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.

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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.

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And Winner #2 Is …

… Bruce Burr! Congratulations!!
Bruce has won the “SPONSOR PACK GIVEAWAY #2: The Drive To 1K”, which includes all you see here! Thank you to Yo-Zuri America. Inc., Gambler Lures, Big Bear Fishing Rods, Bass2Billfish, and the Unemployed Fishing Club for supplying all the prizes.
If you didn’t win, don’t worry. We will be having another big giveaway very soon … stay tuned!

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Last Cast For Ronnie

Ronnie Kovach

Ronnie Kovach

It was with a very heavy heart that I learned this week of the passing of So Cal fishing legend Ronnie Kovach. With that in mind, I was anxious to get on the water in honor of his memory. Despite the cold, wet weather that moved into So Cal yesterday, I was determined to take advantage of the free late afternoon I found myself having.

It was 58°, light rain, and a faint breeze when I arrived at 2:45pm to Lake Sherwood. Needless to say, the inclement weather kept most others off the water, as I saw only one other angler the entire time I was out there. As I prepared to throw my first cast, I wondered “What would Ronnie throw?”. Being that he was a fellow member of the Yo-Zuri Pro Staff, I figured it had to be one of their hardbaits. So, I tied on one of my faves: the Rattl’n Vibe in my go-to GBO pattern. About five casts in, I hooked into what seemed to be a giant. When she came up for the first of several head-shaking jumps I realized that she was indeed a 5 pound class fish (an estimate that, later, turned out to be a few ticks high). After a protracted battle, she seemed ready to land. But, as she neared the dock I was on, she made one last powerful run under my feet and was able to pull free of the hooks. I was, understandably, bummed as I wanted to land that monster in Ronnie’s name.

I couldn’t manage any other hook-ups on the Vibe, so I turned to what has really been the hot bait for me lately … the Gambler Lures Baby Bacon Rind. It didn’t take long to get the skunk off with a nice 2.5+ pound chunk (no pic). I quickly followed that up with another cookie-cutter that self released about halfway home. Which had me questioning, “Is this how it’s going to be, today???”. Fortunately, it wasn’t!

4-3 Lake Sherwood BassI moved down the dock and flipped the T-rigged bait under a boat. The bait rested on the bottom for about 10 seconds and, before I could even begin working it, got deftly picked up and started moving toward deeper water. I quickly reeled down and set the hook. BOOM! Another big fish on!! This time I was able to avoid losing her despite her runs under boats and the dock. When I finally got her home and on the scale, it was a fat 4-3 fighter!

4-11 Lake Sherwood BassAfter the pic and release, I moved down closer to where I had lost the first fish and flipped the bait under another boat. After this one settled, I actually got to work the bait once before a fish bit it and started to run. The line had already tightened, so I just swung for the fences, and was immediately tossed into the fray with another big bass with a bad attitude. I spent most of the fight with half my rod submerged into the water as she dove under the dock and boats with numerous powerful runs. When I finally lipped her, I got her on the scale which settled in at 4-11.

While I was weighing the beast, I realized that this was the fish I had lost earlier. She had a wound from where the hook had ripped free. Fresh Hook WoundTaking into account how fresh the injury was, the proximity to where I had lost her, and the fact that there had been no other anglers in sight, it seemed pretty obvious that this was indeed the same fish. Suddenly, I was feeling much better about my day and that, somehow, Ronnie was smiling down upon me.

After a stretch of no love, I grabbed my Big Bear Senko rod and headed over to a nearby dock to skip a Malibu-rigged 5″ 297 pattern under a boat that has usually held a nice sized Bass under it over the past year. My first skip missed the mark. But, my second skip was right on the money. I had barely 5-0 Lake Sherwood Bassclosed the bail on my reel when the line moved suddenly and quickly toward open water. I set the hook and line immediately began peeling off the spool. Once again, it was an epic battle with another hawg! When she finally gave up the fight, I got her on the digi-scale which settled in at 5-0 even.

I couldn’t help but notice how fat these fish were. They had definitely been packing it on. Which had me thinking that this was indeed the early stage of the pre-spawn feeding frenzy. Even though it was several weeks premature for it, the unusually warm weather we have had throughout January had to have them moving up early. However, with the cold front that has moved in, which is expected to last at least several days, I’m wondering if they’ll stay up. We’ll see!

3 Pound Class Lake Sherwood BassThe bite certainly died down after that, as I was only able to manage a couple of non-committal bumps on a suspending jerkbait despite throwing a number of different offerings. It was just after dark that I decided that it was time to wrap things up. But, I had to call “last cast” … in Ronnie’s name, of course. The Bacon Rind didn’t even hit bottom before I saw the line jump. I wound down and leaned back. One more nice fight from this pretty 3 pound classer.

It was a great way to end the day spent honoring and remembering a man who always supported me and my fishing endeavors. I will miss his biting wit, and we will all miss the fishing know-how he was so willing to share. RIP, Ronnie.

