TRD TubeZ The Ultimate Finesse Bait

Finesse fishing is a term that anglers use for explaining small subtle baits that work best when fished on light line with light equipment. For many years finesse fishing has been relatively unchanged with the drop shot rig and the shakey head being the best and most used options out there. These are in fact great ways to catch bass and are typically utilized most when the fishing is tough during either extreme heat or extreme cold temperatures. But guess what, there is a new kid in town and trust me it is here to stay.

The 2.75 Inch TRD TubeZ is a fish catching machine!

The 2.75 Inch TRD TubeZ is a fish catching machine!

Zman introduced the NED Rig utilizing there special ShroomZ Head jig head rigged with either a TRD or a Hula StickZ. There is no telling how many fish have been caught on these baits since they where introduced and now Zman has taken their famous NED to the next level. At ICAST 2016 they introduced a new ElaZtech Plastic designed specifically to be rigged on their patented ShroomZ or Weedless ShroomZ head. The TRD TubeZ was the perfect addition to the family.

Spotted Bass Choke The TRD TubeZ

Spotted Bass Choke The TRD TubeZ

Tube lures are an old school staple in bass fishing and are often a forgot about soft plastic that will put incredible amounts of fish in your boat throughout all months of the year. The TRD TubeZ is simply a downsized version at only 2.75 inches long that is designed with a solid head that stays up incredibly well on the Zman ShroomZ Head. What's so great about a tube is it imitates so many different prey options at once and it simply looks erratic and natural to a bass. In my opinion the little TRD TubeZ perfectly imitates a small crawfish which is definitely one of the primary forage options for bass.

Solid Largemouth on the Ned Rig TRD TubeZ

Solid Largemouth on the Ned Rig TRD TubeZ

Lately I have been fishing the TRD TubeZ around docks and brush piles rigging the bait on a 1/6oz Weedless ShroomZ head. If you split the wire weed guards apart the bait works incredibly well around cover hardly ever snagging. Another one of my favorite things about the TubeZ and the NED Rig in general is how well it skips when using a spinning rod. My setup of choice is a 7' Medium Light spinning rod with a 2500 series Quantum Smoke Speed Freak Reel, spooled with 8lb test Vicious Pro Elite Fluorocarbon. Let the bait sink to the bottom then gibe it little pops with the rod allowing it to fall back down and you will be amazed at the bites it entices. While this is a finesse rig it is not a small fish rig. It can put big bass in the boat of all species, smallmouth, spotted bass, and yes largemouth bass are not safe even during the most extreme months of the year.

I'll see you on the water!!!
 

Joey Nania

Different Types Of Deep Water Bites

Deep Fish Detected And Caught

Deep Fish Detected And Caught

As far as deep water fishing goes there are two approaches an angler can take. One is reaction baits such as crankbaits, spoons, and swimbaits, while the other is fishing slow moving baits on the bottom. With reaction baits the bite is simple, they slam the bait and there is no doubt a fish is on the line. However with the slow moving approach the bites can be very finicky at times and extremely difficult to detect. In this quick tip I want to identify the different types of bites you will feel while fishing a slow moving bait in deep water.

This might seem like a silly article that is simple and obvious but the truth is a large number of bites in deep water go undetected to the untrained hand or eye. Of course having quality equipment is essential but aside from that having an understanding of exactly what you are feeling on the bottom is the key.

Mushy Pressure Or Lost Bait Contact Bite

One of the most common bites you will feel while fishing in deep water is no bite at all. When fishing a bait in 15 feet of water or more there is a good bit of distance between you and a fish that picked up the bait at the end of your line. Often you won't even ever feel the actual bite because fish often grab the bait while it is sitting still on the bottom in between working the bait and picking up your slack line. Sometimes fish that pick up the bait while you are not feeling the bait will pull the other direction easily letting you know that it is time to set the hook, but more often then not all you will feel is a mushy sensation in your rod or you all of a sudden won't be able to feel your bait at all. If I'm fishing a bait and all of a sudden I have lost total contact with my bait and the bottom I pick up line as fast as I can and slam down with a hard hookset. Fish will often pick up a bait being fished on the bottom and immediately swim the bait off of the drop or edge you are casting up on to. If you wait to long to set the hook you risk allowing the fish to swallow the bait, or deciding to spit it out. If you don't pick up your line fast and bring up enough slack before you set the hook you won't be able to drive the hook into the mouth of the fish. This mushy pressure or nothing at all bite can definitely be tricky at first but the feel can be mastered if you are aware of the potential of having it happen!

