Updated: January 31, 2011, 6:35 PM ET

Bassmaster BASSlog Blog

Insider tips for getting the most out of BASSlog

By Richie White
Professional Guide and Creator of the Insider BASSlog
Archive

Recent enhancements to the BASSlog
November 5, 2010

Richie White: Insider BASSlog
Richie White fishes 200+ days per year as a fishing guide on Lake Fork in Texas.
In order to encourage more posts, the BASSlog has gone through some recent changes. The first major change is that it has been made available to the Bassmaster.com public. So now it is available to anyone who visits Bassmaster.com. This will boost the number of posts and the diversity of users. With more users entering data from more locations, the data will become more accurate, more comprehensive and more valuable.

Since the BASSlog has been broadened to the entire Bassmaster.com public, some of the security restrictions have been lifted. Previously, you needed a BASS Insider membership and login in order to access the database. Security was on a session basis, so after 30 minutes or so, it would time out and require a new login the next time you wanted to use it. Now that it has gone public, we have moved to a "cookie" based security system. This means that your login information is stored on your local machine, and anytime you go to the website, it will automatically log you in.

 
INSIDER BASSlog

The Insider BASSlog is an exclusive online bass fishing diary and resource for planning fishing trips. Click here to get started.


The information is still secure in that it requires validation from your e-mail address before you can access your information. When you register or have the system send you your password, it will automatically send you a unique 8-character password to the e-mail address where you registered. Once you enter your credentials, it will set the cookies on your local machine and you will not have to log in again unless you change computers or clear your cookies.

Another major change makes entering data much quicker than it was previously. The drop downs are now populated with default values from previous posts. If you post on a regular basis, most of the drop downs will already have values. So, you aren't required to make changes to the selections unless something changed. The lists are intuitive and most items will either be selected already or will be near the top of the list. You no longer have to scroll through an entire list whenever you make a post. Select "Enter my data" in the BASSlog and you'll see how much easier it is.

The third main enhancement to the BASSlog is monthly/weekly reminders. Reminders will be e-mailed to BASSlog members on a monthly basis. For those who fish every week, you can choose the option to have reminders sent to you every week. This will certainly help to get more posts and have more accurate data.

Be sure to enter your data as soon as possible to ensure its accuracy. Check back soon for future articles.

Summer Fishing, Part 3
September 13, 2010

The BASSlog is just so full of information that it would be impossible to write articles that would give the greatest level of detail specific to your conditions. The information that I've shown in the last two articles is just a small portion of what you can get yourself by using the custom search option. From the custom search option, you can search lake, month, water clarity, water temperature and sky condition. With those conditions, you can see four different outputs.

 
INSIDER BASSlog

The Insider BASSlog is an exclusive online bass fishing diary and resource for planning fishing trips. Click here to get started.


The gameplan query shows what lures, depth, cover and structure you should use for each time period of the day — all based on the lake, month, water clarity, water temperature and/or sky condition you enter.

The top locations query shows the top 10 structure and depth combinations as well as the best cover for those conditions — based on your search criteria.

The top lures query shows the top lure categories for your criteria, while the specific top lures gets into the specific lures and colors for your criteria. Additionally, all those options can be shown for either quantity or quality.

Since you can query the database yourself, I'm not going to attempt to list all the options. However, I will give a sample of a more detailed query. Since most people fish different lakes, I will leave out the lake and show how you (according to the BASSlog) should fish differently in September depending on your water temperature.









As you can see from this sampling, 20 degrees makes a huge difference in the month of September. You can search the database yourself and determine how you should be fishing your local waters.

Check back often as I will be adding more articles and also some new features to the BASSlog.

Summer Fishing, Part 2
July 28, 2010

As we continue this series on summertime bass fishing, I will show Insider BASSlog statistics from bass caught from June through September. The reason I've included September stats is because it takes so long for large reservoirs to cool down in the fall that they are likely on their summer patterns well after the weather starts to cool down. In this particular article, I'm starting out with generic statistics. In the next couple of articles, I will get into more specific details such as times and locations.

The charts should be self-explanatory. The first shows a list of top lure categories for each month. This query simply ignores location and time and gives the top lure categories based solely on number of fish recorded. Notice that for each month, Texas rigged worms are at the top and crankbaits are the second best for all months except June. Weightless sinking worms take the No. 2 position in June. Spinnerbaits are also near the top after June.



As we get more specific with the lures, we can see why Texas rigged worms rank so high. There are just so many different types of Texas rigs. The Texas rigged craw worm ranks No. 1 in June and July, but is only No. 9 in August and doesn't even rank in September. The rubber skirted jig is No. 2 from July through September and No. 4 in June. Medium running crankbaits rank No. 1 in August and September, but don't rank in June or July. Texas rigs take up so many of the top spots in June and July, that there aren't many places left. The reason that crankbaits are near the top of the generic list for June and July, but not on the list for the specific lures is because there are three different categories of crankbaits (shallow, medium, deep).



Querying the database for all bass caught in each month, we get the following top structure and depths. I was actually surprised to find shallow flats as No. 1 for July and August. Those months, I catch most of my fish relatively deep. Main lake points less than 10 feet deep account for a huge percentage of bass caught in the summer. I admit I catch a good percentage of my fish there also.



Below are two more charts that provide even greater detail.

The "Top Structure & Depth" chart also includes the top cover for each. The "Top Lures" chart also shows the top 5 colors for each. These stats provide a good idea of how most fish are caught in the summertime. However, we can substantially improve our odds when we get more specific and learn the best times to use certain lures in certain locations. Check back soon for Summer Fishing, Part 3 and I will go into further detail.

Summer Fishing, Part 1
July 8, 2010

For the rest of the summer, I plan to do a series of articles dedicated to summer bass fishing. In this first article, I want to summarize what I do for summer bass fishing. In Texas, the bulk of the spawn ends during the month of May, and they get on their summer patterns around the beginning of June. I believe June is the best summer month for both day and night fishing. July is second best, while August and September are usually good for only short bursts of activity. I'll get more into the differences in summer months in future articles.

I've been guiding on Lake Fork for 20-plus years, and I've found quite a few patterns that work with consistency. When I first started guiding, I couldn't decide when to fish in the summer because there are so many summer patterns that will catch fish. However, in recent years, I've made it my niche to fish at night. In fact, I believe I'm the only full-time guide on Lake Fork that only fishes nights in the summer. Several other guides fish at night, but I believe they all fish in the day as well. Since that is my expertise, the rest of this article will focus on night fishing in the summer.

After dark, I have a very different mind set for catching fish. During the day, I'm forced to go to them; and when they quit biting, I have to find them again. However, at night, I can anchor on a spot where bass travel, and I can catch them as they come through the zone.

 
INSIDER BASSlog

The Insider BASSlog is an exclusive online bass fishing diary and resource for planning fishing trips. Click here to get started.


You may have noticed that if you don't change the sensitivity on your graph, once it gets dark you will usually find a huge majority of the pixels appearing as some sort of baitfish activity. This is because lakes come alive at night in the summer. Often you can shine your spotlight in the water and find baitfish as far as you can see. I believe the same baitfish that cling together during the day spread out all over the lake at night. Since these baitfish clutter up the graph so much, it makes it much more difficult to tell exactly what's going on under the surface. Therefore, I don't find my graph very useful for targeting individual fish. However, electronics are extremely useful for finding where you can expect them to be.

Back in the old days, I would use my electronics and some marker buoys and drop the buoys where the grass ended. I would drop the buoys 20 to 30 feet apart and I could see how the grassline would change. If the buoys went in a line, I would keep dropping them until I saw some kind of contour change. Once I found a significant contour change in the grassline, I would retrieve the other buoys and leave the three buoys that showed the contour change. I would then anchor the boat so that I could work the entire contour change and fish parallel with the grassline as much as possible.

I still fish the same type of contours at night, but now I can take advantage of current technology and save a lot of steps and time. In fact, I don't even have to go over the area to determine the contour change. I can look on one of my graphs and see a map of the lake and the structure under the boat. From that map, I can quickly find the general area, even if I've never been there. Once I get to the contour change on the map, I then look at my side imaging and find the grass. From the side imaging, I can see where the grass takes a turn and I quickly anchor the boat and start fishing. And now it gets even easier; instead of dropping an anchor, I can set my I-Pilot on my trolling motor to keep us right on the spot. This whole process takes about 3 minutes.

Once I'm anchored, I usually fish Texas rigged worms. Many other baits will work, but I catch more on Texas rigged worms at night than everything else combined.

Check back soon for Summer Fishing, Part 2.

Sight fishing for bass, part 3
June 7, 2010

I'm sure the spawn is going strong in some of the Northern states, but here in Texas the majority of the bass have finished their spawn and are already on their summer patterns. Therefore, after this article, I will pick back up on sight fishing before the next sight-fishing season.

This year, the fish didn't move up on the beds until around March 29, which is nearly a month late because of the unusually cold winter. I caught fish on beds every trip from March 29 through May 18. I'm sure there were still a few on the beds after that, but the only bass I saw after that time were hanging around bluegill beds (which was a productive pattern for me this year). I had a great spawn this year. I boated four fish over 11 pounds and 10 fish that went around 10 pounds or better. Our biggest was over 12 pounds.

Once you've found the fish, the most important part of sight fishing is bait presentation. Since the sweet spot is only about a foot in diameter, it's critical that you are able to get your bait there. In most cases, you will need to make many casts to the exact spot to get the fish excited enough to bite. If you don't hit the exact spot every time, you may not succeed.

If you get close enough to flip, you will probably be too close to catch a giant bass. You will have a better shot at catching her if you're 20 feet away. Pitching is definitely the best technique, and baitcasting reels are best for pitching. The object of pitching is to get your bait to make a straight line to the target, glide as close to the water as possible, and land with the slightest splash.

Most beginners instinctively make two common mistakes when they try to learn to pitch. The first is they start with too much line out. My rule of thumb is never to go past the reel. If you have a 7-foot rod and you have 7 feet of line out, you have too much. You would do better with 5 or 6 feet of line out.

 
INSIDER BASSlog

The Insider BASSlog is an exclusive online bass fishing diary and resource for planning fishing trips. Click here to get started.


The next common mistake is to try to do too much with the hand that holds the bait steady. Many people try to throw the bait or bend the rod with too much pressure. The only thing the other hand should do is hold the bait and release it. Do all the work with your dominant wrist. My favorite bait for sight fishing for giant bass is a Texas rigged tube with a 1/2- to 3/4-ounce weight. Not only is this an effective rig, but it is also very easy to pitch. If you are using a Texas rig, be sure to hold it by the weight. That way you are not as likely to hook yourself or put any odors on the bait.

I prefer at least a 6 1/2-foot rod that is fairly stiff, but not a complete broomstick. I use 7-foot Kistler Helium rods for sight fishing. I use heavy action with 25-pound test for the big females. I use Ambassadeur Revo baitcasting reels for pitching. There are many reels that work well for pitching and several that do not work so well. My rule of thumb is that if you can throw a light weight without backlashing, you probably have a good pitching reel. Spinning and spin cast reels are not as effective for pitching.

I recommend practicing in your home if your ceiling is high enough and your spouse will let you. I recommend setting up a coffee table or something similar with a plate or Frisbee underneath and to the back of it. Then, measure off 20 feet and set up a chair. You want to stand on the chair and pitch the bait under the coffee table and land in the plate or Frisbee.

The reason for going under the obstacle into a plate or Frisbee is twofold. For one, it helps you prepare to pitch under docks, trees, etc. The other reason is that you want to get the bait as close to the water as possible so you do not make a splash. If you are throwing into a bucket, your bait is going up. When it comes down it will make a splash.

Keep in mind that when you are pitching for real, the boat may be moving, the wind may be blowing, and you may have obstacles in your way. You need to keep practicing until you can consistently hit your target at 20 feet. You will need to do it many times in a row to be successful at sight fishing for giants.

If there's nothing but water behind the bed, you want to take advantage of the situation and pitch the bait past the bed. The bed itself will usually be swept clean, but there will likely be vegetation around the bed. So, it is important to bring the bait into the bed and back out of the bed without touching the bottom anywhere but the bed.

To see how to do this, click here and then click on the "On The Lake" menu. Then click on "Pitching Well Past the Bed" under the presentation submenu.

Sight fishing for bass, part 2
May 11, 2010

Water temperature is the key factor that determines when bass will move up in the shallows to spawn. The overwhelming majority of fish that I catch from the beds have come from water temperatures in the 60s. However, surface temperatures alone can be very misleading.

In the early spring, when the main lake is in the low 50s, we can have a warm sunny day that brings the surface temperatures into the mid 60s in the backs of shallow coves. Then, as soon as the sun goes down, the water temperatures quickly go back down into the 50s.

I consider that an artificial temperature. Morning temperatures are a much better indicator of when you can expect to find fish on the beds in the early spring. Once the morning temperatures get above 60, there should be some bedding bass.

After they get some eggs on the bed, they are more likely to stick around — even if the water temperatures fall. I've caught bedding bass in water as cold as 52 degrees. But the day before the snowstorm that brought the temperatures down, they were in the mid 60s and the fish just moved up.

Besides water temperature, another indicator is the dogwood trees. When you start seeing white blooms, there will most likely be some early spawners. They will only be in a select few areas, and the prespawn pattern is usually more productive, but I often choose to sight fish even though it may not be the best pattern.

 
INSIDER BASSlog

The Insider BASSlog is an exclusive online bass fishing diary and resource for planning fishing trips. Click here to get started.


Since most bedding bass will be in 60- to 70-degree water, I queried the BASSlog for fish caught in the spring with water temperatures in the 60s. There were more fish caught on shallow flats than all other structures combined. That tells me that most fish caught in the spring were in the shallows to spawn.

There isn't any mechanism in the BASSlog to tell which fish were caught by sight fishing and which were caught casting blindly. But it can be assumed that most fish caught on certain baits were caught by sight fishing.

My best baits for big fish are Texas rigged tubes, lizards and jigs. For medium-sized fish (2 to 5 pounds), I prefer lizards, craws, straight-tailed worms and caterpillar type baits on a Texas rig. I rarely fish for smaller fish, but when I do, I match tactics to the circumstance.

