Archive for the Fishing Tips Category

Fishing for Beginners: What You Need

Posted in Fishing Tips with tags , , , , , on July 8, 2013 by

Pro-staff Contributor: Michaela Anderson

Fishing seems like a simple sport at first glance, but when you walk into a tackle shop or start researching tackle and equipment online it can be very overwhelming. There are a few basic things you should keep in mind–like a life jacket, sunscreen and boat snacks–then check out my tips below to help decide what rods, reels and tackle you should focus on for your first fishing trip!

Rod and Reel

Michaela (fishing here at the BASS National Championship) attributes her love of fishing to starting at a young age.

Michaela (fishing here at the BASS National Championship) attributes her love of fishing to starting at a young age.

To begin with, you are going to need a rod and reel–the options in this category are endless! For beginners, I would recommend starting with spinning gear because learning to fish on baitcasting reels can be frustrating. When it comes to rods and reels, the saying “you get what you pay for” holds very true. In comparison to their cheaper counterparts, the more expensive reels will offer an easier cast, smoother handle, and added sensitivity. However, if you are afraid of making a big investment right away, or are taking a kid fishing for the first time, you don’t need the latest and greatest. Shimano has a great lineup of reels under $75, like the Sedona, Solstace and Sienna, that are great for starter reels or as gifts for kids.

When you are picking out your rod, you should consider what action you are looking for.  If you are targeting panfish specifically, I would use a light or ultra-light rod like the Shimano Clarus. If you are fishing for whatever is biting, a medium to medium-heavy action rod has good all-species action. A medium-heavy rod will be your best option if you are using heavier baits or catching a lot of pike. Along with action options, you can also choose your rod length.  You will be able to cast farther with a longer rod, but a rod over 7′ long can be tough for kids to handle–so if you’re fishing with kids, focus on a 6′ 6″ or 6′ rod which will be a lot easier to use.

Tackle and Line

Tackle is a huge category and as you start to advance and fish more it becomes easier to pick which baits you think will work best for the specific lake and species you are fishing. For panfish, the basic equipment is light line (like 4lb Sufix mono), bobbers, small hooks or jig heads (like an 1/8oz VMC Dominator hammer head jig), and bait (such as night crawlers). If you’re not fishing for a specific species, use a slightly heavier line like 10 lb Sufix mono or fluorocarbon and a VMC Neon Moon Eye jig with a minnow. Playing with the minnows can also be great entertainment for kids if the fishing gets slow.

Michaela at a kids fishing event.

Michaela at a kids fishing event.

If you want to target walleyes, crankbaits (like a Rapala Shad Rap) or spinners (like a VMC Revolution Classic spinner) with a night crawler or minnow are great options. Bass fishing adds a ton of options when it comes to using artificial baits. The basic types of baits to consider are a fast-moving bait–that imitates a baitfish and entices a reaction bite–and a bait that has a slower presentation for less aggressive fish. The Rapala DT series provides options for fishing in all depths and around all types of cover. Also, I believe that one of the most under appreciated baits in bass fishing is the stick-style worm. My favorite is the Trigger X Flutter worm. I always have this bait on hand and it is my go-to bait when I take kids fishing.  There are so many ways to rig this bait and they all catch fish. The two most productive ways I have found to rig a flutter worm is weightless (which means using the just the hook) or on a VMC Stand Up Shaky Head jig. I will fish it weightless either Texas rigged on a VMC Wide Gap hook or wacky rigged on a VMC Wacky Hook.

I hope that these tips help you feel comfortable prepping for your first fishing trip. Once you get your toes wet, there are a lot of options to try out and you can test out your success in different types of water and foliage. In Minnesota there will be a lot of fish in the weeds and weed lines, which are easy to find without any electronics. If you need more help getting ready–feel free to post your questions on this blog and I’ll be happy to answer them!

