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Tourney Time

If you watched ESPN over the weekend, you might have caught some of their week-late broadcasting of the BASSMaster Classic.  Yes, the tournament actually happened a week ago, but ESPN chooses to bury it for a week.  In other words, if you really care, you know all about it before it hits ESPN.  Whatever.  B.A.S.S. also has decided to hold their “super bowl” to begin the season now, and that pretty much means they will always fish some southern water for the Classic.  Wonder how those boys would do staring down an ice-hole?

Hot Baits

Anyway, Randy Howell was the winner this year.  There were some mammoth bags brought to the scales.  It was not a tournament where crankbaits caught all the fish, but it was a tournament where crankbaits dominated.  Interestingly, casting crankbaits along rip rap was one of the winning patterns for more than one of the top anglers including Howell.  I love tossing crankbaits along rip rap for a variety of species.

I always find it fascinating that different tournament anglers find different ways to catch fish, lots of fish, on the same body of water at the same time.  Now, someone always catches more or bigger fish and those are the decisions that make the difference between winners and almost-winners, but it goes to show that there often is not just one “best way” to catch fish.

Curiously, before the event finally aired on ESPN, I was receiving advertisements from Bass Pro Shops.  So here you go, here are the “must have” bass baits for this year, Top Classic Lures.

Let me comment about one of those baits.  I have been hearing some talk about these baits before, but now I am sure you are going to hear a lot more:

I am predicting this is the next “fad”, “hot” bait.  Livingston Lures has a whole line up of “fish-calling” crankbaits, Livingston Lures.

Sound absolutely carries better through water than it does through air, and sound, including rattles, have been a component of a variety of artificial baits for a long, long time.  We now are finding that there may be a whole lot more “noise” below the surface of our inland waters than we suspected.  I am betting that most anglers are aware of sounds that can be made by catfish and perhaps other species, but there is research showing that there may be a lot of other sounds from other species out there too.  Rattles are nothing new, but the claims these new baits are going to make is that they produce sounds that are made by bait fish, sounds that actually attract and trigger predator fish to strike.

There actually may be something to these new sound-producing baits.  However, unless you have some really high-tech hydroacoustic equipment and the knowledge to use it, I do not know how you can verify whether these baits are even making sound let alone imitating sounds made by actual aquatic creatures.  You will have to take their word for it.  Before you jump to the conclusion that I am saying these baits are a bunch of hokum, that is not what I am saying at all!  Buy ’em, give them a try.  I might even do so myself, but I am not expecting them to be some kind of magic.  I will look to them as I do the other crankbaits in my tackle box–different tools to fish different depths.  I can already tell you that I have seen times when crankbaits without rattles have worked better than crankbaits with rattles.  Maybe the sounds produced by these new baits will be more subtle and natural and maybe they will work even better?  The only way to answer some of those questions is to tie them on, put them in the water and see what happens.

Local Boys

Back on the home front, make sure to check out this Omaha World-Herald story on some Nebraska boys who will be fishing in a big-time tournament later this week, Angling for a National Title and More.  Ben Milliken and Ben Kroeger of the University of Nebraska-Omaha collegiate bass club will be competing for a national championship in South Carolina.  Again TV coverage of that event will be delayed, but you can follow it live at flwoutdoors.com.  Go “Bens”!!!!!




About Daryl Bauer

Daryl is a lifelong resident of Nebraska (except for a couple of years spent going to graduate school in South Dakota). He has been employed as a fisheries biologist for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for 25 years, and his current tour of duty is as the fisheries outreach program manager. Daryl loves to share his educational knowledge and is an avid multi-species angler. He holds more than 120 Nebraska Master Angler Awards for 14 different species and holds more than 30 In-Fisherman Master Angler Awards for eight different species. He loves to talk fishing and answer questions about fishing in Nebraska, be sure to check out his blog at outdoornebraska.org.


  1. Competition for Van Dam’s Hydrowave, I can’t say I blame them.

    I was thinking of inventing a megger crankbait. The revolutions of my reel creates the desired amperage to travel down my superline insulated conductor to an aluminum bait. As soon as a fish strikes, a relay in the bait closes and stuns the fish for capture. I won’t need any hooks on the bait, just a net! I could conduct lake surveys for a small fee of course.

    Have we become so pathetically impatient with what fishing is? I honestly don’t think I’m that far off.

    Hey, I’ve got a grand idea for Bassmasters. Let’s go backwards and try the same baits barbless, or maybe without treble hooks , live release at the boat, maybe try to advertise something beneficial to the fishing public. Then again, I guess we would lose interest seeing sponsored fisherman suffer the ill-effects of such generic handicaps?

    Sorry, that tournament’s becoming a joke for what it used to stand for and so are companies that are going to that extent to sell a product. Thanks!

    • Ray,

      There is a lot of truth to what you say.

      However, folks have been working on a better way to catch fish, well, since folks have been catching fish. Some of the technological advances have made our fishing more enjoyable and made it easier to learn more while we are on the water. Other advances have been mostly gimmick and over time those tend to fade away (free market is a wonderful thing). We will see what some of these new products will do; I am betting none of them are “magic”.

      Daryl B.

      • I’ve have no problem with new lure innovations, just don’t copy an original and put your special sauce inside or a circuit board and tell me you revolutionized fishing.

        If they want to make some cash, make a hydrowave for silver carp and other destructive species. I’m sure the Great lakes region is ripe for the picking.

        Sorry Daryl, I need ice-out….., wait a minute, nobody has even touched on how to get the ice off quicker! Bingo!!!!

  2. Huh? Too bad we don’t have more bass lakes in NE! That’s a lot a master angler awards for a state employee! Sounds fishy to me! Humm!

    • Frank,

      We have plenty of bass waters in Nebraska just the thing is our best bass habitats tend to be smaller bodies of water, pits, ponds and small to medium-size flood control reservoirs. In spite of the frequent draw downs which do no favors to bass habitat some of our large irrigation reservoirs can produce some excellent bass fishing as well. Swanson has been very good in recent years, Merritt is consistently good and Harlan County Reservoir has been surprisingly good too (2013 High School Bass Championship). As water levels recover in Red Willow, keep an eye on that reservoir!

      We consistently have more largemouth bass entered in our Master Angler program than any other species of fish. A lot of those fish are caught from the small bodies of water I mentioned, but not all of them. I manage to dry off a Master Angler bass now and then myself, do not know what is “fishy” about that. I earn ’em the same way as anyone else–time on the water!

      Daryl B.

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