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- Field Notes - Better Bass Fishing - Lesson 2
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Bass fishing adventures for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, striped bass, black bass, lunkers and hawgs.
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Bass Fishing

Better Bass Fishing - Lesson 2
By Pete Douvarjo - Eggemoggin Guide Service

In my April column I mentioned that I would be telling you about the best Smallmouth lure in existence. They are my 100% confidence lure. I’m speaking about the Tube Bait.  Recently you probably have heard more and more about them through the television media and fishing magazines. They are one of the hottest lures going right now but I have been using them for many years. Tubes work great for Largemouth too. You’ve probably seen Denny Brauer extolling them as a pitching/flipping bait. 

We use 3” tubes with ¼ ounce jig heads. You wet the jig head and slide it up into the tube as far as it will go, place you fingernails on either side of the hook eye and squeeze the eye up thru the lure. The hook should come out the back and it rides up instead of down. You’ve seen the pro’s hook them in numerous ways so that the hook does not protrude. It seems to me that it
makes it much harder to get a good solid hookup when you hook point is buried in the plastic. I can hear you folks now saying that you’re going to get that open hook snagged up on the debris on the bottom. That is not a problem. If you buy thin wire jig heads and you are using at least 12 lb test line all you have to do if your snagged is to reel the line as tight as you can while keeping your rod pointed at the lure. Put your hand on the drag so it won’t slip and pull straight back. 9 out of 10 times the hook will straighten out. You reel it in and bend it back with your pliers. It might be a little inconvenient but the hookups will be better via the exposed hook. Check the hook tip and if need be touch it up with a file. Always keep your hooks sharp! We fish the Penobscot River quite a bit and the bottom is covered with rocks, old logs etc….   We don’t lose more then 4 or 5 a day. And at about 40 cents per tube and jighead it doesn’t hurt to lose a few.

One side note….do not rip your rod back in order to free the lure.
You probably will overstress your rod tip and break it!

Colors are about anything that strikes your fancy! It has been my experience (that experience includes tens of thousands of  Smallies) that they simply don’t care what color you use! I know, I know, your thinking, “ is this guy nuts?!” All I can tell you is that I have experimented with many different colors and it just doesn’t matter. The color lure you have changes to something completely different after it goes down a few feet anyway. Green 4 feet underwater isn’t green anymore.

I have had my clients tie on five different color tubes on five different casts and catch five bass. I’ve gone from using purple to white to pink to brown and folks…the fish just don’t care. What they do care about is size and shape. On slow days I downsize and that usually is all it takes. I use nothing but purple with metal flakes now. It’s not because the bass like it any better, but I do, so I use it.

The technique is very simple. Cast the bait out. Let it fall to the bottom. Keep your rod pointed at the bait and watch your line…when it goes slack you’re on bottom. All you need do is crank the reel ½ turn and ait….then ½ turn and wait…etc…   It takes patience and you MUST pay attention! Often the bass will just pick the bait up and head towards you. Sometimes they tap it
lightly. Very seldom do they slam it using this technique. What I tell my clients is to set the hook on a suspicion! That means every little bump and tap. 9 out of 10 times it’s a rock or log but that one time will be a bass.

Continue this slow crawl until the tube is all the way back to the boat. You will catch many fish just as you pick it up off the bottom. As a matter of fact the Smallies often use the shade under the boat as cover. When you set the hook set it hard and at LEAST twice! Smallies have crushers in the back of their mouths. They use them to crush crayfish shells.  What happens is that tube is just being held and if you don’t hit them hard at least twice they release the tube without being hooked. 

My clients always ask me what food the tube represents. My answer is “ I don’t have a clue…the fish think it looks like something to eat!” My suspicion is that it resembles a crayfish or a larva of a big insect (damselfly, dragonfly or somesuch critter). 

One other thing I should mention is using scents. Many folks ask me about them. I believe they do work. But rather then attracting the fish from a long distance it helps to get them to hold on longer after they bite because it tastes good.

Before I put the jighead into the tube I squirt a little crayfish lure into the tube. Then slide that jig in and leave a little space at the end to hold the scent. It creates a little reservoir of liquid scent and the jig head acts as a stopper. When a Smallie hits the scent
explodes into their mouths and boy oh boy do they love it. If they’re biting good you need not bother but if you find your getting hits and not many hookups, try crayfish scent. It will make a difference!

Use these simple techniques and you will find yourself hip deep in Smallies! Next month I’ll show you another can’t fail bait that is my #2 best Smallmouth bait.

Tight lines! - Capt’ Pete
Next Fishing Tip: Better Bass Fishing - Lesson 3
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