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Trolling for Trout

Here’s How To Catch Trout In Open Water During The Late Season
 
By Al Raychard
 
(reprinted from NBS Outdoor)
 
Okay, here’s a question for you. True or false, trolling lakes and ponds for trout is strictly a springtime tactic? True, you say? Well you’re wrong. Just like I was until I learned otherwise about 10 years ago.
 
A decade or so ago, I got a phone call from a charter boat captain and friend of mine who operates on trout- and salmon-rich Lake Ontario in upstate New York, a few hours drive from my home. “Are you free a couple days this week?” he asked.
 
“I can be,” I answered, “but what for? It’s deer season. I thought you’d be out chasing whitetails.”
 
The captain told he normally would be, but he tagged out during archery season. Although his chartering duties were officially over until spring, late season was his personal favorite time to troll for trout.
 
I accepted his fishing invitation. When I arrived boat-side a couple of days later, the morning sky was overcast and the temperatures had yet to push the mercury above the 40-degree mark. A steady breeze wind was blowing creating a chop on the lake outside the bay that made it feel even colder. It looked like it could snow at any minute. It was my first time trolling for trout this late in the year, and as I stepped aboard I asked, “Are you sure about this?”
 
“Of course I’m sure. It’s a perfect day. Simply a perfect day.”
 
By the time we arrived back at the dock later that morning, I was a convert. The captain knew what he was taking about —the oft-overlooked late season is a prime time to troll for trout. During our excursion we boated several lake trout measured in pounds rather than inches and several football-shaped brown trout. We repeated the success the next day as well. Since that trip I’ve been a diehard fall trout fisherman, giving up several days of my beloved deer hunting each year to get on the water and troll a line or two. I’ve used trolling tactics to catch not only late-season lake and brown trout, but rainbows, brook trout, and various hybrids as well.
 
Looking back now, I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised. Fishing for trout by various means, including trolling big lakes, ponds, and reservoirs has been a passion most of my life and I like to think I know as much about the various species and how to get them on the line as the next guy. Perhaps I didn’t. Perhaps I just didn’t take time to think about it, but whatever the case, trolling for trout during the late season makes perfect sense.
 
And why not?
 
Late-season fishing conditions in many ways are the same as early spring fishing conditions, the period when trolling tactics are most popular and productive. As they do in the spring, most lakes and many large ponds containing trout populations stratify in late fall. Fishermen refer to this as “fall turnover.” Without getting into the technical jargon, this basically means that water temperatures and oxygen levels are pretty much the same throughout the lake until the surface freezes for the winter, and trout are free to go just about anywhere they want to find food. Very often this often means close to shore and in places they might not be available at other times of year.
 
The important thing to remember is that the turnover has a major effect on a given body of water, stirring up sediment on the bottom often giving the water a dirty or off-color look and increases turbidity. As a result oxygen levels actually decrease during the process and fish turn off from feeding. This period of poor fishing conditions, when the turnover is taking place, lasts from 1 to 2 weeks, depending upon such factors as wind and air temperature. Once the fall turnover is complete, though, water clarity improves and oxygen levels rise quickly; fish go on a late-season feeding frenzy in preparation for winter.
 
Clearly, timing is critical when fishing the late season. Trolling generally is a waste of time during the actual turnover period because fish are not aggressively feeding due to poor water conditions. Once the turnover is complete, however, up until the first freeze — that’s when you want to be out there wetting a line. That’s when the trout aggressively are back on the feedbag. Because the turnover occurs in different geographic regions at different times, unless a fisherman knows a particular lake extremely well, keeping in touch with local fishery biologists, bait and tackle shops, lodge owners, and fishing guides is the best way to learn when the turnover is expected to begin, is underway, or is complete.
 
The fall turnover isn’t the only reason why late season can be such a productive time to get out there and troll a line or two. Several trout species, including brook, brown, and lake trout spawn in the late fall and early winter. This means they’ll be found in relatively shallow water, from just below the surface down to 20 to 30 feet or so, in areas where they are not normally found during the summer.
 
