Back to basics – fishing a grub

This 4-inch shad single tail grub is just one of the many grub options available to anglers

Grubs come in all sizes. We sell single tail grubs from one inch to five inches, but there are several bigger ones on the market as well. They are another versatile bait. They can be fished anywhere in the water column. They can be fished weightless and burned across the top of the water much like a wake bait, and they can be put on a jig head and slow-rolled across the bottom, or used anywhere in between. Some grubs have ridges and can be very thick. Others are smooth-sided and thinner, such as our four-inch shad grub. They can all be used for any application, really, and offer the angler a variety of actions for a variety of situations.

For smaller grubs, I use a medium weight spinning rod. For those with super heavy hook sets, a medium light might be better, but I get away with a medium, so I have not bought a rod especially for that application yet. It’s up to each individual angler to determine what works best for them, and if the expense of an entirely different set up is worth it.

For small and weightless grubs, it is a good idea, I feel, to have a spinning reel with a large capacity. This will allow for longer casts with a bit more ease.  I like the bigger spool not only for throwing a weightless grub, but also for throwing a split shot grub. As I have stated in the past, I found some bismuth split shots, and I use those exclusively now. I put the split shots 18-20 inches up the line, or sometimes farther, depending on the depth I am fishing and how much weight I think I need. The idea is to have enough weight to get to the bottom, but also to have it far enough up the line so it does not affect the action of the grub. If the weight is too close, it does not allow the grub to move freely, and that seems to make a difference in the number of fish I catch.

I also like to fish a 3-inch grub on a light, weedless jig head. I use a 1/8th ounce or so, with a single wire weed guard. If I am fishing something other than a rocky bottom, for instance an area where there are some weeds as well, I will opt for a light, weedless jig head. This still allows for a slow fall. Fish will often strike on the fall, so a slow fall gives a better opportunity for that.

I will work a grub slowly through the weeds, lifting the rod tip to move the bait, then reeling down to where I feel the bait again. “Slowly,” can be a subjective word and what I think of as slow may not be the same as what you think is slow. But the big thing is – the fish will make the decision, not you or I. They will tell us what they want.

One of the times that I will throw a grub on a baitcasting set up is when I am fishing it on a swing head. I use a ¼ or 3/8 normally, but depending on depth, I may go up to a ½ ounce if need be. I like a swing head because it helps with the natural movement of the grub. It also seems to come through a lot of different kinds of cover better than a head that does not move. As it hits stumps or weeds, it will mov out of the way as I am slow rolling the grub back to the boat.

Of course, another great use of a single tailed grub is as a swim jig trailer – or, really any jig. As with any trailer, the grub can be used to change up colors a bit, add a bit more action, or even add some flash. I feel like, when most people think about a single tail grub, they think of a swim jig. That said, I won’t go too heavy into it, but I like to use a regular worm and jig rod – medium heavy, and a 6.3:1 reel or higher, depending on what I’m fishing in and how much power I think I’ll need to get the fish out of whatever cover is around. When I’m fishing a lot of vegetation, I tend to go with braid, as that cuts through vegetation when I’m bringing the fish in. Depending on water color, I may or may not use braid at other times. If the water is gin clear, for instance, I will go with a copolymer or a fluoro-coat. I am not a big fan of full fluorocarbon around a lot of rock, because it tends to fray. And that is fine if that is what anglers like to use. They just need to be aware, as with all other applications, they will have to check their line much more often – or risk losing a big fish when the line breaks. Although I like copolymer, though I will use fluorocarbon. As I said, though, it is just important to check the line regularly.

A grub can also be Texas-rigged or used on a Carolina rig. Any technique where the bait is moving, or even being jigged up and down, can be a great technique to use a grub. While it seems to have found its way to the bottom of the tackle box for many anglers, those looking to get more fish in the boat are turning back to the tried and trusted single tail grub.

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.

Opening weekend of fishing season

The day so many anglers have waited for is finally almost here! Game fish season opens in Wisconsin tomorrow.  Of course, in the north, where I live, musky season isn’t open yet and smallmouth is catch and release only until June… but it still marks the beginning of what every angler hopes is another successful season. It does not matter if you are on the water in search of dinner, or to bring home tournament winnings. If you love fishing, this weekend is something that gets you excited.