Michaela Anderson is a college angler fishing the FLW, B.A.S.S. College Circuits and select FLW Walmart Tour events representing, Trigger X and the University of St. Thomas. You can follow her on Twitter (@MichaelaFishing) and like her on Facebook (


Lake Chickamauga FLW Tour Report

Posted in Fishing Tips, FLW Tournaments, Tournament Updates with tags , , , , , on July 3, 2013 by

Pro-staff Contributor: Jeff Gustafson

Gussy prefishing on Lake Chickamauga

Gussy prefishing on Lake Chickamauga

The final event of the 2013 FLW Tour season took place this past weekend at Lake Chickamauga in Tennessee.  For many anglers on the tour, this was an important event, because after it was finished the 35 anglers with the most points after the six-event season qualified for the Forrest Wood Cup—the annual Tour Championship where anglers fish for a first place prize of $500,000.  My chances of qualifying for the Cup were eliminated earlier in the season after a couple of bad tournaments.  So I went into the event with the goal to cash a check and end the season on a good note.

I had spent a few days at Chickamauga in late May before the lake went off limits, which helped me because I had a good idea of what I wanted to do when I got back for the official practice.  I planned to check out some places where I had caught fish earlier—both shallow and deep—hoping that would give me a start on things I should focus on during the week of the tournament.

Over the course of the three day practice for this tournament, I found a few different areas that held fish, and had a reliable dock pattern that would put a few extra fish in the boat after I was finished working over my “spots.”  The best place I found was a small ledge that had a shell bed on it.  In practice I caught a couple of big fish off of it on a ¾oz football jig.

Gussy with friend and fellow pro-angler, Blake Nick at the rules meeting.

Gussy with friend and fellow pro-angler, Blake Nick at the rules meeting.

When the event started, this ledge was my first stop and it paid off when I caught a five-pound largemouth on my third cast of the day.  I caught this fish on a Jackall Muscle Deep 15 crankbait in the chartreuse shad color.  I was throwing this bait on a 7’11” G. Loomis GLX crankbait rod (GLX955CBR)Shimano Chronarch reel (CH200E6) and 12 lb Sunline Sniper FC line.  I could get this bait to touch the bottom in 14-16 feet, where the fish were and put a few of my biggest fish in the boat during the tournament with this set up. Over the course of the event, I also caught a few of my weigh fish on a football jig, a drop-shot rig and by pitching a jig around some docks—all using G. Loomis rods and Shimano reels.

After a good catch on the first day (18-05), I sat in 21st place.  My goal on day two was to improve my position and try to make the top 20, which would have allowed me to fish another day.  I ended up having a little bit of a tougher second day and brought in 13-14, to finish in 26th place—earning a check for $10,000.

Overall, my experience fishing the FLW Tour this season was awesome!  I learned a lot and look forward to giving it another shot next year.  I feel like the experiences I had this year, both good and bad, will help me down the road.  Huge thanks go out to all of my sponsors for making it possible for me to fish the FLW Tour this year, as well as all the people that supported me through the ups and downs of the season.  It’s been fun!

Jeff Gustafson is a professional angler living in Kenora, Ontario on the shores of Lake of the Woods. Outdoor writer, fishing promoter and host of “Fishing with Gussy.” You’ll see him fishing the Walmart FLW Tour representing and Lund boats among others. You can follow him on Twitter (@GussyOutdoors) and like him on Facebook (

Here was the biggest fish Gussy caught at Chickamauga--it was over six pounds.

Here was the biggest fish Gussy caught at Chickamauga–it was over six pounds.

Recap of the Masters Walleye Circuit – Lake Winnebago Event

Posted in Fishing Tips, Tournament Updates with tags , , , , , on July 2, 2013 by

We sat down with Korey Sprengel after another strong finish–this time, in the Masters Walleye Circuit event on Lake Winnebago.

How’d you guys finish?

Derek Navis and I finished in 6th place out of 118 boats, with 29lbs 3oz, and won $2,750.

Korey and his partner after Cabela's MWC. Photo from

Korey and his partner after Cabela’s MWC. Photo from

Can you tell us a little bit about the MWC tour and Lake Winnebago?

The Masters Walleye Circuit is a team format tournament and is one of the oldest circuits–it’s been going for 29 years. Lake Winnebago would be considered my home lake, at around 30 minutes from my house, it is the largest lake in Wisconsin. It’s considered a system–made up of four lakes and many rivers–so there are endless areas to cover.  It makes for a very diverse tournament!

How was your experience prefishing? What tactics did you use to get prepared for the tournament?

