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Summer Bass Fishing: Boat Docks and Cover

Posted by detroitsportsandmore on August 1, 2009

I went to a large private lake not far from my home in South East Michigan. The lake is clear and sandy over most of it’s bottom. It has significant weedy flats and strong weed lines in many sections. The size of the lake gives it a lot of variety although the sand and moderate weed cover dominates the underwater landscapes.

I set out in my small 14 ft. row boat and made my way to a small weed line near a drop off to start my mid-morning fishing(read: catching) trip. It was approximately 6-9 ft. in that location. I had a texas rigged Zoom finesse worm in watermelon red on a 4/0 eagle claw wide gap worm hook with a 1/4 oz. tungsten weight in green pumpkin. I was running 20 lb. Power Pro braid on the rod/reel I had on me.20.25" and approximately 5 lbs. 12 oz.

I also had another reel in my bag spooled with 30 lb. Power Pro braid but I did not need it. The lake has only a handful of spots where the heavier braid would come in handy and I did not plan on visiting them this trip.

I was not having much success to start out and the wind was creating some problems. I decided to make a big move, well big for a row boat, and I oared my way directly into the wind that was blowing steadily out of the South West.

There is a sunken island out towards the middle of the eastern half of the lake so I went there. I switched my presentation to a screw-in style football head jig. It was a 3/0 standard hook with no other dressings, just the jig head, hook, and a spot to screw your bait on. It was brown with red eyes and 1/2 oz. in weight. The wind made the weight necessary.

I made several casts across the top of the sunken island, trying to hit holes in the weeds. After several casts I decided another move was in order. I headed across a small saddle to a point that extends from the south shore out towards the sunken island. I could not fish the saddle as it sits underneath a ski course. It is typically a nice sandy spot to find a few small mouth bass. This lake has both large and small mouth bass along with rock bass.

I worked the point and missed on a hookup. Bites were tough to judge with the constant waves from the boat traffic and the persistent winds of about 10-15 mph.  Gusts near 20 mph were the main problem though.

After fighting mother nature I decided the best place to fish was the south shore, where I could tuck into the shallows away from the worst of the wind. Two bays on the south shore provided lots of room to fish away from most of the wind. I slowly oared my boat into position in between two docks.

The shore line on the south shore often has dark patches of bottom with moderate weed cover, including the occasional lily pad patch. Old tree stumps are located through the shallows as well. They do not hold fish but are used as cover for fish that are on the move. The occasional meal found by these structures cause bass to check them out regularly. The cloud cover became a little thicker around this time, approximately 11 a.m. I switched back to a texas rig with the same 4/0 wide gap worm hook and 1/4 oz. tungsten weight. This time I employed a Zoom Brush Hog in green pumpkin.

With the sun still showing strong the dull color looks realistic still. A little color or flash can turn fish off in high visibility situations.

I made my first cast over a lily pad patch. Instead of letting the bait fall I quickly popped it p to the surface of the lily pads. I twitched it along the surface of the pads and up onto one. You want to do this as quick as needed when you have weight on there. The pad patch was only 6 or 7 feet across and 9 feet wide. I stopped near the edge closer to me and twitched the Hog on top of the pad trying to draw attention. I then pulled it back through the remaining lily pads. Just as it reached the edge a big explosion occurred.

No hookup.

So I repeated the same sequence a few feet left. Same explosion, same result. Time to switch it up. I casted further left, just off to the side of the lily pads and brought the Hog up next to the far corner of the patch. I let it sit, motionless for about 15 seconds. I gave it a slight pop, just enough to get it up and out of the weeds, and let it settle back down. I watched as a bass came out from the lily pads and stopped right next to my bait. I gave it a subtle twitch. The bass began to swim slowly back into the lily pads as I drove the hook in.

Like a race horse out of the blocks, he exploded out of the lily pads and gave a picture perfect head shake. I dropped the rod and worked him to my right. The braid was more than enough to bring the 19 inch bucket mouth to the boat. I lipped him, admired him, then let him go back to his patch.

I continued down the bank in much the same fashion. Checking spots on the spot. I would fish small spots like the lily patch, focusing on corners or structure within weed patches or shady overhangs. I pulled another bass from under a raft, only about a 14 inch large mouth. Moving on I found another small weed patch next to some lily pads. I dropped my Hog on the back corner and let it sit. One twitch and Boom! Another nice fish, this one about 18 inch put on a good show before I let him go.

