UPCOMING EVENT: Rayovac FLW Series - 2015 - Lake Champlain

Wooden wonders

Veteran bass pro Russell Cecil of Willis, Texas, casts into standing timber.

This labyrinth may lack the menacing Minotaur, but an ill-suited approach to the often confounding fields of stumps and standing timber in which bass hide can leave you trampled by an even more relentless threat - the clock. Indeed, you can't hit every piece of wood and you probably don't need to - you just need to look for the ones with the greatest potential and use the tools most likely to produce. Success starts with understanding what you're looking at; and water depth plays a big role. For example, in the Red River your stump field might be 3 to 5 feet with visible structure, whereas on Table Rock Lake, the standing timber may be 30 feet tall. Different specs equal a different approach. Standing timber on Lake Amistad.In a stump field, FLW Tour pro Brent Ehrler said he'll looks for some type of bottom contour. Recognizing that it's rarely just one homogenous flat with a smattering of solid objects, he tries to pinpoint a ditch running through the area and then targets those stumps sitting along the edge of the ditch. "In a shallow stump field, like the Red River, those fish are going to group up somewhere near where it rolls off into deeper water," Ehrler said. "There's a good chance it could be next to some kind of point. Let's say that a creek channel ends and forms a little point; those fish tend to group up in areas like that." Texas standout Stephen Johnston explained a similar point during a past trip on Lake Amistad. The creek channels leading into spawning bays typically wind through fields of huisache brush with hardwood trees seemingly scattered randomly through the area. Actually, closer inspection reveals replicable patterns. "When a creek makes a bend to the left or a bend to the right, that's an intersection for those fish," he said. "Those fish swim in so far and they'll get in a bend and sit there. I can look at the mapping area (of my fishfinder) and see where those bends are." Complementing the electronics, Johnston identified a surface level indicator. Stephen Johnston shows off his standing timber quarry."The hardwoods will be on the inside bend of a where the creek was," he said. "A lot of people just come in, put the trolling motor down and start fishing without taking just a few minutes to look around and see what they're looking at. You can look for the hardwoods and look for the gaps between the mesquite trees going through here - that's where the creeks make the swings." For Johnston's fellow Texan Russell Cecil, identifying particular depth zones weighs heavily in his timber plan. For example, a few bites midway down the edge of a slough reaching from the main channel into a stump field gives him a scenario and depth zone to look for. If the bite fizzles, he'll move up or down on those edges to see if the fish relocated. Learning to mentally breakdown a bunch of trees, Cecil said, will save you a lot of time. "The ability to read this timber and know how these sloughs and ridges are running is the key," Cecil said. "You have to understand what trees grow in what kind of areas. The cypress trees traditionally grow in the lower areas, so you have cypress trees that are actually in the sloughs. The hardwoods grow on the ridges or the creek banks. You're trying to look at these (dead) trees and determine which kind they are and have some kind of mental picture of what was going on out here before it flooded." Pointing the way Now a point is a point, regardless of where it occurs and fish like points for several reasons. For one thing, points present natural reference locations that fish use when traversing to and from deeper water. They're also great feeding areas because of their ambush potential and current-blocking benefits. And, of course, there's always the simple explanation of something different in the contour - a place fish can slide up or down to suit their comfort and practical needs. In deep standing timber, Ehrler might fish over the tree tops, but prefers to look for points because bass relate to the sides much the same as they do with the edges of a shallow stump field ditch. Graphing the area, he'll look for the spots with a void of timber, as this indicates the point's deeper drop-off edges. "The fish will use that timber as backing," Ehrler said. "They'll sit up against it look out at the void - the deeper water - and use that as ambush points. "Those are two completely different scenarios, but he fish are doing relatively the same thing. They're using that stump field or they're using those trees as their backdrop, or their home and they're looking out so when something swims by, they can dart out, eat it and go right back to where they feel comfortable and safe." Signs of promise FLW Tour pro Brent Ehrler believes it's important to weed through massive amounts of standing timber by looking for something `out of the norm.'As Ehrler notes, voids in deep wood cover means a significant depth increase, whereas a void in a shallow stump field usually indicates a skinny spot. With the latter, anglers often take advantage of low-water conditions to remove some of the shallowest structure to improve navigational safety. This, and any other feature distinguishing an area from its surroundings, merits attention. "In shallower water, it seems like any irregularity