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donberry

Really bad angler needs advice

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long, sorry, but I need help.

I need help. I have to be one of the worse fishermen. So many things I could ask, but for now I will just ask about one scenario. Supposed to be a storm coming in at midnight, air temp is low 60’s. I decide to hit the lake for a couple of hours until the storm moves in. I was on the water at 9:00pm, ended up fishing until around 2:30, never did rain until I got back home.

Fishing Tims Ford Lake in Tn. Water temp is a perfect 60 degrees. Lake is as smooth as glass for the most part.

Started by hitting points and the back of creek channels, showing bait fish near the top. I do not hear any top water action going on. I throw quite a few things, don’t get a bite. Some of the things I was throwing

a. Castaic Catch 22 slow sinker, silver shad

b. Rapala DT

c. Rat-L-Trap

d. Original Rapala Floter – 5” and 3 ½”

e. Spinnerbait – mostly white with some chartreuse, 2 blades, with trailer

f. Lucky Craft Flash Minnow

g. Fluke – weighted and unweighted

After a couple of hours, still not hearing any real topwater action, I decide to drop the downrigger. Baitfish are near the top, so I drop a Catch 22 down to about 12’ and a Sebile Magic swimmer down to about 5’. Trolled a while, lines are a good 150-200 feet behind the boat, using trolling motor as the lake is so quiet. I also tried a bucktail jig with a Gulp minnow and the small floating rapala. Did this for about an hour – not a nibble, tried various depths.

Back in the creek channels. Fish start feeding on top. Not a frenzy, but a nice fish obviously feeding on the baitfish at least every 5-10 minutes . Couple of times some would do this 20 feet from the boat.

I basically sit in this channel for a good couple of hours. Baitfish are in the top 5’ and I can hear and see the striper/bass coming up. Nothing, not a nibble. I threw the following

a. Rapala skitter walk – walked the dog. Also just let it sit and make some noise

b. Zara Spook Puppy – walked the dog with pauses.

c. Catch 22 – slow and fast retrieve, occasionally jerks and stops

d. Magic swimmer - slow and fast retrieve, occasionally jerks and stops

e. The original floating rapalas – one about 5” and one small one – floaters and have been my most productive lure. Tried slow, med. Fast retrieves, jerking and stopping on the retrieve and also just jerking it back

f. Zoom Fluke – unweighted so it would not sink too fast. Jerk, let it sink some, jerk etc…sometimes fast jerks, other times slow

Also threw a spinnerbait for good measure - one mainly white, 2 silver spinners and one mainly yellow, 1 gold and one silver spinner.

Now while I am throwing these, again not a frenzy, but fish are feeding on top with some sounding very big making huge splashes (startled me once it was so big). Channel is small now due to winter draw down. I am pretty much in the middle working the lures on either side and down the middle behind and in front of the boat. I would just get done working one area and minutes later a nice fish would come up and hit the baitfish in that same area.

Nothing on top, maybe I can get one down deeper to hit so I start throwing a Rat-L-Trap, chrome and blue on top, a small rapala dt and a medium size one . I also let the Zoom fluke drop down deeper thinking how could one of those fish not hit this "dying" baitfish drifting towards the bottom, struggling to stay alive (jerks)

Nothing. Thinking smaller may do it, I tried using a Gulp minnow, maybe 3” ? on just a jighead. Worked it shallow and deep.

Nothing.

I also threw some 4" Basstrix hollow body paddle tails and my 2nd most productive lure to date the Strike King Shadalicious. Of course when I say my most productive, in September I caught bass in the jumps and a couple of times I was catching one about every cast - but I could have probably thrown out tin foil and caught a fish.

Just a normal fishing day for me.

Oh, tackle – I am using spinning reels, a 3 older shimanos, a Pflueger President and a Okuma Trio 30S. Line is Stren 8 lb clear blue mono (for the blacklights), 2 of the rigs have about 10 feet of clear fluorocarbon “leaders”. 

Some I was using small black snap swivels, couple had no swivels, tied directly to the line.

Any suggestions as to why I am so bad ? I used to think I was a decent angler but it turns out I was only emulating my brother and left on my own, I am absolutely horrible. This is a typical fishing day for me.

ANY suggestions, tips, info would be greatly appreciated. Water temps should stay around 58-60 until I get back out there probably Thursday.


 


 


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first thing that jumped out on me was that everything you threw had a faster (relative) action. In other words, everything you threw was moving, and needed somewhat of a reaction strike for them to bite. First thing I would do is change up presentations. Quit the trolling, and the crankbaits. Obviously its not working for some reason. Throw soft plastics, slow down your presentations, and focus around areas you think they might be holding.

