April 24, 2015
The hard bait color options available to bass fishermen these days are nothing short of amazing. The days of choosing between "red head, white body" and "yellow shore minnow" are far in the rear view mirror. I own some works of art by custom painters like Phil Hunt, Kelly Barefoot and Dwain Batey, but I might have to add something from the production lineup made by the folks at Japan's Imakatsu lures. Check out this "Bigroid Nonkee" swimbait. I have no idea what the name means, but the lure itself is closer to taxidermy than the admittedly primitive topwaters and cranks that our grandfathers used.
Last Updated on Thursday, 23 April 2015 06:43
April 23, 2015
When you are a male angler, the whole world is your urinal. For the females among our ranks, the options are not so extensive. Of course, you can pee in the livewells, that’s likely not an option on tournament day. You can hang your business off the side, but that requires a fair amount of balance and doesn’t really work in a crowd. Several companies have come out with “female urinal adapters” (Google ‘em), but those gender-benders are a bit awkward. Years ago, Allison bass boats came out with one model that had a hidden crapper between the two seats, but that never caught on.
What is a female tournament angler to do, especially if there are other boats around?
I’m not sure where I heard of it first, but I thought I had settled the matter for the Redheaded wife simply and inexpensively. Got a small bucket out of the garage and bought her a cheap poncho. When the Gatorade gets the better of her all she has to do is put on the poncho, drop the bucket in the bottom of the boat, sit and she’s got a view nicer than that in the ladies room at the Four Seasons. Then just empty it into the lake or river. She’s used the bucket (sans poncho) several times on the water, but only when no one else was around. During last Saturday’s tournament, she elected to hold it all day.
Just a few notes: (1) If you decide to go this route, your bucket can further earn its keep by using it to carry gear to the boat (just be sure to wash it out between uses); (2) be sure that the poncho you buy is opaque. The clear ones you see on tourists and at ball games kind of defeat the purpose; and (3) be sure that you get her better gear for actual rainy conditions. The poncho sucks in a driving rainstorm.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 April 2015 07:37
April 21, 2015
The Redheaded wife and I spent all day Saturday fishing a single grass bed. Got there about 6:30, didn’t pull up the troller until it was time to head back a little before 3pm. Making it even better, I suppose, is that we shared a space the size of a couple of football fields with about 150 of our closest friends. Yup, 75 boats within shouting distance, that’s springtime on the Potomac.
She endured it like a trooper. In fact she out-toughed me by abstaining from peeing for 9 hours. My teeth would’ve been floating and there’s no way I would’ve been able to focus on the next bite if forced to do the same. Making it extra-special is the fact that near the end of the day she unexpectedly showed that she understands the tournament game.
It wasn’t an easy day. At 2pm, I’d long since boxed my limit, but she only had two keepers in the livewell. Lots of hairy-legged men with decades of experience weighed in one or none, so each additional fish was going to allow her to pass a bunch of competitors.
After a long period of inactivity, I heard her whisper my name: “Pete.”
Then a little louder, but not much, with an imperative tone: “Pete!”
I turned around to see her rod bowed up on keeper number three. I grabbed the net and scooped it into the boat.
Once the fish was safely in the livewell, I asked her why she hadn’t yelled for the net.
“I didn’t want people around us to know that I had one on,” she replied. “So they wouldn’t crowd us.”
That, my friends, is what makes a good wife and a good tournament partner. I’m sure that plenty of people saw her land that fish, but in case they hadn’t she was covering her tracks. I’ve fished with more seasoned partners who whooped and hollered over every peckerhead they landed, and called unnecessary attention to themselves, hurting their own chances of doing better. The wife, however, gets it. She really gets it.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 April 2015 07:47
April 15, 2015
Sportswriter Bill Simmons has long railed against awful or imprecise announcer-speak. The example that amuses me most is when someone like Al Michaels describes an athlete as “out with a knee.” As Simmons wrote in 2006, “the most exciting injury for Al to describe would either be ruptured testicles or a hysterectomy.”
Well, fishing world, Zona and Mercer have not yet followed this trend (possibly because we don’t have an official disabled list), but the fishing world does have its own version of “out with a knee.”
As in, “We’re cancelling this event because of weather.” Or, “Weather may cause a delay today.” I suppose it means something, but it’s woefully incomplete.
