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Planning to Fish a Bass Boat Tournament on Lake Martin From My Kayak

So I’m doing something kind of silly this weekend. I’m entering a $1,500 pot tournament on Lake Martin with a $130 entry fee. Not seeing the silly part yet? Well, I’ll be in my kayak… there you go.

For those of you who keep up with my content on here and on my social media platforms, you already know that I have been fishing a few small pot tournaments out of a borrowed Bonafide SS127 the last couple of months and that I’ve actually won one of those.

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But that tournament only had 5 bass boats and myself in it, and that fishery has loads of vegetation near the ramp that makes fishing close to home rather easy. That was also an evening tournament and we launched on the shady side of the lake. And I was catching my fish on a swim jig, which required stealth and a slow approach, two areas where a kayak actually has the advantage.

So that tournament win, as improbable as it was, still makes sense in hindsight. The tournament I plan to fish this weekend is a whole other beast.

The Challenge

The tournament will be held on Lake Martin. I expect there to be 40 to 60 boats. The number may not reach that due to the hot weather here in Alabama and the fact that college football season is upon us. But what I’ve found over the years is that factors like that don’t affect the diehard anglers. The 10 or 12 local hammers that have the greatest chance of winning are there whether there are 20 boats or 200. 

So it’s going to take some weight on Saturday, especially in light of the past couple of weeks. A few years ago, blueback herring were introduced to Lake Martin and those of us who found out about it have been waiting with bated breath to see the impact. When I was a child, anglers would fish for spots all day on Martin and weigh-in a 7-fish limit for less than 7-pounds, regularly.  The pot tournaments this time of year through the fall would quite often be won with 11-to-13-pounds. The occasional 17-pound bag would come along, but that would be anchored by two big largemouth. That trend stayed true up until two weeks ago when it was shattered completely. 

In the last two weeks, there have been roughly a dozen bags of spots weighed in ranging from 14-to-17-pounds. I have fished Martin my entire life, the biggest bag of all spots I remember was caught by Luke Clausen in the Bassmaster Elite there 2 years ago and it tipped the scales at 15-pounds. These weights are unheard of and the obvious direct result of blueback herring. 

So for those of you who know nothing about fishing around blueback herring in the late summer and early fall, you’re not alone. I am absolutely void of any personal experience in this realm also. But from what I have heard and read over the years from other anglers, it’s a run and gun till you find them and then camp on them offshore over deep water kind of deal. Yeah, that doesn’t sound like it’s a technique well suited for a kayak fisherman. 

But, I’m still going to compete in this bass boat tournament out of a kayak anyway. 

Why Am I Doing This?

I want to challenge the status quo. I’m just curious, in the current state of competitive bass fishing, with anglers spending upwards of $100,000 dollars on fiberglass boats, how can an angler stack up in a $1,600 chunk of plastic. 

Some of these boats will have 250 horses pushing them to where they want to go and then another 112-pounds of thrust pulling them around when they get there. 

I will have a paddle. 

Some of these boats will have 48-combined inches of graph screens to scan the depths for bait and bass, I’ll have a circa 2008 non-touch screen HDS 7 Gen 1. They’ll have a partner in the boat to help tame these unruly creatures and get them into the net. 

I will have a net. 

You see, this is truly shaping up to be a David and Goliath kind of story here, minus the death and all. Though there will be danger present. One of the limiting factors of a kayak for me this weekend is the presence of pleasure boaters looking to soak up the last few sweltering days of summer. If I do venture out to some of the off-shore humps and points close to the ramp, I’m going to have to keep my head on a swivel to avoid being swamped by a passing boat or rolling wave generated from afar.

What’s My Game Plan Then?

So I’ve actually been kicking this idea around for a few weeks, and up until the recent onslaught of monster spotted bass, I was honestly pretty optimistic about my chances of catching 11-12 pounds and having the off-chance at making a run at this thing. There are a lot of tournaments held out of Wind Creek where this tournament is launching. The immediate area is rich with cover ripe for the plucking of re-tread bass should an angler chose to fish close to home. 

My game plan was to stay close early, fish a shallow pocket near the ramp with a buzzbait and spinnerbait, and then move to the docks as the sun starts to rise and skip a wacky rig around. Due to the fact that I am in a kayak with a limited range, I still plan to start my day in the same way. But, where before I might have continued fishing the docks until I had covered the entire marina, now I’m only going to give this about 2-hours and then I’m going to make a paddle out to fish for spots. 

There are a few points within a mile of the ramp where I have caught some spots before. Nothing big, but I believe that was only because there weren’t many big ones in the lake yet. I’m going to spend a couple of hours later in the morning trying to make something happen out deep. Since I will be in a kayak and the fish will likely be in the deeper water surrounding the points and humps, I plan to fish the shallow parts quickly and then position myself shallow near the buoys and throw out to deep water, to minimize the risk of a passing boat not seeing me. 

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For the herring bite, I have topwater baits, big swimbaits, little swimbaits, underspins, dropshots and spoons. 

I will have more tackle in the boat than I have taken with me so far in my first couple of months in a kayak, including 5 rods and a couple of extra reels spooled up in case of an emergency situation where I backlash one beyond recovery. I’m taking two spinning combos, a 7’0” medium-heavy with 14-pound fluorocarbon, a 7’0” medium-heavy with 30-pound braid and one big rod for bigger topwater baits and swimbaits.  

Depending on how the spot fishing is going, around 11 o’clock I plan to make the decision that will determine how I spend the rest of my day. If I’ve caught a couple of spots in the 3-pound range out deep and believe there to be a school of them, I’ll stay out deep and keep working to catch more or expand on the pattern. If I haven’t, I’m heading shallow to fish for wolf pack bass with a topwater. 

How I’m Targeting Wolf Pack Bass

I first watched Randall Tharp fish a similar pattern on Lake Ouachita in the Forrest Wood Cup several years ago. He took a Brian’s Bee prop bait, got alongside the bank, put his trolling motor on high and proceeded to cover as much water as possible in pursuit of wads of big bass chasing bluegill and bream shallow. 

I have tried to duplicate this pattern a few times in the past on Martin and actually had a little luck one day within a range of where I’ll be fishing in my kayak Saturday, so I am optimistic. It’s times like these however, that I wish I had had the ANGLR app back then. Unfortunately, I didn’t take notes on the day that I did catch a few this way nor on the few days I spent trying to do so without luck. I don’t even remember if it was in August, September or October. I vaguely remember the 5 or 6 sloughs I tried this approach in but don’t remember the ones of those where I got bit. If I had the ANGLR app back then, I would have a wealth of knowledge from those trips at my disposal right now: the date, waypoints, moon phase, wind data, air temp, water temp, water level, number of bites, etc. 

All data I desperately desire right now to aid in devising a plan of attack for Saturday. Alas, all I can do is continue to build that data now for future trips so I’m not once again kicking myself down the road. Even ANGLR’s new Backtrack feature would be super helpful right now had I taken pictures of the fish from that day that I caught a few solid ones, but unfortunately I didn’t. For those of you who don’t know yet, the new Backtrack feature can scan your photos, if you allow it to, and create waypoints from where those photos were taken on the map within your app. 

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I’ve done it and it’s really quite impressive. 