Thump And Run

Other bites while fishing deep are often easier to detect where a fish will aggressively thump the bait and begin to pull in the other direction. If this happens I like to drop my rod tip putting just a small amount of slack in the line before I slam the hookset home. Just remember fish don't have hands so when you feel that tick and the fish begins to pull away from you it has the bait in it's mouth, often if you feel a second thump that will be the fish releasing the bait which means you didn't set the hook soon enough.

Deep Water Spotted Bass

Deep Water Spotted Bass

Final Thoughts

The key really is no matter what type of bite you feel you need to pick up your slack properly, slightly drop the rod tip and then pop that hook through the meat or bone in the mouth. Be prepared and be ready to feel these different types of bites and when the opportunity presents itself don't miss out. For added sensitivity try putting your index finger on the line where it comes out of the reel, this can really help you to feel subtle bites, and also don't forget to watch your line with your eyes as well. If you do this right your fish catching percentage in deep water will go through the roof.

I'll see you on the water!!!

Joey Nania

 

Why Bass Love Grass

On any given day bass can be found from 1 foot deep to 30 feet deep. In my opinion that is one of the primary reasons for the extreme popularity of bass fishing. As far as shallow fishing goes typically in 1 to 10 feet of water grass is one of the most abundant cover options across most of the united states.

No matter what type of grass you are fishing whether it is floating water hyacinth or submergent deep cabbage beds there are some key factors that make almost every type of grass a great place to catch a bass. There are three main factors, cover, baitfish, and oxygen!

Matted hydrilla

Matted hydrilla

Cover and Baitfish:

The first two qualities of grass definitely go hand in hand. Bass are almost always relating to some sort of cover or structure, whether it is deep rocks and brush or shallow docks and grass! Grass might be the most appealing cover of all for the reason that grass is a perfect place for baitfish to hide and thrive. While grass is perfect cover for bass it is also a hunting ground where bass can live in shade and comfort while at the same time they can feed on the abundant bait fish. I've found fish living in grass beds from 2ft deep water willow all the way out to 15ft deep hydrilla edges and cabbage beds and there is no doubt that the bait fish are the key. Across all of the US bluegill can be found in grass beds while in the southern states shad can also be found enjoying the protection of grass. Move up to the northern half of the country and perch are almost always going to be relating to some sort of deep vegetation. Baitfish love grass and bass definitely love baitfish and grass.

Oxygen:

The final factor that really brings the whole puzzle together is the fact that grass produces oxygen. Oxygen is obviously essential to life on land and under water, it is this oxygen that attracts baitfish and bass alike. Grass is especially good during low oxygen times of year such as mid to late summer when the water is at it's hottest and the oxygen levels are at there lowest. This oxygen is a huge attractant to bass throughout the summer months so just because it is hot does not mean that bass won't live in shallow grass. I have caught bass in 1 foot deep grass in 94 degree water simply because the grass provided the most amount of oxygen available.

Grass is cover that holds fish year around and while it is not always the very best option it is always a solid option to put fish in the boat. So give it a try, for deep water grass fishing I recommend a drop shot rig, while shallow grass can be fished with a wide variety of baits such as swimjigs, frogs, and flipping soft plastics or jigs.

I'll see you on the water!!!

Joey Nania

 

How To Keep Fish Alive During Hot Summer Tournaments

Hot summer fishing is definitely a difficult craft to master. While it is tough at times it can still be very productive if you keep an open mind and understand what the fish are wanting to do. If you do have success on a hot summer day in a tournament there is nothing worse then having your fish die because they weren't properly taken care of.

I understand that some times fish die and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it, but I am also willing to say that around 75% of fish care issues are avoidable. The key is taking the right measures to protecting your fish and here is how I do that.

ICE: Properly using ice to cool down your water is absolutely essential. When fishing on a hot summer day water temperatures can easily climb into the low 90s, put that 90 degree water in a livewell under direct sunlight and you have a recipe for disaster. Another main reason why ice is so important is because in the summer months fish often live in deep water where the temperatures could already be 10 to 15 degrees cooler than the surface temperatures. Trust me ice is a must in summer tournaments and here is how to properly use it. As soon as I catch a fish I begin to introduce ice into my livewells. Typically I use normal cubes of ice but one of the best ways to keep fish cool throughout the day is by using frozen gallon milk jugs. No matter how you do it you don't want to over do it! I believe it is very difficult to get your water to cold but the key is introducing the ice slowly utilizing close to half a bag or one milk jug every 1.5 hours. Introduce ice properly and you will greatly increase your chances of not having a dead fish penalty when you get to weigh-in!

