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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NE Early Spring Bass Fishing

March 30, 2021 by lbailey

Let’s talk about early spring bass fishing.

NE Early Spring Bass Fishing is the time of year that every Bass fisherman who is worth his salt looks forward to. The thought of Bass that haven’t seen a lure for at least 3 months is enough to stir any of us into a frenzy.

Let me tell you that early spring has it’s advantages but it can have its own unique problems as well. Rising water temperatures can send Bass into flurries of activity that are a Bass fisherman’s dream come true. But, just as quickly, a stubborn early spring cold front can be a nightmare that puts the fish back into hibernation mode.

 The key to successful fishing during this time of year lies in using the proper lures, presenting them properly and using the weather conditions to your advantage. Paying attention to the smallest details can sometimes mean the difference between a respectable day’s catch, a great days catch and going home skunked. When starting out in the spring you can expect water temperatures to be in the low 40 degree range. Most people shiver when they even think of fishing in this kind of cold water. But the temperature should clue you in as to what type of lure is apt to give you the best results. Think small. 1/16 to 1/8 oz hair jigs by Andy’s Jigs.

NE Early Spring Bass Fishing Weather Details

The weather is always the controlling factor in early spring fishing. But its not always the enemy. Knowing what to look for in weather patterns can play a big part in being a successful early spring fisherman. Let me explain.

Sunny Days

One bright, sunny, warm spring day, as nice as it is, is not usually enough to turn the fish on unless the body of water you are fishing is extremely shallow. At least 2 or 3 days of stable weather are needed to really get things moving, although 4 or 5 days are better. Here’s why.

NE Early Spring Bass Fishing

By the end of the 3rd day the fish will begin to actually feel the rise of the water temp. At this time they will begin start to feed more aggressively and will be more responsive to any of your presentations. Most fisherman think of cloudy, overcast days as being the ideal conditions for aggressive feeding on the part of the Bass. This is only partly true.

Cloudy Days

A cloudy day , after having 2 or 3 other cloudy days isn’t worth a whole lot. A series of cool, cloudy days does nothing but drop the water temperature and put a damper on the Bass’ metabolism. The key to the cloudy day theory, especially in the early spring, is to fish the first cloudy day after a warming trend. If you have 4 or 5 warm, sunny days and then a cloudy, rainy day be sure to get out on the lake, even if it means calling into work and taking the day off. “It’ll be well worth it”.

Not only will you increase your chances of catching numbers of fish but your chances of connecting with a genuine hawg increase, in my opinion, by 25-30%. Under these conditions the hair Jig is without a doubt the best choice to throw. A sincere effort on the part of the angler will generally pay off with some good quality catches.

Keeping A Logbook (Fishing Factors™)

March 18, 2021 by lbailey

We have all had days on the water when the fish refuse to bite no matter what technique or bait we toss their way. Keeping A Logbook will help keep you from scratching your head only to bring greater discomfort, and we convince ourselves to believe that it must just be a bad day on the water. You can reverse days such as these, a feat made possible by the art of patterning fish. However, before you can pattern, you must first learn to understand and record the information you gather on each outing.

Keeping records of your fishing adventures is not only fun but also will certainly increase your catches later. If there were, one thing that I would consider as a very important Fishing Factors™ to becoming a consistent angler it would be Keeping A Logbook. I have personally kept a Fishing Log from the very beginning of my fishing experiences. You will learn many things from keeping a Fishing Log such as, behaviors of bass, weather patterns and Feeding habits, structure preferred by bass and baitfish, lures and techniques to use under similar circumstances.

Does keeping a logbook Really Help?

Basically, a fishing log is a permanent record that outlines various criteria present during the catching of a fish. These conditions could include; water clarity, wind, water and air temperature, date and time, lure or bait, retrieve speed and structure. A fishing log can include as much or as little detail as you choose, but the more information you track, the more useful it ultimately becomes.

What actually happens to you as an angler keeping a fishing log is that you will learn to be a more consistent angler from your own fishing experiences. The many hours of trial and error on the water now become a wealth of knowledge that you will be able to draw from. Remember one thing though with keeping a fishing log, you need to be as detailed as possible. I find it important that I enter my fishing details in the log the evening of my outing. If you wait, you will be amazed at how much you forget. Enter every detail you can remember. In addition, if you can, draw sketches of that little sweet spot, or specific piece of underwater structure where the big one came from.
Another neat thing about fishing logs is the complete picture that they represent. Compare how many Largemouths you caught this year to previous years. How many hours total did you fish this season? Did your average per fish go up or down? Not only can a log hold informative data, it can also hold a wealth of fun.

Jerkbait Minnow Shaped Lure

February 12, 2021 by lbailey

A jerkbait minnow shaped lure that provides a horizontal presentation. A straight retrieve makes a jerkbait swim with a shimmying action. This catches fish, but where a jerk-bait shines is on a snap-pause retrieve, which gives it an erratic, darting action that drives bass wild.

