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Taylor0208

Need some advise

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I been fishing this one lake as long as I can remember not we just started fishing a tournament trail here at this lake and I don't have problems catching fish but trying to catch a Kicker is killing me. The lake is a powerful plant cooling lake and 95% of the fish is 12 to 14 inches. These tournamentsites only have 10 pounds or less winning weights. Last tourney we had 5.86 and got 10th while first placentury only had 7.43. Like I said I can catch a boat load but never any 2 plus pounders. There is no shad in this lake if that helps. Thanks for any advise!

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I could tell what I'd do, but I'll admit, my credibility is a little questionable.

Instead, I'll offer the advice of B A S S  Elite Series Professional Todd Faircloth.

Unlocking Bass: 3 keys to a kicker

Once you have your limit, it's time to upgrade!

"Someone recently told me that I've caught more daily big bass than any other angler in the Bassmaster Elite Series. I was surprised to hear it, but it's a nice confirmation of some of my tournament philosophies. Then they asked me if I'd share some of those ideas with you here, and I agreed. I think it's important to share that kind of stuff. I've benefitted from things that other anglers have shared with me, and I like to give back when I can. It makes us all better.

I hope these tips will help you catch bigger bass in competition. They've worked for me over the years.

1. Find your comfort zone

For every tournament I fish, I do a lot of research. Not only do I want to figure out the best locations, baits and patterns, but I want to develop an idea of what it's going to take to do well and earn a check.

Sometimes you'll hear a tournament fisherman say something like, "I just go out there and fish hard all day and bring my best five to the scales." Well, that's fine, but without any way to measure performance throughout the day, you're fishing blind and can't make the kind of adjustments that are necessary to be successful. You can't afford to wait until you get to the scales to find out if you had a good day or not.

I always have a weight in mind before I launch my boat each day.

That number might be big (Falcon Lake in March) or it might be small (the Ohio River in July), but it's important. It's the number I have to reach to be competitive and to get paid. And while some people will tell you that they only fish to win or that they never fish for a check, the reality is that checks and tournament points are important. They pay the bills and get you to the championship. If you ignore them, you'll have problems.

For the sake of this article, let's say my target number is 12 pounds for a five bass limit. I have confidence that 12 pounds a day will get me in the money and keep me competitive. Hopefully, in practice I've found the bass to do that, and I can catch them pretty quickly. Time is critical in a bass tournament. We're all fishing under the gun, and the guys who manage their time best tend to cash the most checks.

Once I reach that target weight, my comfort level goes up and I'm ready to explore and try something different. Until then, I'm doing all I can just to catch the quality fish I need to get there. I want lots of bites from respectable bass until I reach that target.

My tournament mindset has always been to go for a limit first and to upgrade later. If I know where I can go and catch lots of 2 1/2 pounders quickly, I'll do that rather than go to another spot where the bass are bigger but the bites are fewer and farther between.

Of course, that plan has to be flexible, too, and there are times when I'll go after big fish first and then work on a limit. An obvious time to do this is in the spring, when you've spotted a giant female or two on beds and you have to go to them right away before someone else does. Ordinarily, though, I'm focused on a limit first.  When I have what I believe to be a respectable limit, I'm ready for the second step.

2. Explore

Changing things up and getting away from my primary pattern is more than just changing locations; it's also about changing my mindset.

Instead of wanting and needing lots of bites to fill my limit, now I'm thinking about getting a couple of bites from the kind of bass that will really help my bottom line. I'm not looking to cull up an ounce or two, but by several pounds.

Over the years I've caught most of my best bass from isolated cover, and that's usually where I'll go after I have a solid limit. The cover doesn't have to be big, but it does need to be away from other similar cover.

I like to target isolated logs, boat docks, brush piles, mats of vegetation or anything else that might hold a big fish. The isolated cover is a big fish magnet because it's the only holding area around and other anglers will often overlook it, preferring to fish bigger spots that might hold more bass but which take a lot longer to fish and generally don't hold the biggest bass in the area.

Once I have a solid limit I may also consider making a long run to get to an out of the way spot or making another change that's otherwise too time-consuming or risky. Having a solid limit is freedom — you can do other things that have the potential for a big payoff.

A lot of guys will make those kinds of moves after they've had a bad first day or two in the tournament, but then it's almost always too late. You need to make those moves when you're in a position of strength and have the right mindset, not when you're in a position of weakness and pressing too hard.

3. Ounce wise, pound foolish

Over the years, I've seen a lot of tournament fishermen really milk a spot. Maybe they're catching a bunch of two pounders on a main lake point and they have 10 or 11 pounds in the livewell. Instead of leaving those fish and going to look for a kicker that will really help them, they stay on the spot and continue to work it over, adding an ounce here and there but basically adding very little weight to their bag.

I think that's a mistake for two reasons.

First, that time could be used to make a real change in their catch. If they gamble just a little and try targeting some better fish, they could go from merely making a check to winning the tournament. You don't often do that by playing it safe with average fish.

Second, they might need those fish tomorrow. By catching too many today, they could be wrecking that spot or school for the rest of the tournament. They should be saving those bass. By culling all day with more average fish they think they're gaining ounces but they're really losing pounds from their catch over the next day or two.