But back to fishing for wolfpack bass. The main problem with this pattern again is the limitation of a kayak when it comes to covering a lot of water, especially with nothing more than a paddle. For this pattern to work, I’m going to have to get very lucky and just pick the right couple of sloughs to do this in. I have spent hours without a bite this way only to get 6 or 7 bites in one pocket. I just have to get lucky and hit the right pocket and, who knows…

So that’s my game plan. I’ll be running the ANGLR app the entire time to be able to illustrate in a post-tournament wrap-up how this game plan played out. I’m still optimistic of a decent tournament. Winning this thing out of a kayak would be legendary, but cashing a check would be a huge accomplishment in my eyes as well. They’re only paying 1 place for every 7 entries, so given a great turnout of 40 boats, you’re only looking at the top 5 getting paid. And again there will be 10-to-12 hammers out there capable of winning on any given day. So a check alone in a kayak with the odds stacked as they are is highly unlikely. 

But if I put much stock in the odds, I wouldn’t be doing this in the first place. We’ll see what we can make happen!

Kayak Paddle Holder DIY | How to Make a Kayak Paddle Holder

Alright. You have picked up your kayak and decided it is time to make modifications to fit your personal style of fishing or travel. This is the point where we gain total creative control and can do whatever we want! Well, within reason; we can’t add an air conditioner for those hot summer days (you can add a fan though!). If you’re into those kinds of things, you can even go as far as a kayak paddle holder DIY.

With the increase in the number of companies introducing pedal kayaks to us anglers, the paddle has taken on new roles; but I personally recommend that you find somewhere to keep it handy. Just last week on Lake Oauchita during the FLW/KBF event, I talked with three anglers who either lost their motors function, broke a prop or did some damage while slamming into submerged trees running wide open in the dark. Not an issue if the water is warm and you are close to the ramp… but at least one of the guys was several miles away from the launch.

Kayak Paddle Holder DIY: Finding Your Mounting Options

I am in a Hobie PA14, so there are several options in that boat. I could have kept it in two pieces in the location behind the seat, I could have flipped the rod holders outside of the kayak or I could have just laid it beside me. As a shallow water angler, I wanted the paddle ready for quick access, so I didn’t trust the rod holders to be robust enough to not snap off when the wind blew me across a tree or into a rock wall, and I carry too much stuff with me to just lay it in the way. 

I wanted it quickly accessible, out of the way, and held firmly to the kayak. Sounds simple enough with all of the roto grips, paddle mounts, and gadgets on the market, but I am often too stubborn to go with simple options… I mean creative… yeah, not stubborn…

Kayak Paddle Holder DIY: My DIY Holder

So I channeled my inner designer, sketched up what I wanted… ok, I really just thought about it in my head, I can’t draw without CAD software… and I started digging through the internet and at my favorite outfitter, Caney Fork, for kayak paddle holder DIY options.

Hobie makes a universal mounting plate… sweet!

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I picked up some cheap paddle clips

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I then replaced the screws that came with the clips, using stainless steel versions to avoid issues with rust. 

Now I mentioned that I do not sketch without software… and although I am an engineer and the process to draw this up would have been relatively easy… it would have felt too much like I was at my desk working, so I “faked it till I made it”; and since most people don’t keep CAD software laying around, I want you to know – that approach works.

I mounted the plates to the H-rail selecting what I thought would be a comfortable angle (I sat in the boat with my Bending Branches paddle to test), then I attached the clips to the plates.

 It didn’t work.  

It was extremely awkward to pull the paddle out of the clips. So I sat there sketching a new design (again, in my head), then began modifying the original attempt.

I slowly trimmed the holders by cutting off one side.

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The next thing I did was to get another holder because I cut too far.  

I started over – I suggest you buy spares since they are cheap, or be far more careful than I was… and I cut less the second time, tested, cut slowly, tested… then, tested… then moved… and tested. I finally landed on a location that would fit the paddle, allow me easy access and hold it snugly.  

With other brands of kayaks – or even the Hobie, you can buy off the shelf options, use a gear track with YakAttack Roto Grips; or combine any number of parts to create your own design.  

Unless you want to buy or build your own 3d printer and choose the correct polymer, I have found that a Dremel whacking away at a cheap cutting board allows you to make all kinda cool stuff! I created a really scary version of a rod holder for my first kayak with those two items.  Your cuts may not be clean (unless you have a milling machine too), but the cutting board material is really durable once you are done… and the weather doesn’t damage it.

Good luck with your kayak modifications!

2019 Bassmaster Eastern Open: Oneida Lake Recap

Featured Image Credit: James Overstreet

ANGLR Expert Grae Buck is on cloud 9 right now and rightfully so. Last week in the 2019 Bassmaster Eastern Open on Oneida Lake, Buck punched his ticket to the 2020 Bassmaster Classic to be held on Lake Guntersville. We sat down with Buck to discuss how his event unfolded. 

2019 Bassmaster Eastern Open: Grae’s History on Oneida

I don’t have anywhere to fish around my house. The closest place is the Chesapeake Bay and that’s still an hour and a half away. So I spend most of my time in New York if I’m just fun fishing. I’ve spent a lot of time on Oneida.

I’ve been working on Oneida for the past month. I won the BFL tournament up there at the beginning of August, so I’ve had a little time on the water up there this year and was able to expand on that during practice.

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2019 Bassmaster Eastern Open: Where Did You Target Your Fish?

The water temperature had actually dropped about 10 degrees from that BFL. It was 84-degrees when we were out there at the beginning of August and with these cooler nights it had dropped down to 72-degrees by the end of the tournament. That drop pushed the fish a little shallower. Before they were in the 8-to-12-feet range and now they’re in that 6-to-9-feet range.

Targeting the smallmouth bass on Oneida right now is all about finding where the rock is, and where that rock meets up with grass. That’s what holds the bait and the bait is what keeps all those smallmouth moving in and out of those areas. 

I probably have 300-hours of idle time on Oneida in my life, maybe more. So I have a lot of that rock marked. Once I figure out what depth they’re in and what kind of rock they’re on, I’m able to run that throughout the lake and figure out where they are.

2019 Bassmaster Eastern Open: What Did You Use?

I was throwing a dropshot with a Cornerstone Shimmy Shot in Ghost. It looks just like a shad. I actually changed to that color for the Open from the Tennessee Shad color that I used in the BFL. I was using that to mimic the perch but the shad are starting to push up shallower with this cooler weather, so that color change seemed to help get them to bite better this week. 

I threw a ned rig too to mimic the gobi. That was my one-two combo. They were definitely eating both. I was throwing that on a 1/10-ounce head that Hayabusa just came out with. That’s heavier than what they had before and it really helped me get the bait down because the last two days of that tournament were really windy.

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2019 Bassmaster Eastern Open: How Did the Event Unfold?

That wind kept the fish moving around which is what made it so tough on everybody. I fished different rock sections each day based on the wind. The first day I pulled into an area and caught all my fish except for one that I caught at the very end of the day. 

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That last one was a 4-1/4. Image Credit: James Overstreet

The second day I pulled up to where I caught 4 of my fish on the first day and never had a bite. I went to my second spot where I had caught that 4-1/4 late on day 1. 

