ASK A PRO FORUM
Got a bass fishing question on tackle, a lake, a pattern, or boat/motor?  Or do you just want to talk to one of our pro's on the panel?  Just use the email link, send your question directed to the pro or pros you wish to answer or talk with.  You will get their response posted here on the "ask a pro" forum page.  Email question to: ask_a_pro@carolinaoutdoors.net
Chris Baumgardner:  Fulltime B.A.S.S - FLW Touring pro, 2 time Bassmaster Classic qualifier, guide
Chris Elliott: Fulltime FLW Touring Pro, Bassmaster Classic qualifier, guide
Jeffrey Thomas: Full time B.A.S.S. - FLW Touring pro, 3 time BFL All American qualifier, guide
Ken Cook:  Bassmaster Classic Champion (91), 14 time Bassmaster Classic qualifier, former fisheries biologist
Jeffrey Thomas
Chris Baumgardner
Ken Cook
Chris Elliott
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Question:  I am planning a fishing trip on Jordan Lake for May 30 and May 31. I have never been on this lake before so I am unfamiliar with the likely hot spots for this time of year. I found the ASK A PRO FORUM webpage and thought what a GREAT IDEA. Let's give it a try.  What I would like to know is what advise you would give someone who would like to see a lot of largemouth action in these two days.  Basically, what part of the lakes would you fish during what time of day and what lures do you believe would be most effective for these areas on the lake for this time of year?  If you were to fish the lake, what strategy would you use for these two days from sunrise to sunset?  Most of my experience has been with Texas rigged worms and Carolina rigged worms. I have had limited success with spinner baits and top-water lures.  I would really like to learn how and when to fish deep diving crank baits. Any suggestions here for what, when and how?  This forum is awesome.
Thanks a million for the advise.  Anxiously waiting your Pro Advise, Jim

Jeffrey Thomas says:

Jim, alot depends on the conditions with water and weather with starting place and technique.  If the lake level is up and stained, I would start in the backs of pockets or creeks around the flooded brush.  A good choice is a Lunker Lure buzzbait early.  If it is sunny and calm, try the texas rigged worm in the brush.  If the water level is normal, then a carolina rig worm or lizard on some main or secondary points should work.  Key is finding some structure to hold the fish.  Late May, the fish are post spawn and relate more to points and roadbeds.  Early and late, try topwater.  Up in the day, go with a carolina rig fished deeper.  Good Fish'n!


Question:  i'm sort of a begginer and me and a friend live near a smaller lake in north carolina.  we pretty much go fishing at dusk and end up staying there till about 1 a.m.  We fish from the shore and have been catching some good sized bass,2-4 lbs.  But we have also been catching a lot of little ones.  I am using a 10 inch crawdad colored worm with a bullit weight and i just wanted to know what i could use to bring in more good sized bass.  Also, what type of weather and other conditions should i look for for good fishing.  Thanks, Josh

Jeffrey Thomas says:

Josh, alot depends on the lake.  Since it is a small lake, there maynot be that many larger size bass in it.  One reason would be that the lake has too many fish, and the fish are stunted.  In a small lake, the fish will grow to only what the size will allow.  There maybe a need to keep some of the smaller fish.   Another factor could be fishing pressure, if it gets alot, the fish are lure smart.  If not enough, will the population is too high for growth.  The best condition for good fishing is rising water, in spring, say April, with some cloud cover and slight wind.  The cloud cover will make the fish more active and puts them shallower were they are more suceptible to our lures.  Slight wind makes them less spooky and rising water puts them on the shore.  Take the opposite conditions, and you can have some of the worse conditions.  Good Fish'n!


Question:  I bought a couple expensive spinnerbaits on the advice of a friend.  I was very happy with the first bait that I opened.  I have since bought several more with various blade combinations.  I am finding that 2 out of the 6 I have opened run true.  I have tried tuning them with varied results.  I can usually get them to run right for a few casts, but then I have to bend the wire again.  I don't feel I can afford to be messing with my tackle all day during tournaments I'd prefer to fish.  Unfortunately, I have about 8 more unopened.  I would really like to figure out a way to get these baits to run correctly.  The ones that run good catch fish!!!  They are clear water spinnerbaits that you would think should be able to run fast, but even at some of the medium speeds they turn over a little.  Thanks,  Jay

Jeffrey Thomas says:

Jay, it is important for a spinnerbait to run true.  If it does not, it has a tendency to "roll" which invites getting hung on everything it comes in contact with.  The wire should be perfectly straight and alined with the hook.  You can usually cure this problem by looking down the bait from the front, facing the R bend.  Another thing that will make a spinnerbait not run true is a swivel that does not allow the blades to turn.  Check this by blowing on the blade, it should turn with the faintest breath.  If not, replace swivel.  Unfortunately, you are seeing more and more spinnerbaits, such as the popular and expensive titantium wire brands being made in Mexico, where cheap labor and components come before quality.  I recommend using Amercian made Hawg Caller spinnerbaits.  They are made of quality materials, such as sampo swivels and sold at Wal-Mart. 
Question: First of all, let me start by saying I really enjoy your website and find it very useful. I have a few
questions. What kind of  places do you look for cranking in the summer? Also, what kind of water clarity
do you prefer? last question do you think the high price crankbaits like brians and zoom are really worth that much?  benny rigney