Another reason is food. At the same time that the fall turnover is ending, and trout’s instinct and urge to feed is increasing, dramatically, baitfish including smelt, dace, and various shiners and other minnows have moved from deep water to feed on plankton, zooplankton, and small aquatic invertebrates found closer to shore or the surface. Most also travel or congregate in large schools for protection, all of which make them more readily available to hungry trout.
 
Where to find the late-season action.
 
Despite conditions that allow trout to go practically anywhere within a given body of water, certain areas offer the best opportunities for success during the late season. The mouth of tributary rivers, streams, and creeks are good bets. These runs not only draw trout species that spawn in the fall or early winter, but the consistent flushing of nutrients into the lake in these areas attract and hold schools of baitfish and provide a safe haven at the same time. Edges where fast currents meet the lake, foam lines, edges of sand or gravel bars, and drop-offs where the shallow tributary drops into the lake can be especially productive.
 
Some lakes, ponds, and reservoirs lack tributaries that are large or deep enough to serve as spawning areas for trout. In these cases, trout will use gravelly shorelines, even sandy beaches to complete their spawning ritual. A fly, lure, or bait trolled through these areas can be extremely productive.
 
All fish relate to structure. Boulder-strewn shorelines, rocky points, underwater ledges, ledges that drop into the water, drop-offs along the shoreline, submerged river or creek beds, the areas and channels between islands, even the edge of mid-lake shoals and sandbars all are potential hotspots for late-season trout action. This is especially true along windward shores and areas where wind is breaking the surface. Wind action not only forces baitfish and feed to these locations, but the rippled surface provides additional cover and a sense of protection to schools of baitfish and trout alike.
 
Especially if you’re unfamiliar with a particular body of water, consulting lake-contour and -depth maps can make or break your outing. Besides illustrating the lake’s general shape, including points, coves, and public boat launches, these maps also show tributary inlets, islands, shoals, and depth contours. Lake maps are available for download from most fish and wildlife department websites. They’re also available at local tackle shops. (Note: not all of these maps are intended for navigational purposes.)
 
Trolling tactics.
 
One advantage of trolling is that it allows fishermen to cover a large area without wasting time fishing empty or unproductive water. Unless you’re catching fish or getting a lot of strikes, it makes little sense to spend much time in one area. In most cases during the late season, trolling off a particular river or creek mouth or along a rocky shoreline once or twice should produce some action if fish are present. If nothing happens, move on.
 
To increase your odds of success, troll when the conditions are ideal. Because trout stay relatively shallow this time of year, overcast days, moderately windswept days, and early and late in the day when the sun is at a low angle are the best times to be on the water. Action is still possible on clear days, when the surface is calm, and even when the sun is high, but you’ll probably want to troll deeper water in these conditions.
 
Trolling speed is another consideration. Water is much colder in the late season, in the 40s or just above freezing in many locations. Consequently, trout are more lethargic and less willing to chase food over long distances. “Slower” is the operative word. Without the benefit of a boat-mounted speed indicator or electronics that indicate how fast a boat is moving, judging trolling speed is tricky. Many trolling enthusiasts use rod-tip action as an indicator. Generally speaking, the faster the trolling speed, the faster the tip will vibrate, bounce, or “work” in a back and forth motion. Others watch the shoreline for clues about how fast they’re moving. As a rule of thumb, late-season trolling speed should be comparable to a brisk walk — just fast enough to move the offering through the water. When in doubt, select a speed that feels or looks right depending upon rod action or the shoreline, and maintain it. Most anglers tend to troll too fast. If no strikes occur, slow down a tad. Experiment until you get it right.
 
Also important to keep in mind is that baitfish typically stay close to shore, usually within 50 to 60 feet or so, often much closer. This is where you should troll, because this is where the trout will be. One of the largest brown trout I ever caught, a football-shaped beauty tipping the scales at more than 6 pounds, was taken so close to shore I could have tossed a stone into the trees, and my throwing arm has never been great. On another occasion, I trolled along ledges that dropped into a favorite lake and hooked several rainbow trout measuring in pounds rather than inches. I was using a 9-foot fly rod and trolling flies, but the main point is that we were so close my rod tip was just a few feet from the ledge. There are exceptions, but typically during this time of year, the closer to shore and structure you work a fly, lure, or bait the greater your chances of success.
 
