I‘m a liberal leaning outdoorsman attempting to open the minds of right wingers to the idea that libs fish too. Anglers come from all walks of life, left, right, and center. Not everyone who fishes for bass is a redneck fond of Nascar, country music, and religiosity. Expect posts about largemouth bass fishing, techniques, reviews of lures and other products, but not any condemnable conservative rants. I hope to inspire the online angler community to dial down rhetoric which will do more harm than good to our sport.

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

• Baits that did the most damage in 2009

Well, 2009 has been a fun year in terms of fishing. Granted, the bite has not been phenomenal, but a lot has been learned and my skills related to pattern fishing have become much more refined. This post is the first of its kind here on my blog and it will allow me to reflect on the year and hone in on some of my strengths.

So which baits did the most damage this year?

Among all the lures I tossed this year, 1/4oz finesse jigs, Senko-type baits, namely Wave Worms Tiki Sticks, and the Trophy Series Scumfrog outdid everything. Deserving honorable mention for drawing out some hefty fish includes the swimblade and the garlic soaked Lake Fork Tackle 6" Lizard.

Finesse Jigs
Back in April, after much of the spawning was over and done with, I set out determined to figure out why bass hadn't bit for me over the previous months. Bass didn't want anything I had been throwing at them, that is, until April. The first fun lure of 2009 was the finesse jig. At 1/4oz, maybe the jig I chose was on the heavy side and not all that finesse, but man oh man did I catch some fish. Most were in the 2 and 3lb range. Along with a bit of patience and cooperative weather, pitching the jig at cypress trees seemed to be the consistent pattern. I used a black V&M Baby V Chunk trailer and went to work. Over the course of a few weeks, the pattern held up. On Cross Lake, that's something to revel in. Sometimes bass were active and hit on the fall. Other times, they needed to see that jig in front of them for a moment before biting. Best fish on the finesse jig weighed in at 3lb 15oz. All I had to do was find a cypress tree that had a low lying limb offering some thicker cover than anything else around. A bass would frequently be lurking just underneath. Didn't matter if it was in two feet or five. Those wide low limbs made all the difference in the world.
Off The Pier 4-1-2009
Cross Report 4-3-09
Cross Report 4-8-2009
Cross Report 4-14-09 & 4-15-09
Cross Report 4-21-2009
Cross Lake Report 5-19-2009

Trophy Series Scumfrogs
The real fun did not start until late June. Duckweed had filled in on either side of the pier and some lily pads had sprung up within casting distance. That's when I reevaluated my Scumfrog technique and discovered that a slow bounce triggered from a tap of the reel handle could draw strikes. By mixing it up and using both a slow and fast retrieve, I consistently caught fish over the course of a few months, including several fish above 3lbs and even one 6lber. Even while videotaping the slower cadence, a mud cat cooperated and took the Scumfrog under. June showed me several bass in the 2lb range. July gave me a couple of dinks. August pushed me over the edge with some nice 3lb fish. September brought me the 6lber. October was quiet. November saw an increase in topwater action, but proved to be the end of the Scumfrog bite for me. You can bet I'll be ready for the next topwater frog bite.
Slow Scumfroggin' Over Duckweed
Off the Pier 6-11 & 6-13 2009
Off the Pier 6-19-2009
Off The Pier 6-27-2009 - Rinse & Repeat
Off the Pier 6-25-2009
Off the Pier 7-28-2009
Off The Pier 8-23-2009 - Another Fun One!
Off The Pier 8-24-2009 - Picked Off 2 More
Off The Pier 8-27-2009: Good With The Bad
Off The Pier 9-22-2009: One Fish Makes All The Difference
Off the pier 11-7-2009: One bass didn't take the hint
Off The Pier 11-8-2009: Three more fall victim to the Scumfrog

Senko-type baits
The Wave Worms Tiki Stick and the Big Bite Baits Trick Stick also deserve to be mentioned. In March, prior to the finesse jig bite, I tested out other lures and had a good hit on the Big Bite Baits Trick Stick in a spot between three cypress trees. Unfortunately, in a matter of seconds, that hog shot eight to ten feet to my right, flipped out of the water upside down and backwards, and spit out the hook. That one might have gone 7lbs had I landed it and brought it to the scales.
Cross 3-21-09: Lost a nice one

Also in March, I experienced a fishing first. I hooked a bass by dangling a Trick Stick above water caught up in weeds sprouting off the base of a cypress tree. The bass jumped out of the water, mouth wide open, took the worm, and dropped back in as I set the hook. After all of the anglers claiming this sort of thing works, I can finally say I believe them. Hey, it happened to me.
A New Fishing First For Me

In mid-November, a bubble gum colored Tiki Stick was able to get a 5lb 6oz pig to bite. Now that was a fun catch. Even though I had 15lb line spooled on, I had to delicately coerce that bass with a medium light rod.
Off The Pier 11-19-2009: Didn't even feel it bite

There's no question now that Senko-type baits catch some nice fish.

