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6 Strategies for Cold-Water Bass

How to Welcome Chilly Temps, Bag Both Smallies and Largemouths with ‘Jack of All Trades’ Bait
By Jack Busby

When the water temperatures plummet in fall, tournament bass angler Rich Lindgren employs numerous cold-water tactics, relying largely on one “jack of all trades bait” called the Kompak Craw for finicky bass in waters below 50 degrees.

“You can fish the bait a lot of different ways, depending on the situation,” says Lindgren. “I typically have rods rigged with the bait on a shaky head, football head jig, finesse rig, jika rig…just for starters. I like having one bait that I can fish so many different ways. Let’s me concentrate on fishing, not lure selection.”

SHAKY HEAD RIGGING

Lately, he’s been fishing Evolve Bait Co.’s Kompak Craw on a thin wire 4/0 EWG shaky head and says it recently out-fished the stalwart tactic of dragging tubes over rocks for fall smallmouth an impressive 13 to 1.

“Dragging tubes definitely catches fish—from the Great Lakes to southern smallie waters—but there’s something about the Kompak Craw on a shaky head that lights up smallmouth bass. Rather than a horizontal drag, a shaky head orients the bait at 45-degrees—mimicking a fighting craw or goby feeding on the bottom. A simple drag, shake and dead stick is typically how I fish it. More sitting, though, than shaking.”

The bait’s design lends itself to shaky head rigging, as there’s a bump in the plastic that holds the hook barb just barely under the plastic, eliminating the need to expose the hook. “Even during tough, short bites, hook-up percentages are super good.”

Lindgren says the shaky head routine is a go-to for cold, clear waters less than 15 feet deep. Anything deeper and he’ll fish the Kompak Craw as a trailer on a BassTEK tungsten football head jig.

 

FOOTBALLIN’

There’s nothing like knocking helmets with bass in deep water. Football head jig aficionados will tell you they live for the ‘thump.’ And while effective on deep structure bass all season long, the football head bite definitely comes alive in fall and early winter, typically around sunken islands, isolated rock piles, points and ledges in waters from 15 to 40 feet.

To find these high-probability areas, Lindgren says he studies digital GPS mapping and uses Humminbird Side Imaging to look for fish on these deep water spots, marking waypoints for precise casts.

“During summer months I’ll fish a BassTEK football head jig with large, flappy craw trailers, but as the water temps go down, you really need something subtle. Fish are moving slower and they won’t eat if it takes too much energy. The Kompak Craw is precisely the thing, whether I skewer it onto a football head jig with silicone skirt, or my favorite, a combination silicone and hair football head jig. Hair moves in a way that mimics life even at a standstill in cold water,” says Lindgren.

 

FINESSE JIG TRAILER

On natural lakes – especially those of the Midwest – Lindgren searches for remaining green weed clumps in 8 to 10 feet of water, relying on a finesse jig to slowly and methodically find willing largemouth bass.

“I’ll idle just off of weed flats, using Side Imaging to find isolated clumps, funnels and spaces in the larger beds. Again, I’ll mark waypoints and go back and strategically work those areas with a BassTEK tungsten finesse jig with Evolve Kompak Craw trailer, which pulls through the weeds without collecting debris. I have a rod rigged with blue and black jig and Leech Fleck Kompak Craw, and a rod with green pumpkin jig and Pumpkin Oil or Cali-Melon Red Kompak Craw.”

He’s also a big fan of fishing finesse jigs on reservoirs. “In fall and early winter, I look for areas of chunk rock and gravel around secondary points that transition into coves and creek arms. You can intercept a lot of fish in these locations with finesse jigs as bass move in and out.”

Cold water football bites can much more
subtle then when fishing in warmer water, so Lindgren relies heavily on
his Dobyns DX744C rods spooled with 16lb fluorocarbon to feel even the
most subtle bites.

 

NEKO RIG

A lesser-known, yet very effective, late season tactic is called Neko rigging. Basically a highly-refined finesse tactic that takes wacky-rigging to an extreme, it excels in shallow waters and around docks. Although typically used with stick worms, Lindgren says the Kompak Craw is perfect for the Japanese finesse technique. “I invert the bait, insert either a nail or small tungsten screw weight into bait’s head and run a weedless wacky style hook into the nose of the bait between the arms. When retrieved, the vertically-oriented bait puffs the bottom much like a cat – “Neko” in Japanes     in a litter box, hence the name.”

Lindgren says the Neko Rig is ideal for bottom-hopping shallow flats, shoreline cover and points, even when water temps are extremely low. “Especially in slightly stained waters, you’d be surprised how many fish you’ll find shallow in late fall and winter.”

 

PUNCH BAIT

During cold bluebird skies and cold fronts, bass will cling tight to cover – especially weed mats and clumps – for warmth. That’s when Lindgren turns to the Kompak Craw for punching right into the bedrooms of big, lethargic bass.