Besides staying close to shore, baitfish seldom travel or school in deep water during the late season. Typically they school in less than 20 feet of water. Whenever possible, troll parallel to the shoreline and navigate around points, and into coves and other likely locations. Navigate in a slow “S” pattern to swing and vary the speed of the offering and give it a more lifelike action and appearance.
 
Unless planner boards are used, stagger your lines when trolling. In some jurisdictions, fishing with more than one line is illegal. If that’s the case in your location, troll directly off the stern with 30 to 40 feet of line. But if you are allowed to fish more than one line or when you’ve got several anglers trolling together, work one line on the shore side of the boat 50 feet back, a second line on the outside at 60 or 70 feet, and a third off the stern at 25 to 35 feet in the boat’s wake. This setup greatly reduces the chances of tangling, especially when navigating around points and in other tight situations. Staggering lines in this way also leaves plenty of room to play fish once they’re hooked.
 
Finally, unless you are a purist fishing strictly flies, lures, or bait, start the day off fishing different types of offerings at the same time — for example, try a fly on one line, a flashy wobbling spoon on another, and perhaps bait or a deep riding lure on a third. This will put offerings at different levels increasing your chances of locating fish and identifying the right level to troll. One type of offering may also produce more action than the others and clearly indicate which type you should use.
 
Gear.
 
One reason trolling is so enjoyable this time of year is that much of the action is close to the surface, or at least in relatively shallow water as compared to the summer and early-fall angling periods. This means downriggers, lead-core lines, and other gear used to get to deepwater bastions aren’t required to achieve late-season success.
 
For spinning equipment, any medium-action rod will do nicely when trolling lures or bait. Reels should be loaded with 6- to 10-pound test line with a snap swivel on the end to allow natural movement through the water. For trolling flies, fly rods from 8 1/2 to 9 feet designed for 6, 7, or 8-weight lines are good choices. Fly reels should be loaded with plenty of backing, with sink-tip or full-sinking lines and extra-long (20- to 25-feet) leaders made of 6- to 8-pound test monofilament. Leaders of this length provide a greater break between the fly line and fly and help the fly ride better through the water. In all cases, reels should have a smooth, reliable drag and set; they ensure that line won’t release when trolling, but are light enough to allow a fish to run during a strike.
 
For flies, any pattern that resembles the predominant baitfish in a given lake should produce action on late-season trout; if you’re not sure, check with local bait and tackle shops. Often, these establishments will have local patterns tied to specifically imitate local baitfish. If not, you can depend on the standards (such as the Grey Ghost, Black Ghost, Nine-Three, Supervisor and Mickey Finn) tied on extra-long hooks or in tandem to produce results.
 
The list of productive late-season trout lures is long, but perennial favorites include the Acme Flash King, Kastmaster, Phoebe and Little Cleo in 1/6- and ¼-ounce sizes; Williams and Mooselook Wobblers; the classic Vibrax and Pixee spoon from Blue Fox; any shallow-running offering from Rapala and Yo-Zuri; and spinners from Mepps and Panther Martin.
 
Much of the appeal of late-season trolling is the ability to experiment with different lures in multiple size and color combinations. Don’t hesitate to give your favorites a ride through the chilly water! Get out there and troll a line or two before winter finally takes hold and you lose that opportunity for awhile.
 
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Hooked on Bass

They say that once you’ve hooked a bass, you’re hooked on bass fishing for life.
 
The popularity of the sport suggests that old bass-fishing aphorism has a lot of truth to it. Contributing to the sport’s popularity is the fact that bass fishing doesn’t require a lot of travel or money. You can probably find a good bass fishing spot nearby, as the big fresh water fish is plentiful in our lakes and rivers. And some basic equipment can have you fishing with little money spent.
 
