem and Caughtem have already touched upon the fact that big fish can be landed during the winter months.  We thought since hunting season is starting to wind down that we would check to see if anyone else had the same experiences.  Lucky for us a staff writer for the Dallas Tribune just wrote an article on just this same fact.  We thought it made a great addition to share what he found to help add to your experience in landing big fish during this time of season.  A big thanks to Roy Sasser for helping us drive the point home with some expert advice.

Every angler who picks up a fishing rod and casts a lure dreams of catching a big fish. Most never accomplish the goal and must satisfy themselves with reports of Toyota ShareLunkers, the Texas Parks and Wildlife big bass program that accepts largemouth bass weighing 13 pounds or more for the hatchery program.

There already have been four ShareLunkers — three from Lake Fork, one from Lake Athens. About 75 percent of ShareLunkers are caught from January through March.

To help achieve your dream, we’ve asked 10 bass fishing experts — five Lake Fork fishing guides, three tournament pros, the owner of a popular lure company and the owner of a Mexico bass fishing business, to give us a few tips. Between them, they’ve caught or guided clients to more than 2,000 largemouth bass weighing 10 pounds or more.

Much of their advice is repetitious. Some, like bass pro Keith Combs, disagrees with the norm on how to present a lure to entice a big bass. Most of the experts move their lure as slowly as possible. Not Combs. Before becoming a touring pro, he guided anglers at Falcon Lake, where his clients in some months landed 25 or more double-digit fish.

“Concentrate on fishing early and late in the day and during the week when fishing pressure is light,” said Combs. “Fish with aggressive lures. I think baits that displace a lot of water and contact the bottom or underwater cover draw the biggest bites. My top picks are three-quarters ounce to one-ounce jigs, big spinnerbaits with big blades and deep-diving crankbaits fished on a fast retrieve.”

According to Bassmaster Classic champion Alton Jones, where you fish is just as important as how you fish.

“The three most important things in catching a big bass are location, location and location,” said Jones, who has twice caught three 10-pounders in a single day. “Your odds of catching a big fish increase dramatically if you’re fishing at a lake known to produce big fish.”

Mark Pack, who figures he and his clients have caught more than 400 10-pound-plus bass in 28 years at Lake Fork, said big bass like the security of having deep water close to their spawning areas. The experts agree that the upcoming spawning season is the best time to catch a lunker.

“Anglers in the spring need to fish points and banks where deep-water channels swing in close,” advised Pack.

Most big fish spawn in deeper water rather than right next to the bank, said Gene Snider, another prolific guide who’s spent the last 30-plus years figuring out Lake Fork’s big bass.

“More than 90 percent of the big fish we’ve caught during the spawn have come from water 5- to 15-feet deep,” Snider said. “I usually fish with a jig and don’t expect to get a lot of bites.

“One March day that I’ll never forget, I positioned the boat so my clients could cast to the bank, and I pitched a jig out into deeper water. The first bite I got was a bass weighing nearly 13 pounds. I only got one more bite all day, but it was a bass that weighed 111/2 pounds.”

If you have confidence in a particular big bass fishing spot, don’t give up on it, advises Mark Stevenson. He caught the former state-record bass from Lake Fork in 1986. It weighed 17.67 pounds. Named Ethel, the fish was displayed for several years at Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World in Springfield, Mo., where it became an ambassador for Texas fishing.

“Once you’ve found good structure where you have confidence in catching a big fish, don’t give up on it just because you fish there for a while and don’t catch anything,” said Stevenson. “Revisit that area at different times of the day. I’ve caught a lot of big fish on the second or third visit to the same spot.”

Along the same lines, John Barns likes to cast repeatedly to good cover. Barns is the president and majority owner of Strike King Lure Company, one of the market’s most popular brands.

“Be patient,” advises Barns. “Fish slowly and thoroughly, especially in an area that has produced big fish in the past. I believe that many times you have to aggravate a big bass into biting by making repeated casts to a particular area or by changing lures multiple times.”

James Caldemeyer, another Lake Fork guide who’s guided customers to a lot of trophy-sized fish and caught quite a few of his own, says anglers in general fish too fast.

“The majority of big fish caught from my boat bit the lure when it sinking or sitting still,” he said. “Big bass prefer a slow presentation. When you think you’re fishing slowly, slow down even more — it works.”

While fishing at the best bass lakes in Mexico, fishing outfitter Ron Speed Jr., has caught his share of big ones. He’s also helped hundreds of anglers catch a personal best largemouth and learned much from their tales of dreams realized and the big one that got away. Speed also has enjoyed tournament fishing success in Texas lakes.

“I think the biggest fish are generally the first fish to spawn,” he said. “When the water is still pretty cold, I target the warmer banks and coves — usually the north banks that have water that’s protected from the north wind and warms a little sooner.

“A couple of degrees may not seem like much to us but it can make a big difference to a fish. Don’t forget that bass make their spawning beds not just on the bottom but in the forks of trees or on top of stumps or flooded treetops. They can be 4 feet beneath the surface in 30 feet of water.”

James Niggemeyer, a Lake Fork guide when he’s not competing in Bassmaster Elite Series tournaments, likes fishing during the spawning season, but he also likes the pre-spawn and post-spawn periods.

“Water temperatures in the high 40s to high 50s is the time to catch the biggest bass of the year by fishing in or around heavy cover with a depth change or transition area nearby,” said Niggemeyer, who notes that bass are heaviest before they spawn.

“Post spawn is my favorite time to catch surface feeding bass — big bass. I like a Strike King Sexy Dawg topwater lure in either bluegill or green gizzard shad colors. Big bass eat large prey items to recover from the spawn.”

Whatever the fishing style, Snider cautions anglers to take care of their fishing line and keep it fresh. It could become, after all, the tenuous link between the angler and a prize catch.

“Retie your knot after every hook set,” Snider added. “A big bass has every advantage to start with. When you finally do hook a big fish, why lose it because your line was old or worn or because you were too lazy to retie your knot?”

Several ShareLunkers have been caught by novices. As Lake Fork fishing guide David Vance said, nothing beats spending a lot of time on the water when big bass are most vulnerable, and that means during the pre-spawn period of January and February and during the spawn in March and April.

Vance should know. Relying on the axiom that big lures tempt big bass, he’s personally caught about 150 bass that each weighed 10 pounds or more.

Let us know your tips and tricks in the comment section below and keep posting your adventures to the galleries or create your own circle from which to brag to by starting your own group in your profile.  Most of all get outdoors!

 
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