I like big baits and I cannot lie…

Summer is the time for a 10-inch worm. But many anglers don’t feel comfortable with baits that big. We all hear “big baits, big fish,” but I have caught all sizes of fish on a 10-inch worm.  Of course, I’ve caught some big fish on the same worms, landing the big fish for more than one club tournament on them. The best 10-inch worm, in my opinion of course, is a ribbon tail.  They have the most action and create a lot of disturbance in the water that will attract fish.

The thing with a 10-inch worm is that, because many anglers don’t throw them, fish rarely see them.  Throwing a bait most anglers are not using can have great results.  One of the things I like about big worms is how versatile they are. I can fish from two feet to 22 feet with a 10-inch worm.

With big worms, I tend to use big hooks. A 7/0 offset worm hook is usually my go-to. I know a lot of people use smaller hooks with a good deal of success, however. As one old-school angler once told me, if a fish grabs the worm by the tail, it doesn’t matter how big the hook is.  He uses a 3/0 hook for that reason.  And he is successful with that philosophy, so I can’t very well say he is wrong. A fish will usually take the worm from the front anyway, meaning a smaller hook should work just fine and because it is lighter, it will affect the action of the worm less.  I get the idea – I’m just not sure how much faith I have in it.  I would say whatever hook an angler is comfortable with is going to be just fine. I tend to use a worm hook when I’m fishing in grass or heavier cover.  It helps the worm come through that type of cover better. When I’m fishing ledges or drops, I might use a EWG hook, but honestly I don’t feel it’s necessary.  A 10-inch worm is not a thick piece of plastic, so an offset worm hook is my go-to. One thing I do not do is peg the sinker. 

No matter the depth of the water, I do not want to sinker pegged as it can get in the way of getting the hook set into the fish if it is pegged directly to the eye of the hook.  If I do use a bobber stop for any reason, such as if I am just changing up a bait quick from another soft plastic I had on the same rod, I put it at least six inches from the hook.  In deeper water, with the sinker not pegged, it gives the illusion of something chasing after something else, which can attract the attention of my target fish, a big bass. No matter the depth I am fishing, I Texas-rig the worm, keeping it weedless, and if I have a bobber stop on the line, it is away from the sinker and hook.

So now we get to the versatility factor. A 10-inch worm is a great bait for ledge fishing as well as fishing shallower vegetation such as grass or lily pads. As I said, I have fished this bait up to 20+ feet deep, and I have been beat in tournaments by an angler a time or two when he made that change that I missed and started catching fish in deep water with a 10-inch worm.  In this scenario, I would definitely not peg the sinker.  Again, the allure of a bass’ forage chasing its own forage to the bottom is often times too much for a bass to take.

When fishing deep, off ledges, there will usually be a “sweet spot” on the ledge.  When I find one of those spots, I fish the worm more thoroughly through that area.  There will often be more than one or two fish in the same spot.  I use my electronics to look for bait fish activity as well.  Bait fish mean a high likelihood of bass in the area.  When fishing deep, I usually use at least a 3/8 ounce sinker or up to ½ ounce. This helps get the bait to the bottom and using a tungsten weight allows me to feel the bottom better. In deeper water especially, once I catch a fish, I will triangulate that spot using visual keys from the shorelines or markers in the water such as a fallen tree.  I will make the same exact cast at least a few times to determine where the exact “spot on the spot” is on that ledge.  Once I find a depth at which fish are holding, I will use a depth highlight on my electronics to find other places around the lake that set up just like the one on which I was catching fish.

In shallower water, I might go down to ¼ ounce on the sinker or at times not even use a sinker.  I would opt to leave the sinker in the tackle box when fishing areas with lily pads, for instance.  Just as with any other weightless worm, this allows me to move the worm along the top of a lily pad and let it drop slowly into the holes between the pads.  Some anglers use a heavy mono line, such as 40-pound test, to run through the bait and the eye of the hook to keep the bait pegged to the hook. This does not allow the bait to slide down on the hook.  Products such as the Never Slip Bait Tape are good options here as well.  For me, I don’t worry about that.  If I need to take a bit of the head of the worm off because it was ripped or damaged in some way, I can do that at least one or two times before the bait shortens up too much.

Fishing grass edges is also a place where a 10-inch worm will shine.  When pitching into grass, watch your line as the bait is falling.  Often a fish will grab the bait before it hits the bottom and you will simply see your line take off in one direction or another, or it will just get slack.  If the bait gets to the bottom, lift the rod and let it drop on semi slack line. Lift up, let it fall back down. Keep the rod in front of you to have as much power as you can to set hook.  Don’t lift rod too high.  Once the fish takes the bait, set the hook on a semi-slack line.  If the sinker happens to get into the fish’s mouth, it may have its mouth closed around the sinker.  With a tight line, all you have done is turn the fish’s head.  With a bit of slack in the line, you will likely pile drive the hook into the fish’s mouth.  If need be, you can drop your rod tip a bit to create the slack you need in the line, then set the hook hard.