The Fish
 
Before thinking about bass fishing, think about bass. Two varieties are common in U.S. freshwater: smallmouth and largemouth. Smallmouth were originally native to the central states, while largemouth lurked in central and southeastern states. However, both have been introduced to most of the nation. Both are similar in appearance and have large mouths, although the largemouth’s yap is a bit bigger. While smallmouth rarely exceed 17 inches, largemouth grow to 26 inches.
 
Bass travel in schools. So if you catch one, you’ll probably catch more. When bass feed, it’s usually near the bottom of the lake or river. Whether they hang out in deep water or shallow depends on temperature. They’re likely to feed where the water temperature is 60° to 75° F, and they frequently congregate near weed beds or underwater structures.
 
The Rod and Reel
 
If you’re new to bass fishing, don’t invest in fancy equipment. You can catch fish with a basic outfit. The Zebco 404 spincast fishing combo is inexpensive and well regarded. The bargain-priced Quantum Vibe Series Spinning Combo features a graphite reel and two-piece rod. The South Bend Ready-2-Fish Bass Spinning Combo is a good choice as well.
 
Not as basic as these but still affordable is the Shakespeare Ugly Stik® rod, fitted with a Pflueger Trion spinning reel. This medium action rod is suitable for a number of bass fishing techniques.
 
The Bait
 
Most bass fishermen prefer artificial bait. There are plenty from which to choose, but plastic worms and tubes are most popular. Plastic worms are self-explanatory; tubes resemble a minnow moving through the water. You won’t find either appetizing, but bass will.
 
The Texas Rig
 
Texas rig bass fishing with plastic worms is very popular. The hook is shielded by the worm, so it won’t snag on underwater plants or debris.
 
For this rig, you need a size 3 or 4 hook and a plastic worm. You also need something to weigh the line and bait. Brass weights are better than lead for obvious environmental reasons. A ¼-ounce weight will work for most conditions, although in calm, shallow water, some fishermen go lighter, and heavier in deep, choppy water.
 
On bright days, a light colored worm works best; if it’s cloudy, choose a dark color. For murky water, select bright colors; the Berkley Power Worm is a good choice.
 
To assemble the rig, slide the weight onto your line, then tie on the hook. Hold the worm in one hand and push the hook into the end of the worm with your other hand. Push the hook through and out, so that about ¼-inch of the shank is covered. Pull the hook until the eye is right up against end of the worm. Turn the hook so the point is facing the worm and push the tip into the worm until it almost protrudes from the other side.
 
A tube bait can be Texas rigged in much the same way. A 4-inch tube is usually good for bass fishing. Color choice is dictated by conditions, just as with worms.
 
The Carolina Rig
 
The Carolina rig is useful in water with poor visibility because it allows for plenty of action; fish can spot it readily.
 
The main difference between the Carolina and Texas rigs is the location of the weight. To make a Carolina rig, slide a ½-ounce weight onto the line then tie on a swivel. Attach a leader of 1 ½ to 3 feet to the swivel. The shorter it is, the easier to cast. But long leaders are better in deep water.
 
Tie a size 3 or 4 hook onto the end of the leader, then hook the worm as described above for the Texas rig.
 
The Wacky Rig
 
The wacky rig is simple, and the bait reacts with a lot of action, so it’s another solution for low visibility. To assemble a wacky rig, position the point of the hook so its shank is perpendicular to the worm and run the hook through the exact center of the worm until it protrudes fully.
 
The Drop Shot Rig
 
This rig ties the hook into the line 6 inches to 4 feet above the sinker. It’s meant for deep water, so the position of the hook will depend on where the fish are hanging out. Insert the line into the hook’s eyelet from the side opposite the point, tie a palomar knot, then push the line into the hook from the other side. Pull your line through and tie on a 3/8-ounce bell-style sinker.
 
Your equipment is in order, so it’s time to head for your favorite lake or river and drown that bait. And don’t forget to take a youngster. Every kid should learn to fish.
 
Okay, Let’s Fish
 
The key to successful fishing is presenting the bait in a way that makes it look like a tasty meal.
 