Prefishing was a little tough for me. I caught a ton of walleyes each day (40-50) but many were in the 12-14 inch range. There is an area that I know well, and expected to spend a lot of my tournament time fishing, but I only spent one hour during prefishing in this area so that I could concentrate on locating areas for big fish. I mainly trolled crawler harnesses in golds and purples on mud flats and shoreline breaks. I also casted Berkley Flicker Shads on main lake points and pitched Berkley Ribworms on 1/4 oz jigs in the river.

Did you change your plans for day two or stick with what you did in day one because you had success?

Photo from

Photo from

We stuck to our same day-one game plan which was trolling. This was a no cull tournament: we were allowed to keep six fish but we only weigh five, leaving us one fish for insurance. So, we stuck to our same plan and only kept fish over 22in if we caught them before noon. Right away in the morning, we threw back three fish from 18-21 inches and kept one at 24 inches. With strong northeast winds at 15-20 mph, our area got too stirred up and muddy.  With 1 1/2 hours left, we gave up on it and just went to get a limit in the box. We started casting main lake points with Flicker Shads in purple tiger and firetiger and caught a 19 inches fish with 15 minutes to go. I told my partner that we needed to get the trolling rods back out and troll for the last 10 minutes, so we put as many baits in the water as we could to try to get a limit. Before we got our last Off-shore Planer Board out, we had a 21-incher on the floor, then another short fish, and then we lost 4-5 more fish! It was just chaos during those last ten minutes! Because we ran it til the last second, the Mercury-powered Ranger was full throttle all the way to check in, and set down with 15 seconds to spare.  We used every minute we had that day for 3 fish!

When is your next tournament?

My next stop will be National Walleye Tour at Sturgeon Bay,WI. It’s one of my favorite places–I can’t wait.

Any parting thoughts or words of wisdom?

Always give it your all and use every second you can because it might just pay off.  The last two fish in the last 10 min of fishing were worth over a $1000.

Photo from

Photo from

Top 10 Twitter Accounts to Follow for Bass Fishing

Posted in Fishing Tips with tags , , , , on June 26, 2013 by

Pro-staff Contributor: Rich Lindgren

Twitter got popular by people following the likes of Paris Hilton and Ashton Kutcher, but I think you’ll find it’s a great source for rapid, relevant information and news on the topics you are most interested in.  For me, I am most interested in sports and in particular, bass fishing!

So whether you are a long time tweep or just interested in getting started, here are my Top 10 suggested follows for all things bass fishing.  My criterion is a mix of things, but all of these accounts must tweet regularly, have some longevity and bring interesting tweets to the mix.


BassFan covers all things bass fishing, from tournaments, to industry news, record catches and more.



Wired2Fish is similar to BassFan but with more how-tos, tips & tricks, and product reviews.



Alton Jones is a Bassmaster Elites Series pro that connects with his fans through Twitter and Facebook better than most.  He also responds to a great number of tweets and sends out tips via tweets.  As a bonus he keeps you plugged into the Baylor Lady Bears and other Baylor sports.


Bass Utopia@BassUtopia

Bass Utopia is the first of its kind, community-driven, bass fishing site that reaches out to its members via all forms of social media–their Twitter account is no different.  They offer truly entertaining videos, monthly big fish photo contests, news, information sharing and much more.


Bass Parade@BassParade

BassParade tweets out their daily Bass Blaster which is jam packed with news and original insight on what is happening in bass fishing.  I especially appreciate Jay Kumar’s fresh perspective.



Bass EAST works tightly with many BASS & FLW pros to bring you articles, videos, tips and news.



Tackle Tour has taken fishing tackle and gear reviews to new levels. Their Twitter feed will help you stay up-to-date with the hottest products in bass fishing.



FLW Outdoors does an amazing job tweeting during FLW Tour events as they follow pros all around the lakes—giving updates and a true feel for what is happening on the water.  Plus, they keep you posted on tournament results and other FLW related tournament fishing news.  If that is not enough, they tweet reminders for free contests and fantasy fishing.



Bassmaster not only tweets on-the-water tournament updates, but they do a great job of connecting with their followers by answering questions and posting member’s bass photos.  Ultimately, BASS is the icon of bass fishing, so how can you not follow them?