Tweak the Retrieve:

Jerkbait Minnow Shaped Lure

There’s more than one way to fish a jerkbait. Some prefer more of a sideways, rather than a downward, snapping retrieve. Mixing up your retrieve mechanics can also prevent arm fatigue. When trying different retrieves, first make a short cast and watch the lure to ensure it has a good action. Tweaking your retrieve style and cadence is also a good tactic when fishing different models, such as shallow, mid, or deep-diving jerkbaits.

Fish the Conditions:

Experiment with how fast and far you move a jerkbait minnow shaped lure, along with how long it’s paused, to match fish mood and activity level. Generally, the warmer the water, the faster the retrieve, the more aggressive the snap, and the shorter the pause. This triggers reaction strikes. Generally, it’s best to slow down in cold water. Assertive snaps can be productive, but extend the pause.

“For so long, that early springtime, cold water, suspending type presentation was when a jerkbait was considered to work the best. But I’ve figured out that anytime fish are chasing bait, whether it be bream, shad or whatever, they’re susceptible to being caught on a jerkbait.”

Winter Warm-ups:

“On the highland reservoirs like Bull Shoals and Table Rock, you’re going to have days when you can pick up a few fish in the dead of winter, but that’s generally when the sun’s out, the bait rises really high in the water column and the fish push up a little bit.”

Maternity Ward:

Bed fishing, there are too many baits of greater potential. Yet you can still force the jerkbait here. However, the right model can work wonders on hungry pre-spawners.

Dropping Back:

After the spawn, those tired and stressed out mamas will slide out to deeper recovery zones like standing timber. From Toledo Bend to any of the lakes and rivers around the country, fish chilling in treetops are suckers for a vulnerable looking jerkbait minnow shaped lure.

Jerkbait minnow shaped lure with big smallmouth bass

“I’m pausing it maybe two to five seconds, as opposed to 12 to 15 or 30 seconds (as in early spring).”
In this scenario, your biggest challenge is going to be finding which color triggers the fish.

“I’m pausing it maybe two to five seconds, as opposed to 12 to 15 or 30 seconds (as in early spring).”
In this scenario, your biggest challenge is going to be finding which color triggers the fish.

Tip:

Adding a stripe of orange or chartreuse to a bait’s belly can turn lookers into biters.

“This is especially effective on smallmouth.” “For example, Table Rock Shad (purple back with chartreuse sides) fits the bill when you’re looking for a bright bait. Sometimes they want a more subtle bait, but with a brighter belly.”

Filled to the “Bream”:

We all know that bedding pan fish mean lurking bass, but amid the prop baits, swim jigs and spinnerbaits, I suggest pausing a jerkbait all by its lonesome right in the kill zone. Matching bait models to bream bed depth is one of the keys to reaching those opportunistic bass.

Summer Hot Spot:

“It’s not that you’re trying to catch fish deep; you’re trying to catch fish that are suspended high in the water column and chasing bait,” “It almost becomes a deal where you’re looking for schoolers. Whether it’s early in the morning or later in the afternoon, and you’re keeping the bait higher in the water column.

Autumn Attack:

Keep a jerkbait handy throughout the year, and one of the most favorite opportunities occurs during the fall feeding frenzy. Targeting what I would call the “gut” of a creek, Look for bass rounding up shad over the shallow ditches and depressions that provide staging points for opportunistic bass.

My parting Tip would be to seek out windy banks when you are tossing a suspending jerkbait. A little (or a lot) of chop on the surface makes it more difficult for upward looking bass to distinguish the bait from the real thing.

Shakey Head Fishing

January 6, 2021 by lbailey

The popularity of shakey head fishing has prompted tackle manufacturers to create a wide array of jig-head sizes and styles. The key to shakey head fishing is using as light of a jig-head as possible. You must still keep the bait in contact with the bottom. A 1/16- or 1/8 ounce jig-head works best for shakey head tactics with a finesse worm. But you might have to upgrade to a 1/4 ounce head on windy days. As well as in current to prevent your line from bowing and losing the feel of the bait.

Anglers around the world have been consistently winning tournaments with it for years. It works great For those days when the bass prefer a small appetizer instead of a full course meal. Knowing how-to fish a shakey head well can improve that day’s fishing.

Shaky Head Fishing has several different presentations for all conditions

The shakey head presentation excels when certain criteria are met. Clear water is one such case. The clearer the water, the greater the chance of bass becoming extremely finicky or spooked. During these tough times, regular baits often won’t cut it.

The shakey head can be thrown to a wide variety of places. They definitely excel when tossed alongside weed-lines and clumps, rip rap and humps, beaches, docks and lay-downs. Depending on the severity of vegetation will play a part on whether to go weedless or not.

A shakey head and finesse worm, subtlety twitched and quivered on the bottom can illicit strikes. These non-takers get switched on and into biters. If you can see the fish clearly in the water below, or if you have frequent follows and short strikes, then a shakey head needs to be next out of the box.

Over the years, I’ve experimented with several different shakey head presentations. It is difficult to fish a shaky head wrong. With a few intricacies will improve your ability to catch more fish during those tough days on the water.