“Florida waters are a good example of where cold water punching can definitely pay off. And rather than using a bait that’s too obtrusive and can spook fish, the Kompak Craw is streamlined and punches great. It’s thick enough that it displaces water and fish know it’s there but it doesn’t flail; the appendages stay close to the body, moving just the right amount to draw strikes.”

Lindgren fishes the bait on a straight shank 4/0 flipping worm hook with weight stop and ¾ to 1 ½-ounce tungsten flipping weight, tied to 22-pound fluorocarbon for clearer waters or 50-65 pound braid in dirtier waters.  Spool that heavy line up on high speed reels and either a Dobyns DX795Flip or 805 Flip/Punch depending on how heavy the cover.

 

DROP SHOT

Yet another way Lindgren likes to fish the bait is on a drop shot, particularly over deep brush piles that he spies with his electronics. “I simply nose hook the Kompak Craw and let it flutter as I ply deep brush, barely shaking it, keeping my eyes on my Humminbird sonar, which I set to 200/83kHz for the widest transducer cone, with my chart speed jacked up all the way to ten. That refreshes data the fastest. It’s like sight fishing with my electronics.”


Good things from a small package

Hey all, just wanted to share with you a bait that is quickly becoming a go to bait for me.  It is something that I picked up last year to be a punching bait and now is proving to be more versatile then I could’ve hoped.  The bait is the Kompak Craw from Evolve Baits.  If you don’t want to read the whole blog post and have a short attention span like me, just watch the quick video.  I show several rigging techniques in this video.


For those that want every detail, keep reading!

Last summer, I had excellent results using the Kompak craw behind 3/4 – 1oz flipping milfoil on lakes like Minnetonka and others, honestly kind of what I expected based on first glance of the bait.  Then in September, I was looking for a follow up to my sweet beavers down in La Crosse to go back through areas and show the fish something new.  My eyes were opened to the potential of this dimunitive craw when I went through an area after going back and forth twice with a beaver only to catch 3 bass including a 4lbr on the Kompak craw on my 3rd pass and my partner not getting a bite on his offerings.  This gave me confidence to keep flipping this craw on lighter 3/8oz weights to wood, cut banks, etc and caught both smallmouth and largemouth.

Fast forward to November and December last year, where a buddy an I found deep schools of smallmouth on a river in 25-25ft of water.  Football jigs worked deep with just about any trailer worked until the water temps dropped into the 30s.  I then rummaged through my options to find a subtle trailer, after trying a couple, the Kompak craw became the deal on the back of a 1/2oz football hair jig.  I continued catching nice smallies and occasional walleye on the Kompak craw through the winter on a different winter location, by presenting them on 3/16oz EWG Football Shakey heads.

Fast forward again to this spring, fishing pool 2, getting a few bites but not what I was hoping or expecting.  After scouring a harbor with my usual offerings, I pick up a Kompak craw rigged on a Jika Rig and catch a 4lb fish plus several other bass in water that I and another boat just fished pretty hard.  Fishing the Kompak craw on the Jika rig and small texas rigs has been in a regular mix for me so for this year, catching bass on little lakes in MN, the Mississippi river from Minneapolis to La Crosse and all the way over to Lake Winneabgo.

There are a lot of good plastics and baits on the market and most of them have a time and place, but I think the Kompak craw is something for you to try, it is quite the versatile bait and the bass just seem to eat it!  Don’t take my word for it, just ask the fish!

Rich

New Partners for 2013

Every year as a competitive angler and blog writer comes with new challenges, tournaments and opportunities. I am excited to bring forward KrugerFarms.com and Dobyns Rods from last year and excited to welcome both Evolve Baits and BassTEK to brands that I am excited to be working with.
            

Evolve has one of the softest & toughest floating hollow body frogs (Nervous Walker only $7) on the market and they continue to bring some great soft plastics to the market.  The Kompak craw was clutch for me last year and I am excited to tap into the potential of both their Mad Mouse and Darkstar Swimmers as I fish many tournaments on the Mississippi River this year in the Great Lakes BFL division.
Evolve Nervous Walker Frog
As far as BassTEK, I am heavily involved with them from the start.  BassTEK is a new company in 2013 that is bringing a Premium Tungsten Flipping Jig to all of us bass anglers at a competitive price.  Most of us have all found what a benefit Tungsten can be for worm and flipping weights, now its time to see what it can do for your jig fishing!


1/2oz Okeechobee Craw Tungsten Flipping Jig

So if you have a moment, check out the links to these products and if so inclined, support the brands that support me and this blog!

So stay tuned, you will be hearing much more from all these companies in the coming months as my tournament season ramps up!

Tight Lines,
Rich
Next Generation Artificials 

Minnesota Anglers Expo + Coupon

Between the big St. Paul and Minneapolis sport shows is this weekend’s MN Anglers Expo in Blaine.  Last year in April the same group put on a very good 1st year Bass Expo, to get better traction, they have changed it to the Anglers Expo and moved it up to February.