Bass are stationery fish for the most part, so you have to bring dinner to them. Cast your bait just beyond where you think your lunker may be lurking: 10 feet past that sunken tree stump or mass of vegetation. Before you begin to retrieve the bait wait 20 seconds.  If the bait’s splash spooked the fish, they’ll have time to return. Then retrieve slowly, providing action by moving the rod tip and alternating the speed of your wind.  When fishing a Carolina rig you may want to stop intermittently. When fishing a Texas rig, a steady retrieve can sometimes produce the best results.
 
Drop shot rigs are well suited to fishing over structures, like sunken boats or the remains of trees and buildings at the bottom of man-made lakes. All underwater structures are favorite hangouts for bass, and the drop shot lets you position your bait just above them.
 
Whether you’re fishing the drop shot rig on a structure or on the bottom of a deep lake, you should give the bait 20 seconds to settle after your cast. Then, after retrieving it a few feet, let it rest for a few seconds. While it’s resting, wiggle it just a bit by moving the rod tip. Retrieve it a couple of feet and let it rest again. Give it a few wiggles, then repeat. Continue until the bait is back at the boat.
 
Whatever type of rig or water you’re fishing, when you feel the slightest nudge on the line or see the line move in an unexpected way, set the hook immediately with a quick lift of the rod top. Don’t give the fish time to reject the bait. Setting the hook doesn’t cost you a thing. Failing to do so will cost you a fish.
 
-Hook, Line & Sinker
 
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Stay Dry and Fish Longer

If you still think waders are just rubber overalls . . . it is time to change your thinking.

Wader technology has come a long way since the days of heavy, rubber outfits that sprung leaks and trapped moisture. Sure, tradition latex waders are still available and fine if you want something very inexpensive, plan on spending only a couple hours fishing and don’t mind patching leaks.

But, for anglers looking to spend more time fishing than drying out and making repairs, there is an alternative. Outerwear manufacturers are going high tech with new fabrics.

Frogg Toggs® has a line of wade-wear using DriPoreÔ technology. DriPore makes Frogg Togg waders 100% waterproof, 100% windproof and breathable. The patented process uses three layers of polypropylene material with pores that are 20,000 times smaller than a droplet of water.

Frogg Toggs also feature a seaming process that eliminates needle holes. Put this technology together and you have waders that prevent water from getting in while allowing body moisture to escape to keep you cool and comfortable.  Frogg Toggs wade-wear goes one step further by wrapping the DriPoreÔ in an ultra-tough, nylon microfiber outer shell for added durability and comfort.

Fabric is just one part of making the right choice of waders.  Standing just off-shore requires different wading gear than if you prefer standing in deeper water with a rocky bottom. Think about how you use waders and you will be more satisfied with your gear.

-Hook, Line & Sinker

*To receive Dunham’s coupons and information on new products, events and sales, sign up for Dunham’s Rewards.

Don’t Let the Big One Get Away

You don’t have to talk about “the one that got away” after your next fishing trip. Today’s fishing gear makes it easier than ever to reel in that trophy bass.

Gone are the days of trolling along the shore, hoping to find the best fishing hole. Today’s fish finders guide you right to the perfect location. Anglers can find just the right model to meet any budget. Even basic models like the Humminbird® Fishin’ Buddy® provide sonar data and water temps. More sophisticated models from Humminbird and Lowrance® have full color displays showing water temperature, depths, shore contours, GPS and more. Fish finders like these are stand alone units that can be added to your current equipment.

Finding fish and getting them to bite are two different things. Fortunately, fishing gear tech has stepped up to the challenge of helping you snag the prize.

Today’s lures have all the appeal of live bait without the drawbacks. Simulating live bait is more critical than ever. Recent court rulings prohibit transporting fish into and out of lakes to prevent the spread of communicable diseases between fish. The result is that many anglers cannot bring their own minnows and other bait fish into the area.

