Topwater Time

The night before the Caveboy’s 11th birthday, we decided to head out for a quick 2.5 hour sunset session at Lake Sherwood. It was gorgeous when we arrived: 80°, very light breeze, mostly clear skies – but, enough wispy clouds to make for a fantastic sunset. It seemed perfectly set up for a topwater bite … but, we have seen very similar conditions lately with absolutely no surface action to be found. However, as we walked out onto the dock that was to be our first area of operation, I noticed numerous fish crashing the water’s surface sucking down some of the thousands of fry that had taken up residence there. At that point I only had a four inch 297 senko (Malibu-rigged) tied on. So, I quickly tossed it into the fray. It only sank for about 2 or 3 seconds before the line jumped and started moving to deeper water. I reeled down and set the hook on a nice 2.5 pounder (no pic) that fought well above what his measurements would suggest.

Caveboy's 4+ Pound BassI told the Caveboy to toss his bait into the action. But, unfortunately, as soon as it hit the water the action seemed to die down to a very occasional boil. Even though the topwater bite seemed to have died, I tied on an Ima Skimmer in the Bluegill pattern and started working it through the area where the action had been. It took a few casts before a huge fish totally exploded on the bait doing an inverted 360 in the air while sending the bait a good five feet into the air. When it came back to earth, I let the lure rest on the surface for about 10 seconds before starting to walk the dog again. A few twitches later there was a huge swirl on the pencil bait before the fish came back and sucked it down. BOOM! I handed off the rod to the Caveboy, and he went to battle with this 4+ pound pig that had several more ariels and a couple of line pulling runs in her before she surrendered.

Midnight Rider Topwater BassI nailed one more 2 pounder using a Yo-Zuri Rattl’n Vibe, while my young fishing partner had several massive blow-ups on a big black buzzbait. Darkness had really set in, and we could hear numerous fish continuing to feed on the surface. I decided to tie on one of my Caveman Custom “Midnight Rider” poppers. It didn’t take long to find out that it was a wise choice. On the first cast, there was a huge explosion on the bait and, despite a solid hookset, the fish missed both red treble hooks. Though, a few casts later, this nearly 3 pounder pounced on it and found both hooks to be quite sticky.

I nailed four more of these cookie-cutters, handing several of them off to the impending birthday boy, and had a couple more fish who couldn’t quite connect with the bait in the darkness. We hated to leave them biting. But, with a busy birthday on the horizon we had to call it a night. We can’t wait to get out there and do that again!

Posted in Fishing Tales | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Casitas Revisited

Lake Casitas 2.75 Pound BassDue to a family emergency, it had been a while since I had gotten my line wet. So, when my fellow UFC fishing fanatic, Rick “R2″ Raives, asked if I wanted to get back out on Lake Casitas yesterday on his 20′ Skeeter, I was more willing than a wedding night virgin.

It was a cool 58° under post-full-moon cloudy skies with a slight breeze when we got on the water at 6am, and the shad schools were so thick that you could almost walk across the water. For Casitas, this is a mixed blessing. The shad certainly bring the fish up to feed. But, unless you are dip-netting some of that candy bait and fishing it live, it can be hard to entice a bite. Since we are both committed artificial-baiters, that was not an option.

We threw a variety of topwater and sub-surface shad-like lures to no avail. I decided to try and “match the hatch” with one of my favorite new finesse baits … Don Iovino’s “Little Slugger” in the Jorge Special pattern. It didn’t Lake Casitas 2.75 Pound Basstake long before I got the smell of skunk out of the boat with this chunky 2.75 pounder. By the way, if you’re wondering why I’m still wearing the life vest, it’s more for warmth than safety concerns. ;)

As we moved down the bank, we could see the fish chasing up the shad schools all around us. As my bait came off of a rocky secondary point, it got slammed again by this fat 2.75 pound cookie cutter. Not too long afterwards, I casted my bait to the bank where a fish had busted the surface chasing up it’s silvery prey. Thanks to the ultra sensitivity of my Big Bear rod, I was able to feel the stealthy pick up of another clone (no pic).

All my action was starting to get to my fishing friend. So, R2 rigged up the same bait and started getting some action of his own. At first, it was still a bit frustrating for him as he missed a couple of hits as we continued along the weedless banks and points. But, as we came to a point that had a thick patch of grass on it, his fortune changed in a big way. He casted his offering to the outside edge of the grass and 4 Pound Lake Casitas Bassbefore it had fallen three feet under the surface he was setting the hook on a big fish. At first he thought it was just another model similar to what I had been catching. But, the fight suddenly became heated as the line peeled off his reel. Finally, we got the net under this 4 pound beastly beauty.