 

BTW are you fishing for bass or hybrid stripers?

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Hi - I don't fish for bass but had exactly the same experience when I started trout fishing. If I shared a boat with a good angler i caught plenty of fish ( about half what they did ) just by copying them. But when I went out on my own my catch rate went down by 75%.

So for what its worth my suggestions are;-

1> Make friends with someone else, ideally a bunch of different fishermen who all catch lots of fish and go fishing with them. Even if your fishing buddy is no better than you, by working as a team you will pattern the fish in half the time and both double your catch and your learning rate.

Joining a fishing club is a really good way to meet other anglers.

2> If you are not catching fish and others are then spend lots of time watching some top anglers. Don't even fish yourself, just watch what they are doing. Don't fish their spots or mug them by getting too close. Just sit a quarter mile or so away and watch them quietly through binoculars. Don't worry about trying to figure out what they are throwing, instead try to work out what type of structure they are fishing, how fastslow they are retrieving and how long they wait before they retrieve ( i.e. how deep ). Then think about how that relates to fish behaviour.

3> Don't read fishing magazines or get preoccupied with tackle. They are all full of commercial rubbish designed to get you to buy product from their sponsors. Fish dont care what make of rod, reel or often the exact lure you are using. For example if they are feeding on shad 10 feet down then I would bet that almost anything the right size profile and speed at that depth will get hit if your approach has been quiet enough for them not to know you are there. Imho catching fish starts and ends with understanding their behaviour and the environment they are in.

4> Don't worry to much about blanking. Everyone has bad days, they are just economical in saying so. If catching lots of fish was easy it would soon get boring. :)

Good Luck - Lurch

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koofy - Thanks for the suggestions, I will try slowing wayyyy down and see what happens. As for what I am fishing for, well, thought I wanted to learn how to fish for smallmouth (I grew up fishing for crappie and largemouth, we did not have lakes anywhere close to as deep as these), but now I am trying to catch anything. I mainly have been concentrating on secondary points and now at the creeks. I caught the fish in the jumps a couple times this year and I had always thought they were stripers/hybrids. Much to my surprise they were both smallmouth and largemouth. It was on a long, shallow flat,with a steep incline leading down to 90', so I figured maybe the largemouth were hanging out on the flats and the smallmouth were coming off the inclines. I was catching them all on a small floating rapala and a shad-i9licious, tho now looking back I could have probably thrown a piece of tin foil out there with a hook.



So basically they have to almost jump in my boat for me to catch them smile.gif



 



Lurch - yea, everyone always knows someone who is a great angler and for me, that was my brother. He always slayed the fish. I made the mistake of thinking while not as good, I was a good angler - not - turns out you take him away and I am horrible.



 



I've lived here 18 years but I am a retired vet and did not grow up here, so still really do not know that many people to go fishing with. I am probably going to get a guide just so I can see what they heck I should be doing anyway. While it was frustrating, I never really worried about going fishless for the most part. Bad part about last night was that I was on them and they were feeding - and i still couldn't catch them.



Doubt it, but was wondering if maybe the clear blue line and the black light scares them away when I am using top water stuff. You can see the line a long ways from the boat......next time I may flip off the lights a bit to see if it makes a difference.


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okay now I can give you some more help. Try fishing more shallow. I know up here (your wayyy south of me) but Ive been having good luck fishing spinnerbaits slowly around the shallows really tight to cover. Floating cranks and jerkbaits up shallow have been working as well. Jigs are also a great way to go this time of year, and fish them slowwww. Sometimes 2-4 seconds between hops, and once again, tight to cover. If its really windy, try to get to the area of the lake where the wind is blowing, and fish up against that side of the lake. Lots of times in the fall the wind will push the baitfish that the bass are on up shallow and the bass will follow, working the area picking them off. Working the schools is kind of hard because with so much bait, the chance of them picking out your one little lure can be pretty challenging. And even though you may be doing it perfectly, they just are taking one of the other 500 little baitfish that look just like your lure. Try fishing around the schools, up shallow and you may have some better luck.

 

You can also try picking up a Sebile Magic Swimmer, somewhere around 15-16 bucks. Its a bigger lure, but its acceptable in fall. Fan cast a relatively shallow area, and just reel slow to moderately, with a few stops and jerks in there. A bigger lure will stand out, and if its looking injured, they see it as an easy meal.

