Wednesday, January 29, 2014

What Bass Fishing Needs

I know the answer to the question how can bass fishing become a more lucrative sport.  Let’s be honest there are Elite series guys who are just getting by.  Bass fishing needs to take a page from golf.  Before the time of Tiger Woods they were not winning millions.

So here is what BASS and FLW need to do, are you ready for this?  Have the tournament on the golf course of whatever PGA event that is going on that week.  Picture it KVD fishing from the bank, Ike right next to him, both battling to see who can catch that bass.

Ok so that’s not really an option I don’t see Tiger Woods sharing his winnings with Cliff Pace.  Think about golf, it’s a multiple day event just like what……bass fishing.  Golf is broadcast live (for the most part) on big networks.  Sure ABC or CBS or whoever is showing it might only show a three hour block but it’s still live. 

Companies are paying big bucks to have their name associated with the event.  Sure BASS has brought in new sponsors for their events like Mt. Dew but have the anglers seen a return?  No, don’t believe me, go look it up BASS took winnings from the Classic this year.  That’s money from the anglers pockets, you know they guys making it possible for BASS to exist.

There will be those who will say I am wrong BASS or FLW can’t do it.  They haven’t got the money for all the cameras and boats needed to follow the pros.  Let’s be honest do we really enjoy just seeing the few top guys each tournament when we watch it on ESPN or whatever channel FLW is on? 

It would basically be the same thing; oh wait that’s right BASS and FLW have to cut film between the catches so it looks like what we see on TV.  There is so much that could change about the sport.  The anglers could all get paid, yes I think that the guy who won should make more but when it comes down to it if a guy on tour wins 100k in a year he still is not taking much home after expenses.

Yet anglers are happy with the status quo, we accept the idea that sponsors have to be picked up to pay the way.  Going back to the golf idea they have sponsors but they don’t make their living from sponsors.  The payouts are higher.  Sure ABC, CBS or NBC might want the anglers to wear polo shirts and funny pants but that would be ok.

Of course this idea has issues; first those networks might hate the idea.  Bass fishing might only get one three hour block on a weekend but the status quo just isn’t cutting it.  There are three main tours if you count PAA and they all do the same thing.  Record, edit and give the high lights.  Even MLF does the same thing.  BASS does no better when it comes to the live on the water coverage for their website. 

Something needs to change, honestly it has to change.  Well I guess that last statement isn’t true it could continue and at some point Walmart could say to FLW we are going to part way.  What would FLW do then?  Close the doors quietly fade into the black.  How is getting bass fishing into the spotlight like golf a bad thing?  It is a win for both the organization and the sponsors.  Do you think the guy who takes his kid fishing every so often knows who Spro is over say Rapala?  I am sure he only knows Rapala because they are in every store who sells some sort of fishing tackle.  No only the diehards know.  Tackle companies who sponsor fishing shows are not bring in new money but shuffling it from another company when they get someone who buys Strike King to buy the new Little John crankbait.

Bass fishing needs a new approach.  Network television is a new market, a new way to sell the brand.  Ok it’s not new like say the latest crazy but in the world of bass fishing it sure is new.  If they could partner with a network and show a few hours live and then do live weigh-ins for the final day on one of the million’s of ESPN channels a new market could open for them.  New revenue could flow, and the men who make these organizations money could be rewarded.


FLW Anglers Disqualified


FLW has just announced that Anthony Gagliardi and Frank Clark are disqualified for the Walmart FLW Tour at Lake Okeechobee Feb. 6-9 the tour’s season opener.  They were in violation of rule five in the official rules book. According to FLW both cases of the rules violations were inadvertent.

What is rule 5?  This is taken from the official rules on FLW website: “Thirty days prior to the first practice day pros are only permitted on tournament waters alone or accompanied by a contestant in the tournament, a member of their immediate family (mother, father, brother, sister, son, daughter, grandparent, grandchild or spouse), approved sponsor representatives, approved youth age 18 or younger or approved media representatives. With prior approval from the tournament director, pros may participate in FLW, B.A.S.S. Elite Series, B.A.S.S. Opens, PAA and other pro/am tournaments featuring random partner draws within the 30-day window.

