I have finally gotten to the age where politics is something I pay closer attention to. I’m not sure why but maybe it’s because so many people in our circle of friends are into politics or maybe it’s because we are in an election year, nonetheless I can’t spend a day without politics being shoved in my face in some shape or form. When I think about politics and the different beliefs people have concerning politics I think about Yuma, Arizona in the mid 80’s and a large bar with a big dance floor and a billboard out front that said “The Buzz Fink Hypnotist Show” tonight only! Yea buddy, I expected a night of drinking, dancing and shenanigans with about a dozen or so of my closest Navy buddies while we were in Yuma for a few weeks playing with the Marine Corps and as a bonus we were all going to be treated to a hypnotist show. How about that! I had never been to anything like that in the past but a $20 cover charge paid for old Buzz Finks night in town and my entertainment. I’m going to leave out a few names here because I’m friends with a shipmate that was hypnotized by Mr. Fink and our friend provided us with some much needed entertainment after a long week of work. Let’s just call him “Bill” for the sake of anonymity and questions that could arise if I used his real name. I don’t have any solid proof of this happening other than my word and maybe a few witnesses willing to talk as cameras were not allowed during the show and taking photographs in a nightclub in the 80’s was a little different than it is today. It didn’t happen a lot.
We arrived at the club a little early and as we were paying the cover charge the doorman asked if any of us were interested in being in the show. I thought that was kind of odd but one of the guys in our group piped up and volunteered for the show. His name was Bill and he was no different than the rest of us, a beer drinking Navy guy looking for a good time and a place to hang out for the evening. We made our way in and found a few tables to pull together for all of us. I don’t recall the name of the bar but they had a few pool tables in a different area of the club so I wandered into the billiard area to see if anyone was a decent player that I could hustle for a beer or a few dollars while waiting on the show to start. One thing that was pretty cool about hustling pool while at the club was that I usually had a few friends within shouting distance if I needed backup but 99% of the time everything was fine. I remembered that the 9 foot tables in the billiard area were all covered in black felt vs the typical green felt which took me some getting used to. I shot pool with some of the locals and a few Navy friends before we went back into the dance floor area for the show. When we all sat down for the show to began the lights dimmed and there were about 25 chairs lined up on the dance floor facing the opposite direction as the tables and where we were located. On the wall in the direction the line of chairs were facing was a large screen tv mounted on the wall which really wasn’t very big for the size of tv’s in the late 80’s. The only thing playing on the tv was a round black and white rotating swirl. As the show began Buzz Fink introduced himself and rattled off some credentials before calling all of his volunteers to the dance floor to be seated. Our buddy Bill from our group made his way to the floor and his seat facing the swirling tv screen. We were all laughing at the fact that Bill was going to be hypnotized right before our very eyes. Old Buzz started talking fast and telling the group of volunteers that they were going to relax and let all of their thoughts fade away clearing your mind of every distraction. Buzz continued to relax the group and then said that the group was getting very tired and sleepy. Very relaxed and very sleepy..very sleepy now as you doze off to sleep. At that point most of the group had fallen into some kind of deep sleep with heads down and eyes closed. Not everyone was hypnotized though. There were a few that were wide awake and excused themselves from the group as Buzz had instructed them. This was the small group that didn’t get hypnotized. Out of 25 people, probably 5 got up and returned to their seat in the audience. At that point Buzz had the group that was hypnotized do all sorts of crazy things. They were acting like farm animals, making funny sounds and sitting on each others laps. Our buddy Bill was the highlight of the show as Buzz had Bill doing all kinds of stuff, from acting like a chicken to acting like a male stripper. It was very very entertaining to say the least. Bill was the topic of discussion for weeks to come in the squadron. It was very interesting to see these individuals under complete control of ole Buzz. I asked Bill what he remembered after it was over and he said it was like being in a dream where everything was kind of hazy and cloudy and he didn’t remember a lot about what he had done.
