Who said you have to wait until the winter to catch big fish in Florida?!?!?!? On Friday September 16, 2005 (just a few days before the beginning of Fall) our 3 boat party were STROKIN' the bass! My customer's second bass of the day weighed in at 9 lbs 12 oz. The other two boats were catching bass between 7-9 lbs, also.
"Has it started to cool off already?" you say? ! NO - it's still hotter than blazes and no one can stand to stay out on the water much later than 10:30-11:00!
"Has the hydrilla grown back in Lake Walk-in-Water?" you say? NO - the bottom is almost as bare as it was last year after the triple hurricanes!
"Are the bass starting to school up?" you say? YES - but mostly smaller bass, around 2-4 lbs, are schooling up and chasing shad pods!
"Has the big bass population returned to Lake Walk-in-Water?" you say? YES - thanks to the 3 fish limit with a slot regulation!
"So what's the big secret to catching these big bass in Lake Walk-in-Water since the hurricanes cleared out all of their hiding places?" you say? Well, it's no big secret - you just have to know how to catch big bass on this lake the same way it was done 15 years ago when the lake was so pristine you could see the bottom with the naked eye. Once the lake filled up with grass, it didn't take much "know-how" to find bass on the lake. All you had to do was drift across it with shiners and, with all of the grass holes, you were bound to come upon some fish sooner or later. Now it is not such easy pickin's.
You need to know the lake, the contours, the drop-offs, and the patterns the bass tend to follow. These are things you only come to know after fishing a lake for years and years, adapting to its seasonal and yearly changes. Mother Nature has a way of taking care of her own, and that's just what she did when she blew those hurricanes through here and cleaned out the best bass fishing lake in Florida!
Take a look at the picture of the bass caught last week, take a good look. She is healthy! Just like all the rest of the bass we caught that day. No ... This lake hasn't lost its punch ... Its just created a bigger and better challenge to weed out the real fishing guides that know how to find fish from the drifters that took advantage of this lake for so many years. Now it will really have a chance to come back and be as good as it once was. Back to the "good ole days" when it wasn't so rare to catch a 10 lb hawg and, who knows --- it just may produce Florida's next record big bass!
In the last decade or so of fishing, the “bassboat” reigned as king of the waters. It was the only way to appear that you knew what you were doing, especially when it came to bass fishing. It is understandably the best type of boat for tournaments because a bassboat can handle a monstrous motor that will provide you with more fishing time and less time getting to and from that prime fishing spot.
In recent years, there has been competition among the boat industry to come up with the ultimate bassboat. One with enough storage room to store every type of lure necessary to mankind; one with enough deck room to be able to fish from any angle without two people being crowded on any one location of the boat; one that will keep the largest bass known to man alive all day in a well no bigger than she is; one to accommodate the largest high-powered outboard motor on the market so you will get to that “secret” fishing spot before anyone else does; one with enough bells and whistles on it that it requires a Master’s degree in electronics; one with seats that will make you think you are riding in s sports car; one with such a unique design and color scheme that it demands attention and respect.
That’s all fine, well and good so long as you’re a die-hard tournament fisherperson determined to eventually become the next “Bill Dance” or “Roland Martin.” But in the real world, most people are just looking to have a relaxing day on the water, catch a few rays, catch a few fish, and catch some quality time with their family. And for those folks that either don’t have enough spare time to devote to fishing enough to justify owning their own boat, or for the ones that have acquired a new-found interest in the sport, there are numerous fishing guide businesses all over the country offering their expertise, boat, use of tackle and other provisions; all for a modest fee, of course.
Within that same decade the pontoon boat got a reputation for being the boat used strictly for panfishing, or having a party on the water, or just lazily cruising around. It just makes good sense – in tournament fishing you’re only allowed to have one rod with a lure in the water at a time, where when fun fishing the sky is the limit. That’s how the nickname “spider fishing” came about when you see pontoon boats with rods or cane poles sticking out all the way around the boat; hence the population of rod holders.
But as of late, the boat manufacturers have crossed the line with the pontoon boat, coming out with a model designed specifically for fishing. Ones with fishing chairs front and back; ones with live wells for keeping bait and/or fish alive (everyone knows it is better to filet a live fish than a dead one … don’t they?); ones heavy duty enough to carry a big enough outboard motor rival some of the smaller bassboats; ones already equipped with trolling motors and the latest technological electronics for fishing; ones with built-in coolers and stereos for entertainment; ones with enclosed port-a-potties under the sundeck; and ones, no less, with bimini tops for shade and some even have extension covers to convert the pontoon boat into something nearer resembling a houseboat. I like to refer to it as the “luxury” or “Cadillac” version of fishing.
There are still those out there that are stuck with the idea that the only way to catch fish is with a bassboat; especially the guides. That’s fine for the competitors that are looking for local info prior to a tournament; but I’m here to tell you that if the fish were that smart, they would school up and turn your boat over! Some say it’s because that is what customers expect because they watch the fishing shows on TV and, of course, they’re only using bassboats. Some say that when customers are paying to fish, they don’t want to take “all day” traveling. Well, that may be true for some folks that have never been fishing before in their lives and are actually more interested in riding in a supped up, skim the top of the waves kind of boat that is actually more like a ride at Disney than a fulfilling day of fishing. But, recently, quite a few of the guides are coming around to the idea that luxury is more of what the majority of people are looking for when considering hiring a guide to fish, especially if it is part of a vacation. Of course, they still expect the guide to have enough expertise to put them on fish and tell them how to catch ‘em; but that goes unsaid (or it should, anyway).
Personally, in my business, I like the idea of being able to offer a choice to my customers: bassboat or pontoon boat – what’s your preference?
Being out on the water among nature is what I enjoy. Whether it be on the bassboat flying across the water to find the best fishing hole, or cruising on the pontoon boat (again, looking for the best fishing hole). My father-in-law, of whom I never had the chance to meet, told my wife this not long before he passed on, "You will never be closer to God while you're still alive than when you are out on the lake amongst some of His greatest creations." I believe his words were very true. I know that everyone is curious as to what may lie outside our galaxy, but the most fascinating things of this universe are still right here on earth, even with some still waiting to be discovered! Anyway, I am just glad and thankful that God put fish in the waters to not only nourish our bodies, but also to entertain our souls.
This past season was yet another good one, although not as many people hiring guides to fish. The economy has taken a bite into the luxury of hiring a guide. Although I was able to take several of my yearly repeat customers on good producing trips this year.
As in last year, the swimbaits are still making a big splash: Bitter's Baits' Naked Swimmer, Reaction Innovation's Skinny Dipper, and Gambler's Big Easy. The frogs and toads have been running a close second. The multi-bait rigs have been going big this year, such as the Alabama rig, Mo-Rig and Mo-Bling. The only thing more fun than catching a bass, is catching more than one at a time! In the last month or so the bass have started schooling up, chasing bait fish up out of the cooler water and hitting them on top, making for some great top water action, when you can find them.
Everything I Ever Needed To Know About Life (& Fishing), I Could Have Learned From Noah's Ark...
One: Don't miss the boat. Two: Remember that we are all in the same boat. Three: Plan ahead. It wasn't raining when Noah built the Ark. Four: Stay fit. When you're 600 years old, someone may ask you to do something really big. Five: Don't listen to critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done. Six: Build your future on high ground. Seven: For safety sake, travel in pairs. Eight: Speed isn't always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs. Nine: When you're stressed, float a while. Ten: Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals. Eleven: No matter the storm, when you are with God, there's always a rainbow waiting.
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