We successfully continued with our pattern the rest of the day. Even though we dumped a couple of fish and missed several other opportunities, we ended up with an even dozen fish (six each), with a best five sack around 16 pounds. All of them coming on that “Little Slugger”. As we departed the lake, we were told by gatehouse guard that he was amazed by our fish total, saying that the bite had been tough even for the live bait anglers. We drove away with a true sense of accomplishment … I’m sure we’ll try to remember that the next time Lake Casitas sends us home with a skunk trip!

Posted in Fishing Tales | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spinning Out

REVIEW: Denali Kovert Spinning Rod
Denali Kovert Spinning Rod Handle
After having such an incredible experience with the new Denali Kovert Flippin Rod, I just had to get my hands on one of the spinning rods they were offering in the new line. Two different models are available. The K863MS, a 7’2″ Medium-Heavy action, Moderate-Fast flex model suited for 10-15 pound test line and 1/4 to 3/4 ounce lures. And, the K822MS, which comes in a 6’10” Medium, Moderate, 6-14 line, 1/8 to 5/8 lure version. I opted for the latter.
Denali Kovert Spinning Rod Info
When I pulled it out of the rod tube, I immediately noticed the signature Kovert good looks along with the sensitive IM-8 flat black blank, Skeleton Reel Seat, 9″ ultra-light EVA handle, trademark stabilized hardwood foregrip, and dimpled aluminum winding checks. This model also sports 13 total (12+1) graduated semi-micro guides. Yes … you heard correct … semi-micros on a spinning rod! I was a bit skeptical at first, too. But, as you’ll see, they really added a new dimension to this rod.
Denali Kovert Spinning Rod Semi-Micro Guides
First I had to have the weigh-in on this very light rod. Surprisingly, it only came in a half-ounce lighter than two other similar rods in my arsenal. Then, I remembered that the other two rods are also very lightweight, but cost more than twice as much.
Next, it was time to get this thing wet! First I tried it out as a split-shot and drop-shot rod. Due to the moderate flex, I wasn’t expecting it to excel with these techniques. Boy, was I wrong! The sensitivity of the rod in this arena was never in question, and it performed extremely well, as expected. But, despite the stiffer flex, the casting distance with the 1/8 ounce weights I was using was nothing short of amazing. Easily going further than my more expensive rods were able to reach. Plus, between the flex and the semi-micro guides, my accuracy was spot on. Best of all, the slightly stiffer blank led to easier, more powerful and consistent hook sets, and the action made fighting a fish to the finish smooth and confident despite the 6-pound test being employed.
Denali Kovert Spinning Rod Graduated Semi-Micro Guides
Second time out with the rod, I gave it a go as a worm rod. I put a Malibu-rigged (weightless T-rig) Senko on the end and began casting, flipping, and skipping it all over the place. Again, the sensitivity, castability, accuracy, and power were evident throughout the session.
Next time, I went with a lightweight T-rigged technique. This is where I feel this rod was at it’s best, and where I will use it the most. Whether I went with an 1/8 ounce weight, or a 1/2 ounce weight, I was able to routinely put my bait exactly where I wanted to, and get it to spots I wasn’t able to previously reach. Even the slightest of pick-ups were immediately noticeable, the heavy-handed hooksets necessary for the technique were readily achieved, and the battles that ensued were handily won.
While you may think that this is an awful lot to expect from a rod priced at only $129, you are correct. It is! But, the the new Kovert Spinning rod delivers just what Denali promises from the entire Kovert line: a rod “designed from the ground up to help you catch more fish and stay on the water longer”.

MSRP – $129

Cave Club Rating: 4.5 Clubs
Cave ClubCave ClubCave ClubCave ClubCave Club

Cave Club Scale
5 Clubs = The Missing Link
4 Clubs = Rock Solid
3 Clubs = Better Than Sharp Stick
2 Clubs = Not Fully Evolved
1 Club = Should Be Extinct

Posted in Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Belated Birthday Bass

Although my birthday landed this past Wednesday, I wasn’t able to get out and celebrate with some fish landed until Friday. My good friend, and fellow fishing fanatic, Rick “R2″ Raives offered to take me out on Lake Casitas … his home water near Ojai, CA. Even though we arrived at 6:00am to clear skies, no wind, and a comfortable 63°, it didn’t take long for it to heat up to an Africa-hot 93° with absolutely no breeze until early afternoon.