When I see politics on tv and I think of our differences in opinions when it comes to politics and our beliefs, I think of ole Buzz and the show. It’s like this; some folks believe whole heartedly that their political beliefs are righteous and the true path for our nation while others see it completely differently to the point of violence and aggression. They have been conditioned to believe this by what they see and hear in the media. The media is able to hit those buttons by continuous disinformation or skewed information to form your political opinions. I have friends that have completely different views from me and my beliefs and sometimes I wonder how they could possibly be in favor of something I don’t believe in but just like in the hypnotist show they were conditioned into their beliefs. It’s not like I blame them, I’m just as guilty at times because I have been conditioned by my media. Basically, you don’t need a swirling screen on a tv to put into some kind of trance so you can form a solid political opinion, you just need to turn on a news outlet and continue to watch that one news outlet.
Now, there’s one thing old Buzz told us folks in the audience when the show started, he said that if you didn’t want to be hypnotized like the folks in the chairs, look away from the tv screen….and that has been my choice. I rely on my faith to guide me through the tough times and I don’t get caught up in all the shenanigans of politics on that swirling tv screen.
Earlier this week while watching ESPN I heard Steven A make the comment that LeBron was the “greatest athlete ever” and it made me wonder if he actually was? I’ve followed sports for the last 50+ years and I’ve seen a few athletes in my day. Having grown up with a weekly Sports Illustrated magazine at my disposal and parents who allowed me to watch sports every chance I got on our television. I admired the level in which professional athletes played their sport and aspired to be just like them.
Here’s my take on it:
First off, we can probably cancel out the “Greatest of all time” label because I would consider the likes of Jim Thorpe or Babe Didrikson to be closer to the “greatest athlete of all time” if we’re talking about all around athletes but I’ll consider all of the modern day greats that I can remember that would compare to the greatest of modern day times in my opinion. The first name that popped into my head as the greatest athlete of my time would have to be Mike Tyson. I don’t think I’ve ever missed a Mike Tyson fight having been a big fan of boxing since the days of watching Mohamed Ali and Joe Frazier and Mike Tyson pound for pound was a machine. His body mechanics and overall brut force was unmatched. I can remember watching the fear in his opponents eyes just before the bell would sound. Some of Tyson’s opponents were just looking for a soft place to land on the mat and hoped the brain damage from the upcoming blows from Tyson wouldn’t be permanent. That was Tyson and he was the best all around fighter I’ve ever seen. Does that make him the greatest Athlete? Tyson could probably play basketball no better than LeBron could box so who knows on that one. Believe it or not I could make a good argument that Bruce Jenner was the greatest athlete of all time if were talking about multiple sports. I can remember watching the rise and fall of Bo Jackson, Michael Jordan, Deon Sanders and a couple of other athletes I would classify as great athletes. How about Pete Rose? I watched him throughout his whole career and I can promise you there isn’t a ball player today that plays with the tenacity that Pete Rose played with. He legged out every hit and wasn’t afraid to mix it up with a few opponents. I believe it was Dave Winfield that was drafted by 3 separate professional sports teams if my memory serves me correctly so in terms of multi-talented athletes LeBron may not compare to other athletes of the past.
Don’t get me wrong here, I see Steven A’s point. I’ve been a big fan of basketball for years and spent plenty of winters growing up on Sunday afternoon watching Wilt the Stilt, Larry Bird, Kareem and his sky hook. Heck, I think Bill Laimbeer could actually be in the running for greatest ever for enduring some of the beatings he took back in the day, most warranted but nonetheless. Seriously though, could LeBron be the best athlete ever? I’ll give him this, he’s probably the strongest athlete out there and LeBron is able to impose his will like no other player. I attended several NBA games here in Atlanta during our daughters High School days and her short lived basketball interest during high school. Often times we had very nice seats just behind the visiting teams bench and sometimes we got to interact with a few of the players. During that time I was able to get a close up view of a lot of NBA players and I can say that of all the players I got to watch, Lebron was definitely the most intimidating. When he drives to the rim you might as well step aside because if you don’t he’s going to make you look stupid.
There’s no doubt in my mind that LeBron is the greatest basketball player of all time but from my 50 plus years of sports spectating, unless Lebron picks up a golf club or a baseball bat and impresses me he got a ways to go to be the greatest athlete of all time. What’s your take on the greatest athlete of all time?