Now, that is not to say that all of us head out on opening weekend.  Quite the contrary. To me, I prefer to let the tourists and the weekend warriors fill the boat ramps (sometimes for up to 20 minutes while they prep their boat, which should have been done long before they moved into the actual launching lane….). This year I don’t have a tournament that I’m prefishing for, so I might just stay off the water on Saturday.  If I were to have prefishing plans, though, I’d launch at first light and attempt to be off the water by 11.  But, for many bodies of water in northern Wisconsin, that can be the best idea anyway.  For the most part, you have the water to yourself with other fishermen when you fish early.  The later in the day it gets… well, I think it goes without saying.

I’d really like to wish everyone a successful weekend, but more than that I hope you all stay safe.  I’ve already seen an ambulance go by three times this evening, and most people aren’t even on the water yet.  If you haven’t towed your boat anywhere since last fall, please check over your wheels, tires and trailer. Sometimes we get so excited to get out fishing finally that we forget the simple things. And, to be honest, a bunch of the people towing a boat to their opening day destination don’t tow anything that often.  If a trailer tire blows, it can cause a huge issue the they aren’t prepared to deal with.  It can happen.  I think many of us have seen it. A lot of these problems can be rectified by doing some basic maintenance before leaving home. It’s not only a good idea, it could save a life.

I also hope everyone stays safe once they get to the water. No one who doesn’t already wear their life jacket all the time wants to hear, “wear your life jacket,” but I’m going to say it anyway.  I want you to be here tomorrow and next week and next year, reading my blog and wondering if I ate lead paint as a child (I think I might have, but you can hardly tell anymore!). Things happen on the water, and they happen quickly. Our best defense is a good offense, as the saying goes.  Wearing a life jacket, especially when water temps are low – most reports I’ve heard are in the 50s – may save your life.  I recently read that it is not hypothermia that kills 75% of the people who fall into cold water.  The biggest killer, they say, is the involuntary gasp reflex when a person hits that cold water.  It’s a reflex, and it’s not something you can prevent.  It just happens.  With that reflex, water enters your lungs.  If you are wearing a life jacket that can hold your head above water, your chances of expelling that water and getting back to safety are much, much better.  I wear an automatic inflatable, pretty much from the time I step on the dock until I have the boat back on the trailer.  I don’t swim, so it’s really important to me. But, even if you see yourself as a strong swimmer, life jackets are still a good idea.  If you should happen to fall out of the boat and hit your head – I won’t finish that.  I’m sure you can fill in the blank.

But, enough about life jackets.  I hope you wear one.  I hope you make everyone in your boat wear one.  Okay, one more thing:  I heard this statistic and I think it’s probably pretty close.  I was told it came from the Fish and Wildlife Service, but I don’t know that to be true.  So, here it is: 90% of fishermen who drown (males) are found with their zipper down.  So, don’t think drowning just happens when you’re running across the lake, hit a big wake wrong and fly out of your boat. Is it true?  Who knows for sure, but it’s a fun fact, so I like to throw it out there.

From what I’m hearing, the weekend should set up pretty well for fishing. We’ve got a pretty good front coming through right now as I write this and the temperature is dropping, but that’s to be expected when the mercury head over 80 in May (Wait.  do they still use mercury?).  The wind has picked up quite a bit from the time I sat down at the keyboard, and I am hearing a bit of thunder.  The radar looks ugly to the north.  From Park Falls through Minocqua and Eagle River are getting a pretty good size thunder storm and it seems to be heading my way.  That could change things up a bit for fishing tomorrow, but I think it will still be a great day.  The walleye are done spawning in many lakes and should even be coming out of their post-spawn funk.  So, if that’s what you’re targeting, I hope you find your dinner.  Make sure to check the signs at the launch ramps for any size and slot limits.

For pan fishermen, you should also be sure to check the signage at the ramp.  There are three new panfish regulations in place that might change the number and kinds of fish you can take. The regulations have changed bag limits on 93 lakes in Wisconsin and are part of a 10-year management plan.  The idea is to see which plan on various types of lakes achieves the goal of more panfish and larger panfish.

The 25/10 rule states that 25 is the daily bag limit of panfish, but an angler may take no more than 10 of any one species.

The Spawning Season 15/5 rule says that only 15 panfish may be taken during the months of May and June, and only 5 of those may be of any one species.

Under the 15/5 rule, only 15 panfish may be kept and only 5 of those may be of any one species.

Obviously, not all lake are affected by these rules. But anglers should make sure they check any signage at the launch ramp, or check with a local bait shop, to see if bag limits on their destination lake have changed.

I wish you all good luck and tight lines this weekend.  And remember – hook sets are free!



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, 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  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!