Catch More Fish

Tips that will fill up the spaces on your stringer.

Outdoor Life Online Editor

71. Switch Off
Suspended bass that are graphed near bait schools often won't bite, but they can indicate other active fish close by. Leave those exciting sonar signals and head to cover that's closer to shore, where bigger fish might well be on the prowl even though you can't see them on electronics.

**72. Touchy, Feely **
Though rocky shores, points and bars are favored by smallmouths and spotted bass, don't waste time methodically fishing the entire structure.

Concentrate on transition areas-places where rock sizes change drastically or where rocky areas shift to sand, shale or gravel, for example. What you see along the shoreline can provide clues to what's underwater.

When you're working a submerged point or hump, however, you'll have to learn to feel bottom change. A line with less stretch, such as a braid or fused line, will help, as will a fairly stiff rod and a decent amount of weight on your bottom rig.

73. Hit The Ditches
Though bass sometimes spawn on old submerged roadbeds in an impoundment, often it's the drainage ditches or culverts on either side of the old road that attract more fish. If your sonar shows a quick dip on either side of the bed, don't fail to fish it before moving on.

**74. Enough Anchor **
When anchoring in moving water, it might be necessary to position the boat precisely to fish an eddy or current seam. The proper weight of an anchor depends on the size of the boat. A 20-pound anchor is usually sufficient for boats up to 16 feet long, but an 18-footer requires at least a 28-pounder. As a rule, you'll need 4 feet of rope for every foot of water depth, more if the current is swift. Using more rope reduces the angle of pull, making it more likely that the flukes will catch.

**75. Bass Ackward **
Big plastic tubes and heavily salt-impregnated tentacle-tail grubs such as Yamamoto's Fat Ika are deadly rigged backward. Depending on what you rig them with, the tubes might need to have some weight stuffed into their heads. The Ika usually is heavy enough by itself. Rig it Texas-style with a wide-gap jerkbait hook, with the hook eye toward the tentacles. Drop the bait in weed pockets and let it drop; then twitch it off bottom a few times until you get a strike or decide no bass are home.

#76 Tributary Tricks
One of the best spots for steelheads is the first good holding water down-current from the junction of two tributaries. When fishing upstream in the two tributaries that have joined, look for the first holding water in the smallest fork. Even if the stream doesn't look like much, it could give you a pleasant surprise.

77. No-Sag Plastics
The tear-resistant "super plastic" baits made by CyberFlexxx are best rigged on standard offset J-hooks rather than the ultra wide-gap hooks typically used for tubes and soft jerkbaits. These lures are so soft they tend to sag or cave inward when rigged on big-gap hooks.

[pagebreak] **78. Spool Less Line **
Heavier monofilament in the 15- to 17-pound-test class tends to spring off a filled spinning reel spool when you don't want it to. Try putting less line on the spool. You won't get horizon-busting casts, but you don't need to when you're fishing tight quarters such as underneath docks or bank cover where heavier, abrasion-resistant line is needed. Alternately, try using braid or fused line of the appropriate test for your spinning outfit.

79. Anticipate Your Casts
When you work standing cover or a shoreline with crankbaits or spinnerbaits, think ahead. As you retrieve the lure, let your eyes sweep the area for such bass magnets as root wads or weed cover, a creek mouth, rocks or places where there are abrupt changes in the bottom configuration. In other words, don't just fish blindly but choose casting targets.

**. Rattles to Go **
Make up a batch of rattling tubes to use when water conditions require some sound effects to help fish find your lure. Slide a washer of about the same diameter as the inside of the tube up into the head so that the head takes on a slightly flattened configuration. The purpose of the tube's flattened forend is to cause it to glide downward rather than just fall. After the washer goes in, put a small glass rattle into the body. Seal the butt end using super glue and a piece of plastic worm.

81. Timberrr!
when fishing through dead standing timber, concentrate on trees that have fallen or whose large limbs have broken off and toppled into the water. Submerged horizontal cover amid all that vertical timber can be dynamite to fish because bass are attracted to such changes in the norm.

82. Raise a Ruckus
Dingy water or water kicked up by wind might not seem ideal for the use of topwater lures, but bass, pike and muskies will often crush surface lures under such conditions. The trick is to use the noisiest, largest surface plugs you have. Big propeller stickbaits and chuggers that spew water work well. Fish them over likely cover and structure.

Buzzbaits can be effective for covering an area faster, though fish often miss them in low-visibility conditions. When that happens, throw a topwater plug back to the spot. Fish where wind has pushed forage fish close to points or the windward side of coves.

83. Plug Patience
Years ago, surface lures were packaged with instructions telling fishermen to cast the baits to prime areas and then wait for the ripples to die away before moving the artificial. Even in this age of run-and-gun fishing, it's still good advice to pause between touchdown and retrieve. When fishing with a Zara Spook or any stickbait, let it sit as long as 20 to 30 seconds after a cast. When you do begin a walk-the-dog retrieve, start with a hard tug and hang on.

85. Stop-and-Go Fast Jigs
White jigs are especially popular among largemouth bass anglers. Many are dressed with white chicken feathers, ripple-action plastic tails or synthetic skirts, but natural bucktail at least 6 inches long might be the best material of all. To use such a jig effectively, let it reach bottom before retrieving it. Then, instead of hopping the lure along a feeding flat near a drop, speed-crank the reel five times before letting the lure settle again. Repeat. [pagebreak]

86. Nymphing 'Eyes
On Wisconsin's Lake Winnebago, walleye anglers have always keyed on mud flats that produce mayfly hatches in the spring. The same approach is successful anywhere such hatches occur. The walleye spinner rig, slightly modified, works fine. It consists of a small spinner blade on a clevis, followed by three or four faceted beads (try different colors) and then the hook. This rig rides on about 18 inches of leader, which is tied to a small barrel swivel. The 12-pound-test clear mono fishing line is passed through a cone sinker, then tied to the other end of the swivel. Fish this outfit as you would a Carolina rig. Tip the hook with a bit of night crawler. Cast and retrieve or drift-fish, keeping the rig near bottom.

