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jdubs

What Am I Doing Wrong? $200 In Gear And Still Not Even A Nibble!

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Hi all,

I'm a newbie to freshwater gamefishing (have caught some panfish in the ocean) and would love to have some advice on what I'm doing wrong. I would LOVE to catch my first bass. :) I've spent $200 on gear and still haven't gotten so much as a nibble in 3 trips out.

My gear:

2 Shimano spinning reels, 6 or 8-lb test

1 Ugly Stik rod, 1 Shakespeare graphite telescoping rod, medium action

Plastic worm, assorted crankbaits, spinnerbaits (see below) as recommended in this great book that I bought and read: http://www.amazon.com/Basic-Freshwater-Fishing-Step---Step/dp/0811722260/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1307228298&sr=8-1

My trip today:

El Capitan Reservoir in San Diego, supposedly the best bass fishing here

Went out at 11am (not the best, I know) in a rental boat and fished in 4-5 locations near shore

5-6 other boats (mostly people in their own fishing boats)

69 degree water; 447 bass caught last week by 69 anglers

I discovered afterward that they had an algae bloom in the last few days. Visibility was probably about 1 foot

Not a single bite

What I tried:

Rapala Original Floating Lure (small)

Dardevle brass spoon

Mepps Plain Aglia Spinner (Size 2)

Mann's Hank parker "The Classic" Spinnerbait (1/4 oz)

Cabela's RealImage HDS Grave digger (medium depth)

Arbogast Hula Popper surface lure

SPRO Dean Rojas Bronzeye Frog

I cast relatively close to shore, with my boat in about 8-10 feet of water. I tried steady slow retrieve, quick jerks, side to side, etc. Not a thing.

Any tips from a pro would be much appreciated by this frustrated beginner!

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Location.

The active fish were somewhere out there, either deep or shallow, or in between. You just didn't find them. Happens to all of us more often than we care to admit.

Hang in there.

P.S. I spent nearly $500 on my swimbait set-up and the actual baits. I had my first bite on the 11th trip (and I missed that fish).

EDIT:

I checked out the reviews of the book you linked... and it doesn't seem to be a "bass-fishing" book really.

Try some of the excellent articles that are hosted on this site.

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Thanks for the words of encouragement. That's a lot of perseverance... I'll check out the rest of this site. This was actually my first time to this site. A few quick questions for you...

1. If they're shallower/deeper, does that mean I need different lures (e.g. use my "deep" diver rather than my "medium" diver) or in the case of some of these, like the spoons and spinners, is it just my retrieve technique that I would adjust (e.g. let it sink further, retrieve slower, etc.)

2. As a beginner, is my time better spent staying in one place and trying the different depths/lures, or testing many locations? Dealing with an outboard motor, two clumsy anchors, and the wind made it a lot of trouble to keep relocating in search of the fish (while the pros strolled by with their trolling motors).

Location.

The active fish were somewhere out there, either deep or shallow, or in between. You just didn't find them. Happens to all of us more often than we care to admit.

Hang in there.

P.S. I spent nearly $500 on my swimbait set-up and the actual baits. I had my first bite on the 11th trip (and I missed that fish).

EDIT:

I checked out the reviews of the book you linked... and it doesn't seem to be a "bass-fishing" book really.

Try some of the excellent articles that are hosted on this site.

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easiest thing I could suggest is find your weed edge toss a senko around for a bit if you don't catch anything move 30 yards down the weed line and repeat. A senko is one of the easiest and most productive ways to fish. read the senko fact in the tackle section for more info than you could ever read on how to fish them.

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Surprised you didn't try your plastic worms.Everything you tried was moving baits. Nothing suggested you were fishing tight covers slow.

My plastic baits sit in one spot for sometimes up to 2 minutes before I even move it.I might even move it 3" then let it sit again.

This is a good place to start. http://www.bassresource.com/how-to-fish/

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It isn't the equipment ! Probably location, as the saying goes 90% of water has no fish in it. As mentioned I would go with some type of plastic worm, probably the best way to to break your cherry.