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Okay, folks! We are doing our second Caveman Catching Sponsor Pack giveaway. This is a big one! Included is everything pictured here: TWO Yo-Zuri Sashimi Pencil baits, and a Yo-Zuri Rattl’n Vibe; a Gambler Lures coupon code, good for $25 worth of tackle from their website; a $50 off coupon code, good toward the purchase of any rod from the Big Bear Fishing Rods website; an official Bass2Billfish moisture-wick jersey; and two UFC – Unemployed Fishing Club Team Member patches (a total $150 value)!
To enter, just give the Caveman Catching Facebook page a “Like” (if you already like our page, you are automatically entered).
Want TWO additional entries? Just be sure to like and share the Facebook post about this giveaway (you must have already given the FB page a “Like”).
Want TWO MORE additional entries? Follow us on Caveman Catching on Twitter (if you already follow, you will automatically get the extra entries once you like the Caveman Catching Facebook page, and like and share the FB post).
This contest is open only to residents of the continental (48) United States, 18 years of age or older.
The winner will be chosen at random one week after we get to 1000 Facebook likes on our page. Good luck!

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Last Second

First Bass of 2014Yesterday, with the Holiday break in it’s waning moments, the Caveboy tells me that he wants to go spend some time on the water with his old man, and “catch our first Bass of 2014″. Yeah … I know … how cool is that?!? Of course, I had to oblige. So, last second, I hastily jumped on the Cali DFG website to buy my new license; we quickly packed up the truck; and made our way over to Lake Sherwood for a couple hours of late afternoon line-wetting.
The skies were clear, the breeze light, temps had cooled off to 59°, and the water was slightly stained (the lake is starting to turn over) and quite cold (50° max from my estimates).
Still, I had to start out with the bait that had been highly productive the last few months: the Yo-Zuri Rattl’n Vibe in GBO – which has become my favorite lipless crank. It only took half a dozen casts before this stout 2.5 pounder became my first fish of the New Year.
I gave that bait the “old college try” but only managed to get a couple of fish to slap at it. I knew I had to slow things down. On the way out the door, last second, I had grabbed a rod that I had set up with a T-rigged Gambler Baby Bacon Rind in Green Pumpkin. Caveboy's First Battle Of 2014I tossed it out to one of the spots that the Vibe had received that lukewarm interest. Shortly after working the bait I got a solid pick-up but missed on the hook set. I redressed the bait and put it right back in that spot. After a couple of subtle twitches, the fish gave it another go … only, this time, the Gamakatsu EWG found it’s mark and I went to battle with a nice 3 pounder.
Post-release (no pic), I tossed it over to another area where they had slapped at the Vibe and immediately got picked up on the drop. I set the hook and called the Caveboy over to fight his first fish of the year since none of the various baits or techniques he had been trying were working. He had a blast bringing this 2 pounder to the dock.
3.5 Pound Bass on Gambler Baby Bacon RindWe had a couple of other spots to try before our time ran out, so we made a move down the bank to a small secluded bay. It only took one cast to find some more interest in the Baby Bacon Rind. After several twitches the bait just started moving towards deeper water. I lowered the boom on the fish and began a great line-pulling battle with this nearly 4 pound combatant. It took the Caveboy a few tries to get the camera to work properly, but we got the pic and quickly put this finned-football back in the drink.
Soon after, I hooked another 2 pound classer and handed that off to the Caveboy, as well. He got that one ashore, gave it a hasty send off, and then he stated that the next fish he fought would be all his … no more hand-offs. Which was too3+ Pound Bass on Gambler Baby Bacon Rind bad, because it only took a couple more casts before another beast decided to inhale the Gambler creature bait. Again, line was pulling off the reel as this 3+ pound green-meanie gave me all she had.
The lack of any self-provided action was beginning to frustrate the Caveboy and time was just about up for us. So, last second, we decided to make a move to a completely new spot that we had earlier discussed giving a try sometime. We both made a fair number of casts before I got hammered, again, on the drop. I knew it was another 4 pound class fish, so I asked the Caveboy if he wanted to go to war with a bigger model. He readily agreed! The fish made numerous switchbacks, yet he kept good line angle and pressure on the fish the entire time. That is, until we were about to land her, and she got just enough slack to shake free a mere two inches from my grasp.
Caveboy's First Self-Caught Bass of 2014Now, he was really down. So, I pointed out some tullies that were 30-35 yards out from the bank we were on and challenged him to try and get his Malibu-rigged 297 Senko into them, last second, before we had to pack it up. It took a couple of casts, but he finally got one to settle into the water right at their edge. He patiently let it fall and sit before giving it a couple of doodle dances. Next thing I know, he’s screaming “Dad! I’m on!!” with his rod going total bendo. This time he battled this 3 pound fish perfectly all the way in to the bank.
As if the smile on his face wasn’t evidence enough, all he could say on the way home was how much that fish made all his efforts worthwhile and how he couldn’t wait to get back out there soon. There’s no photographic proof, but I’m sure that the pride on my face was very telling, and I can’t wait to oblige his fishing desires once again. Perhaps, then, we’ll plan ahead instead of waiting ’til the last second.

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From the Cave Clan …

… to you and yours, a wish for a healthy, happy, and rockin’ New Year!

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