Jeffrey Thomas says:

I like the water clarity to be slightly stained, not clear, and not muddy, about 6- 12 inches visibility. In this instance, I like a chartruese colored crankbait.  In clearer, water situations, like at Harris Lake, I like
more shad hues, and even a complete light blue bait. The places I'm going to throw these baits in the summer
is old submerged roadbeds, flat points, and creek bend flats.  The key is they must have some kind of cover to
attract fish. Any where you would throw a carolina rig is a good spot to try cranking. I think you will get mixed answers when it comes to crankbaits, specially the higher priced custom made ones like Brian makes or Zoom.  Brian makes some great crankbaits, and I know they will work.  Sometimes the fish become conditioned to certain crankbaits, and a custom homemade bait will work better.  Unfortunately, the price can be high, so one has to weigh the differences.  It can be very painful to lose a $20 crankbait to a stump.  I personally have just as much success with name brand off the shelve type cranks. Now I will do a few modifications, like a custom paint
job, or change hooks.  I think the key to cranking, is getting the bait in the correct strike zone.  And that
means knowing how deep your bait is running, and knowing it is running true or straight.  I may purchase
4 brand name crankbaits, but only one will run correct.  It needs to run straight to reach its potential depth.
You can make it run straight by bending the eye of the bait slightly in the opposite direction it is running.
And you need to know how deep it will run, specially if you are trying to hit a roadbed in 14 ft.  If it runs
only 10 ft, then it won't work.  I set all my crankbait depth charts to 10 lb line, like Stren Magna Flex.
Crankbaits are great tools for searching, and cover alot of water.  And they will catch fish when fished
properly. 


Question: HI, I HAVE A QUESTION ABOUT FISHING LINE.I JOINED A BASS CLUB AND STARTED FISHING SOME LOCAL TOURNAMENTS. I CATCH ALOT OF FISH ,BUT NONE OF THEM HAVE BEEN KEEPERS,ALL HAVE BEEN 13" OR SMALLER. THE GUYS IN THE CLUB SAID IT WAS THE LINE I WAS USING,THEY SAID, THE OLDER FISH CAN SEE IT AND THEY DON,T WANT TO HIT THE BAIT. I USE SPIDERWIRE STEALTH 10LB/2LB DIA.I SWICHED
TO 12 TRILENE XL AND I MISSED 2 MONSTERS THAT WERE ON BUT THEY SPIT THE HOOK OUT.I KNOW I COULD FEEL THE LINE STRECH WHEN I SET THE HOOK AND I THINK THIS IS WHY I LOST THE FISH. NOW IM THINKING OF SWITCHING TO FIRELINE 14LB/6BL DIA. MY QUESTION IS, CAN THE FISH SEE THE LINE OR IS THIS NOT TRUE. I REALLY LIKE THE FEEL OF SPIDERWIRE AND I SEEM TO CATCH ALOT OF FISH, JUST NOT BIG ONES. THANKS FOR YOUR TIME!!!!!!!!!  wayne prysdale

Jeffrey Thomas says:

Wayne, Fish do become line shy. but sounds to me that your problem is not in your line. You say you are"getting bit" but losing the fish.  Perhaps it is more your presentation or rods than line.  Line can be a major factor in success.  There are two determining factors in choosing line: water color and cover. Of course, you would not want to use 8 lb test line if you are flipping heavy grass, nor would you want to use 20 lb test if the water is gin clear.  I see alot of guys skimp on their line, this is a major mistake. The line is your connection to the fish, it fails, you fail.  Cheaper lines have more stretch, which can make for weak hook sets.  But since you are getting bit, I don't think line is the issue here.  Maybe look into your presentation. Smaller lures will produce more bites, and smaller fish. Are you using smaller lures, which also have smaller hooks?  Look at your gear.  You can get by with a line that stretches if your rods are heavy action. Using a light or medium action rod with wimpy line
creates little resistance for hook sets.  I prefer to have a line that does not stretch, and a rod that is more forgiving.  A line with little stretch produces more "feel" for those light bites. It could be also a number of things, not just the line.  Examine your rods, hooks, along with your hook set form.  These in my opinion, are the leading cause for losing fish. 

