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Category FRONT DECK

Let’s talk flood conditions. With much of the mid-south receiving record-breaking rainfall in May, a lot of reservoirs are flooded. Lots of guys just throw up their hands. But you can still catch fish when the water is under the back-porches, and one great way is flipping flooded bushes and willows. Most places, like my home lake Table Rock, “bushes” are different from “willows,” though both hold bass, often at different times.

IMG_2225 copyFor example, today we were out on the Rock, and you couldn’t buy a bite on a willow, but they were on the bushes. Bushes are typically short, gnarly, twiggy shrubs, where willows are bigger and have longer leaves and more supple branches– they’re more like trees. When you’re fishing shallow, clear water with thick cover like this, there are some things you can do to up your odds.

First, because the water is so very clear, you want to use a heavy bullet weight, like a ½ oz. Bass Pro XPS tungsten. That seems heavy for shallow fishing, but you don’t want the fish to get a good look at the bait– you want them to think its getting away. If it goes by them fast, they have to decide whether to eat it or not without getting a good look at it. In wood cover like this, I like 20-25 lb. Maxima fluorocarbon line. If it were grass like I’m going to see at Chickamauga next week, then braid would be better, but braid and wood don’t get along real well. For baits, today the ticket was the Lucky Strike Ringmaster, but in general beaver type baits and creatures are good choices. As far as where to throw it, you want to flip that sucker into the thickest part of the bush, right in the middle where the root wad is. That’s where those fish will often be during the day in flood conditions.

Once you start catching them, you can refine from there. There will likely be a pattern– shallow willows will be better, or deep ones. They’ll be on the bushes on points or in the backs of pockets. Pay attention when you catch one. Today they were in the thickest bushes in the backs of pockets, tomorrow they may move to willows on the outside of points. They’ll tend to be on the outsides when the water is falling, inside when it’s rising, but that’s just a starting place.

So go string up that flippin’ stick with some stout fluorocarbon and start experimenting– if they’re on bushes and willows, it won’t take long to figure it out and refine your pattern, and you could be on your way to a winning sack!

Chickamauga Tournament Preview Blog

I’m heading out on Saturday to Tennessee to fish the FLW tour event on Chickamauga. Though it’s been a completely disastrous year, I’m hoping to turn it around this week. Chickamauga is a grassy lake, with big fish in it, so I’ll be spooling up with heavy Maxima braid– 65 lb. It’s the best braid on the market because it’s really supple and uncoated, so it’s quiet going through the guides and casts a doggone mile. Braid is great on grassy lakes because it cuts through so you don’t get the big wads of grass clogging up your line when you catch a fish like with mono or fluoro.

With water temps in the mid 70s, if I’m lucky, I’ll be catching some monsters on a swim-jig and a frog. I’ll be looking for pockets with isolated grass to throw them around. I like Bobby Lane’s Perfect Frog and the Snag Proof Ish’s Phat Frog. For the swim jig I like a Strike King.

If that doesn’t work out, I’ll also be fishing boat docks. I’ll look for strings of them so I can be efficient with my time. Around these, I’ll probably throw the War Eagle Heavy Finesse Jig in a brown color. I’ll use the frog here too, and I’ll skip it under the docks. That can be a tricky thing to do with a baitcaster. Here’s how I do it:
1. Start with a roll cast, let your frog spin around your rod tip until it’s travelling on plane with the water, then let it go. It needs to be pretty close to the water when you let it go, or it won’t skip right.
2. You want the frog to hit the water out in between you and the target you want to go under, and resist the urge to stop it there. Let it hit and if you have it on the right plane, it will keep bouncing just like a flat rock, right back up under there.
3. It’s easy to get a hellacious backlash doing this, and it takes a trained thumb, so you’ll have to practice exactly when to feather the spool as the bait skips across the water, but if you learn to do this right, you can get that frog WAY back there. A frog is a great bait to learn this with, because its light and floats and it likes to skip.

When the tour visited this lake back in 2013, it took over 100 pounds to win, so it can be a really great lake. I placed in the money and it was a pretty good tournament. Hopefully, this year will be even better. After Chickamauga, we go to the Potomac in Maryland where I hope to end the year strong.

(By James Watson) When the heat of August starts to fade and the memories of warm summer nights begin to be forgotten, water temperatures start to slowly dip down the mercury gauge. The world of a fish, in its underwater habitat, is changing.

The majority of fish are moving from their summer locations, usually deeper water, to flatter, shallower banks in search of food in preparation for the upcoming winter. As temperatures continue to drop into late fall, those fish will eventually make their way back to deeper water and start associating with steeper banks throughout the winter.

This process is a never-ending, circular cycle and the time frame when it happens depends on the weather patterns. Polar vortexes (Read Rest of Article click here)

 

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For many, the thought of fishing brings images of a still spring morning with songbirds chirping and a light ripple on the water. The serene tranquility of the moment broken up only by the steady rhythm of an angler using a baitcasting reel to methodically chuck and wind a lure out into a likely looking spot.