Jacob Wheeler@WheelerFishing

Jacob Wheeler is one of many FLW pros that do a great job of keeping their fans up to speed on their practice and their travels from venue to venue, but he does it in a fun way!  Plus, he is the reigning Forrest Wood Cup Champ!


If you are not on Twitter, maybe now is a time to test the waters, if you already area, then make sure you add these to your follow list.  If you are hungry for more, you can also follow me @HellaBass and @krugerfarms–not to mention the rest of the pro team (@Gussy Outdoors, @DustyMinke, @MichaelaFishing, and @BillShimota).  They have tons of info to share on fishing and hunting news and events.

Rich Lindgren is a tournament bass angler living in Lakeville, MN chasing bass all over Minnesota and its adjoining states. Bass blogger, podcaster and fishing promoter. You’ll see him fishing the Minnesota bass tournament scene representing and Dobyns Rods among others. You can like him on Facebook (

Recap of National Walleye Tour-Lake Erie Event

Posted in Fishing Tips, Tournament Updates, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 19, 2013 by

The anglers had another strong NWT tournament on Lake Erie in Port Clinton, OH. Even though the tournament was unexpectedly cut down to one day, every one of them landed in the money! We sat down with Dusty Minke, Korey Sprengel and Bill Shimota again to get their thoughts.

So, first things first, how did you guys finish?

Dusty – I took home $11,000 for finishing in 9th place with 44.15 pounds.

Dusty on Lake Erie.

Dusty on Lake Erie.

Korey – I took 16th place with 42.87 pounds and won $6,555.

Bill – I ended in 24th place with 41.11 pounds for $4,770 in winnings.

Nice job guys!  What were your thoughts before going into the tournament?

Dusty – Honestly, I felt pretty good even though practice was short for me—I was only able to prefish Monday through Wednesday.  The bite was good during practice and our walleye team had a game plan going into the event! We had a great crew; everyone pitched in and worked hard.

Bill – I was pretty confident going into the event, and I told myself that I would be disappointed if I came in with less than forty pounds.  At the same time, I knew most of my competitors would have the same kind of prefishing experience so it would come down to getting the 9-10 pounders instead of 7-8 pound fish.

Korey – I thought that we all had a shot at having a good finish.  Prefishing went great, as it did for everyone else, but we stumbled upon an area in prefishing that had quality fish that weighed more than average fish of the same length.

How much experience have you had fishing this specific location? How did the weather affect your prefishing?

Bill – I have competed in about eight tournaments on Lake Erie.  The weather during practice was great; we were able to go where we needed to fish almost every day, which is pretty rare for Lake Erie.

Korey – This was my first tournament on Lake Erie but I felt confident because I had learned a lot about what to expect and where to look for the right fish. The weather was fairly good when we were prefishing, we only lost one day due to wind—the day before the tournament.

Dusty – This was the second event for me on Lake Erie.  Like Bill said, the weather was nice for the short time I was prefishing but we had our work cut out for us and a lot of miles to cover because Canada was in play—I really put Sparkie, the Ranger Evinrude, to work!  Peely Island and the Canadian side offer endless fishable water, making it hard to dissect in a short amount of time.

The tournament was postponed on Day One and didn’t start until June 15th. Why did that happen?

Dusty – There was a wind and small craft advisory—basically the waves were too big to let us out of the gate.  We were running around 25 miles so that could have taken a long time in that wind…

Korey – The winds were gusting over 30 mph.

Dusty – …Some other teams were running 50 miles one way to the East, so I couldn’t imagine that would have been ideal in those conditions.

What were your thoughts when Day One was postponed?

Bill – I think it was a good call but I was disappointed because I was so excited to get out to those big walleyes again!

Korey – I was kind of relieved knowing that I was making a 25-mile run on the lake no matter the weather conditions, but it may have played to our advantage if we would have started the tournament on the 14th as planned.

Korey on Lake Erie.

Korey on Lake Erie.

Dusty – Honestly I was ready to go! But when I looked at the main water I could see it was brutal and that the tournament director made the right call! We prepare ourselves to compete and fish but when it comes down to it, the tournament has to consider the safety of the anglers. No matter what we have to respect the director’s call!

What tactics and lures did you use to fish?