CHEMICALS: Today in the fishing world there are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to chemicals that are designed to relax and protect your catch. These chemicals absolutely work and they are something that when put together with iced down water increase your chances of not having a dead fish even more. Here are the products you have to choose from. Bass Medics Rejuvenade, Fish Life Livewell Treatement, Sure-Life Catch & Release, and T-H Marine G-Juice. There are other options out there and they all work, just make sure to follow the instructions on the bottle while using any of the ones I mentioned.

FIZZING: The one thing that can throw your entire fish care approach out of alignment is an issue that is well known but not always well practiced. The act of fizzing a fish consists of inserting a hypodermic needle into the swim bladder of a fish in order to release the air that is trapped. This is so important because when a fish has a bloated swim bladder it is unable to right itself, it is easy to tell when a fish needs this treatment because it will be on it's side or upside down in your livewell. What causes this issue is when a fish comes out of relatively deep water typically 15 feet or deeper to quickly it will cause the swim bladder to inflate. This can absolutely kill a fish if it is not taken care of properly. Make sure you do your research and know exactly how to fizz a fish properly, and it will definitely take a little practice to master it. There is a debate on how to properly do it weather you should go through the side of the fish or down the throat, personally I go under a scale on the side but I am not saying that is the best or the only way, I just know it works for me. Once I've inserted the needle I keep the fish and the needle under water in order to see the bubbles releasing. One important tip is to not release to much air. As the air is bubbling out I like to let go of the fish, while I watch to see when the fish rights itself. Fizzing is must for keeping fish alive throughout the day as well as after weigh-in. A huge problem I see is fish being released after a tournament that where not fizzed. If the fish does survive the day in the livewell it surely won't survive being released before it is properly treated. Almost every summer tournament I fish I see fish floating around that are still alive. I like to take this issue into my own hands by personally fizzing fish after a tournament but this issue is definitely something that needs to be talking about in order to protect our resource.

Get out on the water this summer and follow the 3 steps I just wrote about and you will be able to enjoy the full wait of your catch all summer long which can be the difference between winning and a mediocre finish.

I'll see you on the water!!!

Joey Nania

Creek Fishing for Hot Summer Bass

Most people who think of summer time fishing immediately picture deep water fishing on offshore structure, or fishing docks in order to catch fish that are cooling down in the shade. While these are great techniques that definitely play a strong role in summer time success there is another option that is often forgotten!

Creek fishing is possibly one of the most under utilized techniques for catching fish throughout the hottest months of the year. When I say creek fishing I'm not talking about fishing in big open creeks, what I'm referring to is going as far back in the creeks you can go, and actually fishing in the original creek channel. Here is why the very back of creeks are almost always a place you can find fish in the summer months.

Creeks like this are absolutely perfect!

Creeks like this are absolutely perfect!

Why Are Creeks So Good?

As water temperatures rise oxygen levels diminish throughout much of the lake. Creeks however are easily influenced by any small amount of rain and are often much cooler then the main lake temperatures due to underwater springs. Those two facts alone make them a given for summer time fish attempting to beat the heat and thrive with more oxygenated water. Another fact is that there are large populations of fish that are residential to the small creeks that stretch across most of the country. The majority of fish holding in the back of creeks where born there and will live out there entire lives in these places.

What Cover Should You Focus on?

Fishing in shallow creeks is fairly simple because the fish have far less places to hide when they are in these tight quarters. There are three things I really focus on when fishing creeks in the summer, lay down logs, overhanging bushes, and rocks. All of these different options hold fish and are often the most effective if they are in a creek bend where the water is deeper.

What Baits Get The Job Done?

