Showing posts with label guest blog. Show all posts
Showing posts with label guest blog. Show all posts

Bass: Don't Let Them Be A Pain in the Grass

Marcus Villanueva is our guest blogger today. Marcus is from the Austin area and fishes the Colorado River chain of lakes often. I have fished with Marcus a few times and noticed how he dissected grass beds and approached them. I didn't have a ton of experience doing this and thought you guys might learn a little something along with me. If you want to keep up with Marcus and his fishing exploits, check out his site at and check out the pictures throughout the site that his wife Autumn produced. A true family full of talent. 

by Marcus Villanueva

Living in the Austin Texas area I am blessed with lots of lakes that have lots of grass.  As most know grass always (at least in Texas) equals big bass.  And who doesn’t like catching big bass?  No one, that’s who!
When I first started bass fishing I would always hear people say things like “that rat-l-trap would work great in the grass” or “you gotta fish in the grass”.  So naturally I did just that, threw a rat-l-trap in the grass.  What did I catch?  A ton of grass!  Eventually I got frustrated and quit fishing the grass.  I had absolutely no idea how to fish grass.  Luckily I’m stubborn and eventually figured it out (with some help) and started catching fish.  So my plan here is to help you learn some basic ways to fish grass. 

Typically when people are talking about grass they are referring to Hydrilla.  There are many ways to attack this cover.  In this first section I will discuss fishing grass that grown to the surface.  Find “holes” in the grass and pitch a weightless soft plastic into it, and just let it slowly sink.  More often than not you will get bit on the initial drop.  So don’t leave too much slack in your line and pay very close attention or it can result in a gut hooked fish.  If you don’t get bit you can give the bait a slight twitch, often which will be enough to provoke a sluggish bass.  Senkos, Rattlesnakes, and Flukes are some of my favorites for this.  Sounds easy enough right?  Practice throwing into the holes as some are small and you need to hit them perfect.  When fishing these holes often times a frog, be it a hollow body or a Ribbit type frog, works well too.  On these I like to cast past the hole and work it back loudly and slowly to the hole.  For a hollow body, once at the edge of the hole I like to make the frog act scared to enter the open water.  Slowly I’ll work it to the open water then let it sit in the middle (if the hole is big enough) for a minute.  If that doesn’t work I’ll work it out of the hole fast and erratically, like the frog is scared for its life!  Then I’ll stop it on the edge of the grass again.  This will give a would be attacker one last clear shot at the frog.  If you get a hit and miss, quickly (I mean as fast as possible) grab your weightless worm and throw it in the hole.  Don’t bother reeling in the frog; don’t even think about the frog.  You simply don’t have time for that now, just think about that weightless worm rod and making a perfect cast.  If you wait too long you will have missed an opportunity. 

Proof positive fishing holes does work.  A 6.13lber I caught about a month ago on a weightless worm.

Next is another technique for surface grass, punching.  Now like many other technique this really requires specific gear.  An extra heavy rod, high geared reel, 80lb braid, flipping hooks, 1-2oz tungsten weights, and weight pegs.  Ideally, punching grass should be planned during the winter.  Yes, plan your attack in the dead of winter!  Why?  Because Hydrilla is usually dead or mostly gone by the middle/end of winter.  This is important because when the hydrilla dies back it reveals structure.  Sure you can get lucky punching random grass but your odds go up when you know structure is present.  I don’t know a fish finder that will see structure through thick grass either.  So that’s not a good option.  Good baits to punch with are beaver style baits, Devils Spears, Mag Flukes, and crawfish baits.  Punching is like flipping trees, it’s a numbers game.  Pitch your bait out there, let it sink, and if you don’t get bit reel it up and pitch it out elsewhere.  Unlike flipping reeds you don’t need to shake the bait once it hits the bottom.  Punching is 100% about the reaction bite.  Also the saying “hooksets are free” absolutely does not apply to this technique.  Be 100% sure you have a bite before setting the hook.  Otherwise you’re asking for a trouble in the way of 1oz of tungsten and a heavy hook flying back at your face.  Yea, eye patches are cool and you’d have a heck of a conversation piece.  You’d even be able to walk around talking like a pirate every day.  But is that worth losing an eye, probably not.

