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rodbender27

How to deal with people keeping bass

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rodbender27

Looking for advice on how to approach/converse with those who choose to keep bass. I have worked at public boat accesses around the metro for a few years now and see anglers taking bass home with them more often than I would care to see.

As an avid bass fisherman, I have bias toward complete catch and release on all bass that are caught, however i understand that it is completely legal to harvest bass as long as one is complying with harvesting laws. The big problem for me persoany is when i see people keeping the totally wrong size fish (15"+) if you were to want to keep some. 

I have struggled in how to go about trying to make people think twice about choosing to keep bass (or at least the larger fish) without making it awkward or seeming like i am shaming them. Would like any input on how I could go about conversing with these people. Any personal accounts would be great, thanks

 

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delcecchi

If I were you I would mind my own business.  Harvesting bass instead of just annoying them is perfectly legal.   

You could always write a strongly worded letter to the DNR and your state legislators suggesting special regulations on those lakes that concern you or even a statewide change if you really feel that it is a problem.   

 

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rodbender27
28 minutes ago, delcecchi said:

If I were you I would mind my own business.  Harvesting bass instead of just annoying them is perfectly legal.   

You could always write a strongly worded letter to the DNR and your state legislators suggesting special regulations on those lakes that concern you or even a statewide change if you really feel that it is a problem.   

 

Thank you for your opinion. I respectfully disagree with just standing by, as multiple 3lbs+ bass were shown to me in a livewell this morning coming off of a 300acre lake. Again i completely realize this is a legal choice to make, and at times selective harvest is necessary for maintaining a healthy ecosystem. Where I live in Minnesota, bass are plentiful, but fish of that calliber and bigger are not growing on trees and it takes multiple years to get to maturity. As aforementioned, i am serious about the sport aspect of bass fishing and hate to think of the idea of 10+ yr old fish being taken from lakes of such small size especially. I have personally seen the possibilities catch and release offers as myself and a buddy have caught the same 4lb fish with distinct bird/pike bite marks on 3 separate occasions just this spring/summer alone. 

Again i do not mean to shame these people for being proud of catching quality fish, just want to find the best way to try to shape their thinking to take a more conservationally responsible approach to fish harvest choices. I appreciate any help i can get

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Wanderer

I respect your conservation minded approach but trying to TELL people not to keep those fish will just get you more of the same response you already got.  I also agree <15 inch bass are better keepers.  I keep a few myself each year and rarely keep anything over 16, preferring 12’s for the table.

I’ve been a bass tournament angler in the past and have also promoted staunch C&R, much like the modern muskie culture, but have grown wiser with age.  I still target bass quite a bit just because they’re fun!

On a 300 acre lake I agree a small group of anglers can and will have an impact with constant return visits to harvest large fish but the only two things you can do about it is, 1) As mentioned, lobby the DNR for protected slots, and 2) When people are happy to show you their catch, congratulate them and mention you like bass too but find the smaller sized fish much better table fare.  And maybe that you also fell releasing the mature fish keeps reproduction up to sustain a quality fishery.  And be nice about it.  Once you turn people off they’ll stop hearing you.

That’s about all I have for ya.  Good luck.

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Harry Goodliffe

a sign that ASKS people to selective harvest, releasing the bigger fish to keep those better fish genes in the population if you keep fish eat smaller fish...the old bill dance quote "limit your kill not kill your limit.... catch what you can use and release the rest to fight another day"

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Cliff Wagenbach
Posted (edited)

I have eaten quite a few small mouth bass from Vermilion and a few large mouth bass from other lakes.

The smaller small mouth are not bad table fare! The larger fish taste like mud to me! All large mouth taste like mud to me!!😛

If you were to suggest to these fishermen that eating the smaller fish will make a much tastier meal, not to mention a much safer meal because of the contaminant level in larger fish, that may make a difference in what they decide to keep.????  But as you said, they can legally keep them of all sizes.

The DNR approach of a size limit would be best!

Cliff

 

Edited by Cliff Wagenbach

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delcecchi
Posted (edited)

Gotta be careful to keep the holier than thou attitude under control whatever you decide to do.

After all not much difference between bass, northern (looking at you harpooners), walleye, even gills.