 

Main key is keep switching it up, and youll soon find out just what they want. Good luck

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If your trying for smallmouths at night you are most likely to late in the year. I do alot of smallmouth fishing and I stop night fishing for them when I need more than a t-shirt on at night. I like the water to be around the 70 degree mark. Up here July is my go to month for night time smallies, not sure what time of year is best down by you. There is a point also where the water can get too warm and I have ran into some tough night fishing some years in August. My go to night time baits vary. If im going with bigger baits I will throw big wake baits like the 7" MS Slammer or something just sub surface like the 3:16 Rising Son. My smaller bait selection includes bomber jerkbaits, poppers, keitech swimbaits and the old school jitterbug. Almost every single one of these baits are in black or some combination that includes black. And STOP FLASHING YOUR LIGHTS OR HEADLAMPS INTO THE WATER.:D

Here is a good one I got in July on the slammer.

[img=

 

This time of year I am mainly am fishing water less than 15' deep, focusing on any shallow cover such as rock piles, rocky ridges or laydowns on steeper shorelines. I have had some decent success the past couple trips slow rolling spinnerbaits. Keep in mind that I have been fishing in water between 48 and 50 degrees. For a slower approach I will switch to a pointer 100 and try to find the cadence the fish are looking for. And if I want to slow it down even more I will throw a keitech swimbait and use it like a jig in the rock piles or I will just throw on a regular jig with small craw trailer.

One I got last Saturday on a spinnerbait slow rolled in about 12' of water.

http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z255/Holick8224/PB180306-1.jpg]

 

Other baits to look into are a robo worm or ptl finicky tickler on a drop shot(my buddy has been doing good with this). I see alot of guys using rattletraps like the red eye shad with a lot of success but I haven't had much luck with them up by me.

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koofy - the sebile magic swimmer - got it. Both the what 90mm and 125mm, whatever they are. Both in shiner color ( I forget the exact color right now. Quick "funny" story. I bought my 1st Magic Swimmer a few weeks ago. I also bought a couple new rod/reels as my Shimanos, while working okay, are pretty old. I bought a Okuma Trio 30S High Speed spinning reel and a Pflueger President Spinning reel and put them both on a Ugly Stick Lite Pro - not the best poles but I always thought a good bang for the buck. I also got an Okuma AL-100 baitcaster but not yet comfortable or accurate with that yet (I do suck at fishing, but I can hit a fly right between the eyes casting my spinning reels - fishing with my brother I did learn to be very accurate when casting as he was not always too keen on turning the boat around to get a snagged lure back)



Anyway - 1st trip out with the Plfueger and Okuma, new line etc....so of course the 1st lure I am trying out is the Magic Swimmer. I am working shallow flats that have decent inclines on them. Now while my old shimanos still work okay, they do not cast nearly as far as that Okuma - the 3rd time I cast that Sebile I put too much air under it and yep, wrapped it around a branch maybe 15 feet up. Could not reach it to get it back so I marked it on the gps and the next time out I went back with a saw - I am going to cut down the tree to get that lure back. Is a real small tree, maybe a fist in diamter - but since they started drawing down the lake, that shoreline is now nothing but jagged rock - so I don;t want to pull my fiberglass boat up to it.



Maybe next year when the water comes back up.....3rd cast and I lost a $15 lure.



 



When I do take up a "new" hobby, I always get carried away. All of my tackle was pretty old so I have scoured the internet, reading all of the "pro's" tips, what they are using etc and pretty much bought all new tackle around that. Yes, I know a lot of it is just them selling a product, but most things are lures that it seemed like many others were using.



 



I did buy a couple new of the Magic Swimmers because in those 2 whole casts I made, it sure looked pretty realistic. I also bought a pack of the soft body, 3 per pack.

I also picked up a couple of the Castaic Catch 22 in silver shiner.  I do not know why, but I always seem to be gravitating towards the swimbaits, both hard and soft body..



I have no doubt I did just waste a lot of money, but as mentioned, my tackle was pretty old as I have fished very, very little since moving here 15+ years ago because I did not have a boat and Tims Ford does not really give you much in the way of fishing from shore.



 



My boat is not pretty, but it works great. When I decided I wanted a boat finally, I did not want to spend much until I knew for sure I was going to actually use it a lot, so I was looking around the $1k price range - which is mainly row boats with an old motor. I had put a "want to buy" ad on craigs list and this one guy contacted me and said he had a 1988 Dynasty Fish and Ski, with trolling motor, ran great for $1200.00. So I ran over to check it out and was impressed for $1200.00. It was in January and the boat was winterized. paint was all faded and the interior not bad, but worn and it had a OMC 4.3l with the Cobra outdrive. Considering everything else I was seeing for this price, I took a chance. So I bought it and my son and I immediately went to the lake after we "un-winterized" it. Put it in the water and the guy was not lying, it started right up and ran great. Tooled around for a good half hour or so, impressed and happy, then came back and trailered it. Pulled the drain plug and immediately saw why he sold it so cheap - gallons and gallons and gallons of water started pouring out of it. The thing leaked like a sieve. Well, looked like I had a new project. To make an already long story short - turned out the problem was when they built the boat, the original drain plug only came half way thru the hull and the other half was exposed wood, so over the decades that exposed wood had rotted from sitting in water. Rest of the transom was as solid as new so I just cleaned the rotted wood out, which was only maybe an inch around the drain hole, filled it with fiberglass and resin, put a new drain plug in that went all the way thru the hull and has worked great since.