It’s a little more than a week into January and I feel like the past holidays are ancient history. I was on my way to the “Jim”inar a week ago this morning and getting ready for a big day. We had a blast last weekend. BASS elite series pro and Enigma Fishing owner Jesse Tacoronte, his brother-in-law Shane P plus BASS elite series pro Shane Lineberger were all guests for the weekend at Cast Away Cove. We had a blast in the man cave and did a lot of chatting about fishing and the upcoming BASS trail while watching MLF on the big screen…LOL It was pretty cool to have that much talent all together in the man cave for a weekend. We did the Jiminar on Saturday which was a raving success with over 170 in attendance. I did a 45 minute presentation and worked in the Enigma Fishing booth for the rest of the day. Sunday morning we all got up and had a little Cracker Barrel before spending a few hours on the lake. Jesse’s brother-in-law Shane had never caught a spotted bass so Jesse wanted him to ride with me and see if we could find some spots. It was windy and very cold on the backside of a strong cold front so that kinda limited our options for success. I wanted Shane to get a good bass up on the rocky points but I also knew that we could catch our fill of spoon fish in a ditch I had staked out earlier in the week that was loaded with 1-3lb fish. We wound up picking on the spoon fish before calling it a day and heading back to the house. Between Shane and I we caught 12-13 spots on the spoon and Shane got his first spotted bass as well as 6 more in addition to his first. His first spotted bas is pictured below. Jesse was heading up to Chickamauga and Shane was catching a flight out and needed to get to the airport so we could only spend a few hours fishing. All in all it was a very fun weekend and now it’s back to fishing.
I got out early in the week spending a few hours looking for that crankbait bite and found that it wasn’t working for me so this week I just kinda messed around with the shakey head and crawling a deep small swimbait. It has been pretty windy this week so I’ve been using a heavier Senko type worm with a 1/4 ounce head to get the bait down in the wind. The worm color has been a green pumpkin type worm with some type of flake. I prefer red or blue. I’ve also been using a Keitech 3.3 swimbait in a Dobyns 1/4 jig head on the points early. I’m swimming this bait at a steady pace early for suspended fish and then slowing it way down and dragging it on the bottom as the sun get’s up. You can also do this in the backs of pockets early swimming or dragging an underspin with a fluke or fluke jr.
Not much more to report this week. I did catch a few more than usual around docks this week but they were usually lacking in size. Yesterday I mainly fished rocks and docks but never found the big ones, just a bunch of smaller fish. The last picture was the biggest from the 7-8 I caught yesterday.
The water temps are around 51 to 53 depending on where you are and the lake level is a little more than a foot below full pool but the expected rains coming this evening could bump that up to close to full pool by late next week.
One other thing that we did that was fun was doing my first podcast. It was hosted by “Fish North Georgia” and lasted and hour and 41 minutes. It’s just a little more of a look at my personal life, military travels and how that relates to my fishing addiction. I’ve included a YouTube link to the podcast below as well as some pictures from the last weeks fishing. Take a look at the Fish North Georgia YouTube page and hit that “subscribe” button for these guys as they have some great upcoming videos and podcasts in the near future planned.
I got out a few days last week and was able to find a few on topwater, spybaiting and dropping. Right now the topwater bite is the big ticket item for me so that’s what I’ve primarily been doing. I’ve been using my little emerald popper to catch them but just about any surface disruption bait works right now. I’ve been catching some doubles lately and that tells me a couple things, one, the bass are hungry and two, the bass are competitive. Here’s my philosophy about topwater baits right now on Lanier.