Further down the bank I came across a large oak tree that lost a limb into the water. It was still attached and was covered in green leaves. I swung my rod tip low as I casted. I was off to the right side, moving right to left down the shore. I skipped my lure under the back side of the tree and gave it a few mild twitches. This time nothing happened. I thought for sure I would catch one there.

I began to retrieve my lure through the open water about 5 feet from the tree when something caught my eye off to the right. I stopped reeling and let my lure fall to the bottom. Right across the open water I saw a nice bass swimming towards my lure. I waited, he must ave seen it fall and went to inspect it. I waited until he acted like he may turn around and I gave the Hog a quick solid twitch.

It was like the fish was made of lightning. He covered about 4 feet of water in a flash and began to swim back the way he came. I drove the hook in hard and the fish used that same lightning speed to drive towards the weeds. He was pulling considerable drag, despite my aggressive setting, until he turned towards the boat and made a bee line for it. He took a lap and a half around the boat and then performed some water acrobatics about 4 feet from the side of the boat. He was getting some serious air too.

I had enough of that and went to landing him. I quickly pulled him up into the boat with my rod and lipped him to take the hook out. A small mouth, which would explain the fight and show. He had a minor injury to his eye but was still as beautiful as ever. He was a healthy fish other than that and measured about 17 inch, maybe slightly more.

What a treat. Small mouth bass have become a big favorite of mine of the years.

Next I continued down the shore and began to get back into the wind. I had to use my anchor to keep my boat in place long enough to cast and make a decent presentation.

I was almost out of Zoom Brush Hogs and switched to a comparable 4 inch Berkley Tube in green pumpkin color. It is a little darker and has less character than the creature bait. I flipped the shallows and caught a few large mouth bass in the 11-14 inch range. I even caught two rock bass. You have to admire a 7 inch fish that eats a 4 inch bait.

I decided to go back to the Brush Hog when I came across a nice area with multiple types of cover. I threw a few casts and wasn’t catching anything. I casted to small section of dock under an oak overhang and had a bite, but missed a hookup.

I ripped a low cast under the tree, there was approximately 5 feet of clearance under the tree that extended over 20 feet out from shore. I landed my Hog about 3 feet past a large section of dock that was laying flat on the bottom in about 3 feet of water. I popped the lure up onto the dock and paused. It was far away but my instincts told me something had moved up there. I twitched my lure and felt a very slight pressure. Acting on instinct I slammed the hook home.


My reel began screaming, as if to tell me to chill out or something. A big bass began diving into the weeds. Despite the tight drag, the bass took the line he wanted and tried to dive into pieces of cover as I pulled him towards the boat. After several attempts to bury himself, the big boy ran under and circled the boat. I followed him around and guided him back to the side of the boat. Perhaps finally wearing down he relaxed for a brief second. I quickly dropped down and lipped him.

The biggest bass of the day was a 21 inch beauty. The large mouth had a solid body and held good weight. I estimated him to be a shade over 4 pounds.

I continued on with my Brush Hog and Berkley Tube and caught several more fish as I made my way back. In one spot I skipped the Hog up under a double wide dock. About 6 feet under the end of the dock a nice 19 inch fish hooked up and came to see me. 20 feet down the side of the dock and 4 feet under, another nice bass, about 17 inches, took the offering. A nearby weed patch produced a 16 inch and 15 inch bass.

In the heavy waves also took advantage of a small break along a sea wall to catch another nice 18 inch fish.

I finally gave into the wind and let it push me back towards my dock. Along the way I tested some weed patches across some large flats, catching one decent 16 inch bass and two smaller fish, 11 inches and 12 inches respectively, before I left.

All in all it was a very successful trip. The standard summer pattern of boat dock and cover fishing near shore proved to be the right pattern for the day.

I hope I can return one more time before the summer ends to try another section of shore.

If you want more detailed information about cover and dock fishing in shallow water, leave me a comment here and I WILL GET BACK TO YOU.

Remember to share your passion for fishing with others and take someone fishing if you get the privilege to do so.



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Successful Fishermen Understand the “Why?”

Posted by detroitsportsandmore on July 7, 2009

I always like to tell people that I am not going fishing. I’m going catching. There’s a big difference.

I do still go fishing, I love to experiment, experience truly is the best teacher (if you are paying attention).