As for colors, there are two colors you can see easily in the water: bubble gum (pink) and white. Sometimes bright chartreuse will stand out, but pink and white are usually more visible. If you are on a shallow enough bed, it is fun to watch the fish take the bait. So those bright colors can be fun. And there are times when it doesn't matter what you throw. In fact, I once found a 5-pounder that was so dedicated to the bed that I jokingly told my client I could catch her on a cigarette butt. He handed me a butt and told me to prove it. It took several attempts, but I got her in the boat before the filter turned to mush.

I find fish like that quite often, but in most cases, it does make a difference what baits and colors you throw. In my experience, bubble gum and white are fun, but not the most effective colors. Natural colors (like green pumpkin, watermelon and black) are usually more effective at getting bites.

If you're a beginner, you may want to use the bright colors to see what your bait is doing. Once you get the hang of it, you can switch to natural colors and get the fish to bite quicker.

I'll get into more detail later, but the main idea is to find beds with fish on them and work a bait into the nest as if it's attacking the eggs. The fish will bite as a defensive response. To see a picture of a spawning bed, click here.

To see what the eggs look like up close, click here.

It is very uncommon to see eggs this close. Normally, they are much deeper and not visible to the naked eye. These fish spawned on some shallow weeds and it looks like they floated higher and/or the water dropped soon after the female laid the eggs. These eggs are in only a few inches of water. Both fish were present when I took these pictures, but I got so close to the bed that they spooked away for a few minutes.

Check back in two weeks, and I'll have part 3 of "Sight fishing for bass."

Sight fishing for bass, part 1
April 22, 2010

Richie White: Insider BASSlog
Richie White shows off a 12-pound lunker caught off a bed in Lake Fork this week.
In my opinion, there's nothing better than seeing a giant bass in the water and working her up to the point of attacking a lure. Yes, I'm talking about sight fishing. I've been sight fishing for spawning bass on Lake Fork, Texas, for more than 20 years, and I still love it. When I first started sight fishing, I was one of the very few fishermen doing it. Since that time, tournament pros have popularized it by bringing huge weights of bass to the scales. Now, it's at least a part of most every serious angler's strategy.

I fish for bedding bass on Lake Fork from late February through May. Before then, I catch the spawn on the power plant lakes as early as November. So, I have about a six-month season where I can catch fish from the beds. In my 20-plus years, I've developed such a reputation for sight fishing that I usually get booked up for the spring more than a year in advance and even have a waiting list if there are any cancellations.

In those 20-plus years, I've gained the experience to write the book on sight fishing. Over the past year, I've done just that. I put together an online e-book devoted exclusively to sight fishing for bass. In the next few articles, I plan to discuss some of the topics and features listed in the book. Go to www.bassfishing.org/spawnbook for complete details.

You may wonder what sight fishing for bass has to do with the Insider BASSlog. Well, if you fish during the spring, you are very likely bed fishing. You may not be able to see the fish, but odds are that many of the fish you catch are there because they are spawning. Even if you don't like the idea of sight fishing, if you can understand how to catch them by sight fishing, you can better visualize what may be going on in the shallows where you don't see them. Additionally, understanding likely bedding areas will help you to be in the right places to find the biggest bass in the lake.

 
INSIDER BASSlog

The Insider BASSlog is an exclusive online bass fishing diary and resource for planning fishing trips. Click here to get started.


Bedding bass can be extremely easy or impossible to catch. I believe with the correct understanding, most of them can be figured out. In fact, in the past two weeks I've seen nine bass between 9 1/2 and 12 pounds. Out of those nine fish, I managed to get pictures of my clients holding seven of them. This has already been an awesome spawn, and we still have another month or so to go in Texas. Those of you in Northern lakes have the majority of the spawn to look forward to.

Sight fishing for spawning bass always has been, and probably always will be, a controversial topic. There have been anglers opposing it ever since bass fishing became popular. After all, it doesn't seem quite fair to see a fish and prey on its weakness. But isn't that what fishing is about in general — fooling the fish so you can get them in your boat?

There is good reason for the controversy. It logically follows that if you take the fish off of the beds, they will not be able to protect the young and those fish will not even make it to be fingerlings, much less survive to adulthood. However, most serious bass fishermen release the fish, so the main issue is the effect it has on the fishery when fish are caught off the beds and then released. Studies have shown that catch and release during the spawn does not harm the fishery.

According to an article on Bassmaster.com, "In Southern states, fishery biologists have not detected a negative effect on fish populations where bed fishing is practiced. Only a tiny fraction of bass fry grow to maturity in ideal situations, and forage and water quality are limiting factors, not fishing pressure." In other words, while the controversy is likely to rage on, there are no proven negative effects on the fish or fishing because of sight fishing.

As you probably already know, the bass spawn is the process of the female putting eggs into a nest (often called a bed) while the male fertilizes and protects them. This process is very similar to what we see when birds build nests and lay the eggs. Bass will clear out a spot on the bottom of the lake and create an indentation in it to deposit the eggs. Then the bass will stay close to the eggs to guard them from predators. When the water is clear enough to see the fish, bass fishermen are able to take advantage of those protective instincts and catch bass that are not biting out of hunger. This is the basic premise of sight fishing for bass.

The eggs are usually too small to see with the human eye, but they can sometimes be seen when the water is clear enough. The ideal depth for spawning bass is around 3 to 4 feet, but they can spawn much shallower or as deep as 20 feet. The bed will usually contrast with the bottom. If the bottom is very light, there will often be a dark bed. Likewise, if the bottom is dark, the bed will be light.

Check back in two weeks and I'll have part 2 of "Sight fishing for bass."

The Insider BASSlog, part 3
March 30, 2010

If you haven't read parts 1 and 2 of this series, now is a good time to go back and get caught up.

The first two installments dealt with getting data into the database. This blog is about getting useful information out of the database. The first thing I want to mention is the fishing report.

When you click on the fishing report, you get a list of lakes that have posts from the past several days. If you click on your lake, it returns the top baits for each time period based on number of fish caught. For each time period, it will tell you the lure color, size and other miscellaneous details along with the best cover and structure that has been most productive over the past few days.

Any serious bass fisherman knows that fish constantly change patterns throughout the day. For instance, on most of the lakes that I fish, the topwater bite is good from first light to sunup. Then, about the time the sun shows itself, that bite shuts down. Some of those fish are still around, but with the visibility of the sun, the topwater bite isn't as effective. So you need to either switch to a different bait or go to a different location.

This is where the collaborative efforts of multiple fishermen are useful. The lure, structure and cover with the most fish recorded for each period will be the recommendations. The default is by quantity, but you can also choose to query by quality fish. This will do the same thing, only the average weight per fish is used to determine the bait, structure, and cover for each period.

 
INSIDER BASSlog

The Insider BASSlog is an exclusive online bass fishing diary and resource for planning fishing trips. Click here to get started.


The fishing report can be very useful because it shows what worked recently. However, fishing reports always tell what it was like yesterday and not what it will be tomorrow. I regularly do fishing reports for Lake Fork and, since I prefer to be fishing when it's good, I usually do my reports when it slows back down. Fortunately, bass are pattern-oriented so what worked last year under the same conditions will likely work this year.

The custom search option is another extremely useful feature. From the custom search option you can search any combination of five different variables (lake, month, water clarity, water temperature and sky condition). That may not seem like much, but that's a lot of useful permutations.

This year we've had such a cold winter that most lakes are about a month behind the usual patterns. Normally, I see bass swimming around the shallows around the end of February. This year, it's closer to the end of March.

Let's say I plan to fish on April 15. I know that the water temperatures are usually around the 66- to 70-degree range, but I expect it to be one range (5 degrees) lower this year. I could query on "April" and "61 to 65 degrees" and get results from previous years that are well behind normal, or I could query on "March" and "61 to 65 degrees." When I query "Lake Fork," "March" and "61 to 65 degrees," it returns the following game plan:

When I query "Lake Fork," "April" and "61 to 65 degrees," it returns the following game plan:

From these results, you can get a game plan as a good starting place for your trip. From the same page, you can choose three other types of queries, and for all four queries you can choose either quantity or quality. So there are eight different query results for the variables we entered.

The "top locations" query for the previous variables would return the following results:

The "top lures" query would return these results:

The "top lures (specific)" query would return these results:

The last query can be especially useful when you plan your trip because you'll see what lures and colors are known to be effective on that lake. You can print the results and go to your tackle shop and stock up beforehand. All the previous queries were based on quantity. If you ran the same queries based on quality, you would get entirely different results. As any serious angler knows, you sometimes must sacrifice quantity for quality fish.

The same queries can be run from your own posts. Everything is exactly the same, except the options only show data from your own records. You can also see a list of your posts exactly as you posted them. Additionally, you can see your statistics, which will show how many fish and the average weight for each lure. It will also show the number and average fish for each month.

Additionally, you can see sun and moon information. For each date, you can see safe light, sunrise, sun overhead, sunset, moonrise, moon overhead, moonset, and moon illumination percentage. You can also see results from professional tournaments over a series of years.

Of course, databases are only as good as the data that's in them. You won't get the most out of it unless you record your posts. In order to have accurate information, the BASSlog only allows you to record your information up to seven days from the time you catch your fish. Try to get in a habit of recording your catch as soon as you get back from your trip.

The Insider BASSlog, Part 2
Feb. 23, 2010

If you haven't read Part 1 of this series, please read it first as this is a continuation of it.

The beauty of the Insider BASSlog is that you can enter all the details of your catch without typing anything. Everything is a selection from a finite list. Once you're in the BASSlog, you click "Enter my data" and you will be taken to a screen that allows you to choose the date, the lake, and the lure type. Then, you click the next button and it allows you to select the details of your lure. Then, you select the details of your catch. Below are the details that you would see if you were in the BASSlog. Once you click the "go" button, your catch is recorded.

Notice that it also asks you for the number of bass and the average weight. We all know that it is normal to go for hours without a bite, then catch several bass on the same bait under the same conditions at almost the same time. In this case, you can lump several fish together in one post. So you can record a limit of bass in less than a minute.

One thing that I believe many first-time BASSlog users fail to notice is that the BASSlog remembers your post, so you don't have to enter all the conditions for every post. Once you make a post, your first two options will remember your selections for your next post. The first is "Same Lake and Date - Same Lure." You choose this option if you catch fish on the same bait, but other factors change. For instance, you may catch several fish on the same topwater lure between first light and 9:00 a.m. Once you post your details for the fish caught from first light to sunup, it takes you back to the details screen (above) and your previous selections are highlighted. So you only need to change the time of day and enter the number and average size of fish caught during the sunup to 9:00 a.m. period.

 
INSIDER BASSlog

The Insider BASSlog is an exclusive online bass fishing diary and resource for planning fishing trips. Click here to get started.


The next option is "Same Lake and Date - Different Lure." If you choose this option, it will take you back to the lure details screen and allow you to add those details. Once you select your lure details, it will take you back to the details screen with all the information from the previous posts highlighted (except number of bass and average weight). So, you only need to click on things that changed from the last post. In many cases, they will be the same. Last time I mentioned that when you select a lure type, it goes to the database and returns the details for that particular bait. I put together a list of what details go with each lure type. Click here to see the list.

Once you're familiar with it, you should be able to record your entire catch in less than 5 minutes. There are only two exceptions to the finite lists. If your lake is not on the list or your lure color isn't listed, you have the option to add them to the list. Other than that, it's all point and click — no typing involved. Next time, I'll discuss the reports and how to take advantage of the information. Click here to enter your fish.

The Insider BASSlog, Part 1
Jan. 19, 2010

Now that we're in the cold season and most fishermen are indoors, I thought this would be a good time to talk about the inner workings of the Insider BASSlog. I believe if you have a better idea of how the BASSlog works, you will be more likely to take advantage of its capabilities. To set the stage, I want to mention how it (and I) evolved to where we are today. I think you will find my story interesting.

At the age of 24 (1990), I moved to the Lake Fork area to pursue a fishing guide career. I had an old worn-out 14-foot flat-bottom boat with a 6-horse motor and only a 2-gallon gas tank. It was a lot like something Harry 'N' Charlie would fish out of. It wasn't much to look at, but it put me on the fish, and I had it customized perfectly for bass fishing. I was broke and could only take out one client at a time, but I was pursuing my dream and had the perfect boat to put in my hours on the water on a low budget. I managed to fish 200+ days a year, even though I rarely had a paying trip. After all, who's gonna pay to fish out of a leaky johnboat with an inexperienced 24-year-old guide? I was so broke, I would sometimes sleep in my boat to save the two gallons of gas it took to go home and back to the lake.

With no money or credit, I decided to seek financial aid to go to college while pursuing my dream. To my surprise, I qualified for government grants (free money) that covered my books and tuition. I also qualified for school loans and I signed for every dollar they would give me. As soon as I got my first school loan check, I immediately spent the entire amount on a 20-year-old Ranger bass boat. I knew that was irresponsible and I would never recommend it, but I only had to justify it to myself. I was then able to take out two clients at a time and charge the going rate for a guide.

 
INSIDER BASSlog

The Insider BASSlog is an exclusive online bass fishing diary and resource for planning fishing trips. Click here to get started.


By the time I graduated, I had accumulated quite a debt in school loans. Only by this time, rather than having the loan checks as an extra income, I was expected to pay them back. I did start booking a lot more trips and even won a couple of good tournaments, but it was very unlikely that I could support my fishing habit, much less pay back my school loans on my fishing income alone. So I had to consider getting a real job.

About the time I graduated from college (1994), I was issued a credit card with a $1,000 limit. I quickly maxed it out and purchased my first computer. The first day I had the computer, I put together a database for my fish. I went through my photo album of Polaroids and entered all the fish from my catches. Knowing that bass are pattern-oriented, I wanted to record every fish I caught — not just the big ones. So, I started carrying a notepad with me on the boat. When we caught a fish, I would record the time, water conditions, sky conditions, cover, structure, etc. Then, when I got home I would transfer it to my database. I learned more about databases from my fishing records than I ever did in college. In fact, I became so proficient with databases that it got me in the door to my first real job out of college — with Microsoft Corporation.