Tournament waters will go off-limits to all contestants 13 days prior to the first practice day in all tournaments. Contestants, including pros and co-anglers on the waiting list, may not enter tournament waters to fish, test equipment, sightsee, or for any reason without FLW permission, during the off-limits period.

During the off-limits period, practice and competition days, pros may not solicit and/or receive information about locating or catching fish on tournament waters from anyone except pros confirmed in the tournament and through publicly available sources (quasi-public websites, blogs and/or social media pages set up for the specific purpose of sharing information with individuals or a small group of individuals are NOT publicly available sources). Beginning with practice and extending through competition, pros may not obtain information about locating or catching fish on tournament waters from co-anglers or information about locating or catching fish on tournament waters from noncontestants or follow a noncontestant’s boat or participate in the placing of markers by noncontestants or the practice of “hole sitting” by anyone. Anglers eliminated after each round of competition are considered noncontestants. Pros in the top-20 cut after the close of weigh-in on day 2 may not solicit or receive information about locating or catching fish on tournament waters from anyone except other top-20 pros. Pros in the top-10 cut after the close of weigh-in on day 3 may not solicit or receive information about locating or catching fish on tournament waters from anyone except other top-10 pros. Co-angler contestants who share information about locating or catching fish on tournament waters with pro or co-angler contestants will be disqualified from the entire tournament along with the pro or co-angler requesting and/or using the information.

Tournament waters will reopen for practice three days (Sunday, Monday and Tuesday) prior to registration day (Wednesday). Pros and co-anglers may practice alone, with another contestant or with a member of their immediate family (mother, father, brother, sister, son, daughter, grandparent, grandchild or spouse), approved sponsor representatives or an approved youth age 18 or younger, provided the practice companion has also observed the off-limits period and procedures. Pros and co-anglers may also practice with an approved media representative. Flights over tournament waters are not permitted beginning with the start of the off-limits period, extending through practice and competition days. Tournament waters will be closed to all contestants on registration day (Wednesday).”

So it looks as if the two were on the water during off limits time.  Just a thought how can that be inadvertent.  A angler knows the rules and the water they can’t be on and they were

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

What Is Spy Baiting? Why You Should Throw it in Cold Water

What is Spy Baiting?  No, it’s not a secret CIA mission to gather world secrets.  It is one of the newest bass fishing techniques to come out of Japan.  Even though a major tournament has not been won on them, these sinking prop baits are all the buzz.

In the style of the “do-nothing” lures like Jackals I-Shad, the spy baiting technique follows suit.  Spy baiting or silent capture as it is also known, has been thrust into the bass fishing spotlight in recent months with the introduction of the Realis Spinbait 80 to America in late 2013.  Realis is the bass division of DUO International a Japanese lure manufacturer.

The history behind spy baiting is shrouded in mystery, some say it started on
Lake Biwa in

Duo Realis Spinbait 80
 2007-2008 well others believe it evolved from smaller lakes around Tokyo.  No matter where it started lures with propellers on them began surfacing on Japanese shelves.  Anglers also began adding propellers to lures they already owned. 

In America the spy baiting revolution is taking over.  Tackle Warehouse ( has had a hard time keeping them in stock.   The Spinbait 80 is not the only silent capture lure on the market.  Other Japanese companies like Megabass, Lucky Craft and Evergreen International have their own versions of these lures.  They can range in price between $13-24 depending on the brand.

The spy baiting technique was designed for the highly pressured clear waters of Japan.  It can be a useful tool for those of us in the mid-west where we have clear water lakes.  Reports from Table Rock, St. Claire and other clear lakes tell of bass being caught on the spy bait lures, proving again that the finesse techniques born in Japan work in America.

Lucky Craft Screw Pointer
FLW pro and guide Art Ferguson has been using the Realis Spinbait 80 since last February.  He guides on the crystal clear waters of Lake St. Claire and understands what it takes to catch a bass in those clear water conditions.  He has proven that even the smallmouth will eat the same baits as the giant largemouth bass of Japan and America.

When choosing the right line anglers will want to shy away from braid or mono.  These lines float and will cause your lure to rise out of the strike zone as you work the bait back to the boat. Anglers will want to use fluorocarbon line but not large pound test.  4 to 6lb test is recommended.  These lines have a small diameter which won’t weight down your bait.  Going against the norm, Ferguson uses 8lb Sunline Sniper fluorocarbon.  He feels the 8lb line works just fine in the waters he fishes, and has no effect on the action of the lure.         