If you have the fishing bug like I do, I encourage you to take in this show this weekend.  I plan to be there all day on Saturday, when I am not walking around taking in the expo you will likely find me hanging around the KrugerFarms.com booth.

Kruger Farms is sure to have a wide selection of fishing gear and if you have been thinking about checking out a Dobyns Rod, Kruger Farms is sure to have a wide selection to check out, plus many other show specials!  Either way, make sure to stop & say hello.

Also, below is a $1 Off Admission coupon I came across to share with you.


 

Win a chance to fish Big Bass Derby from Kruger Farms

Here is a cool contest from KrugerFarms.com where you can enter to win an expenses paid for two trip to fish in a tournament on Lake Minnewaska and be teamed with a professional angler.  Click the picture below register and get all the info!  The event is being hosted by Paige Duke and will take place June 23rd on Lake Minnewaska in Starbuck, MN.

A fun weekend of good fishing, good food and Miller High Life!  You can enter daily until May 14th, 2012.

Check out this video for all the details!

MHL from Krugerfarms.com on Vimeo.

Minnesota Bass Fishing in March

What a wonderful lack of winter and early spring we have had.  Could not have been more welcome considering I had to stare at the BassCat that I bought in November all winter long.  This past Sunday I got out to the Mississippi River for some bass fishing.  Super happy that in less then an hour from my home in Lakeville, I can be on Mississippi River for some completely legal bass fishing even in March.

Fellow Gopher Bassmaster member Chong joined me out on the water.  We started on a couple points leading into known spawing coves as the water was 55 degrees when we launched.  The second point gave up a 3lb plus smallmouth to Chong and 2lb largie to me on a black tube.  We then made a run back to some backwaters, as the main reason Chong came with was to learn a little about how to navigate the river.

The water was 58-59 degrees in this area, I caught two quick largemouth on shad colored Shad Rap along a rip rap bank, the next spot gave up a couple more small largies on a Sexy Shad Megabass ITO Vision 110 jerkbait.  As we idled to next area, I saw some shad balled up on the edge of the grass.  I shut it down, Chong instantly bowed up and landed a 5-6lb walleye on a swim jig.  From there I did some work on that Megasbass jerkbait, I caught about 10 before we left that area, including 2 over 3lbs.  I also picked up a couple small fish on a spinnerbait.

Only one I weighed, had to test new scale 3lbs 8oz

Did not take long for Chong to tie on a jerkbait, on his second cast he got a nice chunky 3lbr on a Smithwick Rogue.  We covered a bunch more water in this backwater, most of our fish came on jerkbaits, but we did get a couple on jigs & soft plastics. 

We decided to make our way back towards the ramp, we finished up in a side cut of the main river.  I ended up breaking my jerkbait on some rocks, breaking it right at back hook, causing it to only have 2 hooks.  I kept throwing it and just a few casts later I bowed up on a donkey of a smallmouth.  Had it up next to the boat and it jumped as I reached it and spit my bait, that 3rd treble would have been handy there.  Oh well, still fun, I did catch a 3lb smallie two minutes later on a drop shot with a hand poured wacky finesse worm.

Total I caught 22 or 23, Chong had 7 or 8 with a big walleye & a big drum.  We both probably had 16-17lbs for our best 5 bass.  Glad I could get out, should not have a problem catching a legal bass in every month of 2012 now!

In summary, although water was creeping towards the 60 degree mark, which is super warm for this type of year, the fish behaved much like the water was in the lower 50’s.  With water likely hitting 60 plus very soon, I think the actual spawn will lag behind the water temp a bit, because the bass biologically just have not had time to get ready to spawn.  I am guessing it takes time for the females to produce those eggs, so keep that in mind fishing this spring.

If you are going to the Northwest Sportshow this week, you should be able to find me hanging out in the Kruger Farms booth, they have come on as a new Dobyns Rods dealer, come by and let me show you some rods that have balance and feel like no other!  If not, I will be selling some more Loomis rods in my Bass
Fishing

eBay
Store
.

In other news, if you follow my facebook page, I have mentioned we got some good stuff coming soon.  Should be several new product reviews and giveaways for my readers, one in particular I am excited about is Evolve Baits, check out some of their offerings.

 

IMA Emailer – September 2011

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Welcome to the IMA Emailer — September 2011 Issue

The IMA EMAILER brings you news from IMA pro staff members across the USA and worldwide.

While the calendar tells us that the official end of summer is still a few weeks away, Labor Day, the unofficial conclusion of the season, is upon us. It may be every bit as hot where you live as it was a month ago, or you may be starting to see the first little hints of fall. Kids are going back to school, wardrobes are changing and you might even want to dig a jacket out of the closet.

If you can figure out how the bass are transitioning in your neck of the woods, you can hit on one of the best bites of the year.

