Fishing Trips · Tips

Fun Afternoon of Fishing

We recently had a fun afternoon fishing for bluegill in a neighborhood pond. We were able to catch a ton of small bluegill with a few larger ones mixed in.

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It took us a little while to find some decent size bluegill. We found that the big bluegill were located on one corner of the pond. Originally we had the bobber sit too shallow and only caught little ones. Once we made this adjustment, we started catching bigger bluegill.

family bluegill 1

The tackle we used was a closed face reel and light action pole. We had the reel spooled with 8 lb Berkley Trilene XL  line, just in case we caught a catfish or bass. We used Berkley Gulp Crickets with a Split Shot Sinker and Balsa Spring Bobber to keep the cricket in the strike zone.

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We had a great couple of hours of fishing.


Small Baits for Bass

If you want to catch a lot of bass and mix in a few big ones too, then try small baits.

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Small baits will give an angler many more opportunities for bites than larger baits. When I go fishing I want to catch as many fish as I can. I have found small profile baits allow me to do this. These baits are also great at catching other species of fish, including crappies, bluegills, and walleyes. These lures are also great to use when teaching a new person how to bass fish. They simply catch fish, thus catching the first time angler.

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I like to use the Strike King 1.0 crankbait, Yamamoto 3″ Fat Senko, and Crappie Slider Grubs.

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These lures are excellent choices when fishing ponds, streams, and heavily fished lakes. Bass and other fish usually cannot resist these tiny offerings. After all, who doesn’t enjoy an appetizer?

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As you can see these fish swallowed a small bait! You have to try it out for yourself!


Purchasing a Kayak

Need a boat, but can’t afford one? Have you thought about using a kayak?

Kayaks range anywhere from $200-$4,000, but the upper end of the price point is like buying a new boat.  $4000 kayaks are probably more than most of us need for fishing purposes.

Kayak fishing is a growing activity, but many people are not sure what they need in a kayak. There are a couple basic questions you need to answer when starting your search for a kayak.

Kayak 1

Future Beach Trophy 126 DLX Angler Kayak

First there are two models you can choose from that fit in the typical price range. Sit on top kayaks or and sit inside are the two styles.
A sit inside model offers a dryer ride for beginners and also allows the user to be little more protected from the sun and wind. I have found that sit inside models are also easier to carry and transport to the lake. These models also offer dry storage areas where you can put a wallet, cell phone, or change of clothes. However, sit inside models will fill with water if tipped over, where as sit on top models will not.

Sit Inside Models

Sit on top models offer less restriction of movement because you are sitting on top and have no sidewalls against your legs. They offer a little bit easier access for your paddle to reach the water. They also cannot sink.  They all have built in “scupper holes” that allow the water to escape. The water does not come in these holes, they are there only to release water back into the lake. No dry storage is built into a sit on top, so you will have to purchase a dry storage bag to take with you on the water.

Sit on Top Models

I have found that both models are almost identical with stability, but sit on top models are easier to get on and off. People think kayaks are less stable than a canoe, but this is false. In a canoe you are sitting higher up, usually on a seat. This brings your center of gravity much higher in the canoe, thus making tipping easier. In a kayak, you are sitting less than an inch off the water. This makes tipping very hard to do when kayaking in most lake, stream, and pond settings.

Kayak 3

Be careful not to choose a kayak that is too heavy for you. You want to be able to carry the kayak down to the water or load it into your vehicle. They do make kayak dolly’s that help you transport the kayak, but they are kind of a hassle to deal with and it’s just one more thing to bring with you. It is much easier to select a kayak that you are comfortable carrying.

When fishing small lakes, ponds, or streams you need a shorter kayak less than 10 feet long. These shorter kayaks are much more maneuverable and allow you to navigate in narrow waterways. These shorter kayaks also work better when fishing around boat docks, because you can squeeze into places that bigger boats simply cannot. The down fall is they are very responsive to your paddling, so they go left and right quickly. This is not good for long distance paddling.

Kayak 2

Couple last things to look for in a kayak. Does the kayak offer rod holders? These are the 2 holes behind the seat that allow the rods to sit vertically.  Also, many fishing kayaks come with a small tackle tray and a shelf in front of you to sit lures on while fishing. There are countless different models and brands to choose from. Don’t be afraid to sit inside both styles and imagine you are fishing while you are at the store.

Fishing Trips

Reelfoot Lake

When you do a quick Google search for the best crappie fishing lakes in America, Reelfoot Lake will be in the top 10 of all of them. My family and I have traveled to Reelfoot for many years chasing large and abundant crappies. In fact, my dad has been going to Reelfoot before I was even born. I wanted to share some of the trips I have taken over the years.