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At that spot, I had 17-pounds in the boat by 9 o’clock. Image Credit: James Overstreet

Then on the final day, I pulled into where I had started on the first day and lost a 3-1/2 in the first 10-minutes and picked off 3 little ones just to get something in the livewell. Then, I ran to where I had caught 17-pounds the day before but never had a bite. I admit I was getting a little worried. 

But on the first two days, I had a limit so early that I was able to run around and practice to try to find some new water. There was one area that I found where my co-angler caught 3 on day 2 on a ned rig. I went in there and was able to pick them off throughout the day. Towards the end of the day, I culled twice and lost another one about 3-½ pounds. 

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I thought that was going to be the one that cost me the Classic birth, but fortunately, it did not. Image Credit: James Overstreet

2019 Bassmaster Eastern Open: The ANGLR Advantage

Using the ANGLR app, I was able to look back at my data from the BFL this year and last year. Those fish move around so much depending on the wind, so I was able to use the wind data information from past trips to get dialed in and stay on top of the fish throughout the tournament. 

2019 Bassmaster Eastern Open: Grae Buck’s Gear 

Dropshot:

Rod: Dobyns 703 Champion Extreme Drop Shot Rod

Reel: Ardent C-Force 3000 

Mainline: 18-pound Ardent Gliss Monotex Yellow 

Leader: 8-pound Seaguar Tatsu  

Hook: Hayabusu DSR132 size 2

Bait: Cornerstone Shimmy Shot

Ned Rig:

Rod: Dobyns 722 Xtasy 

Reel: Ardent C-Force 3000 

Mainline: 18-pound Ardent Gliss Monotex Yellow 

Leader: 8-pound Seaguar Tatsu  

Bait: TRD in Green Pumpkin or The Deal

Hook: 1/10-ounce Hayabusa 

Planning a Fishing Trip With the ANGLR App | My 4-Step Process

So you want to go fishing on a fishery you haven’t been to in a while, perhaps ever. How do you maximize the effectiveness of your time on the water? I get this question a lot on social media in some form or another. I’ve had people ask, “How do you prep for a one-day tournament without practice?” or “What do you do to get ready to fish a lake you’ve never been to before?”

For me, it’s pretty simple: research. Now I’ve never been one to call up a guy and ask him to tell me exactly what they’re biting and where. That’s not research. That’s pointless to me. You might get a check but you miss out on the sense of accomplishment that you get from finding and catching fish on you’re own. And even if someone “puts you on them”, they’re typically either lying to you or mean well, but have you chasing ghosts that even they couldn’t catch. 

So what does research look like to me? I like to do a lot of map study, check the forecast for both weather and water conditions, review my personal previous experiences on that body of water, and then I also research past tournaments held on that fishery. 

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Planning a Fishing Trip With ANGLR: Map Study

I do lots of map study when I’m preparing for a day on the water. Because I’m a shallow water guy, I prefer satellite imagery first and then topographic maps second. For the satellite imagery, I used to use Google Earth primarily, but now with the ANGLR app, I can pull up satellite imagery of a fishery and also drop waypoints or pattern points within the app to make notes for where I want to fish when I get there. 

I can find little hidey holes from the aerial point of view that I might overlook when I’m on the water. I can also see grass lines and other vegetation much better from above. On a fishery where there is a drawdown or winter pool, I can use older satellite imagery to locate laydowns and brush piles that are exposed by the low water. Using the ANGLR app, I can map out a game plan before I ever even hit the water. 

Likewise, with topographic maps, I can determine if certain oxbows or creeks are accessible and find where shallow and deep water meet for times when fish are transitioning in the spring and fall. I used to primarily use the Navionics app for this, but ANGLR has also added some topographic maps to their app that are useful for comparison. What’s neat about the ANGLR app is that I can even drop waypoints to mark something that caught my eye in the Navionics app.  

You can see how I do this in my Predicting Patterns episodes on YouTube. Here’s an example from the Major League Fishing Redcrest!

Planning a Fishing Trip With ANGLR: Forecasts

Wind, weather, and water forecasts are extremely important when planning a fishing trip. The  ANGLR app allows me to check all of these leading up to a fishing trip from within the app, which is very handy. 

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ANGLR is still working to incorporate more and more water current gauges. For some of my local fisheries, I have to use an app like Alabama Shorelines or the TVA  app to see what the current is doing. 

When it comes to weather forecasts, the 72-hour wind forecast feature on the ANGLR app is really handy, as well as the realtime radar so that I’m not bouncing around between a dozen different apps. With ANGLR’s Premium Maps, watching the weather and predicting the weather can be done all in one place!

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Planning a Fishing Trip With ANGLR: Reviewing My Personal Experience on a Fishery

I have fished a lot of places over the years and I also have a terrible memory. Which isn’t good for anglers. I have actually put in at a lake before thinking it was my first time there and realized at some point during the day that I actually have had the boat in the water there once before in the whirlwind of my past life as an outdoor journalist covering fishing tournaments for B.A.S.S. and FLW.

So for me, a logbook is a huge asset… had I been keeping one all these years. 

Unfortunately, I only recorded scattered experiences here and there over the years. Mostly details about good days on the water which ironically are the ones I don’t really need help remembering. 

The ones that matter even more to my future success are those where I didn’t do well. 

‘What was the air temp and weather like the day I bombed on Guntersville throwing a frog?’ 

‘What was the date and water temp when I threw a jerkbait all day on Martin but only had 3 bites?’ 

The answers to those questions keep me from making the same mistakes twice. The beauty of the logbook feature in the ANGLR App is that it writes itself regardless of how well the day is going. I just start the trip in the morning and whether I catch 20-pounds or don’t get a bite, the logbook is constantly gathering weather and water data and associating it with my GPS track and the time of day. 

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When I do mark a fish catch with either the app itself or my Bluetooth connected Bullseye, the GPS location and conditions of that exact moment are frozen in time for me to review from here to kingdom come… and it’s all stored privately, just for my eyeballs to see. 

Having the ability to go back to the day I had 29-pounds on Okeechobee and see all the invisible factors like barometric pressure and wind speed that were happening all around me would be wildly beneficial. And now thanks to the ANGLR app, I will have similar information someday to look back on and study when preparing for a day on the water. 

Planning a Fishing Trip With ANGLR: Looking at Past Tournaments

To get a feel for the weights a fishery puts out, I’ll go back and look at previous tournaments there. Obviously, if I’m fishing a tournament, I want to catch as much weight as possible but doing well in a tournament and especially throughout an entire season requires being realistic at times. Knowing if a good bag is around 13-pounds or 20-pounds helps me determine whether I’m going to split my time between a limit hole and a big fish pattern or go for broke and dedicate my whole day to trying to get 5 big bites. 

Coverage of past tournaments can also tell you if you should look shallow or deep and perhaps give you a few hints to patterns and baits that work well on the fishery. But again, don’t get caught up buying into too much of that. If there’s one thing I learned in my time covering tournaments, anglers lie

But not me. I’d never lie… unless you ask me something and I don’t want to tell you the truth. But hey, what do you expect. But I will say this with 100 percent earnestness, I would never offer up a lie unprovoked… probably.

Try the ANGLR app for free today! 

