Dr. Mike's Fishing Tips
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TIPS FROM ADVANCED ANGLERS

If you're an advanced angler, please leave a tip about your favorite species, equipment or recipe. Use the link to the author's e-mail below. If you leave your name and the tip is published, you'll get credit for the tip.
 
Trout Tip from Sean (Age 13)
  To catch more trout in just minutes, use this teqnique: Put powerbait on your hook, and then dip it in garlic oil. Let it soak for a few seconds, but not too long or it will get soggy and fall off. You will catch trout, guaranteed! (I may be just 13, but I'm experienced and I know what I'm talking about).
 
Bass Fishing Tips from Adam Komar, Dearborn, Michigan:
   The easiest way for me to catch bass is on a purple weedless worm with white stripes at between sunset and night. This seems to work well, as bass tend to bite on things below the surface at this time, partly because they can just manage to see it. I usually just cast this worm on a plain old rod into a weedbed or structure. It works well for me, and my sister caught a ten-inch bass on a friday and a hefty sixteen-inch bass the next day around the same time.
 
Bluegill & Sunfish Tips from Kevin:
   My mom caught bluegill and sunfish in Kentucky waters. Here's how: Put a sinker and a fresh, wiggley nightcrawler on a rather small hook. I suggest ripping the worm in half so it will struggle. Throw it about 30 feet out and tighten the line with some slack in it. Bluegill tend to just get the hook in their mouth, so when the line starts going out, pick the rod up. When you can feel the fish, yank it hard enough to set the hook, but not hard enough to tear the fish's mouth.
 
Carp Fishing Tip from Sk8er Andy:
   A good home-made bait for catching Carp is a fish and bread mixture. Grate a Large amount of cheese into a bowl and rip smallish pieces of bread into the cheese. Roll up a piece of bread and knead in the cheese. Keep adding more cheese and bread until it is about the size of a brussel sprout. You can use this to chum the area up or to use as hook bait. Make sure you use a large hook and pack the bread and cheese around it.

Fishing Calendar from Michael White:
~~Late March-May is Prime Time for Spotted Sea Trout, Redfish, Ladyfish, Spanish Mackerel, Bluefish, Jack Crevalle, Flounder, Pompano and possibly some Cobia. The Best Largemouth Bass Fishing takes place in March, April and May. The Best Bluegill and Shellcracker (redear sunfish) fishing is in March, April and later times.
~~June-August: Tarpon begin to run in late June and last into early September. Sharks, Redfish, Trout, Tripletail, Flounder, Bluefish, King Mackerel and Jack Crevalle Are Also Available At This Time.
~~September-December: Best For Redfish which can last into December, Trout, Stripers and King Mackerel (in early fall). Flounder are good into November. Recently, an influx of Anchovies Attracted huge schools of False Albacore, with Spanish Mackerel and Bluefish from early October to November 1. With any luck it will continue.
~~December-March: Prime time for stripers up to 7 pounds. Redfish and Trout in depressions and holes upriver, but fishing is usually slow and tough. Weather can kill this bite. Sheep Head are available year-round, but the best fishing is in the winter months. Good Crappie Fishing in December, January and February.
~~NOTE: Unusual warm spells can bring April-like fishing conditions in February, while frontal systems can put a short-term clam on normal patterns.
(Dr. Mike's note- many of the saltwater species listed here are found only in the Atlantic & Gulf of Mexico. The freshwater species are generally found nationwide).
 
Flathead Catfish Tips from Kenneth R. Fannin, M.D., FACS (ret.), Central Texas:
     You are very gracious to allow me space for a few remarks concerning the magnificent creature, pylodictis olivaris. Also known as "Yellow Cat", "Flathead" or "Opelousas", the venerable pylodictis olivaris is elegant, unique, cunning, very selective and highly particular in all things. They are temperamental, possess a voracious appetite on a seasonal basis (Spring and Fall) and in summary can be appropriately described as "Persnickety". Unfortunately, they are highly prized as an entree by any and all who know anything whatsoever about culinary matters. Thus, they are relentlessly and doggedly pursued by all classes of fishermen.  These fishermen vary in decreasing quality of character from the "Top" to the "Bottom" of the entire group.  At the top is a group of gentile, highly principled anglers who are keenly mindful of the reality that these elegant creatures do not exist in infinite quantity and require a long time to grow, mature and reproduce. Being so mindful, they restrict their methods of taking them to those that do not and will not decimate these glorious creation's population no matter how warmly waxes their evangelical zeal in their pursuit! The bottom or lower group is comprised of unprincipled, greedy and if advised at all, poorly so, hogs posing as fishermen that take as many of these fish as they can no matter how small their size. Worse, they do so by employing "Shocking Devices" ("Telephones"/The magnates therein.), hoop nets, trammel nets, gill nets, rotenone, dynamite and undoubtedly other means of which I am not aware. However, being ignorant of all of them is not a deficiency embarrassing to me because these "Outlaw Types" that use them lay awake at night thinking of such as this and I don't.