(A side note for the computer geek: My first computer had Windows 3.1, 4 megabytes of ram, and a whopping 75-mb hard drive. Microsoft Office Professional took 31 floppy diskettes [remember those things?] to install and wouldn't even run on my 4-mb machine. Since I only had one memory slot on my PC, I had to remove my 4-mb chip and replace it with an 8-mb chip (that cost me $200) just to run Microsoft Access. I eventually upgraded that computer to a 250-mb hard drive, 2400 baud modem, Windows 95, and a single speed CD ROM before retiring it. Compare that to today's technology.)

I realize that's probably too much information, but the moral of my story is that I went to college because the loans supported my fishing habit. Then, my desire to improve my fishing with statistics on my catches led me to database work. My database experience led to 6 years of corporate database work, which eventually led to the skills necessary to create the BASSlog.

In my six years of corporate database work, I made enough money to pay off my school loans, get a house, start a family, and pay cash for a nice new boat. The timing couldn't have been better for me. Lake Fork was going through a virus and most of the guides (including me) were fishing other lakes. While at the same time, corporations were paying big bucks for Web site and database work.

About the time of 9/11, the IT market became flooded; it was the perfect time for me to get back into guiding full-time. By this time, the Internet was big and I was able to take advantage of my Web site and database experience to showcase my pictures and advertise my guide service. I learned how to optimize search engines so well that you could go to most any search engines and type phrases like "big bass pictures" or "Lake Fork fishing guide" and my site (bassfishing.org) would come up first. So, it didn't take me long to start booking 200+ days a year as a full-time guide.

The reason for bringing all this up is that a database as complex as the Insider BASSlog requires a database professional as well as an experienced fisherman. But most bass fishermen don't know databases and most database programmers don't know bass fishing. Before I put together the BASSlog, I had seen other attempts at a community database. But they were made by fishermen — not database programmers. So, the end result was more like a spreadsheet or a word processing document than a database. Those programs didn't have correct structure to make useful queries. However, I just happened to be blessed with both database experience and fishing experience. I knew what it needed to do and had the ability to make it happen. In this article and future articles, I will do my best to explain how the BASSlog works and what sets it apart from other attempts at a community database.

An interesting thing I've noticed about bass fishing lures is that there is a relatively finite number of designs that all lures fall into. There are thousands of manufacturers and variations, but they can all fit into certain categories. Consider soft jerkbaits for example. You may refer to them by their manufacturer names (Slug-O, Chatterbait, Fluke, Bass Assassin, etc.), but they all fall in the soft jerkbait category. So, not including brand names in the BASSlog made it possible to have an exhaustive list. Occasionally, a new bait will hit the market (like the swimming blade jig) that requires a new category. But that's the exception, not the rule. Most likely, every lure you have ever used will fall into one of these general and more specific finite categories. Click here to view the full list of categories.

The main challenge of getting the BASSlog setup was the fact that lures in each category have different details. For instance, spinnerbaits have blade type, blade color, skirt color and weight, whereas a Texas rig worm has weight type, weight size, plastic worm type, and plastic worm color. You couldn't just have an unrelated series of list boxes or you would end up with unrealistic possibilities like a blade type for a plastic worm. The BASSlog is set up in a way that gives each lure category its own detail choices. After you select a lure category, it goes to the database and brings back only those details that correspond to your chosen category.

All baits have a size, but they aren't all measured the same way. We measure some baits (like hard jerkbaits) by inches, others (like lipless crankbaits) by ounces, and others (like soft jerkbaits) we simply call small, medium, or large. So, it was necessary to give each lure category its own set of size details. Color is very similar. Even though all lures have a color, a generic list of colors wouldn't work. Soft plastics, for example, have a different set of colors than hard plastic or metal baits. Consider the color chrome. It's not uncommon for hard plastics or spoons, but have you ever used a chrome soft plastic? Likewise, firetiger is a popular crankbait color, but where else do you see that color? This is why in the BASSlog, each subcategory has its own set of size and color options. Another reason to give each subcategory its own color list is to minimize the size of the list. If we listed every possible soft plastic color in the list for each bait, there would be a ton of colors that didn't get chosen. Even soft plastics have different color lists depending on their subcategory. I find it interesting that most fishermen use different colors for floating plastic worms or soft jerkbaits than they would for Texas or Carolina rigs, even though the soft plastic is the same. So, I found it beneficial to give every subcategory its own choice of colors. Doing so helps to minimize scrolling through color lists, making it much quicker to log your fish.

The BASSlog is designed to be a quick and accurate way to enter all the details of your catch and be able to learn from your own records as well as the help of others. Be sure to check back often. In the next couple of articles, I plan to explain all the details and features of the BASSlog.

Carolina rigs, part 2
Dec. 10, 2009

I've always thought of a Carolina rig as a numbers bait and not necessarily a bait for quality fish. From my extensive experience watching bass on the beds, I've noticed that bigger bass can suck a bait off the bottom easier than smaller fish. I've always thought a Carolina rig is better suited than a Texas rig for catching numbers because it keeps the bait elevated and makes it an easier target for the smaller fish; and my statistics in the Insider BASSlog definitely reflect that mindset. My average fish caught on Carolina rigs is 1.93 pounds, while my average on Texas rig baits is 3.90. So the fish I catch on Texas rigs are twice as big as those on the Carolina rigs.

But that isn't the case for the majority of fishermen. I was actually quite surprised to see that the average bass caught on a Carolina rig was almost the same as that caught on a Texas rig for the rest of the BASSlog users. The average on Carolina rigs is 2.37 pounds compared to 2.48 pounds on Texas rigs.

I'm certain the difference between me and the masses has to do with my mindset of Carolina rigs being a numbers bait. Rarely do I throw big baits on a Carolina rig. In fact, I almost always use a 1/0 or a 2/0 hook on a Carolina rig but I hardly ever use that small of a hook on a Texas rig.

After seeing the stats from the majority of BASSlog users, I probably should change my mindset. I'm sure if I threw bigger baits on a Carolina rig, I could shorten the gap between the two. But the truth is — when I fish a Carolina rig, it's usually so I can get a smaller bait where the fish are without requiring them to have to suck it off the bottom. After all, my average fish on a Texas rig is 3.90 pounds and bigger baits are relatively easy to throw on a Texas rig. So it's hard for me not to throw the Texas rig whenever possible.

The Carolina rig does have some definite advantages over the Texas rig. As I mentioned, it makes the bait accessible to more fish by keeping the bait elevated. But it has other benefits. Most importantly, it allows you to work a bait better in deep water. Since the weight is apart from the bait, you can use a heavy weight and the fish won't feel it when it takes the lure in its mouth. With a heavy weight, you can get it to the bottom quickly and cover much more water than you can with the Texas rig. The heavy weight also allows you to feel the structure and get a good idea of what's down there. Also, with the Carolina rig, the fish can pick up the bait without feeling the rod making them more likely to hang on longer than they would a Texas rig.

 
INSIDER BASSlog

The Insider BASSlog is an exclusive online bass fishing diary and resource for planning fishing trips. Click here to get started.


According to the BASSlog data, the best bait for numbers on the Carolina rig is the straight-tailed worm, followed by lizards, small finesse worms, creatures, and small ring fries. All of those baits have an average of 2 to 3 pounds. When I queried the database for bigger fish caught on Carolina rigs, appendages seem to make the difference. The overwhelming majority of fish were caught on creature baits and lizards.

Six to 10 feet is the best depth for bigger fish caught on Carolina rigs. Although all other depths up to 25 feet have good numbers recorded. Best structure for the bigger fish is near a drop or on a dropoff. Main lake points and humps have a lot of fish recorded, as well. A large percentage of bigger fish were caught where no obvious cover was present. The best cover is grass where available, followed by wood cover. I was surprised to see that there was considerably more big fish caught in the morning than the afternoon. Sunup to 9 a.m. was the best period, followed by the 9 a.m. to Noon period. The best water temperature was 81-85 degrees, followed by 86-90, 76-80, 51-55, and 66-70 degrees respectively. Late summer to early fall is by far the best time for bigger fish caught on the Carolina rigs.

As I mentioned before, I mainly use Carolina rigs as a numbers bait. So I'm not the authority on them but I'll share the experience I do have with you. Carolina rigs are a favorite among many of the guides on Lake Fork. They are great for covering water and don't require a lot of experience, making them a great choice for beginner anglers. In fact, fishermen with a lot of Texas rig experience tend to lose a lot of fish because they set the hook too fast. The Carolina rig takes some un-learning.

With a Texas rig, I like to drop the rod and set the hook as soon as possible. But with the Carolina rig, I believe I have more time. I reel in the slack as I point towards the fish, then I sweep the rod the opposite direction with force instead of speed. If I'm using a Texas rig, I tend to go straight up on the hook set. But with the Carolina rig, I usually set the hook more sideways than overhead.

I prefer a 1/2- to 3/4-ounce weight if the water depth is over 15 feet. I like to use what I call "cheater rigs". These have the weights and beads inside a wire. They are a little faster to rig, but that's not the main reason I like them. Sometimes, when you cast a typical Carolina rig, the weight can separate from the rest of the rig. Then you can have a 3-foot leader and the free sliding weight ends up being 15 feet away from the bait when it hits the water. With the cheater rigs, that can't happen. The weight can only be the length of the leader away from the hook. Another reason I like those rigs is that the bead doesn't hit the knot. Since it is inside the wire, it hits metal instead. So the bead won't weaken the line.

I like to use 20-pound test as my main line with a 15-pound leader. That way, if the hook gets hung, I don't usually lose the entire rig. If you use polymer knots, it makes a difference what order you tie the rig. If you tie the swivel to your main line first, then when you tie the leader to the other end of the swivel, you would have to run the entire rod and reel through the opening in the knot for a true polymer. To avoid that problem, I tie the leader line to the cheater rig (or swivel) first. Then I tie the rig (with the leader attached) to the main line. Next, I tie the hook to the leader. If I'm using a tiny bait like a finesse worm or French fry, I like to use a super sharp 1/0 hook. The smaller hook gives the bait better action than a bigger hook will.

I like to keep the weight on the bottom as much as possible. If I don't find any cover, I normally work the bait relatively fast while keeping it near the bottom. When I feel it going over a tree, I try to let it drop straight down on the other side. When I catch fish, I work the area thoroughly and usually catch several other fish.

When I'm in water less than 10 feet, I occasionally fish a split shot rig. I'll attach a small bite-on weight a couple of feet from the bait. I normally use a finesse worm with this approach. I consider it a lightweight Carolina rig because it's the same principle. The split shot helps get the lightweight bait out, especially on a baitcast reel. It also helps the bait to fall without getting blown around too much by the wind. The stronger the wind, the heavier the split shot weight I'll use. Chances are, if I'm throwing this rig, the fishing is probably tough. But it will often catch fish when others fail.

In a nutshell, that's my experience with the Carolina rig. I hope it can help you with your Carolina rig fishing.

Carolina rigs, part 1
Nov. 16, 2009

The Insider BASSlog has a wealth of information on bass caught on each lure. For this series, I will cover Carolina rigs. The chart below will give you a good idea of the best baits, color, weight size, leader length, water temp, water clarity, cover, and structure for Carolina rigs at each depth. This chart is listed entirely by numbers of fish caught.

As you can see from the chart, good numbers of fish are recorded on quite a variety of different baits. Lizards and creatures seem to be best in mid-range depths, while straight tailed worms are best in shallow water. In deep water, small ring fries have the most fish recorded, followed by small creature baits and soft jerkbaits. Best colors at all depths are watermelon and green pumpkin. 3/4 oz weight is the most popular in all depths except very shallow. For obvious reasons, smaller weights are better when the water depth is less than 5 ft.

In deep water, a 3 foot leader is best for the Carolina rig. In other depths, a 2 foot leader is best. The best water temps for Carolina rigs are in the 70s and 80s. Temperatures vary considerably from one depth to the next. See the chart for specifics. Two to three foot visibility is the most popular water clarity for most depths. The exception is deeper water, where clear water is best.

The best structures are shallow flats, points, creek channels, humps, and road beds. Best cover is submerged vegetation (where available), with wood cover being second. Good numbers of fish are also recorded in places with no obvious cover. The average weight is slightly bigger in deeper water than shallow water. The average is 2.28 pounds in shallow water, while 2.61 is the average in deep water.

In the next blog, I will discuss Carolina rigs for bigger fish. Check back soon.

Moon phases and bass fishing, Conclusion
Oct. 22, 2009
If you haven't read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 or Part 5, read them first.

For the final article of this series, we will look at when giant bass have been caught in relation to the moon phases. It would be nice if I had the top 50 bass from every state in a database, but I don't have that information. What I do have in my database is the top 10 bass of all time, the Texas top 50, and my personal top 50 bass. I realize I've gone chart crazy in this series, but I don't think there's a better way to get a good look at the data. I believe the charts are self-explanatory. I took the 3 stats separately and put them in their moon phase category. See charts below.



The top 50 bass recorded in the world are all over 20 pounds. The Texas top 50 are all over 15 pounds. My personal top 50 bass are all over 10 pounds. By most people's standards, these are all giants. The patterns are pretty inconsistent, but there does seem to be a trend that goes up as the moon gets fuller and down when the moons get smaller. The charts are very easy to figure the average for each phase because there are 10 phases total. That makes an average of one fish on the top 10 bass in the world and five for the top 50 charts. That may help you see which phases are above and below average for each graph.

 
INSIDER BASSlog

The Insider BASSlog is an exclusive online bass fishing diary and resource for planning fishing trips. Click here to get started.


The 3/4 waxing moon is the only period with more than one fish (3 fish) recorded for the top 10 bass in the world. The other periods all have one fish or less. For that period (3/4 waxing), the Texas top 50 and my own personal stats show to be better than average. However, for almost every period, the stats from one chart will contradict the others. There are only four other periods that show any kind of consistency — and they are all average to below average. None of the periods have less than average recordings for all three databases. But the first three waxing periods are average or less and the half moon waning is less than average to average. Ten of my top 50 fish were caught on the new moon waning, which is twice the average. However, the Texas top 50 only has two fish recorded for the new moon waning.