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Jdubs, at an old Bassmasters University Hank Parker told a story about fishing with the late and grate Dale Earnhart and his daughter on Earnhart's pond.

The daughter had a Mickey Mouse Zebco reel attached to a little rod.

Guess who hooked the big fish in the pond that day and had her Mickey Mouse reel blow up on her???

Bass have no idea of the bran, cost or type of equipment you have. As the guys have said, it is location, location, location.

May I make some suggestions for your consideration as you are new to bass fishing?

1. Read articles and posts on this site.

2. Suscribe to Bassin Magazine.

3. Join B.A.S.S. for $15 and start receiving their Bassmasters Magazine.

4. Consider purchasing some DVDs on techniques and other topics. VanDam, Ike, Houston, Parker, King, Brauer, Martin, Daves and many others have some excellent DVDs and you will learn a lot.

5. Purcahse Dr. Keith Jones' book, Knowing Bass, The Scientific Approach to Catching More Fish.

6. Consider purchasing Bass Wisdom by Homer Circle.

7. Try to get a DVD of Bigmouth and Bigmouth Forever plus Feeding Habits of Bass.

8. Hire a guide and let him take you around and show you where to fish and why and what to throw. Ask questions of the guide.

10. Watch bass fishing shows on TV.

11. Attend a Bassmasters University. It is worth every penny.

12. Go to a Bassmasters Classic. Outstanding trade fair at the Classic and you will meet many vendors and professionals.

In other words, as taught in the military, "Know Your Enemy!!!"

Consider joining a bass fishing club. You will learn a lot from the guys in the club and meet the movers and shakers in your area and state.

The more you learn the better your decisions will be to locate where the bass will be and increase the probability of catching them.

Don't be frustrated. When you look at club and region tournament results and standings you will see many guys who get skuned or don't do well, including the pros.

Remember the old story of the couple in New York City for the first time who wanted to go to Madison Square Garden. They stopped a gentleman on the street and ask him how to get to Madison Square Garden. The guy replied, "practice, practice, practice."

Have fun and start posting some pics of what you catch. ;)

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Thanks for the words of encouragement. That's a lot of perseverance... I'll check out the rest of this site. This was actually my first time to this site. A few quick questions for you...

1. If they're shallower/deeper, does that mean I need different lures (e.g. use my "deep" diver rather than my "medium" diver) or in the case of some of these, like the spoons and spinners, is it just my retrieve technique that I would adjust (e.g. let it sink further, retrieve slower, etc.)

2. As a beginner, is my time better spent staying in one place and trying the different depths/lures, or testing many locations? Dealing with an outboard motor, two clumsy anchors, and the wind made it a lot of trouble to keep relocating in search of the fish (while the pros strolled by with their trolling motors).

I probably shouldn't have brought up the topic of swimbaits. When I'm throwing my big swimmies, I'm looking for the biggest fish in the reservoir. Just wanted to say that you shouldn't get discouraged if you don't catch anything initially even after spending a lot of money. I know nothing about the California reservoirs; but from what I read, your bass are highly pressured. There might have been a few bass (or more than a few) where you were fishing. But they might not have been actively feeding bass and they didn't bite your lure.

If I wanted to catch a few bass of any size, I'd probably beat the hell out of the shallow/ shoreline cover with a senko or a finesse jig. There will always be some bass up shallow. That probably won't be the primary pattern, those fish might not even be of "keeper" size. But there will be some bass up shallow willing to bite.

I think you should talk to folks who fish your lake on a regular basis to know where the fish are, and what they are biting.

*****

1. If they're shallower/deeper, does that mean I need different lures (e.g. use my "deep" diver rather than my "medium" diver) or in the case of some of these, like the spoons and spinners, is it just my retrieve technique that I would adjust (e.g. let it sink further, retrieve slower, etc.)

*****

I do think you need different lures to probe the different depths, AND change the retrieves from time to time if something isn't producing.

