Welcome to the quest.

The world record shoal bass is 8 lbs and 12 ozs and was caught on October 27 1977 in the Apalachicola River Florida. It has only been in the past few years that it has been targeted specifically by river fisherman with the rising popularity of kayak fishing.
A few years ago I discovered kayak fishing and decided to make the shoal bass my my main focus. It was even more recently that I was approached by a fellow kayak angler that was interested in making a film about the hunt for the world record shoal bass which sparked my interest greatly and spawned the creation of this blog. The hunt for this record fish has since become the focus of all of my fishing activities. I now target the shoal bass exclusively. I was recently asked by a fellow angler if I thought I really had a chance at catching a world record ? My reply.. Well my chances are are as good as yours or any body else but if I do YOU are damn sure gonna hear about it. I would like to dedicate this blog and my efforts to Philip (Swampthang) Mays who is the first person to ever take me on a kayak trip down the river for shoal bass and started this addiction that I love so much. Phil left this world recently for a better place. He was a true sportsman and will be deeply missed. Thank you Phil.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Build a better bait.

Sometime you just have to make it your own. What I mean by that is you cant always take a new bait right out of the box tie it on and expect to catch a fish with it. If you are like me sometimes you just have to tinker with it a bit and make it work for your style of fishing. This is what I had to do with the jig. When I got into this whole river fishing thing  I realized that I would need to adjust my fishing style a bit and update my tackle box. The jig is a bait that I had just not ever had much success with and probably more for the reason that I had not given it much of a chance. When I started researching river fishing and especially the Shoal bass I realized that the jig was a bait that I would need to learn to fish.
River bass love craw fish..In fact the craw is one of their primary foods so there was no doubt it would need to be on WJ's menu of baits to offer up to those monster shoalies that I wanted to catch.

Well the jig also happens to be one of those baits that I had struggled with in the past. I always seemed to get hung up on logs or rocks and break them off. I really had a hard time learning to fish this bait but it wasn't the bait itself that was the problem it was more of me not being able to pick the right one that worked for my fishing style and for the river conditions that I was fishing. This is where it pays to do some research. It also pays to join up with one of the local fishing forums and reach out to some of the veterans for advice. Well that's exactly what I did and was fortunate to get some really good advice and direction from one of my fellow river bassers on how to make my own jigs. Now I am not talking about building from total scratch which you can do if you like but I am talking about getting the right components to put together a bait that works best for your fishing style and the river or lake that you are fishing.

In the picture above are the components that I found that enable me to put together a jig and craw combo that worked well for the way I liked to fish and worked excellent for the conditions that I was fishing. The jig itself was the most important part in that it was the perfect weight and shape and style.The trailers are made by http://www.netbait.com/home/ The skirt is a finesse style skirt which allows for a slow fall and the trailers worked perfectly with the jig and skirt combo. It took some experimenting to come up with the right combo but with some guidance from my fellow river fishermen and some old fashion trial and error I finally came up with a good combo that worked well for me and has helped me catch some nice fish.

The picture above is the finished baits and I can assure you that these have become some of my go to baits in my arsenal.  So the whole point to this post is that you cant always go to the store and buy lure and expect to catch fish right out of the box. Some times you just have to modify it a bit or tinker around and figure out how to make that bait work for you and your fishing style.. It can actually be very rewarding when you modify or create your own and go out and catch a nice fish. All you have to do is a little research on what you are trying to accomplish and go out there and find or make the tool you need to do it. Fishing forums and clubs can be great resources to find the information you need and there are some great suppliers out there that have all the parts you need to make or build just what you are looking for .Before you know it you will have a box full of home made special weapons like these.

So there you go folks.If you are trying to learn a new bait and the stuff you are buying at the store is just not working for you just take a look at it and do a little research and see if you can modify the bait to work better for you or just build your own..Don't get frustrated and give up.
I would like to give a big shout out to http://www.jannsnetcraft.com/ who is a great resource for all your lure building supplies.At the bottom of this post I will also had a few links to some other great river fishing resources.Fish on my river fishing friends and don't give up if you are getting frustrated with a  certain technique you are trying to master. Reach out to some of the forum resources, study hard and make that bait your own..Make it work for you. Hey and I am always willing to help where I can..Shoot me a email..If I dont know the answer I bet I know someone who does.
See you on the river .

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Remembering the good days and the bad.

In the image above there are a couple of interesting things that brings back some memories for me that are good and some that are bad. In this photo you will notice there is a calender that is still on the month of Sept 2001 and it hangs in my garage as it as since that faithful day that is now almost 10 years past. It has remained unchanged and now covered with dust and cob webs since that day. There are also two mounted bass on either side that were caught back when I was around 9 to 10 years old. Hate to tell my age but that's about 35 to 36 years ago. They are looking a little tattered these days from being moved around a lot but they bring back some very special memories of my childhood.

As a child I was very fortunate to have a family that enjoyed the outdoors and loved to fish hunt and camp and all sorts of outdoor activities. I spent many days roaming the country side with my grand father fishing farm pond all over Henry county Georgia. You see my grand father was a welder by trade and had many farm customers that needed his services on their farm equipment and most of those same farmers had ponds on their property. My grandfather would make deals with with these people and do a little welding on the side for access to these ponds so you can imagine we got to fish in some great private lakes that rarely were fished by anyone other than us.

These two fish were the only two that I ever had mounted so don't worry I stopped taking fish a long time ago and even back then we only kept what we needed for dinner and released the rest. Heck.Now days I don't have the heart to even keep a couple to eat..They are all released unharmed. These two fish really bring back some fond memories of days spent with my grandfather and brother bass fishing.
My dad was more of a trout fisherman and hunter so he and I spent many days on trout streams in north Georgia or hunting for deer.