I've learned a lot about moon phases and bass fishing in my research for these articles. I hope you have benefitted as well. We've really covered a lot of material. Let's recap what we've learned. In this post, we found that for giants, the best period of all is the 3/4 waxing moon. Both sides of the full moon are better than average based on most of the stats. The half moons aren't as good. Additionally, the new moons are not quite as good as the full moons, but they do seem to be better than the half moons.

In previous posts, we found that catches are quite different depending on the season and time of day. In the summer, the full moon seems to be the best period at night, but one of the worst times for day fishing. For fish over 5 pounds, the full moon seems to be best in the fall according to the Insider BASSlog, but not for the other seasons. From my own logs of fish over 7 pounds, the 3/4 waning moon is my best period. The only exception to this is the fall season.

We also broke the catches from the Insider BASSlog down into season and time of day. We didn't see any substantial trends. But, it does show that some periods are better than others and that differs based on the season.

We also looked at moon phase terminology and the phases of the moon both from the earth's perspective and by what is actually happening. We learned that you can tell the future phases by the term DOC. We learned that while some may be slightly better than others, there isn't really a super bad moon phase. You can catch both good numbers and quality fish on any phase. We also learned that the more data we have, the more accurate and consistent our trends will be.

We didn't get into solar/lunar tables because after breaking down all the data into seasons and times of day, there wasn't quite enough data to get an accurate sampling. You can help make that possible in future articles by posting your stats in the Insider BASSlog. I hope you benefitted from this series.

Moon phases and bass fishing, part 5
Sept. 8, 2009

If you haven't read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 or Part 4, read them first.

Just looking at the moon from the earth, it would be almost impossible to figure out what is truly happening with the moon. It appears that the moon is orbiting around the earth about once a day. However, science has proven that the moon does orbit the earth — but it is about once a month rather than once a day.

Here's what is actually happening:

The moon goes around the earth approximately one time every 29 1/2 days. The moon always shows the same side toward the earth, so we never see the side facing away from us. The moon itself does not have any light. Its light is reflected from the sun. The sun always shines on the moon and half of it is always illuminated. What we see depends on where the moon is in relation to us and the sun. When the moon is directly between earth and the sun, it is considered the new (dark) moon. During this phase, the sun shines its light on the part of the moon we can't see, so we don't see any illumination. As the moon goes further around the earth, the sun shines its light on more of the moon that we can see. When the moon moves half way around the earth, the earth is between the sun and moon. This is when the half that we see is totally illuminated, thus the full moon.

I put together an image below to illustrate what is happening. This is just to illustrate the illumination, so try to ignore the fact that the proportions are incorrect. The outside moon images are there to show where the sun shines on the moon depending on where the moon is in its phase. The inside images show what we would see from the earth. This should make it clear what is actually happening. When the moon is between the sun and the earth (right moons), we see the new moon — and we see it (what little there is) only during the day. When the moon is even with the earth on the 1/2 moon waxing (top moons), the same part of the moon is illuminated, but we see the part that faces the sun. So, it makes the shape similar to a "D." As the moon continues to orbit the earth, the earth gets between the sun and the moon (left moons). That is when we have a full moon — and we see it all night long. This is because the moon is totally opposite the sun from the perspective of the earth, hidden from us during the day. It makes the "O" shape. Then, as the moon continues to orbit the earth, it gets even with the earth on the 1/2 moon waning (bottom moons). Again, the same part of the moon is illuminated, but we see the shape of a "C." On the image below, it appears to have the shape of a "D," but if you put yourself in the middle (on earth) and look at it from that perspective, it is the shape of a "C." So, as I mentioned in the last article, "D," "O," and "C" are the shapes in order of the phases.

One of the confusing things to me is the terminology of the quarters. The first quarter is really the first half moon, and the third quarter is really the last half moon. It makes sense if you think about quarters being a fourth of the phase, but it is easy to try to associate quarter with amount of illumination instead of the actual phase. Another reason it is confusing is because the quarters start with zero (although you probably won't see it listed as a quarter). The first quarter starts at the half moon getting fuller (waxing) until the full moon. The second quarter starts at the full moon and the illumination gets smaller (waning) every day. The third quarter starts with the half moon waning and ends with the new moon. There is no "fourth quarter."

If you read the terminology in the previous articles, I mentioned that the crescent is less than half illumination, and gibbous is more than half illumination. We also saw that waxing means getting fuller and waning is just the opposite. Here is the complete phase with terminology:

1: New moon (dark)

2: Waxing crescent (less than half moon; right side illuminated)

3: 1st quarter (half moon; right side illuminated)

4: Waxing gibbous (more than half moon; right side illuminated)

5: Full moon (2nd quarter)

6: Waning gibbous (more than half moon; left side illuminated)

7: 3rd quarter (half moon; left side illuminated)

8: Waning crescent (less than half moon; left side illuminated)

I realize I spent a lot of time covering the phases. But I think it can be of a benefit to understand when the phases occur, and it can also help to interpret solunar calendars.

Here's the part I've really been looking forward to — my ratings from my guide trips over the past few years. I have a database that keeps all the information from my guide trips. Not only do I record my customer information, but I also record trip information. After each trip, I enter the number of fish, average weight, biggest fish and a rating (0-100 percent) of how the fish were biting. The ratings are subjective, but I believe they have a good degree of accuracy because I'm there for every trip.

The first chart takes the average of ratings for each trip and charts if for each moon phase. The next five charts do the same thing, only for each season.

The next five charts show stats for my trips where we caught fish over 7 pounds. The first chart shows all fish in all seasons. The next four charts do the same thing, only they are broken down for each season.

Interestingly, my personal stats show the full moon to be worse than average for fish over 7 pounds. I've always heard that three days before and after the full moon are the best time for big fish. My stats are actually more consistent than you would expect for fish over 7 pounds in each phase. From what I've seen, you can't rule out any phase completely. So, my advice is still to fish as much as possible on every phase.

Next time, I plan to look at giant fish (10+ pounds) in my own stats as well as the top 50 fish in Texas. We'll see if there's a best phase for catching those giants. Be sure to check back often and record all your bass in the Insider BASSlog.

Moon phases and bass fishing, part 4
Aug. 17, 2009

If you haven't read Part 1, Part 2 or Part 3, read them first.

If you observed the moon every day, you would notice that it rises in the east and sets in the west approximately 30 minutes to an hour later every day. In actuality, it is the earth that is turning every day and not the moon. I will discuss what is really happening in my next article. However, knowing what the moon does from the perspective of an observer on the earth may be more useful. For the purposes of this article, I will write about what appears to be happening. I will be saying basically the same thing in different ways, so hopefully you will understand the moon and even predict future moon phases.

On the night of the full moon, the moon rises at about the same time the sun sets. It also sets at about the same time as the sun rises in the morning. So, on the night of the full moon, not only do you have the whole moon but you also have it all night long.

Conversely, on the night of the new (dark) moon, it rises at daybreak and sets at sundown. So, if you could see the new moon, you would only see it during the day.

After the new (dark) moon, every day the moon gets a little fuller and comes out a little later. About a week after the new moon, there will be a half moon that comes out in the middle of the day and sets in the middle of the night. After another week of getting fuller and coming out later, it will be a full moon rising about sundown and setting at sunup. After the full moon, it will start getting smaller again and rising later every night. A week or so after the full moon, the half moon will rise in the middle of the night and set in the middle of the day. This process repeats itself continuously. Every 29 1/2 days, the moon will go from new (dark) to full and back to dark again. Since our calendar month is slightly more than 29 1/2 days, the full moon is approximately a day or so earlier every month.

When the half moon is getting fuller, it will be shaped like a "D" (with the lighted side on the right). When it is getting smaller, it will be shaped like a "C" (with the lighted side on the left). So, a way to remember if the full moon is approaching or going away is to remember the word DOC (the "O" meaning full).

Another way to tell if the full moon is approaching or going away is when you see it. If you see a moon in the evening (before dark), you can be assured that it will get even fuller the next day. If you see a moon in the morning (after sunup), you can bet that it will be getting even smaller.

I don't think this is completely accurate, but an observation I've made is that the amount of illumination is also the amount of time that the moon is visible in the night. On the full moon (100 percent illumination), the moon is out all night long. On the new moon (0 percent illumination), the moon is only out during the day, so you wouldn't see it at night if it was visible. Likewise, on the 1/2 moon waxing (50 percent illumination), the moon is overhead when it gets dark and takes about half the night to set in the west. On the 1/2 moon waning (50% illumination), the moon rises in the east in the middle of the night and will be overhead when it gets daylight.

I believe the next set of graphs is self-explanatory. I took all the posts (except mine and a few that are questionable) and divided them by season, moon phase and whether the phase was waxing bigger or waning smaller. For these graphs, all fish are shown and the time of day isn't considered. So, the following graphs just simply show what phases had the most fish, regardless of whether they were caught at night or during the day. Also, they were adjusted for the number of days that each phase occurred. Then, I filtered out all bass except for those more than 5 pounds. So, these graphs only show stats for bass more than 5 pounds.

Below is a set of graphs where I took bass of all sizes and charted them according to season, moon phase and the time period that they were caught. I didn't include after dark time periods because of lack of data.

I'm not sure this is the best way to chart them, but there's a lot of data to record and this is the best way I found to organize them. I believe the charts are self-explanatory, but the results are difficult to explain in words, so I'll leave it for your own interpretation.

I believe from these charts that you can look at the current season and moon phase and sometimes find that a certain time frame is better than it would be under a different phase. However, be sure to keep in mind that there is only a few years worth of data and the more we break them down, the less accurate the results are. Also be mindful that the BASSlog only tracks fish that were actually caught and it doesn't consider the amount of time that was spent fishing during each period. In most cases, the reason more fish were caught during certain time periods is because that is when the most people (who log their fish) were fishing. The best advice I could give is to fish as much as you can and be sure to fish the periods that have the most fish recorded during each period.

Next time I plan to share more info including my own personal moon phase stats. Be sure to check back often and record all your bass in the Insider BASSlog.

Moon Phases and Bass Fishing, Part 3
July 21, 2009

If you haven't read Part 1 or Part 2, read them first.

I've finally got the data organized in a way that will return useful information about bass fishing and moon phases. I have enough information for several more blogs on moon phases, so be sure to check back often.

Before sharing this information with you, I'd like to cover some terminology used when talking about moon phases. Some I will use in future articles, some you will already know and some may prove to be useful as you try to understand more about moons. And some will probably just be useless trivia that you may never hear again. Whatever the case for you, here they are in alphabetical order:

Apogee — phase of the moon where the earth and moon are furthest apart
Blue Moon — 2nd full moon in the same month (modern interpretation)
Crescent — less than 1/2 illuminated moon
First quarter — 1/2 illuminated moon occurring about a week after the new moon. The right side is illuminated and will continue to get bigger until the full moon
Full moon — 100% illuminated moon. Not only is the moon full, but it is out all night long
Gibbous — more than 1/2 illuminated moon
High tide — time of day when the tide is at its highest point. Usually occurs twice a day
Low tide — time of day when the tide is at its lowest point. Usually occurs twice a day
Neap tide — weak tides when the moon is 1/2 illuminated
New moon — 0% illuminated moon. It is called the new moon because the phase starts over again at this point. Not only is the moon darkest during the new moon, but it is only out during the daylight hours
Perigee — phase of the moon where the earth and moon are closest together
Spring tide — Strong tides occurring when the earth, the sun, and the moon are in a line (has nothing to do with the season). Spring tides occur during the full moon and the new moon
Third quarter — 1/2 illuminated moon occurring about a week after the full moon. The left side is illuminated and will continue to get smaller until the new moon
Waning — the moon is getting less illuminated every day. This happens between the full moon and the new moon
Waxing — the moon is getting fuller every day. This happens between the new moon and the full moon

As I share these statistics, you should realize that the more specific we get, the more useful the information will be. But at the same time, the more we go into detail, the less recorded fish there will be and thus the less accurate it will be. The Insider BASSlog is still in its infancy. As I mentioned in my last article, there isn't yet enough days recorded to consistently even out the moons over the seasons (which will happen in time). You can help the accuracy of the BASSlog, by ensuring that you accurately record all the bass you catch.

For the first statistics I'd like to share with you, I took all the posts (except mine and a few that are questionable) and divided them by season, moon phase, and whether the phase was waxing bigger or waning smaller. For these graphs, all fish are shown and the time of day isn't considered. So the following graphs simply show what phases had the most fish, regardless of whether they were caught at night or during the day. They were adjusted for the number of days that each phase occurred.

Interestingly, the full moon shows to have less fish caught during the summer and winter, and not a significant increase in other months. I personally think this is because fish feed more at night when there is more light from the moon. I don't believe we have a big enough number of posts of bass caught at night to prove or disprove that idea for every season. But I did divide the posts for summer bass into nighttime and daytime fish. At night, the full moon periods have the most fish caught, with the exception of a strong finish at the end of the cycle. See the results below.

In future articles, I plan to further break down the data into even more useful information, such as time periods and size of fish. Be sure to check back often and record all your bass in the Insider BASSlog.

Moon Phases and Bass Fishing, Part 2
July 2, 2009

If you haven't read Part 1, read it first.

Because of varying factors, we'll never be able to exactly compare apples to apples when it comes to determining the solunar influence based on actual fish recorded in the Insider BASSlog. I knew that from the beginning. What I didn't know was how difficult it would be just to equal out the number of days per phase.

As I mentioned in my last post, I distributed the days out as evenly as possible based on the percentage of illumination of each day. I put every day in one of 5 phases. With about 25 years of solunar data, there was about 150 days between the phase with the most days and the phase with the least amount of days. That's a pretty significant amount (almost 10%).

I didn't think it would make that much of a difference, but in many of my queries (with 5+ years of data), more fish were recorded for the phases with the most days. Out of the 5 phases, one phase would have as much as 15 more days than another. That wasn't good enough for me. I had to do more to make them more even.