So what’s the difference between fishing and catching? What makes some anglers successful, while others struggle?

It’s an understanding of the “Why?”.

So what is the “Why?”? Simply put, it’s the reason you are doing what you are doing. If you can answer these questions every time you are fishing then you may be close:

  1. Why am I using this lure?
  2. Why am I presenting it this way?
  3. Why am I fishing it in this spot?
  4. Why am I using this line?
  5. Why is it working or (more likely) not working?

I will elaborate more on these subjects (continued from Bleacher Report) in the near future but I will address them some here as well.

  1. Each lure has purpose, it may be used in many ways, such as a plastic worm, or it may be more specific like a chatterbait. If you are going to fish a lure you should know what purpose it has. The catch here is that you give each lure purpose. Which leads us to the next point.
  2. The way you fish a lure can be the main difference between catching fish and just casting a lure. Crankbaits and stickbaits can be jerked erratically, walked steadily, and anything in between, soft plastics can be rigged in a seemingly endless array of presentations. It is important to understand why a presentation will be successful. Are the fish active? Is one weight going to keep the lure in the strike zone longer?
  3. Location, Location, Location, right? Yes, it is that important. If you Find the right spot, and use the right lure and presentation, then you are very likely to be successful.
  4. Line type fits in with presentation. Clear, open water usually calls for smaller diameter flourocarbon and mono. Thick weeds and brush usually calls for heavy braid. Fish can see line when it’s obvious. It is important to learn how to use what you need. If you are vertically jigging in 30 feet of water for small mouth bass with no weeds or structure around, you may only need 10 pound fluorocarbon line. Fishing in heavy weeds for the same fish may require 65 pound braid. If you know which lure and how you want it presented for the spot you chose, then make sure your line matches.
  5. This is the most important question to answer. The more times you answer this question, the better you have become. When you can successfully identify why something is working, you can use that knowledge to catch fish another time. Likewise, you can learn a lot from what does not work as well. Figure out if it’s the lure, the color, the presentation, or just a bad location. Experiment, pay attention, and learn to be a better fishermen.

Next time your out, pay attention to the “Why?”, you’ll be a better fishermen if you do.

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The Top Ten Bass Fishing Lures for 2009

Posted by detroitsportsandmore on July 7, 2009

Summer bass fishing has it’s own personality. The water temperatures, light penetration, weed growth, forage movement, and fishing pressure all have significant impacts on bass fisheries. From one weather condition to the next and from one time of the day to the next, the following slide show is a showcase of the best bass lures in use today. No. 8 landed this bass in the spring of 09′, along with three more just like him!

Check it out here!You have to love spring fishing here in Michigan.

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Supporting a good cause for the outdoors

Posted by detroitsportsandmore on June 18, 2009

Take the pledge to take one person fishing. If you don’t know much about fishing then help someone else achieve this goal and go with them. If you need help you can ask me, help the economy and book a guide, get outdoors. No one supports the outdoors like those who use it. A fishing license is a great way to spend some money, enjoy the outdoors, and support the outdoors!

Go fishing and take someone with you!

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Monster Detroit River Muskie on Bondy Bait

Posted by detroitsportsandmore on June 15, 2009

Captain Jon Bondy with a 55" Monster Muskie!

Captain Jon Bondy with a 55" Monster Muskie!

In case you haven’t already heard, the Detroit River has an incredible muskie fishery.

No one knows this better than Captain Jon Bondy. He recently sent this picture over of a 55″ x 24″ pig he caught while trolling his own lure, appropriately named Bondy Bait.

The baits and more about Jon and his guide service can be found at : 

The Detroit River is an incredible spot to fish and is so unique due to it’s proximity to the population. Walleye, muskie, perch, white bass, catfish, small mouth bass, large mouth bass, crappie, salmon, steelhead, and so on….are all available within boat distance of the city on the big waters.

It’s a great place to be if you’re an angler, that’s for sure!

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The quest continues….

Posted by detroitsportsandmore on June 15, 2009

I went out Sunday, late morning, to search for my state record pumpkinseed. I was able to catch some very nice blue gills in the 9″+ range and a few pumpkinseeds, but the largest pumpkinseed was only 8 1/2″. He was promising though, as he had begun to grow the hump above his eye that mature fish grow. The same lake and bay has produced some decent fish this spring but the fish will begin to scatter more as summer progresses. I have found a bait that I really think will continue to produce good fish. It is a trout/panfish chatterbait from Zman. The Flashback Mini is a 1/16 oz. model that has worked beautifully when I have used it.

