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Posts Tagged ‘fishing techniques’

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.

Coloration

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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I showed up at Tim Schulte’s farm to turkey hunt and go jug fishing. Unfortunately, neither the turkeys nor the catfish were aware of the weekend’s game plan. Mother Nature was also on the side of the animals because it rained just about the entire weekend.

I got to the farm late Thursday night. I figured it would be better to get there late and sleep in till 4:45 a.m. than get up at 3 a.m. and head to the farm. As usual, I slept well. Tim and Ben Cole showed up just after 5 a.m. and we headed into the woods. They headed to the back of the farm while I went to the field and sat in the ground blind (that would eventually provide great cover from the rain).

I have been hunting at the Schulte farm since 1993. Spring turkey season always provides great hunts with lots of gobbling by the toms. Unfortunately, this year was different. I did not hear one gobble all weekend. Tim and Ben heard some in the distance, but none was close to the farm.

I did get to see dogs chase four deer about 35 yards from my blind. There is nothing more relaxing than having two dogs start barking and howling at the exact time the turkeys should start flying down from their roost. We have had problems with these dogs in the past and this weekend was no different. They noisily made their way through the neighbor’s farm and eventually to Tim’s farm. I actually spotted the small dog twice. I sure hope those dogs don’t get hit by a passing car or truck.

After the barking and chasing dog episode, I spotted another deer that emerged from the cedar patch across from me. The deer went to the creek for a drink and then headed back into the woods to eventually pop back out into the field exactly in the same spot where the other four deer emerged about a half hour earlier. He/she eventually made his/her way around the edge of the field and out of site.

It wasn’t’ long after the deer left that it started raining. My plan to hunt in the pop-up blind was finally paying off. Tim and Ben headed to the back of the farm…and they “got their panties wet”! While I did not see any turkeys, I did see deer and stayed dry. The guys emerged from the woods about an hour after the rain started, and they picked me up and we headed back to the cabin for a quick high ball and a nap.

Jug Fishing

Turkey season closes every day in Missouri at one o’clock p.m. That leaves the rest of the day to do what ever we want. The activity of choice this year was jug fishing on the Missouri and Gasconade Rivers. I have never jug fished for catfish before, but it has always interested me.

Catfishing usually includes a stout rod and reel with heavy line and heavy sinkers followed by lots of snags and fighting a strong current and really, really stinky bait. Jug fishing is different. The “sport” consists of a jug (two coffee cans soldered together, a half of a “noodle” float, an old duck decoy or even an empty paint can), a heavy line, a weight and a hook.

The line is tied to one side of the jug so the jug stands on end when a fish takes the bait that hangs anywhere from 1 ft. to 4 feet below the jug.

The basic technique for jug fishing is this:

  • Put a hot dog on the hook
  • Place the jug in the water
  • Repeat 15 times with the remaining jugs
  • Move the boat above, below or to the side of the jugs
  • Watch the jugs and drink beer.

That’s about it.

It is definitely not a physically demanding sport, but it does get interesting when a jug gets hung up in a wing or trail dike that is located just below the surface of the rising river. Releasing the jug takes some pretty savvy boat maneuvering.

We fished for about three hours each day, and we only caught one channel catfish that weighed about three pounds. The great news is that it rained on us both days…and we got our panties wet…again. Here is a great photo (from my Blackberry) of the back of my truck to show how much rain fell from Thursday night through Saturday afternoon. It’s basically a poor man’s rain gauge.

Poor Man's Rain Gauge

Poor Man's Rain Gauge

We had some great food and even better company. Nick Zagarri, Zach Cole, Ben, Tim and I had a fantastic weekend and are going to miss the cabin until late September when bow hunting season starts.

Watching the Rain...Waiting for Dinner

Nick Zagarri cooking wings and Tim Schulte watching the rain from the front porch of the deer cabin.

I sure hope those dogs don’t get hit by a truck while we are gone.

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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.

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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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