If that’s your mental picture of bass fishing, then you obviously haven’t met James Watson, professional angler, but you should because the Waynesville, Mo., pro is the only MLF angler out there that has his own bodyguard and dates only super models. He also has wrestled a giraffe to the ground with his bare hands and has toured with the American hard rock band Guns N’ Roses. Oh yeah, and Watson is also Ish Monroe’s twin brother.

– See more at: http://www.majorleaguefishing.com/news_details.aspx?id=8927#sthash.GaE4dUB2.dpuf

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Premium rod manufacturer Waft Fishing has announced FLW professional James Watson has joined their pro-staff. Watson is a five-year veteran of the FLW tour. He had a third place finish at the FLW Okeechobee event this year using Waft Fishing rods.

Waft rods are made from high performance carbon fiber blanks manufactured in Japan. They feature high-ton carbon that is combined with their unique curing process and a carbon wrap structure. Along with other trade secrets this creates a super light, highly sensitive but very strong rod. Founded out of South Africa, Waft Fishing brings these amazing rods to the America fishing market.

Waft Fishing’s Dan Mathisen says, “We are excited about James joining our team and helping us to promote the rods in the US. We appreciate James being pro-active about introducing them to other anglers.”

Watson of Waynesville, MO has been using Waft rods for over a year. “I love my Waft Rods. These high performance carbon fiber rods are bullet proof. They are hard to break but super light-weight and sensitive.” said Watson “I have the 7 foot 10 inch Iron Feather Bass series which I have been using for quite some time. This is the rod I used when I got third place on Okeechobee. It helped pull seven pounders out of the grass.”

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Story by Russ Bassdozer

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PAA champ and FLW pro James Watson of Waynesville, Missouri categorizes himself as a shallow water power fisherman – but no one reaches Watson’s level in our beloved sport by being one-dimensional. Spoon jackin’ is a specialized technique that Watson plies around the very deepest of docks in water up to 90 feet deep.

On the Ozark lakes in Watson’s part of the country (Lake of the Ozarks, Table Rock, Beaver Lake for example), some of the places that attracts bass to “summer-over” (estivate) and spend the summer in relative comfort during and after their post-spawn recuperative period (besides flooded trees) are deep boat docks.

Watson likes to focus on boat docks that come out off deep banks with their outer ends sitting on or close to deep creek channels or on the main river channel.

Spoon jackin’ starts to gather steam during the early summer. The hotter the weather becomes after the post-spawn, the further the summer progresses, the deeper Watson likes to look for these dock denizens.

Water Clarity important

“When using a spoon, you don’t want murky water,” claims James. You want to focus on clearer water and the best places to start on a boat dock at any time of day but especially in the early morning hours are the outside corners and the cables that run out off the outside ends. If that doesn’t work, then start focusing your efforts on boat stalls – and the empty ones are not necessarily the best ones. Sometimes you’ve got to flip your spoon into a stall that has a boat lift with a boat in it. Sometimes the fish may be out off the first (outer) rung of the boat lift, but they’re often all the way in toward the central walkway that runs down the middle of the boat dock.

Rod/Reel/Line

“You better have big, strong fluorocarbon line like Maxima 20 lb test,” emphasizes Watson.  Along with that, Watson uses a Bass Pro Shops Qualifier 7:1 high-speed reel with a Waft 7’6” Outlaw heavy action rod.

Long-handled Net a Necessity

Once you hook a good fish way in there under the center walkway on the far side of a boat lift, you better have an extremely long handle on your net to reach out and get them.

The aluminum handle net shown in the photos here is 16 feet long. Watson now has a 20 foot length of PVC pipe that he has drilled to accept a cotter pin to hold a 5 foot long-handled net on the business end, equaling 25 feet long overall.

“It’s limber and awkward – but it works. If you see me with a giant PVC pipe strapped down to one side and hanging out over the back end of my boat, that’s a sure give-away that I’ll be spoon jackin’ docks that day.”

Shady vs. Sunny Side

“When you are flipping spoons inside boat slips, I cannot recall shade ever playing a factor – such as fish holding on the shady side versus the sunny side of a dock,” states Watson. The presence of a boat lift and/or a boat in a slip will provide overhead shade regardless of what side of the dock – and the center walkway of a dock also creates overhead shade.

What pays off best for Watson is simply flipping way back into spots that other anglers are not willing to tackle. “The most impossible spots to get a spoon into (or a fish out of) often pay huge dividends – but the consequences are lots of broken lines and lost spoons. Most anglers will opt on the safe side and not cast into those spots,” reveals Watson.

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In the ultra competitive business of professional bass fishing you have to do all you can, legally, to get an edge. You are competing against the greatest anglers in the world. These guys are the best of the best; the cream of the crop. They have proven themselves time and time again. To perform against these guys on the same playing field you have to put your time in and earn it. You have to put in years of work to be a better fisherman. Like any professional sport you have to practice, study, and then practice some more.

At this level, you have to take advantage…..Read More