Question: In the springtime as fish are moving to the spawning flats, I understand they will use migration routes.  I know the terms, but would like the definition.  What would you define a spawning flat as and what is the smallest spawning flat you have been successful on?  How would you define a migration route? What is the furthest you have seen bass travel from a winter holding place to a migration route?  I am not limiting myself, but do not want to be unproductive when looking.  One last question, I have been looking the Ken Cook’s book this summer and cannot seem to find it, any information on title and where I might find it?  Best regards, Brian

Ken Cook says: 

Great questions Brian. The answers to these and many others can be found in my new book "Ken Cook's Bass Logic" which will premier soon. They are not available, yet, but when they are I will announce the availability information on this website. There will be an "800" number to call and other means as well to acquire it. A spawning "flat" can be the top of a stump in 30 feet of water, or a 40 acre grass bed. It is relative to the type of impoundment involved. If there are a lot of flat areas of the lake, then you must key on particular types of bottom, or vegetation to give you the clue as to where the bass will actually spawn. In upland type lakes with little flat bottom, then whatever if available along the protected shoreline is going to support the spawners. A key is always that the spawning areas are protected by the shoreline definition, or grassbeds or something from prevailing winds which can disturb the nest.
A migration route is some type of edge that the fish can use in their travels. The best ones have stopovers along the way, like corners or intersections with other edges that allow the fish to have security cover during their comings and goings.  Ken Cook


Question: I was recently selected to fish my first B.A.S.S. tournament as an amateur. Although I am excited to be fishing with the pros, I also have many questions on what to expect and how to prepare. I was hoping you might be able to pass along any information to make sure this is an enjoyable experience.
Thanks,  Brad Zeigler

Jeffrey Thomas says:

Brad, remember to keep it simple and pack only what you think you will need.  Don't carry 10 rods and 5 tackle boxes.  Ask your pro what he will be doing, but don't be concerned with exact detail.  Ask if you will be fishing shallow or deep, and possible techniques.  You pro will help you prepare with your days gear plan.  Don't do anything to hinder your pro.  Example, when he says he is going to move to another location, be ready to go, in you seat, lifevest on before him.  Keep in mind your pro is at work, the boat is his office.  Also don't be concerned with "out fishing" your pro as some do.  Remember you are not competing against him.  Go with the attitude to learn from each pro, have fun, and respect how hard it really is on the tour.  Good Fish'n!


Question:  I have enjoyed alot of success this season fishing around shallow stumps and other shallow structure.  As the weather has began to cool and the water temps have dropped my catchs have decreased.  Can bass still be caught in less than 10 ft of water in cold water?  What do you believe are the best areas to fish and what are good techiques to try?  This website is great.  I really enjoy reading the Life On Tour section.

Ken Cook says:

Neil: In most situations, bass relocate somewhat from shallow cover to places which are very near deep water. If the lake is very shallow and muddy, this won't necessarily be very "deep," just more vertical. The key to catching cold bass is to slow down with smaller lures that remain in their "face" longer allowing them more time to approach the lure and bite it. I am having very good success using Berkley's New GULP soft baits. It emits 400 times as much scent attractant into the water than any other soft bait. Try it. Ken Cook

Question:  My son Barret and I are in a small club here in Pembroke N.C. Barret(17 years old) is a senior at Swett high school here in Pembroke and he's currently in first palce in our club of 23 member for our 2003 season. Our last tourney is going to be on Harris Dec. 13. Got any suggestion on patterns, baits, or area to look for. Thanks and May God Bless you and your fishing in 2004. Barret and James

Jeffrey Thomas says:

James & Barret, sounds like you already know how to find patterns and area's on your own, congratulations on being in first place!  First, stick with what you know and your instincts.  Thats what got you into first place, not having someone tell you.  Reading the conditons at the exact day of the tournament is always critical.  If the conditions remain above normal temps, as of this writing, I would concentrate on the shallow vegetation at Harris.  Normal fall patterns are for the shad to migrate to the backs of creeks, and the bass follow.  Good choices are shad imitations, like spinnerbaits, and rat-l-traps.  I have done very well in the past in early Dec fishing traps over the grass.  Good Luck  and Good Fish'n!

Question: Hi, I'm 16 and live in Durham about 20 minutes from Jordan, Falls, or Harris.  Lately, I have been thinking about trying to compete in some of the smaller, local tournaments.  The last three years I have studied bass location, behavior, feeding patterns, etc and have become confident in my fishing versatility and skills.  I have several questions.  First, can I compete at my age?  Next, will I be able to compete with larger boats in my 16' G3 w/ 40 horses?  Also, do the older competitors look down at the REALLY young guys?  Lastly, will I lose a lot of money if I don't win?  Thank you for your time.  -Will

Jeffrey Thomas says:

Will, I would suggest you start off fishing small local tournaments.  One, so you can test your abilities without much cost.  Confidence is a main factor when fishing tournaments, and sounds like you have that.  A really good way to get started is to join a local bass club.  There you can test your skills, meet and learn from other fisherman, and not spend alot of money.  The smaller boat should not really be an issue as long as you stay on smaller bodies of water, like Harris or Jordan.   As you succeed, slowly move up in tournament size and skill levels.  A good measuring stick for your abilities is to join FLW Outdoors, fish some local BFL tournaments as a co-angler.  The co-angler side is relatively cheap, compared to going as a boater and you get to see and learn from some really good experienced local anglers.  I know personally, I welcome young people, like you, into the sport, good to see it growing.  Good Luck.

