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I was watching the Bassmaster Elite Series tournament in the California Delta on ESPN2 a few weeks ago. They were highlighting Mike Iaconelli on the opening morning of the tournament. When Mike got to his first bank, someone who was not in the tournament was already there fishing. Mike started to talk to the guys in the boat. Their conversation went something like this (I’m paraphrasing):

Ike – “How’s it going?”

Other Boat – “Fine.”

Ike – “Are you guys tournament fishing?”

Other Boat – “Nope…Aren’t you Mike Iaconelli?”

Ike – “Yes – I’ve been fishing this bank for four days.”

Other Boat – *silent*

Ike – “Can I go ahead and jump in front of you?”

Other Boat – *silent*

Mike then went ahead and started fishing in front of these guys because he thought that, since he was fishing a tournament, he was somehow more important and more deserving to fish that particular bank at that time.

I have seen this many times, especially on Lake of the Ozarks (LOZ) in Missouri. LOZ is pounded by both recreational and tournament fisherman on a daily basis. I have had MANY boats cut in on me on many occasions, and it infuriates me when it happens.

I wish I could have been the guy in the “other boat” from the conversation above. If so, the conversation would have gone something like this:

Ike – “I’ve been fishing this bank for four days.”

Me – “You must have done pretty good to fish it for four days…what were you catching them on?”

Ike – “I’m fishing a tournament, can I jump in front of you?”

Me – “No…I worked all week and this is the only time I get to fish for the next three weeks. You have fished for four days straight. I was here first and you can jump in behind me if you like, but please don’t crowd me because I’m getting some great fish.”

Ike – *kicks breaks his rear running light and throws it in the water while screaming,* “But I’m Mike Iaconelli…Elite Series Tournament Pro.”

Me – “Never give up, Mike…never give up.”

I feel etiquette should dictate that a boater, if he/she is going to fish a bank that is already occupied by someone else, should jump in BEHIND the existing boat. Most tournament rules require that a distance of 50 yards should separate boaters, but it says nothing about which side of an existing boat is acceptable (to my knowledge).

It seems that tournament fisherman think that, since there is money on the line, they somehow get bank priority over recreational fisherman. Fishermen weigh many factors when developing a “game plan” for a tournament…even for just a day of recreational fishing. Wind, temperature, barometric pressure, channel location, water color, cloudy vs. clear skies, etc. all factor how and where you should fish. In my mind, having other boaters on the water is simply another factor you have to weigh to determine fishing location.

Do I want to fish a bank that has been pounded for three weeks straight? Probably not. I would get out but not an obvious place for fisherman to find. If I get to a bank, and it already has someone on it, my first response is, “I should have hit this bank first and I could have had it to myself.” If I absolutely HAD to fish that bank, I would hop over to a nearby bank and wait until that fisherman was done and THEN go to the bank.

Maybe I am wrong and am reading too much into this. How many of you have been fishing on a bank and had a boat jump in front of you? I would love to know your thoughts on this.

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The following post was written by my oldest child, Brenna (8 years). She has been watching me post on blog now for a few months, and wrote the following text on her own. I have not changed a word.

“You know,  fun is in all the things you love doing , but fishing and  hunting  are different.  Hunting is about game on get up and going!  Fishing is about getting out on the water and having fun. My dad is a hunter  and a fisherman. My name is Brenna , and I love fishing and hunting!       

On to fishing.   When I was littler me and my family bought some  minnows to fish with. I really didn’t want to fish at that time.  So instead I got the minnow bucket ,  stuck my hand inside, and pulled out a handful of minnows. After that I fished for a while and used the rest of the time playing with Minnows.  Speaking of, I was down in Florida on Destin beach. Then I went down to the water looking for shells and crabs. I ended up sticking my net in the water and coming up with a net full of minnows. So I spent the rest of the day minnow fishing.   That’s my story and tell all your comrades who like fishing or hunting to check out FOR THE FISHERMAN  at  WordPress.com.   Bye!”

Brenna Jones

From the Mind of a Child

  Written by the daughter of a very proud father…

Have you ever purchased a new suspending jerkbait only to find out that on your first retrieve, it swims badly to the right, left or does loop-de-loops all the way back to the boat? A lot of people would simply cut the lure off and put it into the abyss that is a tackle box…never to be touched again.

There is a simple way to tune your jerkbait (or any crankbait) so you don’t lose any time chasing big bass in the Spring.