Could you be a little more specific? Is it a thunderstorm, a tsunami or just a sunny day when everyone should be out picking daisies instead of whacking on big’uns?
Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 April 2015 12:12
April 13, 2015
No one goes there anymore. It's too crowded.
Just a few years ago, pulling into a Potomac River launch site on a Friday morning in the spring could be an exercise in crowd control and patience. Not anymore. When I got to Leesylvania State Park (one of the most popular ramps) on Friday at about daybreak, I was the only one there. When I took off about 10 minutes later, no one else had shown up.
I had to leave in the early afternoon, and when I came back across the river the total had been increased to three trailers -- including mine -- in a parking lot built for many more.
I've heard theories that the river's fish population is in decline. Others believe that it's as strong as it's ever been. I'll take this vast expanse of asphalt as a sign that something's wrong with the ecosystem as a whole. The upside is that you can park wherever you want, for at least another month until the jet skis and cigarette boats start showing up.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 April 2015 11:33
April 8, 2015
If there’s a spinnerbait bite anywhere on the lake, KVD could catch ‘em with a rusty safety pin.
Tommy Biffle could flip up bass with an Aberdeen crappie hook super-glued to a spark plug.
Brent Ehrler, no doubt, could dropshot a rubber dog turd and get the job done.
I’m not saying that you should disregard those anglers’ lure recommendations. What I’m getting at, though, is that if I can use something effectively then you know it really works, because I don’t have the skill set or experience of those three on-the-water bass godzillas.
I’m putting my money (well, someone’s money) where my mouth is on this one. Whichever entry in the “Bass Brackets” contest (www.bassbrackets.com, closes 11:59pm tonight) comes closest to mine will win a prize pack of products that can take you from weekend Joe to occasional pro. Tiebreakers will be broken by a random drawing.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I love the boats made by Bass Cat. After owning another brand from 1996 to 1999, I’ve owned four straight Cats. They’ve graciously offered up a hoodie and a hat to the winner. Why do I love the boats? Because you don’t need to have been in the Navy or the Coast Guard or a jet fighter to drive ‘em right. In big waves, they’re not quite “point and mash the pedal,” but as far as I can tell they’re the closest thing to that in the bass boat industry. In addition to being fast and well-built, they’re exceptionally forgiving of average driving skills – and whether you admit it or not, at least half of you are average or below.
Obviously I have a longstanding partnership with Yamamoto, too. Not only do they publish this blog, but they also make a few of the baits that are often the difference between skunkage and success for me. I’ll put together a package of stuff for the winner that has worked for me wherever I’ve fished – west to California, north to Michigan, south to Mexico. No Fancy Dan colors or oddball stuff, just real baits that work wherever bass swim. They’ll catch fish for you even if you still hold a spinning rod with the reel on top.
Last Updated on Monday, 06 April 2015 14:17
April 6, 2015
One time, this guy handed me a picture of him, he said "Here's a picture of me when I was younger." Every picture is of you when you were younger. "Here's a picture of me when I'm older." "You son-of-a-bitch! How'd you pull that off? Lemme see that camera... What's it look like?
At 45, I’m likely past the halfway point of my life. I've realized that I’m unlikely to ever be ridiculously wealthy, so I’m going to have to work for a couple more decades before I can while away the hours sitting on a bucket, holding a cane pole and drinking whiskey-spiked Ensure. Not only will I never own the New York Yankees, but I’ll never play center field for them, either.
Those realizations are humbling, but at the same time they’re also freeing, as they allow me to put my goals and plans into some perspective. If I get run over a bus tomorrow, did I accomplish everything that I reasonably could? Conversely, if I live to be 110, will I be eating cat food on the public dole or will I still be comfortable enough to pay for cable? Everything is a balance. One thing that has become increasingly clear is that I have to seize whatever fishing opportunities come my way. If I can’t fish every day, or even every week, how can I make the most of the time that I do get? While outdoor writing will never make me rich, or famous, or bring in supermodel groupies, it has lent me access to a tremendous wealth of fishing options and I’ll be damned if I don’t make the most of them.
Last week in Texas was a prime example. Not only did I get to spend time in the boat with both the legendary Lonnie Stanley and Texas superstar Keith Combs, but I got to break bread with them twice. For a bass geek like me, it was fascinating to hear them tell their stories and to talk about the sport’s evolution. I probably talked more than I should have and listened a little less than I should have, but to the extent I can recall the trip in 30 or 40 or 50 years, it’ll be one that I treasure forever.