How the ANGLR App Has Helped Me Become a Better Bass Angler

As a competitive bass angler, we’re always searching for the next best thing that will give us an edge over our competition. Oftentimes, we look at new baits, rods, reels, or lines that might help us improve our catch ratios. For me, I grew tired of the monotony of looking for the newest techniques or baits, so I found something even better. 

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I started keeping a logbook to learn from each and every fishing trip. 

Now, most of you might think I’m crazy for writing every little detail down… well here’s the surprise… I don’t write down a single thing. I use an automated, virtual logbook that records all of my fishing data for me. I use the ANGLR app.

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The General Basis of the ANGLR App

I will start off by explaining how the ANGLR app works with the ANGLR Bullseye. The ANGLR Bullseye is a small, Bluetooth device than can be clipped on your hat or a lanyard. I prefer the lanyard as I can see what I’m doing with the Bullseye whether I’m marking a waypoint, marking a catch, or changing my gear. 

Every time you press the button on the Bullseye, it will mark either a catch or a waypoint on the ANGLR app. The app records weather data such as air temperature, wind speed, wind direction as well as barometric pressure and water data such as temperature, flow, and gage hight. The app also allows you to record the equipment you use from the rod, reel, line down to the bait, this is key to improving your game!

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How the ANGLR App Has Helped Me Improve

The ANGLR app has helped me improve as a bass fisherman because it allows me to learn from every trip I take. Prior to heading out for a fishing trip, usually the evening before, I will log in to the ANGLR web application. I will look for trips that I have taken in the past around the same time of year. I will also research the weather pattern that I will face during my day of fishing. 

I have found by using the ANGLR app, I am putting a game plan together based on my past fishing experience. For example, based on the barometric pressure data I have collected, I can typically predict whether or not the bass will be active enough to go after a topwater bait. This little tidbit of information helps me plan out my day on the water and what baits I need to have tied on. 

The ANGLR app has given me a ton of confidence while I am fishing because I know I am doing the right thing to catch fish at all times throughout the day. I have been to quite a few lakes that I have never fished before and have caught fish simply by looking at my data in the ANGLR app from similar bodies of water.

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I have also been able to repeat successful fishing trips while using the ANGLR app. 

For example, there is a small body of water near me that receives a ton of fishing pressure. I went there one Saturday morning and caught 9 bass in 3 hours of fishing. I came home and analyzed my data and was been able to return and duplicate my day of fishing due to recording the trip in my ANGLR app. Knowing this, I can come back and check the conditions of this trip to see if they are comparable when I’m planning my next trip. If they are the same, I know what techniques to use and if they are not comparable I will know what not to use. All in all, it makes piecing the puzzle together easier than ever. 

Try the ANGLR app for free today! 

2019 White River Hobie BOS Satellite Event Recap

On August 24, 2019, around 95 kayak anglers from six different states descended upon the Hoosier capital to battle it out for smallmouth glory on the White River. This was a doubleheader tournament with Indiana Kayak Anglers hosting their final trail event and a Hobie Bass Open Series Satellite event. 35 anglers (many fishing both events) would enter the Hobie event in hopes of winning the coveted Tournament of Champions paid entry. The TOC is arguably the most prestigious event in kayak bass fishing with the open series qualifying 50 of the best anglers in the country to duke it out for large cash purse and the final North American Hobie Fishing Worlds team spot.

White River Hobie BOS Satellite Event: Participation Skyrockets

This event has become Indiana’s must-attend kayak tournament. Growing in number every year and with the draw of the Hobie Satellite, tournament directors opened the boundaries to include more of the river than in years past, offering up new water to explore. The level of participation this year would set the record for a kayak tournament in the state, beating last season’s dink fest battle at West Boggs where 87 anglers caught well over 500 fish. 

“The White River event has consistently been a top event for us, which is why we keep it on our schedule year after year. However, I never would have dreamed we would draw this kind of participation” states Jason Young, tournament director for IKA. 

“From the directors’ perspective, it definitely makes us feel good about what we were able to put together this year and that so many people were willing to fish with us on this day. It’s also a little bittersweet knowing that our tournament season is almost over with only our Championship and the Crossroads Kayak Bass Team Classic left, both invitation-only events.”

White River Hobie BOS Satellite Event: Pre-Fishing

Tournament director Jason Young had been receiving numerous reports from anglers almost two weeks in advance of the tournament. The river was fishing great and the veterans of this ‘must not miss’ yearly event were anticipating 95-inches to win. One of those anglers, Cole Garland, opted for a last-minute approach, arriving at a section of the river on Friday night. 

“I decided to check out a stretch of the river that I wasn’t planning on fishing on Saturday” he told me. “I just wanted to see what was going on. Fish some, note the conditions, and just kind of see how the fish were reacting to certain lures.  I ended up finding a nice pattern quickly, and I think the best fish I caught was around 18”. My goal wasn’t to catch a giant or a lot of fish though so that 18″ was enough for me.”

Local smallmouth expert, Wilderness Systems fishing team member, and host of the Smallie Talk podcast, Josh Chrenko spent most of the month leading up to the event on the river, hoping to break down the river and dial in a pattern to defend his home waters. 

“My main goal was to decide where I would spend the tournament fishing. Checking out stretches that I don’t fish near as often and eliminating them one by one” he explained. “Things like substrate, the average size of fish, and predicted traffic were my main concerns. I didn’t start trying to pattern fish until the week of the tournament. I fished twice that week, with varying success, but I had confidence heading into tournament day. My biggest fish while practicing capped out around 19-inches.”

Jason Robbins also found success during his tournament preparations from his Hobie Pro Angler. 

“During pre-fishing, I struggled a bit for part of the day but when I found out what they wanted I knew I was fishing a good stretch of river. The biggest smallmouth I caught pre-fishing was 18 ¾-inches.”

That strategy of finding one good fish on a run was enough for most anglers that were able to get some fishing in ahead of time. 

“Pre-fishing was honestly the best I’ve had in a long time. Aidan Darlington (float mate and 2017 winner of this event) and I want to take one test run on the stretch of river one week before the tournament” explains Nick Matthews. “It was a little bit of a fast walkthrough because we didn’t launch until 6:00 PM and it was a long stretch. All in all, I caught a 19-inch bass and that’s all that I needed to see to fish that stretch of river on tournament day.”

White River Hobie BOS Satellite Event: River Fishing Preparations

The river is a constant reminder that gear security is key, using tethers like those from Neverlost Gear. At the ramp I fished, one angler lost a rod and reel combo before even getting fully launched. Another angler, Lito Wulliman lost one during his pre-fishing. Cole Garland lost a combo as well during the tournament. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t be the end of Lito’s pre-tournament bad luck. While prepping his kayak tournament morning he would take a Whopper Plopper hook to the knuckle. Given the situation and the placement of the hook we deemed it best to just push the hook through the knuckle and clip that barb, yours truly had the honors of performing the “surgery”.

White River Hobie BOS Satellite Event: Tournament Breakdown

With over 52 miles of river in-play, anglers would need to be very strategic in their plans. In some areas, you could only run upstream or downstream about a mile, so hitting multiple spots was one strategy. Working with a float partner(s) was another way to tackle the longer runs. The last strategy was to put in just above a dam and head as far upstream as you could and float back down. Also playing into the strategy was ensuring ample time to return to tournament HQ at Sun Valley Sports, and with Indianapolis construction, giving yourself enough time was vital.