Tips to Correctly Tune Your Jerkbait or Crankbait

  • Take a pair of needle-nose pliers and place it horizontally in line with the bait while you pinch the eyelet on the nose of the bait.
  • Roll your wrist in the OPPOSITE direction of the way the bait is swimming.
  • The adjustment should be done in very small increments
  • Throw the bait out a few yards and retrieve. If the bait still swims incorrectly, repeat the process until the bait swims straight. If the bait over corrects, then roll your wrist in the opposite direction until the bait swims correctly.
  • Click HERE to watch a video on tuning your baits.

If want to invest a few dollars, there are tools on the market designed specifically for tuning baits. These are basically small metal rods with a slit in the end…just big enough to insert the eyelet of the bait. Simply follow the steps above using the tuning tool instead of needle-nose pliers. They can be purchased on-line or at your local fishing tackle store.

One of my Twitter followers, @mnangler, read my last blog post on boat ramp etiquette and noticed that I forgot to mention tips for getting your boat back on the trailer after a day of fishing. Excellent point, thank you MNAngler!

Getting your boat back on the trailer is an easy process. Simply repeat in reverse the process of putting it INTO the water.

When you approach the courtesy dock (or bank), park your boat on the opposite side of the ramp as to not block anyone else from backing into the water while you are walking to your truck. If there is not courtesy dock and you have to park on the bank, park well away from the ramp. Turn your engine off and remove your boat keys. This step will help prevent anyone from taking your boat.

Typically, a boat ramp is not as busy as the day progresses. Everyone tends to show up all at once at first light, but the “end of the day” varies for each fisherman. Consequently, you may have less traffic to deal with when pulling your boat.

Back your trailer down the ramp to where the water is at the top of your wheels. How far you back your trailer into the water will vary from boat to boat. When you find your trailer’s “sweet spot”, make a mental note of how far your wheels stick out of (or how far they are in) the water.

If you back the trailer in too far, you boat will not hit the running boards and your hull will slam into the trailer. Your boat should contact the running boards enough for you to have to either give it a little gas or simply crank it on. Turn your engine off and trim your motor up so you don’t make contact with the ground.

If you are fishing with a partner, they can attach the boat to the trailer. If you are fishing alone, you do that yourself.

Once the boat is secured to the trailer, single boaters can climb off the front of the boat on to the trailer. Having your deck clear of rods and lures will help this process.

Depending on the slope of the trailer, you might have to get your feet wet if the bumper of your truck is past the water line. If you don’t have a shell on your truck, you can climb into your truck’s bed and jump off the side onto dry land. If you drive an SUV, you can open the back hatch and crawl through the vehicle.

During cold weather, I like to carry a pair of rubber boots that can easily be slipped on so my feet don’t get wet when I go from the trailer to the truck.

You can now pull your boat out of the water and finish strapping the boat to the trailer putting on the transom saver. Make sure you pull far enough away from the boat ramp so others can easily access the ramp. Blocking the ramp to clean up your boat or put your rods away or to put on your transom saver is a big NO NO.

Drain all live wells completely. Some states are having trouble with zebra mussels, which can be transported from one body or water to another by water left in the live wells. If you have been in water that you KNOW has zebra mussels and you are heading to a new lake, wipe down your hull and check your motor and trailer for any unwanted zebra mussel hitchhikers too. Manual car washes are a quick way to remove them.

Pulling your boat is a process that gets easier the more you do it.

Backing Your Boat Into The Water

Bass fishing lures millions of anglers each year. Warm weather signals fishermen to grab their gear, hook up their boats and head to their favorite lake. Anyone who has been to a boat ramp at first light on a warm spring Saturday realizes that bass fishing is a VERY popular sport.

We’ve all been in line at the boat ramp only to find that one inexperienced boater can bring the boat launch process to a grinding halt. There are things that you can do to expedite the process…experienced or not.

Before You Head To The Lake

If you have not been on the water since last summer or fall, invest in a pair of “ear muffs” for your motor, and test your it before you leave your house. Make sure that your motor is working properly and starts quickly. When you get to the boat ramp, you can quickly launch your boat and get out of the way for the next person to launch.  Don’t wait until you are backed into the water only to find out that your motor won’t start.

If you have started your boat at home but find that it won’t start when you get to the lake, quickly check the following:

  • Kill switch; did it get pulled accidentally?
  • Battery connections; these sometimes loosen due to vibration from traveling.
  • Make sure the ball on your fuel line is hard and primed. If your motor is not getting fuel, it won’t start!

Before You Get In Line

If you are launching your boat at a State Park or private marina, you most likely will have to pay a fee. Fill out the information on the envelope and pay your fee prior to getting in line at the ramp.

Also, unhook your straps and remove your transom saver prior to getting to the water. Only leave your front strap hooked until you boat is in the water.

