Posts Tagged ‘outdoorama’

The Lessons of 2009

February 6, 2010

Every year the overall health of the fishery is bantered about and it usually starts with what the bite was like the year before. Even in the midst of a season it’s not always evident how the rest of the year will work out. Looking across an entire season does help to provide a good overview of the action but it doesn’t always carry a clear message as to what it means. 2009 was definitely one of those years.

The years with the most definition and clarity are the “hot” years. Record 90 degree days group the bass up into nice neat spots where any angler can have qualified success with a minimum amount of information or access. Hardly anyone goes home without having at least a part of their day filled with a stretch or two in smallmouth heaven. Last year however qualifies as one of those seasons that was “spring all summer long” and patterns didn’t hold up, structures weren’t holding good numbers of bass in the same year class and a lot of water needed to be covered to put together a good limit. There were some exceptions to this though and if there was one item that sticks out as universal, some anglers caught some of the biggest bass of their lives.

What we generally don’t have from a year like that is information going forward to compare to this year unless 2010 is a “spring all summer long” season as well. Last year anglers were perusing classic spots, coming up empty and perhaps making a late season adjustment to start to bring in some good fish. If we get a “hot” year those same anglers might give up on the classic spots because of the frustration they went through last year and miss the bite by fishing for last year’s fish. How do I know this for sure? I’ve been there and done that. Because we work hard at what we do to find fish it’s hard to give up that knowledge on a macro level, unless we recognize the signs.

Early season fishing is a good example. We get 100 fish days, the bite is strong and it seems like every bait we are throwing is working. If we happened to hit schools of four pounders with some frequency the assumption is that it will be a good year and that the bass will be positioned in similar spots. A different angler under the same conditions might be getting the 100 bass but they are all in two pound or less range. Neither angler is seeing the whole picture but each is making a call on what the rest of the season will be like based on some very easy to catch schooling fish. The real test is the summer period where bass to begin to fall into predictable patterns which can be measured against all previous years. It’s at that point a fair comparison can be made.

So as far as 2009 goes we might as well just throw it out for statistical purposes until we find another year that matches it in low intensity temperatures. 2010 could go that way but traditionally we don’t have two of those types of years back-to-back. It would be a good idea to keep close tabs on the LIVE information coming out of Fishing Spot Specs and the Marked Maps Live! sites and see what adventures the bass lead us to this year in this great smallmouth fishery, Lake St. Clair.

(c) 2010 Wayne Carpenter

Bass to the Future Seminar at Outdoorama

February 3, 2010

We’re gearing up for a new round of Bass to the Future seminars at the upcoming Outdoorama show at the Rock Financial Showplace. What you can look forward to is more data files to choose from in Fishing Spot Specs, in-depth look at the new Marked Maps Live! website, some FREE stuff you can use online to help with your personal research, SeaViewer ™ underwater camera video and demo along with info about the new Xtreme Bass Tackle baits for 2010: Mayfly, Muskegon Goby and the new creature bait in St. Clair Crayfish.

That’s a lot for one seminar so be ready for a fast paced format with two screens and live internet. If you’ve seen this seminar at the Ultimate Fishing Show it might pay to see it again. I’ll have new video clips plus updates on how to use the new search engine at Fishing Spot Specs.

The seminar is free and questions are welcome. Post your question on this blog, let me know what day you will be coming to the show and have it answered at the seminar. If you comment on the blog you qualify for a 2-4-1 pass into the Outdoorama. Just send your name and address directly to me at: wayne@combat-bassfishing.com and I’ll get it out to you.

Seminar times will be posted first on the Outdoorama site at: http://www.showspan.com/OUT/Seminars.aspx

See you at the show!

(c) 2010 Wayne Carpenter

Looking for Canadian Mist tubes? Outdoorama at Novi on Feb. 25-28 is the Place

January 30, 2010

Canadian Mist tubes selling out at the Ultimate Fishing Show meant that some folks would have to wait for the next batch to come in. That day will be on Thursday, February 25th and through the show on that weekend. Both the sold out 4″ and drop-shot tubes will be available. Don’t forget we still have that #1 all time color in a 5″ tube, a 4″ skirted twin tail grub and negotiations are in earnest to secure a new supplier for X-worms and a deal is imminent.

For over a decade Canadian Mist has proven to be a top producer on the Great Lakes and inland waters. Since launching an Ebay Store I have found this color to be the strongest and most consistent with new customers all around the country. It’s not the sale that counts, it’s the reorders. That tells you a lot about how strong a bait is fishing by how much and how fast tackle boxes need to be replenished.

