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Need serious help on Tonka bass


huskminn

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After two outings on Minnetonka in the last week, I have reserved myself to the fact that I am a poor bass fisherman.

I grew up fishing bass in western South Dakota on stock ponds and in resevoirs. I could always catch fish on almost any water.

Since moving to MN, I have concentrated mostly on walleyes. I live a half hour from Tonka and decided that I should learn the lake and go after bass.

Two trips.....two bass.

It seems that I just can't find the fish. I tried fishing docks with a Pop-R, a variety of texas rigged worms and lizards both with and without weight and also spinnerbaits.

I have tried fishing deeper water, but I don't seem to know where to start. I tried off of main points in 8'-20' of water...nothing. Weedlines......nothing. First break from 5' to 10' feet....nothing.

I broke out the crankbaits tonight, fished the weed edges...nothing.

I feel like I've never fished for bass in my life.......can anyone give me a natural lakes bass primer?

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Huskminn,

Wow...
That's some tough fishing man.
I think I can give you two pieces of information that might help just a little bit. I will say this with the pretense however, that you truly were doing everything you said, and you were doing it correctly.
#1 Try fishing in the morning. Minnetonka is a completely different lake in the morning and the Bass bite is far superior to any other time of the day.
Daybreak to around 9:00 - 9:30 am is usually the best bite.
#2 Relax. There are those days, when nothing you do, nothing your throw, nothing, makes a difference. Sometimes fish just simply don't bite. It's at these times when you have to relax and just enjoy being on the water. Most of these days will happen in the heat of the summer (like now). Also, keep in mind that with the amount of beautiful hot weather that we have been having, Minnetonka is getting one of the hardest workouts she's ever had. I've been fishing Tonka for about nine years, and I have never seen a summer as crazy as this one has been for both fishing, and recreational boating. On top of that, Minnetonka is becoming quite the walleye lake and this is putting guys out there that never used to get on the lake. This pressure, especially in the evenings can make a difference.
We're all the same, when you find yourself in these positions when the fish aren't biting we start second guessing ourselves. We start switching lures trying this and that. we start running around the lake looking for that majic spot where the fish are stacked up on top of each other. We start to get aggrevated and our presentations change. Whether you think so or not, you just can't fish when your mad or aggrevated. You start working that jig or worm too fast, you lose control of the boat due to all of the waves, etc, etc....
It's at these times when you just need to relax, enjoy being on the water, and fish with the knowledge you've learned over the years. The fish are there, you just have to keep your presentation perfect, keep a good attitude, and relax. Enjoy the act of fishing, not just the catching.

Good luck

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During the dusk hours. use blue/purple plastic in shallow. If you can find natural shade or over hanging brush, skip the bait under the brush and slow retrieve. If the retreive feels odd, set the hook! Also, skip your bait under docks. If you go under bridges from lake to lake, throw your bait right up on the pillars and let it fall down the pillar, with your bail open, and then retreive. Bass will hold on the pillars and if you let it sink low, you will get the bigger ones. I took that out of Kevin Van Dam's play book from the classic last year. It works!

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Bigbassman,

Ahhhh.....deep breath. Yes, relaxing really is the most important thing. There are times when the intensity with which I fish is troublesome.....but I've been that way since I was five.

My work schedule permits me to fish Tonka in the evening hours during the week. I could get out early on a weekend morning and perhaps I should try that.

I was truly doing everything I said....four rods rigged and ready at all times.

However, I can't honestly say I was doing these things correctly. I've been fishing topwater bass for 20 years...no problems there. Spinnerbaits and crankbaits pretty much fish themselves, with a few exceptions.

Plastics.....I have never done very well with plastics and therefore have little confidence in them. Over the course of my fishing life, I've missed a lot of fish on plastics. I feel the pick-up, then don't know what to do. I've reeled in too many half-worms to want to set the hook immediately. Yet I've had an awful lot of fish drop the bait after just a few seconds.

I'd be curious to hear from a few people on how they approach the hook-set while fishing plastics.


Willy:

My last time out I was using blue/purple plastic. I'm wondering, do you fish it with weight or not? I was having a lot of trouble getting my bait under docks because the water is so high that you've only got a couple of inches to work with.

Thanks for the input folks.......I'm beginning to feel better already. smile.gif

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Bass took over my #1 fish spot last year, and ever since I have been hooked. I spent last year focused on shallow water techniques, and shying away from plastics. I mostly power-fished, catching a lot of 2lb and smaller fish, with the occasional 3.

This year I've faced the music, and taken nothing but plastics out with me when I'm fishing. And I would like to hear the same thing Huskminn is asking -- how does everyone approach the hookset? How about when deadsticking a bait -- do you reel down until you can indeed feel the fish (and in this case, the fish can feel you right?)

Finding fish has not been the problem this far. When the wind gets much above 5 mph, the boat gets a little bit more difficult to control and I find myself missing more and more fish. I've had a lot more success on flat days when I can just watch my line, and it is very obvious when something is taking off with the bait.