As far as bait selection goes I go with a three technique approach. First is a texas rigged soft plastic, second is a square bill crankbait, and third is a topwater buzz bait. For the texas rig several different soft plastic options can get the job done but one of my very favorites is a Zman Palmetto BugZ, as well as the brand new Zman Z Hog. Square bill crankbaits such as a Spro Little John and a Spro Fat John bumped into heavy wood cover and rocks can trigger some great mid summer creek bites. On cloudy days or under overhanging trees a buzzbait can be a great option to get a big bite as well. What I like to do is rotate between these three options throughout the day in order to figure out what the fish want while maximizing my opportunities to trigger bites.

Final Note!

Not every creek has a defined original creek channel but a large majority of them do. One of the best tools you can use in order to find creeks that have potential is google earth. So find a creek that looks like it stretches far into the woods in the back of a major creek, then go out and do some exploring. Always take your time so you don't end up hitting a stump until you really feel confident and learn the creek well, and if you see the water temperature dropping and bait fish such as shad and bluegill present then get ready because a big bass might be just around the next bend.

I'll see you on the water!!!

Joey Nania

Keep It Cool This Summer

Coolers are very important for what we do during the summer, but using them correctly might require a little more than just dumping ice in them.

Coolers are very important for what we do during the summer, but using them correctly might require a little more than just dumping ice in them.

Summer is my favorite season, and it's not hard to understand why- the sky is the limit with all the activities that we can enjoy in the outdoors with family and friends.  

Warm and sunny weather makes for a great excuse to get out and go boating, fishing, camping, as well as to fire up the grill, and the lynchpin for any great summer activity is a quality cooler.  

It's no secret that Joey and I love our Yeti coolers and drink ware- they are just plain awesome- but just like any key piece of equipment, there are some tricks to help you get the most out of them.  

Here are some tips to keep your drinks and food ice cold for days.

Ice Needs Sacrifice

As a guide in Alaska for almost twelve years, I have learned a thing or two about how to manage a cooler to get the most out of our precious ice.  

The first step in getting any cooler ready for an adventure is getting it pre-cooled.  Whether you have a soft-sided cooler, like the Hopper, or a hard cooler, like a Tundra, you need to make sure that you start with a cool interior.  The best way to do this is by adding some sacrificial ice to your cooler a day prior to your journey.  

Personally, I like to dump out the sacrificial ice before adding the contents and some new, extra cold, ice.

The Right Ice

Not all ice is created equal.  Though all ice is cold, there is some ice that is colder than others, which means that it will stay solid longer.  

If the ice you put in your cooler goes in to the cooler looking wet and glossy, then that ice probably won't last as long as you'd like it to.  On the other hand, if the ice looks frosty and sticks to your finger when you touch it, that ice is going to last much longer.

The Yeti Hopper series are soft sided coolers that are perfect for keeping drinks cold, and is one of my favorite for kayak fishing.  

The Yeti Hopper series are soft sided coolers that are perfect for keeping drinks cold, and is one of my favorite for kayak fishing.  

Dry Ice

Many coolers aren't made to withstand dry ice, but if you do have a cooler (like most Yeti's) that can, it might be your best option for keeping food cold, or frozen for long term.  

Dry ice is the solid form of carbon dioxide, and it is WAY colder than regular water ice.  Another great thing about dry ice is it evaporates instead of melts, so you aren't left with any liquid to keep your groceries soggy.  

One thing I have learned is that dry ice will not only keep things cold, it will actually freeze the contents of your cooler.  This quality is great when you are trying to keep meat, ice cream, or frozen goods…..well……frozen.  However, obviously dry ice doesn't work well with beverages or items you want to stay cold, but not freeze.  

Dry ice can also be pretty dangerous if you don't handle it correctly or store it correctly.  Never touch dry ice with your bare skin, you will immediately get a pretty severe case of freezer burn.  Usually when you buy dry ice (many grocery stores cary it) someone will get the ice for you and properly handle it.  Ask them to double bag it in paper bags so you can handle it.  Once you put it in your cooler, keep it in the paper bag to protect your groceries from the same freezer burn, as well as to further insulate the ice.  Keep the bag of ice on the top of your groceries as opposed to below, because the cold air will disperse from the top to bottom.  

Finally, though dry ice is not toxic, when it evaporates it will displace oxygen levels which means it can be a hazard to you in enclosed spaces like inside your car.  I almost learned this one the hard way!

Keep Stuff Dry

Ill be honest, I hate getting water in groceries that aren't meant to have water in them…….and it always seems to happen.  