As far as gear, I don’t believe you need anything super special to throw a 10-inch worm.  Long casts can be important, so a 7 foot rod is usually my go to, a medium heavy fast action, to me, is best.  That gives a good backbone to get the fish through any heavy cover I might be fishing, and also gives me good hook penetration. I believe these rods are best suited for worm fishing, but they also have many other uses for other applications.

As far as reels, again, I do not feel you need anything super special.  Even a high-speed reel of 8:1 or 9:1 is not a necessity.  Anything over a 6:1 or even a 7.5:1 is fine.  You won’t be speed reeling with a big worm, so don’t worry about specialty equipment.  For me, if I am fishing heavy cover, I might go to a 7.5:1 just to get the fish turned and headed toward me after I hook up with it. 

Now for line.  My favorite for worm fishing, and yes, I completely understand how “old school” this is, but I prefer copolymer for worm fishing.  If I am in super heavy cover, I will go to braid.  I always use 65 pound braid or heavier, but an angler could certainly use 50 pound or whatever their normal braid is.  Copolymer is a good all-purpose line and it holds up a lor better than fluorocarbon.  I don’t use fluorocarbon when fishing a bit worm, if possible.  If I wind up using it for any reason, I am always sure to inspect the line often to be sure it is not fraying.  I can say the same with braid in situations with a lot of rock.  Rock can fray braid, so I check that often as well when in those situations. Copolymer is better in rocks, so, again, it is usually my go-to line for a big worm.

I don’t get to stressed out about learning another knot, either.  I know a lot of old-school anglers that insist on a San Diego jam knot for a big worm.  If you don’t know the knot, don’t stress it.  I usually use a Palomar knot, which is what I use for almost everything.  A unit knot is a good choice as well.  The point is, whatever knot you tie that does not fail and in which you have confidence is going to be a good knot to tie in this case as well.

A 10-inch worm can also be dragged along the bottom.  It can also be brought through vegetation such as coontail to create a swimming motion.  When swimming the worm it creates a lot of vibration in the water, which will alert the fish that something is coming that may be a decent feast.

I do not get super concerned about colors, but I do have a few favorites.  Black is my main color 10-inch worm that I use.  But I also like black with purple flake.  June bug is a good color, as is tequila sunrise.  As with any other bait, clearer water will call for a bit more natural colors.  Darker water will allow you to use brighter colors.  For the most part, it is the vibration and the silhouette of the bait that is going to draw the strikes.

When fishing gets tough in the heat of the summer, don’t be afraid to “go big.”  And a 10-inch worm is the perfect way to go big and get those big fish to the boat.

It has to open eventually, right?

Ice forming.jpgThis time of year is always tough on “soft water” anglers, I think.  I’m not one to really head out on the ice and go ice fishing, so I am one of those people looking out the window, hoping the sun will come out and warm things up enough to melt the snow and ice and let me get back to fishing.

Today was a really nice day, 50 degrees on the way home from work.  And tomorrow is projected to be nice as well.  I can even deal with a couple of days of rain – that helps, too.  But then comes the weekend with highs in the 30s once again. But it has to go away eventually, right?  Right? Some years it seems like that won’t be the case.

I suppose we really shouldn’t complain too much.  We did have a fairly mild winter.  We didn’t get a lot of snow and it was not too drastically cold for too long.  But spring sure is taking its sweet time getting here!

I do still have plenty to do before I hit the open water.  I’ve got line to spool on reels, treble hooks to change on crankbaits.  It’s just that both of those things are much more enjoyable when I sit in front of the picture window and I’m not looking out on a snow-covered landscape.  That being said, I guess I better get those tasks done before the weekend!

I know some people have been out fishing already in the BFLs, Opens, and Angler’s Choice, and it’s been great to see some people I know finish so well.  And walleye tournaments around the state are getting ready to get started as early as this weekend – stay safe and wear your life jackets! I hope you all have a great year on the water, with even a personal best or two thrown in there for good measure.

We have fishing season and buying season

In Wisconsin winters are long and cold.  That goes without saying.  We expect it and we always know it’s coming.  But we’re still sad when we put our boats away for the winter and think about having to wait it out until April, at least, to get back onto “soft water”.

But at least we have “buying season” to keep us entertained, right?   I don’t know about anyone else, but for me this is a great time to… well, buy stuff.  As soon as the season ends, I’m making lists of what I need to replenish for next year. Terminal tackle, line, soft plastics. There is no doubt I will need all of these things before the next season starts.

Part of this “buying season”, though, is also “Throwing season.” We all have stuff that we thought we would use the crap out of during the season.  As it winds up, we bought four packs each of three different colors, tied one on for three different tournaments, and never even threw it once.  Those plastics are going to sit at the bottom of a bin somewhere on the outside chance that we’ll dig them out and use them again some day… I mean actually use them, not just tie them on and throw them in the bottom of the boat without ever even throwing them.