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I fish a Yamamoto Hula Grub, 5" long. I use a stand up jig, no paint. I insert the hook in the top of the grub and run it through until maybe a thumbs length away from the bottom. Poke it through and try to bury the jig head in the grub as much as possible. With this set up, it is virtually weedless. So I can deadstick it, skip it, or just johnny longcast it out there. I have been fishing this way for about a year and it takes time to learn the hook set, I still get it wrong. You learn to feel what is weeds and what is bass. I set my hook to the side instead of straight up, I find I get a better set that way. The thing abuot the Yammy's is that they can swim and I have heard of people buzzing it across the top and still getting strikes. I do reccommend using a super braid such as spiderwire or powerpro. you can feel it much better. I also use a 1/8 oz jig head. this gives it a slow fall that will often get a pick up. If my retrieve feels even a little odd, I set the hook. More often than not it is a fish, if it isn't, then I probably just cleared weeds off my bait!

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huskminn,
There are a lot of ways to fish plastic. I tend to fish plastic 3 ways, Texas rig, Jig worm (open hook on a mushroom jig), and Carolina rig. Carolina rigs are pretty easy to know when to set the hook, and with the jig worm, the fish hooks itself. The texas rig however, requires a little bit of timing. Bottom structure, weeds, wood, and those daggummed sunnies always pecking at your worm. I agree that sometimes you just don't know when to set the hook, or you wait too long and you know you should have set the hook. Here is my solution. I have given this same advice to everyone I have ever shown to fish worms and I do it myself.
If you feel it hit your plastic, Jerk the everloving snot out of it. You will end up swinging and missing alot throughout the course of a day, but you will also be surprised at how many times what you thought was a sunny a peckin' will turn out to be a bass. After some time you will be able to differentiate between the sunnies and the bass, but it never hurts to just set the hook. A lot of times, the sunnies will be pecking at your worm, and then a bass will come and take it away. This usually comes in the form of a tic, tic, tic, Thump. Always set the hook when you feel a change in the nibble. The other way fish hit is what I call the wet rag. Big fish are notorious for this. You never feel a thing, but suddenly you are pulling a wet dishrag from the bottom. Sometimes this is hard to tell from the weeds, but you should always set the hook on the dishrag. I guess all in all it never hurts to just set the hook. Like my dad always yelled from the back of the boat "hey Jerk, your getting a bite"

Good luck

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So, in other words, set the hook immediately.

For some reason, I have a tendency to want to let the fish "run" with the plastic before setting the hook. That defies logic, but it is my natural instict.

You've been very helpful, but I am curious about one more thing.......worm hooks. Do you vary the size according to the size of the bait or do you pretty much stick to one size for all plastics?

Thanks a lot!

If I'm asking you to give away too many secrets, feel free to e-mail me at [email protected]

[This message has been edited by huskminn (edited 07-18-2002).]

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Here's the best piece of advise. When in doubt, set the hook...hard! BigBassman explained the bites exactly. You will set the hook on weeds, sunnies, pike, etc we all do, sometimes you just never know unless you set the hook. After a while you will learn to tell the difference between a weed and a bass or even a pike and a bass but until then, when in doubt, set. Plus, with the new plastics available with built in scents, the fish do hold onto the baits a little longer giving you a little more time but you should always set the hook as soon as you feel the fish.
As for hook sizes, you should match the size of your hook to the size of the bait. For most baits, a 1 to 2/0 hook is good for baits up to 6", 2/0 to 4/0 for baits up to 8" and 4/0 to really big hooks for anything over 8". Also, I like to use plain offset wormhooks for things such as plain worms, lizards, anything with a slender body. Use the widegap hooks for tubes, flukes, anything with a thick body. Good luck and tight lines!

------------------
Adam Johnson
www.adamjohnsonfishing.com

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BBAssman & AJ -- thanks for the input. I've been getting out on tonka before work the last few days -- the action really picked up this AM with the overcast skies. I'll be setting the hook on anything unusual this weekend -- we've got a club event out on tonka. I'll let ya know how it goes.

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Huskminn,
If these things were secret we'd all be in trouble. You know as human beings we tend to be selfish and secretive, but if these were truly the secrets of the pros, then there would be a lot of magazine companies in trouble, and there wouldn't be any bass left.
One of the things that I've enjoyed since becoming a member of this forum, is reading all the advice that everyone gives each other. You could take any six of us off of this sight, give us all identical equipment and put us all on a small lake, and we would all fish it differently. That's why the fish have the advantage.
I agree with Adam, and his advice is solid. I tend to go a little bigger than this though. I don't own any hooks smaller than 3/0. I rig six inch worms, tubes and baby brush hogs all with 3/0 hooks. I will go to 4/0 when using larger worms and brush hogs, unless the fish are nipping at the tails and then I'll go to 5/0 hooks or Jig worms. I use both Gamakatsu and Eagle claw lazer sharp worm hooks, but I prefer the Eagle claws, because you will never ever break one. I have broken the larger sizes of the Gami's before. I also only use the straight backed sproat style hook, as I think the Tru-Turn style tends to kink up your line to much.
Eagle claw makes a brand new hook also that's super cool. It is a wide gap short hook made for tubes and creature type baits.
Attached to the eye is a small, earing clasp, type of hook that locks the head of the tube in at the eye.
Like I said, we're all different. You'll eventually find what you like, and once you do, fish it with confidence. Always be willing to try new things, but never second guess yourself on the lake, it makes for a poor day of fishing.