I'll be the first to admit that my method of upgrading a tournament catch doesn't always work, but neither does anything else. What I can tell you is that it's worked for me a lot more often than not, and that I'll be using it until I find something better. Of course, a little luck helps, too!

"Hero or zero" is a popular phrase for the guys who gamble with their tournament strategy. It doesn't have to be that way. I much prefer "hero or still-in-the-money."

Give it a try."

A-Jay

 

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What AJ said.

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I normally go into a tourney wanting to get 5 fish. One lake we fish yiu get 14 pounds you might or might not be in money. But it is not uncommon to him catch a 5 pounder. This lake I am fishing now out of 20 teams only 2 bass weighed over 2 pounds. The fish are just small there I guess. Thanks for the reply. It was a very informative read and will help this weekend

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I'd throw a bigger bait after you get your limit. Probably a big jig.

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3 hours ago, Taylor0208 said:

I been fishing this one lake as long as I can remember not we just started fishing a tournament trail here at this lake and I don't have problems catching fish but trying to catch a Kicker is killing me. The lake is a powerful plant cooling lake and 95% of the fish is 12 to 14 inches. These tournamentsites only have 10 pounds or less winning weights. Last tourney we had 5.86 and got 10th while first placentury only had 7.43. Like I said I can catch a boat load but never any 2 plus pounders. There is no shad in this lake if that helps. Thanks for any advise!

What kind of stuff are you throwing? Soft plastics,
cranks, etc?

I ask because there's a pond I frequent with a buddy
that has no boat access, and no shad either. We've
caught a number of bas over 2# and upward of 5#+
as well.

99% of what we throw are wacky worms, usually in
the 4" range, sometimes 5". Watermelon Magic, 
June bug and other "regular" colors tend to work well.

Also have caught on drop shot using Yamamoto Shad
Shaped Worms.

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Nice article. Should be in the BR archives, if it's not there already.

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Todd Faircloth! 

Texas Boy!

Just Saying!

No Seriously great advice ;) 

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11 hours ago, Darren. said:

What kind of stuff are you throwing? Soft plastics,
cranks, etc?

I ask because there's a pond I frequent with a buddy
that has no boat access, and no shad either. We've
caught a number of bas over 2# and upward of 5#+
as well.

99% of what we throw are wacky worms, usually in
the 4" range, sometimes 5". Watermelon Magic, 
June bug and other "regular" colors tend to work well.

Also have caught on drop shot using Yamamoto Shad
Shaped Worms.

to be honest we throw a little of everything, the water temp right now is anywhere from 68 to 83 degrees depending on where you are at on the lake, we prefished the other day and threw 8 different baits and rigs and caught fish, i know i can put 5 in boat fast on rattle trap, but everything else we throw we catch same size fish, the lake might only have small fish in it, been like this for about as long as i can remember, they introduced shad 5 years ago and the fish started getting bigger but 2 years later there was no shad, water temp to high to spawn and the fish got them up in the coolest cove of lake and basically wiped them out according to DNR 

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The bass are probably stunted from not having enough bait to go around. I think a jig would definitely be a good idea. I'm assuming there are bluegill in there so matching the colors of a jig to them could help get bigger bites. 

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i too would toss a jig once you've got 5.  i would also consider throwing a soft plastic swimbait of sorts.

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Since I fish open tournaments with nothing but a "thanks for playing" for catching 5 most of the time, I don't subscribe to the "get a limit then look for a kicker" thing. I start each and every tournament fishing baits that I have 100% confidence in of catching big fish. Sometimes............well many times actually, I have had to do a 180 when it's turned into a grind just for a bite and start finessing them, but I never start off hoping for five. 

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I have never understood the concept of targeting fish you hope to release in a tournament.

Of course it depends I suppose on where you fish. Around here it generally takes 20+ to win even during a tough bite.

 

:fishing-026:

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While I agree with roadwarrior & ww2farmer this lake is going to be a numbers game.

OP stated 5.86 took tenth place & 7.43 took first, that's only 1.57 difference or 0,314 per fish.

Ya gonna have cull as often as possible & slowly climb the ladder!

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We don't just want 5 fish in our normal tourney at one lake but this one particular lake just messes me up. Well we are all rigged up and getting the night before tourney food and spirits so wish us luck. 

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I fish a lake that sounds very similar to that, minus the power plant part. It's really just dumb luck a lot of the time for someone to stumble into a fish bigger than average (1.5 pounds and up at this particular lake). The lake I fish also doesn't have shad. I've found that the few bigger fish are either gill eaters or cannibals. They also don't waste time chasing little stuff, because they don't have to with all the available food options around them. Bluegill or baby bass swimbaits, bigger cranks, bulky jigs, and bladed jigs account for all the bigger bass I've caught from that lake. 

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Rough day fishing but did find some better fish. Still 24 teams and big fish was at 3 pounds until 2 guys came in with a 5.85 and 5.64. That won the tournament with them 2 fish. He would not release fish at same place as everyone else then they ended up belly up. Not really sure what to think about it. Still had fun as always 

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