Question:  I spend the majority of my fishing days on Jordan Lake.  During this summers high water I spent alot of time flipping around the flooded trees and bushes with limited success.  What have you found to be the best type of cover to flip around.  How do you decide where to start when there are miles of shoreline cover that could hold fish? How long do you spend fishing one bush before moving to the next?  This is a great site for North Carolina bass fishing. Tight Lines  Neil

Jeffrey Thomas says:

Neil, when flipping Jordan, I let the water tell me how to approach flipping.  Example, if the water is rising, I will go back into the creeks and pockets, keying the newly flooded brush.  Bass will move up shallow with rising water.  Just as bass will move out when the water starts to fall, something that the Corp can do rapidly at Jordan.  When falling, I like to key on the points or bushes on the deeper sides of pockets.  The fish will move rapidly under falling water conditions and become extremely spooky.  The longer the water remains in the bushes, the better the fish will feel secure and stay, making them easier to pattern.  I usually work a bush or tree good if I think it should hold a fish.  Good Fish'n!


Question:  Hello, My name is Scott Johnson from Gastonia, North Carolina. I have fished Wylie for many years and have found that I can catch fish on a Super Fluke (Pearl with Dyed Tails) about any water Temp, or depth.  I fish the Fluke many ways. I also go to Hard Jerkbait's when water temp's, drop below 50. What lure would you use that would be something close to the Super Fluke for fishing Laydowns, Docks, Points, and open water. Would love to see you guy's fish Wylie, Good fishing to you, and stay safe.         God Bless! Scott.

Chris Baumgardner says:

Scott, Its hard to beat a super fluke fishing the conditions you mentioned.  Something close that I like to use is a floating worm or the new Zoom Z-darter, the Senko type bait.  I like to fish it similar to the fluke, weightless, working it slow with pauses.  I've also had alot of success swimming a jig around laydowns and docks on Wylie.  Just work the jig back parrell to the cover, never letting it sit on the bottom.  Give these a try.

Question: In the fall, are there certain conditions that prompt you to search for schooling bass (a certain water clarity, temperature or other situation)?  Where do schooling bass seem to first appear during the fall of the year and where do they migrate (if at all)?  Do you fish for schools of fish that you might see on your graph suspended near (but not ON) historically good fishing spots?  It seems like every time I come back to a
good piece of structure and the fish are no longer biting, I can see them everywhere suspended.  I have yet to experience any success fishing for these inactive fish.  Lastly, how often (your best estimate) do schooling
fish play an instrumental role in successes on the professional tournament trail? I know thats actually several questions but inquiring minds have to know!  Thanks, Chad Craven

Ken Cook says:

Chad: It seems to me that I only experience good bass schooling action in lakes with lots of bass and lots of shad available.  Then, if you have relatively clear water, 5 foot visibility or more, schooling seems to occur---sometimes. Usually the best places are near mouths of creeks or big coves that have had big concentrations of bait fish during the summer and into the fall.
I only fish for suspended fish I see on my Bottom Line depth finders, if I see them below schools of baitfish and especially associated with places (structures) that I have preciously known to hold bass.
Often, the fish you see suspended on electronics are not bass, but other species, and especially non-sport fish like carp, etc. If they seem to be following under the schools of baitfish, they could be bass. Use a crankbait that will swim at their depth and try to retrieve it downward through the school of bait hoping to trigger a following bass to strike. Other lures I have had success with in these conditions are a Power Grub or Berkley Jerk Shad slowly fished through the baitfish. The key is the presence of the shad.
I have known an occasional tournament that took place in the fall or winter on lakes with good bass populations and shad that produced good tournament results. These are not common, but can occur under the right conditions. If you can find schooling bass, they can produce a quick limit which opens the door to other techniques that may provide the quality bites you need to win.  Bass Wishes, Ken Cook


Question:  Several years ago there was a soft plastic rigging method called  "the yankee rig." It closely resembles a drop shot rig. I had very good success with the yankee rig, especially when fish seemed to be suspending off the bottom, or above grass beds. I'd like to know what are the differences between the yankee rig, and a drop shot rig. Also, I like the properties of fluorocarbon line, and use it as a leader when fishing jigs, texas rigs, and carolina rigs with a braided main line. I tried several brands of 8 and 10 lb test for cranking. On the initial trips, it worked fine, but on subsequent outings I found that the line had weakened severely. I read that because of the density of fluorocarbon, friction causes heat to build up in the line. I surmised that the line traveling through the guides was causing this to happen, and thus weakening the line on my cranking rods. Could there be any other reasons that I may be overlooking? Thanks, and keep up the good work.  ZXstrollin 
                       