Skunk BusterDespite the warm conditions, extremely low water levels, and the algae bloom that had begun, we were very positive about our prospects since reports were that the shad had recently been coming up and spurring the bite on. We started trying various topwater and reaction techniques, but couldn’t manage any interest. We then started throwing various plastics, but still received no love.

Finally, we came to a rocky point and R2 got back to back hits on a drop-shot worm, but was unable to connect. Shortly thereafter, I got my first tap on a T-rigged Gambler Baby Bacon Rind but, unfortunately, there was no follow through.

When the shad began to show on the surface, I could see that they were the young, small models. I decided to try to match the hatch by rigging up one of the new Little Slugger baits from Don Iovino in the Jorge Special pattern. I dragged it across a rocky point, and quickly got this dinky skunk-buster.

2.5 Pound Lake Casitas BassWe continued working similar points and kept getting short hits. Though, when we came around one of the main lake points, I got absolutely hammered. Regrettably, I was late on the hook set. I quickly redressed the small plastic bait and recast to the same spot. Once it hit the bottom, I only dragged it about three feet and … BAM! Nice fish on!! Throughout the fight on the 6 pound test Yo-Zuri Hybrid, I was sure that the fish was in the 4-5 pound class, as he made a couple of drag-pulling runs, and kept dogging me under the boat. Though, when he finally showed at the surface, I could see that he was only going to be half of my expectations. Nonetheless, it was great getting my first keeper of the day on the boat.

We kept at our pattern, slowly working similar points, and hoping for a breeze. Both, for cooling things off a bit, and for creating a slow drift, rather than having to occasionally engage the trolling motor to create the two. Though, the breeze wouldn’t come until about 1pm, our next fish came rather quickly when Rick got off the schnied with his own Rick's Skunk Busterdinky skunk-buster, which inhaled a 4.5″ Flick Shake worm in Watermelon Candy. We argued about whose fish actually held the title of “the smallest”. But, as you can clearly see from the pics, mine was clearly the dinkiest of them all! ;)

We decided to go hit some flats in search of any bedding Bass. But, the algae bloom was making a clear view of the bottom difficult, and any beds we did find had clearly been abandoned. We dug some crankbaits into the bottom along the deeper ledges adjacent to the flats, but found no willing playmates.

So, we returned to the pattern that was working, as we found a nice double-point with some nice chunk rock. We both got a couple of decent hits that didn’t connect. As we drifted past the far side of the second point, Rick said he was going to crank up the trolling motor to top speed and move down to the next point. But, just as he put his foot down onto the foot pedal, I got a strong tap and gave my rod a lightning-quick, sweeping hook4 Pound Class Lake Casitas Bass set. My Big Bear spinning rod immediately went bendo, and I felt that this might be a good fish … despite being gun-shy of making that prediction after what had happened earlier. However, my suspicions were hastily proven correct when this 4-pound classer did an inverted 360° flip in the air, trying to shake the hook free. Fortunately, she stayed buttoned up, despite several line pulling runs and two more jumps, until R2 could put the net under her, and got this nice “couples pose” on camera.

After moseying down past the next two points, we came to a rock face wall that usually produces a fish or two for us. However, Friday was one of those days that prevents us from saying that it “always” produces a fish. As we came to the last rocky point in the stretch we were working, we started discussingR2's 3 Pond Class Lake Casitas Bass our next plan of action. It wasn’t long into it that we were interrupted by R2’s second fish, which absolutely hammered his Flick Shake worm. Once he landed the 3 pound classer, I offered to take a picture of my fishing partner and his catch. But, he opted for taking a “selfishy”. While he succeeded in getting the fish into the boat, you can see that he didn’t succeed in getting it all into the frame. ;)

We returned to our discussion, once the fish-landing festivities were over, and his catch was literally swimming with the fishes. We decided to head back to a point we had fished early on that had fish on the graph, but all had been infected with lockjaw. Upon our second arrival, we both missed a variety of hits on several different baits. But, again as I dragged that Little Slugger across the point I felt a very soft pick-up and immediately3 Pound Class Lake Casitas Bass gave it another sweeping hook set. BOOM! Another decent fish that gave an amazing account of itself. Once we had it aboard, due to the magnitude of the fight, both of us were again surprised that it wasn’t bigger than it’s nearly 3 pound weight.

We fished for another 45 minutes, but couldn’t manage any other interest. So, we called it a day. While we were initially a little disappointed that we couldn’t manage a better fish total, on our way out, we learned from the Park Ranger that the bite had died down considerably since the weather turned warm earlier in the week, and that our 6 fish total had been the best of the day to that point. Either way, it was still amazing to be out on the water with R2, and a great way to celebrate with some belated birthday bass!