87. Spooning Down South
The Arkansas rig is a ½-ounce weedless spoon with a No. 3 Hildebrandt in-line spinner ahead of it. Besides being fairly weed-free, the rig produces two distinctly beneficial actions. It normally runs fairly straight, but you can pump it through the water in a more erratic presentation. Make a similar Southern favorite by attaching a small Colorado spinner to the rear of a standard Johnson spoon.

Attach the spinner by first slipping it onto the split ring of a ball-bearing swivel. Then hook the other end of the swivel over the spoon's hook. Use a piece of plastic worm or similar keeper to position it in place. The spinner will not only spin but swing wildly during stop-go, up-down spoon movements. It's virtually weed-free.

88. Brownie Bonanzas
Most anglers know that pre-dawn, dusk and night are prime times to fish for big brown trout in rivers. The fish are also vulnerable when major insect hatches are happening and during fall spawn runs. One other period can be wonderful, too: After a heavy summer storm has raised and cooled the water as well as muddied it, try medium-size minnowbaits, in-line spinners and natural crawlers (sometimes on the spinner hooks).

89. Tapping Small Waters
Some of the best, least disturbed trout fishing is in small, mostly non-wadeable creeks. The main reasons they don't see much fishing is because brush, brambles, blowdowns and thickets make their banks accessible in very few spots and perhaps because they also have too many deep runs to wade. To fish them effectively, use a float tube with a brush anchor. (A battery jumper cable clamp works well.) Work slowly downstream, clipping yourself to shore flora occasionally so you can fish the best holes before moving on.

90. Staying Put **
Anchoring and waiting fish out can work for many species, but it's largemouths for which Southern California anglers Dan Kadota and Bob Crupi (No. 2 bass record holder) have fine-tuned a park-and-sit system. First they drop a marker buoy where they want the boat anchored (an easy perpendicular cast away from the target area). Next they circle out and around and drop a stern anchor 50 feet or so below the target area but in line with the buoy. Using their electric motor, they ease toward the buoy and pass it by another 50 feet while paying out stern anchor line. Then they lower the bow anchor. Finally they pull in the stern anchor line, moving the boat back so that it's next to the buoy and both lines are tight. The marker is brought in and they go to work, meticulously inching various lures and baits along the bottom. [pagebreak] **91. Work the Wind

When fishing through dead standing timber, concentrate on trees that have fallen or whose large limbs have broken off and toppled into the water. Submerged horizontal cover amid all that vertical timber can be dynamite to fish because bass are attracted to such changes in the norm.

92. Colorize the Bait
Though catfish feed more by scent than by sight, it doesn't hurt to add color to a bait. Soak worms in red pickled beet juice to make them more attractive to bullheads. This also toughens the worms' skins, making it harder for catfish or other nibblers to steal them off the hook.

Long-Distance Steering
If you run solo in a lightweight boat with a tiller outboard, odds are you're constantly struggling to see over the bow as the weight aft makes the boat squat. Get a tion it in place. The spinner will not only spin but swing wildly during stop-go, up-down spoon movements. It's virtually weed-free.

88. Brownie Bonanzas
Most anglers know that pre-dawn, dusk and night are prime times to fish for big brown trout in rivers. The fish are also vulnerable when major insect hatches are happening and during fall spawn runs. One other period can be wonderful, too: After a heavy summer storm has raised and cooled the water as well as muddied it, try medium-size minnowbaits, in-line spinners and natural crawlers (sometimes on the spinner hooks).

89. Tapping Small Waters
Some of the best, least disturbed trout fishing is in small, mostly non-wadeable creeks. The main reasons they don't see much fishing is because brush, brambles, blowdowns and thickets make their banks accessible in very few spots and perhaps because they also have too many deep runs to wade. To fish them effectively, use a float tube with a brush anchor. (A battery jumper cable clamp works well.) Work slowly downstream, clipping yourself to shore flora occasionally so you can fish the best holes before moving on.

90. Staying Put **
Anchoring and waiting fish out can work for many species, but it's largemouths for which Southern California anglers Dan Kadota and Bob Crupi (No. 2 bass record holder) have fine-tuned a park-and-sit system. First they drop a marker buoy where they want the boat anchored (an easy perpendicular cast away from the target area). Next they circle out and around and drop a stern anchor 50 feet or so below the target area but in line with the buoy. Using their electric motor, they ease toward the buoy and pass it by another 50 feet while paying out stern anchor line. Then they lower the bow anchor. Finally they pull in the stern anchor line, moving the boat back so that it's next to the buoy and both lines are tight. The marker is brought in and they go to work, meticulously inching various lures and baits along the bottom. [pagebreak] **91. Work the Wind

When fishing through dead standing timber, concentrate on trees that have fallen or whose large limbs have broken off and toppled into the water. Submerged horizontal cover amid all that vertical timber can be dynamite to fish because bass are attracted to such changes in the norm.

92. Colorize the Bait
Though catfish feed more by scent than by sight, it doesn't hurt to add color to a bait. Soak worms in red pickled beet juice to make them more attractive to bullheads. This also toughens the worms' skins, making it harder for catfish or other nibblers to steal them off the hook.

Long-Distance Steering
If you run solo in a lightweight boat with a tiller outboard, odds are you're constantly struggling to see over the bow as the weight aft makes the boat squat. Get a t