Ken Cook says:

I am not familiar with what you called the "yankee rig." If it is like a drop shot rig, then it would work similarly. It IS a good way to catch fish that are slightly off the bottom as is quite often the case. I know of many anglers, including myself who have begun to experiment with heavy line drop shotting around cover for just that reason. It is a very versatile rig for fishing any cover where vertical presentation is best. As to fluorocarbon line. I have not experienced any decreased strength in the Berkley Vanish fluorocarbon line I use. Any fluorocarbon line is very susceptible to friction heating, though. You must be extra careful when tying knots and make certain you have no friction heat build up therein. If the line has been exposed to high heat and/or sunlight during its lifetime, then it may have deteriorated to some extent. Fluorocarbon does not absorb any water when it is fished and therefore does not "dry out" as do some nylon mono's. I find that Vanish is a very good tool for its intended purpose, exactly what you have named; drop-shotting and fishing "feel" baits in deep water. Its density makes these things very efficient.  Thanks for an excellent question.  Ken

Question:  I am a senior at UNC and fish many of the lakes around NC and small reservoirs around Chapel Hill (University Lake and Cane Creek).  However, I do not have any electronics on my small jon boat. Now that the dog days of summer are upon us what is the best way for me to locate fish in deeper water without a depthfinder. I know that topo maps can help in finding depth changes, but if they are unavailable or
i cant find one for a certain lake, how should i approach finding fish once the early morning bite has shut down.  Any info would be great and the website looks fantastic.  Thanks, Chad Duke

Jeffrey Thomas says:

Chad, nothing can help your success, even on small lakes, like a depth finder.  Small graphs are now very cheap for what you can learn with one, plus even are portable.  There are essential for summer fishing for finding channels and drop offs.  But you can get a feel for the way the lake lays by looking at the shoreline where fishing.  If the land is flat, then that area is flat, and same for steeper shoreline, deeper water closer to shore.  You can't go wrong fishing points in the summer.  Just look for points of land on shore, flat points means shallower water, long steeper points generally will mean deeper water.  Fish the tip of the points starting up close to shore and work out.  Let your lure tell you the water depth by knowing the time it takes your lure to hit bottom.   Good Fish'n!

Question:  I would like to pose this question to Mr. Thomas, since I understand he is the local expert on this body of water. Now that the heat of summer is setting in and fish are not that easy to catch beating the banks, how do you approach fishing for bass? I know to fish deeper water, but in your experience, what type of deeper water do you find most productive? I have fished a lot of the deeper rock walls (closest thing to bluffs Jordan has) with only limited success. Maybe I need to fish way out off the end of tapering points or road beds in the main lake channel? Is uplake a better area to try this type of fishing where the topography
is flatter or is it better to fish down toward the dam? Lastly, I do some fishing at night: do you feel that this is a better time to bass fish during the summer?  Jason Tam, District Marketing Manager-Marine Power Group

Jeffrey Thomas says:

Jason, during the summer time @ Jordan, I like to target deeper structure on the main lake area.  The main thing I key on is cover, be it stumps, brush, or rock, but something that will hold fish.  One of my main targets is roadbeds and the old RR trestle.  I like to fish a crankbait, like a Fatfree shad, something that allows me to cover alot of area to locate the structure, and find aggressive fish.  Once I find some fish, I will slow down with a 1/2 Lunker Lure jig or big worm texas rigged.  Another summertime favorite at Jordan is flat points that drop into a channel.  Again, I fish the crankbait to locate structure, then slow down.  Jordan can be frustrating in summer, but it can also be one of the best time to fish Jordan because you can locate a school of fish off shore.   I am not a big nighttime fisherman.  If you take the time to locate some good off shore structure, daytime can be very productive.  An important ingredient to success is having confidence in your depth finders and knowing how to read them.  I never look for fish, but rather something that will hold fish.  Find the cover, and you will find the fish.  This can be very time comsuming, but very productive.  Good Fish'n!

Question:  I have fished small, medium-running crankbaits and Rattle Trap type baits for years, but have never fished the Mann's Minus-1 and similar type super shallow runners. I know a lot of fishermen like these baits, but I've never really thrown them because I'm unsure under what circumstances they would be most effective. Under what conditions and what kind of water do you use these lures?  --- Scott Pritchard

Jeffrey Thomas says:

Scott, baits like the Mann's Minus-1 or Bandit Footloose are situation baits.  What I mean by this, used to target a specific pattern.  A good example is a B.A.S.S. tournament held on the Potomac in which the winner fished a Minus-1 just over the grass during low tide.  It allowed the pro to give the fish a different presentation besides a spinnerbait, but yet doesn't dig into the grass.  Another good situation is one I like in the fall when the fish are feeding up shallow in the backs of creek flats.  It lets me target the shallow stumps , remaining in the strike zone longer without digging bottom.  Plus these type baits give off a wide wobble that really attracts the bass from grass or stained shallow water.