I think it’s a worthwhile addition to your line-up for crappie, perch, gills, smallmouth, trout, and more. It’s just a good design.

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California Trout Fishing at Pinecrest Lake Serves up a Surprise

Posted by detroitsportsandmore on June 12, 2009

For better or worse, for richer or poorer. I think fishermen should know these vows, married or not.

I was fortunate enough to take a vacation last week and visited my wife’s side of the family out in California. We were there for a wedding, congratulations Shannon and Javier, and my future brother-in-law planned to rent a pontoon and take everyone out for a day on the lake.

The weather was better than it had been but was too cold to go swimming. I found myself getting chilled when the sun ducked behind the clouds. We headed across the lake near where the river fed the lake. Evidently rented boats don’t utilize anchors so we drifted the pontoon to shore and climbed out onto the rocks to try our luck for a few rainbows.

Drew described the lake as a decent fishery but not spectacular. Fish and Game regularly stocked the lake and had just stocked it the week before. This meant that there should be 800 more 9″-11″ fish swimming around and that was what he was used to catching.

I shipped some of my fishing gear the week prior but had not planned on trout fishing much. Instead, I was set up to tackle bass on New Melones Reservoir.

I looked through my hard bait selection and came up with one decent option. A Bass Pro Shops brand spoon that is no longer in production to my knowledge. It’s a simple shad type pattern, black top, silver side, red throat, and a silver backside. It was a bit over-sized but it was the best I had in my box, so naturally I decided to give it a try.

I climbed out on the rocks and looked for a spot. The wind was creating some mild waves and I tucked into a small bay surrounded by massive boulders. I began throwing my spoon and almost instantly I had a hit. No hook-up though so I slowed my retrieve. Another bump and another bump. The slow retrieve was getting attention but no hook-ups.

“Maybe the fish are too small for this larger spoon offering”, I thought to myself.

I decided to stick with it and I sped up my retrieve to a medium speed and threw in a few erratic jerks immediately after it hit the water. Steady medium speed, all the way in. Bam. Hook-up!

The braid was more than strong enough to handle the 14″ rainbow and I pulled it into a shallow pool in the cracks of the rock. I went and showed Drew what I had found. “That’s pretty good for here”, he remarked. Not from a recent stocking it seemed.

California Rainbow Trout at Pinecrest Lake

We placed it on the stringer and I went back to my spot, hoping that it would turn into more than just a lucky catch.

A few casts later I knew I had it right. A big hit and fun fight yielded an 18″ rainbow. It was such a  beautiful, healthy fish my wife wanted to take a picture. I hadn’t held a trout in my hands for about two years and forgot just how strong and feisty they can be. The trout jerked right through my hands, bounced once, and was gone.

At least it was a catch.

I was a little disappointed but my adrenaline was pumping and there were more fish to be caught, so I climbed up to the next rock and went back to it. A few short minutes later I landed a 15″ fish, then a 17″ fish, then another 14″ fish.

Everyone was excited. My two younger sisters, Breena and Miriam, were standing behind me, when they weren’t fishing, for many of the catches. I went on to catch several more trout including another nice 18″ fish.

In total we took home 7 fish in under 2 hours of fishing. Not bad for a lake that is only OK.

I look forward to getting back there and finding some more trout, whether in the lakes or streams, California has a remarkable trout fishery.

I encourage everyone that loves fishing to try it out if the opportunity presents itself.

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My quest for a state record…..

Posted by detroitsportsandmore on May 26, 2009

Last year I went fishing with my father. It was a simple trip, a semi-tradition I suppose. Usually on the 4th of July or Memorial Day we try to go fishing in the morning. It’s always for something to keep, never sport fishing. Bluegills are the main target, sometimes Walleye, Crappie, or Perch are on the menu too though.

Last year we did the traditional Bluegill trip on a small row boat at a friend’s house. The lake is private and quieter than most. It is a very large lake and has very good water clarity. That day was windy though and things were getting stirred up a bit. The west/southwest winds were pushing 1-2′ waves across the open water. We were fishing in a 14′ row boat with a 30 lb. thrust trolling motor. It’s not much for fighting winds and waves.

