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Catt

Extreme Close-up Angling

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Extreme Close-up Angling

It's the middle of the spring spawn and the hawgs are on the bank, problem you can't see the bank. The banks on the south end of Toledo Bend are covered with buck brush, button brush, willow trees, cypress trees, & numerous other types' vegetation. In fall the lake level is 7 ft. below normal pool, which is allowing more vegetation to grow. From late January through April, the spring rains will bring the water level back to and above normal. Now all that under growth is in 7 to 10 ft of water and the bank is some 30 yards from the outside edge of the brush. Question how does one take these extreme amounts of cover and turn it into a productive pattern.

First, you gotta park that big ole bass rig in exchange for an all welded aluminum rig. The aluminum rig is lighter, narrower in both bottom width & beam width. The approach is simple but methodical, start by selecting an area of brush that is thinner or where you can see openings/trails. At pitching distance from the outside edge, work any isolated brush. Work a 20-ft path on both sides of the selected point of entry, and then slowly work to within flipping distance. Once you worked the outside edge thoroughly, you can start flipping the first 10-ft into the cover. Target the outer branches first, then all the way to the trunk. The next part is where the extreme fishing begins, use your trolling motor to pull you as far into the as it can. With you and a partner standing on the bow deck grab the branches and pull your boat forward. Look for openings in the brush and maneuver the boat in that direction but stopping every 10 yd. to flip the area.

Next let's look at rod-n-reels, a 6' or 6'6" is all you'll have room to maneuver. A medium heavy rod with a lot of backbone to move large fish off the bottom but with enough tip to feel light bites. A quality reel with a solid drag spooled with 20 to 25 lb. test line. Lastly the bait, a 6" plastic lizard, ¼ oz. pegged bullet weight, with a 4/0 hook or a 3/8 oz jig-n-craw. This is extreme close-up angling so be ready to set hook on any line movement, tap, light feeling, or heavy feeling. Set hook hard, straight up, & move the fish fast out of the cover. If the fish is too big to move on the hook set, your first concern is a solid hook, give no slack, and then go to the fish.

Yea it's a lot of work but this pattern has produced numerous stringers of 25 lb. plus with kicker fish in the double the digits.

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Bring a machete and a weedeater ;D

I'd probably stick to working the outside edges or more than likely, pull out of that area and fish the grass flats of Toledo. What you're talking about is an interesting way to fish though...getting into water that no one else wants to and catching a bunch of good fish. I don't have a boat at all yet and the next (and first one) that I'm buying is going to be an Xpress 18ft Limited Edition with a 150 on it. I probably won't be able to pull that kinda thing off. It's just as big as the bass boats.

With the rig I just mentioned, I'd probably work the brush with either carolina rigs, a big swimbait, or crankbaits until I got into where I could see pockets or 'trails.' Then I'd work that hard with weedless texas rig style jigs and big, funny colored tubes. If that failed, I'd check for pre/post spawn fish on secondary lake structure with jerkbaits and spinnerbaits. There's a million and 10 things you can do in a place like Toledo and have a good day of fishing. Going that distance that you did is a good way to win some quick cash on open tournaments though. Something to think about.

Also, if you like pegging T-Rigs or working jig and craws, you might wanna try these:  http://www.jigfish.com/catalog.php?homeinclude=catalog&category_id=6&parent_id=6

For the jig/craw, I use a Yum, Kinami, or GYCB Hulagrub on that jighead, but you could easily use a tube, lizard, or worm.  If the EWG hook is too big, I recommend the Spot-Remover from buckeye lures.  www.buckeyelures.com

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Aint that something that's the exact boat I'm working towards buying, X18LE with either a 150 Evinrude HO or a Yamaha HPDI.

My wife has been on my butt to start fishing tournaments again she always says if you gonna spend the money going to the lake at least you can win some of it back. This technique was used to win 3 tournaments with sacks of over 25 lbs., only one draw back it's only good during the spring.

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If you're looking at the Xpress, don't get your hopes too high for anything other than a Yamaha outboard.  From the sounds of it (talked to quite a few dealerships in Louisiana) the only engine that Xpress wants on their boats are the Yamahas...which is fine with me.  That may vary from area to area though or your can always just buy the hull and motor seperate.  Maybe I just called Yamaha/Xpress dealerships.  Who knows?

I am hoping that when I'm done with this deployment to Iraq, I'll be stationed at Fort Polk.  I've had enough of Fort Hood.  I'd be closer to family and as a bonus, I'll be able to regularly fish Sam Rayburn and Toledo Bend...not to mention Lake Vernon and Anacoco.  Pretty exciting area of the world for a guy like me lol.  

Changing to a lake like Toledo Bend that has everything you could ever wanna fish from a place like Stillhouse Hollow (which is deep water crap only) is going to be a challenging and exciting change and hopefully the final touches on the beginnings of an FLW carreer.  I am going to have to remember to think out of the box like that if I am ever going to stand a chance at out-foxing guys like Gary Yamamoto and all the other fellows of that level.  Denny Brauer (sp?) must be a hero of yours.  Y'all got a lot in common.  He's a jig guy and he has jumped beaver dams in his bass boat to get to the isolated and unpressured water during tournaments.  Wonder what PETA thought of that? ;D

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