Question: How much do you depend on water temperature to the condition that you are fishing ?? And how would you chose a lure to fish from certain temps ?? thank you owen dawson

Ken Cook says:

Owen: Thanks for asking such a good question. I only pay much attention to water temps when it is below F 60. That would be in the spring and fall when it is below that. When the temp is below F 60, bass are not as likely to be hungry because of their slowed metabolism. That means an angler should slow down and present small lures very close to their face to tempt them to "invest" energy to chase food. The other option seems to be a very fast lure such as a Rattlin'Rap that makes a lot of noise and triggers a reaction that we humans cannot understand, but nevertheless it works many times when water is cold.
Another factor with temp is its trend. That is, whether it is rising or falling, especially in the lower ranges. That is why a cold front has such a devastating effect in springtime. The temp is falling. When it is rising, bass are much more likely to be "chasing" food or lures and will have a larger strike zone.
Look for this and much more in my book "Ken Cook's Bass Logic," when it hits the stands sometime this summer, hopefully about time for the Bassmasters Classic. It will contain much of this type of information.
Bass Wishes Ken Cook
MORE "ASK THE PRO" QUESTIONS & ANSWERS  Click HERE
Question:  My partner and I fish on the fisher of men circuit. We will fish the weekend before the lockout and try to find fish and put together a pattern. Once we feel good about an area we will leave it alone. The Friday before the tournament we will try similar areas. My question is should we hook fish the day before the tournament? We just had a event on Falls this past weekend. I missed one early and did not get another hit. I did talk to another angler and he also zeroed. He shocked me when he said he had caught 4 keepers on Friday. I also saw a report were one of the guys said he had over 20 pounds of fish Friday and only caught one during the tournament. When do you leave and area during practice? When do you pull fish off? How do you pros handle a change in the weather? It seems like we can never get two days of the same weather. Thanks, Quincy Williams

Jeffrey Thomas says:

  Quincy,  I am a firm believer in not sticking alot of fish during practice, specially the last couple days before it begins.  With todays larger fields, even in tournaments like Fishers of Men, if one person in the tournament sticks a couple fish each day, it adds up.  I like to stick only enough to get a feel for the size of the fish in the area.  From there, I will try and duplicate the situation in other areas.   You can take a piece of plastic coating from an electrical wire, or surgical tubing, place it over the hook point and fish it as usual.  This helps you shake fish off and also save the baits by not having to bend or cut the hook.  You can develop a feel for what a bigger fish will feel like using hooks that are covered without boating it.
  Weather is one of the main varibles in tournament fishing that we have no control over.  Being able to adjust to different conditions is what sets most pros apart.  Most of our tournaments are 3 or 4 days long, so you can bet a change will occur.  If you have located fish, just a small change in tactics or lures, along with the weather change, is whats needed to remain catching them.  When the weather changes, the fish don't usually move, one has to adjust.  If it went from cloudy to sunny the next day, then a flipping approach will be better than the spinnerbait the day before.  


Question: Regarding fiberglass crankbait rods, is the difference between a medium and medium-heavy glass rod comparable to the difference in a graphite M and MH rod?  No tackle shops or sporting goods stores around here sell glass rods so I'm going to have to order some from a retailer without really getting a feel for what they are like and the differences in action.  Will a MH fiberglass rod give enough or should I go for a medium?  Also, are there any advantages or disadvantages to having a two piece fiberglass rod, I have noticed that most rods approaching 7 foot are two piece (from certain dealers).    Thanks for your time, Will.  

Jeffrey Thomas says:

  Will,  Fiberglass rods are much slower in re-action compared to graphite.  A medium action glass rod will be less
responsive compared to a graphite medium action.  What I mean by this usually refer's to the stiffness of the
rod.  A glass rod is highly preferred for cranking because it is more forgiving with a less fast response
to a hook set or run from a fish. A graphite rod is more sensitive and quicker response from a hook set or
bite.  This is preferred when the technique requires a quick response to the situation, like a flipping bite
or carolina rig.  The glass rod suits cranking, topwater and such because the "action" allows you to
play the fish better.  These applications usually mean small pound test line and small treble hooks, which are
more likely to fail during a hook set or landing of fish.  A glass rod helps this problem.  A MH glass rod is comparable to a Med. graphite action rod in most brands. 
  I do not recommend a two piece rod.  You loose the "feel" of the rod due to the stiffness of the metal
connectors.  Plus there will always be a void in the space the two rods connect.  Most two peice rods are
designed for storage space needs, such as a rod boxes, instead of on the water needs.  You loose more than is
gained being able to break the rod down for storage compared to fishability of the rod.  I recommend a rod
that retracts into the handle.  It gives the ability to store in limited space, like a shorter rod box, but also affords you the sensitivity and benefit of a one piece rod.  Good Fish'n! Jeffrey