A trick I have found to remedy this is to buy some appropriately sized dish racks that fit perfectly on the bottom of the cooler.  I end up putting all my ice and groceries on top of those racks, so as the ice melts, the water drips below the racks, but leaves the contents in the ice instead of swimming in water.  

Overall, putting ice in a cooler might seem like a pretty easy task, but nothing ruins a day in the sun like having ice melt too quickly. 

Use these tips to help you keep all your goodies cold, and it'll make whatever summer activity you're doing cooler!

-Sonar

 

The Shakey Head: A Deep Water Must Have Bait

While many people don't consider the shakey head worm to be a big fish bait, during the summer months this somewhat finesse rig can put absolute giants in your boat. The whole key is getting the bait to where the big fish live. The official first day of summer is not until June 21st,  but as far as fishing goes summer is absolutely here across the southern half of the United States. With water temperatures in the mid 80's there is no doubt in my mind that the majority of the bass population is living deep. I'm going to break down another one of my favorite deep water summer baits, the shakey head. A wise man once said, "When you are fishing the bank 90 percent of the fish are behind you!"

Zman Finesse WOrmZ

Zman Finesse WOrmZ

Shakey Head:

I learned at a young age that bass and basically all species of fish love to eat worms. The shakey head worms is absolutely one of my go to baits in the summer months based on a few key factors. First, is the fact that a skakey head is a subtle presentation. Often times deep water power fishing baits such as deep diving crankbaits and big spoons will catch big fish but at the same time they can spook a school of weary bass. What I like to do is pick off a few fish that are hungry with the shakey head and then reactivate the school by throwing the big crankbaits and spoons. The subtle aspect also helps on lakes where the deep water fish are heavily pressured on lakes such as Lake Guntersville, Douglas Lake, or even Logan Martin. Even a pressured fish is very likely to eat a worm if it is properly worked in front of it. My second reason is all in the nature of how a shakey head sits on the bottom of the lake. Unlike a texas rig a shakey head will stand the worm up popping the tail of the bait up towards the surface. Something about this head down tail up action definitely drives bass wild. Third, is the weedless factor, a shakey head is a great bait for fishing around brush piles. It allows you to work the bait gently through the cover presenting the bait properly with out hanging the bait up. If the bait lodges behind something just pop your line with your rod held high and typically this will free the bait. If it really seams to be wedged just troll past the piece of structure and pull it out from the other side which works nearly 90% of the time.

Presentation:

In most situations with a shakey head worm less is truly more. I have found that on most days the less action you give the bait the more fish you catch. The key is keeping the bait on the bottom letting it rest on a slack line for long periods of time. You will find that the majority of the bites you get will happen when the bait is sitting still in between hopping or dragging it. I typically just try to make the worm shimmy and jiggle on the bottom while letting it swim off of the bottom as little as possible. Again there is no 100% right way to fish any bait and occasionally a hop and pop method works best.

Tackle:

My go to deep water shakey head setup is a 7'3" Medium TFO Tactical Series Spinning Rod accompanied by a 6.2:1 Quantum Smoke spinning reel. My all around favorite line is 8lb test Vicious Pro Elite Fluorocarbon. As far as the exact rig goes a Zman Finesse WormZ on a 3/16oz Gamakatsu Skip Gap Shakey head hook is my absolute go to. I love to use a color called Bloodworm for clear water and Plum or Junebug in dirty water situations.

Find some deep water structure holding fish and slowly work a shakey head worm through it and I guarantee you will be happy with the results. I'll see you on the water!!!

Joey Nania

The Deep Diving Crankbait: A Deep Water Must Have Bait

If you want to fire up a school of big bass in deep water in a hurry there are few techniques that rival a deep diving crankbait. Crankbaits have been winning tournaments since before I was born and with all of the different baits on the market today deep cranking is on a whole different level then before. With baits exceeding 25 feet in maximum depth potential big bass are no longer safe in deep water. While other baits such as worms and jigs work great for catching fish and not disturbing them, sometimes the kamikaze deep diving crankbait is the ticket to fire up a school of bass putting big fish in the boat. While the official first day of summer is not until June 21st, as far as fishing goes summer is absolutely here across the southern half of the United States. With water temperatures in the mid 80's there is no doubt in my mind that the majority of the bass population is living deep. I'm going to break down another one of my favorite deep water summer baits, the deep diving crankbait. A wise man once said, "When you are fishing the bank 90 percent of the fish are behind you!"