I tried several programmatic ways to accomplish it, but it just couldn't rest with the data that I currently have. So, I had to do some manual work to even them out. I want to explain the issues I am dealing with and the resolutions that I am using. What I ended up having to do is split up some of the illumination percentages into 2 different phases. For instance, originally I put 0% to 9% illumination in the new moon and the quarter moon started at 10%. To make it work out evenly, I had to put some of the 10% illumination days into the new moon category and some into the quarter moon. Unfortunately, I could only get whole number amounts for the percentage of illumination. So, I couldn't just take 9.3% and put it in the new moon and put 9.8% in the quarter moon. So, there are several days that may have the same percent illumination as another day, yet they could be in a different phase.

That may not be perfect, but it's much better than having one phase with 15 more days than another. If I come across a more exact illumination (with decimals), I'm sure there are a few days that should be changed. But I doubt it will really make a difference in the bottom line. As of the time of this writing, there are 2,003 days of data recorded for the Insider BASSlog. After redistributing the data, each of the 5 phases now has either 200 or 201 days. So, it should be much closer to comparing apples to apples than the percentages I used before.

Another issue I've encountered is the seasons. My original plan was to figure December through February as winter, March through May as spring, June through August as summer, and September through November as fall. Those ranges are more in line with my fishing seasons than the actual seasons themselves. But when I started doing calculations, the number of days per season was too far off. So then I had more work to do. I had to put each day into its actual season. But after I did that, the numbers were way off. I just learned the hard way that each season doesn't have the same amount of days.

Here's the breakdown I came up with after putting each day for the past 2003 days in its correct season.

Summer: 473 days
Fall: 450 days
Winter: 525 days
Spring: 555 days
I had no idea the seasons were so skewed. I haven't decided if it would be advantageous to divide those into even categories by changing the beginning and/or the end of each season. Doing so might be misleading, especially since there are such extremes across the country and everyone is familiar with the actual seasons as specified on the calendar.

But I do think it's important to have the same amount of days per phase during each season, which brings up another bag of worms (we don't use cans for worms). The issue is that we only have 2,003 days of data recorded. Every year, the moons fall on different days of the month. Because of this, the number of days for each phase of each season differs by as much as 12 days out of the 2003 days. Over time, those days will even out. But currently they are uneven.

For example, the new moon category (the way I divided it) only has 98 days in the winter, while the 3/4 moon has 110 days in the winter. So, I still have my work cut out for me to consider not only the amount of fish, but also the discrepancies between phases and seasons.

I realize I haven't provided any of the information that we all want to know, which is how the moon affects our fishing. But that will come in time. I plan to make this a series lasting the whole summer and there is enough information for several articles. For now, I need more time to overcome the unexpected hurdles so I can provide accurate information. Continue to check back and I will share my findings as I go.

Moon Phases and Bass Fishing, Part 1
June 19, 2009


It is a proven fact that our moon has an influence on fish. We know that the gravitational pull from the moon is the greatest influence on tidal activity found in the oceans. It is a natural observation that because the depth of the water fluctuates daily, saltwater fish will be influenced by the tides. We know from science that the bigger the body of water, the bigger the tidal influence. But what about fish in smaller bodies of water? What about largemouth bass in our home lakes and reservoirs? Is there enough tidal influence in our lakes to affect bass feeding and spawning behavior in freshwater lakes? Many reputable outdoor publications include some sort of table that lists "peak times" according to the moon phases. Writers of these tables claim that wildlife activity is at a higher potential during these peak times. Is there any truth to these tables? Could we improve our fishing by going when the fishing should be best?

These are some of the questions I have wrestled with in my fishing career. I've always tried to use a scientific approach to bass fishing. But until recently, there wasn't really a way to prove or disprove the accuracy of the solunar influence. As creator of the Insider BASSlog, I have access to the posts of over 2,400 registered users. Every fish recorded has a date and a time range, so they can be tied together with the solunar information. Additionally, I have been keeping very good records of my catches for the past 5 years or so. In addition to recording the BASSlog information, I give each trip a rating on how good the fish were biting (not just our success in boating them). Since I fish 200+ days per year, that's a good amount of data. I also plan to use the Texas Top 50 list (each fish over 15 pounds) and my own Top 50 bass over 10 pounds.

I believe there is enough information to do a series of articles lasting through the entire summer. I haven't crunched all the data yet, but I will share my findings with you as I go. I plan to have Part 2 available next week, so check back often. So far, I got all the moon phases broken down for each date and have the dates linked in with the BASSlog posts. I divided every date into one of five different moon phases — new (no or very little moon), quarter moon, half moon, 3/4 moon, and full moon. In order to divide the five phases into equal groups, here's the moon percent that made each phase have nearly the exact amount of days.

New moon — 0 to 9 percent illumination
1/4 moon — 10 to 34 percent illumination
1/2 moon — 25 to 65 percent illumination
3/4 moon — 66 to 90 percent illumination
Full moon — 91 to 100 percent illumination

Interestingly, when I queried the entire database of bass, I discovered that there was just about the identical amount of fish in each category. Notice the pie charts below.







I was not expecting a uniform distribution of fish in each phase. I know from personal experience on a highly pressured lake that many big tournaments are scheduled around the new or full moon and many fishermen plan their trips around the moons. Most outdoor publications that have charts showing the best dates and times show the full and new moons as the days to fish. I was expecting to see a lot more fish on the full and new moons than the other days — if for no other reason than the fact that more people are fishing then.

But just because the same amounts of fish were recorded for each phase does not mean there isn't a lunar influence on bass. In the next few weeks, I will be breaking the stats down further and sharing my results. I believe we will find that there are certain times that are much better on some moon phases than others. I think we will also see that the lunar influence is different depending on the season. We may also see differences under each phase depending on the size of fish we are after, the water clarity, the depth the fish are caught, the geographic location, the sky condition, as well as many other conditions. Be sure to check back next week for Moon Phases and Bass Fishing, Part 2.

Postspawn Topwater Choices
May 20, 2009
Here in northeast Texas, the majority of adult bass are finished laying their eggs and are in a transitional stage of their spawn. There are still a few fish still on the beds and a small fraction that hasn't even started spawning yet. I've found them on beds well into June on Lake Fork, so we get an exceptionally long spawn. But most are either still guarding their fry or transitioning to their summer positions. This article is dedicated to topwater choices during this transition period.

The topwater bait with the most fish recorded is also my best bait, so I will spend the majority of this article on it. That bait is a topwater popper. Examples of this include the Yellow Magic, Rico, Pop-R and the Berkley Frenzy Popper. All these baits look very similar but have differences that I believe can make the difference in the number of fish you catch on them.

As a general rule, you can expect the more expensive baits to have better paint jobs and sharper hooks. But they can also be 10 times more expensive than their cheaper counterparts. The cheaper versions will likely have hooks that aren't as thin, so they aren't as "sticky" as the sharp hooks. The thin, sharper hooks won't lose as many fish but are much more dangerous. So you really need to be careful with them. I recommend that you don't touch those baits without a rod length of line out. If you reel a fish all the way up to the end of your rod and try to remove the sharp hooks, you are much more likely to end up bleeding and possibly getting a barb in your skin. So keep a loose line when you touch the bait. I like the sharp hooks because you don't need as good of a hook set to ensure landing of a fish. Since I don't lose many topwater baits, I usually just purchase the expensive popper baits. However, I have found that some factory hooks on the cheaper models can be sharpened to be like the expensive "sticky" hooks. So it is possible to have sharp hooks on the cheaper baits.

I prefer the smaller poppers most of the time. I normally throw them with 15-pound-test line on a baitcaster with a medium action rod. The medium action really helps to fling the bait out. It also helps to leave about 18 inches of line out to cast them, since light baits are hard to throw on a baitcaster. It also helps to play the fish so it isn't as likely to pull away as it could on a heavier action rod. If I have a client that can't throw a light bait on a baitcaster, I'll have him throw a bigger popper or use a different type of reel. The bigger poppers don't normally catch quite as many fish as the smaller ones, but they are much easier to throw.

What I prefer in a popper is one that makes a good "bloop" sound when popped. The more expensive baits usually do that right out of the package, but the cheaper versions can be modified to make a similar sound. I've found that these baits really excel in slick water, so I try to find calm water to throw them, even when it's windy. I prefer to make long casts as shallow as I can get without hanging up the hooks. I then like to use a 90-degree angle with my rod and fish them on a slack line. I like to make contact with the lure only at the very end of the pop. This helps to make the "bloop" sound and not make the lure travel far. I believe the first pop is the most important, and I want that first movement to be a "bloop" without moving the bait first. So, I often make the first pop with so much slack in my line that I don't make contact with the bait. I then reel in a few inches of line to pop it again until I make that first good "bloop." Working it on a slack line serves three purposes: It makes the sound, it keeps the bait in the strike zone longer and it allows you to wait long enough for the fish to take it. That all translates into more fish in the boat.

The best popper color, according to the BASSlog, is shad. Firetiger, baby bass, gold/black and chrome/black (in that order) are the next best colors. The best structure is shallow flats and the best cover is submerged vegetation. The best depth recorded is less than 5 feet deep. Clear water is best, and the best time for them is early morning and late evening.

Behind the popper, the best topwater bait recorded is the darter type bait. Examples of this include the Heddon Spook and the Lucky Craft Sammy. The best colors and conditions are the same or very similar to the popper. Third on the list is the topwater frog. Best colors for the frog are black, green pumpkin and watermelon/red flake. Best locations for them are also in the shallow water, but these baits are better for getting around cover without hanging up. So, you should take advantage of them and cast them where the other baits would hang. The rest of the list for topwater choices in postspawn include the buzzbait, prop bait and the floating lizard (in that order).

Topwater fishing is the most exciting fishing you can get, and this is a great time to get bit. Take advantage of the nice weather during the postspawn season and catch some fish on top.

Top 25 Springtime Baits
April 22, 2009


Here in Texas, we've had cold front after cold front and our water temps aren't much warmer now than they were over a month ago. The first two months of April were colder than the first two weeks of March. That should change very soon as we will probably jump from winter to summer.

Our water temps are still in the low 60s in the morning, but should reach 70 degrees in a couple of weeks. Be sure to check back in May for postspawn topwater techniques (water temps in the 70s). For this article, I have created four different queries against the Insider Basslog. Of the four queries, I have searched the database for the Top 25 baits for water temps in the 61- to 65-degree range and the 66- to 70-degree range, both by numbers and by average weight.

To make the queries more useful for this time of the year, I filtered out some of the recorded fish. With over 2,300 registered users, my posts should be negligible. However, I took out all of my own posts because almost every fish I catch this time of the year is caught by sight fishing. Since I'm able to choose which fish I fish for, the average fish I catch this time of the year is over 5 pounds. So, it's possible that my stats could skew the overall stats. Keep in mind that other users are also recording fish that were caught while sight fishing. The reason I bring this up is that the best sight fishing lures may not be the best choices for throwing blindly. For instance, notice in the stats below that with water temps from 61 to 65, a Texas rigged baby craw has an average weight of almost 5 pounds. I'm certain that a large portion of those fish were caught on the beds. FYI: I catch most of my fish on tubes and lizards while sight fishing.

I also filtered out the posts from the latter half of the year, so we're not mixing up fall patterns with spring patterns. Additionally, I didn't include posts from users that recorded suspiciously high numbers of fish during short time periods. Finally, for the average weight queries, I only included lures that had at least 10 fish recorded. I didn't want a lure to show up at the top of the stats because the average weight was high, but only a few fish were caught on that lure.

The charts should be self-explanatory, so I'll conclude this section with the charts. Be sure and record your fish so that the Insider Basslog stats can be even more accurate. The more fish that are entered, the more helpful it will be for all of us.

Top 25 Springtime Baits (Water temp 61-65 degrees)



1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25

For Numbers
soft stickworm - weightless
crankbait - shallow diving
Texas rig - medium lizard
jig - rubber skirt body
lipless crankbait - 1/2 oz
crankbait - medium diving
spinnerbait - willow/Colorado blades
soft jerkbait - medium
spinnerbait - double willowleaf blades
Texas rig - small craw worm
jig - unskirted w/worm body
Texas rig - medium straight tail worm
Texas rig - small creature bait
weightless non-floating worm
Texas rig - large lizard
Carolina rig - straight tail worm
hard jerkbait - plastic suspending
wacky rig - soft stickworm
Texas rig - medium curly tail worm
crankbait - deep diving
Texas rig - long curly tail worm
drop shot rig - finesse worm
swim bait - shad imitation
wacky rig - plastic worm
Texas rig - small finesse worm

For Size
Texas rig - small craw worm
Texas rig - large lizard
spinnerbait - willow/Colorado blades
jig - rubber skirt body
Texas rig - small creature bait
Texas rig - long curly tail worm
spinnerbait - double willowleaf blades
soft jerkbait - medium
Texas rig - medium curly tail worm
Texas rig - medium lizard
lipless crankbait - 1/2 ounce
drop shot rig - finesse worm
Texas rig - medium creature bait
crankbait - deep diving
soft stickworm - weightless
crankbait - shallow diving
Texas rig - large creature bait
creature - weightless
swimbait - shad imitation
crankbait - medium diving
jig - unskirted w/worm body
hard jerkbait - plastic suspending
Carolina rig - straight tail worm
Texas rig - medium straight tail worm
wacky rig - plastic worm
Average
Weight
4.83333333
4.66666667
3.58333333
3.31756757
3.21428571
3.20833333
3.16
3.04761905
3.025
3.01724138
3
2.7
2.6
2.525
2.49264706
2.4609375
2.35
2.3
2.25
2.16666667
1.925
1.91666667
1.91666667
1.825
1.8125


Top 25 Springtime Baits (Water temp 66-70 degrees)