Now planning on painting it etc but it floats and runs good so I thought it turned out great for the money.



 



Enjoyed the heck out of it and knew I would never be boatless again, so that is when I decided to replace all of my tackle etc. and when i do take up a hobby, I always end up spending way too much money so scoured every article I could find and made notes on what lures etc they were using and that is pretty much how I filled the tackle box.



 



Of course then i discovered I was a lousy fisherman and was deceived into thinking I had actually learned things fishing with my brother....


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Quote:

Originally Posted by donberry View Post

 

 

 

long, sorry, but I need help.

 

I need help. I have to be one of the worse fishermen. So many things I could ask, but for now I will just ask about one scenario. Supposed to be a storm coming in at midnight, air temp is low 60’s. I decide to hit the lake for a couple of hours until the storm moves in. I was on the water at 9:00pm, ended up fishing until around 2:30, never did rain until I got back home.

 

Fishing Tims Ford Lake in Tn. Water temp is a perfect 60 degrees. Lake is as smooth as glass for the most part.

 

Started by hitting points and the back of creek channels, showing bait fish near the top. I do not hear any top water action going on. I throw quite a few things, don’t get a bite. Some of the things I was throwing

 

a. Castaic Catch 22 slow sinker, silver shad

 

b. Rapala DT

 

c. Rat-L-Trap

 

d. Original Rapala Floter – 5” and 3 ½”

 

e. Spinnerbait – mostly white with some chartreuse, 2 blades, with trailer

 

f. Lucky Craft Flash Minnow

 

g. Fluke – weighted and unweighted

 

After a couple of hours, still not hearing any real topwater action, I decide to drop the downrigger. Baitfish are near the top, so I drop a Catch 22 down to about 12’ and a Sebile Magic swimmer down to about 5’. Trolled a while, lines are a good 150-200 feet behind the boat, using trolling motor as the lake is so quiet. I also tried a bucktail jig with a Gulp minnow and the small floating rapala. Did this for about an hour – not a nibble, tried various depths.

 

Back in the creek channels. Fish start feeding on top. Not a frenzy, but a nice fish obviously feeding on the baitfish at least every 5-10 minutes . Couple of times some would do this 20 feet from the boat.

 

I basically sit in this channel for a good couple of hours. Baitfish are in the top 5’ and I can hear and see the striper/bass coming up. Nothing, not a nibble. I threw the following

 

a. Rapala skitter walk – walked the dog. Also just let it sit and make some noise

 

b. Zara Spook Puppy – walked the dog with pauses.

 

c. Catch 22 – slow and fast retrieve, occasionally jerks and stops

 

d. Magic swimmer - slow and fast retrieve, occasionally jerks and stops

 

e. The original floating rapalas – one about 5” and one small one – floaters and have been my most productive lure. Tried slow, med. Fast retrieves, jerking and stopping on the retrieve and also just jerking it back

 

f. Zoom Fluke – unweighted so it would not sink too fast. Jerk, let it sink some, jerk etc…sometimes fast jerks, other times slow

 

Also threw a spinnerbait for good measure - one mainly white, 2 silver spinners and one mainly yellow, 1 gold and one silver spinner.

 

Now while I am throwing these, again not a frenzy, but fish are feeding on top with some sounding very big making huge splashes (startled me once it was so big). Channel is small now due to winter draw down. I am pretty much in the middle working the lures on either side and down the middle behind and in front of the boat. I would just get done working one area and minutes later a nice fish would come up and hit the baitfish in that same area.

 

Nothing on top, maybe I can get one down deeper to hit so I start throwing a Rat-L-Trap, chrome and blue on top, a small rapala dt and a medium size one . I also let the Zoom fluke drop down deeper thinking how could one of those fish not hit this "dying" baitfish drifting towards the bottom, struggling to stay alive (jerks)

 

Nothing. Thinking smaller may do it, I tried using a Gulp minnow, maybe 3” ? on just a jighead. Worked it shallow and deep.

 

Nothing.