Deep Diving Crankbait:

As I've already said the deep diving crankbait is a big fish bait, and typically once you get one fish to react and eat the bait you will be able to make the same cast for a short period of time putting numbers in the boat quickly. Don't be alarmed when after getting 3 bites in a row the fish all of a sudden shut down completely. Often all it takes is letting them rest and regroup while finesse fishing or checking other spots and then you will be able to get them fired up again. Another plus to the deep diving crankbait is the ability to cover water. If you are on a specific deep water pattern or milk run then a deep diving crankbait is a great option. You can run and gun triggering schools of fish to eat and then moving on to the next when they shut down. This has been a proven recipe for success in tournaments of all levels.  

Presentation:

I typically like to crank my bait back to the boat fairly fast and erratic, occasionally pausing the bait and allowing it to float up. While this works well at times you really need to let the fish tell you what they want. Experiment with different retrieve methods and figure out what the fish want on the specific day. I have seen on heavily pressured lakes the faster you crank it the better, and I have also seen where fish want the bait slowly crawled back to the boat. The key to making any of these retrieve options work is making the bait hit the bottom. I very rarely catch a bass while my crankbait is not banging into the bottom and that goes the same whether I am shallow cranking in 2 feet or deep cranking in 25 feet. Select your bait so that it hits the bottom of the lake no matter what.

Tackle:

The key to getting a crankbait down to it's maximum depth potential is in the tackle you use. This being said I like to use a long rod allowing me to make long casts which gives the bait more time to reach, and eventually dig into the bottom. I like a 8' Edge First Strike Heavy rod with a Moderate action. I accompany my deep cranking rod with a Quantum Smoke 6.1:1 reel. Line size is very important when deep cranking, the lighter line you use the deeper your bait will dive. I personally believe 12lb Fluorocarbon line is a great happy medium where you can get the bait down without to much risk of breaking off on the cast or on a piece of structure. For cranking 15 to 20 feet a Spro Little John DD in Citrus Shad color is one of my very favorites, while baits such as the 10XD work best when attempting to dig the bottom in water deeper then 20 feet.

Deep diving crankbaits aren't always the right bait to throw but it is something that is on the front deck of my boat all summer long. When they do fire up on a crankbait it can be some of the fastest, most fun action you will ever experience on the water. I'll see you on the water!!!

Joey Nania

 

My Old Man & The Shark

As it is for most of us who enjoy the outdoors, my parents were the reason for my passion in fishing and other outdoor activities.  In honor of Father's Day, I wanted to share a story with you of an event that shaped my love for the Great Outdoors.  

My very first memory as a kid was at our house in Marathon, Florida, when I was just over about three years old. We had a canal running through our back yard, and I was always fascinated with the ecosystem that flourished within it.

One day, as my father was doing some yard work, I begged and pleaded for my Donald Duck push button rod. Finally, giving in to my relentlessness, I remember my dad coming over with a bucket of live shrimp (which we always seemed to have at the ready) as well as my fateful blue and white cartoon rod. I recall my father pulling a small grey shrimp out of the bucket and demonstrating how to hook the crustacean. "Through the horn, Miles, just like I taught you before," he said. I'm sure he had to show me many times afterwards. As was standard operating procedure, he also clipped a small red and white bobber onto the line.

Once the setup was complete, he handed me the rod and walked me through how to cast- but I already knew. Using my whole upper body, I wound up and swung the bobber, and the shrimp, into the canal. I'm sure that in reality that cast probably only landed a few feet from where I was standing on the dock, but to me, it seemed like the most perfect cast I had ever seen. After all, I was an expert since my dad had been training me how to cast with a little red rubber weight for months.

The shrimp faded from view, and the ripples around the bobber disappeared. My father instructed me to be patient and to watch the bobber, and after he was satisfied that I would follow his instructions he walked back to his project just feet away.

It seemed like an eternity that I waited. Losing interest in the motionless red and white orb floating on the surface, I began to look for signs of life to pass the time. It wasn't hard to find fish from the vantage point on the dock, there was plenty. Directly under the bobber there was a small submerged skiff, that to me at that age seemed like a massive sunken ship. The bow of the skiff, covered in brownish-green algae, was visible through the glassy water, and I remember a variety of fish darting in and out of the shadows.