All baits have tendencies but few have a broad appeal like this color. Having a favorite child isn’t recommended so what’s to say about my pet designs, some of which I have poured over a year of design work into to develop and that work strong in the field? What I will say is that I love them all but Canadian Mist is the most consistent producer over all seasons, all conditions and all geographic zones it has been tried in to date.

I’m often asked what is the one tube (or color) I would take out if there was only one to chose from. It would be Canadian Mist, all day long!

Show schedule for the Outdoorama at Rock Financial Showplace

(c) 2010 Wayne Carpenter

Sea-Drop(tm) Underwater Camera – First Contact with the Environment

January 30, 2010

If you’ve seen the underwater camera in action before then you’ll have big plans on what you want to go see. If you’ve never used one before then a new world of exploration awaits you. The first couple of trips I spent hours looking at sand, rocks and various species of algae with amazement. The whole thing was about putting together the pieces of my past experiences as an angler with all the assumptions about what I had been fishing and now the reality before my eyes. This world was full of zebra mussels, gobies, rock piles I hadn’t noticed, transitions between different types of weed and then it happened…

I came across my first school of fish which was not totally unexpected but nothing I had read, watched on TV or heard about prepared me for this: schools of drum, smallmouth, rock bass, walleye and white bass all together in one eddy but in separate schools. Prior to this moment, based on time of year, water temperature, depth and current I would have put one species in that spot at a time. This little bit of knowledge gained through the use of the underwater camera launched my confidence in keying on big smallies when other species in the area are being caught.

It wasn’t much after I started using the camera that the experimentation began. To use the stabilizer fin or not to use the fin? OK, found out that no fin added up to no stability. Hey, I said it was an experiment! The head would spin doing 360 degree swings back and forth with an occasional moment of stability. I wouldn’t recommend this after lunch. So when drifting, the fin is on and the camera is steady while I get a look at the bottom structure first hand and continue my quest to understand how the fish relate to it.

To get started I recommend making sure the batteries have a full charge then just go out and have fun. Once the desire kicks in to seek out specific spots some prior planning comes in real handy. Set up your plan to approach the spot before ever hitting the water. Think about what it is about this spot that interests you the most and have your video recording unit ready or pad of paper and pen to record the results. Record every data detail you can think of for future use: Date, time, wind speed, wind direction, water temperature, sky conditions, water quality, depth and leave room for comments. Do all of this and you can build a useful library of each experience to be used at a later date.

(c) 2010 Wayne Carpenter

How To Fish The Xtreme Bass Tackle™ Skirted Twin Tail Grub

January 28, 2010

First of all, this bait can be very versatile. Here are some rigging options:

On a round ball or football head
Texas Rigged
Carolina Rigged
3-Way Rigged
Drop-shotted

How you decide to fish this depends entirely on the type of structure and the style of bass bite in the area.

On a round ball or football head
On Lake St. Clair, an open hook is fished easily around weed/sand and rock/sand combinations. This makes a round ball jighead or football head a good option both in the Lake and the river system. This is the option I use most of the time.

Insert the hook point into the front (skirt side) of the bait, work it through the bait then out the body with the ball or football head resting in the middle of the skirt. A 3/0 hook is large enough but a 4/0 hook could still work.

Texas Rigged
The Texas Rigged option can be very helpful should you decide to go into the weeds to extract the bass you are looking for. Smallmouth tend to cruise around structure but there have been some anglers that have taken the approach to go inside the weeds to reach fish most anglers pass up. Whether to peg the bullet weight sinker is a question that is often asked and that can depend on the individual angler and how they decide to present the bait. Since St. Clair has more “open water” structure than anything else, my tendency is to “not” peg the sinker into place. I recommend a 3/0 offset shank worm hook (with an O’shaunessy bend).

There are other excellent hook choices but in my experience with this specific bait, this hook works best.

Carolina Rigged
Carolina Rigging is used with great success by many St. Clair anglers. I wish I could tell you more about it but I am Carolina Rig challenged. If you have confidence in it, then go with it.

3-Way Rigged
The 3-way rig is one of my favorites and one that I have worked hard to perfect for use with soft plastics.

It’s dynamite in the river system and one of the most stable rigs to use in the Lake under windy conditions. A hard hookset is not needed since the fish just start to run with the bait, you feel the pressure on the line and begin to reel the fish in. I now recommend a EWG (extra wide gap) hook with this rig instead of the round bend hook. You can put all manner of plastic baits on it.

Drop-shotted
Drop-shotting this bait can be a solid option when the bass want the bait off of the bottom. I recommend heavier tackle than the standard drop-shot rig (at least 10 lb. test and a long medium action rod). It helps when using the larger style hooks like the worm style or EWG.