     However, if some of your many readers desire to take this fish in reasonable quantity utilizing methods that require the angler to be familiar with their personality and life style, be almost as smart as they are (And not give-up when they aren't) and give some thought to their approach, I respectfully submit the following;
     1. Fish for them where they are: With information gained from other anglers, personal experience or the fish and game department of your particular State, you can determine which waters are honored by this fish's presence.  If you fish for them where they aren't, your efforts will clearly be characterized the same as those that insist on putting lipstick on a corpse; FUTILE!
     2. Tackle Selection: This isn't world record shark fishing! A 3/0, 4/0 or 5/0 (Eagle Claw sizing. Mustad is different but you can compare the two to make your equivalent size selection.) HOOK is plenty large to hold your fish and its' small size won't kill your bait.  I prefer a straight-shanked hook of forged stainless steel with normal shank length but an extra large eye ring (The large eye ring is easier to put your staging through.) I don't use SWIVELS but I wouldn't quarrel with those that do so long as they are placed where the staging joins your main line. By placing it there rather than at your hook you will enjoy any benefits of the swivel but your bait not having that extra weight to pack around can swim about longer and more normally. Stainless steel is desirable in that it only collects modest growth of algae (Easily cleaned off) and doesn't rust, obviously. Rust can be removed from other metals but doing so is aggravating and time consuming when a man is fishing!.  More importantly, rust buildup that isn't removed increases the diameter of your hook thus tearing a much larger hole in your bait.  This additional trauma limits the bait's activity and its' time alive on your set. STAGING should be of twisted nylon and no larger than size #9 or #12, doubled and no more than 12" long. MAIN LINE of twisted nylon no larger than size #72 is more than adequate. WEIGHT should be no heavier that that sufficient to keep your bait where you put it, assuming you know where to put it. If you aren't sure where to put it, use a light weight and let the current put it where it belongs; That's where pylodictis will be looking for it! The weight's shape is important because this has almost everything to do with whether or not your line gets "Hung-up". A weight that is elongate, has no finger or tine-like projections, right or acutely angled shoulders and allows you to fix one of its' ends to your main line is a good selection. Take a look at a "Bank" type weight used in salt water. 
The size is wrong (But, size isn't why we're looking!), but the profile is what I'm driving at.
     3. Set Design or Configuration: Don't use a trotline in a river or flowing stream. It catches drifts, limbs, grapevines (And, unfortunately plastic bags and all grades of trash that litter our waterways) and The Lord only knows what all. The length causes you to fish unproductive water thus wasting your tackle, bait and time. The current invariably winds your stagings around the main line thus restricting your bait's activity and the wily pylodictis' ability to take it (Ever try to swallow a fresh oyster impaled on a tinker toy?). The only place, in my judgment (Which isn't worth much) for a trot line is in a major impoundment such as a lake and I don't even set them there when fishing for pylodictis (Jugs are the method in lakes, but that is for another time.). In that setting, they're alright for channel cat and high-fin blues because those fish range far and wide to forage. But, pylodictis doesn't.  They select their digs that are right next door to The Piggly Wiggly (Kroger's, Albertson's, HEB etc.) and they do so for a reason.  If you think about it, their reasoning makes perfect sense. We know that they are a heavy-bodied fish and we also know that for anything or anybody possessing a "Heavy body" to move about a good deal requires effort, energy and calories; i.e. it's physically costly and draining. We never see big, fat folks running a mile or so down to The Pizza Parlor, to The Crystal Palace Icehouse for a beer or for that matter anywhere else unless maybe the house is afire or such and then they just run far enough to get out of the heat! And, the inherently wise and wily pylodictis doesn't either. All that being said, I'll tell you that I never fish more than two baits to a line and almost never more than one. The reasoning for this is that a short, main line is all you can use to put the grocery store right next door to where our venerable quarry lives.  Additionally, appreciating the rather contentious and territorial character of our exalted friends, one isn't surprised that they live alone (The only time you'll see two of them together is when they are sparking and then their mind isn't on an adventure in dining!). So, if one is sufficiently fortunate to set a table convenient to one of these wonderful creations, they take a notion to dine and subsequently become restrained by your fiendishly cleverly and artistically placed, disguised hook, you won't need another hook and bait; Nobody else lives there! So, rather than fish twenty or thirty hooks and hard to come by baits in a way that nineteen or twenty-nine have little or no chance, fish a smaller number with less pain, suffering and expense in a way that they all have a chance as far as "Chances" go when pursuing our worthy prey (Which are pitifully few when the truth is acknowledged!).