1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25

For Numbers
soft stickworm - weightless
Texas rig - medium straight tail worm
crankbait - shallow diving
Texas rig - medium lizard
Texas rig - long curly tail worm
soft jerkbait - medium
topwater - weedless plastic frog
jig - rubber skirt body
Texas rig - medium creature bait
weightless non-floating worm
wacky rig - soft stickworm
crankbait - medium diving
spinnerbait - double willowleaf blades
spinnerbait - single Colorado blade
lipless crankbait - 1/2 ounce
swimming blade jig - medium
Texas rig - medium curly tail worm
topwater - weedless topwater frog/rat
Texas rig - medium flip tail worm
topwater - medium popper
spinnerbait - willow/Colorado blades
topwater - small popper
Texas rig - small finesse worm
Texas rig - small creature bait
Carolina rig - straight tail worm

For Size
topwater - weedless topwater frog/rat
topwater - weedless plastic frog
Texas rig - medium curly tail worm
jig - rubber skirt body
Texas rig - medium flip tail worm
Texas rig - medium straight tail worm
lipless crankbait - 1/2 ounce
Texas rig - small creature bait
swimming blade jig - medium
crankbait - deep diving
Carolina rig - small ring fry
Texas rig - medium lizard
spinnerbait - double willowleaf blades
Texas rig - craw tube
Texas rig - medium creature bait
Texas rig - long curly tail worm
topwater - medium popper
crankbait - medium diving
soft jerkbait - medium
lipless crankbait - 5/8 ounce crankbait - shallow diving
Carolina rig - straight tail worm
spinnerbait - single Colorado blade
wacky rig - soft stickworm
topwater - small popper
Average Weight
3.35714
3.27083
3.25
3.23529
3.16667
3.1375
3.08333
3
3
3
2.83333
2.72368
2.71429
2.7
2.66667
2.65625
2.6
2.55
2.51667
2.5
2.34524
2.33333
2.3
2.25
2.15

Spinnerbait Stats According to the BASSlog
March 25, 2009

The Insider BASSlog is a database where fishermen can post the conditions of their catch online. Once the conditions (date, lure, time period, structure, cover, etc.) are recorded, it will return useful patterns from the collaboration of users. At the time of this writing, there are already over 2,300 registered users even though it is still in its infancy. With that many users recording their fish, the result set is quite unbiased. The BASSlog tracks every type of artificial lure, all of which are worthy of their own article. This article is about spinnerbaits, which make up about 15% of the fish that were logged.

The overwhelming majority of fish caught on spinnerbaits were caught in the fall and spring. More fish were caught in fall than spring, yet the average size was much bigger in the spring. Spinnerbait fish were caught in water temps ranging from almost freezing to 100 degrees. Surprisingly, there wasn't any sort of magical temperature. There were good numbers of fish caught in every 5-degree increment from 50 degrees to 90 degrees.

Most of the fish were caught shallow. A few fish were caught on spinnerbaits over 30 feet deep, but two-thirds were caught in 5 feet or less and almost every fish was caught less than 10 feet deep. As for cover, spinnerbait fish were logged in 17 different types of cover. About two-thirds were caught around some type of vegetation (weeds, lily pads, cattails). Twenty-five percent were caught around some type of wood and about 10% were recorded being caught around rocks or cement (boulders, gravel, riprap, concrete ramps, etc.).

The time of day didn't seem to be a factor for catching fish on spinnerbaits. Large numbers were recorded at all times of the day. Not surprisingly, the lowest numbers were recorded during the dark periods. But even so there about 10% were recorded between dark and sunup. Similarly, wind direction didn't seem to be a factor either. South wind had the most fish recorded, but I believe that to be the prevailing winds where the majority of time was spent on the water.

I know firsthand that spinnerbaits are great baits for fishing windy conditions. Ironically, the stronger the wind, the less fish were recorded. I'm quite certain that is due primarily to the fact that most fishermen don't go fishing when it is windy. However, based on these findings, you should be able to fish spinnerbaits in calm water with confidence. Water clarity did seem to be a factor for spinnerbaits. Somewhere around 3-foot visibility appeared to be the ideal water clarity according to the BASSlog. Stained water (2- to 3-foot visibility) had the most fish recorded; with semi-clear (3- to 5-foot visibility) a very close runner-up. Not many fish were recorded in muddy water. However, spinnerbaits caught considerably more fish in muddy water than ultra-clear water.

Double willow spinnerbaits took about 35% of the fish, while willow/Colorado blades took about 25% of the fish. Single Colorado blades came in third with about 15%. Colorado/Indiana blades took about 10% of the fish. Best skirt colors were (in this order) chartreuse/white, white, chartreuse, black/blue, white/black, white/chartreuse, black, and green/orange.

In summary, spinnerbaits catch fish during any season at any time of day. They work best during the fall and spring. The best water is shallow with 2- to 4-foot visibility and some type of vegetation, wood, or rock. Best blade types are double willow, willow/Colorado, and single Colorado blades. Best skirt colors are white, chartreuse, and combinations of the two.

For more details, consult the Fisherman's Log. There, you can learn which combinations to use under each condition. Additionally, the BASSlog is full of information that I didn't cover such as spinnerbait size, blade colors, trailer type, demographics, and sky conditions. As I mentioned earlier, it holds an exhaustive list of most every type of lure you can catch a bass on — and spinnerbaits are only a small portion of the list. Best of all, you can use the BASSlog to record your fish and you can learn from your own success as well as from other Insider members. The sooner you start, the more useful it will be. Even if you only catch a handful of fish per year, you can establish your own patterns over time. It is a proven fact that bass are pattern-oriented. Learn the patterns and catch more fish!

I fish 200+ days per year as a fishing guide on one of the best lakes in the country (Lake Fork). How I wish I had such a tool 20 years ago. I discovered how to find patterns by spending countless hours reading articles from biased authors and spending tons of hours on the lake. At last, we can all learn from our own trials as well as from the collection of over 2,300 fishermen. I urge you to take advantage of the BASSlog and bass fishing articles at BASSInsider.com.

Cold Water Tactics, Part 4
March 9, 2009
Here in Texas, we are already way past the 50-degree mark. However, in some Northern waters, temperatures are still cold.

In my previous articles on cold water tactics, I mentioned that the top producing lures were skirted jigs, medium running crankbaits and lipless crankbaits. Those were the top baits in lakes with water temperatures below 50 degrees.

The only bait that rivals those baits is a plastic suspended jerkbait. Redfin and rogues are examples of suspending jerkbaits. They are long and slender and have a small shallow diving bill on front and usually have 2 or 3 treble hooks. I highly recommend fishing them in cold water if you are by yourself or with one partner. They aren't very convenient for me as a guide, because you really need to slow the boat down and have everyone fishing the same speed. I'm usually fishing lipless crankbaits in the winter and it can be a real mess to add three more rods with treble hooked lures to the deck.

My recommendation is to use the faster moving baits to find the fish, then patiently work the productive areas with the jerkbaits. Most guides and pros recommend working them very slow in the winter. Most inexperienced fishermen work them way too fast, so try to fish them as slow as possible.

More fish are recorded for the jerkbait in water under 50 degrees than almost all warmer temperatures combined. April is the month with the most fish recorded on hard jerkbaits in cold water. The next best months are March, January, and February (in that order). Obviously, those April fish weren't caught in Texas because the water temps rarely dip below 60 in April. That appears to be a popular bait in the Northern states.

Clear to semi-stained water is the best for the hard jerkbaits. Very few fish are recorded in muddy or stained water. So visibility better than 3 feet is best. The best depth by far is 6 to 10 feet. In fact, more fish are recorded in that depth than all other depths combined. The best structure for these baits are (in order) main lake points, creek channels, secondary points, dropoffs, and boat docks. The best cover for the hard jerkbaits is clean bottoms with very little cover, followed by various forms of rocks, submerged vegetation, and trees. Nine o'clock a.m. to noon is the best time period. First light to sunup is next, followed by the sunup to 9 a.m. period, then 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Virtually no fish were recorded near or after dark.

Those four top baits (jig, medium crankbait, lipless crankbait, hard jerkbait) should help equip you with a good wintertime arsenal. There's still a lot of information to share about cold water tactics. However, here in Texas we already have water temps in the 60s. So, we'll wrap up this series on cold water tactics. Check back soon for Insider tips for fishing warming water.

Cold Water Tactics, Part 3
February 12, 2009
In Parts 1 and 2 of Cold Water Tactics, I mentioned the skirted jig and the medium running crankbaits as the top producers in the wintertime. Part 3 is about lipless crankbaits, which happens to be hands-down my favorite bait in the winter. As a guide on perhaps the best big bass lake in the country, I've caught giants on quite a variety of baits. But I get more fish on the lipless crankbait than all other baits combined in the winter. I was very reluctant to get on the lipless crankbait bandwagon. But once I started catching giant fish on them, I was hooked.

I've been fishing the lipless crankbaits year-round since I was a kid and I've caught thousands of small fish on them. So, I always thought of them as a numbers bait. But something about fishing them in the winter brings out the big fish bite. I've boated several fish over 10 pounds on them in the colder months. In fact, we caught a 10-pounder on one just last Friday. See the mouth on this fish below. She was only 23 inches and weighed 10 pounds. What a toad!

Richie White blog

The wind was blowing 30+ mph and we caught her right next to the ramp where we put in. She bit a 3/4-ounce Xcalibur crankbait in the Rayburn red color. That color and pattern resembles an orange crawfish. Almost every lipless crankbait I use this time of year has either red or orange in it. Sometimes they like a little chartreuse on them. There are many manufacturers that make good lipless crankbaits. The main thing is to have some red or orange on it and replace the hooks if it doesn't come with quality hooks. If you look at the back of that fish's mouth, you can see a dark red spot. The fish uses that part of her mouth to chew crawfish. Since crawfish are a favorite food source for bass, I believe that's what they think they are eating when they grab an orange/red lipless crankbait.

I believe it is very important to have the right setup for fishing lipless crankbaits. Distance is more important than accuracy this time of the year, so you want a combination that will launch your bait a long way. I use all 7' Kistler Helium rods for these baits. Kistler rods are made here in Texas, but they are available everywhere. The Kistler Helium rods are very light and will load up good to help launch the lures. It's very important to use a rod that isn't too stiff or you will lose a lot of fish after they're hooked. The pros use the terminology "pulling away" when this happens. It's hard to understand how it happens, but you hook a fish with treble hooks on a stiff rod and a few seconds later you're bringing your bait back to the boat without a fish. This rarely happens when you use a rod with some play in it. I use 7' medium rods for the lighter lures and 7' medium heavy for 1/2- to 3/4-ounce lures. Kistler rods aren't as stiff as many other rods that are labeled medium heavy, so keep that in mind in your rod selection.

The rule of thumb is to use stiffer rods when fishing a lure with a single hook and use more limber rods with treble hooks. I've used several medium heavy rods from other manufacturers that are too stiff for using with treble hooks. So your medium action rods may be more like the action of my medium heavy rods. If you're losing fish underwater, try a lighter action rod.

As for reels, I use Citica reels by Shimano and Revo reels by Ambassadeur. Both will throw a mile when they're set right. Lipless crankbaits throw better than almost any other lure, so any reel will throw fine. But you may be missing out on a lot of fish if a better quality reel would get you another 10 to 20 feet. As for line, I've been using Berkley Big Game for about 20 years. It is very strong and inexpensive. This time of the year, you don't get very many break offs, so you can get away with lighter line than any other time of the year. I use 15-pound Big Game almost exclusively this time of the year. I believe I could probably get away with 12-pound test, but I use expensive lures and I get a lot of backlashing amateurs in my boat, so I opt for the 15-pound line. Big Game has a bigger diameter than other lines of the same test, so 15-pound test is probably equivalent to 17-pound test of other brands. A lot of pros and guides like braided line for this type of fishing . I personally don't use braid much unless I'm using a spinning reel. But if you do fish braid, you should be even more careful not to fish with a rod that's too stiff.

So be sure to have a lipless crankbait with some red or orange in it, a good casting reel, a long rod that has some flex, and the right line for long casts. I'll get more into the details of how and when to fish the lipless crankbait in Part 4 of Cold Water tactics, so check back often.

Cold Water Tactics, Part 2
January 30, 2009

Wintertime is such a great time to catch a giant bass. Last week, I fished on the coldest day of the year (22 degrees in Texas), and we boated a 10-pounder. Our rods were freezing until after lunch. See the last picture on the bottom row at this this link.

In the last article, I mentioned that the skirted jig had the most fish recorded in the Insider BASSlog for water temps below 50 degrees. The second best bait is a medium diving crankbait. Interestingly, before looking at these statistics, it wasn't a big part of my wintertime arsenal. But there are more fish recorded on the medium diving crankbait than a 1/2-ounce, 5/8-ounce, or 3/4-ounce lipless crankbait (my top number baits in the winter). Before getting into the details of the medium diving crankbait, let me explain why I don't use them as much as I would recommend the casual angler or even a serious tournament angler.

As a guide, I normally have 3 people in the boat. I like to be able to get in the stumps daily, so my style of fishing is very abusive to my boat. Because of this, I use the smallest aluminum boat that I can comfortably fish 3 people, so rod space is somewhat limited. I will usually have 3 different size lipless crankbaits (1 for each angler) and probably a couple of spinnerbait rods, a jig rod, and a couple of other rods that are easily accessible. Lake Fork is a trophy lake, so the bites are usually few and far between in the winter. I usually fish the same (or similar) baits as my clients, so I can help build confidence in the baits they are throwing. More often than not, at least one of them is an amateur, so they need all the help they can get.

Lipless crankbaits (which I will mention next time) are not only my confidence baits in the winter, but they are great search baits for finding the grass, which is where I catch the majority of fish. So, I really don't have room for other treble hook lures on deck. However, if I was fishing by myself or in a tournament, I would definitely have a medium crankbait tied on in the winter. So, be sure to include the medium crankbait in your arsenal. I will certainly fish it more after seeing the stats.

The Top 10 colors of medium crankbaits in the winter are:

1) gray/white
2) shad
3) firetiger
4) root beer
5) brown
6) blue/chartreuse
7) crawfish red
8) chartreuse shad
9) brown/orange
10) baby bass.