Additionally, the Lake Fork Tackle 6" lizard did a little bit of heavy lifting for me as well. I caught a few nice ones.In May, just prior to a storm that eventually drenched me at the boat launch, I hooked a 3lb 7oz bass off a cypress tree on the north end of the lake and a 3lb 6oz bass on the south end. On the same trip, I hooked into something that was strong enough to dart a few feet, change directions, and come loose, but it bit on that same lizard. Who knows? Maybe it was the same hog that bit on the Trick Stick. It just knew how to run with a bait and throw the hook.
Cross Lake Report 5-22-2009

Also deserving honorable mention is the swimblade. In the middle of all my success with the finesse jig, a good soaking of rain convinced me to change up my routine and throw a swimblade, a lure which frequently produces when rain turns shallow water crystal clear before runoff clouds it all with up silt. A hefty 4lb 3oz pig bit down on the swimblade and flipped around about 10 feet away from the boat that afternoon. Watermelon and pumpkin colors typically provide me with the most confidence in clear water after a good rain. That one bit on pumpkin.
Cross Report 4-28-2009

But other species were not left out. Although not much to brag over, I caught some decent chain pickerel, some white bass, and a couple of nice crappie this year.

January and February on Caddo Lake was a little fun and Cross was just starting to turn on. Craw colored rattle traps hooked me a few chain pickerel on Caddo. In testing the Strike King Red Eye Shad, I hooked into a fat 2lb chain pickerel on Cross Lake. Although a 3lber is my personal best for a chain pike, this 2lber was certainly no slouch. With the gut and wide head, I was proud to have caught it, especially when the bass bite was slow.
Off the pier 1-8-09: Another pike
Caddo Report 1-22-2009
Caddo Report 2-25-2009
Cross Lake Report 6-5-2009

Way back in February, using a rattle trap and a DT-6 crankbait, I was able to find two nice crappie in the 2lb range on Caddo Lake.
Caddo Report 2-8-09

In March, after figuring out where the fish wanted, a $1 red/white Walmart spinnerbait, I came up on some schooling white bass. Put three in the boat, but could have tried harder and caught more. On the same day, I had a big gator sneak up on me from out of the cypress trees along one of the narrow bayous on Caddo. Just another fun day I will never forget.
Caddo 3-8-09, A Fun One

So 2009 was a really exciting year for me. In fact, I think 2009 has been the best year so far after moving to this part of the country. Cross Lake is definitely turning over a new leaf, producing some quality fish. Can't badmouth the slot any more guys and gals. I think it's working. Slowly but surely, we'll have a nice fishery on our hands. Caddo is starting to get tough though. I'm becoming more of a pattern style angler and certain baits are becoming more prominent in my tackle box than others. In the past, 1/4oz spinnerbaits and rattle traps were big for me. Things are changing. Plastics and jigs are becoming easier to manage. My pitching accuracy has improved. Armed with a baitcaster, I think I'm becoming a force to be reckoned with. Okay, so maybe I'm exaggerating a tad, but given the difficulty of area lakes, you had better watch out. I might be ripping a few lips just beyond that next row of cypress trees.

But 2009 isn't over just yet. There are still a few more days left to fish. I'm definitely going to try to make use of a couple of them.


T Brinks said...

My best baits for 09 were the Skinny Dipper, Senko and Ultravibe Speed worm. 2009 was the year of the soft plastics!

Tyler Brinks

larryb said...

Nice post! Well worth the wait. :-) lb

Tami Curtis Jennings said...

Great post with detailed info!

Spiderman said...

I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your blog. I lived in Bossier City for 20 years and have been in East Texas for the last 7 years. I fished the local bass fishing tournament circuit for most of the years I lived there. Being an avid crappie and bass fisherman I enjoy reading others experiments with lures, lines, and reels. Cross Lake was always a hard lake for bass fishing for me, the catfish population dominated the scene. Caddo Lake produced more bass and crappie with some large bass over the years that I lived there. Good Luck to you in 2010 and may the big bass find there way to you.