Korey – We trolled Chartreuse Crawler harnesses with gold or antifreeze blades in Colorado, pulling them behind 3oz weights. The key was to keep moving around to find active fish—after about 2-3 passes on a school they would scatter or quit biting.

Bill – I pulled Jolly Roger Spinners and in-line weights.

Dusty – I was fishing with spinners and crawlers—using a mixture of VMC, Northland and Jolly Rogers spinners in Gold and Chartreuse with the gold-orange–green and chartreuse beads. I also used 1-1/2 and 2 ounce inline weights, fishing from 20 to 30 feet behind off-shore planer boards in 40 Feet of water.  Typically, I’d be moving around .9-1.3mph. This was the first time I had only six rods in the boat for the tournament!

Did you have to adapt your methods because of the wind and weather?

Bill – The only thing we had to adapt to was the current; you really had to watch it every day and that would tell you how fast or slow you needed to troll.

Dusty – The day of the tournament was flat and calm, just like it was during prefishing, so no changes were needed. I did, however, learn to give myself more time to get in! The wind kicked up on the ride back which created big waves off of the waves created by pleasure boaters in the area. I was a little nervous I wouldn’t make it back in time.

You all did really well this tournament, but did you try any tactics that didn’t work?

Korey – During prefishing, I tried cranks but didn’t have much luck. I probably should have tried them more because this is how the tournament was won!

Bill – I didn’t really experiment with tactics.  I’ve been on Lake Erie enough times to know what needs to be done and I didn’t waste any time trying new things.

Day two was cancelled due to weather. Do you think things would have turned out differently if you’d had a second tournament day?

Bill – Again it was a great call with safety in mind, but I was bummed because I felt I could move up in the standings with a second day to fish.  That being said, when the smoke cleared, we were all pretty happy to end up in the money!

Bill on Lake Erie.

Bill on Lake Erie.

Korey – If we would have had a second day it might of played to our advantage a little—because we knew that we were going about half as far as some of the leaders…but it would be hard to say if that would have played out as we hoped.

Dusty – I definitely think it would have played out differently! That is why the NWT hosts two-day events. It allows the tournament to be won by someone who consistently brings in big bags. I feel that if we could have returned to our spot for a second day that we could have got them—but there are some things we will never know! Weather, wind, and currents change and the angler that adapts and finds them can have the advantage. However, I respect the decision to cancel day two because the wind got worse, which would have been really hard on the equipment and anglers.

When is your next tournament?

Dusty and Bill – NWT in Sturgeon Bay, WI. It will take place on July 26th and 27th.

Korey – My next tournament will be the MWC on Winnebago, June 28th and 29th.

Do you have any parting thoughts or words of wisdom?

Bill – If you ever have a chance to experience fishing on Lake Erie I would highly suggest it.  Like they say, “There’s Lake Erie, and then there’s everywhere else!”  Where else would you need an 8-pound average just to get a check?

Guys at the Lake Erie NWT Event

Trout and Salmon Fishing on Lake Ontario (Part 1: Early Season)

Posted in Fishing Tips with tags , , , , , , on June 17, 2013 by

Pro-staff Contributor: Chris Davanzo

Chris with a few of the fish he caught on Lake Ontario.

Chris with a few of the fish he caught on Lake Ontario.

After hunting seasons wind down for us in New York, we switch gears and start fishing Lake Ontario’s southern basin for trophy class salmonids such as rainbow trout, brown trout, lake trout, king salmon, and coho salmon. Trout and salmon are known for their voracious fight and aerial acrobatics when hooked up. The best time to catch these fish is April through September, and as the season progresses we tend to chase different species.  During early-April through mid-May we focus on brown trout and coho salmon close to shore. When the temperatures start to climb we head off-shore to chase kings, lakers and steelhead. We finally finish up our season by returning to the mouths of the rivers for pre spawning kings and cohos. Each part of this blog series will focus on techniques used during each segment of the season.

Water Temperature and Depth

The preferred method for catching fish in the early season is to troll lures and exact depths using down riggers, divers, lead core line, and planer boards, with stick baits on them for any fish feeding in the top 12 feet of the water column.  As air and water temps increase, the fish will move deeper and we’ll focus on using down riggers and lead core lines with spoons and flashers. Throughout the season, we focus on finding the “magic” water temperature and depth that triggers the fish to bite, once we do, we can usually stay there all day and pick up fish.