Manufacturers like Berkley® and Rapala® have put their engineers to work in creating life-like lures. The Berkley® PowerBait® 4 Hollow Belly™ swim bait has been field tested and tweaked by the top Berkley Pro’s in order to give themselves a significant competitive advantage on tour. As if the PowerBait® scent and attractant weren’t competitive advantage enough all by itself, this Hollow Belly bait is loaded with other features as well that has made it the “choice of champions” when conditions call for a super swim bait. Unlike most other swim baits on the market, the body is truly hollow from nose to tail, and easily collapses around the hook when bit to insure a solid hookset. The Rapala lineup features lures that are hand-tuned and tested to recreate the swimming actions of a small fish that attracts larger fish.

The sophistication of today’s lures doesn’t stop with simulating live bait. Many lures have buoyancy ratings of floating, slow sinking and fast sinking. Getting the most out of your tackle box requires choosing a rate of fall suited for your fishing conditions.

Even colors are a big factor in selecting the right lure for the right day and the right water conditions. Pradco® lures cover the color spectrum with dark hues for dark days and light colors for light days. Picking the right color is just as important when selecting your fishing line. Manufacturers offer a variety of fishing line colors to blend in with the water so fish cannot detect the attachment to a lure.

Landing a trophy bass also requires having the right rod and reel. No two anglers are the same so one type of rod and reel won’t work for everyone.

Okuma®’s Diemos Rod/Reel Combo offers different lengths and actions to meet individual needs. The Diemos combo features a four-bearing reel with aluminum spool. The rod is a carbon composite blank with cork grips and split butt design. These features combine to make this the perfect choice for inland lake fishing.

Other manufacturers are introducing rods with adjustable lengths and high strength titanium. Pair one of these rods up with a new reel designed to reduce friction for further casting and you can stay on the water all day without getting tired or having to worry about your tackle handling the challenge of reeling in a bass.

The days of tying a string to a pole and hoping to catch a fish are gone . . . and with the latest technology, so are the days of talking about the one that got away.

-Hook, Line & Sinker

*To receive Dunham’s coupons and information on new products, events and sales, sign up for Dunham’s Rewards.

Hooked on Bass

They say that once you’ve hooked a bass, you’re hooked on bass fishing for life.

The popularity of the sport suggests that old bass-fishing aphorism has a lot of truth to it. Contributing to the sport’s popularity is the fact that bass fishing doesn’t require a lot of travel or money. You can probably find a good bass fishing spot nearby, as the big fresh water fish is plentiful in our lakes and rivers. And some basic equipment can have you fishing with little money spent.

The Fish

Before thinking about bass fishing, think about bass. Two varieties are common in U.S. freshwater: smallmouth and largemouth. Smallmouth were originally native to the central states, while largemouth lurked in central and southeastern states. However, both have been introduced to most of the nation. Both are similar in appearance and have large mouths, although the largemouth’s yap is a bit bigger. While smallmouth rarely exceed 17 inches, largemouth grow to 26 inches.

Bass travel in schools. So if you catch one, you’ll probably catch more. When bass feed, it’s usually near the bottom of the lake or river. Whether they hang out in deep water or shallow depends on temperature. They’re likely to feed where the water temperature is 60° to 75° F, and they frequently congregate near weed beds or underwater structures.

The Rod and Reel

If you’re new to bass fishing, don’t invest in fancy equipment. You can catch fish with a basic outfit. The Zebco 404 spincast fishing combo is inexpensive and well regarded. The bargain-priced Quantum Vibe Series Spinning Combo features a graphite reel and two-piece rod. The South Bend Ready-2-Fish Inshore Spinning Combo is a good choice as well.

Not as basic as these but still affordable is the Shakespeare Ugly Stik® rod, fitted with a Pflueger Trion spinning reel. This medium action rod is suitable for a number of bass fishing techniques.

The Bait

Most bass fishermen prefer artificial bait. There are plenty from which to choose, but plastic worms and tubes are most popular. Plastic worms are self-explanatory; tubes resemble a minnow moving through the water. You won’t find either appetizing, but bass will.

The Texas Rig

Texas rig bass fishing with plastic worms is very popular. The hook is shielded by the worm, so it won’t snag on underwater plants or debris.