Here at IMA, we’re big fans of change, as evidenced by our awesome showing at ICAST 2011, last month’s version of the industry’s biggest annual trade show. We introduced two totally new lures as well as several new colors in some established products. The result was that we occasionally had to wipe the drool off of our display cases. Buyers, pros and media alike were desperate to get a close-up look of what the best fishing minds of Japan and the US combined to produce.

 

(The ima booth was a hot spot to be at during July’s ICAST Show.)

As long as we’re talking about “new,” we’d like to introduce you to the newest member of IMA’s national pro-staff, Kurt Dove. The Virginia native fished the Bassmaster Elite Series for a few years and became acquainted with the IMA lineup through pros like Bill Lowen and Fred Roumbanis. He’s also a dedicated fan of our sister company, Optimum Swimbaits.

Searching for a way to maximize his talents, Kurt picked up stakes from Virginia and moved to Del Rio, Texas in time for the start of 2008. He’s quickly established a tremendous guide service on Lake Amistad and is the big border pond’s most enthusiastic cheerleader.

“I fell in love with the place,” he said. “It’s just so multifaceted — with grass, and clear water, you can catch them shallow and you can catch them deep. And that’s right; you do a lot of catching. You just get bit a lot.”

“It’s a great jerkbait lake,” he continued. “I fell in love with how the Flit 120 produced in the clear water and started playing with the IMA and Optimum lineups. The Rock N’ Vibe is great for schooling fish and it’s particularly good for guiding. It’s easy to throw and it has a different rattle than any other lipless crankbait on the market. I also love to fish the Roumba over the hydrilla in the summertime.”

(Kurt shows off a healthy bass he caught on the Flit 120 at Lake Amistad this spring)

The bait that excites him the most, though, is the new Beast Hunter deep diving crankbait.

“We have a deep cranking bite in the hydrilla as soon as it starts to break up,” he stated. “It starts soon and should continue right through into December. The Beast Hunter is an awesome all around crankbait and a key part of the IMA puzzle.”

While Dove dotes on shad patterns in Amistad’s clear water, he also said a bluegill or citrus shad pattern can be deadly. While Amistad is known for its tilapia population, the most common things Dove finds in his livewell at the end of his tournament days are bluegills, so that’s what he tries to mimic most frequently.

If you’d like to book a trip on world-famous Lake Amistad with one of the friendliest and best teaching guides in the business, check out Kurt’s website at www.swtexasbassguide.com.

FLW Tour pro Michael Murphy is another big fan of the Beast Hunter. In his years on tour, he’s searched for a crankbait that can dominate the 10 to 13 foot range where so many big fish live for a large portion of the year. He’s found it in our new crank, which is designed to come through grass without a hitch.

The crankbait’s key attribute is that instead of having a weight-transfer system like many other lures in its class, it incorporates a fixed weight inside an thicker sidewalls (a full 2.0mm) which distributes the weight evenly throughout the body.

“Jun (Shoji) worked on it for two years,” Murphy said. “He made it so it doesn’t have to have the same sort of weights as other deep divers. That allows it to tuck and roll. Rather than operating on a ‘pivot,’ it rolls like a good swimbait. That provides a more erratic action.”

(Jun Shoji and Fred Roumbanis talk about the Beast Hunter and its traits for the cameras.)

“Every fish I’ve caught on it has had the bait deep in its mouth,” he said. “They just annihilate it.” He’s used it on TVA largemouths and Erie smallmouths. The only problem he had at the latter lake was that the walleyes also seem to like it. Mr. Murphy ended up with a couple of dinners’ worth of fillets thanks to his new favorite bait. He’s still learning how much it has to offer, he added, and while it catches fish right out of the package he said “it’ll take a good year to fully understand what it can do.”

While he’s used every color that IMA produces in the Beast Hunter, so far his favorite is the multi-dimensional “Fred’s Perch.” He said the largemouths think it’s a bluegill, the walleye probably think it’s a perch and to the smallmouths it can emulate a goby.

“That one crankbait will produce fish practically year-round unless there’s ice on the lake,” he concluded.

(The Brand new items from ima Lures include: Silent Big Stik, Beast Hunter, Foxy Fry)

Murphy put his money where his mouth is at last week’s BASS Northern Open on Lake Erie, finishing 3rd among a stout field of Great Lakes hotshots and national touring pros. While the old “Erie tube drag” and a dropshot were part of his arsenal, when the bite got toughest he wielded the Fred’s Perch Beast Hunter to top off his three limits that averaged over 20 pounds apiece. With only one tournament left to go, he sits in 8th place overall in the Open points standings.

If you think Michael Murphy loves the Fred’s Perch Beast Hunter, how do you think Fred Roumbanis is feeling about now? He’s the US pro with the longest track record with this deep diver and he’s still amazed every day by how good it is. “That’s my go-to color,” he said. “And the Beast Hunter just has the most wicked bounce-back action when you deflect it off cover and then kill it.”