This rig keeps the bait off of the bottom and above the sand grass or slimy algae that can jam up baits as soon as they hit the bottom with other rigs. I recommend a pencil style sinker with a swivel on top, on the bottom of the drop-shot rig. A 3/8 oz. weight works great for most situations and you can trim the bottom of the pencil weight off if you need to make it lighter.

Above all, confidence will catch more fish than any technical change we make. Hopefully one of these above options looks like one you like to use the most and have confidence in.

Click here for Xtreme Bass Tackle baits on Ebay

(c) 2010 Wayne Carpenter

NEW for 2010! 4″ Creature Bait in hottest selling color: St. Clair Crayfish

January 27, 2010

This is a first for the design world of Xtreme Bass Tackle, a creature bait produced in a signature custom color: St. Clair Crayfish. This bait was released in 2008 and has quickly become the hottest selling bait everywhere it’s fished for both smallmouth and largemouth bass. Even though this color was originally designed for smallmouth in the Great Lakes system a funny thing happened once we got it wet… Largemouth don’t just love it, they crush it. Previous to this creature bait release the color has been available in a tube bait which works well inland but largemouth anglers will immediately see the value of a Texas Rigged creature bait in the same hot color.

Once a bait design is finalized it heads off to the factory and eventually the moment of truth arrives at my doorstep. The translation from what’s on paper to what’s in the plastic is always an adventure and this time around was no exception. Not only was the color matching great, the flake dispersal perfection but then…the law of unintended circumstances kicked in; It was oh so obvious that every single bait was different, like snowflakes! Now we’ve got something more like what happens in nature, variation.

Now all we need is the water to soften up in our northern states and the rest of the story can be told.

(c) Wayne Carpenter

Our Next Bass Bait – Building Confidence In It

January 26, 2010

All of us own enough baits we don’t even use anymore that we could stock a small tackle shop with them and still have plenty to fish with. Yet every year tackle companies bring out their “new” offerings and we add to our arsenal with the hopes the next bait will become a new confidence bait that will add to our fishing success. Some bait designs or innovations are worthy of our attention and some are not. Let’s look at the elements that make a potential purchase a “perfect fit” on an individual level.

DOES THIS BAIT WORK?

If you have been to any of my High Percentage Bait seminars the first thing you heard from me was, “Everything works!” Back in the day they would weld a hook to a real spoon and throw it out there and catch fish. One of my favorite activities in the first bass club I belonged to was to drag out every odd looking bait I could and use them during a tournament, and catch fish. Little Sunny, a rubber sunfish with an in-line spinner and treble hook was one of my favorites but you will see me use the Flying Lure, the Banjo Minnow, bobbers and more. Fishing can be fun and even more fun while your friends are shaking their heads in disbelief as you land one more bass for the livewell. The real question is what is the best way to present a bait and when does it perform at its best.

THE ART OF THE BITE

After over a decade of researching baits in the field I can tell you with confidence in my position that no two baits fish exactly alike. This might seem like an obvious statement but few have the time to track the results and access to finely tuned matched design features to test like I’ve been fortunate to work with. Within certain categories like: big fish baits, baits for consistency or baits for special applications there are similarities in the bite for sure that appear identical. Once you work with baits within a tightly defined category (most bass anglers have done this through natural and logical bait selection), differences will become clearer and ultimately confidence will rise with each piece of information gathered about the specific tendencies. One natural tube bait might be strong in the lake and a different natural tube bait might be strong in the river. One perch pattern jerkbait might draw more northern pike than bass while a jerkbait made by the same company but in a clown pattern draws more smallmouth.

THE NEW BAIT OR BAIT THAT NEVER GETS USED

The way I work with these baits is to trot them out during the pre-spawn period when bass will hit just about anything. It doesn’t tell me much about how the bait will fish after the spawn but it does give me a bucket full of confidence that the bass will hit it with frequency when I get it out there. Even in that target rich environment there will be some tendencies that will show up and there will be some adjustments to be made. The specifics don’t often translate directly to the post-spawn environment but they start the gears turning upstairs so when I’m faced with bait selective fish, there’s a starting point coupled with the belief the bait will work when I find the right conditions for it.