The leaderboard would almost immediately begin lighting up with many 16 to 18-inch fish caught within the first 20-minutes. Glenn Landstrom would submit one of the earliest fish coming just two minutes into the tournament, a very nice 18.25-incher. Glenn would be one of the first to fill a limit as well and set atop the leaderboard for most of the day.

Cole’s day started out with frustration, missing many quality fish. 

“I started out catching fish right away, and my plan looked to be holding up. The pattern was what I expected, and I was feeling great about my chances. I started having a big issue though. I couldn’t keep a fish hooked! Little fish or big fish, they were spitting my lure out one after another. Several of them were nice keepers. I couldn’t figure out why though, everything should have been right, from the rod and reel to the line, to the hook and hook set. Everything. So, I decided to switch rods, switch hooks, and once I made that adjustment I didn’t have any problems. It just took me longer to adjust then it should have.”

It would be a bit of an early grind but he would eventually hook into the big bass of the day at 20.5-inches. Once he landed that fish, he started to feel pretty good about his pattern.

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The big bass of the tournament, a beautiful Indiana smallmouth.

Chrenko, who has finished in the top 5 every year since this event started, was a favorite going into the event. His knowledge of this water and the smallmouth that inhabit it makes him a threat at any river tournament. 

“I started out on tournament day fishing the middle of the water column with a fluke. My observations from practice on Friday had shown the topwater bite that I had been on seemed to have died due to a cold front moving in. I was on a semi-consistent bite with the fluke, but not the quality I was expecting. After a quick limit of 14-16-inch fish, I decided to try topwater out since that had been the predominant pattern before the front moved in. It wasn’t but about 5 casts in and I had a solid 16.25-inch smallmouth swallow my lure whole. A couple of casts later I had another nice fish, and that was about 10:00 AM.” 

Josh would continue using that same topwater approach the rest of the day. 

“The stretch I was on wasn’t known as a “trophy” stretch, but I knew there was a ton of quality fish with Alpha’s mixed in. I spent the rest of the day trying to cover as much new water as possible, targeting areas where the current was substantial, had good substrate, and specifically looked for mid-river boulders that were creating slack water behind them. I slowly but surely upgraded my limit to 87.25-inches with the last 16.5-incher being caught with about 30-minutes left, giving me a .25-inch upgrade.” 

One key fish would be the difference between the win and second place though. 

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“All in all, I had a great showing. I caught around 60-65 fish with the only mistake being a 19 to 20-inch fish that was lost right at the boat. I had a clue this fish would be there as I had seen it in the area a few days prior. It ended up being a mistake that ultimately cost me first place.”

Nick Matthew’s also found success within the first few hours of the day but would need to make a key adjustment. 

“Tournament day started off pretty well catching a 19-inch smallmouth within the first hour. However, that one fish led me down the wrong path” he attests. “I fished the with that bait until about 11:00 AM in which I didn’t have even a second fish. Then with one bait change the outcome of my tournament changed, I started to catch fish after fish and culled 2 times.”

Josh Robbins continued his pre-fishing success, picking up right where he left off. 

“I caught all my keepers before noon. I struggled the rest of the day to make any upgrades.” 

Josh would end up with 84.5-inches including a 15.75-incher that would have put him in contention for the win had he found that kicker fish.

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Josh’s big fish was 18.25-inches.

White River Hobie BOS Satellite Event: Event Wrap-Up at Tournament HQ

Anglers were treated to loaded burritos, chips, and dips upon return to Sun Valley Sports. The food they provided for the anglers was a welcome respite after a hard day of fishing. Stories of the day began to circulate amongst anglers, and many caught up with old friends. The camaraderie of the kayak fishing community is unmatched in my opinion. The top anglers waited with anticipation for their names to be called and hoped to claim the top spot and the prestigious invite to the TOC. After a few door prize giveaways from Hobie, directors Jason and Jim Orr began to call out the Top 9 for the IKA Event.

With a final limit of 88.5-inches, Cole Garland would go on to win the IKA event. Josh Chrenko would take 2nd with Nick Matthews rounding out the Top 3. These 3 would nearly repeat for the Hobie satellite with one caveat. Nick Matthews opted not to enter the event leaving the door open for Josh Robbins to round out the top 3.

This double win checked off a lot of goals for Garland this season. 

“This win was without a doubt as good of a win as I possibly could have had this year. With it being a Hobie BOS Satellite Event ran in parallel with the IKA, and having the ability to finally qualify for the Hobie TOC, the KBF National Championship, and the IKA Championship, it was the one circled on my list.”

Cole would take home around $3000 for his double win and big bass. He will join Jim and Jaxton Orr, representing Indiana, at the TOC in November on Lake Ouachita. His winning baits included a Rapala Shadow Rap and a Keitech Swing FAT impact swimbait.

White River Hobie BOS Satellite Event: The Winner’s Wild Day

After landing his 20.5-inches, the stretch of river Cole was fishing slowed way down. 

“I couldn’t find any good fish. I could only catch dinks for a few hours and they absolutely destroyed the lure I was using. So much, that I ran out of the color that they were chewing on. Also, at that time I had two 12″ dinks as my short fish.”

If catching dink after dink for a couple of hours wasn’t frustrating enough, getting summoned to the bank by a conservation officer to check his license and losing out on at least twenty casts really set the mood. Cole would get right back to fishing and find more dinks. He made a key move late in the day that would pay off. 

“I found a few spots that I knew had to hold fish. Fished the first spot, and nothing. By that time, it was 2:30, and that’s when the big “uh oh” feeling set in. Once I rolled up to the next spot though everything changed.”

The next 24-minutes would seal the deal for Cole, finally being able to cull out his two 12” fish. 

“I flipped up into that next spot and BAM, a fish bit right away. It wasn’t the type of bass I wanted though… it was a white bass. But it got me a little excited. The next cast brought a smallmouth, but a small one. I flipped-up there again, and get another bite right away. This time, it was a nice fish. The size that I expected to be in there. This one ended up being a 17.5-inch fish and I snapped the pic with around 20-minutes to go. Ten minutes went by, and I had thought about pedaling down a little further as there were a few more decent areas, but I just held my spot. There had to be more fish.”

His instinct would pay off. The old saying is you don’t leave fish to find fish and sticking to that mentality would fill Cole’s wallet and punch his ticket to the TOC. 

“I flipped back in there again and another one bit! I could tell this one was a better fish. My nerves started to kick, and I knew I needed this one just to be in contention. I ended up fighting that fish for such a long time, finally got him close, grabbed my net but it got caught up. The fish decided to take another run and peeled off some drag and then dug himself into some weeds where I couldn’t even see him. He was close to the yak, and I knew he was still on, but no dice.”

As mentioned early, using tethers to prevent lost gear is necessary on the rivers, however, sometimes it might just get in the way a bit. 

“I hook up my net to a decently long rope and a carabiner to clip it to my kayak so I don’t lose it if it ever falls out. This was causing the net to get caught up” he explained. “I took my eyes off the line quickly and unhooked it. Switched the rod to my left hand and put the net in my right. Stood up, and at this point, I finally could see maybe a 1/4 of the fish. I just went for it and reached as far as I could.  Scooped a bunch of grass and somehow the fish was in there too. Snapped the pic and submitted it with 6 minutes left.” 