(The Lake Erie Smallmouth could not resist the new ima Beast Hunter. Give them a try on your local bass the next time out.)

He liked the color so much that he insisted we bring it out in his namesake Roumba, too. “I just have a lot of confidence in that color in any hard bait I throw,” he said. But we didn’t stop there. There are two other new shades in the Roumba, one light and one dark. Both are made of one piece of ABS plastic and feature a one-knocker instead of multiple rattles.

“I like the one-knocker baits because you can walk them like a big topwater or a frog without any modifications and on each side-to-side movement it makes that sound that allows fish to really target them easily,” he explained. “Especially when they’re schooling, they really seem to like that pitch.”

Rattlin’ Roumba — 174 Black Bass

Rattlin’ Roumba — 175 Fred’s Perch

The light-colored version is Bone, which Fred says imitates just about any injured baitfish. When their first layer of scales are knocked away, bluegills, crappie, shad and most other prey have an underlayer that is bone-colored. That makes it especially good for fish in a feeding frenzy with lots of food options to choose from — between the color and the single knocking noisemaker, this Roumba is an easy target.

The other new pattern, our “dark horse,” is called Black Bass and as the name indicates it’s primarily black with ridges of blue markings down the side.

“You can’t go wrong with black just about anywhere,” Fred said. “It’s especially good when you want the bait to be a little less intimidating. The silhouette makes the overall profile look smaller.”

He likes the blue markings because they make the lure look like a black and blue jig, his go-to color when swimming a jig around water willow. The Roumba’s wide wobble makes it remarkably snag-resistant around vegetation and unlike a jig it has sticky sharp trebles that’ll pin down a slashing bass.

Veteran California guide and bass instructor Randy Pringle likes the Beast Hunter and the Roumba, too, but the two new IMA products that have him most excited come from opposite ends of the size spectrum.

The first is the new Silent Big Stik, a non-rattling version of the big topwater that IMA brought out last year. It may look striper-sized, but big largemouths smoke it, too. When the fish are fattening up for the fall run but there’s no wind and clear water, he finds that the silent version produces more strikes.

“Those are the times you want to get subtle,” he said. “It’s very important to act the same way as the baitfish act under those conditions and that means less noise.”

Given the fact that he fishing it in clear water, he prefers more subtle colors, too. Three favorites are the Ghost Rainbow, Ghost Ayu and Bone.

But if you think Randy only gets excited when he’s fishing the heavy hardware, think again. The other lure that has him jacked to be on the water is the new Foxy Fry, a 3/16 ounce bundle of dynamite that’s half crankbait, half jerkbait, all fish-catching machine.

(NOTE — The Foxy Fry does not come with a split ring in the nose. Use a size 1 or 2 cross snap for best results)

“It’s a little bitty thing,” Pringle said. “But it’s going to be a killer because every body of water has baitfish that size — every frog pond, every lake, even the Delta.” In fact, it’s a perfect guiding tool on the Delta right now. “If I were to have my clients throw it all day, we’d probably catch 150 fish on it. They probably wouldn’t be big, but we’d get bites all day, and it’s only going to get better as the temperatures start to drop.

Again, he prefers it in natural hues like Chartreuse Shad, Ghost Minnow, Ghost Ayu and Pro Blue.

It’ll continue to be deadly throughout the winter and through the pre-spawn, so you can bet he’ll have a spinning rod with 6- or 8-pound test line on the deck of his boat until the fish go up to spawn.

Bassmaster Classic qualifier Bill Lowen has spent the summer at home in the Midwest, where river tournaments are TOUGH. He’s fishing every Tuesday and Wednesday nighter he can, along with any other local derbies that cross his path.

He knows of a recent BFL on the Ohio River where it took 5 pounds to win and just over 2 pounds to get a check. In circumstances like that, a single extra bite can put money in your pocket and while he thinks his signature Square Bill is the best shallow diving crank on the market, he believes that IMA made it even more deadly this year with the addition of three new color patterns — Silver Lining, Foiled Bluegill and Lowen’s Hush Hush.

The first and the third of that trio are “colors I’ve used forever,” he said. “I was raised on homemade crankbaits and those are good on any body shape.”

The Hush Hush is a gaudy bluegill imitator, with chartreuse sides, while the Foiled Bluegill provides a little more flash as a result of its foiled sides. The Silver lining, silver sides with a black back, is a “must have” when the fish are gorging on shad. With those three, he could feel pretty comfortable on almost any body of water this time of year.

Square Bill — 163 Silver Lining

Square Bill — 164 Foiled Bluegill

Square Bill — 165 Lowen’s Hush Hush

That confidence is born out of being raised fishing tough Ohio fisheries. “It just makes you better,” he said of the stingy waterways. “You never get discouraged. I’m used to fishing for 6 or 7 bites a day so when you go to Guntersville and you’re getting 30 or 40 bites a day and other guys are saying it’s slow, that’s like heaven to me.”