Last Updated on Thursday, 02 April 2015 06:53
April 2, 2015
One of the hallmarks of being a member of the Robbins family is that you have to be messy. If my parents are going out for a nice dinner, my mom brings a spare shirt for my dad. Even though my 9 year-old niece looks more like a member of my sister-in-law’s family, we’re sure that she descends from my brother’s loins because she is a slob like the rest of us. The average dinner ends up with two spills, one stain on her dress and food bits of uncertain origin in her hair.
It’s inescapable. It’s who we are.
I purchased this Columbia Blood and Guts shirt from Sierra Trading Post about a year ago, and while I’d worn it a few times I hadn’t yet put its claims of stain resistance to the test. This past Saturday I was dead sticking a Senko in a heavy wind and conservatively estimated that one 2-pound fish had the bait for 15 seconds before I knew he was there. Unfortunately, by the time I realized and got him in the boat he was already digesting the whole deal. I swung him in and with him came a tsunami of blood, straight for the shirt. It’s a miracle that I was wearing it rather than something else.
The shirt made me look like an escapee from a paper shredder and I figured it was a goner, but with a few splashes of water and a little bit of effort, the blood vanished. Columbia still has a few Blood and Guts shirts in the lineup, but this quarter-zip model has been discontinued. If anyone knows where to get some more, I’m pretty sure that my whole family will be interested.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 31 March 2015 11:09
March 31, 2015
I had the good fortune to spend this past weekend fishing with Keith Combs in East Texas, where the bass are moving up on the beds one wave after another after another.
Getting a sight fishing lesson from Combs is like getting a lesson on how to dunk from Jordan or coaching from Elvis on how to make a deep-fried peanut butter and banana sandwich. Even if you’ll never have the hops of the former or the appetite of the latter, you’ll quickly realize that you are in the presence of an exceptional talent.
Frankly, it was often a little embarrassing. There would be beds that I could barely see – just a dull white spot in the depths, or a shell or two in the distance – that he eyeballed and analyzed with ease. As I struggled to get a bait in the bed and keep it there, he was aware of every move the fish made and its position at all times. It felt like he could’ve caught fish in one flip that took me 10 or 20 minutes to get into the boat, if I caught them at all.
His girlfriend Jennifer Reid joined us in the boat for some of the time, and she’s no slouch either. As we looked for beds on a breezy morning, we drifted over one but Keith and I didn’t see a fish from the front deck. Even Elvis leaves a few crumbs behind, because as Jennifer went by, from the back deck she spotted this five pounder returning to the nest. Keith and Jennifer were gracious enough to let the visitor work it, and again it probably took me longer than it should have, but with their help I got the fish to the boat. All of us are coachable – some of us just need two coaches instead of one. Sometimes it takes a village to catch a green fish with a brain the size of a pea.
Last Updated on Thursday, 26 March 2015 09:12
March 26, 2015
I don't think I've ever been a "look at me" kind of guy, although I'm hesitant to write that since the most egregious look at me types tend to be the ones least likely to consider themselves as such. Nevertheless, I've never had a yellow boat, or a jacked up truck with puppy-stomper tires, or a car horn that played La Cucaracha. To that extent, I've typically flown under the radar.
That may be changing. While some guys get a Cigarette boat or a Porsche to combat a midlife crisis, I already had the boat of my dreams (Bass Cat Eyra) and my desired whip (Chevy Suburban), so I couldn't go that route, and with a rapidly decreasing amount of hair (except in my ears and nose) a ponytail was out of the question. Instead, I celebrated birthday number 45 with a set of sweet red and white Rigid deck lights for my bass boat. They're the type of thing I might've shunned as too flashy a while ago, and even now I'm inclined to try to justify them by listing their many practical benefits, but as I near the "get off my lawn" phase of my life, I'll make no excuses or justifications. The bottom line is that they're pretty damn sweet and I wanted 'em, so here they are.
Of course, the only thing that terrifies me more than clowns and dropshotting in 80 feet of water is drilling into fiberglass, so I had the good people at MARE Marine install them for me. They did a great job. Blinged out and proud.