Now for some submergent grass fishing tips.  Typically grass will be below the surface if it’s deep grass or once it begins dying off in the cold weather.  Fishing submergent grass in the winter is one of my favorite techniques.  There are really only three baits I really use for this, lipless cranks, medium diving cranks, and spinnerbaits.  Crankbaits can be fished either by retrieving the bait to where it ticks the top of the grass.  Once you feel the grass, stop and let the crank float back up some.  Then begin retrieving all over until you feel the grass again.  There’s endless ways to make this more efficient by playing with crankbait sizes, line sizes, and rod angles but I will leave that discussion for another day. 

Next, lipless crankbaits.  Again experiment with sizes and weights for different depths.  A high speed reel is best for the application.  On the initial cast let the bait drop to the top of the grass and then begin your retrieve, this takes practice.  Once you figure out the timing for this you can get to work.  Begin retrieving the lure back and let it snag the grass slightly.  Don’t let it get buried in the grass or it’s basically a wasted cast.  Once the bait snags the grass you will feel the bait stop.  Once you feel that, reel in the line tight and tug the bait in a sweeping motion.  If done correctly the bait will free itself from the grass and shoot forward rapidly.  This is why you need a high speed reel, to reel in the slack quickly.  Different people prefer different setups for this technique.  I like to stick with my whippy cranking rod but some like a stiffer medium heavy worm rod.  The medium heavy rod makes it a bit easier to rip the bait from out of the grass.  Another technique for deep grass is to yo-yo the lipless crank out of the grass.  Again let the bait fall into the grass slightly, reel down, and then snap the rod up to shoot the bait up and away from the grass.  On both the ripping and yo-yo technique the strike will happen either as soon as the bait snaps forward or as it flutters back down.  So pay close attention to feel for the strike on slack line. 

Spinnerbaits are by far one of my favorite baits to fish.  They work great in the grass too.  Plus they don’t get hung up in the grass nearly as bad if you let them fall too deep in the grass.  Typically I will use a ½ oz. spinnerbait for grass up to 10’ deep.  That is my preference, I suggest you play around with different sizes and use what you like best.  Fishing a spinnerbait in grass is similar to a lipless crank.  I like to let them snag in the grass and rip them out.  Also letting them tick the top of the grass works well.  If you have a fish finder on your kayak find the grass edge and mark it with a buoy.  Line up parallel to the grass and work the spinnerbait along it.  Experiment with the distance from the grass until you find what the fish want that day. 

Last as with every technique dissect how, where, depth, retrieve speed, and bait color, of each fish caught.  Those are very important to catching fish and just as important as learning new techniques.  

Skinny Water Reds

Cody Carpenter is today's guest blogger. Cody is an avid kayak fisherman, an ambassador for Mariner Sails of Dallas, TX, a TCU Horned Frog and runs a blog called Always up for trying new things, Cody shares with us a guided adventure he recently embarked upon with Dean "Slow Ride" Thomas. 

by Cody Carpenter 

I recently took a trip down the coast and stayed in Port Aransas for a week. This was our second time down there and I love it more each time I visit there. This was also my first coastal trip since my addiction to kayak fishing started. There was no doubt that I was fishing from a kayak, in the ocean at some point on this trip.

     I mainly stick to lakes and ponds and occasionally a river or two, so to venture out into the big blue was going to be quite a new experience for me. I can watch all the You Tube videos I want, but nothing compares to actually being there and having first hand knowledge about what you're doing. I
decided to book a guide for my first ocean fishing experience for a variety of reasons. I knew nothing about tides, how shifty the coastal weather can be, fish patterns, and the list goes on and on. I simply didn't have enough experience in my mind to be on my own in the ocean and I didn't want to compromise my safety and the well being of my two buddies with me. I called Slow Ride Guide Services in Aransas Pass and booked a trip with Dean Thomas who is the owner of Slow Ride and one of the first to be on the Wilderness Systems Pro Staff. I had heard about what a character Dean was and what a good time he shows his clients on the water, and he didn't disappoint. After I hung up the phone with Dean, many months in advance, I looked at my wife and told her, "I think I'm going fishing with Matthew McConaughey." He had that kind of Texan surfer thing going on in his voice and I knew it would be a lot of fun.