Posted in Fishing Tales | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Finding Fifteen

Between work, the holidays, and the Cavekids’ baseball and softball teams, I haven’t had time to even look at my rods … much less use them. So, when I found myself with a few spare hours, you know where I was headed!
When I arrived at Lake Sherwood, it was clear skies, 86°, fair breeze, and stained water from an algae bloom. I began throwing reaction and topwater baits to no avail. Then, I started pitching a T-rigged Gambler Baby Bacon Rind under some docked boats, and immediately put three fish on the dock, including this 4 pounder.

image

I scooted down to another dock and began skipping a 5″ Malibu-rigged Kinami Flash under boats moored on the  opposite dock and tagged two more: a fat young prespawn filly, and this 4+ stager.

image

Lost a nice 5+ because I didn’t check for frays (don’t worry, I’ve chastised myself appropriately). Instead of walking back to my tackle bag, which I had left behind on the first dock, to re-tie I decided to start flipping a jig, adorned with a Gambler BB Cricket, around. After nailing a couple of bedding bucks, I started working the dock I was on. I swung the jig underneath and got hammered by this 4 pound-class spawned out sow.

image

After a couple more jig fish, I returned to skipping the Kinami. In short order, I was able to pull out five fish from three adjacent boats, including these three 4+ piggies.

image

image

image

I ended the day with 15 fish, a 20+ five-best sack, and a pretty good sunburn after forgetting my sunscreen (again, I have chastised myself, accordingly). Not a bad way to get back in the swing of things.

Posted in Fishing Tales | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Off (and On) The Hook!

Yo-Zuri 3DB Crankbait BassCall it what you will. Lucky. The stars were aligned. Karma rebate. Friday was a ridiculous day of fishing, on many levels. It was totally off … and on … the hook! Allow me to explain.

I met up with my fellow UFC member and long time fishing buddy, Mark “Chief” Torrez, for our first day of line wetting together in several months. A long time for a couple of fishing freaks like us. By the time he arrived at Lake Sherwood, I had already used a T-rigged Gambler Baby Bacon Rind to pull three bucks off of spawning beds – the first of the season. It was a perfect day: partly cloudy, enough breeze to put a little ripple on the water, 78° air temps, and warming water temps.

Chief started throwing one of his usual huge swim baits to try and entice a big pre-spawn fish, while I just had to throw one of the new Yo-Zuri 3DB crankbaits I have been field testing (I knew the bed fish weren’t going anywhere). It didn’t take long before I hooked into this nice chunker, who battled like a fish twice his size.

Swimbait Bedding BassMeanwhile, the other Mark wasn’t getting any love on his swimmie. But, he decided to have some fun and tried to rile up one of the bigger bed guards with it. At first, he didn’t want to have anything to do with it. Then, the fish started flaring up and tried to chase it off of the bed. After several minutes of cat-and-mouse, this 3+ fish decided he had had enough and tried to take a bite of the nest invader, only to be greeted by a grill full of treble hooks!

After vainly trying to get some more reaction bait action, we both decided to work the beds and surrounding areas. The fish were definitely game for that. I pulled a couple out skipping a Senko under the pontoon boats, while Chief was having success on the beds. Suddenly, I hear him yell, “No way!!!”. Turned out one of the fish he was targeting had pulled the Senko (which he had found on the ground) off and, while he was reeling the bare hook back in, another fish tried to eat it. As I watched him immediately throw the unbaited hook back into the water, I was laughing hysterically … that is, until his pole went completely bendo 3 seconds later! That’s right … a nice 2.5 pounder on a bare hook! I wouldn’t have believed it if I didn’t see it myself.

Pre-Spawn BassThat just foretold what was about to happen the rest of the day, as it began to go wide open. I decided to leave the bed fish alone, since I wasn’t seeing any big females around yet, and concentrate on the fish that were still staging. As it has been recently, the Baby Bacon Rind was the hot ticket as I began nailing several nice fish like this 3 pound classer.

Meanwhile, my fishing partner decided he was only going to catch fish if he found the bait on the ground. Luckily, the area we were fishing had plenty of discarded baits strewn around for him to scavenge, and he put them all to good use wacky rigging the Senkos and drop-shotting the Roboworms. As soon as he lost one bait, he’d go on a scavenger hunt for another. He even had some people that were just lunching by the lake help him find a few. It was hilarious!