No matter which color or colors of the Square Bill you choose, Lowen said the key is to burn it. SO many guys try to “worm” a crankbait slowly under tough conditions, but Lowen likes to burn it, crash it into cover, and then kill it. That’s when the big bites come, whether you’re fishing for 40 bites or for 5.

In addition to using IMA products at the end of your line, you can now wear the company logo proudly. After numerous requests from educated anglers, we’re bringing IMA apparel to a tackle dealer near you.

We have short and long sleeve shirts available in both white and navy blue, boat towels and beanies, along with baseball hats. As with IMA hard baits, they’re only the finest quality and will make a splash at your next bass tournament or out on the town.

Show Us Your Catches!

As always, we’d love to hear about the bass that IMA lures produce for you, whether on your home body of water or on the trip of a lifetime. Please send pictures of your fish, preferably with an IMA bait in its mouth, and a short description of what made the catch memorable.

Each month we’ll pick one winner who will get to choose the apparel item of his or her choice as a thank you for supporting and using IMA products.

(A customer sent in their ima Square Bill being choked on by a lunker bass)

 

Evening on Lake Champlain

My travel schedule has been ridiculous lately, but on a recent trip to Burlington, VT I was able to get out on Lake Champlin.  Internet bass buddy & Virginia Tech Bass fishing team member, Jody White was a gracious host and went out of his way to help get me on Champlain for the first time.  If you go back in the blog archives, you will see an entry I wrote about must fish bass destinations, and Champlain has been  on my list for quite some time.

Time was limited, we had right around 4 hrs to fish so we stuck fairly close to spots Jody knew around the Burlington area.  It did not take long for Jody to boat a couple fish on a Gulp Leech on a drop shot.  After getting a rod setup and retying after losing a drop shot in the rocks, I finally got a nice smallmouth on the drop shot as well.

Soon I switched over to a back home smallie favorite of mine, which is a Fork Craw on a mojo rig.  I ended up catching 4 smallmouth on that and a drum, all but one of the fish was a very nice fish.

We also tested some of the new Top of the Line swimbaits from Optimum Baits, got a few smallies to follow but could not get them to commit on this evening.  Right before dark Jody converted on a few smallmouth throwing an Ima Skimmer topwater.  To see all the pics, check out this facebook album.

Jody does some guiding on the side in the summers, so if you are in the area, look him up!

Thanks Jody!



Optimum Baits to Launch new 4″ Baby Line Thru Swimbait at 2011 ICAST

Optimum Baits has some new stuff to showcase at this year’s ICAST show which is next week.  One thing that is pretty exciting is the new 4″ Baby Line Thru Swimbait, this completes the full lineup of this popular style swimbait that already has 3″, 5″, 6″ & 7″ sizes. Optimum is also adding new colors, like a new Crappie colored swimbait and many more.  Also, watch for a new swimbait style from Optimum that will be announced at the show as well, can’t tell you anymore at this point….


2 different colors of the new 4 inch BLT


Comparing 5 inch BLT (bottom) to 4 inch BLT (top)

This new 4″ bait should be popular for northern anglers trying to build confidence in swimbaits.  I got a few of the early production baits to try out, with my busy schedule I only had a short window to test these from shore for about 15 minutes on a local lake.  I caught two nice bass, shown below and you can see that 3lb fish choked it!  Looks like a real winner and can be a great switch up bait for lakes that get a ton of spinnerbait pressure!


Get these 4″ BLT’s now at www.BassTackleDepot.com

 Optimum Baits - Leaders in SwimBaits!


IMA Emailer – May 2011

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Welcome to the IMA Emailer – May 2011 Issue

The IMA EMAILER brings you news from IMA pro staff members across the USA & worldwide.

Throughout the country, our best fisheries are all over the map when
it comes to what the bass are doing. For those of you lucky enough to
live in the warmest parts of the country, you may already have seen the
spawn come and go, but many of you are still recovering from or even
digging out from an unusually harsh winter. The fish may be spawning,
looking to spawn or they might not even be close, but we know you’re
ready to get out on the water and put them to the test. While you’ve
been organizing tackle and getting the boat water-ready, the IMA pros
have been hard at work – testing lures, strategizing and fishing
tournaments all over the country. This is the time of year when fishing
is often red hot EVERYWHERE at the same time.

IMA pro Bill Lowen started his year off by fishing the Bassmaster
Classic on the Louisiana Delta, his third Classic overall in the young
pro’s juggernaut career. While he didn’t win the Classic title – YET –
in some respects he was still the talk of New Orleans because the
Classic Expo was the site of the release of his signature IMA “Square Bill” crankbait. With the tournament winners relying primarily on square
bills, fishing fans were amazed by the IMA product’s attention to
detail and top-notch components. They’re on shelves now so be sure to
ask your local retailer about them.