Reelfoot is located in Northwest Tennessee and has a reputation for being one of the best crappie lakes in America. Reelfoot was formed by a large earthquake in 1811 and now resembles a large swamp with a few manmade canals. The vast amount of bald cypress trees is really something you must see to appreciate. You can see large eagle and osprey nests in almost any direction. This lake is also known for its bird watching with many local guides eager to take you on a tour. I have also always enjoyed checking out all of the duck blinds scattered throughout the lake. Spending countless days and hours on this lake has given me an appreciation for how beautiful the lake really is.

rfl eagle

rfl canal

When fishing Reelfoot you may be surprised to see no pleasure boaters. That’s right, no wave runners, wake boarders, or party boats. You only will see anglers on the water. This is because the average depth of Reelfoot is only 5.2 feet and it is scattered with standing cypress trees, stumps, and logs. It does not take long to break a prop or really damage your boat. For this reason alone, we leave the bass boat at home and use a boat from one of the many resorts on the lake.

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I have only fished Reelfoot in late winter and early spring for crappies, but it is also known for great bass fishing, bluegill, and catfish. I was there one January while duck season was in; there were a lot of shots heard on that trip! I have been told to look out for snakes and spiders during the warm seasons.

When fishing in the late winter or early spring, you will want to start near the Green Island/Blue Basin section of the lake. This is the deepest part of the lake and where most of the crappies will be in the winter. If there has been a mild winter or a few warmer days, the crappies will move out of the deep water and can be almost anywhere in the lake. If this is the case you need to cover some water and look for the active fish. Once you catch one or two then you can start putting a pattern together. Pay attention to the details of where you are, what color of bait you are using, and most importantly how deep the water is. The majority of the fish will be doing the same thing throughout the lake. I am a believer in the saying that “90 percent of the fish are in 10 percent of the water.”

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Most crappie fisherman will spider rig or cast to the many cypress trees with a bobber and minnow. If the fish are deep (the deepest part of the lake is only 18 feet), then spider rigging is the way to go. Again, experiment with depth and lure color. I have seen times when the crappies will suspend in the water column and they can be hard to locate. Once you have a depth figured out then you can sit all your lures in that productive strike zone.

rfl spider rig

Another thing that I have seen play a huge role in success or failure, is the color of your lures.  Orange, yellow, and black are always good colors when fishing Reelfoot. I like using orange hair jigs or tube baits tipped with a minnow. Many anglers will only use orange minnows (Rosy Reds to the locals). All the local bait shops sell both colors of minnows. In addition to the hair jigs and tubes, I like to have at least a couple poles with nothing but a bare hook and minnow with a light weight. These fish can be finicky and shy away from a large profile offering. Try different size minnows as well.

Experiment until you find what works. Many anglers are afraid to change and get stuck in the same old techniques. They think, “well they just aren’t biting today”, and this is normally wrong. Someone always figures them out and brings in a limit.

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Here are two links to places that we have stayed throughout our many family trips to Reelfoot. These two places are close to great crappie fishing on the lake. I like this because you won’t waste time motoring  across the lake. Most of the time you can catch all the crappies you want within 5 minutes of these resorts.

Eagle Nest Resort

Blue Bank Resort


Most exciting way to bass fish

Big bass love top water, and there is no better bite than seeing a big bass explode on your lure. There are many styles of top water baits to choose from, but here are three of my favorites.

 Zara Spook

In my opinion it doesn’t get much better than a Zara Spook. This is a classic lure that almost every bass angler has in their tackle box. The “walking the dog” action of this lure draws huge bass up to the top.  This bait comes in many colors and sizes so make sure to “match the hatch” and select a lure that resembles the bait around. If there is a shad spawn happening then choose white or a shad pattern. If you are fishing around Bluegill beds, then choose a Bluegill or Bass pattern. Make sure to change the cadence of the lure. Sometimes bass want it very slow, stopped, or hurrying across the water.

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Buzz Bait

This lure is also known for catching big bass. I love this bait because it allows me to cover water quickly and efficiently. This bait also comes in many sizes, blade types and colors. I keep things simple when it comes to buzz bait fishing. Three colors is all you really need: white, black, and chartreuse. I like to use two different sizes depending on the situation; a 1/8 ounce or a 3/8 ounce. I also almost always use the single blade version.

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Whopper Plopper

This Whopper Plopper is an up and comer, but has already taken the tournament trail by storm. This has been a very popular musky lure for years, but has recently been made in a bass size that really catches them. There are two sizes of this lure, the 90 and 130. I like to get bites, so I like the 90, but if I want to target big bass or I am fishing a lake that has musky and pike than I would pick up the 130. I had an outstanding musky fishing day last fall using the 90. I also caught many bass in between the musky bites. If I would have used the 130, I am not sure I would have caught the amount of bass I did.  I have not found a color they won’t bite, but I really like the Bone and Loon colors.

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I have one last piece of advice.  You can throw these lures all day long. Many anglers believe you can only catch bass on top water in the morning, evening, or overcast days. I will be the first to tell you these lures do shine in these conditions, but I have caught some of my biggest bass on top water in the middle of a bright sunny day.

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