     4. Fish with live bait only: In sixty years I have caught one yellow cat on dead bait and that was one about ten inches long caught on a crawfish (Cray Fish?) tail while fishing for channel cat in the swift water of a gravel bar in The Trinity River, Texas.  Clearly, that one was either a juvenile with a head full of mush or a mental defective just as a lot of nearly grown folks are today on both counts. That was many years ago (To the best of my recollection about'43 or '44) and I've often wondered how big that fish is now because I returned it immediately to the water from whence it came.  Bream, Sunfish, Warmouth (Excellent), Shad (Very difficult if not impossible to get on your hook alive unless you know how to keep and use them quickly in the same water from which they were acquired), small Buffalo, Carp/Suckers and small Bullheads are all quite effective.  They can vary in size from a length of two to three inches up to a pound or so in heft. A five or six pound pylodictis will take a perch as large as a man's hand, so don't hesitate to fish bait of some size. Selecting and acquiring bait from the water in which you will use it is desirable.  It is acclimated, can be more quickly put out (On your lines) and thus being less stressed, lives better. And, importantly this bait is on your prey's favorite menu. pylodictis is very fastidious (Mamma would have said "Finicky".) about its' tablefare! Place your hook all the way through exposing the point and beard, as superficially as possible without risk of it tearing out and about one-third of the distance between the last ray of the bait's dorsal fin and its' tail.
     5. Fish in "Live" or moving water:  Of course you can only do this where such water is available as in a flowing stream.  Now, I don't mean "Rushing" water because it will kill your bait and pylodictis doesn't live in rushing water anyway; For certain, they don't dine there. I  rather mean gently moving water.  A small eddy just downstream to and created by a small point or knob in the bank, is excellent. Although I never have, you may on rare occasion identify one of these fish swimming in stale or stagnate water ( You may see it but you won't catch it on a hook!) but if you do it will be because it was either put/trapped  there and could not leave or was just passing through and leaving when you identified its' presence. Pylodictis is highly discriminating in selecting Its' digs and general environment.
     6. Make your set over a hard bottom such as rock(s), gravel or sand. This venerable creature will not reside over muck, mud, sludge or any accumulation of material that smacks of squallor!  Of course, when you encounter bottom such as this, the water above it will be "Dead", stale or stagnate. See # 5 above.
     7. Pursue pylodictis on dark nights (New moon/no moon) that are dark because there is no moon, not because there is a moon but you can't see it because of its' being obscured by cloud-cover. Cloud cover can fool us lesser mortals but not the all discerning pylodictis! After many years of thoughtful reflection, I have concluded and know in my heart that this wonderous creation has a greater perception and understanding of gravity than we do (Than I do, anyway) and as far as I know has never been schooled in such. Half-dark nights have some potential but not nearly as much as totally dark nights.  By "Half-dark" I mean that the moon either rises in the daytime and sets at or about midnight or rises at or about midnight and sets the next day after daylight. In all these many years, I have never caught a significant yellow cat (Or an insignificant one either if there is such a thing) when the moon was shining! If the night is totally dark, one is most likely to enjoy maximum success between 11:00 PM and 2:00 AM.
     8. Early Spring and early Fall are the times that pylodictis' appetite is most voracious.  In the former, they are firstly preparing for the rigors of courtship, "Sparking", spooning etc. to say nothing of the much more demanding and physically taxing activity involved in procreation (Us older Bucks can witness to that sapping expenditure of energy!) and secondly are preparing for the summer months of lassitude imposed on any creature with any status at all by the hot weather and in the case of pylodictis, hot water. In the latter, they are storing up energy for an early fall feeding binge as they prepare for a  long winter's snooze and this can often be a quite rewarding period for the astute angler. For reason of duck, deer, quail, dove, pheasant, elk and turkey hunting, this interval is for the most part ignored by most, either because they don't know any better or because their interest is otherwise focused.  Bedsides that, bait isn't a snap to get (Women folks have to be enthusiastically encouraged to take the deep end of the sein when the water commences to get the least bit chilly!). But, be advised that between the time you sniff the first faint aroma of fall and the first frost occurrs, these wonderful fish are vulnerable to the knowledgeable angler.