For this rig, you need a size 3 or 4 hook and a plastic worm. You also need something to weigh the line and bait. Brass weights are better than lead for obvious environmental reasons. A ¼-ounce weight will work for most conditions, although in calm, shallow water, some fishermen go lighter, and heavier in deep, choppy water.

On bright days, a light colored worm works best; if it’s cloudy, choose a dark color. For murky water, select bright colors; the Berkley Power Worm is a good choice.

To assemble the rig, slide the weight onto your line, then tie on the hook. Hold the worm in one hand and push the hook into the end of the worm with your other hand. Push the hook through and out, so that about ¼-inch of the shank is covered. Pull the hook until the eye is right up against end of the worm. Turn the hook so the point is facing the worm and push the tip into the worm until it almost protrudes from the other side.

A tube bait can be Texas rigged in much the same way. A 4-inch tube is usually good for bass fishing. Color choice is dictated by conditions, just as with worms.

The Carolina Rig

The Carolina rig is useful in water with poor visibility because it allows for plenty of action; fish can spot it readily.

The main difference between the Carolina and Texas rigs is the location of the weight. To make a Carolina rig, slide a ½-ounce weight onto the line then tie on a swivel. Attach a leader of 1 ½ to 3 feet to the swivel. The shorter it is, the easier to cast. But long leaders are better in deep water.

Tie a size 3 or 4 hook onto the end of the leader, then hook the worm as described above for the Texas rig.

The Wacky Rig

The wacky rig is simple, and the bait reacts with a lot of action, so it’s another solution for low visibility. To assemble a wacky rig, position the point of the hook so its shank is perpendicular to the worm and run the hook through the exact center of the worm until it protrudes fully.

The Drop Shot Rig

This rig ties the hook into the line 6 inches to 4 feet above the sinker. It’s meant for deep water, so the position of the hook will depend on where the fish are hanging out. Insert the line into the hook’s eyelet from the side opposite the point, tie a palomar knot, then push the line into the hook from the other side. Pull your line through and tie on a 3/8-ounce bell-style sinker.

Your equipment is in order, so it’s time to head for your favorite lake or river and drown that bait. And don’t forget to take a youngster. Every kid should learn to fish.

Okay, Let’s Fish

The key to successful fishing is presenting the bait in a way that makes it look like a tasty meal.

Bass are stationery fish for the most part, so you have to bring dinner to them. Cast your bait just beyond where you think your lunker may be lurking: 10 feet past that sunken tree stump or mass of vegetation. Before you begin to retrieve the bait wait 20 seconds.  If the bait’s splash spooked the fish, they’ll have time to return. Then retrieve slowly, providing action by moving the rod tip and alternating the speed of your wind.  When fishing a Carolina rig you may want to stop intermittently. When fishing a Texas rig, a steady retrieve can sometimes produce the best results.

Drop shot rigs are well suited to fishing over structures, like sunken boats or the remains of trees and buildings at the bottom of man-made lakes. All underwater structures are favorite hangouts for bass, and the drop shot lets you position your bait just above them.

Whether you’re fishing the drop shot rig on a structure or on the bottom of a deep lake, you should give the bait 20 seconds to settle after your cast. Then, after retrieving it a few feet, let it rest for a few seconds. While it’s resting, wiggle it just a bit by moving the rod tip. Retrieve it a couple of feet and let it rest again. Give it a few wiggles, then repeat. Continue until the bait is back at the boat.

Whatever type of rig or water you’re fishing, when you feel the slightest nudge on the line or see the line move in an unexpected way, set the hook immediately with a quick lift of the rod top. Don’t give the fish time to reject the bait. Setting the hook doesn’t cost you a thing. Failing to do so will cost you a fish.

-Hook, Line & Sinker

*To receive Dunham’s coupons and information on new products, events and sales, sign up for Dunham’s Rewards.

Ice Surprises!

If you’re an ice fishermen, you’ll enjoy some unexpected surprises this season – not only in the size or amount of perch, pan fish and pike you’ll catch – but also how quickly and easily you’ll be able to drill through the ice to reach them, and the whole new level of comfort and convenience you’ll enjoy once you do it.