is a good thing," Ehrler said. "In a field of (emergent) timber where all the trees are standing up, if you see one that's laying over, there's a chance that a bass will be sitting under that (different tree). It's just something different out of the norm that those fish will hold on. "You have way too many targets to hit and the one that's odd is usually the one that has fish on it." Modern sonar products greatly improve your chances of finding something cool. Using his Humminbird 360 on his bow allows Ehrler to snoop around with a view of everything he's approaching or passing. "That's where you can find those trees laying down," he said. "If you're looking at the surface and you see all that pole timber, well now I have the ability to see those laydown trees that are under that water. Maybe someone cut down a tree when the water was low, or maybe it snapped in an ice storm. Well, now you have a laydown on the bottom. I'm not looking for a visible tree that's laying from dry land into the water. Now, I can fish those for those subsurface laydowns that you wouldn't find unless you saw it on your Side Image." Also, peaking into a field of emergent trees and brush, you might spot strands of hydrilla hanging from the wood when the water's down. Take this as a good sign of grass growth - a great complement to wood cover and a slam dunk pre-spawn scenario. "That grass will give pre-spawn fish a place to stage before they move up," Johnston said. "The grass provides warmth, cover and feeding opportunities." Birds standing on timber - Cecil points said this indicates bait in the area. Herons, egrets and the like do this for a living, so if they're investing time to balance on a piece of wood, you can bet there's food in the area. You can also bet that this won't go unnoticed by the big green bullies below the surface. Throw what you know Chevy team pro Jay Yelas oftentimes will attack standing timber by first fishing a crankbait through stumps to see if he can trigger a bite. During a recent stump field mission, Chevy pro Jay Yelas noted: "A lot of times, I'll start by fishing a crankbait through stumps to see if I can trigger those fish to bite. The key is to make that bait deflect off the cover." Ehrler agrees and adds this: "I want to use a search tool, like a Lucky Craft 1.5 and find a sweet spot where those fish are going to be grouped up. "With a search bait, I can wind through there and fish effectively until I get a few bites and tell if there are a few fish in that area." From the deeper edges of a ditch or slough running into a South Texas bay bristling with visible wood, to those deep water points with barren sides, a jerkbait offers profound bass-tempting appeal - and not only for the chilly months. No doubt, this is a solid bet for early spring, but a minnow profile hanging there all by its lonesome is mighty tempting to a bass throughout the calendar. ChatterBaits are an effective option for working around hydrilla growth within your stump field or standing timber. Johnston likes a V&M Lightning Blade with a swimbait trailer, but if the fish are short striking and just grabbing the tail, he'll ditch the plastic and go with a more compact package. And if the fish slow down on that bite entirely, try the more subtle presentation of a swim jig. Searching through timber fields on Lake of the Pines.Once you identify a pattern for where the fish are holding, or if you simply notice more response on certain types of trees - overhangs, twin trees with fish-friendly gaps, hollowed-out stumps, etc. - slowing down and picking apart such targets is a good bet. Here, flipping or pitching Texas-rigged worms and creature baits affords the weedless benefit, but don't hesitate to send a jig into the target zone. The compact package with flaring skirt raises that craw trailer in defensive position and that's just too much for most bass to handle. The standard rules of thumb for color selection hold their traditional wisdom here, but Cecil won't hesitate to intentionally mismatch his jig and trailer colors to effect a strong contrast that sometimes pushes indecisive bass over the edge. A green pumpkin/brown jig with a black/blue trailer blends some different tones of the bluegill look, but if a bass eats it, who's gonna question it? Get it back When fishing in stump fields or shallow stands of timber, consider the fact that tangled root systems laid partially bare by time and water wear love to collect fishing tackle. Popping the line often loosens the snare, but attempting this mission without a lure knocker is a just a guaranteed tackle donation at some point in the day. In water less than your rod length, you might reel the tip tight to your bait and push it free. This is probably not the preferable method any time before late spring - unless you have antifreeze in your veins. It's also a less popular tactic in the south, where interaction with gators, moccasins and copperheads looms constantly. Bass-fishing pro Russell Cecil demonstrates his unique method for dealing with snags.However, if all else fails, there are other options you can employ to attempt to retrieve your bait. In fact, Cecil has perhaps the most innovative cure for the deep snag: Grabbing his line between the reel and the first guide, he'll pull backward to shuttle the rod into the water and down to the ensnared bait. Rather than reeling the bait to the rod, he sends the rod to the bait.

