Despite our illusions that we’ve “figured things out” all by ourselves, the truth often reveals a long web of influences that led to our “discovery”…
A Terrible Prefish
A couple of years ago, Ryan and I were preparing for a tournament at Banks lake in July. Fishing was less than spectacular. Okay, it sucked. We would start out in the mornings looking for largemouth in the expansive weedbeds that have come to dominate so much of Banks Lake. In the afternoons, we would do some main lake smallmouth fishing. Neither went really well. On our way home, we hashed out why things were so difficult and what we could do about it the following weekend during the tournament. I don’t think we came to any kind of conclusions during that ride home, but later in the week, I came up with a plan.
Some tournament circuits have an “off-limits” period the week before an event. Specifically, Monday through Friday are off-limits. You can’t be on the body of water where the tournament is going to be held, whether you are fishing or not. Further more, some circuits have a “no information” rule which makes it a violation to solicit and/or receive fishing information from anyone other than the partner they are fishing with”, only “information gathered through publicly available sources” is allowed. During that off-limits period I gathered information off of two websites and one magazine. The website information was “free” (of course I paid for the computer it was viewed on and the internet service that was used to access the info), the magazine was paid for. The information contributed heavily toward a win.
The Double Buzz
I watched a Tactical Bassin video about the double buzzbait. Something about it rang a bell with me. I thought it would work first thing in the morning for some largemouth. One of the more interesting things was that they were using a Horny Toad for a trailer on the double buzz.
California Swim Jig
Another credit for Matt Allen and Tactical Bassin. I re-read, watched some of his stuff on the “California Swim Jig“, a heavier swim jig meant to come through vegetation better than other jigs. On top of that, I had been exposed to the technique while prefishing in 2009 for the Classic in Alabama (held in 2010) from a guy who was showing me the “southern” way to fish a swim jig through heavy vegetation. While I paid attention to the technique, I never used it until that day in July at Banks Lake – more than a few miles from Alabama.
Fishing Vegetation in the Summer
I also looked for an old Bassmaster article I had come across earlier about what types of vegetation to target in the summer and what times of day to target them. I thought this applied to our little situation at Banks, so I read the article several times, and even read highlights of the article to Ryan over the phone. We decided (solely based on this one article) that we had been fishing the vegetation all wrong and would correct ourselves during the tournament. The article made zero reference to Banks Lake.
Putting Things Together
I combined all of that info, which I supposed I “solicited” by doing active searches online and reading a magazine article which I asked and paid for. I ordered one D&M Double Hammer Buzzbait, some Horny Toads, a couple of 3/4 oz. California Swim Jigs, some Strike King Rage Tail craws. Those were the only versions of those baits that either one of us would have for that event. I didn’t really have the right rod to use on the giant Double Hammer buzzbait, but I had a mod-fast flippin rod that I thought would work.
On tournament day, we elected to start on some stuff we had not even fished during prefish based off of the Bassmaster article. Nobody else was anywhere in sight, so that didn’t seem very promising. I started with Double Hammer buzzbait and immediately caught a 4lb largemouth. Several more 3lb largemouth were in the livewell a few moments later and the double buzz was doing the damage. We only had one, and we were both in awe as to why this was working. Later that morning, I pulled out the California Swim Jig and caught several more nice largemouth that we culled up with.
For a quick recap: We had a terrible prefish; during the off limits week, I read and watched about a couple of baits and techniques that I have never used before ; we start in an area we hadn’t fished in prefish and hadn’t fished during the summer ever (and nobody else wanted to fish there either)- and we win the tournament.
Matt Allen/Tactical Bassin – In my opinion, one of the best resources out there. I would have never tried that buzzbait had I not read his article and watched his video. Matt undoubtedly has had hundreds of influences in his life, so credit to them as well.
Flynn Gerald – Flynn showed me some things about how southern boys fished a swim jig through stuff that you could walk on. Flynn was over 70 years old when we met, and trust me when I say he knew everyone connected to bass fishing down south. I could never list all of the anglers who have influenced him over the years.
Todd Faircloth – One of the best grass fisherman alive, I read, watch, listen to him anytime I can when it comes to fishing in and around vegetation. I paid especially close attention to him during the 2010 Classic. He doesn’t know this, but I credit a bunch of what I know about fishing vegetation from him.
Ryan Brown – Always game for a new look at an old area or a new area using an old bait. I’m always inspired by his curiosity into new baits and I remember that week back at Banks in particular that I wanted to impress him with my new bait selections.
Ray Lehrman – Ray showed me many years ago, how a creative approach to trailers on buzzbaits can really work. I thought of those lessons as I was stringing that Horny Toad on the double buzz.
Un-named anglers (dock talk) – Just paying attention to where guys are fishing and trying to pick areas they might not be or areas I hear them talk down about. Also, when there is lots of negative talk about the weather, or difficult fishing scenarios (too weedy, too many bugs, etc.), I have a desire to try and make that work.
Bassmaster Magazine – The article I referenced about fishing vegetation in the summer is just one of hundreds of instances where I had to admit I learned something important through their articles/TV shows.