This early season largemouth was caught on a spinnerbait that wouldn’t have been my first choice to target a nice fish like this

(c) 2010 Wayne Carpenter

New Tube Design for 2010 – Mayfly

January 26, 2010

My tube design work has spanned more than a decade and has had great success with the tube baits: Great Lakes Perch, St. Clair Goby, Erie Goby, St. Clair Crayfish, Firetiger, Great Lakes Craw, Sand Craw and more… Both competitive and serious bass anglers have come to rely on my baits for their consistency in the bite plus the depth of research that is behind each one. This year, Mayfly is the latest in my excursion into Natural Forage Technology (TM) design and it fills an important color/tone/forage gap in the full lineup of laminated tube custom designs offered by Xtreme Bass Tackle. Although internet photos rarely do justice to the full range of color and flake offered in these baits, below is an image of the new Mayfly tube which comes in a drop-shot tube, 4″ and 5″ tube:

The significance of adding this bait to the lineup lies in its place in the forage environment. It’s the first real push toward including an insect species for bass to chose from and the variety of color tones in this bait will give them many opportunities to view this bait as one of several hatches of mayfly. This means an extended bite during the hatch period and the potential for the bait to reach beyond the mayfly hatch and into the rest of the bass season.

The dominant color is an Erie gold/cream which gets us the look of that one hatch of mayfly which seems to trigger the hot mayfly bite each year. Brown and black color is blended in to extend the bite range to those species that hatch prior to and after the dominant Erie gold/cream color species. Chartreuse is a highlight that shows up during this tipping point in the bite and that is represented by small chartreuse flake. The final highlight is a design first, a flood of small hologram flake to simulate the “wings.”

If you would like to know more about my business and bait design methods, an excellent article to read was written by Andy Buss and can be found at:

Sliding Down the Tube of Perfection

At this time this article is best viewed in Internet Explorer.

(c) 2010 Wayne Carpenter

www.fishingspotspecs.com – The Difference Between Weight and Avg. Weight

January 23, 2010

When locking fishing information into a database format one question in particular comes up about how to record multiple fish caught at one time. The simplest entry is when only one bass is caught: smallmouth 3.1 lbs. If I catch five smallies and they are all at 3.1 lbs. then that’s not so hard, just add a field for how many were caught: 5 smallmouth 3.1 lbs. It gets a lot tougher when those five fish all weight something different. On the water the latter is the most likely scenario and that’s where the AVG. WEIGHT comes in.

A typical catch of five bass on a single spot can look like this: 2.1 lbs., 1.7 lbs., 1.9 lbs., 1.7 lbs. and 2.4 lbs. (weight in 10ths). The way this report would record the event would look like this:

WEIGHT – 2.4 lbs.
AVG WEIGHT – 2 lbs.

The top weight available is 2.4 lbs. and that goes into the weight entry, the average weight comes to 2 lbs. and that is a good indicator of what you can expect should you decide to use this spot.

But wouldn’t it be more accurate if each bass was listed separately like this:

WEIGHT
2.1 lbs.
1.7 lbs.
1.9 lbs.
1.7 lbs.
2.4 lbs.

More accurate, perhaps but there are two important parts of information delivery that would suffer.

1) Managing data input – When using the first method data entry for the WEIGHT and AVG. WEIGHT was simple and easy to do on the water and when entering the data into the database. Sure, it makes it easier on me but it also increases the demands on the search engine and the shear volume of time it would take to enter absolutely everything.

2) Getting reliable and actionable output – For the end user the two facts concerning the biggest bass and the average quality can be the most useful. This distills the list of five bass (it could be a lot more than five in many cases) into it’s significant components.

If we went with the second method of listing weights, one-by-one, then the data would have to be crunched at the back end otherwise the user would end up with reams of accurate, but un-distilled information to sort through. Entry time would be increased significantly and the search engine would be tasked harder with no increase in the value of the data.

Hopefully this report was helpful toward understanding the WEIGHT v.s. AVG. WEIGHT issue. When you do your free sort you can talk a look at the strength of these categories to help you decide what report to purchase.

(c) Wayne Carpenter

www.fishingspotspecs.com – The Difference between Text and Notes

January 22, 2010

Knowing what the search results are telling you is the key to selecting a quality report to print out. Since you can search for free, taking the time to get it right is made easy so my goal is to do everything I can to help you clearly understand the output. Below is live text from the Combat Bass Fishing database for you to be able to see the difference between the two:

TEXT (What happened on the water – factual account with or without anecdotal information added in)
While working the lake side edge of the bulrushes we only came up with one short smallmouth. We worked the full stretch starting at the Bassett and ending at the Chematogan.

NOTES (Why this spot was targeted or other useful descriptions which would add clarity to the TEXT or other data elements of the report – Very similar to color commentary in sports)
I was looking to see if the bite on the open flat was any stronger at the shallower edges that terminated at the bulrushes

TEXT is almost always part of a Fishing Spot Specs (FSS) report and it isn’t really necessary to have clarifying NOTES to get the type of information you are looking for. NOTES does enhance the report though and as you use FSS you can evaluate the value of those as you go. The word count for both TEXT and NOTES are included in the Search Results and that can also be a criteria you might want to use when choosing a data report.

(c) 2010 Wayne Carpenter