On the day of our trip we arrived at the kayak shop at about 5:30 in the morning and followed Dean to the marina. There we launched in his brand new skiff, this is one impressive boat, and took off to the location that we would be fishing. I could tell that Dean was a little worried that fishing would be slow, due to unusually high winds and extremely low tides, but I wasn't worried. As we passed several different flat areas they were eerily dried up to the bone and the shallow water along the shore line looked like it could be a problem trying to anchor up. We managed to find a nice branch that Dean had suspected to hold fish based on the bait traveling patterns due to the dried up flats. We immediately untied and launched our Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120's and got straight to fishing. right off the bat we could see Mullet jumping across the surface and the torpedo like wake behind them. This we were informed was our target, the Redfish or Red Drum, would produce a very noticeable wake and sometimes they could even be spotted in only a few inches of water with backs and tails breeching the surface. For the next five hours Dean paddled along side us pointing out signs of our prey and how to catch them, it was like having our own fishing coach. All morning there were signs of life and action. Early in the morning I landed a Skip Jack that put up an impressive fight for how small he was, and it looked like it was going to an action packed day. As the day progressed we all had top water blow up after blow up but could not get the fish to actually bite the hook, and that's pretty much how it remained the rest of the outing. It was very frustrating all day because we could plainly see fish everywhere, they were just lazy and didn't want to commit to biting our hooks.

     Disappointed? Yes, of course, but what angler wouldn't be? However, I don't walk away from this trip empty handed at all. This experience has poured a foundation of experience that I feel I can build on for many future trips to come. I have gained invaluable information from my five hours with Dean Thomas that has helped me to consider all the underlying factors that come along with kayak fishing in the saltwater. I know that Dean was disappointed that we walked away without any fish, but like I told him, you put us on the fish, you cant make them bite too. I will 100% book a trip with Dean next time I'm in Port A, just for the good time.

Talking Trash

Starting off the Guest Blog Series this week is James Belekanich. James is a fisherman, fly fisherman, conservationist and a Florida Gator. In addition to getting time on the water, James also runs a blog over at  Give him a look. He's a great photographer too!

by James Belekanich

Picking up after other people doesn’t have to be burdensome. Trash, such as empty beverage containers, candy wrappers, plastic bags, worm cups and old fishing line, not only are an eyesore, but some of it can also be harmful to people, fish and other wildlife. Broken glass, torn aluminum and old fishing line are hazards for obvious reasons. It’s not just beer bottles, soda cans and sports drink bottles that are the problem. It includes leaving fish on shore, after you've gutted them. That leaves a terrible, smelly mess and attracts an army of insects. Littering has gotten so bad many consider those among the fishing community the worst group of litterbugs. That's pretty disappointing and frankly, very embarrassing.

Photo Courtesy of James Belekanich

Fishing line pollution poses a real threat to wildlife, not to mention a hazard to boaters, divers and kayakers. The most common type of fishing line, monofilament, is made from various types of polymers which take a very long time to break down. Discarded monofilament line can last for hundreds of years in the environment. There are some simple things that we can do, as anglers, to help reduce fishing line pollution. If you see old line, please do your part and discard it. It'll take two minutes.

Like most of us, I normally take an assortment of rods, reels and tackle when I go fish. But lately, I've made it a point not to leave home without a plastic trash bag. My personal ambition to rid DFW area fishing holes of garbage one piece at a time. It only takes a few minutes and I feel better for doing it, and everything looks better too. It's our duty to keep our waters clean.

If everyone just did their part and picked up a little, it wouldn’t take long before we’d have all our lakes and rivers cleaned up. It’s really pretty simple.

Photo Courtesy of James Belekanich


If you have a topic you are passionate about and want to share, drop me a line at [email protected]
Many thanks to James for reminding us that we all share the Earth and need to take care of it.