Question: I have tournament fished on the Finger Lakes in New York for the past several years and have been very successful. I feel like a big fish in a small pond. This summer I am going to see how I compete on bigger water against better competition. I am fishing tournaments on Erie, Champlain and the Thousand Island. This is "big" water to me and I am having difficulties in finding information to help prepare for these tournaments. How do you pros prepare for tournaments on new bodies of water before you get there and what do you do once you get on the water? Also what are the better maps to use  and where do you get them. Becoming a successful angler is very important to me. Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!!  Mr. Evans

Jeffrey Thomas says:

Mr. Evans,   Thanks for the great question.  Going to a new body of water, specially one the size of the Great Lakes can be overwhelming.  It doesn't have to be with a little homework.  Its getting easier to prepare for a new body of water because of one thing that Al Gore invented, the internet.  Course we know Gore didn't but the
internet is a gold mine for resource before you even leave your home.   As pros, we use the internet to first locate good lodging in the area, then we start by looking for tournament results for the lake during the same time we
will arrive.  You can also order maps, check out local fishing reports and weather conditions.  Once we arrive, we don't try and "learn" the entire lake, but rather pick out a section.  We use water conditions, likely seasonal patterns and weather to predict this.  Early spring, I would look in and around spawning bays and flats.  Late summer, deeper grass beds or shoals.   Doing your homework is essential, but nothing beats actual time on the water.  But the key here is to be efficient with it.  Don't spend time in dead water and don't try and fish the whole lake.  Good luck!

Question:  I've only recently started to fish again.  Used to fish for bass with my dad 20 years ago.  Have been fortunate to gain access to a private water shed great little 18 acre honey hole).  I have a small one person boat with a trolling motor.  It's great for these small ponds and lakes.  Caught manybass on a Carolina rig (usually 5 - 7 fish each trip).  I miss almost as many because I get anxious and set the hook to early.  The water shed is very shallow with two creek channels running through it.  CPR'ed a seven pounder a few weeks ago (Catch, Photo, Release).  Hung an even bigger fish last week, but lost hook set after about two minute fight (still pumped
about the one that got away, what a fighter).  Want to target the big guys, but unsure about where to locate them and how to get them to bite.  Have a Hummingbird RF-20 depth & fish finder, but it doesn't always locate the fish
if their in cover.. Found that most are in cover and not suspending. The water shed averages 4 -5 feet in depth, but the creek channels get up to 8 - 9 feet.  Most of the banks are shallow 2 - 3 feet.  Any advise on where to locate the fish during the different seasons on this water shed, and lure selection?  Forever chasing that big bucket mouth.
Michael E. Heaton

Ken Cook says:

Michael,  Sounds like a great little honey hole. You seem to have figured out a good deal of the answers to your questions, but the channels are probably the key to the bigger bass most of the year, especially summer and winter. You failed to mention whether the pond has shad as forage or not. If so, look for them near the cover and fish around the shad, especially in summer and fall. In spring fish the shallows where there is a hard bottom normally. In early spring before spawn, look for rock or clay bottoms and concentrate on the points near the channel swings for first contact when the fish move shallow looking for crawfish and other sources of food.  Summer follow the channels and fish the concentrations of cover along the drop-off. Fall look for the bait. If the cover is dense, you may do better using a Texas rigged Berkley Power worm in the thickest cover during spring and summer instead of a Carolina rig which won't work as well in the heavy cover. If the water is muddy, or stained, use a jig and Power frog around the thick cover and/or spinnerbait near the cover. Best of luck.
Ken Cook

Question:  I've been following the BFHP reports for Falls Lake since I moved down here in November of last year.  It sounds like my experience has been echoed by many fishing Falls...lots of effort, but little to show for it.  I've also read that the city of Butner is seeking approval to double the nitrogen load of its effluent into the Neuse
River.  A number of fisherman whose abilities I respect, including several members of my club who have fished Falls since it was impounded, can't remember the last time it was this bad. Have you heard anything from your clients or other guides expressing similar difficulties with productivity on Falls??  I'm wondering if maybe all of the recreational activity on the lake, particularly from water skiers and PWCs is starting to have an adverse effect on the lake.  I'm also concerned that I'm starting to read that Falls overall is on the bubble for being considered polluted.  Based on what I've read, the upper part of the lake is already considered polluted because of the nitrogen load.  I only live 10 minutes from Upper Barton's ramp, and am wondering if my time would be spent more productively fishing somewhere else.  I'm sick of spending all day and only having dinks to show for it!!  By the way, I very much enjoy reading your journal entries.  It really brings what it's REALLY like to fish professionally down to a personal level.  Just goes to show that fishing for a living isn't all the fun and games that shows like the BASSMasters make it out to be.  It really is work!!  I wish you good luck at the Big O.  I've read several articles that say it got slammed by the hurricanes this year.  One even went to far to say that the succession of storms might have set the lake's recovery back 10 years because of all
the damage done to the grassbeds.  Hope you have a good tournament!!  Thanks, Duke Bevard