Backing Your Boat Down the Ramp

Inexperience boaters are often uneasy about backing their boat down straight down the ramp. Follow these techniques

  • Start by making sure your trailer is straight behind your truck. Keep your wheel in line with the side of your truck.
  • Place one hand on the bottom of the steering wheel to determine which way you want the trailer to move. If your boat needs to go to the left, move your bottom hand to the left.
  • Practice in a parking lot away from the lake until you are comfortable backing the trailer in a straight line.

Multi-Slot Boat Ramps

If the boat ramp you are using can accommodate more than one boat at a time, make sure you don’t take up more than one space. This seems like a pretty obvious thing to do, but it happens all the time.

No Partner?

  • If you are fishing without a partner, make sure your front deck is clean and easily accessible. This will make climbing into your boat when it’s backed down the ramp quick and easy.
  • Start your boat and quickly tie it off on the opposite side of the courtesy dock (if there is one) or pull your boat up onto the bank away from the ramp so you don’t block any other boaters once you move your tuck.

Courtesy Dock

The courtesy dock is for unloading your boat. If you have to get rods ready, change lures, re-spool your reel, motor out to the middle of the cove or the lake. Hanging around the courtesy dock will prevent others who ARE launching their boat from using it.

Don’t be the guy at the ramp that everyone hates to have in front of them. Putting your boat in the water should be quick and easy. Do you have any other tips for getting your boat in the water quickly and easily? Let me  know by leaving a comment!

Another spring cold front day so it was another day to chase white bass on Bull Shoals.

My wife, daughter and father-in-law went as far back as they could get his boat in Shoal Creek. There were only a few other boats at the back of Shoal, the rest of the crowd was at the back of Big Creek, which is accessible by both boat and car.

The fish really did not start biting until 2 p.m. There really is no science to catching these fish this time of year. They are stacked at the back of flowing creeks…getting ready to spawn.

Everyone was catching fish, but eventually, my daughter got tired of casting. She was content on letting her poppy cast and hook the fish so she could then take the rod and reel in the fish. Poppy took the fish off the hook and she would run it back to the live well. By the time she came back to the front of the boat, poppy had another fish on the line.

White Bass Fishing on Bull Shoals

Brenna and one of her white bass from Bull Shoals

While the few other boats were in what they thought was the back of the creek, Tom found the creek channel and went up another 100 yards or so, into about two feet of water. That is where the majority of the fish were located.

The lure of choice was a white Bang Tail…1/2 oz. They had a great day on the water and landed 38 fish total. They missed a bunch as well. Brenna caught 15, Tom caught 15 and Dawn caught eight. That’s a pretty good day on the water.

White Bass Fishing on Bull Shoals

Catch of the Day - White Bass

As for me, I had the opportunity to take my boy fishing…just us…in my boat. This was the first time we have done this, and it was truly a fantastic trip. We only fished for about two hours.

Colin really got into casting his rod and did so for about 20 minutes. I was smart enough to take his Nintendo DS and some food and drink to keep him busy while I fished from the front of the boat.

When he had finally had enough fishing, he wanted to go for a boat ride. He got to drive…

Truly a great day on the water, and one that I will never forget. Fish or no fish.

We had a great day on Bull Shoals Lake yesterday. The day started with me taking my family out fishing. The weather was cold and windy at that point so we did not expect to be out long. I did not expect to catch many fish (if any)…so we focused on them casting their rods so they could at least be “doing” something. While they were casting, my wife and I were dragging grubs behind the boat with the wind.

Spring Fishing on Bull Shoals

Fishing with My Family on Bull Shoals Lake - Big Buck Creek

After about an hour, the kids were ready to head back to grandma and poppy’s house for lunch (as expected!). As much as I wanted to stay out there, I did not want to make them do something they didn’t want to do. My goal is to keep introducing them to fishing and let them decide on the pace. Pushing them constantly can have negative effects. I want them to one day be the one to wake me up on a spring morning and say, “DAD, IT’S TIME TO GO FISHING!”

After we had lunch, my father-in-law and I went to the very back of Big Creek. We chased the largemouth and Kentuckys instead of the white bass this time.

We found a long channel swing toward the end of the creek. This bank always holds fish this time of year, and today we found them. The last 100 yards of the bank produced nine fish with one keeper Kentucky bass.

Jerkbait Fishing on Bull Shoals

Jerkbait Fishing on Bull Shoals

Fishing on Bull Shoals

Tom's Second Fish

We fished primarily Smithwick rogues which are perfect for early spring fishing. I stuck with my go to color – “Red Sunrise”. I have consistently done well with this color on Bull Shoals.

Smithwick Rattlin' Rogue

The water temp varied from 48 degrees all the way up to 52.5 degrees. In about two or three weeks, this lake is going to explode with fish moving up on the banks.