Drag it:

The name “shakey head” fools many anglers. Although the name implies that you should shake your arm out of socket, don’t fall into the “one-retrieve” trap. Dragging a shakey head along the bottom often yields better results.

If you don’t get a bite in the first ten casts, simply leave and continue the search elsewhere. When implementing the dragging technique, you can hit dozens of areas while making mental notes and way points on your GPS device. This allows you the opportunity to hone-in on the most productive areas. This also makes dragging a shakey head an outstanding technique to use when practicing for that big weekend tournament.

Hop it:

Although it sounds as if we’re splitting hairs with this. There is a huge difference in shaking a shakey head and hopping a shakey head. Differentiating your presentation from what the bass see every day usually leads to more bites. You will also have the opportunity at catching those bigger, more educated and conditioned fish.

When implementing this presentation, it isn’t necessary to rip the shakey head. Beginning with your rod tip at a 3 o’clock angle, twitch upward to a 1 o’clock position to trigger reaction strikes. Craw-fish aren’t Olympic high jumpers, so hopping the bait too aggressively can appear unnatural to surrounding bass.

Anglers must watch their line with this presentation. There isn’t a quicker way to lose a fish. Twitching your rod tip upwards when a bass already has your shakey head in its mouth. To combat this, be sure to let your bait fall on a semi-slack line. Do this while watching for any jump in the line. If you notice any movement whatsoever on a slack line, it is important to set the hook immediately.

Shake it:

We know it sounds fairly obvious, but shaking a shakey head along the bottom of your favorite fishery is an outstanding way to catch a lot of fish. Knowing when and where to do so will yield the best results. Let’s draw a quick parallel to human behavior for a better understanding of this presentation:

When bass are in large concentrations on ledges, in ditches or off the end of a main lake point, this presentation will catch them. When you feel bass are roaming up and down a stretch, shaking a worm in place will give the bass time to wander in and find your offering before you move it out of their feeding zone. If you’re having trouble getting bites, don’t be afraid to switch your color or weight size—sometimes the small things make a huge difference. Just remember to use small, subtle twitches of your rod tip while letting the bait do the rest of the work, as over-doing it can spook larger fish.

Swim it:

This is a presentation in which I’ve had recent success. Reel this bait across chunk rock and other hard bottom compositions, swimming a shakey head can be a deadly approach around active fish especially spotted bass.

Maintain bottom contact when swimming a shaky head. If you are unable to feel the bottom, simply changing to a heavier shakey head or a slower retrieve should help. Keeping your rod tip down and to the side will aid in the detection of bites, while also keeping you in position for a strong, sweeping hook-set. While it will take a little practice to get a good feel for the bite with this presentation, it is important to stay vigilant and observant. During the hook-set, make sure to reel until you feel the fish and sweep your rod to the side, just like a Carolina rig hook-set. If possible, avoid any slack in your line.

Shakey head fishing can be one of the most versatile techniques in an angler’s arsenal. Thinking outside the box and trying different things can lead to some really fun fishing throughout the entire year. Whether you’re dragging, hopping, shaking or swimming a shakey head, it is an extremely effective technique for anglers of all skill levels.

Fish Tidal River Currents

August 2, 2020 by lbailey

There are ways to fish and ways not to fish tidal river currents. One thing is that the only way to fish and be consistent on tide waters is to truly study and understand their effects on the fish that live in them. The tide is what for many anglers makes river currents the most difficult to learn and locating the fish even more so. One factor about tide water fishing that rarely changes is the predictability of patterns. Once you realize the significance the tide influences are on how the fish behave, locating the them will become more precise. This is the true secret to becoming a consistent tidal fisherman.

Fish tidal river currents

Understanding how to fish tidal river currents can seem tough, but when you keep focused on a few items your tidal experience will be a lot easier, and more productive. When fishing in current active fish are going to be shallow and I am after those active fish. A great location to find active bass throughout most of the tides is on a migration route. Especially if that migration route intercepts a major backwater. This could be a row of stumps or pilings, a weed line, a channel or ditch that leads from the flats or feeding shelves to the deeper or calmer water Once you find this type of water, you need only to concern yourself with what the actual tide is when you catch your fish. This will help you pinpoint fish catching locations on the river that will hold fish for you at the different stages of the tide.

Bass will be more eager to hit a lure during the moving tides while they tend to be less aggressive during the dead tide periods. You should try to fish your good cover areas during the periods 2 hours before and 2 hours after the dead tide change. At this time you will encounter aggressive fish and a moderate current pinpointing more for you where the fish should be holding. During the extremely fast moving times of the tides you can also encounter aggressive fish, but lure placement and boat positioning will be very crucial not to mention difficult.

River bass will hide in the eddies while traveling a migration route such as a typical creek leading to a backwater pond.

  • behind fallen trees
  • inside cuts
  • below the current side of points
  • under bushes (especially with an undercut bank)
  • on rocky shelves or underwater points.
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