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Target Weeds, Catch Bass

I remember the days when I really disliked weeds. I disliked the weeds

Largemouth bass love weeds. Successful anglers must learn how to target fish in the weeds.

hanging up on my lure, I disliked removing the weeds from my hooks and I disliked the frustration caused by fishing in the weeds.

 In those days, I rarely fished for largemouth bass. In those days I didn’t understand the importance of weeds as part of a lake’s ecosystem. In those days I was unable to grasp the relationship between fish and weed cover.

 However, those days are gone. I look at weeds differently now. I still dislike removing weeds from my lures, but I also realize weeds are a key component in my overall bass fishing success.

 It was a day on the lake last summer that really got me to thinking about how important weed growth is to fish location. My fishing partner and I had not targeted this particular lake for bass for years. We knew finding a location pattern was the first order of business.

 It didn’t take long for us to get an idea about where to start. After a cruise around the shoreline, we discovered that one section of the lake had a well defined growth of coontail that came close to the surface.

 Coontail is a weed that will create quite a large canopy as it matures during the summer months. This canopy effect is very attractive to fish as it creates overhead cover and plenty of hiding places underneath where the weeds attach to the lake bottom.

 The clusters of coontail were so thick in places that it was impossible to effectively get a jig through the weeds to where the fish were hanging out. This problem was easy to resolve. Because the weeds were clearly visible, we were able to work the edges and pockets and avoid the perils associated with the thickest clumps.

 Although we did our best to avoid hanging up in weeds, it happened. I got to clean plenty of coontail off of my lures that day. However, we also discovered that the rewards were great as we boated some very impressive fish.

 Being able to visually target weeds is not that unusual. Anglers that fish lily pads or bulrushes know how important it can be to see the areas that have the greatest potential.

 The inside weed line is another edge I have come to appreciate as a visual fishing location. Bass love this edge where the weeds end and shoreline sand and rubble begin. It is a major travel route for bass especially early in the year.

St. Cloud resident, Steve Taylor, with a weed oriented bass.

 When it comes to targeting bass that are relating to weeds, it is important to think about lures and equipment. Without weedless baits, anglers can’t expect to catch anything but frustration.

 I am a big fan of Texas rigged Power Worms. This combination of weedlessness and scent continues to be one of my most consistent producers.

 Jigworms are also big on my list of favorites. Northland Tackle makes Weed Weasels and Jungle Jigs that feature an eye forward profile that slides effectively through cover. The baitkeeper design keeps your plastic trailer in place.

 Line is also a consideration. If you are going to fish heavy cover, make sure you have a line that is tough enough to pull fish out of the weed growth. I have seen a lot of anglers lose fish because their line and rod were not tough enough for the job.

 Weeds can definitely be a pain for anglers. However, for those that want to successfully target largemouth bass, being able to tolerate the headaches caused by weeds becomes well worth the trouble.

February 28, 2012 Posted by | Bass, Open Water Fishing | Leave a comment

Snow Geese Arkansas Style

Jay Carlson from Springfield, Missouri with a few of the day's birds.

It was the last day of our Arkansas snow goose hunting adventure with Goose and Duck Smackers Guide Service. The early morning rain that had been promised by the weatherman had not yet arrived. However, the leading edge of the clouds was present making for a spectacular red and orange sunrise.

 As the guides finished the last minute preparations in the decoy spread, our group of hunters readied our blinds and prepared ourselves for whatever the day would bring. For the previous three mornings, the early flight had been memorable and we were hoping for more of the same on day four.

 Although the cloud cover helped attract some flocks to our spread, the total lack of wind made finishing these birds difficult. After a few high passes, the game was up and they moved on to other locations.

 We all saw the large group of birds approaching us from our right. They were unusually low and at first we figured they were specs. As they closed the gap it became apparent they were snows and we readied ourselves for the upcoming opportunity.

 Thanks to the experienced guides that set the decoys, these birds centered perfectly and came over our party at 35 yards. When the shot was called, there was no shortage of targets and birds started dropping in earnest.

 When the dog finally found the last goose, we had a total of eight birds for our first volley. That was definitely a good start to the day.

 Arkansas snow goose hunting was a new experience for our group. Instead of waiting for the migration flight in Missouri and South Dakota, we opted to travel south to where many of the birds winter and the initial staging for their trek north takes place.

 According to Brian Cahalan, owner of the guide service, being able to hunt the staging areas in February meant more opportunities for juvenile birds. Juvenile birds are much less wary than adults and often make up the bulk of the hunter harvest. That was certainly the case with our crew as the young birds accounted for more than 50 percent of our take.  

Sunrises are even more spectacular when witnessed from a goose spread.

 Although there were many memorable aspects of our hunting trip, the lodge life was a hit with everybody. Being able to share accommodations with the guides and other hunters gave us the opportunity to tell stories and relax in comfort. Not having to cook or go out for meals was also a huge bonus.

 Even though I have been involved with many snow goose hunts, I continue to find the outings extremely enjoyable. The unique way snow geese approach the spread from above makes this style of hunting a very visual experience.

 Snow geese are rarely in a hurry to set down in a spread. Instead, they will circle high above the decoys and only come lower if they see something they like. Many times the adult birds will make a dozen passes before they decide what they want to do.

 Hunters will also witness large flocks of a thousand or more birds working their way north. These high flyers are not interested in eating and won’t miss a wing beat as they pass over your spread. However, they are still a thrill to see.

 The spring snow goose experience is very unique. It is an opportunity to witness incredible numbers of birds as they move to their summer nesting grounds in the far reaches of Canada. It is also an opportunity to participate in the Conservation Order that is designed to reduce the overall population.

February 21, 2012 Posted by | Hunting | Leave a comment