The bass are feeding on bluebacks that they have pushed to the surface. They have probably singled out one little blueback and they are relentless in there pursuit to get that little blueback. If you’ve been out lately you’ve probably seen this going down on the surface in the form of a bass chasing a skipping or fleeing bait on the surface. If you watch and listen you can hear the noise the bass makes when he’s attacking the bait. I try and emulate that noise with my popper and if you’ve watched my videos, it’s been working out well and I think I’ve got that noise down to a science. Right now the bass are very competitive so if they hear that noise they think another bass is chasing a bait and they have no problem trying to steal that bait from their buddy. That’s why you see more doubles being caught on one lure right now. Another thing bass do right now is follow wakes to the source. If you’ve ever watched a blueback swim on the surface they create a wake, bass can see this wake and they will track it to the source, thinking it’s a blueback so I use a combination of waking and popping. With my little popper, I put a dressed hook on the back and tied up holographic Krystal flash on the hook for added attraction.
Now, here’s where the chop comes in. Here’s one of my biggest tips I can give you about surface fishing and bass, if you want more success with your topwater, find a light chop, whether it’s a point or over structure, position your boat up wind of the chop and throw down wind over or across the point or structure and make your retrieve against the grain of the chop. This does two things, it makes the pop and wake more exaggerated and easier for the fish to see as well as distorts his view of your lure, more so than fishing calm or glassed over water. Another thing fishing up wind gets you is a longer cast and let’s face it, the more time that little bait is in the water the more chances of catching a fish. Here’s a video from earlier this week and a 2 hour afternoon run. You can see the chop and how I work the popper.
If you would like to try your hand at Spybaiting here’s a little info on my setup.
I’m using 7lb Sunline FC Sniper flouro on a spinning rig with a medium heavy rod. No leader, just straight up flouro. I primarily throw the 90 size but if you’re fishing the smaller 80 size you might want to use a medium fast action rod. For a rod I recommend the Enigma Aarons Edge. Enigma uses a different design that most rod manufacturers, it’s lighter and you get a longer cast from that design. I’m on Enigma’s Pro Staff so if your are interested in an Enigma rod, I can help you get a little better deal. I’ve lost very few spybaits this year even though I primarily fish it around and over offshore structure. Whether it’s a crankbait or a spybait, I hold the rod loosely in my hand when retrieving it and if I feel resistance it’s one of two things, either I have a fish or a snag. At any rate, I just gently reel down, if it’s a fish you’ll know because it feels way different than a snag. If I feel the fish head shake, I reel down even faster but I DON”T SET THE HOOK in any fashion. If it’s a snag and you don’t want to loose that $15 lure, don’t panic or try to jerk it out of the snag, just keep minimal pressure on the line and move your boat to the other side of the snag and chances are it will come out. If you’re holding the rod loosely and it snags, chances are the hooks won’t bury too far in the snag and just re-positioning the boat to the opposite side works almost every time. To me, $15 is a lot of money for a lure so I try and make sure I don’t loose it. I also check the first 3-4ft of my line a lot. Especially if I’m catching a lot of fish on it. It can get scuffed up after a few fish and with flouro you don’t want any scuffs or nicks.
The title just about sums it up for the week. For me it’s been nothing but running and gunning brushpiles, mostly offshore and a few long points and flats mixed in. Early in the week my choice of baits was pretty simple, throwing the spin baits over and around structure followed by the drop shot when marking groups of fish underneath the boat. Early in the week the weather was stagnant with very little wind, plenty of humidity and a blazing afternoon sun. The afternoon heat was stifling and I kept moving out of necessity to cool down after fishing the structure in dead calm waters. One bonus we had was that the Corps was generating in the afternoons which seemed to activate the fish and get them moving around and feeding. Early in the week I took a friend out that I had met on the BFL trail so we did a little spin baiting and drop shot for a great day for numbers but not much for size. We totaled between 35-40 fish but nothing bigger that that 2-3lb mark. One spark of life that really got me excited was the topwater bite out over flats while they were generating. My buddy had to do a job interview over the phone while we were fish so I drifted across a flat kinda out of the way of all the boat traffic and it just so happened that the flat we were drifting across came alive with fish feeding one bluebacks. It was very near deeper water and the current from the generation was pulling the bluebacks across the flat. The bass were schooling all around us and I was picking them off with a 2 punch combination of topwater and drop shot. This time of year the topwater can be slow and with no moving air to produce a chop on the water the fish aren’t fooled by the topwater baits as easily. When the fish get active during the generation periods they tend to push more bait to the surface and feed on it. I saw surface temps topping out at 89-90 degrees on Tuesday afternoon right before they started generating. My buddy was conducting his phone interview while drop shotting. At one point I had 2 fish at one time on my Emerald Popper but we couldn’t get them netted before one shook off. It was a great day for numbers.