Those 2 upgrades would bump him up 11.25”, the difference between first and seventeenth.

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This 18-inch smallmouth would give Cole his final cull, and a big one at that, upping his overall by six-inches.

Cole reflects, “running out of the lure of choice, getting checked by a C.O., losing a rod and reel, having a guide break on another rod, and splitting both Hobie fins made this win even more special.”

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White River Hobie BOS Satellite Event: Final Thoughts

“Without a doubt, the key to our organization’s success is the anglers in Indiana. We put together the events, but without the regular anglers and their enthusiasm drawing in more and more people to the sport, growth would be non-existent” acknowledges Young. “It’s said so often that it’s almost a cliché, but these tournaments are about competition AND camaraderie, about the people as much as the fishing, and that’s what brings more people to each event.” When I asked if he would want to host another national exposure event like the Hobie satellite he did not hesitate. “We may not have world-class fisheries like Guntersville or St. Clair, but we’d love another opportunity to host a world-class event.”

Bass Fishing Indiana: Top 5 Places for a Weekend Trip

When I was asked to do an article on the five best bass fisheries in Indiana, I have to be honest, I cringed a little. Not because I didn’t want to write an article, but due to the fact that, quite honestly, I wasn’t sure I would have five “good” lakes for bass fishing Indiana to write about. 

You see, Indiana is one of the toughest states in the US for bass fishing, in my opinion. I’ve spent the majority of my life in Indiana and of course fishing here, but I’ve been fortunate to live and travel across the US and fish some of the best waters in America. So I feel fairly confident in saying Indiana is one of the more difficult states for bass fishing because I have experienced so many other waters. 

Though, what I can say with certainty, is the tough fishing conditions and pressured waters in the Hoosier state have made Indiana a breeding ground for high caliber anglers for many years now. 

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Anglers such as FLW Cup Champion and now MLF Pro, Jacob Wheeler. Photo Credit: MLF

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The 2019 KBF National Champion, Mike Elsea, also calls Indiana home.

Along with FLW Tour Pros, Todd Hollowell and Bill McDonald, and many other anglers from across the industry. With all that being said, if you live in Indiana, or are planning a fishing trip here, don’t get too discouraged yet. I tend to under-promise and over-deliver, so here we go! 

Here are Indiana’s top five bass fishing destinations, starting with number five.

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Bass Fishing Indiana: #5 Lake Monroe

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Lake Monroe, Indiana’s largest lake, coming in at a whopping 10,750 acres of fishable waters. Photo Credit: Visit Bloomington 

Lake Monroe is host to some of the biggest bass fishing tournaments in the state. Monroe offers a variety of structures and vegetation to fish. Everything from backwaters, grass, wood, rock, bluff walls, deep offshore structure, boat docks, marinas, and many more targets are available for anglers targeting largemouth bass. Spend any amount of time here and you are sure to leave with more than a handful of waypoints and dings on your ANGLR Bullseye

Bass Fishing Indiana: #4 Geist Reservoir

Most of the bodies of water that made this list are nestled into the Indiana countryside. Geist Reservoir, however, is completely developed, smack dab in suburbs just north-east of Indianapolis in Fishers, Indiana… fitting, right? 

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This privately-run lake has some hefty launch fees, but provides 1,890 acres access of great fishing and is known to produce some big bags. Photo Credit: Ucindy.com

Giest was put on the map back in 2013, when MLF pro, Jacob wheeler, boated a whopping 30-pound bag (5-fish) in a weeknight tournament and since then, Geist has produced numerous 20+ pound bags.

Geist is best known for its grass and dock fishing. It’s also notorious for a seriously good frog bite in the late summer and early fall. Though it’s had more pressure in recent years and seen a slight decline in numbers, overall, it still remains one the top fisheries in the state. 

Bass Fishing Indiana: #3 Waveland Lake

Coming in at number 3, one of Indiana’s best bass lakes known to produce quantity and quality is Waveland Lake. 

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This lake can be a true bass anglers dream when the conditions are right. Photo Credit: Roverpass.com

Another privately run lake, Waveland comes in at just 358 acres. But every inch of it is jam-packed with fishable cover. With seemly endless ambush points for largemouth bass, it’s no wonder this lake produces so many quality fish throughout the year. If you enjoy fishing around wood, you will feel right at home here – from stump fields to laydowns, you will have plenty of targets to choose from. With all of the wooded cover, it can be easy to miss some of the offshore gold mines here, with grass and rock! As a final note, make sure to not overlook the dam as it is known to produce some giant bass, especially in the pre-spawn.

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Bass Fishing Indiana: #2 White River

The White River is arguably one of, if not the best, smallmouth fishery in the state. Located in the heart of Indiana, it stretches an impressive 362-miles and has two forks, though some of the more popular stretches are from North Indianapolis to just north of Noblesville. 

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Many of Indiana’s best anglers cut their proverbial fishing teeth on the flowing water of the White River. Photo Credit: City-Data.com

This small but mighty river is perfect for small boats, kayaks, and wading. The white river is know to regularly produce 16 to 19-inch smallmouth and 20 to 23-inch trophies are always within reach. Making it one of the gems of our state. 

To this point, this fishery has stayed largely unknown and untapped, but in recent years with the explosion of kayak fishing, it has become increasingly popular and likely will see another spike thanks to the recent Hobie Bass Open Series Satellite event that was held in conjunction with Indian Kayak Anglers Trail. This event had an impressive 90 anglers competing for top honors and a Tournament of Champion’s birth. Local angler Cole Garland landed 88.5-inches of smallmouth to claim the top spot. He also landed big bass with a beautiful 20.5-inch smallmouth. 

Bass Fishing Indiana: #1 Bluegrass FWA

So if you’ve made it this far, you probably have an idea that most waters in Indiana are relatively small in comparison to most other states. Well, that holds true in our last and final stop.

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Located in the south-west corner of the Hoosier state, near Evansville, Indiana, Bluegrass offers 600-acres of fishable waters.

Made up of 29 separate pits, Bluegrass FWA has long been known by locals to consistently produce some of the biggest bass in Indiana and do so on a frequent basis. These small waters are a kayak anglers dream but don’t be surprised if you see a 21-foot bass boat out there hunting big bass too. If you like flipping, punching, and frogging – you won’t be disappointed here. 

There you have it! Indiana’s Top 5 bass fisheries. So the next time you think about Indiana, maybe it won’t be for racing, basketball, or cornfields… because we have some good fishing too. More importantly, the skills sets learned by anglers fishing some of these pressured waters have proven to be crucial when fishing at the highest levels of our sport.

Bass Fishing Texas: Top 5 Places for a Weekend Trip

Bass fishing and Texas go together like Kevin VanDam and winning or Jordan Lee and MLF 2-minute penalties. So, when compiling a list of the best lakes for bass fishing Texas, you really have to look and pick through a lot of fantastic fisheries, many of which would rank highly, or even on top of lists in other states. 