Water clarity of 1 to 2-foot visibility has the most fish recorded, followed by 2 to 3 feet, then 3 to 5 feet. So, it appears that medium crankbaits actually work better when the water isn't clear, as long as it has at least a foot of visibility.

The best cover for medium crankbaits, just like the skirted jig, is some type of rock, boulder, or gravel. So be sure to fish around boat ramps and bridges. They will always have some type of cement or rock. The next best cover is laydown trees, followed by submerged vegetation, then trees mixed with vegetation. The square bill crankbait deflects off wood cover, so keep that in mind if you are fishing laydown trees. My experience has always been some type of vegetation as the top cover. But then again I am in Texas where we can find green grass even in the winter.

The best depth for medium cranks is 6 to 10 feet, but anywhere close to that range is a good water depth. There's a lot of fish recorded less than 5 feet and several over 20 feet during the winter. The good news is that the best time to fish them is also the most comfortable time. Noon to 3 p.m. is best, followed by 9 a.m. to Noon, sunup to 9 a.m., then 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Obviously, there aren't many people fishing crankbaits after dark this time of the year. But I caught fish after dark just last week, so never rule out night fishing.

That should be the most important information you need to help you catch your winter fish on medium crankbaits. Check back often and look for Part 3 of Cold Water Tactics.

Cold Water Tactics, Part 1
January 6, 2009

Now is the perfect time for an article about fishing cold water. Here in Texas, we are always using cold-water tactics on Lake Fork in January. We see 50-plus degree water temperatures on Lake Fork, but this article will focus on lakes with temperatures below 50 degrees. Most lakes in the United States are below 50 degrees and some are even frozen right now.

I did a custom search on the Insider BASSlog (which is available to all BASS Insiders). I chose "water temp 50 degrees or less" as the only search criteria. When I got the results, I was quite surprised to find that the skirted jig was the top bait for numbers. That's definitely not what I would expect. I put skirted jigs at the top of the list for a giant bass, but not for numbers. In fact, I'm quite positive that the skirted jig is not the best bait for numbers in our area.

Since I rarely fish outside of Texas, I'm not sure why the skirted jig is the top bait in the country for numbers in cold water. On Lake Fork, the red or orange lipless crankbait is without question the top winter bait. I think any of these three things could be the reason:

(1) Only die-hard anglers will be bass fishing in January, and since cold water fishing isn't known for numbers, anglers are in search of that giant bass. After all, January is known for big fish. Our state record bass was caught in January on Lake Fork.

(2) Another reason for the jig being the top numbers bait could be simply that the jig is the most productive bait for numbers across the country. Unlike here in Texas, it could be that fish in other lakes don't respond to the red and orange color because of the forage they are accustomed to eating.

(3) The other reason could be that the red Rat-L-Trap bandwagon hasn't caught on in the rest of the country.

Could it be that the best baits for numbers aren't getting fished in the Northern states? The BASSlog only tracks information on fish that were actually caught on certain lures. Since it doesn't account for how much time the anglers fish each bait, it can't answer those types of questions.

I tend to lean toward Lake Fork being one of a kind, so what works there doesn't necessarily work on other lakes. That's been my experience even with lakes within a few miles of Fork. So, the red lipless cranks probably aren't as effective across the country.

The best colors for skirted jigs in January are green pumpkin, black/blue and brown (in that order). The best cover for the jig is some type of rock, like boulders, gravel or rockpiles.

This may be why jigs aren't such great number baits on Lake Fork. It has most every type of cover you can think of, but is very limited on rocks. The best structure is near a creek channel or some type of dropoff. So you should always look for deep water that comes close to shallow water. The best depth is 6 to 10 feet, with 0 to 5 feet running a close second. The best time for the jig is 9 a.m. to Noon and the best water color is stained (1- to 2-foot visibility), with 3 to 5 feet of visibility coming in second.

Check back often and look for Part 2 of Cold Water Tactics.

December Fishing
December 10, 2008

December is easily one of the least fished months of the year for bass fisherman. Most people have other things on their minds. There are the holidays, shopping, traveling, hunting and the end of the fall frenzy taking much of the blame. On Lake Fork, you will find more duck hunters and crappie fisherman than you will bass fishermen in December, despite the fact that Fork is one of the best trophy bass lakes in the country.

I'm guilty of getting sidetracked myself. I don't get a lot of guide trips booked this time of the year, so I spend more days at home than I do on the water. This is the time of the year when I hit the tackle shops, work on my boat, clean my reels and do some the computer work that I've been putting off. But it doesn't mean there isn't good fishing in December.

A couple of years ago we had a warming trend on Lake Fork, and I had a day when we caught 109 bass. This was a very unusual circumstance when the water temps got back up in the 60s, but it goes to show that you can catch good numbers even in December.

For us here in Texas, we have quite a few options. We can fish the colder water lakes (like Lake Fork) or we can fish the power plant lakes, which range from 60 degrees to over 100 degrees in the middle of winter. Because the power plants generate more electricity when it's colder, they're sometimes warmer in the winter than they are in other seasons. I plan to say more about power plant fishing in future articles, but for now I just want to mention how you can find out what baits and locations to use on your favorite lake.

If you go to the Insider BASSlog and click on the "custom search" option, you can query the database yourself and determine how you should fish. The more information you know, the more accurate your search will be. For instance, you know the month (December), so click on month and choose December. If that's all you want to search, choose "that's enough criteria" and click "go," and it will search the entire database for everything recorded for December. Then, it will return 1 of 4 different queries — game plan, top locations, top lures and specific top lures.

For this particular search, the game plan query returns the following:

Time of day
1st light to sunup


sunup to 9:00AM


9:01AM - 12:00PM


12:01PM - 3:00PM



3:01PM - 5:00PM


5:01PM to dark


midnight to 1st light
Lure
chrome/blue 1/4-oz lipless crankbait solid color

blue fleck Texas rig curly tail worm 3/16-oz lead bullet weight

black/blue Texas rig curly tail worm 1/8-oz screw in weight

watermelon/red flake Texas rig small finesse worm 1/8-oz lead bullet weight

chrome/blue 1/2-oz lipless crankbait solid color

red lipless crankbait under 1/4-oz solid color

white/chartreuse shallow diving crankbait small rounded bill
Structure
6- to 10-ft creek channel with vegetation & trees

0 to 5-ft shallow flats with trees


0 to 5-ft shallow flats with matted vegetation

11- to 15-ft bridge with cement



6- to 10-ft creek channel with vegetation & trees

6- to 10-ft shallow flats with submerged vegetation

11- to 15-ft boat docks with no obvious cover

The other 3 queries return the following:

Top Locations
Top structure & depth Top cover
1) creek channel (6 to 10 ft) 1) vegetation & trees
2) submerged vegetation
3) trees
4) no obvious cover
5) riprap
6) matted vegetation
7) rock pile
8) brushpile
2) shallow flats (0 to 5 ft) 1) submerged vegetation
2) vegetation & trees
3) trees
4) matted vegetation
5) boulders
6) cattails
7) sparse vegetation
8) no obvious cover
9) lily pads
10) sparse trees
11) gravel
12) brushpile
3) shallow flats (6 to 10 ft) 1) vegetation & trees
2) submerged vegetation
3) cattails
4) lily pads
5) trees
6) sparse vegetation
7) matted vegetation
4) flats near dropoff (0 to 5 ft) 1) submerged vegetation
2) no obvious cover
3) vegetation & trees
4) boulders
5) lay down tree
6) matted vegetation
7) sparse vegetation
8) trees
5) creek channel (0 to 5 ft) 1) vegetation & trees
2) trees
3) riprap
4) submerged vegetation
6) secondary point (6 to 10 ft) 1) submerged vegetation
2) no obvious cover
3) boulders
4) brushpile
5) trees
6) sparse vegetation
7) rockpile
7) creek channel (11 to 15 ft) 1) trees
2) no obvious cover
3) riprap
4) submerged vegetation
5) sparse vegetation
6) brushpile
8) flats near dropoff (6 to 10 ft) 1) submerged vegetation
2) trees
3) cattails
4) rockpile
5) no obvious cover
6) boulders
7) sparse vegetation
9) main lake point (0 to 5 ft) 1) rockpile
2) riprap
3) vegetation & trees
4) submerged vegetation
5) no obvious cover
6) lily pads
7) matted vegetation
10) main lake point (6 to 10 ft) 1) submerged vegetation
2) trees
3) brushpile



Top Lures
1) lipless crankbait
2) Texas rig worm
3) crankbait
4) C-rig worm
5) skirted jig
6) drop shot
7) jig/worm
8) soft jerkbait
9) weightless sinking worm
10) spinnerbait




Specific Lures
Top Lures Best Color(s)
1) 1/2-oz lipless crankbait 1) chrome/blue
2) white
3) orange
4) red
5) pumpkinseed
6) multi-color
7) chrome/black
8) red/yellow
2) rubber skirted jig 1) black/blue
2) green pumpkin
3) brown
4) multicolor
5) camo
6) white
7) black/red flake
3) 1/4 oz lipless crankbait 1) chrome/blue
2) Tennessee shad
3) orange
4) multi-color
5) bleeding bait
4) medium diving crankbait 1) shad
2) crawfish red
3) multicolored
4) citrus shad
5) brown/orange
6) firetiger
7) baby bass
8) blue/chartreuse
9) maroon
10) green/orange
11) white
12) Tennessee shad
13) black/silver
5) unskirted jig with worm body 1) green pumpkin
2) green pumpkin/chartreuse
3) watermelon
6) Texas rig curly tail worm 1) blue fleck
2) black/blue
3) gold
4) junebug
5) tequila sunrise
7) soft jerkbait
1) watermelon
2) watermelon candy
3) watermelon/red flake
4) watermelon/chartreuse
5) shad
6) green/white
8) deep diving crankbait
1) shad
2) red
3) brown
4) blue/chartreuse
5) baby bass
6) white/chartreuse
9) Texas rig small finesse worm
1) green pumpkin
2) watermelon/red flake
3) chartreuse
4) junebug/red flake
5) watermelon
6) pumpkinseed
10) drop shot finesse worm 1) watermelon/red flake
2) watermelon
3) bluegill
4) multicolor
5) black/purple
6) black
7) green smoke




As you can see, this is some very useful information — assuming it is correct for your water. But this is a generic query for the month of December. Water temps could range from freezing in the Northern states to over 100 degrees in the power plant lakes. It will be much more accurate for your location if you narrow down the criteria. If you know your water temperature, lake, water clarity and/or sky conditions, you can make it really accurate. Bass are pattern oriented, so what works in one place will likely work in another place with the same conditions.

I encourage you to search the Insider BASSlog for yourself and learn as much as you can. We especially encourage you to record every bass you catch, whether you catch it in a lake, pond, creek, river, etc. It will especially benefit you in the future if you record your fish as soon as you get home from your outing. You will be surprised just how many details we forget over time. The more fish get logged, the more accurate it will become and the more fish you will catch.

Jigging Spoons
November 6, 2008

From the end of September through most of November, I catch more fish on spoons than any other lure. Fall is my most consistent time to fish deep water, and heavy spoons get to the bottom quickly and find out what is down there. The nice thing about spoons is that virtually any species of fish will bite them. So, if you are seeing fish on your graph and can't tell what species they are, you can drop a spoon down and find out. I've caught largemouth bass, white bass, yellow bass, carp, gar, crappie, bluegill, bowfin, and probably other species that don't come to mind on them. They usually bite them quickly, so I often get bit on the very first drop with spoons.

If you aren't familiar with the spoons I am speaking of, they are normally heavy and shaped like one end of a spoon. Some resemble the first inch or two of the handle of a spoon, while some are more like the scoop of the spoon. Others are somewhere in between. Most are made out of lead, but I have also done well on spoons made of chrome and stainless steel. They primarily resemble shad, but some manufacturers design them to resemble gamefish.

I know firsthand that spoons are very effective on Lake Fork. But when I look at the Insider BASSlog database, I see that spoons are not fished much in other lakes. I don't know if that is because they aren't effective or they just don't get used. They are definitely no secret on Lake Fork. Most of the guides fish them and many of the touring pros fish them when they come to Lake Fork.

The reason they are so effective on Lake Fork is that there are plenty of shad, which they are designed to resemble. Also, Lake Fork has tons of roadbeds and humps that don't have too much cover to fish them. Most spoons have exposed treble hooks, so they tend to hang anything that comes in their path. Spoons aren't very good baits to fish in heavy cover. On a positive note, they are very easy to unhang, assuming you don't dig the hooks in too far or catch braided line or anchor rope.

My expertise is on Lake Fork and the surrounding lakes, so I seldom fish other lakes. However, I would certainly fish jigging spoons on any lake that has humps that are at least 15 feet deep on top and have at least 30 feet of water around them, assuming I find fish on my graph. The best case scenario for spoons is when the fish are at the top of the hump. This often means that the bass have the bait surrounded and they will use the top of the hump as an ambush point. Sometimes the fish will bite spoons on the slope, and occasionally they will bite at the bottom of the hump, but the top of the hump will usually have more active fish if they are present.

According to the BASSlog, the best colors are pearl, white or silver (best resembling shad). The best time to use them is mid-day. Below is a graph that shows most fish being caught around noon to 5 p.m.

I was a bit surprised to see such an overwhelming majority during that time. I will often get into the best action just after sunup or just before sundown. So don't rule out the early and late periods of the day for using spoons.

The BASSlog shows fish recorded on spoons for every month of the year. The best months are the fall months (September, October and November). The worst months (months with the least amount of posts) were the spring months. This is not surprising since most people are in the coves fishing shallow water. The best depth recorded is 21 to 25 feet, but there were almost as many fish recorded over 30 feet deep. The best structure is some type of hump, point, or roadbed with very little cover. As for spoon size, I was surprised to see that spoons over 1 ounce had the overwhelming majority of fish recorded. I catch a ton on 1/2-ounce spoons, so I expected it to have the most posts.