Presentation and stealth is the key with silent capture lures.  As the bait moves through the water the propellers turn causing a small amount of turbulence causing the lure to wobble.  It also shimmies as the bait falls.  You want to make a long cast past your intended target and allow the bait to sink to the depth the bass are at.  At 3/8 ounces the Spinbait 80 falls at almost a foot a second.  Once your bait hits your intended depth you reel just fast enough to get the propellers moving.  You don’t want to burn the bait back to the boat or fish it so slow that it sinks.  Play with the lure until you figure out the retrieve speed that works best. 

Tyler Brinks who has been using the Spinbait 80 for months uses a 7ft medium light spinning rod. 
Jackall Silent Capture Lure
Others use ultralight rods in the 6ft to 71/2ft range.  You want a rod where when you set the hook you don’t rip the lure out of the fish’s mouth.  A light or ultralight rod won’t do that.  A 7ft or longer rod allows you to make a longer cast which is helpful with this technique, because you want to cast beyond your target count down your lure and bring it to your target area. 

Ferguson uses a Kistler medium light action rod with a fast tip.  He likes the lighter action rod because the hooks on the Spinbait 80 are light wire trebles.  The rods fast tip allows him to set the hook without straightening the thin wire hooks out.  He pairs his rod with a Shimano 2500, 5:1 spinning reel which holds plenty of line for long cast.    

Beyond making a long cast you also want to avoid imparting any action into the lure.  You simply point your rod tip at the lure and reel it in at a slow, steady pace.  Unlike other lures you are not going to call bass from a long ways off with vibration or flash but if you put the lure near them they are going to see it in clear water.  With an action like nothing they have seen this lure might just put a few bass in the boat.  Ferguson believes the “blades are the action.”

Ferguson says “The lure has its own bite”, or feel, when a bass sucks it in.  It has a “heaviness feel to it.”  When setting the hook Ferguson found he has to pull into the lure.  By that he means, he pushes his pole toward the fish before setting the hook.  This puts the lure deeper into the fish’s mouth before he sets the hook.  Despite the thin wire hooks he has been able to land 70% or more of the bass he has hook on them.

The technique works best around sand, rock and ledges in clear water according to Ferguson.  He recommends keeping it away from grass because you can’t rip the bait free from it like you would other lures.  I used the Spinbait 80 during the fall and had luck fishing it over the top of grass.  I found it works as long as you keep it out of it.  Because the lure sinks you can fish it at any depth from shallow to deep.  Ferguson doesn’t believe the lure really has a time of year where it will shine like other lures.

The lure is worked slowly the spy baiting technique is perfect for cold water situations.  “I don’t think it will ever be too cold (for the lure)” Ferguson says.   The bait sinks allowing you to reach the depth the bass are hiding out in this time of year assuming you have open water.  “Barely pulling it six inches (causes) the props to move” making it perfect for the cold water.

Ferguson warns that they are not search baits.  Since you are fishing the bait so slow and it is not giving off any flash it does not work in that capacity.  Instead you want to find the bass with another lure or sonar before you begin throwing them.  When you locate the bass the spy baiting technique “will trigger bites that other baits won’t trigger.”

“It’s a cool technique” says Ferguson.  It is a “very finesse lure, and takes patience along with a special touch.”  Even though the lure will take time to learn and understand that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider adding a few to your tackle box.

Despite cold weather, if you have open water and can get to the bass, grab a spy baiting lure or two and get out there.  You will need to practice but if you put in the time and effort you might be surprised with your reward.  If you can’t get out on the water right now think about trying this technique when the water opens up.  Art Ferguson said it best, “I don’t think it will ever be too cold (for the lure).”   

Monday, January 13, 2014

Dreams Do Come True: The Theo Corcoran Story

Dreams do come true.  Children are taught to dream big and if they want it they can achieve those dreams.  Phrases like “you can do anything you put your mind to” are often referred to when talking about the subject.  Once we grow up, most of us either forget about our dreams or decide it’s just too hard to accomplish.  Others set the dream aside and move on with their lives.  Looking back some of us might have regrets that we didn’t give it our all or we just chalk it up to a childhood fantasy.