     9. Rising water levels due to the addition of fresh water provided by rain is a great stimulous to the appetite's of these magnificent fish because rain water carries things from the land into the water that are of great culinary interest to bait fish. The bait fish's response to changes in water temperature, the presence of new and abundant food and perhaps even changes of barometric pressure (Specifically a falling barometer) is one of increased activity in feeding and foraging and thus accessibility to the conservative pylodictis who has been lying in the weeds conserving while the bait fish were doing the same. These great fish being motivated by the change in water temperature, the increased activity of the dinner entrees and the barometric pressure change thus ease to the front door seeking to devour those that might loiter too close! However, the beginner must be sure to discern the vast difference between a "Rise" such as that described above and a "Clear Rise". Clear rises are those that occurr due to the addition into a stream or river, impounded or stored water which in both cases is "Settled water" in that it has no particulate matter and brings with it nothing washed from the land. A classic example is water held behind a dam for sufficient time for it to "Clear" or "Settle". The Guadalupe River in Texas is such a stream on which tubing, canoing and other running water activities are a source of both income and pleasure.  In the summer months when the river's flow has decreased remarkably, the officials of Canyon Dam in order to bolster those economic and recreational benefits dependant on a briskly flowing river, partially open a gate and release sufficient water to raise the river eighteen to twenty-four inches. At any given spot on the river you can set your watch by when the water rises, standstill and starts to fall. I suppose that this is the case on a number of rivers in our Republic.  In any event, this is a "Clear Rise" and pylodictis olivaris is even less enticed by it than an angler is to an invitation from The Wife to accompany her on a shopping expedition to The Mall. In all their wisdom, they remain in their lairs; The young ones with their lady friends and the more mature specimens in which advancing years have quelled the fires of youth, dozing in their drawers on their couch as they dream of schools and schools of young, tender, live perch presented in slightly murky, rising, moving water over a squeaky clean bottom with a falling barometer in absolute, pitch darkness.  So, when clear rises occurr, restrain yourselves and decline to participate.  A man will be much better off and will accumulate a right-smart more points in The Wife's Journal (You know they keep books on this stuff, don't you?) if he just stays at the house, mows the yard, beautifies the homestead in any way whatever and/or volunteers to assist his Bride in any way that blows her skirt up. Shoot! Rather than be tolled off by a clear rise, a man will be 'way ahead to grit his teeth, grin and just go on to the mall! There'll be other rises that aren't "Clear"!
     To all of you that have read these simplistic musings, I do hope that having done so will be both of some benefit to you as you pursue this worthy fish and perhaps a source of a smidgin of reading pleasure if you don't.  With best wishes for good luck, success in every regard and my stern admonishment to keep your hooks sharp, hold a tight line and turn 'em loose if they're too little.

TIPS FROM PROS AND GUIDES

If you're a professional angler or guide, please leave a tip as well as your website address. You'll get credit for the tip and visitors will be able to find your website.
 
You get a nice hit on your Texas Rigged plastic worm. You take up the slack, put all your strength into setting the hook and.... Nothing! There's got to be a way to get more solid hooksets, right? Well there is. Add a second hook to your rig. Here's how: Rig your first hook as you normally would. But before you put the hook point into the plastic worm, slip a trailer hook over the first hook. Right, a trailer hook like the ones used for spinner baits. To keep the trailer hook in place, crimp the eyelet closed after it's in place behind the first hook. Don't crimp it too tight, just so it won't slip off. Then insert both hooks into your worm -- one behind the other -- as you would a single hook. From Lou Allison, author of "BASS RIGS & LURES you can make from stuff in your tackle box" at www.knowledge-download.com/bass. See link on our links page!
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Nothing like a day catching an abundance of Stripers, Walleyes, Bass and Muskies on the newest and hottest soft plastic baits on the market is there?  Trouble is, they just don't hold together like they should once you catch a big fish on them do they?  After enjoying the fight for a few minutes with all that shaking of heads and leaping all over the place you catch and release only to find your swim bait is obliterated.  After your ripped baits are on the floor of the boat and no more baits left, you're destined to call it a day.  Don't worry if you have some PRO's Soft~Bait Glue on board, because you can fix these soft plastic swim baits in mere seconds and be fishing again in minutes.
From Mike Rice of www.prosoftbaitglue.com- see link on our links page.