As I watched for more fish, I recall being surprised by the sudden pulling sensation in my hands. My grip tightened. I immediately regained focus and I tried desperately to remember what the next step was that my dad had taught me. "Reel!" I began cranking the reel handle and started pulling with all my might. The drag began to give without sign of stopping, and I'm sure that I figured that cranking against the drag would be the best method to fight back.

"Fish……..FEEESSHH!" I cried. I know that my dad didn't immediately believe me, because he had turned around and saw that my rod was bent beyond the capability of any fish we had caught in the canal before. "You're stuck on the skiff" he exclaimed. Ignoring his skepticism I kept at my persistence that I in fact had a fish on the line, and it was BIG.

My mom, who was working in the top floor of our houseboat, and hearing the ruckus outside, walked from her project inside and stood over the railing to see what was going on. I can't remember exactly what she said first, but she was obviously surprised at what she saw. "Gary, he is not stuck on the bottom, he has something big on the line." With confirmation from another adult, my dad quickly joined my side and realized that I had bitten off a little more than I could chew.

I recall only feeling the pull of the fish, the scream of the drag, and the sight of a huge tan blur under the water. I'm sure my dad was horrified when he realized what I had actually hooked- a four foot nurse shark that had taken up residence in our dead-end canal.

Instead of immediately taking the rod from my hands, which I'm sure was his first instinct, he began to instruct me on completing the task. "Don't reel against the drag, Miles. Remember to pull up, and reel down. Pull up..." I still wasn't gaining any ground.

After coaching me on fighting the fish, but still not winning the fight, he finally took control and hand lined the fish until the line finally popped. There was no other option, since the dock was several feet above the water and there was nowhere to beach the beast.

I watched as my prize torpedoed off down the canal, with plume of mud trailing behind it. I'm sure I was a mixture of disappointed and excited, but my dad encouraged me to be excited about what a great job I had done.

That was the moment that changed my life, and that I realized that fishing was going to be a major part of my future, and I think my dad realized that too. From that day forward he continued to help foster my passion for fishing and the outdoors, taking me fishing at every opportunity, and look where I am today. That was the day that my dad ignited a passion and a career that will last a lifetime.

Thanks dad,

-Sonar

Gary Burghoff, better known for his role as "Radar" on the hit TV show MASH, has always encouraged Miles to pursue his passion for fishing.

Gary Burghoff, better known for his role as "Radar" on the hit TV show MASH, has always encouraged Miles to pursue his passion for fishing.

The Football Jig: A Deep Water Must Have Bait

While the official first day of summer is not until June 21st, as far as fishing goes summer is absolutely here across the southern half of the United States. With water temperatures in the mid 80's there is no doubt in my mind that the majority of the bass population is living deep. I'm going to break down one of my favorite deep water summer baits, the football jig. A wise man once said, "When you are fishing the bank 90 percent of the fish are behind you!"

Zman Projectz Football Jig

Zman Projectz Football Jig

Football Jig:

There are several things that make a football jig one of my absolute go to deep water baits. First, is the fact that it is heavy and really dredges the bottom. This dredging basically acts as a probe so that you the angler can feel exactly what is down there, specifically whether the bottom is hard or soft. Second, is the fact that a football jig is a big bulky presentation that often attracts the attention of big bluegill eating bass. While some bluegill stay shallow around docks in the summer the majority of them spend the summer months holding on deep structure and in deep brush piles. A football jig is one of the best baits to match the specific hatch. Lastly, is the fact that a football jig allows you to cover deep water ledges and structure efficiently while still keeping the bait in the strike zone.

Presentation:

I like to work my football jig very similarly to the way I work a Carolina rig, keeping the rod level and dragging the bait across the bottom about 2 feet at a time. This being said don't be afraid to hop or rip the football jig off of the bottom. This hopping technique is called stroking the football jig and can absolutely be the ticket to some big bass if the fish are in the right mood.

Tackle:

My personal football jig setup consists of a 7'3" Heavy TFO Tactical Series baitcasting rod accompanied by a 7.0:1 Quantum Tour MG reel. I like to use 17lb test Vicious Pro Elite Fluorocarbon for more open water ledge applications and 20lb test fluoro if I am fishing around heavy cover such as deep brush piles. As far as the exact bait goes a 3/4oz Zman Project Z Football Jig in a Candy craw color with a big soft plastic craw trailer is hard to beat.

I hope this helps you put more bass in your boat this summer. I'll see you on the water!!!

Joey Nania