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Proper Planning is One of the Keys to the Catch

I've never been that lucky a person so I have to plan my fishing trips to increase my chances for success. During my planning, I take into consideration: tides, wind direction, water level, water temperature, water clarity, cloud cover, target fish, etc. Once I've gathered this information, I get my charts and begin to plan my trip. When you watch a football game on TV, you see that the offensive coordinator has scripted his first several plays. Likewise, I script my first several stops.

Now that I know where I am going, I rig my rods to match the conditions; mostly water depths and water clarity. The four set-ups that I will generally have rigged are; topwater, a ChatterBait, a popping cork with a jighead trailer, and a regular jighead (weighted appropriately for the water depth). With these 4 basic setups, I can address all the water column depths (top, sub-surface and lower) and the aggressiveness of the fish bite (aggressive to lazy). Fish sense their prey by sight, sound, vibration and smell and these set-ups address them all.

My first casts will be with either the ChatterBait with a PaddlerZ attached or a popping cork with a MinnowZ. Scent will be applied to all my plastic bait. I like the PaddlerZ matched with the ChatterBait because the blade of the ChatterBait provides a slight up and down motion and the side notches on the PaddlerZ provide side-to-side movement. This combination of movement, vibration and smell proves irresistible in many situations. If the water depth is shallower and I am afraid that the ChatterBait might run too deep, I will use the popping cork with the MinnowZ. Also, this rig is heavier and can provide greater casting distance when throwing into the wind. When using the popping cork method, I keep my rod tip low so the water displacement from the cork is greater. After I pop the cork a couple of times, I let the bait sink for 2-3 seconds before popping it again.

If neither one of these methods yields fish, that doesn't necessarily mean there aren't fish in the area. It might just mean that they aren't very aggressive and hanging out on the bottom. In this case, I will throw a Diezel MinnowZ on a Trout Eye jighead (or weedless if needed) and drag it across the bottom. If the ChatterBait or the popping cork method work, my thought is that a more aggressive bite exists. In this case, I will throw a topwater Pop ShadZ to try to increase the drama of the bite. I would rather have one topwater bite to several conventional bites just because of its explosive actions.

-Bobby Brewer

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