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To be able to cast a bobber a long ways, yet fish it as deep as you want - Tie a tiny rubber band knot at the depth you want to fish and cut off any excees rubber band. Now put your bobber on just above the hook, but make sure the line glides freely under the eyelet on the bobber. You may have to bend the eyelet a bit. Now put the bobber on just above the bait and sinker and cast away. Once in the water, the sinker will dive down until the rubber band knot hits the eyelet. Bang!... you're fishing 50 feet off shore and 50 feet deep.
From David Newman of www.riverfish.net - see link on our links page.
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We do light tackle spincasting for Redfish Snook and Tarpon down here (Florida). You must attach either a flourocarbon leader or a mono leader of greater strength to you line because these fish can cut through a bare line without a leader. Here's the tip....when making a knot in the line that goes to the spool, you MUST make a knot that is a 100% knot, thereby not diminishing the strength of the line. There are several that are popular, an Allbright, a Huffnagel, a double Uni or a Bimini twist. There are others as well but these are relatively easy to tie on the boat.
From Captain Norm Weston- the Fishin' Magician. See Captain Norm's link on our links page.
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Going trout fishing in the spring? Go light! Try small (1/8 oz or smaller) spoons and spinners. Use an ultra light setup, 2 to 4 lb test line, and light action rod, fish the small gold and silver spoons. They will be all over the smaller baitfish and this will allow you to work the fast water where they will be feeding. Fish the lure in a dying minnow retrieve, short casts and just off the fast water. Tight lines and good luck! From MaineFisherman.com - see link on our links page.
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“Secrets Of The Chesapeake Bay Revealed”
                                               By Steve vonBrandt/S&K Guide Service
                                             
                                                This is one of the most complete and comprehensive articles ever published on the strategies necessary to catch more and
                                             bigger bass 
                                             on the Upper Chesapeake Bay rivers. These strategies will not only help you catch more and bigger bass by identifying new
                                             locations, but 
                                             will also help you locate and catch more bass during a tournament, from within the known community areas by defining the “Sweet
                                             Spots”, 
                                             within these community holes. These strategies and techniques will work on any rivers on the Upper Chesapeake Bay, but are
                                             designed to 
                                             enhance your success on the Sassafras River in particular.
                                                BEST OF THE BAY
                                                THE SASSAFRAS RIVER
The Upper Chesapeake Bay has been receiving a lot of notoriety over the last few years due to the improved catch rates and overall weight increases reported in the tournaments. While the “true” river rats have known of this bass fishing hotbed for some time now, the recent success is attracting clubs from all over Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and even as far away as New York. Most of this pressure has converged on the Elk River, and the Tyding’s Park area in Havre de Grace, Md., since these areas provide more than adequate launching and parking facilities that are necessary to hold the tournaments. Many of the smaller club tournaments also start from the Northeast and Elk River areas. With this influx of angling pressure, many of the traditional “hot spots” have become increasingly crowded during the weekends, and have forced anglers to make longer and longer runs in search of untapped bass waters. Many of these anglers have now discovered that the twenty to thirty minute drive through sometimes rough and unsafe water, to the Sassafras River, has been well worth the effort. Upon arriving they realize that not only is this river not as pressured, but the fishing rivals or surpasses any that they previously encountered on any of the other Upper Bay rivers. Over the past five years, we have spent an average of four days a week on the Sassafras River, and over this course of time have learned many of the subtle intricacies of this scenic and fertile river. RAMP AND LAUNCHING LOCATIONS