Good Luck

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Well, I tried to fish plastic worms with confidence last night on Tonka. My catch rate improved. smile.gif

I also did a better job of moving until I found fish, then concentrating on that area.

I still have yet to pull a bass out from under a dock, though, and that seems odd.

Thanks again. It's been great fun.

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We're heading out to Tonka tonight & then again tomorrow morning. I'll leave a update tomorrow afternoon.

If anyone's out there tonight, we'll be in at Green 1750 Crestliner with a 115 grey Johnson launching at Maxwell.

Jo

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Huskminn,
The first couple of times I fished tonka it treated me badly. These were both club tournaments and the first time out I do not think I even caught a fish that measured. Although I fish this lake infrequently it has treated me much better as that I am learning from my mistakes. I have a tournament out there in a couple of weeks and can only hope that my team does as well as I have my last four times out there, which has meant a limit with some 4 and 5lb fish.

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Huskminn,

If you want a bait easy to skip under a dock go buy some Lake Fork 4 and 5 inch ring fry.

Put a 2/0 or 3/0 hook in the bait. Rig it so it's weedless with no weight. Keep you rod
tip low cast to the side and you will be able to skip that bait under the docks. I prefer skipping jig and pig but this will be the easiest way for you to learn to skip and is a excellent bait for pulling lunkers out from docks.

Just fish this bait slow under the dock twitching the rod tip once in a while. When you fell something differnt set the hook hard.
Remember hook sets are free it won't cost you anything.

A great bait on tonka would be 1/8 or 3/16 oz Gopher jig head barbarian series, wiht a 4 inch black/chartruese finnese worm by Berkley. I also like yammamoto Ika's in the rootbeer color. A Ika is like a tube but it's not hollow. Fish inside and outside weed lines. Under the bridges. I set the hook with this bait but not as hard because I use a spinning rod with lighter line.

Find spots that dont have milfoil as thick or with gravel patches. Cabbage beds will do also.

Carolina rigging I use a 1/0 Gamakatsu wide gap. I don't use the bigger hooks becasuse when you cast the plastic will tend to ball up on you more where the smallere one does not do that. 2nd reason bigger hooks are heavier so they pull the bait down faster. I like my bait to float up above the weeds more. Spots with grave is key or with sparse weed for this to be most effective. Outside edges of milfoil is perfect, casting parallel with the outside weedline. 16-20ft

------------------
Trophy Guides
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Cory Putnam
320-808-7722 Cell
320-763-9598 Work

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Well, thanks again for the advice to AJ and BigBassMan. We ended up with 27.5 pounds for 10 fish in the club tourney yesterday. It was good for a 2nd place finish (missed 1st by a pound!) I set the hook on a lot of weeds, but on occassion the "weeds" started swimming away!!! We ended up fishing patchy milfoil in 10 feet of water. Picked up a lot of fish in the first 4 hours of the morning, then things shut down and we moved out to the weedline where we managed to hook 3 toads and lose 2 of them next to the boat!!! Those fish come out of the deep water with a lot of life in them! I can't let them jump right next to the boat! Well, thanks again guys!

Anyone have any suggestions for White Bear? Club event out there this thurs, and I've NEVER been on the lake!

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As promised. A little info from our weekend.

Please, don't over look the lilly pad fields. Since Friday, we boated 1 19 3/4 and many over 17 inches out of the lilly's. Yes, the big momma's may be deep, but if you're out for a thrill, toss into the lillies. We use 30 lb Power Pro and can get um out of the mess when they explode.

Have fun & keep trying new areas. We've fish Tonka for over 5 years, and still have found a blank area.

Jo

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Question for JoJo?
I will be fishing a tourny on tonka in a couple of weeks. It may sound sad but I don't have any aspirations at all at winning it, but I won't go into those reasons. I am sure we will be fishing docks a good part of the day as that this is my partners strength. I was thinking slop and it sounds like that's what you fish on tonka.
Here's my questions
Do you fish this as a straight pattern all day? Or what time of the day do you hit it?
What conditions and a times have you found optimal?
What range would you place a 5 bass limit in? (From your post it sounded like you can bag a respectable bag)
Can you count on this pattern or does it totally fall apart sometimes?
I am not that familiar with the lake, any suggestions on bays (N.S.E.W.Central) If you want to keep the answers on the qt email me at [email protected]

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