Jeffrey Thomas says:

Thanks for the kind words about my web site and the journal I write.  Its comments like yours that make all
the hard work it takes to maintain the site seem worthwhile.  You are not the first to ask the question of decline for Falls Lake.  I think there are several reasons for this.  One of course, is the added fishing pressure all lakes are receiving.  Fishing, as a whole, not just tournaments, has increased to record levels in the past
2 years.  Some experts attribute this to the 911 effect.  More people staying home, investing in larger recreational activities, such as boating and fishing,instead of travel.  I can remember a time not that far
back, where if you went to the lake on a weekday, you were privileged.  Now, when I am at the lake, say on a
Wed., the parking lots are full.  This too can be attributed to more leisure time to pursue such things as fishing.  Fishing pressure has to be considered a main factor in area lake decline.  It can also be said for all lakes nationwide.  There seems to be a big decline in tournament results and fish catch ratio in other states as well, not just NC.  Kerr Lake is a good example, its overall numbers and size is down to alarming rates.  Some say it has seen a fish kill from the largemouth virus.  I can't point to that fact, but something has caused Kerr Lake to be one of the poorest fisheries around.  Another factor with Falls Lake, is that it is no longer considered a "new" lake.  Lakes like Falls go thru a cycle.  Falls, along with Jordan and Harris, all are now considered older lakes.  This usually means a decline in success.  Experts say this happens about every 10 to 12 years.  Nature has a way of renewing itself.  A good example of this is High Rock Lake. With the record low water levels from the drought, High Rock has seen an explosion of fishing success, like its is going thru a new lake cycle.  Which it is, with all the new growth and nutrients from the shoreline being exposed, and now flooded.
  You touched on a possible problem with area lakes, pollution.  I think one has to really look hard at this
as a major concern.  I have seen it reach major concerns first hand with the people who control Jordan
Lake.  Jordan is currently under a major study for excessive blue algae blooms in its upper reaches of the
New Hope section.  We have seen a large decline in overall habitat activity there.  And it is spreading
thruout the lake.  I think Falls too is seeing negative factors from municipal dumping and economic boom from housing and highway growth of Durham and Wake Co. Runoff and increased water treatment allotments has increased faster than communities can regulate or study effective measures. 
  I will say this, I have heard more negative comments about Jordan and Harris than Falls.  I don't guide or
fish Falls as much as I do the other two area lakes. But I have heard from other area guides that Falls is
an easier lake to guide on because it produces more numbers.  Not size now, just numbers. So this would
suggest that the lake is healthy, and having a good spawn, if we are seeing a good population of "dinks".
I can't preach catch and release enough.  I blame the decline of Harris more to people taking the larger fish
from there either to stock a private lake or pond, or to mount it.  You take away the older, larger gene
pool, there will be a decline overall.  Possibly, this could be said for Falls.    Thanks for the great question. Don't give up on Falls.  I think the fish are still there.  One may have to change tactics, due to the fish being more educated now with added fishing pressure.   And possible negative factors from area economic boom & growth.  The resource is seeing an all time high with volume of boats, fishing, and environmental negatives.  It all adds up. Good Fish'n!

Question: My name is Qualow Watson and I love the sport of fishing. Since I was a little kid I have loved to fish. I am now 14 and I think I love it even more. My dream is to become a bassfishing master. But I do not think I can because of my financial status. I know most people get a sponsor but I do not know how or where to get one from. Not to be racises or anything I really do not see that many black bass master fishermen. I think if I could be one I could make others see that anyone could do it. I am not askingyou for money or anything like that. I just want your help. Could you give me advice on how to do it, or even could you be my sponsor, or do you know anyone that wants to be a sponsor. I mean if you could help me make my dream come true I would think you forever.    # 704-399-8055 Address 1410 coker ave  Sincerly Qualow watson

Jeffrey Thomas says:

My best advice is be patient, get a good education first.  This is a business now, and a degree is important.  Then start small, like BFL, once you prove yourself, the sponsors will come.  Its hard to get sponsors, and hard to keep sponsors.  The talent level out there now is tough.  I also warn against being too aggressive in pursuit of sponsors until you prove yourself. Too many people look for a company to give them entry fees or sponsorship money right away. With so many good fishermen today, that can rub sponsors the wrong way. You can't ask for too much before you're ready. You have to prove yourself first. Good luck.