The following locations and patterns, have not only produced tournament winning limits, but have produced over one hundred bass in the five to six pound range, over the last five years, from this river. These are true “Trophy” bass for a Northeastern River system. The first thing to do is to decide where you will launch from to access the Sassafras, so as to take full advantage of your time. The Elk River, via Elk Neck State Park, is probably the most popular, due to it’s more than adequate parking facilities, and close proximity to the Sassafras. This is only a ten to fifteen minute drive from the Sassafras. Tyding’s Park and Marina, located In Havre De Grace, Md., is the farthest, and most difficult drive to access the Sassafras River. We launch from this area only when we have located good numbers of bass on the Susquehanna Flats or in the nearby coves or docks of the Northeast. The drive from here can be dangerous in the early morning fog and heavy boat wakes in the Spring and Summer. At fifty mph, it takes about twenty five minutes to reach the first starting point on the Sassafras. The best area to launch in the Sassafras is in Duffy Creek, located right behind the Granary Restaurant, on Sassafras Street, in the town of Galena. This is a private marina, with average parking facilities, and a good ramp. It is a pay per use facility, and charges a daily fee of $5.00. The second area to launch is the public boat ramp on Sassafras Street, right before the restaurant. This is a small boat only ramp, but it is adequate for launching most any bass boat at the proper tide. In low tide situations, this can be a tricky ramp, so great care should be taken during these times, as it is extremely shallow, and has ruined many a boat prop and hull. The next spot you can launch is a “permit only” ramp located in Turner’s Creek. This area has the most parking, and offers a middle of the river launch site. The only drawback is that the number of permits are limited, and can be difficult to obtain for out-of-state anglers. WHEN AND WHERE TO GO TURNER'S CREEK Although the Sassafras offers excellent fishing all times of the year except the winter, the Early Spring is the best time to start. Spring on the Sassafras is similar to any other body of water, in the respect that the bass’s life revolves entirely around the spawning process, and the locating of spawning areas. The Sassafras normally holds bass in almost every area of the river, but at this time of year, it suddenly shrinks to a few, and eventually, two major creeks. In the early pre-spawn, largemouth can found in the emerging grasses and the wood cover, in locations such as Hall’s Creek, Freeman, McGill, Turner, DuPont, and Lloyd’s. As the spawn gets even closer, they make their way to Turner’s and Lloyd’s almost exclusively. Turner’s Creek offers a huge amount of diverse cover for bass. There is a narrow entrance to this creek where the main river channel runs right along a wood laden bank with a steep drop-off. Pre-spawn bass lay along this drop at depths from two to eighteen feet, all of which is loaded with laydowns and emerging vegetation. Directly next to the entrance is a small bay loaded with lily pads and several varieties of emerging grasses, on a slow tapering bank, that eventually levels off into the main river channel. This area at the entrance to Turner’s Creek, is one of the two major staging areas for largemouth in the Sassafras. The Western shoreline of this creek is totally covered with what are emerging lily pad root systems, that are mixed in with several varieties of vegetation, including Milfoil and Hydrilla. Many bass choose these root systems to spawn. The Eastern shoreline offers a hard sand and rock bottom, along with vegetation, that mixes in with a number of large boat docks. The bass use the docks and standing and decaying pilings to hold on, and eventually make their beds on, to escape the current and predators which are prevalent in the river. LURE SELECTIONS AND STRATEGY When targeting pre-spawn bass at the entrance of the creek, spinnerbaits are our weapon of choice. Terminator spinner baits in the 3/8 and ounce sizes, with tandem blades are top producers in these areas. “ZAP” Custom spinnerbaits, along with Hart’s “Hart Throb” series, and B&D lures, “Evilution V” spinnerbait also take their fair share of bass in this area in the spring. Color is not that important this time of year in the stained to muddy water, but we have had the best success with baits that imitate the shad, in white/chartreuse, and in “Golden Shiner” patterns. If the water is truly “muddy”, then we will use a darker skirt many times. We burn these baits across the emerging grasses and around the lily pad root systems, causing aggressive strikes with an erratic retrieve. When we are looking for that one particular big bite, to upgrade our limit, the baits we use are “Senko’s” and “Bearpaws Handpoured Baits”. These are similar to Senko’s in size and appearance, but have a different manufacturing process which bakes in scents, and are a little tougher, so they last longer when the bass are aggressive. These baits also produce all sizes of bass better when a cold front moves through, and causes the action to slow down. When a severe cold front blows through over a few days, it will cause the bass to drop down to deeper water in the ten foot range, and hold on the tops of trees. When this happens, we target them with mid range crankbaits, using a stop and go retrieve, with great success. Once the bass move to the backs of the creek to spawn, “Senko’s”, “Bearpaws”, “IKA” tubes, “Zoom” flukes, lizards, and Terminator jigs, flipped into the docks, grass, and pads, produce a good limit in short order. On the weekends in the spring, this area can be crowded with many other anglers, and small to midsize crank baits, such as a “Mann’s” Mid-Minus, and a “Strike King” series, can be a great tool in addition to the spinner baits and plastics. Don’t hesitate to throw a buzz bait around the same cover, once the water temperature warms to fifty-five degrees or above. This can produce some real hawgs at this time of the year. We like to use a custom type clacker buzz bait made for us by “ZAP” Custom Lures. We also have great success with the “Terminator” Ball-Buster. One year in April, with water temperatures only in the fifty’s, these buzz baits produced a seventeen pound limit by 10:00 am, in a team tournament, with the biggest bass