The calender also brings back some memories of a time that none of us should ever forget. Very soon it will be ten years to the day and I know exactly where I was and what I was doing at the moment it all went down. I have been in the air freight industry for over 20 years flying cargo on commercial aircraft every day. Not many people know that when you get on a jet to go see grand mother in another state there is more than likely a whole lot more than baggage up under your seat. This is what I do so you can imagine that my professional world was turned upside down on that day but more importantly than that thousands of people lost their lives and freedom to enjoy this beautiful world and make memories like we all we do everyday.

So there they hang day after day the old fish and the old calender collecting dust and spider webs. It wasn't meant to be a memorial of of any sort but it it just kind of turned out that way.The calender is like a old clock that just stopped ticking and the fish were just to tattered to hang in the house any more. Every now in then I just stop and look and they bring back memories of some good days and some bad. So we keep on going out there and hope that that the good memories out weigh the bad I guess.

Keep on keeping on my river fishing friends.That's all we can do.
I want to leave you with a good one though.
The pic below is of my good friend Glenn Anderson's son Evan just this past weekend..The smile says it all and that's what its all about right ?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Learning to fish soft plastics

Here is a rehash of a article I submitted to another website a couple of years ago on fishing soft plastics.
Fishing soft plastics can be very productive if you know how to fish them but very frustrating if you do not.
I hope you enjoy.

How many times have you made a trip to the river in hopes of having a day of repeated top water blow ups and rod jarring spinner bait strikes only to find that the fish were just not in the mood? That’s why I always have a worm or soft plastic craw tied on for just such occasions. Usually even on the worst of days when the fish are not cooperating you can mange to catch at least a few small one’s if you have the patience and knowledge to effectively fish soft plastics.

I grew up fishing home-made black plastic worms with my grand father in middle Georgia farm ponds, and that was all we fished. So, today it’s a type of fishing that comes naturally to me but for some people it can be a difficult style to learn. Why so difficult? Patience. It takes a lot of patience and the hardest part is not how to fish a worm but knowing when you are getting a bite. I saw the section on the site that said “submit content” and thought I would use it to share a few tips that might help you catch more fish on a worm.

The Rig and Bait:

There many different was of fishing soft plastics but what works best for me in a river is the Texas rig. I generally use a 1/8 up t 3/8 ounce bullet style weight depending on the amount of current I am fishing. You want to use just enough weight to sink the bait to the bottom but not so much that you get hung up in the rocks. This is something you will just have to experiment with and see what works best. As far as a hook goes I use a 3/0 to 5/0 extra wide gap (EWG) off set worm hook. Try to use as large a hook as you can get away with especially if you are using a really big worm or craw. I like a big sturdy hook.

Go as natural as possible when choosing your bait. It helps to know what the fish are feeding on where you where you are fishing.Turn over some rocks and find a craw fish and see what color and how big they are if you can.Use natural colors like blacks browns and greens. I use lighter more natural colors and smaller baits in clear water and darker and larger baits in stained water. In clear to slightly stained water a green pumpkin 6” finesse worm works well for me.

The presentation:

Not a lot needs to be said about where and when to present the bait. Cast to structure like trees, rocks, current breaks anywhere that looks like it might hold a fish. Most of the time when you are fishing current with a plastic, you’ll want to try and cast up stream and allow your bait to flow down with the current in a natural direction. The main thing is to stay in touch with your bait. When you cast allow the bait to fall and at the same time keep your rod tip up in the 10 o clock position and keep the slack out of your line. Keep just enough tension on the line to keep it up off of the water but not move the bait. When you are ready to move the bait reel down on the line and then pick the rod tip back up to the 10 o’clock position dragging the bait at the same time.

Here is a tip. If you are using a baitcasting reel (preferred) instead of holding the butt of the rod, palm your reel and hold your index finger under your line just in front of the reel where the line lays across your finger at the point where it comes out of the reel. This way you can feel the slightest tick in the line if a fish picks up the bait.

The Bite:

This is the most important part, yet the most difficult part to learn. How to know when you are getting a bite. Have you ever been fishing with someone and you were fishing in the exact same place using the exact same worm but your partner was catching fish but you were not? Well you can just about bet that you were getting bites but you did not know it. Here are a few tips on what to be looking for.

Watch your line! If you see a twitch in the line that you did not cause, set the hook! If your line starts to move in a unnatural direction like to the side or up stream, set the hook!
If you feel a slight jerk in you rod tip or in the line laying across your index finger, set the hook! If you have tension on your line and you start to feel a heavy sensation in the rod, set the hook! When you really get good at it you will often be able to tell the difference between a bite from a small fish and a bite from a larger fish. Smaller fish tend to give those machine gun type tap tap taps you feel but with a larger fish you will most likely feel one thump followed by that heavy mushy sensation.

Finally when you do decide its time to set the hook don’t waist time trying to feel the fish. Reel down on the line taking up the slack and draw back with the rod as hard as you can.
Remember that a bass’ mouth is nothing but bone and thick membrane so you want to get a good deep hook set. Imagine swinging a bat in reverse trying to hit a home run.

Be patient and don’t get discouraged. If you keep fishing the worm it will all come together and eventually it will become your back up bait when all else fails..

And always remember…..When in doubt…SET THE HOOK!


I hope you enjoyed this and it helps you become a better angler with soft plastics. Fishing worms and craws have become my favorite way to fish. And dont let anyone tell you cant catch a big fish on soft plastics.
My largest riverbass to date was caught on a 6' Zoom Finesse worm and I have caught quite a few others on the same worm.

Fish on my river fishing freinds !!
I hope everyone has a safe and happy July 4th.
God bless our service men and women that make it all possilble.