Warm water and hot bass fishing!
Another year and another series of twists by Mother Nature as the weather remains strange and unpredictable as it usually is in the Midwest during the Summer months. This year is leaning towards a hotter year, with water temperatures reaching crazy highs on the surface! Many local guides are reporting water temps in the mid to high 80s! This isn't Florida, isn't this Wisconsin?
Several Musky experts in the region made the bold decision on their own to cancel their musky trips for a short period of time, waiting for these crazy water temperatures to cool. Much respect should be given to the anglers that made this very unselfish choice in personal fish management, as they are saving the lives of many trophy caliber fish. A long fight with a musky is very exhausting to a large powerful fish full of energy. The warmer the water, the higher their body temperature, and the more likely that the fight to the boat will actually be fatal, as it is not as easy to recover without cooler temperatures. Hat's off to these sportsmen and women for doing the right thing without a law or agency forcing them to do so!
PRO STAFF MAKING THINGS HAPPEN
JAMES GANG PRO STAFFER JAZ DUNCAN WITH TWO OF HIS BIGGER BASS
JAMES GANG PRO STAFFER MAT EICHINGER HAS ANOTHER FUN TOURNAMENT DAY
James Gang Pro staffers Mat Eichinger and Jaz Duncan caught several bass in the 2020 CWBA Opens on Lake Chetek, landing a few worthy of a livewell and a cull. Congrats Pat Schlapper & Wade Rickey for winning yet another event in NW Wisconsin!
SMALL WATERS, BIG RESULTS!
FISHING HARD-TO-ACCESS PONDS & SMALL LAKES CAN LEAD TO GREAT FISHING
Local SLAY NATION competitor Travis Gasper teamed up with Uncle Jesse to try out some fun fishing in a deep, spring-fed, clear natural lake in NW Wisconsin. As always, Jesse was mainly looking to expand by learning in a different situation, and build on for his future guide service. Upon arrival, the small body of water looked very different. With recent flooding, the 10-14' clarity was reduced to about 3-5' clarity. The heavily-stained water also rose a few feet about average. With water temperatures around 83 degrees at the surface, Jesse assumed that the fish would be relating to deep off-shore structure, something he wanted to learn more about. With his brand new Hummingbird Helix 12 Mega, he and his fishing buddy for the day set out on their adventure at sunrise.
Typically this small body of water is only known for producing larger-than-average fish, with minimal encounters of juvenile bass. The "memory" spots that produced previously were full of aggressive juveniles this trip, throwing Jesse for a complete loop. Typically the offshore rock points underwater, as well as ledges, and deep wood cover is where the damage gets done. On this day, these places were pretty much worthless. A few hours in, the entire north half of the lake was unproductive. Not even a strike or a follow-up. More amazingly, not even a stinky northern pike was sniffing around our lures. As we continued to graph and cover water with side-imaging, we continued to fail marking fish.
We gave up on fishing "memory" spots and decided to change things up. We focused on a rock reef offshore looking for suspending bass, and Travis hooked up with his bluegill-colored jerkbait.
We continued working the rock reef and began marking and seeing some fish. Typically an area for smallmouth bass, we were suprised to see multiple larger largemouth bass in shallow harassing baby bluegills. We failed to get any of them to strike, so we worked the shoreline drop offs of wood cover and lily pads. Travis missed a very good bite on a thick log on a ledge, using a bluegill-colored 1/2 oz homemade jig. We continued on and Jesse snagged a lily pad with his favorite lure, a James Gang BASS JERKER suspending jerkbait. As he tried to snap the lure free several times, the water erupted! He began reeling and to his pleasant surprise, he caught his first ever "LILY PAD" smallmouth bass.
Moving along the shoreline, Travis and Jesse seen a few smallmouth harassing some baitfish near wood cover. Jesse was able to boat a few very young smallmouth on his Bass Jerker in this area, but the two big fish would not cooperate. Instead they teased us and swam under and around the boat to "rub it in" that they were there and not going to bite. Jesse decided to make a run back to the rock reef and was immediately bit off by a strong, toothy pike. As he was tying on a second BASS JERKER, two smallmouth boiled next to the boat chasing either a baitfish or a dragonfly. The Helix 12 Mega showed several suspending bass on both sides of the boat suspended in 10-12 feet of water on this rock reef. The aquatic world was alive here! Jesse finally cast his new Bass Jerker and immediately hooked up, with a 16.5" largemouth that ended up being the biggest of the day.
At this point, Jesse had boated around 14 fish, while Travis only had about 8. Travis wasn't liking that at all. We both worked some previous shorelines that produced smaller fish earlier in the day, and couldn't find any activity. It was time for another move. Travis wanted to fish an entire new area with flooded vegetation. Immediately he hooked up on his Berkley Pit Boss, and he was excited.
Jesse switched over to a James Gang firetiger LOVERTAIL 2 and immediately had blow ups and misses in the lily pad pockets. After several missed bites, he switched to a Red & White Dunkin' Frog. Multiple hits took place on that lure as well, then one took the double-hooked lure in the mouth, and with a Greg Hackney-hookset, that fish was done for. This fish was around 14," and the juvenile-bass fishing was done for the day. As Jesse made a run to the ramp with his 36V Motorguide at 4 mph, Travis continuously would cast his Pit Boss ahead of the boat and hook up! Each fish was in the 14-16.5" range, all decent quality fish that fought hard.
After several laughs and celebrations, Travis landed his 7th fish on the way back, his best of the day around 16-16.5." The boys loaded up the General Lee "CRAWFISH BANDIT" boat and headed back home after boating 30 bass up to 16.5." As usual, a lot was learned during the struggles early on, but after the patterns were discovered, many fish were caught. The mid-day rock reef bite produced multiple quality fish on the Bass Jerker covered in PERCH JUICE JB's Fish Sauce Mist, and the second pattern was the final flooded vegetation bite on the Pit Boss and James Gang Dunkin' Frog. A hollow-body frog would have also worked very well in that final part of the day.
GASPER GETS REVENGE
Apparently tying someone with 15 fish makes Travis upset. So the following Sunday he came back to this place by himself with some freshly tied 1/2 jigs that he had made. He fished the "memory spots" that I referred to from the past of deep wood cover on ledges, as well as some drop-shotting for multiple smallmouth catches. On his best moment of the day, Travis set the hook on his jig in the deep wood cover and his lure was engulfed by the biggest bass of his life! This beautiful TROPHY largemouth was 22" long, and weighed 5 lbs 10 oz fully spawned out! There is a very good possibility that this fish was a 6 lb class fish during its peak in 2020! Fish like this are extremely rare in Wisconsin, and this is why allowing them to grow old in hard-to-access lakes is so important. Travis took a few pictures of this "fish-of-a-lifetime," then released the trophy to continue to grow and fight some more! Congratulations Travis and much thanks for releasing such an incredible fish!!
1/4 oz DOUBLE BUZZBAIT AVAILABLE SOON!
JAMES GANG FISHING DOUBLE LOR BUZZ
The Double Lor Buzz by James Gang Fishing is in its final test mode at the moment and should be available online on this site as well as in our 24/7 Vending machine in Holcombe on Hwy 27 at Big Minnow Bar & Grill by Mid-August. This high quality lure will be selling for $10 with free shipping. Multiple colors will be available as well as custom options. Stay tuned!!
GOOD LUCK FISHING!!!
Jesse James is an avid fisherman that loves smallmouth bass fishing, loves spending time with his family, with other family-orientated people, and loves seeing children fish. A huge fan of BASSMASTER Elite Mike Iaconelli, like Mike, he is known to be a little strange, and obnoxious, but only to have fun and make people laugh.