Timeless Fishing Tips
By Earl Golding
Bass fishing as we know it is still rather a new thing. Before competition became a part of it, it was a recreation mostly practiced in the springtime and mostly early in the mornings and late in the afternoons. Competition did for bass fishing what it does for everything else. It made it grow tremendously in every way, from effort to knowledge to technology to equipment to results.
For the past 37 years, fishermen have learned from the abilities, talents, innovations, and accomplishments of anglers before them.
There have been many great innovators and achievers in our sport. They have passed on things which worked for them to those coming up behind them. Here are some bass tips gleaned from some of Texas' super catchers going back to the mid- 50's. Their insight is true no matter where you fish.
Some are no longer with us. Others are still catching and still teaching. Their quotes are passed along here as they said them.
Jackie Hewlett, Austin
"Bass clubs have done more than anyone else to improve fishermen. It has given beginners the chance to fish with guys who really know what they're doing. In Austin, we've got 50 guys who can beat you and 10 years ago 40 of them probably didn't know what a casting rod was."
Rick Clunn, Montgomery
"Finding fish is the most important factor in successful bass fishing. The real key in my success is not necessarily my ability to catch bass. It is ability to find them. I feel I have put together a method that lets me find fish about as quickly as anybody. It is my ability to find them before I ever leave home that makes a difference.
You get a good map and think in terms of water you have to contend with. Fish aren't everywhere. You have to be able to have the ability to eliminate 90 percent of the water before you even get to the lake. You have to learn and understand seasonal patterns. You have to learn where bass will and will not be at different seasons of the year. The bass repeats itself, constantly."
Jim Zelko, Houston
"I try to fish where other fishermen aren't. I think that's the secret."
Mike Shelton, Corpus Christi
"Here's my secret. I have kept levels of the lakes we fish for the past four years. I keep them on a monthly basis. I go to my records and see where the lake was at 298 feet and where we were catching fish here, here, here. I phone the lake (authority), get the lake level, and then go to my record and I know which areas will be good and which areas will be bad. I see a rock pile when the lake is down and I say, 'Hey, I wish that was three feet under water.' I remember that pile and when the lake gets up to the right level, I fish it."
Jimmy Atkinson, Lorena
"Most people try to find bass in the obvious places. I don't. I am looking for the places which are not obvious. When I am fishing, I seldom see anybody else. Fishermen have to find their own fish. I can't go to somebody else's fish and fish them and do any good because I will be fishing differently. Somebody else can't go to my fish and catch them like I can."
Hoyt Fincher, Burleson
"When the shad make their move in the fall, bass are going to be with them. Keeping up with the baitfish is the key to filling limits in the fall."
Dr. John Lee, Houston
"Most fishermen go into a place and if they know there has already been a boat or two ahead of them, it destroys them. But it doesn't bother me. Particularly if I know the spot is apt to hold a lot of fish. The key is to throw something those earlier guys aren't throwing. You need to either fish a different bait or different colored bait."
Bob Pence, Anson
"I probably move less than anybody in this part of the country. If I have to move, I'll move to similar type of water as near as possible. I think a lot of people spend too much time running."
Dr. Bill Shelton, Lufkin
"One thing I have done since 1968 is keep a detailed log of every single fishing trip and every tournament I have fished. I write down date, lake, lake level, water clarity, patterns which produced for me. In addition to every tournament I critique myself, how Joe Harris or Phillip Laswell caught their fish, what I overlooked, or what pattern or patterns I failed to recognize. This type of log I review before every tournament and it has really been beneficial to me."
Jack Lewis, San Antonio
"I pride myself in trying to stay away from known hot fishing spots. I like to run the flats, in shallow water, and took for little drainage ditches or sandy points. I use a flasher. A one- foot drainage ditch in three feet of water is the kind of thing I like to find."
Randy Behringer, Waco
"When a lake is rising, move in. When a lake is falling, move out."
And their tips are still good today. Some things just last.