On Wednesday I noticed they were generating in the early evening so I called a buddy, Mercer, to see if he wanted to make an evening run during the generation period. He was able to meet me at the ramp after work at 5:30pm so I picked him up and we made a bee line for the flat that was loaded with bass from a day earlier. I knew we didn’t have much time so we needed to make the best of it. Mercer likes to drop and the drop shot was a lock during generation. Anything that moved across the flat was going o get eaten by the feeding bass. We got to the flat and started drifting and it didn’t take long till we started marking fish and catching on the drop shot. Mercer busted a good one right away and then followed it up with a striper on the drop shot which is rare in my boat. We caught some good numbers on the flat and we were back at the dock before 8pm.
I didn’t fish Thursday because I needed to get caught up on work but I had signed up for a charity tournament on Saturday so my plan was to fish on Friday and figure out a pattern for Saturday. I launched at first light on Friday and started out throwing moving baits over brush and since there was a little breeze blowing from an approaching front I broke out the topwater popper. It was before dawn and I could clearly see the thermocline on my graph from about 22 feet down through 40-45. Surface temps hadn’t heated up and they were reading mid 80’s. Just as the sun broke the tree line on the lake I caught my first topwater fish. I was on a long point and there was the perfect chop blowing across the point. When it comes to chop and the popper it’s like Goldie Locks and the three bears. There is water that is too chopping and there is water that is not choppy enough but if you can find that right blend of chop blowing into or across a point your chances of catching a topwater bass goes way up. Friday was shaping up to be one of those days so I just started running and gunning offshore structure as well as long flats and points with the popper. It was almost like every stop over structure had a bull spot swimming around it and once you caught the bull spot the topwater would shut down. That’s when I’d break out the drop shot and come at them with that. At the end of the morning I had amassed several nice spots on the topwater popper and a few more good ones on the drop shot. I was fishing with Lanier Jim, aka the drop shot Jedi Master in the tournament the next day and I felt like that between the drop shot and the possibility of the topwater bite going strong we could do well in the tournament.
We got off on tournament morning without any problems and we were running south from Little Hall. When we past by Port Royale, across from Pelican Pete’s we saw a pleasure boat that had run up on the reef over night. It looked like they hit the reef pretty hard but the boat was sitting upright so maybe everyone was ok. LJ and I just spent the day dropping and popping away, hitting brush, flats and offshore structure. We caught a lot of fish during the day and had a blast. LJ was dropping his fruity worms and I was chunking the popper like a mad man. We both caught fish and managed to bring a 3 fish limit of 8.07 to the scales. The top 4 places had between 8-9.21lbs with us bring up 4th at 8.07. All in all it was a good week and I expect this kind of pattern to be the norm for a while. Stay tuned and hopefully I’ll find a few stripers willing to bite the artificals soon. I really haven’t paid much attention to the stripers lately but hopefully that will change soon. Here’s a few pics from the week.
This has been one of my favorite winter jerkbaits for bass and stripers for a few years now. For the bass, it’s a favorite of mine for fishing over ditches when I see suspended fish or I’m searching shoreline structure for bass. It comes in 2 versions, clear and holographic and either one will work for suspending fish and hungry stripers. This jerkbait suspends and is a deadly bait in February for suspended fish over deeper water and shallow shoreline fish. Here’s some pics and a recent video of catching a few stripers with the jerkbait.
This is another old favorite of mine that has been a big success on Lanier. It’s a little deeper diving than the original “Go To” and it has a hole in the bill to create a little more turbulence and add to a little different wobble. It’s been successful in the winter as well as summer and fall. Anytime the fish are a ittle deeper I use the “Go To 2”. Here are a few pictures of the Go To 2 in action.