Picking just 5 fisheries was difficult due to the mass amount of fisheries that deserve to be talked about and have great cases for being called a Top 5 lake in Texas. But, with that being said the following list, displays the pure wonder and diversity that is Texas bass fishing. Texas, in my opinion, is the best state in the country for bass fishing. With a large number of diverse fisheries that produce quality bass of all three bass species (Largemouth, Smallmouth, and Spotted) and huge community that just loves fishing. I don’t think there is a better state in this great country that is as awesome as bass fishing in the Lonestar state.

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Bass Fishing Texas: Sam Rayburn 

Kicking off our list for the best lake in Texas is Lake Sam Rayburn. Sam Rayburn is not only the best lake in Texas but, in my opinion, the country! (The St. Lawrence is a river.) This 114,500 acre lake sits in Jasper County in East Texas and is home to big bass and lots of them. Sam Rayburn has it all, from deep water ledges to submerged cover in inches of water and everything in between. 

Now while being such a diverse fishery that really can cater to any kind of fisherman, Sam Rayburn is where the grass fishermen thrive. Loaded with hydrilla, and seas of it, large populations of giant bass hide and feed in and out of the weed lines of Sam Rayburn. “Find the Grass,” was a phrase I became too familiar with when researching how to fish this largemouth bass factory. 

Throwing weedless baits like Texas rigged soft plastics and shaky head worms are some go to baits for catching both quality and quantity on Sam Rayburn. But, don’t forget about the bass staging in deep water either. As with any lake, there is always a solid population of bass out in deeper water. So, when the dog days of summer arrive or the brisk cold winter air makes its way down south, baits like deep crankbaits, Carolina rigs (specifically a Chartreuse Pepper Bubble Fry) and heavy footballs jigs are great choice for working those deep-water structures. 

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With an excellent population of good quality bass and plenty of giant bucketmouths lurking around, Sam Rayburn is a magical bass fishery where anglers can just flat out smash them. 

If you’re a fisherman anywhere in the country, you need to make Lake Sam Rayburn a vacation destination. Just be prepared to have some of the best fishing of your life.

Bass Fishing Texas: Falcon Lake 

Up next on our list of juggernaut lonestar fisheries is Falcon Lake. This 84,000-acre big bass factory sits on the southern border of Texas. Not only does this lake contain a healthy population of bass, it contains a healthy population of GIANT bass. 

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Falcon Lake should be a bucket list destination for any fisherman due to the high chance you can catch a fish over 10-pounds, and then catch a few more!

Falcon Lake produces monster bass after monster bass and is a dream destination for trophy fisherman. Deep diving crankbaits, big jigs, and 10-inch worms are staples on Falcon. 

In my opinion, the best time to head to Falcon and utilize these deep water techniques is the dead of winter. When you’re tired of watching the snow or having to pick the ice out of your guides and off your line, point your headlights to Zapata, Texas and enjoy a chase for some truly large and in charge bass.

Bass Fishing Texas: Lake Fork

Rolling up in third on our list in possibly the most interesting lake on this list and one that really needs no introduction… the historic Lake Fork. Lake Fork is 27,000-acres of bass fishing insanity that sits in north east Texas. 

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Like many of the lakes on this list, this lake has a little bit of everything! 

Deep or shallow rock, deep or shallow grass, you name it and Lake Fork has it for you to fish. And like ALL of the lakes on this list, the bass population is off the charts and its nothing to go to Lake Fork and swing on 3 and 4-pound bass until your arms fall off. But, that’s not the interesting part about this lake. No, the interesting part is that those 3 and 4 pound fish you are hammering on all day… are NOT keepers, and this is because Lake Fork has a slot limit. The slot is 16-24-inches which means any fish caught that are 16-inches or longer BUT are not over 24-inches are not keeper fish and must be released, but fish under 16-inches are keepers and fish over (but only one 24-inch or more fish per day as is TPWD regulations) can be kept. 

What does this slot limit accomplish? 

Well this slot limit protects your prime spawning bass which allows for amazing spawning seasons one after another and gives bass a chance to grow to some amazing sizes! Lake Fork may possibly be the most pressured lake in the country, if not world, and yet it still consistently produces large fish and plenty of them. Around 50% of the fish entered into the Texas Toyota Sharelunker program (Sharelunkers are defined as bass weighing 13+ pounds) have come out of Lake fork, including the Texas state record, weighing in at 18.18-pounds. In fact, per TPWD, out of the top 50 heaviest bass weighed in Texas history 30 of them have come out of this historic fishery. 

SO why is it ranked only 3rd on this list after everything I’ve said? Because, like I stated earlier, the fishing pressure on Fork is unfathomable. This is a lake that for 365 days a year gets hit harder than any other lake in the country and has large tournament fields nearly every weekend. These bass have seen every lure and presentation on the market a hundred times over before you ever even considered hooking the boat up to the trailer. While Lake Fork can be the best fishing of your life, it can also be unbelievably unforgiving. With that being said, the slot limit and fantastic management that Texas Parks and Wildlife does keeps this lake world class and even with possibly the most fishing pressure out of any fishery on the planet, Lake Fork still produces.

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Bass Fishing Texas: Toledo Bend Reservoir 

Next up is the former number one lake in the country, Toledo Bend Reservoir. Toledo Bend is a 182,000-acre lake that sits on the state line of Texas and Louisiana and is just east of our current number one lake, Sam Rayburn. Another lake full of everything, Toledo Bend is just another one of the many gem fisheries the Lonestar state has to offer. 

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Similar to Sam Rayburn though, grass is key. 

The main vegetation is hydrilla and the bass here love to associate in and around the offshore fields of hydrilla. Large schools of bass can regularly be caught using deep cranks, jigs, and Texas rigs around these deep-water salads. But, if that does not suit your fancy just remember that half of Toledo Bend’s shoreline is in Louisiana, and when I think of Louisiana, I think of one thing in particular, cypress trees. 

So, don’t worry if you hate fishing grass or just are not that good of an offshore fisherman, just grab your thickest broomstick, some 65-pound braid and a big hook and get to flipping. Giant bass will be waiting for you in the depths just as much as the shallows. Just a few years ago this lake was voted as the number lake in the country per Bassmaster Magazine but since then, the lake has accrued an immense amount of fishing pressure. The vast amount of pressure has affected the fishing, so the lake is not as it was a few years ago but all lakes have good or bad cycles. Even in the “bad” part of the cycle, this lake still lands as number 4 here on our list and I don’t think it will be long until the lake swings back to “good” and this list becomes outdated.

Bass Fishing Texas: Lake Texoma

Number 5 on our list was honestly the most difficult to choose. First I want to say that the first 4 lakes on this list were givens as they are staples in bass fishing both in Texas and the country. The challenge with number 5 on this list wasn’t finding the last of the great lakes in Texas, but rather the sheer amounts of amazing fisheries that Texas has to offer. But, with that being said, Lake Texoma makes the team and rounds out our list as the 5th best lake in Texas. 

This 75,000-acre lake sits on the state line of Texas and Oklahoma. Texoma varies from the previous lakes as the grass is not as much of a factor for fishing and the presence of smallmouth and spotted bass on this lake. 

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Texoma does not have just any smallmouth though, no, on Texoma you have to be prepared to catch a 6-pound smallmouth on any cast. 