When it comes to that part of “buying season”, I think we should all look around.  We should see who might really use that stuff that we bought and never threw. Is there a youth group, a high school team, or just a kid you see at the launch ramp all the time who could use that stuff that you’re about to throw into a bin or a closet somewhere and forget about for a few years? I’m guessing there is a better use for those things we all hang on to and will never use.  There is a kid at every launch ramp asking a hundred different questions about fishing. He’ll show you his Zebco 33 or she will tell you about the “one that got away” from that dock just last week.

They are the future of our sport.  And I think it makes sense to feed that passion.  It makes sense to take a few minutes and help him learn how to cast or to show her how to put a worm on her hook.  We all do it.  Most of us take that time.  So, next time, while we are taking the time to talk to those kids, why not take some of our baits we will probably never use anyway. Let’s face it, we have our confidence baits. Those are what we catch our fish on.  But we will still try out other baits.  Maybe that bait will become the confidence bait of a 10-year-old at your local park or launch ramp. Why not pull that stuff out of wherever we have it hidden and make sure we have a pack of baits to throw to a kid when we see them? Not only will it make a great connection between our generation and the next… but it will leave us more room for “buying season”!  But, honestly, if we have it laying around, chances are really good that there is a kid out there that would love to have just a pack or two of baits of his or her own.  And I think we owe it to the future of our sport.  I’m going to go look in my “throw away” bin right now… and I hope you do, too.

Why You Should Join a Bass Fishing Club

I understand that not everyone is competitive.  And maybe that’s the reason more people, specifically more women, don’t join bass clubs.  But, really, you don’t have to be competitive.  Eventually, you may become that way – it’s just natural.  As far as just getting involved, though, it is really a great way to learn a lot about fishing, make some great friendships, and spend some time outdoors.  You shouldn’t feel out of place as a woman or a novice when you join a bass club.  The reason clubs exist is to help people learn new techniques and improve their fishing.  Everyone is there to learn something!

Another misconception about bass fishing is that is has to be really, really expensive.  You don’t need a lot of equipment, and you don’t need to spend a lot of money.  Don’t get me wrong.  At this point, I probably spend more on bass fishing than is prudent, but I’m okay with that.  It’s my hobby, my passion, and it could probably even be called my vice.  In reality, though, you can at least get started fairly inexpensively.

You don’t need fifteen expensive rods and reels to start with.  A couple spinning set-ups will work just fine to start.   You don’t need a bunch of tackle to start, either.  You might pick up a little terminal tackle like hooks and sinkers, a few bags of soft plastics, maybe a cheap spinnerbait or two, and call that good to start with.  I’ll cover tackle in another blog post, though.  But suffice it to say that you don’t need a boat load of tackle.  Heck, you don’t even need a boat!

That’s part of what’s great about fishing with a local bass club.  You can fish as either a boater or a non-boater.  Being a non-boater is just what it sounds like.  You fish with someone else out of his or her boat.  Even if you have a boat, when you first start out with a club, it can be a great idea to fish with someone else at least part of the time.  You can definitely learn a lot from the boaters in your club, and there’s no better way to do that than to spend a day in the back of their boats.

When you join a bass fishing club, you are really there to learn.  When I joined my first bass club, I didn’t know much of anything about bass fishing.  I’d done it a couple of times, but with varying amounts of success.  But when I joined the club, I really started to learn a lot.  I was very lucky to have my boyfriend who taught me so much about bass fishing.  But I did learn a lot from other guys in the club, too.

I think it’s a great idea for anyone who thinks they might want to try fishing, to join a club and just learn from other anglers.  Even if it’s only for a year, it’s a great way not only to learn, to be meet people who enjoy the same things you do – and you might even find you enjoy fishing more than you knew.  A simple Internet search can provide you with some clubs in your area.  Check them out and find one that works for you.  You will never know how much fun you’re missing if you don’t!

Welcome to my Fish Like a Girl US blog!

Thanks for checking in on my newest blog.  I am an avid bass angler and I truly enjoy being out on the water.  I fish club tournaments as well as two team circuits in Wisconsin.  I have several sponsor, who you will get to know if you follow this blog for any length of time.  They are:  RockyBrook Sinkers, Denali Rods, Secret Weapon Baits, Super K Jigs, and Stick ‘Um Graphics.  We also recently picked up FishingFundraiser.com, and I’m really excited about what they have to offer scholatic fishing teams in the way of fundraisers.

If you enjoy fishing, I hope you’ll enjoy my blog, and even check out my website http://www.fishlikeagirl.us  I’ll be posting pictures, podcasts, and even videos to that site as the season moves along.  In any case, I hope you find some great fishing information, or at least a reason to smile, in my posts and information here on this blog and on my website.

Thank you for stopping by and good fishing!