Tags: article 

/tips/2015-07-24-walmart-bfl-tournament-preview

Walmart BFL Tournament Preview

The 2015 Walmart Bass Fishing League season will continue with a tournament on Saturday, July 25, when the Shenandoah division takes on the James River. Up to 400 boaters and co-anglers will be competing for top awards of up to $8,000 and $3,000 respectively in the one-day event. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-07-22-how-to-fish-the-prop-bee

How to Fish the Prop Bee

The Brian’s Bees Prop Bee isn’t the most popular topwater bait on the Walmart FLW Tour. Rather, it’s more limited in scope. It’s a niche bait. When a tournament falls into the window where the Prop Bee shines, however, it’s one of those “you-gotta-have-it” baits that is practically a shoo-in to produce a few top-10 finishes. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-07-16-flw-tournaments-headed-to-china

FLW Tournaments Headed to China

FLW announced an exclusive licensing agreement with Sunny Lake (Beijing) Sport Development, LLC, from China to begin sanctioning FLW bass fishing tournaments in the Eastern Asian nation at a contract signing today at the 2015 ICAST show in Orlando. The agreement was signed by FLW President of Operations Kathy Fennel and Gang Li, vice president of the Florida Culture Exchange Association (FCEA), representing Sunny Lake Sport Development. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-07-10-walmart-bfl-tournament-preview

Walmart BFL Tournament Preview

The 2015 Walmart Bass Fishing League season will continue with two tournaments on Saturday, July 11. The Great Lakes division takes on the Wolf River Chain and the Michigan division stops at the Detroit River for an event presented by Navionics. Up to 400 boaters and co-anglers will be competing for top awards of up to $8,000 and $3,000 respectively in the one-day events. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-07-10-5-frog-tactics-that-work-now

5 Frog Tactics that Work Now

Beyond the simple joy of slamming hooks into the mouth of a shallow, surface-feeding bass, frogs also offer technical advantages that allow anglers to capitalize on some of the best big-bass action of the summer. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-30-martin-earns-first-aoy-title

Martin Earns First AOY Title

Prior to the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour season, Scott Martin had banked a total of three top-10 Angler of the Year finishes in his 15-year career as a pro. It was impressive, but not indicative of his greatness. The truth of the matter is that Scott Martin was a winner, always taking risks in search of equal reward. That risky fishing has led Martin to more than $2 million in earnings, a Forrest Wood Cup win and four Tour-level wins. But the gambles burned him often enough that he never earned AOY. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-30-birge-dominates-roy-race

Birge Dominates ROY Race

Zack Birge isn’t wasting any time filling out his tournament-fishing resume. The Oklahoman won the 2014 Rayovac FLW Series Championship on Wheeler Lake last fall then joined up on the Walmart FLW Tour for 2015 and went on a season-long tear that earned him the Rookie of the Year award. Birge, alongside his wife, Kristina, was presented with his ROY trophy this afternoon on the weigh-in stage at the Potomac River tournament, where he finished in 77th place. He finished 29th overall in the AOY standings to best a group of 18 rookies. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-27-flw-signs-contract-for-south-korean-tournaments

FLW Signs Contract for South Korean Tournaments

At the day-two weigh-in of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River, FLW signed a contract that inked an exclusive licensing agreement with MirooNamoo Media Group from South Korea to begin sanctioning FLW bass fishing tournaments in the Eastern-Asian country. South Korea will run a series of FLW tournaments that advance anglers, who are citizens of the host country, to a new International Division at the Rayovac FLW Series Championship beginning in 2016. Two anglers will compete as pros with FLW providing Ranger boats, and two will compete as co-anglers. The top pro award at the Rayovac FLW Series Championship is $95,000, including a Ranger Z518C if the pro is Ranger Cup qualified, and the top co-angler award is a Ranger Z117. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-26-hunter-captures-co-angler-of-the-year-title