*****

2. As a beginner, is my time better spent staying in one place and trying the different depths/lures, or testing many locations? Dealing with an outboard motor, two clumsy anchors, and the wind made it a lot of trouble to keep relocating in search of the fish (while the pros strolled by with their trolling motors).

*****

I believe the whole point with bass fishing is finding out where the "active" fish are, and what they are biting. Find a good looking structure from the lake map, like a point/ ridge/ hump, where you can expect active fish, and test the different depths around that. If you have a fish finder on your boat, it's easier to locate the cover on the structure. Cover on it's own is no good, it's the cover ON the structure where the bass are. Find the pattern, and when you've caught all the biting fish from a location, move on to the next location that fits the pattern.

Always ask yourself why you're fishing wherever you're fishing. The water temperature tells me that it's probably post-spawn/ early summer. Which is both bad and good. The bad part is that the bigger fish probably went down deeper onto the main lake structures. The good part is that they're looking to eat.

Good luck!

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find the creek channel, sit in the middle of it and cast a worm or creature bait to either side of you onto the flats near visible cover. Let it sink and drag it off the flats and over the ledge into the creek channel. rinse and repeat ;)

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Don't forget STRUCTURE too. think about where a fish would hide from predators. look for stickups, rocks, submerged stumps, etc. Try texas rigging plastic worms - work them SLOWWWW - you should get a bite. If they're spawning where you are, try some topwaters over the beds too maybe. Dusk and Dawn are key times too! Good luck!!! Keep at it!!!

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I would throw some sort of soft plastic at a weed line. Keep an eye on the other boaters. They have probably fished there before and know where the bass tend to sit. Try to fish areas like that.

As was said a wacky rigged senko(stick worm)will get you bit or a Texas rigged soft plastic of any kind should get you bites.

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While a lot of people are strong believers in Senkos, my personal "go-to" style is drop-shotting. There's nothing wrong with a Senko and I too like to fish them. But if nothing else is working for me, I will rig up a drop-shot rig and if that doesn't produce, my confidence is totally shot. But you need to find something that you think will produce, that you are confident in and stick with it for a while. Looking at the baits you tried on your trip, I'd say that those will all produce fish, but none (except maybe the medium crankbait) are what I would recommend for someone starting out who needs to put some fish on the line and gain some confidence. I would recommend sticking with soft rubber baits for the most part until you catch some fish and gain some confidence. Try a Senko, any Texas-rigged worm, or like I said earlier, a small simple drop-shot rig. Another thing that a lot of beginners think is that they have to be constantly reeling in an artificial lure to keep it moving and create an action. Slow down your presentation. Let it sit for several seconds. Then, raise your rod tip to lift it off the bottom and then let it fall, reel in the slack and wait again. If the water clarity is very low, use some darker colored baits (black, green, watermelon, green pumpkin). If it's really low, maybe try a chatterbait to put off some vibrations.

One thing that surprised me about your post is that the water is 69 degrees. I really thought the water would be a lot warmer than that there at this time of year, but what do I know?

Good luck and we hope to see some pictures posted of your newfound success.

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I have a lot of advice for you.

1st go to ticketmaster and but a ticket to fish lake barrett. Its easy and the good sticks can catch 100 in a day. Novices still get a dozen.

2nd Hire one of our local guides. They will teach you the when were and how plus they will take you to good spots. Tell them how inexperianced you are and they will teach you. Dont get discouraged by our local fish counts. Most of the guys that fish here are very experinced and just plain good. Those numbers can be decieving when 80% of those guys realy know what they are doing.

El Cap is a numbers lake, atack it that way. Go set your self some small 4-6 Robo worms. Our local stores(Tackle stores not wallmart) all have the scoop and they will tell you the best colors. You wont need much. probably 2 packs of worms, a pack of hooks and a pack of drop shot weights.

3rd Anglers marine is about to start having its summer seminars called fins. Its a good place to go and ask questions.

4th besides Barrett all our lakes would be very hard for beginners. We have some giants but overall the fishing is very tough.

5th use light line and fluorocarbon helps.

