Don’t Squander the Opportunity

This is my constant self reminder. Whether it be an opportunity that presents itself on the water or an opportunity to get on the water at a unique time or place – take it! It’s easy to not do something, but not doing something is never rewarding. Don’t say to yourself later, I could have caught this if I tried or I could have fished there if I made the time.

This is a text book example. Family travel was taking us through prime catfishing waters. We could just pass through and save time, or with a little preparation and planning, we could make some great memories with a morning on the water. We took the latter.

A meager start, but we were on the board early.
Preparation gave us options. A change of spots increased both size and numbers.
A solid flathead to cap off the morning.

Quality vs Quantity

As I get my gear together for an outing with a good friend on very challenging trout water, I began thinking about this. It’s easy to fall into the mindset of big fish equals success. To some that may always be the case, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I admit, at times I follow that equation too. When I really stop and think about why I spend time fishing it’s not as cut and dried as pounds and ounces.

This diminutive smallmouth double was cause for great rejoicing.

Quantity is generally the initial goal, but often it’s the peripheral details that make a fishing trip rewarding. Seeing a mink on the shore could be the highlight of the day. An unexpected species or a particularly colorful example of a common species could be the day’s trophy. Big fish are great, but other factors frequently outweigh the largest fish.

The colors of this pumpkinseed would rival the residents of a tropical coal reef.
This little rainbow was a pleasant surprise when collecting sunfish for bait.

Contest #2 Winner!

Claus from PA came through with the first correct answer. It is a bowfin, amia calva. The last surviving species in its order. It’s also a hard fighting, under appreciated gamefish. No one got the extra credit answer. That is: gular plate, the bony plate under the chin.

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To all that played: great guesses and good luck next time. To all that didn’t: check back often. There will be more chances to win.

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Shallow Water Killer

The Bushido Shad from Fishbelly International is taking the shallow water fishing world by storm. Built with the front end of the famous Hawg Shad and a new, uniquely designed action tail; this lure has something special. As we roll into summer, anglers across the country are capitalizing on the ease, excitement, and versatility that this new soft plastic brings to the table.

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Fishbelly’s world reknowned color patterns are the icing on the cake. Top: Greenback Minnow rigged on 5/0 EWG hook. Bottom: Blueback Herring unrigged.

Rigging can’t be simpler. Rig it Tex-Posed with a 4/0 or 5/0 offset EWG hook or a screw lock of the same size. The Bushido Shad will crawl over and through vegetation, so you can get into the spots where the big ones hide.

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Largemouth just can’t leave the Bushido Shad alone.

Perhaps the most exciting way to fish the Bushido is on top. Engage your reel as the bait hits the water and reel steadily. Start with the rod high and lower it as you retrieve. The Bushido Shad will come up to the surface quickly and stay there. The flip-flop and shimmy from the Bushido’s specialized tail creates a look and sound that’s part baitfish, part snake, and part buzzbait.

America’s oldest gamefish, the bowfin, fall for that Bushido action every time.

Topwater is not the only place for the Bushido Shad. On any retrieve or any part of a retrieve you can take it subsurface. Just let it sink a bit and slow your retrieve; that specialized tail will impart a rocking, swimbait motion that gamefish of all types can’t resist. This is ideal for tough conditions when the fish just won’t cooperate on top. Buzz it across the heavy cover. Then let it dive and swim through the open holes with a subsurface presentation.

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America’s newest gamefish, the northern snakehead, eat the Bushido like candy.

It’s not exactly a swimbait. It’s not exactly a buzzbait. It’s not exactly a curly tail. It’s a little bit of each and an amazing bait all its own.

A Bushido Swamp Slam – bowfin…
and chain pickerel.


The winner is Chris from PA. He was the first contestant with all five guesses correct. Chris chose the Len Thompson No. 6 as his prize because it was the smallest lure available. He said, “I don’t catch many fish and the ones I do catch are usually quite small.” Let’s hope he was joking.

Thank you to all that participated. Check back often for more contests and tips.

See correct answers below.

Fish #1 Chain Pickerel
Fish #2 Samllmouth Bass
Fish #3
Fish #3 Rainbow Trout
Fish #4
Fish #4 Largemouth Bass
Fish #5
Fish #5 Fallfish


Know Your Fish CONTEST!

The colors and scale patterns on “everyday” fish never cease to amaze me. Here are five close-ups of common freshwater fish and a chance to win a prize. Submit your guesses through the contact button on the left. The first person with an all correct submission, or the most correct by Monday, May 30th will win your pick of a Len Thompson spoon shown above.

Fish #1
Fish #2
Fish #3
Fish #3
Fish #4
Fish #4
Fish #5
Fish #5

… and Another Useful Loop

The Dropper Loop

Form a loop in the line.
Pass the tag end of the line through the loop about 6 times.
Pull the bottom of the original loop up through the middle of the six coils that you just formed.


Moisten the knot and draw it tight from the main line, tag end, and the loop at the same time. It should be fairly even size and neatly stacked on each side of the loop.