Tips and techniques by pro angler Lee Bailey jr

An excellent collection of fishing tips, fishing tactics, and fishing tricks for bass, by Lee Bailey Jr

 

 

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Blade Baits in Summertime

July 8, 2022 by lbailey

Blade baits in Summertime work well for largemouth bass. They may not be a super popular bait for targeting largemouth bass, but you can definitely catch some nice bass on these baits. Some anglers will wind these baits in with a steady retrieve, however, one of the best ways to fish the Binsky blade bait is to vertical jig it in the summer and fall when big largemouth bass are suspended over schools of bait fish.

Binsky Blade Bait with a big cold water largemouth

The best ways to fish the Binsky blade bait is to vertical jig it in the summer when big largemouth bass are suspended over schools of bait fish.

Fish blade baits in summertime Vertical

If you’re like most bass fishermen, you probably have a couple of blade baits you bought years ago, fished once or twice with little or no success, and tossed them in a forgotten corner of the basement. Now is the time to dust them off!

When largemouth bass move into deeper water, a blade bait can be very effective for vertical jigging. It’s not a super common way to target largemouth bass, but it works great when largemouth bass are feeding on bait fish in deeper water.

The trick to catching on blade baits in summertime is not to overwork them. An angler who is new to fishing The Binsky blades tends to fish them with big sweeps of the rod, causing the bait to jump 4 to 6 feet off the bottom. The most successful blade fishermen lift their rods just enough to feel the blade kick a couple of times. Making this adjustment will improve your Binsky blade bait success ten-fold.

The Binsky blade bait Perch color is a trigger to feed.

In lakes with alewives, use silver blades. In lakes without alewives, gold or perch-colored blades will be your best bet.

Keeping regular contact with the bottom is crucial, so when targeting deep bass, you’ll need Binsky blade baits from ½ to 1 ounce. By far the best on the market is the Binsky blade bait. In lakes with alewives, use silver blades. In lakes without alewives, gold or perch-colored blades will be your best bet.

How to fish Laydowns

June 5, 2022 by lbailey

How to fish Laydowns (cover) Taken from “Strategies For Bass” by retired Elite Series Pro Lee Bailey Jr.

A tree fallen from the bank into the aquatic world is known to bass anglers as a laydown, blowdown or simply a log, depending on how long it has been in the water. The large trunk and heavy branches of a laydown offer ample shade and cover for bass to set up an ambush zone, while the algae buildup on the decaying tree attracts baitfish into the bass’ trap.

How to fish Laydowns (cover) Taken from "Strategies For Bass" by retired Elite Series Pro Lee Bailey Jr.

How to fish Laydowns (cover) Taken from “Strategies For Bass”

Laydowns in bass fisheries across the country come in all shapes and sizes. Some still have tall tops attached that might only have a limb or two showing above the surface, but under the water is a bass haven full of thick branches. Others might be slick logs with only a few stubby boughs left.

Whether you call it a laydown, a windfall or a fallen tree, this type of bass cover is found on just about any lake or river in the country. However, since a laydown on the bank is glaringly obvious it tends to receive heavy fishing pressure. You may think that professional anglers avoid laydowns, believing them to be fished out. The reality is that many of the country’s most accomplished pros snatch countless bass from this prevalent cover.

Its fish-holding qualities make a laydown a prime target for Bassmaster Elite Series pros, no matter where they fish throughout the country…

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Lees Spring Seasonal Approach

March 31, 2022 by lbailey

Lees Spring Seasonal Approach Guide is a system I’ve adapted to help find bass on unfamiliar waters. With spring arriving in most of the northern waters and the spawn completing in the south I thought a spring time article from my book (Strategies For Bass) would be appropriate. As a retired touring pro, I fished all kinds of lakes and rivers in many regions throughout the year. Obviously, I didn’t have time to become intimately familiar with each of these venues prior to tournament competition. When you only have three practice days to unlock the secrets of a large river system, you need some guidance to help you quickly get on a viable fish catching pattern. Lees Spring Seasonal Approach provides that information, regardless of where or what part of spring I’m fishing. It helps me make educated guesses about where bass are most likely to be in all stages of spring bass migration. It’s a system that quickly eliminates unproductive water and helps me home in on areas holding the most bass.