Lowen started off the year with three straight Elite Series checks.
He was two for two in Florida — 34th at the Harris Chain and 35th at the
St. Johns River – and then 31st at Pickwick. “It wasn’t as good as I’d
have liked it to be,” he said, but after four events overall he finds
himself in 36th place in the Angler of the Year standings, right on the
cusp for another Classic slot.

In Florida, Lowen didn’t rely on the dominant sight bite for his
strong performances – instead he flipped a little and cranked a lot. “I
had the Square Bill tied on at both events,” he said. “My two biggest
fish on the St. Johns came on one in chartreuse with a black back.”

Fred Roumbanis, an Oklahoman by way of California, got his year
started before Lowen’s Classic appearance – and he started it off right
for the IMA crew with a 7th place finish in the FLW Open on Lake
Okeechobee. The Elite Series pro wanted to get the year rocking as soon
as possible and Florida was the perfect venue for his skills and
enthusiasm. Along the way, he set two FLW Outdoors records – the largest
Day 2 weight (34 lbs. 5 ounces) and the largest cumulative weight over
the first two days (61 lbs. 14 ounces).


Photo: FLWOUTDOORS

Fortunately for Fred, the Elite Series started off with two more
events in the Sunshine State, which has lately become his own personal
Magic Kingdom. He got this year’s campaign started on the right foot,
with a 29th place finish on the Harris Chain followed up by a 27th on
the St. Johns River.

While much of the field sight fished at the two Elite Series events
in Florida, Fred went against the grain, flipping at the first event and
using a variety of frogs, including an Optimum Furbit, at the latter
event.

“I prefer to sight fish but everybody knows the same areas,” he said.
“This year I decided I was just going to put my head down and fish. I
think it worked out for the first two events.”

But Fred’s strong run didn’t stop in Florida. At Pickwick he finished
34th. Then, at Toledo Bend he put together a magical four-day stretch
and earned his fourth straight check, as well as his first Sunday
appearance of the year. When the scales closed on Sunday, he’d finished
fifth overall with a total weight of 67-01. Fred is 7th overall right
now in the Angler of the Year standings, on pace not only for his 3rd
Bassmaster Classic berth, but also in position to make a serious run at
the BASS postseason and the accompanying accolades. He’s a proven closer
and it wouldn’t surprise anyone if he claimed his 3rd BASS win before
this campaign closes out.

While the few anglers who finished in front of Fred at Toledo Bend
are certainly to be congratulated, Fred’s achievement was particularly
special because he caught his weight using a technique that it’s pretty
certain no one else in the field was utilizing. In fact, most if not all
of them have probably never even tried it. He was swimming a 1-ounce
Pepper football head jig, paired mostly with an Optimum Double Diamond swimbait as a trailer on offshore ledges and ridges. The big jig was
necessary to make long casts, achieve the appropriate depths and mimic
the baitfish. The swimbait tail provided the proper “kick” and the
appearance of a bluegill. One other critical element of his presentation
was the use of 15-pound P-Line fluorocarbon, which also helped him get
the bait down and earn precious bites. Watch what Fred was doing HERE.

Fred is a master of figuring out how to incorporate different line
sizes to give a particular lure it’s optimum effectiveness. As you’ll
see below, it’s something he’s very conscious of when fishing the IMA Rock N Vibe.

From early pre-spawn on through the fall, savvy bass anglers always
have a lipless crankbait tied on – it’s a lure that enables them to fish
a wide swath of the water column, resembles baitfish closely, and works
around a variety of cover types – and the one that’s making major waves
these days is the IMA Rock N Vibe. Any lipless crank can catch bass on
occasion, when conditions are just right, but this lure is a like a
multi-tool, applying the right implement to all sorts of predicaments.

“It has a small profile, but it still weighs a ton,” Lowen said.
“It’s easier to fish in high pressure situations when you have to make
long casts.” Roumbanis uses it for everything from yo-yoing to burning,
and noted that the small size makes it a numbers bait, but he’s
continually surprised at how many big fish fall for this baitfish
replica.

“Since it came out, I haven’t really thrown any other lipless baits,”
Fred said. “A lot of them are too light or you don’t feel the
vibrations, but this one you can feel it shaking like a chatterbait.”

FLW Tour pro Michael Murphy says it’s the wide range of depths that
you can fish it at that make the Rock N Vibe such a key tool in his
tournament arsenal. “Most vibrating baits are for 4 feet of water or
less, but this one has a lot more range. It provides the maximum benefit
of what a lipless crankbait does. For example, at Guntersville, when
the grass is topping out at 6 feet down instead of 4 feet, you can still
tick the bottom. I use it a lot on Lake Murray for schooling bass.”