Edited by delcecchi
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Wanderer
1 hour ago, delcecchi said:

Gotta be careful to keep the holier than thou attitude under control whatever you decide to do.

After all not much difference between bass, northern (looking at you harpooners), walleye, even gills.

Et tu, Del?  

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delcecchi
1 hour ago, Wanderer said:

Et tu, Del?  

I don't confront people on the water about what they do.  Expressing an opinion in general is fine.  Getting up in people's face is different, as I hope you agree.

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Mike89
3 hours ago, delcecchi said:

Gotta be careful to keep the holier than thou attitude under control whatever you decide to do.

After all not much difference between bass, northern (looking at you harpooners), walleye, even gills.

 

 

so what do have against harpooners?????  the Indians did it before us????????????   

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kfk
10 hours ago, rodbender27 said:

Looking for advice on how to approach/converse with those who choose to keep bass. I have worked at public boat accesses around the metro for a few years now and see anglers taking bass home with them more often than I would care to see.

As an avid bass fisherman, I have bias toward complete catch and release on all bass that are caught, however i understand that it is completely legal to harvest bass as long as one is complying with harvesting laws. The big problem for me persoany is when i see people keeping the totally wrong size fish (15"+) if you were to want to keep some. 

I have struggled in how to go about trying to make people think twice about choosing to keep bass (or at least the larger fish) without making it awkward or seeming like i am shaming them. Would like any input on how I could go about conversing with these people. Any personal accounts would be great, thanks

 

If someone is legal keeping 15"+ bass, it's none of your business whether they keep 15"+ fish or not. Just walk away and leave it alone.  If you want to change the regulations, try doing it in the proper manner instead of a confrontation at the boat ramp.  I don't know how others would react, but if you approached me, it certainly wouldn't be positive experience.

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Wanderer
54 minutes ago, delcecchi said:

I don't confront people on the water about what they do.  Expressing an opinion in general is fine.  Getting up in people's face is different, as I hope you agree.

The OP specifically requested advice on how to best address what he personally considers an issue; respectfully.

And yes, I do agree, and therefore respect his request enough to answer it; respectfully.

I’ve personally dealt with the same conflict of interest in the past and feel that I understand the emotions on both sides enough to offer qualified advice that is more practical and useful than just saying mind your own darn business.  

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Horseshoe_Don

Bass is my favorite fish to eat.    I always keep them.   If anyone told me not to I would tell them to go to [email protected]#$.    I always eat everything I catch.

Catch and release is a choice not a law.   As long as people eat what they catch I have no problem with what ever they catch.   Those who waste fish I have a problem with or those who catch and release too much and end up killing fish I even have a bigger problem with.

 

Don

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rodbender27
Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, Horseshoe_Don said:

Bass is my favorite fish to eat.    I always keep them.   If anyone told me not to I would tell them to go to [email protected]#$.    I always eat everything I catch.

Catch and release is a choice not a law.   As long as people eat what they catch I have no problem with what ever they catch.   Those who waste fish I have a problem with or those who catch and release too much and end up killing fish I even have a bigger problem with.

 

Don

Horsehoe, your mindset is the exact kind I am trying to reach out to with information and advice I have been seeking. I hope your reaction and response is hyperbole. I openly asked for input from anyone, but am honestly a little disappointed with the majority of responses being defensive and in favor of bass harvest.

As a relatively young angler (22yrs old) i seem to have percieved that the social norms of keeping whatever you catch had began to change in the last 10 years especially when it comes to bass fishing. With many of Minnesota's (and the rest of the country) most well respected influencers in the fishing industry endorsing selective harvest and catch and release fishing, it would have been my hope that others were starting to listen to the ethos they bring to the table in terms of the arguments regarding the effects of not maintaining a healthy fishery with good genes by non-discriminatory harvest. I do not know if some of you who may be older were simply brought into fishing in a time when attitudes on this topic were different or if you have just chosen to go against the information presented, either way it is your choice. If you have not been made aware of information of the good that catch and release fishing (specifically regarding bass) has done for the sport, i would be happy to present you with some, or just ask your next personal best bass you catch, there is a good chance you caught it because someone else let it go.

i certainly realize that people with attitudes like yours do not make up the majority of bass anglers  (serious bass anglers at least) today, which is why i was surprised to hear your response so overtly against catch and release fishing in a specifically bass forum. 

I hope you and anyone else who responded defensively did not feel personally attacked by my initial posting, and my hope is that, if you were to ever be engaged in conversation with someone about this issue, you would be mature and open to engaging in a conversation and listening to facts regarding biology and ecology while sharing your opinions instead of telling them to go to heck. I also realize that as humans we are relunctant to changing our attitudes and so sadly much of what i am saying here will do nothing to affect future decision making for the majority of those who have previously responded.

I agree with those suggesting contacting DNR with requests for changes of regulations would be the most concrete way to fix this issue, but I see that trully as a last resort and would hope that as an angling community we could engage in meaningful conversations about the future implications for younger generations of fishermen and women. 

Edited by rodbender27
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gimruis
Posted (edited)

Rodbender, I'm with ya.  I cannot recall the last time I kept a bass for table fare.  For starters, they just don't taste that good because they generally come from shallower, warmer, more polluted bodies of water.  I prefer coldwater species like walleyes, perch, and trout if they are the right size.  And even so, I practice selective harvest too.  I personally don't know anyone that specifically goes out and targets bass as regular table fare.  I'm not going to comment about what I think of that practice but I definitely disagree with it.  I used to work for the DNR and veteran a biologist told me that it takes a bass about a decade to get to 20 inches/5 pounds in the upper Midwest here.  That is NOT a renewable resource in any way, shape, or form.  If people started keeping those fish regularly, the resource would get depleted in a short period of time.  The guys going out there as meat hunters every trip can go kick rocks.  That's the older generation way of thinking.  The modern scientific approach to fishing is resource management and selective harvest.  Luckily there is a strong catch and release ethic amongst most bass anglers.  They don't have to go home with fish in their livewell on a regular basis.  They go because they enjoy it.  Muskie anglers are the same type.

As for how to approach these people depleting the bass population on a small lake, I wouldn't say much to them.  They'll eventually see the big picture when they can't catch any more of them.  The fish I wish more people would keep is small pike to be honest.  There are way too many of those in our lakes and rivers because people kept all the big ones for years and now these lakes are loaded with small, aggressive stunted ones that no one wants.

Edited by gimruis
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rodbender27
Posted (edited)
51 minutes ago, gimruis said:

Rodbender, I'm with ya.  I cannot recall the last time I kept a bass for table fare.  For starters, they just don't taste that good because they generally come from shallower, warmer, more polluted bodies of water.  I prefer coldwater species like walleyes, perch, and trout if they are the right size.  And even so, I practice selective harvest too.  I personally don't know anyone that specifically goes out and targets bass as regular table fare.  I'm not going to comment about what I think of that practice but I definitely disagree with it.  I used to work for the DNR and veteran a biologist told me that it takes a bass about a decade to get to 20 inches/5 pounds in the upper Midwest here.  That is NOT a renewable resource in any way, shape, or form.  If people started keeping those fish regularly, the resource would get depleted in a short period of time.  The guys going out there as meat hunters every trip can go kick rocks.  That's the older generation way of thinking.  The modern scientific approach to fishing is resource management and selective harvest.  Luckily there is a strong catch and release ethic amongst most bass anglers.  They don't have to go home with fish in their livewell on a regular basis.  They go because they enjoy it.  Muskie anglers are the same type.

As for how to approach these people depleting the bass population on a small lake, I wouldn't say much to them.  They'll eventually see the big picture when they can't catch any more of them.  The fish I wish more people would keep is small pike to be honest.  There are way too many of those in our lakes and rivers because people kept all the big ones for years and now these lakes are loaded with small, aggressive stunted ones that no one wants.

Thank you for your input and information you have acquired through your experience in the field. I also agree with your words on small pike. It was nice to see the DNR taking a stand on the issue and creating a new set of regulations that will hopefully benefit all areas of our state. 

With some of the responses I have gotten and some of my own self-reflection I have begun to realize that there may not be a best way to approach this issue and try and enhance the mindful thinking of others. For me, this is very disheartening as a passionate angler who has had the tradition of enjoying the outdoors passed down to me from multiple generations before. Taking the interest that was instilled in me from an early age and putting in diligent hours on the water to improve my understanding of fish behavior to catch the largest and most savvy bass has presented me with a sense of accomplishment that I would love to see in future anglers.

I hate to reduce that possitive thinking because there may not be that possibility for anglers who target all species of fish that swim. As much as I see angling enjoyment decreasing if the selective harvest trend does not continue to increase, the most concerning issue to me is one from an economic standpoint as my home state of Minnesota relies heavily on the market of water related activities as one if its major sources of profit generation. If we as anglers (who make up a large percentage of that consumer market) are not able to enjoy the hobby because of depleted fisheries, i fear there will be much greater consequences. 

Edited by rodbender27
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LoonASea

Its been years since I targeted bass ,,,, Ever since I fished a lake during a bass tournament and was told to get out of their way because they were fishing a tournament and paid lot of dollars to be there to fish ,,, My response was "If you want to fish here get up earlier tomorrow" ,,, That kinda soured my opinion of bass fishermen ,,,, Respect for the resource and other fishermen is my train of thought ,,, Back to your OP,,, suggesting that the smaller fish make better table fare might be the better approach and not give the idea that you are standing on a pedestal,,, If you contact the DNR ask when fishing with 2 lines will become a reality    

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leech~~
43 minutes ago, LoonASea said:

Its been years since I targeted bass ,,,, Ever since I fished a lake during a bass tournament and was told to get out of their way because they were fishing a tournament and paid lot of dollars to be there to fish ,,, My response was "If you want to fish here get up earlier tomorrow" ,,, That kinda soured my opinion of bass fishermen 

Lol, had this happen many times on lakes in the Brainerd area and north.  

One nice quite morning my buddy and I got up before day light to fish for Eye's in a small channel between lakes he has a cabin on.  No one in sight on the lake. About 8:30 am we hear this loud roar coming around the point and about 15 Bass boats with 150 to 300 hp motors flying WOT around the point and right up this small channel!  Thought we were going to get hit or swamped by their wakes! 🤪  

I'm all for boys having fun with their toys but asking others to not keep fish they are making a big game out of, not so much! 😕  

That being said I have only kept 3 Bass in my life. One's on the wall and 2 I eat to give it a try and never eat another there after. 

Bass_Tournament_Shedule.jpg

Champ2015_Day1_1st_OSU.jpg

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ozzie
Posted (edited)

To the OP:

As you get older and wiser you will notice that you can only change what you can control and you cannot control what others think is right.  They are within the law so the only thing to do is get the law changed.  Bass are fun to catch but too many of them and they become a nuisance just like small pike...

Also be happy that you are sitting at a landing, getting paid good $$$, to "protect" a lake that more than likely already has most of the invasive species that you are sitting there trying to protect the lake against!!  Sorry but I am not a fan of the AIS inspectors as they just harass most of the time and have absolutely done nothing to stop the spread of invasive species IMO.  My prime example is North Long Lake in Brainerd...4-5 years ago, show up to the landing and see they have a spray station there.  We pull up and talk with the DNR rep and they said they are pressure washing all boat upon exit to spray them for clean travel to next lake.  At this point North Long was listed as a clean lake with no listed invasive species according to the DNR and the DNR employees at the launch that day.  I asked them why wash boats coming out of a clean lake and not washing them before entering said clean lake?  They said it would be too time consuming to wash pre launch!!!! WTF good does it to spray boats exiting a clean lake and not upon entering?!?!?  This is our tax and license dollars being spent on the worst system around: AIS Inspectors!!!! 

Keep up the good fight but to me your attempt to educate people on what to keep is about as pointless as you job sitting at the landing protecting lakes that are already invaded by the same species you are trained to find!!!  People who keep bass, start off with a different thought process, as most don't consider bass (let alone bigger bass) good table fare to begin with... 

Edited by ozzie
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DonkeyHodey

I eat bass.  I also release bass and typically only keep them to eat when they are by-catch targeting other eaters and I'm in the filleting mood...  (I personally don’t want to keep a bass >~14inches for eating anymore; they don't taste as good (especially in the summer), they have more toxins and I buy the argument that bass help control/balance the bluegill population...)

Catch and Release isn’t perhaps the end-all-be-all  for a healthy lake/fishery…

Story #1:  My wife caught a nice ~15 incher in mid-May that was missing an eye...--We couldn't keep him then due to season, but it would've been a bit of a dilemma if he’d been caught a week later after full opener.   Do I eat a bigger fish that might be limited to grow big (?mercy killing) or let the survivor continue to survive?   (It did seem likely his lost eye was a result of having been previously caught (?foul hook with a treble hook or removed roughly/carelessly/mishandled?   I could tell stories, and I suppose that could be an interested thread to start:  fish removal techniques you’ve witnessed that horrify you...  This, perhaps, highlights what Del was getting at in terms of harvest vs. annoying the fish…)

Agree with Don.  Wasting of ANY fish is awful. 

Story #2:  I was fishing this spring in the river and caught a big ol’ beauty of a white sucker (personal best!); when I released it, I was mocked by fellow shore-fishermen for throwing back a "carp" and they advised me the "right thing to do" is pitch it up on the shore...   (there's still alot of fisherman that believe the DNR actually encourages destruction of "rough fish")  I politely reminded them this big treasure is likely providing (through its baby suckers) future countless meals for their precious walleyes…  This argument was laughed at… 

But back to bass…--Rodbender—I think you'll find very few anglers interested in a stranger telling them which fish they can or cannot keep...  It comes across as “stop eating MY future big bass!”  A lake is very much designed to thrive with harvest, and I would point out, releasing everything doesn’t always cleanly equal “more big fish.”

There's comments here about the northern pike that perhaps highlight this paradox;  numerous lakes in MN had a ridiculous slot limit (release all norts <40 inches) that effectively made nort fishing catch and release (since the central and southern lakes effectively can’t produce a 40 incher and even if it could, eating one would be, well, interesting…).  The goal was to produce more big fish—the end result was lakes infested with <20 inch snakes that no one seems to want (and end up a nuisance by-catch when targeting anything else.)  Furthermore, those numerous small norts grow very slowly (and die of “old age” at 27 inches…)  (…thus, now the DNR is expending resources to try and encourage harvest and hence the (in my opinion) move in the right direction with the 2018 nort regulation changes…)  Yes, I know bass and norts are 2 VERY different species and react differently to lake/season/climate conditions, but lakes/fish/nature doesn’t always behave as we intuitively “know” it will.  A fellow fisher (that is eating “your bass”) might be reducing competition for remaining bass and potentially increasing their growth velocity in the lake.  (I will again repeat:  A lake is very much designed to thrive with harvest--be it humans, eagles, loons, cormorants, bears, snapping turtles, other fish, etc…  I know, we humans tend to be greediest, and take our harvest to unsustainable damaging extremes, but, that’s why we have rules/DNR/etc…  Just my thoughts…)

Rodbender—If you want more big bass, there’s a good argument that you should harvest and eat (do not waste!) more small northern pike; they are outcompeting the bass for forage.    (It’ll likely get you farther than trying to guilt/change/bully what is otherwise legal behavior in others…)

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Hookmaster

In the late 70s or early 80s, Outdoor News had a recipe for grilled largemouth bass. The first ingredient was "1 five pound bass". I still laugh at that.

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jwilli7122
Posted (edited)

My "home" lake is about 300 acres with 15-20 ft water clarity.  It's also absolutely loaded with largemouth bass and they taste great - just like crappies.   I've eaten bass out of other lakes and have found some to taste pretty muddy, so I'm guessing it's a water quality thing.

I'm big on selective harvest, and I take A LOT of 10-12 inch bass out of that lake, as I have for the last 25 years.  My cutoff for throwing them back is about 12.5 inches. 

I also keep as many 20 inch pike as I can but always throw back 23.5 or bigger.

Everything is relative, but on my lake, it's much better to take a meal of small largemouths than a meal of big sunnies, crappies, or walleyes, in my opinion.  Bass are a prolific fish in this lake and they can take it. And they taste great.

On the other hand, I agree with you about not keeping 15+ inchers.  The worst thing you can do is keep the 15 incher and throw back the 11 incher (actually, keeping both would be less bad).

To me, largemouth bass in general need less protecting than just about any other species in the state.  1. because they tend to be prolific and 2. because most people don't choose to eat them anyway.   Now if you want to tell people not to keep big crappies or bluegills, I could probably get behind that.

 

 

Edited by jwilli7122
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roony

I agree that the larger bass should be released, same with nearly any species it is good to have a balanced size population. However, hassling someone because they keep some fish for a meal is akin to hunter harassment. Sometimes I think those who preach "catch and release" are actually killing more fish than those who keep a few for a meal and go home to fry them rather than catch all the fish they can.

I am of the belief that if you are going to release a fish you shouldn't even bring it into the boat, just unhook it and let it swim. After the photo opportunity the fish might swim away but that doesn't mean it won't suffer the long term effects of removal of the protective "slime" it is coated with.

I guess it comes down to using good judgement and I see less of that all the time.

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delcecchi

Just out of curiosity, what would lead someone to  get up in someone's grill over choices they make with respect to legally taking fish of any species from a lake?   Who the heck do they think they are?

 

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Better Than Working!

The quickest way to get some one to do what you don't want them to do is to tell them they can't or shouldn't. There is no quick solution to this perceived problem. Time and education are the only way to make long term change to peoples attitudes about things. The more people see educational articles and videos that are presented in a positive manner rather than being told they are wrong is the real long term approach in my humble opinion.

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      Water is pretty high on Vermilion for this time of the year. We were up over the weekend and got another 2 1/2 inches of rain!
    • Chill62
      After a long 13 days straight of work we got out and did a little fishing!  Felt AMAZING to get back out on the water.  We chased panfish Saturday evening and pretty much struck out and went Sunday with the old man and got into a big ol mess of panfish.  Buddy of mine opened up his jig company in Vergas, MN and it's called Panfish Pirates, check him out on facebook.  Hes got a soft plastic called the Kraken that I have never seen before and boy did the fish eat them up!  We didn't use any live bait during the 6 hour trip out fishing and we landed hundreds of gills and crappies.  We landed 6 gills that were 9.5" sadly we couldn't find any big crappies even though the girlfriend lost one at the boat that was over 13".  Fish were on the edges of the weeds either lilly pads or down in the cabbage.  This Kraken has 3 legs behind it and it has natural bouyance within the plastic and it allows the jig to be swam through the weeds slower which was key yesterday.  Dad was in the front of the boat and a few times he had to stop and put his rod down because his arm hurt from fighting the fish and a few times his finger tips were hurting from taking the fish off of his hook but regardless he had a blast fishing.  We used 6 mm jigs tipped with the Kraken pitching from 4-14 feet of water.  Few times we were vertical jigging and my big blue gill pictured below came vertical jigging in about 12 feet of water.  All the gills were returned safely and only 6-7 crappies were taken home for dad to have a fish fry.  Pike must have been starving because I had about 6 blue gills get attacked by pike at the boat as i was bringing them in!
    • Tom Sawyer
      We've been big fans of the 3" minnows, and 5" leeches, along with crawlers, great color combinations, with floating versions ta boot.👍👍     Found the pinched half crawlers to work great for adding spin to "slow death" presentation...
    • redlabguy
      Okay, I’m not into gore. I’ve only had to do surgery on one hook and that’s enough. PSU, I’m wondering how you’re doing. Cliff offered good advice. In the Frazer Bay Area, bobbers are my only means of catching fish of size. I t seems like the dinks are dominating the reefs. Spinners can pick up fish near structure. I was looking back at my logs recently and late July has always been tough.  Dick
    • riverrat21
      Ive been out a few times as well..have tried from the harbor all the way up to boyscout...have been getting a few everytime out but has been slow for me....been trolling crawlers with big colorado blades..have caught fish on flats by barkers,between the bridges,and out from clyde area....got 6 cats accidentally while trolling boards by the community hole south west side of spirit lake...water clarity still sucks in the harbor..a bit better the farther up river u go...has it been kinda slow for everyone?????ive been doing better on fish lake.lol
    • Grainbelt
      And they are big, feels like you have a bass on! We thru them all back.