Hunter Captures Co-angler of the Year Title

Things couldn’t have worked out any better for first-year Walmart FLW Tour co-angler John Hunter, who wrapped up a phenomenal season from the back of the boat to win Co-angler of the Year and the Ranger Z518C with 200-hp outboard that goes with it. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-26-aoy-update-martin-controls-his-destiny-

AOY Update: Martin Controls His Destiny

Scott Martin is on the verge of winning the only major FLW title that has escaped him to this point: Walmart FLW Tour Angler of the Year. As John Cox and Bryan Thrift stumbled in the Walmart FLW Tour season finale on the Potomac River, Martin steamed ahead and made the top-20 cut in 11th place with 26 pounds, 9 ounces. The way the math checks out, if Martin finishes 19th place or better, he’ll win AOY. If he finishes 20th, he’ll be tied with Cox. The tiebreaker awards AOY to the angler with the most total weight for the season. If he finishes 20th, Martin can still win by bringing at least 11-13 to the scale on day three. Anything less and Cox survives to win. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-25-on-the-bubble-for-the-cup-

On the Bubble for the Cup

By rule, the top 35 anglers in the Walmart FLW Tour Angler of the Year standings make the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita Aug. 20-23. However, when a Tour pro pre-qualifies through another of FLW’s tournament circuits and also finishes in the top 35, an additional Cup invitation is extended to the angler in 36th place, and on down the list in the event of additional double qualifications. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-24-a-bass-fisherman-in-need

A Bass Fisherman in Need

Friends of FLW College Fishing angler David Cosner have established a fund to help the Texas fisherman pay medical bills associated with his long battle with Wegener’s Granulomatosis, a debilitating disease that gradually destroys the organs. Cosner, who founded the Texas State University Bass Cats and was named to the 2010 FLW College Fishing All-America team, was diagnosed with the rare disease in 2009 when he was 17 and since has had to undergo 215 surgeries. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-22-coy-and-roy-on-the-line

COY and ROY on the Line

FLW is hauling a lot of hardware to Maryland this week for the final stop of the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River. The world’s largest tournament fishing organization is also going to be writing some fat checks. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-18-father-of-david-dudley-passes

Father of David Dudley Passes

James Dudley, the father of longtime Walmart FLW Tour pro David Dudley, passed away June 17 after a lengthy illness. He was a lifetime resident of Lynchburg, Va., and a member of Thomas Road Baptist Church. Like his son, James Dudley was also a tournament fisherman and competed in 73 FLW events. He finished in the top 10 in eight of them. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-12-is-this-the-new-bass-fishing-capital-of-the-south-

Is this the New Bass Fishing Capital of the South?

Dayton, Tenn., is situated on Richland Creek, a tributary that flows into the western side of Lake Chickamauga, one of the hottest bass fisheries in the country. Local officials with a flair for marketing – and good business sense – believe that Chickamauga can be the sellable “brand” that attracts bass fishermen to come and spend their time and their money in Dayton. They believe that old-fashioned Southern hospitality and small-town charm, plus trophy bass, are just the recipe for turning Dayton into “The New Bass Fishing Capital of the South.” READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-09-bass-bbq-is-back

Bass & BBQ is Back

Bass fishing and barbecue are favorite Southern pastimes, made even better when you spice them up with a little competition. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-04-bfl-payouts

BFL Payouts

READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-01-2015-flw-tv-schedule

2015 FLW TV Schedule

READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-01-miss-nina-wins-more-accolades

Miss Nina Wins More Accolades

When the letter that notified Nina Wood that she was being inducted into the Legends of the Outdoors Hall of Fame came awhile back, she was a bit surprised. None of the rest of us was. In a sense, it was a restatement of the obvious, another in a long line of awards and recognition earned by the co-founder of Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-05-19-missed-opportunities-at-beaver-lake

Missed Opportunities at Beaver Lake

READ MORE »