 

I also threw some 4" Basstrix hollow body paddle tails and my 2nd most productive lure to date the Strike King Shadalicious. Of course when I say my most productive, in September I caught bass in the jumps and a couple of times I was catching one about every cast - but I could have probably thrown out tin foil and caught a fish.

 

Just a normal fishing day for me.

 

Oh, tackle – I am using spinning reels, a 3 older shimanos, a Pflueger President and a Okuma Trio 30S. Line is Stren 8 lb clear blue mono (for the blacklights), 2 of the rigs have about 10 feet of clear fluorocarbon “leaders”. 

 

Some I was using small black snap swivels, couple had no swivels, tied directly to the line.

 

Any suggestions as to why I am so bad ? I used to think I was a decent angler but it turns out I was only emulating my brother and left on my own, I am absolutely horrible. This is a typical fishing day for me.

 

ANY suggestions, tips, info would be greatly appreciated. Water temps should stay around 58-60 until I get back out there probably Thursday.

 

 

 

 

 

while fishing at night... fish need to hear it or smell it.. there eye sight while  way better than ours still isn't that good for what you did here in this post... you should try all these methods while fishing during day light or low light hours... not dark....

 

if still wanting to night fish,  in my past experiences bait LIVE bait works the best SMELLS LIKE FOOD TASTE LIKE FOOD.. and then topwater bait such as poppers and jitter bug type bait work the best ... the louder the noise you make the better.... the best of luck in the future...

 

 

 

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DB,

 

I feel you pain and I can relate. I grew up pond and stream fishing and when I first started reservoir fishing it was like I could not buy a bite. Worse still I was just learning how to use a fish finder and while I could see fish I had no idea what I was seeing and could not get them to bite. I read that only 5%-10% of a reservoir holds fish and I seemed to be a wizard at finding the wrong 90%.

 

You have gotten some great advice from some excellent anglers and hang in there. It will come and once you gain enough knowledge and experience. For some of us it takes a certain level of knowledge and experience before you develop a feel for what works and when. Maintain your attitude and keep working at it. Confidence is a key to being successful and makes all the difference it the world. Some folks seem to be natural hunter-gatherers it comes easily to them, others need to work to get there, but you will get there and from your posts you are well on you way.

 

A couple of things may be making fishing more challenging for you. When the water level is dropping in a reservoir it can really make for tough fishing. Second the fish often change feeding patterns as the water cools down and this could be throwing you off. Third night fishing is a stealth thing and keeping the boat quiet, not changing the speed of your electric motor/ or turning it on and off can make a big difference in not spooking the fish. The fish could be shallower at night than you think and having a quiet electric motor, with a balanced prop can make a big difference.If you have a cheap electric motor prop, or it is dented or nicked it can be making a lot of nosie and vibration. Not a good thing during the day and it is a very bad thing at night. Minimize the use of lights and move slowly and quietly and minimize boat noises: like dropped fishing rods, banging your foot into the side of the boat, or other gear noise. You may also be dealing with a situation where there are a lot of young of the year bait fish and they are concentrated due to dropping water levels. It is sometimes tough to get a bite if the bass are surrounded by thousands of bait fish. Later in the season you may be much more successful. This is especially true in some lakes that have huge populations of alewives and threadfin shad. You should be able to get some, but it may be much easier once some of the bait fish population gets munched down.

 

If the lake you are fishing is large and relatively new to you, you may be better off trying to determine from other fisherman which part may be best, and work that area slowly,carefully, and throughly, rather than jumping to lot of different spots in order to find fish. Let the fish tell you what they want. Sometimes smaller subtle baits like swim shads and grubs work well at night and other times a larger slow moving lure that the fish can easily target will work. Try to find out what the primary forage species are in you lake and start by matching the size and general color of the prey species. Try to give each of your lures a chance to work and try different retrieves and locations. If you switch lures constantly you will have a much tougher time determining what is working. Narrow it down to several baits that you think have a good chance of working and fishing them thoroghly. If they don't work then come up with a new plan for the next trip Once you find several lures that work you can use them to help you find feeding fish and then you will have an opportunity to try different size lures and techniques to help refine the fishing pattern once you are on feeding fish. Feeding fish oftern hold close to structure and suspended fish can be tough to catch. Try finding fish that are relating to stucture and if you have to go shallow with your depth finder to find them then back off for a while until the resume feeding. Night fishing can be tremedously productive and can yield some very large fish, but it is a different deal than day fishing. Fish feed by vibration, scent, and then sight and they may be in entirely different areas than they are during the day.

 

You will get there. Experience, fishing time on the water, and some confidence is all you need.

 

 

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