The best time for spoons is right now here in Texas. During my last two trips, we caught largemouth bass over 7 pounds on spoons. If you are in the Northern states, that pattern may be coming to an end. Once the water temps dip below 60 degrees, the fish won't be near as active. I will often find fish on the graph, drop a spoon down, and not get bit. If that happens, you have to really slow down or switch to a different pattern. That can be frustrating when you were doing so well just a few days before.

Get out and fish a spoon before it gets too cold. Good luck!

October Fishing
October 14, 2008

The two words that sum up October fishing are "numbers" and "variety." According to the posts in the BASSlog, October ranks as the best month of the year for numbers. Without doubt, October is my best month for numbers as well as variety. It is also my best month for fishing in deep water. But if I don't graph what I'm looking for deep, I can usually go to the back of a cove and catch good numbers.

If you haven't experienced the fall frenzy, you should do some fishing in October. Looking at stats from the Insider BASSlog, the most fish are recorded with water temps in the low 70s. Second best in October is the upper 60s. Here in Texas we normally get down to those ranges by about the middle of October. This year looks to be the same, so we still have the best action of the year in front of us.

Those in the northern states should be experiencing the best action of the year already. Once the water temps get down to 60, the activity will slow down considerably and it will be time to focus on quality fish rather than numbers. In Texas that usually happens around Thanksgiving, so we still have a solid month of good fishing.

October is a time when you can't rule out any baits. You can fish your favorite baits with confidence because bass will be scattered all over the lakes. On Lake Fork, they will be feeding primarily on shad, so baits that imitate shad get a lot of my time. If you haven't had good luck reading your fishfinder, this is the best time to learn it. The fish will be schooling all over the lake, but often they don't break the surface so you will never know it unless you find them on your graph.

When the water is hot, the lake gets stratified which makes most of the fish suspend and hard to catch. Once it gets down to 60 degrees and below, the fish may group together near the bottom, but their activity level is so low that you can hit them on the head without any action. But in the fall you can find groups of bass schooling near the bottom that will bite whatever you have to offer.

The Insider BASSlog shows the best October baits to be Carolina rigs and crankbaits followed by Texas rigged worms, topwaters and spoons. My personal best baits are Carolina rigs and spoons in deep water and lipless crankbaits in shallow water. Look for my future articles on deep water fishing with Carolina rigs. Right now, with water temps still in the upper 70s on Lake Fork, I'm boating more fish on lipless crankbaits than any other bait. So I will devote the rest of this article to lipless crankbaits.

Over the weekend, I fished in the 3rd annual Berkley tournament. As in most tournaments on Lake Fork, it was a big fish tournament as opposed to a stringer tournament (like the pros fish). The payouts are hourly, so we had to weigh every fish at different hours. We caught a lot of fish. In fact, if it was a stringer tournament, we would have been culling within the first couple of hours. Unfortunately, it wasn't a stringer tournament, so we were looking for the perfect size fish. On Lake Fork, there is a slot from 16 to 24 inches so we were looking for 15-16 inch bass or bass over 24 inches.

We chose to target the smaller fish, so we were looking for a 3-pound bass under 16 inches. Between my partner and I, we had 12 or 13 rods on deck, all rigged with Berkley baits. We caught fish on just about every bait we threw, but all of the fish we brought to the scales were caught on lipless crankbaits. These baits are hard to beat for good numbers of smaller fish. They also produce quality fish, but I think of them as number baits this time of the year.

The best colors recorded in the BASSlog are chrome/blue or chrome/black, so we threw 1/2 ounce and 1/4 ounce Frenzy lipless crankbaits in the closest matching colors. I don't believe Berkley makes a shiny chrome color, which is my preference. But the ones we used boated us a lot of fish. Bill Lewis makes the most popular lipless crankbait. I really like the shape and color of their chrome/blue Rat-L-Traps. The chrome paint peels easily on them, but they catch a lot of fish. Also, the hooks need replacing or sharpening right out of the box (on the standard "Traps").

As a general rule, you will lose about half of your fish on lipless crankbaits if you don't have sharp hooks. This is especially true right now when smaller fish are biting. So make sure you have sharp hooks if want to get them in the boat. Rapala makes a shiny lipless crankbait that has good hooks and doesn't peel as bad. The paint will scratch, but I haven't had a problem with it peeling. They, too, catch lots of fish and seem to last longer. They are a little more expensive, but you don't have to buy as many. There are several other manufacturers that make lipless crankbaits that catch fish, so experiment with the different models and find your favorites. I'm still experimenting myself.

I consulted the BASSlog and was surprised to see that most of the posts on lipless crankbaits were caught in the 6-10 ft range, followed by 11-15 ft. I catch a lot of fish in water less than 5 ft. deep as well as deeper water in excess of 45 ft. I don't believe there is a better bait for schooling bass than lipless cranks, so it's a good idea to have one tied on a rod ready to throw with the hooks untangled, so you can run it through the schoolies within seconds of the time they come up.

As for cover, creek channels, shallow flats and secondary points had the most fish recorded with lipless crankbaits. Submerged vegetation was hands down the best cover. Well over 75 percent of the bass recorded were caught around some type of submerged vegetation. So, break out those baits and start fishing them around some submerged vegetation before the fall frenzy comes to an end.

Be sure to look for my next articles as I plan to write about deep water fishing.

Lure Colors, Part 2: Water and Weather Conditions
October 6, 2008

Last time we talked about lure colors and the time of day. This time I want to talk about colors as they relate to water and weather conditions.

Most bass fishermen believe you shouldn't throw the same colors in muddy water as you would in crystal clear water. So, water clarity may be an angler's single most important consideration in choosing lure colors. According to the BASSlog, the best colors for extra clear water are green pumpkin, watermelon red flake and watermelon. Bluegill, shad and white are the next best colors.

For both clear (3-5 feet of visibility) and semi-stained (2-3 feet visibility) water, top colors are the same as extra clear except there are more fish recorded for watermelon than for watermelon/red flake. Shad, chrome/blue and black/blue are the next best colors for those waters.

The biggest surprise to me is that there isn't a big difference from gin clear water to muddy water. The best baits in muddy water are green pumpkin, chartreuse/white, watermelon, black/blue, shad and white. The main difference is that chartreuse/white is favored over watermelon/red flake.

Sky conditions and water depth don't seem to matter a whole lot when it comes to what colors to use. Watermelon and green pumpkin are again at the top for each depth and sky condition with one exception each. For water depth, once you get over 25 feet, silver is the top choice. Obviously, that's because structure spoons are best for those depths, and most spoon fishermen use silver spoons. For sky conditions, both clear and cloudy skies call for the same colors. However, on rainy days, white is the top choice over watermelon and green pumpkin.

We can also query the BASSlog entries and separate them according to the type of lure to find the best colors for each type. Doing this, I'm sure you can guess the best colors of soft plastics.

You guessed it! Green pumpkin, watermelon and watermelon red/ flake are at the top for most all soft plastics categories. Other good choices are black/blue, junebug, black, red shad and blue fleck.

As for diving crankbaits, the top picks are shad, baby bass, blue/chartreuse, white, firetiger and green orange. For lipless crankbaits, you should have chrome/blue, red and chrome/black in your arsenal.

Shad is by far the best color for hard jerkbaits with twice as many fish recorded as the runner-ups — clown and black/orange.

If you like fishing skirted jigs, you should throw black blue, green pumpkin or brown. If spinnerbaits are your thing, white, chartreuse/white and chartreuse are best. For spoons, it's silver, blue/white and gold. Best swimbait colors are shad, watermelon, and golden shiner. For the bladed jigs, it's white, chartreuse/white and green pumpkin.

As for topwaters, best popper colors are shad, firetiger and chrome/black. Best colors for stickbaits are chartreuse/white, blue and shad. For prop baits, try chrome/blue, green or gold/black. Finally, if you like to make some noise, use buzzbaits that have either white, black or chartreuse skirts.

To summarize, it seems that the best choices for most lures are those that blend in with the environment or resemble the food bass are accustomed to eating. Shades of green are the best colors for most soft plastics. I'm sure this is because green is the predominant color in the water. The majority of plants and water creatures are comprised of shades of green. Green pumpkin has caught more fish than any other color recorded in the BASSlog. However, if you were to group watermelon and watermelon/red flake together, they would outnumber green pumpkin. Other good colors for soft plastics are black/blue, junebug, red shad and black.

If you're throwing baits that are designed to mimic the forage that bass live on, you should be sure to match the color with the forage. I'm certain that some colors do work better than others in some situations. I know firsthand that shad and chrome colored baits work well in lakes with shad as the primary forage. The same fish may well bite any color you put in front of it, but your best odds of getting it to bite is to match the color of the forage or blend with the environment. After all, most forage is designed to blend for its own protection.

I also believe that confidence is important. If you are throwing colors that you have confidence in, you are more likely to work them properly. You will need to do some experimenting to build up your confidence. One thing's for sure, every fish you catch will be on a color that you throw. If purple is the only color you cast, you won't catch any on watermelon or green pumpkin.

Lure Colors, Part 1: Time of Day
September 22, 2008

With so many different colors to choose from, how can a person know what color lures to use? Do we really need to keep all those colors in our tacklebox? Is there a way to narrow down the selection?

I did a query on the Insider BASSlog and there were over 200 different color combinations recorded. When I narrowed it down to color combinations for lures that caught at least 20 fish, there were still 63 different color combinations. So, how can we know what color to choose? Does it really matter? Are there certain colors that would get that bass to bite when others would fail?

I don't think there is a completely scientific approach to prove what color would trigger a bass to bite when others would not. The only way to do that would be to offer it different colors in the exact presentation at the exact time, which is impossible to do. But we can obtain that information with a high degree of accuracy. We can consult the Insider BASSlog and find out what colors bass preferred in the past and rely on past behavior to predict the future.

The Insider BASSlog is a database where fishermen can post the conditions of their catch on the Internet. With over 2,100 registered, the findings are quite unbiased and we can get a pretty good idea of what color lures we should be using.

The task of determining what colors work best is harder than it might seem. There are so many variables to deal with. For one, different types of lures come in different colors. Think about the colors of plastic worms, crankbaits, spinnerbaits and spoons. All baits are not even available in all the same colors. Other factors include water clarity, water depth, time of day, and sky conditions.

We could break down each of these variables (and many more) even further and gain some more specific details. However, I believe just going into the first level of detail will give us some valuable information without getting too complicated. So, I will mention these facts individually without going into further detail. Just keep in mind that each detail can be broken down further and that the entire database is queried for each detail. To keep it to a minimum, I will list only the top color choices for each topic even though there may be dozens of other colors recorded.

First, I want to mention the best colors for each time of day. The top 3 colors for the first light to sun-up period are white, shad and watermelon.

The next period is sun-up to 9 a.m. The best color choices then are green pumpkin, watermelon and white.

Next is 9 a.m. to Noon. The best colors for that time period are green pumpkin, watermelon and watermelon/red flake.

From Noon to 3 p.m., green pumpkin, watermelon and shad are tops. From 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., it is green pumpkin, watermelon red/flake and watermelon.

Best color choices for dusk are green pumpkin, watermelon and white. Once it gets dark, black/blue, black and green pumpkin are the best picks.

Hot Baits of Summer: Skirted Jigs
August 1, 2008

BASS Insider's BASSlog is a database into which fishermen can post the conditions of their catches on the Internet. Once the conditions (date, lure, time period, structure, cover, etc.) are recorded, the BASSlog returns useful patterns, thanks to the combined input of other users.

With more than 2,100 registered users, the BASSlog is beginning to produce interesting and valuable data about fishing lures and techniques. For example, 10 percent of bass registered in the database were caught on skirted jigs, usually adorned with some sort of trailer.

These lures are famous for catching giant bass. Knowing when and where to throw them could help you catch that bass of a lifetime.

An interesting statistic I just learned from the BASSlog is that most jig fish are caught under clear conditions. And more than twice as many fish caught on jigs were caught under sunny conditions as compared cloudy skies. Another interesting stat is that most jig fish were caught in very cold water or 70 to 80 degree water. See the graph below for details.

The time of day was definitely a factor for catching fish on skirted jigs. By far, the best time period was 9 a.m. to noon. The next closest periods were just before and after that period. As the day progresses, less fish were recorded for each period. The midnight to first-light period had the least amount recorded, but the average weight was biggest then. See the graph below.

Vegetation was the best cover, with wood and rocks taking second and third. The best structure was shallow water with some type of drop nearby. The best depth was 6-10 feet, with just about as many fish in 5 feet or less. Most of the fish were caught in stained water (1-2 feet visibility), while semi-stained (2-3 feet visibility) had just about as many. The wind was a factor. More fish were caught on days with less wind.

The BASSlog recorded 20 different skirt colors for jig fish. The top 3 were (in order) black/blue, green pumpkin, and brown. The best sizes were 3/8 ounce, 1/2 ounce, and 1/4 ounce. By far, most fish were caught with a plastic craw trailer. However, many were also caught with creature and grub trailers.

In summary, jigs work best on relatively calm, sunny days from sunup to noon. The best jig water is either very cold or 70-80 degrees, less than 10 feet deep with 1-3 foot visibility and some type of vegetation, wood, or rock. The ideal structure is a shallow flat with a drop nearby.

Most popular choices are 3/8- to 1/2-ounce black/blue jigs with black/blue plastic craw trailers.

For more details, consult the Insider BASSlog here on BASS Insider, where you can learn which combinations to use under each condition. Additionally, the Log is full of information that I didn't cover. It holds an exhaustive list of most every type of lure you can catch a bass on — and jigs are only a small portion of the list. Best of all, you can use the BASSlog to record your fish and you can learn from your own success as well as from other Insider members. You should definitely use the BASSlog to record your own fish. The sooner you start, the more useful it will be. Even if you only catch a handful of fish per year, you can establish your own patterns over time. It is well-known that bass are pattern oriented. Learn the patterns and catch more fish!

I fish 200+ days as a fishing guide on one of the best lakes (Lake Fork, Texas) in the country. How I wish I had such a tool 20 years ago! I discovered how to find patterns by spending countless hours reading articles from biased authors and spending tons of hours on the lake. At last, we can all learn from our own trials as well as from the collection of over 2,100 fishermen.



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