If you’ve used any other hand ice auger before, you’ll really be surprised how quickly and easily Eskimo’s Barracuda hand auger tears through the ice without tearing up your arms. The Barracuda has three height adjustments, includes a palm grip handle for added comfort and it’s also available with a choice of 6-inch or 8-inch dual stainless steel TurboCut blades. TurboCut blades are tough, durable and curved to help you drill faster. They’re also replaceable and include a blade protector to help guard against accidental damage. And, with Eskimo’s two-piece Crossbolt Takedown System, the Barracuda can be disassembled quickly and easily with just a twist of a knob.

If you prefer to power your way through the ice, grab hold of Eskimo’s Stingray power auger. The Stingray is equipped with a high-performance 33cc Viper engine rated at 1.2 horsepower. Eskimo Brand says, “Eskimo saw the need for an economical high performance engine. We found an engine manufacturer with a large engineering staff that was willing to work with our engineers to develop a high performance engine that hit our price target. The Viper is a powerful, durable and reliable two-cycle engine that really will surprise you.”

The Stingray also features primer start, muffler and carburetor guards, a see through gas tank, a heavy duty gear case and 8-inch diameter dual stainless steel Quantum blades for maximum performance. According to Eskimo Brand, “Our Quantum blades cut faster, last longer and have smoother breakthrough than any other power auger blades. The design also features an exclusive centering ring that prevents drilling angled holes. So, the Stingray delivers outstanding power and performance at the best price.”

And, once you’re on the fish, you can now also enjoy a whole new level of comfort and convenience. Frabill, Inc. of Jackson, WI is celebrating 70 years of providing the most trusted gear in the fishing industry by introducing the Refuge, a new cabin-style ice shelter that’s loaded with unexpected surprises.

“We’ve put a lot of extras into the Refuge,” says Frabill. “For example, we added a pre-assembled galvanized steel Quick-Set frame. Just flip it up, and go fishing. Refuge will accommodate up to three anglers, plus gear. It has two oversized doors with heavy-duty zippers, a fully carpeted floor, four removable clear-view windows and a four-foot by six-foot footprint with 72-inch of head room.” Mobility is another welcome surprise. Cabin-style portables aren’t supposed to be mobile, but the Refuge folds into a tight package and weighs only 44-pounds, so it easily fits into most smaller SUVs and trucks.

If you need more room, just step into Frabill’s Outpost Hub Shanty. It’s ready to fish, with room for up to three anglers plus their gear. The Outpost features a Quick-Set frame, has a six-foot by six-foot footprint, includes four removable clear-view windows and the high-profile roof design offers 80-inches of head room. An oversized corner door with a heavy-duty zipper allows easy entry and exit, and Frabill’s adjustable MaxVent system helps minimize interior condensation.

According to Frabill, “The Outpost is ideal as a base camp, cook house, warming house or final fishing destination. And, room isn’t the only pleasant surprise. The Outpost is also incredibly lightweight, weighing in at only 24 pounds.”

Both the Refuge and the Outpost feature amazingly durable, high-quality 300 Denier tent material with extra polyurethane coatings for water-resistance, durability and maximum protection from extreme weather conditions. The black exterior color also warms faster.

Or, if a “quick fish” single-person ice shelter is more your style, Frabill’s Recon is designed just for you. The Recon has a molded sled runner base for easy towing over snow or ice, a durable steel conduit frame, includes two removable clear-view windows, and has a 50-inch by 29-inch footprint with 57-inches of head room. Recon’s exclusive “flip-over” windbreak roof design also includes a vented roof to improve airflow and minimize condensation. The Arctic Armor Tent provides superior protection from the elements, yet remains pliable no matter what the temperature. It’s also removable for cleaning and off-season storage. The Recon is also compact enough to fit into most car trunks and weights only 32 pounds.

So, now you can tear through the ice more quickly and easily than ever before, and also enjoy a whole new level of comfort and convenience after you do it. The only surprise left is size and amount of perch, pan fish and pike you’ll catch.

-Hook, Line & Sinker

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