Fishing with Rapala Scatter Raps

This early season, I had the opportunity to run the new Rapala Scatter Rap series of stick baits for brown trout and coho salmon. They made a splash with us this year aboard “Hooked Up Charters.” Captain Bruce Stenglin and I ran them with great success!  The Scatter Rap’s new lip gives it a sweeping motion along with that trademark tight wobble that Rapalas are known for–it was the ticket! Our first day we boated over twenty salmon on Scatter Raps and Flat Raps, and we haven’t looked back.

Early Season Techniques

Two of the main things we look at during early season fishing are what the fish are foraging as well as water clarity. From April through May, our in-shore water is slightly stained due to run off from the snow melting as well as basic turbidity caused from wind and currents.  We look for breaks—where clear water meets the more turbid water—because this is where fish act as ambush predators and come out of the dirty water to hit our baits.Lure-Rod

The main forage of fish in Lake O are round gobies and alewife, also known as saw bellies, which are members of the herring family. Matching the look and presentation of the bait fish plays such a crucial role in successful fishing in Lake Ontario. When running these baits we look to run colors and patterns with green, yellow and most of all orange. This season our hot colors were anything with an orange belly such as gold florescent red and fire tiger. We trolled these lures off of two planer boards with three rods on each board to increase the amount of lure coverage in the water. We focused on lures with an average running depth of 3-9 feet due to the fact that we were only fishing in water from 5-12 feet deep.

As our season progresses we will have to adapt our techniques as well as bait choices to fit the need of what the fish want to eat. Check back again for to my next article in this three segment blog on fishing salmonids on the great lakes.

Chris Davanzo is from the finger lakes region of western NY. Chris is the owner and operator of Fish and Feathers Outfitters which is the Northeast’s premier outfitter for waterfowl. When Chris isn’t in the swamps chasing ducks you can find him on a trout stream or in a treestand with bow in hand. You can contact Chris via his site and find him on Facebook (

A look at Chris's setup while fishing on Lake Ontario.

A look at Chris’s setup while fishing on Lake Ontario.

Q&A with Korey Sprengel on Masters Walleye Circuit in Wisconsin

Posted in Fishing Tips, Tournament Updates with tags , , , on June 6, 2013 by

It is National Fishing Week, so we thought you’d all enjoy an interview with Korey Sprengel after another successful tournament!

So, Korey, tell us a little about last weekend’s walleye tournament?

I participated in the Masters Walleye Circuit on Green Bay in Oconto, WI and took home fourth place (out of 103 boats) with a total of 49lbs 5oz.  I received $3350 for my win—which is awesome. I’m pretty happy with how everything went, and how I finished…well, besides the fact that I lost one big fish.

What were your thoughts before going into the tournament?

Prefishing was great—we caught up to forty fish in a day and many of them were in the 26-29” range. We went into the tournament knowing the winds were going to change, so we had to keep in mind that we needed to remain flexible.  We took what we learned from practice and focused on fishing areas where the wind was right.

What gear did you use during the tournament?

We used off-shore planer boards, pulling crawler harnesses with 1/2oz inlines, #5 Colorado blades, or #4 1/2 willow blades in gold or perch patterns.  We also used Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon for leader material at 1.1-1.3 mph and switched to Berkley #9 Flicker Shads to pick up a few fish.

What was your biggest challenge?

Definitely trying to keep up with the ever changing winds.  It would switch from calm to windy and vice versa.  Each area we fished had its own ideal conditions—the shallow areas needed wind and the deep areas didn’t, but they were 12 miles apart which complicated things.

Any closing thoughts?

I have to say that my Ranger boat was a key to my success during this tournament—we travelled up to 70 miles a day through 4-5 foot waves and didn’t beat ourselves up or our fish.

I’m getting excited about the NWT tournament next week at Lake Erie. Bill Shimota and Dusty Minke will also be participating. We’re getting ready to head there to prefish and are hoping for another strong finish!

Korey on the water during the Masters Walleye Circuit Event.

Korey on the water during the Masters Walleye Circuit Event.