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Set the Table, Serve Them Steel

Finding the right pocket in the weeds can often produce some pretty impressive numbers for early season largemouths.

It was one of those perfect mornings. The wind was calm, the temperature was cool but comfortable and the bass season was open. The table was set for a great day on the water. The only thing left was to feed these bruisers some steel!

My fishing partner, Duane Osgood and I, have spent quite a number of hours together in a boat. We both relish the shallow water fishing that is associated with early season bass angling and usually put together an impressive catch during our outings.

Although we were not the first ones at the landing on this perfect bass fishing day, we were the first ones down an undeveloped shoreline on this noted bass lake. We were moving slowly to make sure we were hitting the open pockets on the inside weed line and were picking up a fish here and there.

I remember seeing the change in the weed structure while we were still some distance off. From what we could tell, there appeared to be short stretch of water where the weeds were not growing. This pocket held promise.

Osgood was the first to toss a chunk of plastic into the opening. Almost instantly, his PowerBait worm was inhaled by a giant largemouth. I quickly followed with a wacky rigged worm and also hit pay dirt.

The next hour was undoubtedly the best hour of bass fishing I have ever experienced. We caught a fish on nearly every single cast and most fish were 18 inches or larger. There were so many big bass in this small area there was little room left over for the water.

Eventually, the incredible bite ended and we were forced to continue up the shoreline. Although we still managed to catch scattered fish, it did not compare to the school we had worked over in the weed pocket.

As is usually the case, there were a couple of lessons to learn from this outing. The first lesson has to do with the inside weed line. This is often an ignored transition area that is found on many lakes. Because the inside weed line is associated with shallow water, many anglers do not pay enough attention to this location.

A second lesson that came from this outing was the need to fish irregularities and pockets in the weeds. Many times, the inside weed line is shallow enough that it is possible to actually see the edge. The subtle points and dips in the weeds will often hold fish. 

It is also important to have a variety of rigs primed and ready to go. I always have a wacky rigged rod and a Texas rigged plastic worm at my disposal. In addition to that, I have great success with the Northland Lip-Stick jig fished as a jig-worm combo. The bait holding collar on this jig makes it superior to others on the market.

Duare Osgood holds one of the many big bruisers we caught.

Twitch baits are also necessary for this early season shallow water bite. Osgood has given me a number of lessons on how to entice bass with a shallow running crankbait that is twitched on the retrieve.

Being able to cope with the weeds is often a concept that needs to be considered when rigging rods. Lure options must be compatible with working through and over the greenery.

Bass love the shallows for the first couple weeks of the season. Focusing your efforts on pockets and edges in good cover can definitely pay big dividends.

April 17, 2011 Posted by | Bass, Open Water Fishing | Leave a comment

South Dakota Snow Geese

It has been about 12 years since the Conservation Order to reduce the North American snow goose population was put into place. According to the

Brain Cahalan's dog, Grace, loved to pose for photos.

experts, snow geese were eating themselves out of house and home. They were literally destroying their habitat on the tundra faster than it could re- grow and replenish itself.

Snow geese have a habit of uprooting the plants that grow in the tundra to get at the roots and tubers that are found under the ground. Because this feeding habit pretty much destroys the plants, it takes a very long time for them to regrow in such a harsh environment. Thus developed the concern over the increasing number of snow geese.

As is usually the case,  one series of disastrous events opened the door for a business opportunity for others. It didn’t take long for entrepreneurial  waterfowl guides to start taking advantage of the situation and book clients for spring snow goose hunting.

Within a few years, the guide business was booming and is still going strong today. Like other waterfowl addicts, I have tried to do my part to reduce the population. However, I have learned it isn’t all that easy.

Unless a person is willing to lay out a serious chunk of change for a decoy

Although the temps were cold and the wind was strong, we managed to get birds every day.

spread, hunters are better off working with a guide. Snow geese live a long time and are very smart. Large spreads of a thousand plus decoys are needed in order to be successful. Large spreads are spendy.

Timing is also pretty important. Getting in on the front part of the migration and adult birds will mean lots of bird watching but little shooting. Adult birds are very wary as they have been hunted a great deal. Being able to work the juveniles is pretty important when it comes to consistent numbers and memorable success.

Josh Lett, from Goose and Duck Smackers, is all smiles as he holds some of the days harvest.

During a late March trip to South Dakota, I was able to work with Goose and Duck Smackers Guide Service. The owners, Brian Cahalan and Josh Lett, start their season in Arkansas in early February and move north as the birds move. Although the cold and snow limited our access to juvenile birds, we still had a quality hunt.

I am already working out plans to make the trip again next year. This time, I am hoping the weather cooperates a little bit more and we can work on some of the juvenile birds along with the adults.

April 1, 2011 Posted by | Hunting | Leave a comment

South Dakota Snow Geese Photos

Flocks of snow geese were constantly moving around in an effort to find food and to push the snow line to the north.

Even though the Conservation Order has been in effect for some time, the snow goose population continues to grow and thrive. Adult snow geese live a long time, as much as 30 years,  and have a remarkable memory. Working adult geese is always tricky.

Part of the thrill of hunting spring geese is being able to watch the migration. It is a humbling experience to visually see nature at work on such a grand scale. We saw several kinds of geese and nine species of ducks.

The crew from Barrels Up internet shopping service kneel with their morning's harvest. (

Rotaries added movement that attracted shy birds.

Just a "small" flock of birds working a distant field.

It takes a lot of decoys and well hidden blinds to bring birds in close.

Brian Corrigan was enjoying his first snow goose hunt.

Brian Cahalan from Goose and Duck Smackers Guide Service.

April 1, 2011 Posted by | Hunting, photos | Leave a comment