Posts Tagged ‘bass fishing’

How to Tell the Difference between a Kentucky/Spotted Bass and a Largemouth Bass

When I first started fishing lakes that contained both Kentucky and Largemouth bass, I did not care about identifying which one was on the end of my line. I just enjoyed catching fish. However, once I started fishing tournaments, I had to differentiate between the two species on lakes that have different size limits for each one. For example, Lake of the Ozarks and Bull Shoals Lake each have a 15” limit on black bass but a 12” limit for Kentucky bass.

I will never forget my first tournament on that lake, my partner and I were catching a ton of “bass” on Chompers…and we were having a fantastic time doing it. Neither of us knew, for sure, how to differentiate between the two species. All we had heard was that Kentucky bass have a rough patch on their tongue. We didn’t know HOW rough of a patch…just a rough patch. So…when we started catching fish after fish, if we felt anything AT ALL on the tongue, into the live well it went!

We were a red faced at weigh in and VERY lucky that a conservation agent did not stop us on the water to check our fish. Most of our 12-inch fish were, in fact, largemouth bass! Lucky for us, it was tournament that consisted of a bunch of friends, so we were simply mocked and made fun of instead of receiving monetary penalties.

Differences between a Largemouth Bass and a Spotted Bass

The Tongue

As stated above, spots have a rough patch on their tongue. Largemouth bass do not. Please note that the rough patch is very noticeable on a spotted bass, and you might feel “something” on the tongue of a largemouth.

The Hinge of the Mouth

There is a reason that largemouth bass are called largemouth! If you were to draw a line straight down from the back of a largemouth’s eye to the bottom of the jaw, the end of the hinge of its mouth would be behind that line. Kentucky bass, on the other hand, will have the hinge in front of that line.

Kentucky Bass

The jaw of the Kentucky Bass is in front of the back of the eye.

Largemouth Bass

The hinge of the Largemouth's jaw extends behind the back of the eye.


The Dorsal Fin

Both species have a set of dorsal fins. The front one is larger than the rear fin. The difference is that, on a spotted bass, there is little to no separation between the two. A large mouth will have as distinct ending and beginning between the two.

Kentucky Bass

Little or no separation between dorsal fins.

Largemouth Bass

There is a definite separation between the fins.


Both species of bass have a lateral line running down the middle of their body. Spotted bass have blotches or “spots”

above their lateral line. They also have a bluish/green tint to their color. Largemouth bass on the other hand, favor the green side of the color wheel!

The Cheek Scales

Cheek scales on a largemouth bass are the same size as the rest of the scales on its body. Spotted bass have noticeably smaller scales on their cheeks.

Another big difference between the two species is how they fight on the end of the line. Largemouth bass tend to come straight to the top of the water and try to shake the lure out of their mouth. Kentucky bass fight more like a smallmouth. They head to the bottom and resist every inch of the way to the surface.

Hopefully the next time you hook a bass at your favorite lake, you will be better able to identify the football on the end of your line.


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My wife and I loaded the kids in the truck and spend the weekend in Hermann, Missouri with our friends, Tim and Michelle Schulte. They were celebrating their youngest daughter’s birthday on Saturday and invited family and friends to help celebrate.

Tim and Michelle live on 50 acres just outside of Hermann, and they have a nice lake behind their house that is stocked with bass, bluegill and catfish. Below are some photos of the event. The weather was fantastic as was the company was even better.

Uncle Tim Helping Everyone

Brenna and her Big Fish

Colin Waiting Patiently

Colin Still Determined

Casting Pro

My Wife Enjoying the Day

Brenna on the Dock

We had a great time on Saturday and are looking forward to moving to this wonderful town in mid Missouri.

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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…

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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