Theo Corcoran accomplished a dream only a select few anglers will ever experience; raising the co-angler trophy at the 2013 Forest Wood Cup and being crowned champion.  Corcoran dreamed from a young age about following his passion of fishing and making a living doing what he loved.  He did not let obstacles deter him.

From a young age Theo’s mother spent time with him on the bank of a lake close to their home.  With a simple fishing pole made from a stick and a milk carton bobber, a love and passion for fishing was forged in his young mind.  He explained that in first grade he wrote about wanting to be a professional angler.  It was sealed into his first grade time capsule and has fueled him along the way.

From the point he put that thought onto paper he has worked to achieve his dream.  Work is the key word for Corcoran.  He works as a Collections Specialist for a cable company.  He lives modestly fueled by sandwiches and bananas because they are inexpensive.  He sacrifices and works hard to live his dream.

Corcoran knows he would not be where he is if it wasn’t for relationships formed through his hard work.  Those relationships have resulted in them investing in him and his work ethic.  Taking the time to give guidance, information or helping anyway they can.  That work ethic and determination was given the praise it was due when he hoisted the trophy as the co-angler champion. 

When we think of pro anglers we think of anglers who are receiving some form of money from their sponsors, paying entry fee, supplementing their income, and helping with fuel cost.  Theo is a different breed.  All that he has accomplished has been done on his own dime.  Yes, he has sponsors but they don’t pay the way for him to fish.  His hard work and determination are what has allowed him to succeed.  The possessions he has like a truck and boat, are a result of going to work and working as hard as he can every day, both on the water and at his other job.

When I asked, “What did it felt like to hold the trophy on stage at the Forrest Wood Cup?”  The response was enthusiastic.  You could still hear the pride and excitement in his voice; “It was like jumping out of a plane at 30,000 feet and not hitting the ground for seven days!”

All of the sacrifices Theo has made over the years were finally worth every ounce of pain and disappointment he might have faced.  That moment on the stage he knew it was all worth it.  He had no regrets for the parties missed or the fun foregone, he was champion!  Theo said that the “sacrificed fun amounted to the 4lber (he caught) on the second day of the tournament.  23 years and 8 months of sacrifice had paid off when he brought that fish into the boat.” 

There is still more to come for Corcoran, at 24 he has just scratched the surface of his dream and his career in bass fishing.  Theo plans to fish all six FLW events as a co-angler in 2014 and believes he has to win one or two.  Included in the dream is staying in the spotlight, he has accomplished something special with his win but knows that it can pass quickly.

Despite his young age, Theo speaks with wisdom.  When many anglers might make the jump from co-angler to Pro, he knows he still knows he has a lot to learn.  Despite his championship he understands that he still does not have enough experience to make the jump.  Theo plans to be at the front of the boat sometime in the next five years. 

Corcoran acknowledges the path to where he is now was not easy but he can honestly say despite it all he never wanted to quit.  The thought to give up never crossed his mind.  Fishing is more than a passion, more than a dream, it is a calling, it consumes him.  He went on to say “If you are ready to give up you have already lost.”  So quitting has never crossed his mind.

Young and old anglers alike can learn from Corcoran.  People tend to look for the easiest way to what they want.  We idolize those who are in a position we want or dream of.  Some don’t want to put in the work that is needed to reach their goals.  Corcoran, on the other hand, is a role model we can look up to.  One who knows the value of hard work and won’t let it stop him.     

Theo shows us that a dream we have as a child can be attained.  You will have to work hard; sacrifices will have to be made.  Despite it all, if you are willing to work hard for what you want it can be achieved.  It won’t be easy but dreams do come true.  The famous quote from Mike Iaconelli comes to mind, “Never give up!”  Theo never gave up, if you have a dream don’t give up, work hard and achieve your goal.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

I'll be on “Let’s Get Reel” with Joe Minor Eps 3

I will be on “Let’s Get Reel” with Joe Minor Eps 3 of his fishing radio show.  You can check it out at 7pm EST on 1/13/14.  You will also be able to listen to it at anytime after it is recorded live.  You can find out more and listen HERE.