Lees Spring Seasonal Approach Pre-spawn: (48 to 55 degrees)

Some diehard early season fishermen know to head for the waters with current. Rivers and river system lakes will most often offer you some of the best early season bass fishing (especially smallmouths) in your area. There are things that are beginning to happen on these bodies of water in the spring that trigger the fish to begin this early season feed. The water temperature and the water level in river systems are on the rise. And we can all feel the suns rays are becoming stronger and more direct. All this is leading to an increased activity level for bait and bass.

Temperatures reaching into the mid to upper 50 degree mark will begin to trigger bass activity. Few however, acknowledge the fact that river smallmouths thrive in SPRING cold water (low 40’s) and will begin the spawn ritual before the water reaches the low 50’s. As mentioned earlier, even a slight increase in temperature is all that is needed to trigger the bites in a river system. A temperature rise from 38-43 degrees is a great temperature change for an early season river basser, especially if it happens over a period of only a few days. Bass will become extremely active during the first water temperature increase they encounter after a long cold winter.

Some of my best smallmouth catches on the Connecticut River happen in the early season. “One trip in particular was with a great friend of mine Don Sanzo. We were fishing an early season tournament. The river water temperature was hovering at a whopping 46 degrees. I had found these really big smallmouths holding on a shallow ledge in some of the shallowest and fastest water in the river. We ran 40 plus miles to get to those fish through rapids and some pretty nasty ledge only 18” deep to get there. When we arrived at this ledge we preceded to catch smallmouths from 3-4 pounds. As a matter of fact we hooked up on big smallmouths on the first 12 consecutive casts”. Not only did we have a great day of fishing but we won the tournament and set a standing record for the Connecticut River. A record setting 10 fish limit of smallmouth bass that weighed in at 31.14 pounds.

Some of the greatest early season smallmouth locations are shallow ledges of shale, gravel or hard packed sand adjacent to drop-offs with scattered rocks, brush and weeds that might have survived the winter. The rocky shore adds warmth to the water and awakens food (crawfish, insects and minnows). This hard bottom also has acted as a current break for these fish to stage near all winter. One thing is for certain rock ledges and shelves stay the same for the bass through-out the winter and high water periods. It is this consistency that makes ledges and rocks the best choice in the spring.

I will usually begin my fishing on these current waters with the water temperature being as low as 42 degrees. During this real cold water I prefer to use jigs, and tubes to entice these early pre-spawn smallies. Fishing however, becomes far better as the water temperatures reaches the mid 40’s, with the action reaching phenomenal proportions when the water temperature reaches the low 50’s. The smallmouths will bunch up in the above mentioned areas; these places will give you action all day. Some of the biggest smallmouths of the year are caught during the rivers early pre-spawn period.

How do I get sponsors?

January 11, 2022 by lbailey

This is one of the most asked questions I receive when doing presentations and seminars. There is no precise answer to the question How do I get sponsors? However, there are some unwritten rules and items you should consider if sponsorships are something that you are looking to obtain.

When thinking about how to get bass fishing sponsors, many anglers hope that they will have enough money provided by sponsors that they will be able to fish full time. The truth is, only a small group of professional anglers can do that.

…”bottom line is a sponsor needs to have someone who will successfully promote and sell their product or service”.

The first and utmost concern and attitude you should have when approaching sponsors is pretty basic, yet it seems to be over looked by many new-comers to the bass fishing world. That is to ask yourself, not what the perspective sponsor can do for you, but what you will do for them. I know this sounds corny but the bottom line is a sponsor needs to have someone who will successfully promote and sell their product or service.

Most often a sponsor does not need someone who will just fish tournaments. A sponsor is looking for someone who will WIN tournaments and develop a good image and following while promoting their products and or services. Remember there are thousands of tournament fishermen. But there are only a few who can promote well.