6th I cant emphasize a guide enough. It will shave years off your learning curve if you pay attention.

7th in general our lakes that are CURENTLY producing big bass are usualy much harder to get bites then our numbers lakes. The reason why some of our lakes produce gaints is because there is not a huge bass population. Fish the bigger lakes that are known for numbers like Cap, Barrett, Otay, Hodges etc. The little lakes like Jennings, Poway, Dixon can be brutal.

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Thanks for all of this local advice! This is great to know. I've been definitely wondering how it's possible that SD claims to have world-class sized fish, and yet it's so difficult to catch even a small one. Now I get it!

I'll give this set of advice (and maybe both the Senko and drop-shot recommendations given by others) a go.

As for Barrett, the cost and moreso the fact that she can't cook anything we catch makes it a tough sell, but I'm definitely going to give it a go to get some practice. Do you have any tips on getting barbless hooks on the precious lures I've just sunk $100+ into? Is it an easy process?

Thanks again!

I have a lot of advice for you.

1st go to ticketmaster and but a ticket to fish lake barrett. Its easy and the good sticks can catch 100 in a day. Novices still get a dozen.

2nd Hire one of our local guides. They will teach you the when were and how plus they will take you to good spots. Tell them how inexperianced you are and they will teach you. Dont get discouraged by our local fish counts. Most of the guys that fish here are very experinced and just plain good. Those numbers can be decieving when 80% of those guys realy know what they are doing.

El Cap is a numbers lake, atack it that way. Go set your self some small 4-6 Robo worms. Our local stores(Tackle stores not wallmart) all have the scoop and they will tell you the best colors. You wont need much. probably 2 packs of worms, a pack of hooks and a pack of drop shot weights.

3rd Anglers marine is about to start having its summer seminars called fins. Its a good place to go and ask questions.

4th besides Barrett all our lakes would be very hard for beginners. We have some giants but overall the fishing is very tough.

5th use light line and fluorocarbon helps.

6th I cant emphasize a guide enough. It will shave years off your learning curve if you pay attention.

7th in general our lakes that are CURENTLY producing big bass are usualy much harder to get bites then our numbers lakes. The reason why some of our lakes produce gaints is because there is not a huge bass population. Fish the bigger lakes that are known for numbers like Cap, Barrett, Otay, Hodges etc. The little lakes like Jennings, Poway, Dixon can be brutal.

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after a day of fishin hang out for a bit n shoot the breeze with the locals. ask them how they did. thats the simplest way to start a convo. when it comes to fishin we all love braggin. ask them the type of areas they fished n what they were usin. trust me if ur brain aint a steel vault WRITE it down when u get in ur car. before u know it youll have ur own encyclopedia of knowledge. from there its up to you with experience to start the trial and error. the parkin lot is ur best bet to learn about ur local fisheries and get some new fishin buddies.

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goose775 unfortunatley the guys around here are tight lipped. If you asked at the parking lot you would think everybody caught 1 fish. My response is usualy " Yeah I caught a couple little ones" Your idea is good and it would work at the local seminars when the speakers are giving up some of the goods.

jdubs To make your hooks barbless you just pinch down the tip of the barbs with pliers. If your careful you can open them back up later with a knife.

One more thing, most guys wont care if you bring home some bass to eat but if your lucky enough to catch a big one then you will make more friends by releasing it. I have seen some bad things happen to guys who kept a big bass here. I dont condone it, but it does happen.

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I'm sure your mentioning the price of your equipment was to add emphasis to your level of frustration but if not, rest assured that two thousand dollars worth of equipment won't produce more fish.

My first piece of advice is this-go where there are fish. Avoid heavily trafficked public lakes. If possible, begin with smaller private bodies of waters that aren't heavily fished. It will be easier to locate bass and get them to bite.

Second, bass love structure and cover. If you find vegitation, bass aren't far away. Look for submerged stumps and trees, weed edges, boulders, etc.

Third, use soft plastics. And fish them slowly in the areas described above.

Fourth, don't give up!

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