weighing 5.6 pounds. The old standby, the black and blue Terminator jig, with pork or plastic for a trailer, placed in and around pilings, ladders on docks, and floating piers, will always produce good sized bass. Most anglers use the jig when fishing docks, but switch to other baits many times in the laydowns. This can be a mistake, as many times in the spring, we caught several bass in the five and six pound class, flipping the wood in Turner’s Creek with this jig. Turner’s Creek is a hot spot at all times of the year, but it is especially productive in the spring. An experienced angler can expect ten to fifteen bass on a good day from this creek alone. Although at times, other creeks can produce more bass, this creek gives up the better quality bass on a consistent basis. Our largest bass from this creek was 6.4 pounds, but we have heard of seven pound bass being caught on occasion. LLOYD'S CREEK This is the most productive spring spot on the Sassafras River, and in our opinion, on the entire Upper Chesapeake Bay. While largemouth bass spawn in several creeks along the river, the majority of them choose Lloyd’s Creek. While there is a very strong current at the entrance to Lloyd’s Creek, the rest of it has very little movement. The shoreline, for the most part, is very shallow in Lloyd’s, but offers some mid depths to 6 feet just off shore. The entire creek is loaded with cover. This includes laydowns, logjams, and a variety of grasses, and an old barge. The barge, grasses, and seawalls in Lloyd’s are the most productive areas. The bass love to hold on these pieces of cover, and when combined with the hard sand bottom and rocks, it makes for an ideal habitat for a tidal spawning ground. Besides the ideal cover, bottom composition, and sun exposure, Lloyd’s offers something else that makes it an ideal spawning ground for tidal bass. It has a clear and defined channel leading into the creek, and into all points along the shoreline. This provides a virtual “Freeway” for the bass to follow. This makes the job of targeting these bass under changing water conditions and seasons fairly simple. I believe that this is the reason that not only huge numbers of bass in the Sassafras come here, but I believe they come from other nearby rivers as well, and possibly even from farther away. In the early spring, bass will begin to stack up at the entrance to Lloyd’s Creek in amazing numbers. The water is fast here, and goes from sixteen feet in the main channel, to as shallow as one foot on the shore. This steep drop-off runs from about three hundred yards from the entrance in the fast moving water, to about fifty yards into the creek, and stops at a large dock. The whole shore on this side is loaded with old trees, brush, and rocks. On the opposite side a huge peninsula comes across forming a perfect sand point twenty yards from the steep shore. That twenty yard space Is the entrance to Lloyd’s Creek. This is why the current rips through this area at an unbelievable pace. Even a trolling motor of 24 volts, can barely hold position on its highest setting in this area. The bass congregate all around this sand point and the adjoining areas. The best baits for this area are Rat-L-Traps in blue/chrome, in 3/8 and ounce sizes, Terminator and Zap spinner baits in ounce, with tandem, and/or willow leaf blades, and small crankbaits. About ten yards from the tip of the point, the current swirls to form a large eddy. Many times fifteen to twenty bass in the one and one half to three pound range can be caught on successive casts to this eddy. The other tactic is to cast your bait right up on the sand point, and then pull it into the fast moving water, and the bass just slam the bait as it enters, many times on every other cast for an hour or more. On the opposite shore, the bass bunch up on the wood, as it is the only thing blocking the current. At slack tides these bass will slam the same reaction baits as on the point, however, when the current is swift here, the best thing to do is flip heavier jigs and plastics into the wood. The reason we like the “Terminator” jigs for this and other types of cover, is the eye is recessed into the head, preventing the jig from becoming snagged at least 75 % less than other jigs. With the nasty cover in this area it is a necessity. When this area starts to become pressured by other anglers, we have switched to an “IKA” tube, with a 3/8 ounce Tungsten weight, with great success. We flip these baits to the up current side of cover and let the tide wash the bait past the object. Most strikes come as soon as the bait washes past where the bass are holding. Watching your line is a must here, as the current makes most strikes difficult, if not impossible to detect. The only plus side to this is that because of the amount of energy these bass have to expend to fight the current, they almost never miss the bait once they commit. Heavy line with high abrasion qualities is a must here. We use twenty-five to thirty pound test line here, and still break off the occasional fish. When tournament fishing in this area, we retie after every fish. The next spot is the dock where the river channel stops and makes a sharp right turn towards the back of the creek. The best areas of the dock are the first three pilings from the rocks out. Jigs, tubes, and weighted plastics take numerous bass in the two to five pound range from here. These three spots form the ultimate staging area. More bass will move into this spot almost as fast as you can catch them at times. These bass are also extremely aggressive. The best tip for this area is to get there early