The wave action was creating some interesting breaks along the north shore so we found a bay and nestled up into it. Being early in the year the pollen was floating on the water and settling in the slack areas. It made identifying the slack easy and gave a nice visual to cast to. We set up our bobbers and worms and casted them to the break. We caught Bass, Bluegill, Pumpkinseed, Perch, Rockbass, and even a Smallmouth. It was fun fishing.

The break was producing lots of fish but not many really big fish. We started casting to the other sides of the boat in slightly deeper water. We started catching nicer fish. 9″ Gills started filling the stringer.

Then I got a BIG surprise.

I hooked into what felt like a decent Bass. Then it turned sideways, which is a trademark for a Bluegill, so I knew I had a good 9″ or better Gill on. When I grabbed it from the water I was stunned. It wasn’t a Bluegill, it was a Pumpkinseed Sunfish.

My first impression is that it was deformed, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I had caught Gills over 10″ before but never a Pumpkinseed. It looked like it had a helmet on, kind of like the old leather football helmets. It’s head, directly above it’s eye, went straight up and made it have almost a square appearance.

I knew I had something special so I decided to get some measurements. The length came in right at 10 1/8″ and the weight was 0.97 lbs. on the digital scale. For a Bluegill that’s nice, but not special. For a Pumpkinseed, that’s HUGE. The official state record is 10″ and 1.34 lbs. Looks like mine needed to fatten up some. Being Memorial Day I imagine it will by fall.

This experience got me thinking, the lake is healthy and has good numbers of above average fish. The lake could produce a state record perhaps? I think I will see if it can….

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More Spring Fishing

Posted by detroitsportsandmore on May 18, 2009

Shore brush, great for fishing....

Trying something of my favorite species in Michigan.

Trying something of my favorite species in Michigan.

A few pictures from some of my favorite lakes in Oakland County, MI. The picture to the left is a beautiful spring pumpkin seed and the right is some great shore line structure on a lake I grew up on. The lake isn’t pretty and that’s part of what makes it so much fun to fish.

If you look closely you can see a stump on the bottom of the right picture. The lake is full of wood and tires.

The fish on the left was taken on an ultra light spinning rod. The lure is a bit unusual. I used an ice fishing teardrop style jig and slid it inside a micro panfish tube, about 3/4″ long in total. Tipped with a Gulp! waxxie it will catch Gills, Perch, Bass, Crappie, and more. It’s a lot of fun to mix things up every now and then.

With Memorial day coming I hope to get a couple of my friends out on the water, Memorial Day and Independence Day are usually when I go out with my Dad but he’s out of town this year. Hopefully in a few years the tradition can include my son, Cullen, shown here ready for an airsoft battle.

Watch out!

Watch out!

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What happened to Responsible Hunting?

Posted by detroitsportsandmore on May 8, 2009

All around the United States people hunt for deer. It is as American as Credit Cards. Through remarkable management efforts the opportunity to harvest a deer has never been better. The problem is the quality of deer has dropped to next to nothing in many areas.

There are places where a six point with a 13″ spread is a nice deer. What about a six point 13″ deer is nice. I understand that getting a deer in some areas is difficult enough and is still an accomplishment, but you may as well shoot a doe. The average buck with a 14″ or less spread is a year and a half old. It’s a kid in deer years, not a baby, but about a 7 year old.

” But there aren’t any big bucks where I hunt!” You know how many times I’ve heard that? Well, just maybe, if you let them live another year, that’s right, just one, they’d be much bigger. You see a two and a half year old deer is going to be 15″-18″ wide typically and have seven or more points. Not a giant, but much bigger. A teen if you will.

If you can be patient for two years, that buck, at three and a half years, will be 17″ or better and sport seven or more much larger points. These are general numbers and can vary but no matter how you add them up, the deer are much bigger.

Can we not hold off for two years and eat a doe? Is it that hard. Seriously, if I told you that you could have a doe this year and next and a wall hanger buck the year after if you didn’t shoot a buck the next two years would you take it? I know that you may not get those deer but letting them live certainly increases the odds.

Most hunters sacrifice time hanging stands, putting in food plots, and sitting in the cold for countless hours yet we can’t pass up shooting a small buck? Come on everyone. Let them live, create something special for yourself and your future generations. Practice responsible harvest.

Let them go another year.

Let them go another year.

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