Then, we decided to hit the same spot. I pitched my bait under a pontoon boat, while he flipped his to the front exposed part of the boat. Double Hook UpWe were immediately rewarded with a double hook-up. As you can see from the pic, he won that battle of the beasts (I should have held mine closer to the camera). ;)

Although we lost exact count, we went on to catch more than 60 fish between us. It was a ridiculous day where the fish just kept biting. I even ended up catching one that Chief had broken off earlier, allowing me to return both his hook and weight to him. Add in the fact that we had doubles, a bare-hook fish, and incredible numbers, and you can see why it was just an amazing day that neither of us will forget any time soon.

Posted in Fishing Tales | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2014 Fred Hall Show

The Fred Hall ShowMuch like the way Punxsutawney Phil is the yearly harbinger of Spring, the annual Fred Hall Outdoors Show signals the start of fishing season in Southern California. The Long Beach edition kicked off that ritual rite today with all the usual suspects in attendance: outdoors manufacturers and service providers of every size and ilk, pros and experts from every genre, and show-goers galore! Seminars on the tanks, incredible show-only deals, and even a few new bait and equipment introductions are just some of the perks of attending “the ultimate outdoor experience”.
Even though the show runs through Sunday, I had to be there for Day 1. Not just to work in the Yo-Zuri booth for a few hours, but to be able to report to you some of the more intriguing things I saw there. Of course, the new 3DB baits were a real highlight in the Yo-Zuri booth. Though, many in attendance were also taking advantage of the three different show specials they are offering that can garner free spools of Hybrid Line and/or Pink HD Carbon fluorocarbon leader for purchasing certain Yo-Zuri products sold by various retailers at the show. Stop by the booth for all the details.

New Optimum Swimming Creature Bait

New Optimum Swimming Creature Bait

Once I made it to the floor of the show, I headed over to the AA booth to see what all the buzz was about regarding Optimum’s new creature bait. So Cal saltwater legend Mike Garner was manning the booth and told me I had to take it over to the camera tank and check it out. “You won’t believe the action!”, he said. He was right! Whether fishing it like a jig on the bottom or swimming it through the water column, it had an incredible unique action. This bait was so new they only had a few color options available, yet they do have it in two sizes (3.5″ and 6″). These are the smaller variety. I’m thinking that they might make a killer bed-bait for spawning fish … we’ll find out soon!

New Jimmy Caivo Swimbaits

New Jimmy Caivo Swimbaits

I always stop by Caivo Tackle at the show as they make some of the best terminal tackle around at incredibly reasonable prices. However, it was a new soft plastic bait they are making that caught my eye. It is a kind of a combination of a zipper worm and a paddletail swimmie. Though, the paddle is very small and the tail very long which should make for a new and attractive action the fish have yet to see. I’m thinking this could make either an interesting new swimmie, or possibly an exciting new t-rig candidate. Either way, Jimmy Caivo is offering these in a wide variety of sizes and colors. Pictured here are the 4″ and 6″ versions. I’ll be surprised if these babies don’t entice Bass of both the fresh and salt varieties. Can’t wait to take these out for a test drive!

Don Iovino's New Little Slugger

Don Iovino’s New Little Slugger

Another annual show destination for me is to visit the booth of finesse fishing Godfather, Don Iovino. Besides getting a warm greeting, I’m always interested in what his latest lure offering may be. This year, it turns out that Don is now pouring a mini sluggo-type bait. A finesse favorite of tourney anglers the last few years, Don is bringing his 3″ version to the general fishing public with three unique color offerings. Drop-shot one of these on some tight-lipped fish and hold on tight! The bite inducing action in such a small profile bait is just too much for a Bass to ignore.

Motorguide TR109 Show Special

Motorguide TR109 Show Special

Before I left the show, I had to spend a few quality minutes with my friend Jarret Edwards, host of the national TV fishing show that bears his name. He is one of those rare individuals that make you feel so good as a human being after having spent some time with him. I found him in “boat alley” repping for his sponsor Lund Boats. We spent some time chatting while sitting in one of their offerings … I gotta say, those boats are truly plush-duck! Though, what was really exciting was that he had a limited load of sonar-ready Motorguide TR109 trolling motors to sell at the show for just $800! That’s $400 off!! If you are in need of a new trolling motor, you have to get to the show and check these out. Plus, you’ll get to meet one of the true “nice guys” in fishing.

As you can see, the Fred Hall Show has something for everybody. And, I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of what you’ll see, experience, and have the chance to buy at the show. If you are anywhere near Long Beach, California between now and Sunday, run, drive, paraglide, whatever to the show. If you love the outdoors, you’ll love the show.

Posted in Fishing Tales | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment