BassWestUSA - January/February, 2010, Page 57

ligent poker player knows when to fold a hand, knowing he will be dealt better cards later. Clever hunters know they have a better chance at bagging a record-class animal by staking out a migra- tion route rather than hiking aimlessly through the woods. The same is said of successful trophy bass hunters – they know their game so well that they recognize how to put the odds in their favor of catching a giant bass. When I contacted Mike Long to interview him for this article, as usual I didn’t have a clue what he wanted to talk about. Fortu- nately for me, he did. “I do seminars all the time and the number-one question I’m asked is, ‘How do you target these big bass?’” Long said. “Because of that, I really feel an article on how to increase your odds in trophy fishing is due.” So what’s Mike Long do to increase his odds at finding and catching big fish? Read on and you’ll find out.

create shadows on steep drops. During the mid part of the day, these are the spots I want to hit when the angle of the sun gets right. “Another way of eliminating water is to walk your lakes when they are low,” he said. “That’s really the best time to find the spot on the spot. I take pictures of these places and when I look at my maps before my trip, I re- fresh my memory of what these spots have on them.” “It’s all part of the equation and although you may not be able to fish every spot you set out to, you’ve eliminated a lot of unproductive water,” he said. “If you spend all your time in the right areas, you have played the percentages to put a big bass in your boat.”

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“First and foremost, whether it’s tournament bass fishing, fun fishing or trophy bass hunting, the number-one thing to put the percentages in your hand are to eliminate bad water,” Long said. “It all falls back to basic principles. If you’re fishing where the big fish are, you have just played the percentages in your favor. “Before I go out, I always study my maps no matter how many times I’ve fished the lake. I want to take into consideration the time of year and the temperatures and then figure out what areas of the lake are good for those conditions. “This time of year (winter), I want to try to find a point or some area like a ledge that has deep-water access,” he said. “Those kinds of spots show up well on topographic maps and they will be my target areas this time of year. “Once I establish those places, my next goal is to find the spot on the spot. This can be a large boulder, tree branch or a steeper drop within a main drop. “The other deal is we have Florida bass out here,” he said. “With Florida strain largemouths they have a big tendency to go against the grain a lot of the time. With these fish, you have the home-guard fish that don’t move and there are also the fish that follow the bait. These fish (the pelagic fish) are hardly ever in an ambush mode. The home-guards, though, you can figure out as they will be hunkered down on that spot on the spot. “The next thing I want to do is determine what the light level will be on these spots at different times of the day,” he noted. “The big Florida fish we have out here are very conditioned to low light and I want to make sure I am hitting my spots when the light conditions are at their prime. “Low light first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening are easy to figure out. But what about during the mid-day hours? There are a number of factors that can give low-light con- ditions during the middle of the day that people don’t consider. “Stained water is a good example of a condition that creates low light in the water column. The same can be said of a drop-off or steep bank that’s behind the sun. Remember, in the winter the sun is not vertical in the sky butt is at an angle. This angle will

“Time of day is another important factor when chasing big fish,” Long said. “In my studies, there are key windows this time of year until the end of February. From my notes, the best times to catch a big fish here in southern California are between the hours of 8:00 am and noon. I want to make it clear that that is my window of opportunity here and yours may be different in different parts of the country. “The reason I feel this is the best time is because the fish feed more in the morning hours this time of year. Here we have an offshore breeze in the morning and then it gets calm and the wind changes to onshore

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