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Logging for Bass

By Steve Chaconas

Logging for Bass

Effective angling starts with gathering information. The internet, magazines and classroom tutorials like Bass University yield details discovered well in advance of the waypoint generation.  In the late 70s angling pioneers took mental and written log notes transforming them into an art form.

Ranger Mercury pro Dave Lefebre entered the sport at a very young age competing with his idols, the sport’s legends. His rise to the premier Major League Fishing tour wasn’t by accident. Without today’s sources of detailed information, Lefebre sought a logical approach to fishing.

Lefebre was consumed with stats and worked them into his fishing learning curve to take luck out of fishing. “I didn’t understand why fish would bite like crazy at one time and then it was like there were no fish in the lake at other times.” Keeping logs, he noted the most obvious piece of the data puzzle, fish location. Plotted on detailed grids of his home lake, where he spent the majority of his first fishing decade, dots represented fish. He noticed when fish were biting in one spot, they were biting in others. Whatever fish were thinking, they all thought the same thing. Concluding fish could not communicate, he was intrigued that fish knew when to turn the feed bag on. “I was trying to put my finger on what was causing these things and it was obvious they were not figments of my imagination.”

Separating facts from fishing, Lefebre scoured Bassmasters and In-Fisherman magazines. Windy sides of lakes were identified as best. However, he found guys fishing the calm side also did well. He surmised it was a change of tactics but felt other factors either enhanced or diminished the effectiveness of any fishing location. It had to be more than just calm or choppy water. If they were biting it didn’t matter. Sometimes it had nothing to do with wind. This justified his search for answers. He wrote everything down to figure it out, knowing he might not understand or even recognize the significance until later. “Whether it’s spots on a map or weather changes, if you don’t write them down, you might gain experience, but it will take longer.” Recognizing wind direction was key, maps with dots combined with specific wind direction revealed a subtle clue to developing real fishing patterns.

A piece of the fishing puzzle, moon phase, proved to be true, sometimes, but not always without subtleties.  “Once you figure it out it becomes obvious…not every time, but with a months’ worth of data, patterns appear. Feeding times based on moon phases are real.”  Many influences enhance or diminish moon phase effects, but over years of paying attention, Lefebre continues to seek things that impact success and, over long periods time, he’s found these numbers hold water.

Barometric pressure came into play and onto Lefebre’s logs. In his early career he relied on his barometer for these magic numbers which turn fish on or off. Logs lined up conditions with the barometer: factoring wind intensity and direction, cloud cover, post and pre front and front, and water and air temperature.

At 18, Lefebre recorded everything. Exact fish catch positions were plotted. Whether a specific side of a tree, in vegetation, or in open water, no detail was too slight. How fish bit lures was noted. Intra-day changes were written into margins of each days’ action. Seasonal patterns, water temperature and time of year were making sense. “Unless you are older it’s hard to relate…we didn’t know about how fish get lethargic post spawn.” Weighing the same size fish at various times of the year indicates a lot about how fish are eating and their subsequent mood.

Wherever FLW Tour and Bassmaster Elite Series tournaments took him, he carried his logs for reference, looking for something familiar from his developmental decade. Lefebre’s logs and his expanding experience enabled him to make short work of bigger fisheries. Decisions came naturally as his teenage hobby was paying off, allowing him to cope with conditions and adapt to changes.

Compiling and evaluating data is still worthwhile for the pro, but cumbersome. Tournament site diversity makes practice time more critical. Understanding conditions and time of year saves time. While there are many consistencies between fisheries, Lefebre still seeks data, but schedules and venue variety make it difficult to dedicate the same effort. Lately Lefebre has been using new technology. With a tap of a button, Anglr Fishing App records the catch, drops waypoints and records all the info. Notes can be typed in later.  Future releases will integrate with Lowrance.

Keeping logs might seem old fashioned, but fish won’t know if they were captured with a paper log or with an app. But for serious anglers either is time well spent to get the most out of time on the water.

Potomac River Bassing in March

Great time to get the season started. Fish are moving out of deep water. Water is warming and fish are going to be a bit more active.

Carolina rigs with 30 pound Gamma Torque braid and 12 pound test Edge fluorocarbon leaders will cover water. Use 2/0 Mustad Ultra Point Mega Bite hooks with Mann’s HardNose lizards. Soak in garlic Jack’s Juice Bait Spray. Round Valley ¾ ounce Tungsten weights keep baits on the bottom for a slow drag and stop presentation. Quantum Smoke casting gear with a 7’4” rod enables long casts and sweep sets.

Try is lipless crankbaits. Use ½ ounce or heavier red baits this time of year. Cast on 12 pound test Edge fluorocarbon line and slowly crawl along the bottom. By the end of the month, more milfoil grass will emerge and hold fish. Mann’s Classic Spinnerbaits can be fished slowly as well on 12 pound Edge line. Crawl along the bottom.

Once cover is located, try Texas rigged Mizmo tubes.

Author Capt. Steve Chaconas is Potomac bass fishing guide & contributing writer for BoatUS.com. Potomac River reports: nationalbass.com. Book trips/purchase gift certificates: info@NationalBass.com.

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