How do I get sponsors? In the past few years I have seen these changes accelerate, as platforms like Instagram and YouTube have given anglers the ability to reach larger audiences outside of a tournament finish, television appearance, print or other traditional media outlet. It is still a requisite to win or finish high in several tournaments to gain sponsorship with a brand. In some cases, you don’t need to be a fishing expert to influence and impact sales in today’s world. Long time touring pros are seeing their contracts being cut in some cases and those funds are being re-directed to influences from social media.

To start you need to consider where in the fishing industry you want to go and where your strong points are. That is, do you want to fish tournaments professionally, do you want to be a major player in the marketing of the industry, and do you want to do this nationally or regionally. This will help the sponsor know if there is a program or area already in place internally for you.

Lees Seasonal Approach

October 17, 2021 by lbailey

Lees Seasonal Approach Guide is a system I’ve adapted to help find bass on unfamiliar waters. As a retired touring pro, I fished all kinds of lakes and rivers in many regions throughout the year. Obviously, I didn’t have time to become intimately familiar with each of these venues prior to tournament competition. When you only have three practice days to unlock the secrets of a large river system, you need some guidance to help you quickly get on a viable fish catching pattern. Lees Seasonal Approach provides that information, regardless of where or when I’m fishing. It helps me make educated guesses about where bass are most likely to be at any given time of the year. It’s a system that quickly eliminates unproductive water and helps me home in on areas holding the most bass.

“I actually begin fishing a fall pattern when the water has cooled 10 degrees below its hottest point of the summer”.

The concept operates on the theory that at any given time, the majority of bass in a given river current system will be on certain key types of structure. Of course, not all bass will adhere to this “rule.” I could probably catch some bass off flats or in shallow bays in winter if I spent long enough trying, but in a tournament, I’m better off spending my limited fishing time in high percentage areas. The Seasonal Approach gives me the general direction I need to form a fish catching pattern quickly. How well I fine-tune this generalized pattern during competition determines how high I’ll finish in the standings.

I learned early in my fishing career that bass relate to the different seasons very predictably. Once you understand that the seasons are part of the foundation to a bass’s life, you too will be able to catch them more consistently.

A very important part to consistently catching bass is to understand what role the different seasons play in the lives of the elusive bass. Having a strategy to the seasonal developments will allow you to have an understanding of seasonal movements.

Lees Seasonal Approach for Fall: 75 to 55 degrees

I actually begin fishing a fall pattern when the water has cooled 10 degrees below its hottest point of the summer, this can vary greatly from river to river. A rapid temperature drop is best, for this can really put bass on the move from deep main river structure to shallow water. Bass react to cooling water by moving shallower to big flats, long points with a gradual taper, and tributary arms.

A rapid temperature drop is best, for this can really put bass on the move from deep main river structure to shallow water.

As surely as the seasons change, the behavior and location of bass change as summer passes into fall and fall into winter. Unfortunately, the exact changes the bass makes often seems as unpredictable as the fall weather.

From a fishing standpoint, “fall” starts when summer fishing patterns start to dissolve and ends when stable, winter patterns begin. It’s a period of constant adjustment, basically because it’s a period of nearly constant change.
Simply, river systems offer the most predictable option. The key to staying in contact with bass as they move through the fall cycles is having some idea where the bass are coming from and where they are headed.

Bass are more baitfish-oriented now than in any other season. Look for large schools of shad, alewives, etc., on your graph. In most river reservoirs, cooling water causes vast numbers of shad to migrate into tributary arms, and bass are close behind. Follow this migration by fishing the first third of creek arms in early fall, then gradually pressing farther back into the tributary as the surface temperature drops. I’ll often idle my boat up a creek arm, watching my graph for suspended shad schools or looking for bait flipping on the surface. Isolated wood cover or boat docks in the backs of creek arms are dependable fall bass patterns. In lakes that don’t have shad, bass feed heavily on bluegill and shiners, both grass-oriented species, so target weedy areas.

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