Roumbanis agreed with Murphy’s assessment. In ultra-clear water he’ll
sometimes go down to 8 lb. fluorocarbon, which allows him to easily get
the Rock N Vibe down into 8 to 12 feet of water. Going that light isn’t
something most anglers do with a classic power fishing tactic like a
lipless crank, but Fred said if it’s necessary, that’s what he’ll do to
garner the bites he needs. Too often we all pay attention to retrieve
speed without the appropriate concern for where a particular retrieve
puts the bait in the water column.

Last year at the California Delta, Lowen used one of his favorite
Rock N Vibe techniques, fishing it like a jig. “You let it go all the
way to the bottom on grass line edges and points,” he said. “They you
hop it pretty hard off the bottom. The rod will just load up.”

Another trick is to fish it on heavy line in ultra-shallow water.
Roumbanis will use 20 lb. test P-Line CXX, which “keeps it more buoyant”
and allows him to fish in less than two feet of water with ease. “When
they hit it there, they absolutely engulf it,” he reported. In fact,
changing line sizes is Fred’s number one way of changing the performance
of a lure that he said is perfect right out of the package. When he
wants the lure shallow, big mono is key. When he wants to get deeper,
fluorocarbon gets the call. When ripping it through grass is important,
braid is his meal ticket. Fortunately, the bait has a thumping wobble
that can overcome the dulling effects of “rope-like” mono, but it isn’t
so powerful that it becomes unmanageable on thinner and lighter fluoro.
Be careful, though – on braid it’ll rattle your fillings loose.

The best retrieve may involve no trickery at all: Just cast it out
and wind it in – a little bit slower when fish are lethargic and a
little bit faster when they’re active. The vibrations, sounds and
finishes allow the bass to track the Rock N Vibe carefully and react
savagely. Again, you can adjust running depth through the use of a
particular line size or type. In fact, there may be times when you’ll
need three Rock N Vibes on the deck tied to three different lines to
maximize your effectiveness. Fortunately, if you’re that dialed in, you
probably won’t need a fourth rod with anything on it.


Chromes, Hot Craw, Natural -By covering the basic color groups, Chromes, Reds or Chartrueses, & Natural Shad patterns; the ima Rock N Vibe will produce in all bodies of water.

With all lipless cranks, it’s unfortunate but largely unavoidable
that you’re going to lose some fish. Those big sows come up, shake their
heads, and use the bait as leverage to come unbuttoned. Fortunately,
the Rock N Vibe comes with sticky-sharp Owner hooks that minimize this
problem. The pros offer other means of reducing your heartbreak. Murphy
said that even when he uses braided line, he always prefers to use some
sort of non-braid as a shock absorber, “even if it’s just a short
leader.” His other key to minimizing loss is that you don’t want to play
the fish. Get them in the boat as soon as possible. “I use a worm rod,
not a cranking rod,” he said. “You can’t give them a chance to jump or
shake their heads.”

Roumbanis uses an Irod IRC704c, a 7′ fast action rod which he says
“doesn’t rip the hook out when they engulf it, but still has the
backbone to snap the bait through grass.” Lowen uses a 7′ medium-heavy
All Pro casting rod for the same reasons.

When it comes to colors, all three use various types of chrome
patterns often. “Chrome and Chartreuse Shad are really the only two you
absolutely need,” Murphy said. “One for sunny conditions and the other
when it’s cloudy.” Given a third option, he’d choose a craw color, an
absolute staple in places like California and Texas. Roumbanis also
dotes on the Hot Craw pattern. He said Fire Tiger can be “dangerous”
when the water is a little bit stained. Under super-clear conditions, he
said the Ghost Minnow is his number one draft pick. Lowen, too, said
“chrome and reds and yellows are my top choices.”

We’ve established that the Rock N Vibe catches bass from coast to
coast in North America, but this picture should leave no doubt that it
works anywhere bass swim. This is Jun Shoji, one of Japan’s top pros and
a full-time guide on famed Lake Biwa, where a world record largemouth
was caught last year. We’ll have more information about Jun in an future
emailer.

In addition to using IMA products at the end of your line, you can
now wear the company logo proudly. After numerous requests from educated
anglers, we’re bringing IMA apparel to a tackle dealer near you.

We have short and long sleeve shirts available in both white and navy
blue, boat towels and beanies, along with baseball hats. As with IMA
hard baits, they’re only the finest quality and will make a splash at
your next bass tournament or out on the town.

As always, we’d love to hear about the bass that IMA lures produce
for you, whether on your home body of water or on the trip of a
lifetime. Please send pictures of your fish, preferably with an IMA bait
in its mouth, and a short description of what made the catch memorable.

Each month we’ll pick one winner who will get to choose the apparel
item of his or her choice as a thank you for supporting and using IMA products.

Last months’ winner was Loren Spaulding who caught a nice Spotted
Bass from Lake Lanier in Georgia that fell victim to the ima Flit 120 in
Ghost Minnow!

Each month we’ll pick one winner who will get to choose the apparel
item of his or her choice as a thank you for supporting and using IMA
products. Send to info@imalures.com