With a healthy population of largemouth and spotted bass and an excellent population of smallmouth, Texoma has opportunities for any kind of fisherman from deep to shallow, but does play more to the hand of the offshore angler with the lake being very rocky and home to spotted and smallmouth bass. But, don’t let my boasting about the smallmouth overshadow the fact that Texoma still has some absolute giant largemouth. So, if you’re looking to get a taste of that northern smallmouth bite, but also want to target some big green fish in the same day, then Texoma should be your go to.

As I’ve said before, Texas has plenty of amazing fisheries that didn’t make this list. With so many fisheries, no matter which body of water you chose to spend your weekend on, there’s really not a wrong choice. Get out there and enjoy all of the bass fishing Texas has to offer!

Kayak Drain Plugs | An Item Kayak Anglers Need to Know How to Use

Kayak drain plugs are something that every kayaker wants to avoid having to use. If a drain plug is needed, that means there’s water in the boat and that’s usually not a good thing. Now, unless you’re cleaning your kayak, you typically try to avoid letting water in at all costs. If you find yourself with a waterlogged kayak, you’ll be really happy that you have a kayak drain plug.

With having a drain plug, comes some key responsibilities. First and most important, each time you go out on the water, make sure your drain plug is in and fully secured. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself sinking in no time and if you’re not careful, you could sink your kayak and potentially lose it for good.

Kayak Drain Plugs: Kayaks Can Leak 

It’s not something that’s fun to discuss but it is a reality, kayaks leak. Not every kayak leaks the moment it comes from the factory but over time the wear and tear can take its toll. Another factor is any modifications or accessories we add once we buy a kayak, these additions can create access points for water to enter the kayak. When you think of a sit-on-top kayak, the hull is essentially a bucket that will hold onto any water that enters. Knowing this, drain plugs play an essential role in allowing us to drain that water after every trip, ensuring the next trip will be a safe one. 

Kayak Drain Plugs Provide Relief

Here in the Northeast, kayak storage can be a real challenge, especially in the winter. One thing that drain plugs allow us to do is to keep airflow throughout the hull which is essential if water happens to be present and temperatures fall below freezing. If you remove your drain plugs during the winter, any ice that forms won’t put as much pressure on the hull and will help prevent warping or cracking of your boat. 

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This is an advantage of having a drain plug that is often overlooked but shouldn’t be underestimated.

Kayak Drain Plugs: Adding a Drain Plug

Depending on the kayak you have or are looking to purchase, it’s possible that a drain plug doesn’t come standard. If that’s the case, you may want to consider adding a drain plug. Lucky for you, there are plenty of companies out there offering drain plug kits that will work for any kayak. Now, this will require some drilling of your kayak but the process is not as intimidating as it may seem. 

If you do decide to add a drain plug to your kayak, be sure to carefully consider where you plan to place it. First and foremost, make sure that the drain is above the waterline. While drains are waterproof, the last thing you want to do is tempt fate by giving water an easy way in if the sealant were to wear or give out. You’ll also want to be sure that the drain is on either the front or the back of the kayak so that you can easily tilt and drain the water from the hull.

There’s not a whole lot to kayak drain plugs, but they can most certainly be the difference between a good or bad day on the water.

Texas Rig Worm vs Magnum Shaky Head Worm | What’s the Difference?

The Texas rig worm is one of the most basic and utilized tools in the bass fishing arsenal. The same can be said for the shaky head. But the two are not equal. Move up to the magnum versions of these two presentations and they differ that much more. 

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We sat down with ANGLR Expert Tyler Anderson to discuss his take on big Texas rigged worms and magnum shaky heads.

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Texas Rig Worm vs Magnum Shaky Head Worm: What’s the Difference?

Anything over 15-feet is when I’ll go with the shaky head. Less than that, I’ll usually go with the Texas rig. And when we’re talking about big worms, I rarely throw one any shallower than 5 or 7-feet. I might throw like an 8-inch worm shallower than that but not the 10 or 12-inchers. 

The deeper I am, the more I want the weight to stay together with the hook, that’s why a shaky head is so good. I hate pegging a Texas rig. I watched a Shaw Grigsby video once where he explained it. Most of the time, if you peg a big Texas rig weight, it will pop open their mouth when you set the hook.

 In Texas when I’m fishing offshore rock ledges, I’ve found that shaky heads are better. Because if I’m not going to peg the weight on a Texas rig, then the weight is going to separate from the bait either on the cast or while the bait is falling down. Then I miss some of the strike zone if my weight is 10-feet up my line and I pull the bait and can’t feel if it’s actually made contact yet. The shaky head just allows me to have more contact with the bottom in deeper water. 

Texas Rig Worm(2)

Then again a shaky head isn’t as weedless as a Texas rig. 

So if I’m fishing a brush pile, I’ll most often throw a Texas rig but maybe put the bobber stopper 3-inches up the line. 

Texas Rig Worm vs Magnum Shaky Head Worm: When do You Throw it?

When the fish first get out deep in the summer, they are the dumbest they’ll be all year, so I’ll usually throw a big worm. I like a 12-inch big thick trick worm. I know Xcite baits makes a good one and Strike King also makes a good one

As soon as the summer gets going good and the fish have seen more lures, I’ll start throwing skinnier worms or ones with a frilly tail at the end. I like to throw something like the Zoom Ol’ Monster around August and September because a lot of people will just throw the big trick worm all summer. 

Texas Rig Worm vs Magnum Shaky Head Worm: What do You do With a Worm That’s Different? 

If I do use dyes or scents it’s never the tail. If that thing is 12-inches long you don’t want the fish eating the tail. It does you no good. Sometimes I’ll use the markers to do some spirally marking to the head area. 

I’ve done that a few times and can’t say if it definitely increased my catching but it certainly made my lure look different.

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Texas Rig Worm vs Magnum Shaky Head Worm: How do You Fish it?

I almost always throw a crankbait or big swimbait first to pick off the easy ones and then just to clean up a spot, I’ll throw the big shaky head. When I’m fishing rock, I’ll use more of a football-style shaky head and when I’m fishing brush it’ll be more of a round ball head. 

Texas Rig Worm(3)

With a big worm, it’s mostly just a slow drag. 

With a smaller shaky head on a spinning reel, I think the bait stands up a lot. But with a bigger worm on a big shaky head, I highly doubt that the bait is standing up all that often unless you’re throwing a 12-inch floating worm or something like that. So for me, it’s just a slow drag to stir up as much of a mud trail as I can. That’s why I like the shaky head more because the big ball head stirs up more mud than the slender Texas rig weight. 

Texas Rig Worm vs Magnum Shaky Head Worm: What Gear do You Use?

The deeper you get, the harder it’s going to be for the fish to see your line so I don’t usually worry about throwing small line with a big shaky head or Texas rig, I’ll go with 17-pound fluorocarbon. If you’re fishing in 15-feet of water or more, you’re going to have some stretch. 

So, I throw it on a 7’6” medium-heavy in open water. If you get into the brush, maybe use a heavy action rod. Long casts are really key too, so I throw it on a Lew’s Hyper Mag which is the farthest casting reel they make in my opinion.

Rod: 7’6” Mark Rose Medium-Heavy

Reel: Lew’s Hyper Mag

Line: 17-pound Seaguar InvizX Fluorocarbon

Baits: Zoom Ol’ Monster, Strike King Bullworm, Xcite Baits MaXimus Worm