in the year. You will not only avoid the crowds, but encounter some of the larger pre-spawn females. You don’t catch as many bass very early in the year, but you can expect ten to fifteen bass in the three to five pound range at this time. When the Spring is in full swing, the bass will follow the creek channel to the barges, pilings, and laydowns in the back of the creek. This is when large numbers of one to three pound males make their way to the staging areas. There is a two to three week period when these bass will attack almost anything that hits the water. This is when it is wise to stop at the entrance for a quick ten pound limit, and then move back to the sunken barge for the larger females. Weightless Senko’s, Bearpaws, and IKA tubes with a pegged weight, produce heavyweight females when pitched to the grassy edges of the barge. A quickly retrieved spinnerbait is needed at times to pick the males off the edges of the barge before going after the larger females with plastics. Laydowns will also produce just as well as sections of the sand bar now. Slow down and cover the whole area to be rewarded with a huge sack of bass. When the spawn has run its course, just follow the same creek channel back out to the same areas where the fish staged in pre-spawn. Similar to early in the year, the larger fish will be the first back out also. This is plastics time! The fish are fairly sluggish now, so a little more finesse is required. They want an easy meal, and soft plastics like these fit the bill! As the smaller bass make their way out to the mouth of Lloyd’s, you will see bass hitting the spinnerbaits and crankbaits again. While the following migration routes to success can be simple, there are a few tricks that can help you upgrade your limit. In the middle of the spawn, anglers will crowd around the hot spots we have mentioned. Some of these anglers will be targeting the shallow fish spawning, and others will be pounding the pre or post spawn bass at the current washed mouth of Lloyd’s Creek. At this time, we use our depth finder to locate and follow the creek channel from the staging area back towards the spawning area, looking for bends, humps, and even weedlines that run on the edge of the channel. Sometimes we mark fish on the locator, but the structure is all we are really looking for. We drop the trolling motor and begin dragging a Carolina rig with a French Fry worm or another type of Bearpaws plastic bait, and even crank the edge of this structure with a Bandit crankbait. It doesn’t always produce, but at times you can really load up on these migrating bass, and have the area relatively to yourself. The second trick we use at the very end of the spawn here is that we turn on the electronics and find the first major piece of structure large enough to hold bass and baitfish that have left the creek. The key word is close. We stay within one half mile to a mile of the major spawning area when looking for these spots. The key spots will have grass and offer deep water escape routes nearby. We use buzzbaits, spinnerbaits, and plastics on these fish. These fish are always quality fish. You may only get five bites a day doing this, but more times than we can count, this technique has produced eighteen to twenty pound limits from five fish. THE NORTHEAST, BOHEMIA, AND ELK RIVERS The Northeast River offers one of the best flipping bites on the bay, as well as being a twenty minute ride from the Sassafras. The Bohemia offers average fishing for bass, but is a quick shot to both the Elk and the Sassafras, and is a good middle of the road launch point. For the angler that has a smaller boat, who can’t stand the longer, more difficult ride to the Sassafras from the Havre De Grace ramp, this is a good place to start. The docks located in the Northeast and Elk are prime targets for the bass, as these rivers are devoid of most of the structure that the Sassafras offers. The bass hit plastics and black and blue Terminator jigs well here, on both the outgoing and incoming tides. Placement is critical here. The jigs must not only be put into the smallest of holes and openings, but must be presented multiple times, with a quiet entry, before a strike occurs. Practice your flipping and pitching techniques before attempting these waters. The docks by the jetty in the Northeast are the best for these techniques, and the Furnace Bay cove offers the best spinnerbait and buzzbait action early in the year, before the grass becomes matted all the way to the surface. Spring fishing on these rivers, and the Sassafras in particular, offers some unbelievable action at times. These rivers are suited to every style of fishing. If you’re a flipper, it is there. Spinnerbaits and crankbaits will smoke them! There’s grass, docks, wood, current, eddies, ledges, barges, and points. And all of them hold bass! We have experienced eighty fish days in the Sassafras in the spring, and thirty to forty fish days on some of the other rivers. Whether you are a tournament angler, or just a person who loves to catch bass, then these are the rivers for you! The Sassafras is a beautiful river with tremendous habitat, and a good population of bass. While it is a great place all year, in the spring, it can be a real “Hotspot”. So hitch up the trailers, rig the rods, and get rid of the winter cabin fever blues with some super Chesapeake Bay largemouth bass fishing! A special thanks to Kurt vonBrandt for his contribution to this article, and his photos of numerous large bass.
SPECIAL THANKS TO SKGUIDESERVICE.COM- SEE LINK ON LINKS PAGE

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