|Welcome to the IMA Emailer – November 2011 IssueThe IMA EMAILER brings you news from IMA pro staff members across the USA and worldwide.The air is getting crisp, the leaves are changing colors and many anglers’ thoughts are turning to football and hunting. Whether you choose to sit in a recliner, a duck blind or a deer stand, that’s nothing to be ashamed of, but you have to know that you’re missing out on some of the best bass fishing of the year.California guide and fishing instructor Randy Pringle is a die-hard hunter, so this time of year is a balancing act for him. Rather than letting his fishing and hunting addictions work against each other, he actually turns them into complementary pastimes. The observations he makes while doing one allow him to succeed at both.“This is the time of year when Mother Nature is turning,” he said. “Birds are grouping up. You may see five or six white egrets in a place where you haven’t seen them before. That tells you that the shad are moving into the shallows and it’s time to fish. The stripers, the largemouths, the spotted bass and the smallmouths are all moving to the bank.”
He has a carefully composed calendar, with clearly defined “shooting days” and “fishing days” marked, but when the weatherman throws him a curveball, he’s quick to make changes. “That way you can have phenomenal days on the water and phenomenal days in the blind,” he advised. The important thing, though, is to make sure that you get adequate time to experience the fall feed. “The bass don’t know how long fall lasts until it becomes winter. All they know is that they need to eat.”
He employs shad imitators like the IMA Flit and the diminutive Foxy Fry to get the job done. The former, in its several sizes, “allows you to keep the bait in the strike zone longer,” he said. “It’s important to be tight to the shoreline.” The latter, fished on 8 lb. test line, is a numbers-producing machine. When the shad move into the backs of the coves, both lures are deadly with a “stop-start-stop-start” retrieve.
“I never dismiss the Skimmer or the Big Stik,” he added. “But this time of year subsurface baits produce most consistently for me.” While all of the baitfish-patterned baits have their time and place, if forced to take one with him on the water, Olive Herring would be a hands-down first choice: “It’s a killer on every body of water in California,” he said. “Anything with that olive looks like a little baitfish.”
While Pringle plies the backs of coves on the west coast’s famed bass waters, Texas guide Kurt Dove does the same thing on famous Lake Amistad.
“Over the next few weeks, what should start happening is that the shad will congregate in the backs of the drains.” For those of you not from the Lone Star State, a “drain” is where a creek or tributary flows into the lake but doesn’t add water year-round. In effect, it provides a small channel or depression.
“The whole key is the presence of baitfish,” Dove said, showing that a bass is a bass whether it’s in California or on the Mexican border. “I’ll throw an IMA Beast Hunter right down the middle of the drain or on the edges of the hydrilla in 8 to 12 feet of water and fish it with a fast stop-and-go retrieve. The great thing about the Beast Hunter is that it has a really tight wobble. Wide wobbling baits have their place, but in the fall that tight action mimics the bait really well.”
His favorite Beast Hunter color pattern is Bluegill, which he believes replicates not only bluegills, but also Gulf killie minnows, tilapia and both threadfin and gizzard shad. Sometimes he’ll mix in Blue Sexy Shad or Silver Lining, too. He fishes it on a Powell 703 rod instead of a typical cranking stick, and pairs it with a 5:1 gear ratio reel spooled with 16 lb. Toray fluorocarbon. The combination of the rod and the line allow him to rip the bait out of the submerged vegetation, often triggering arm-busting strikes. He’ll also throw an IMA Rock N Vibe on the same setup when the fish are suspended. “Sometimes they’ll be in 2 to 5 feet of water over 10 or 15 feet,” he explained. “This allows you to target two separate fish, those up in the water column and the ones hunkered down on the bottom.”
Did we even have to ask Bill Lowen which IMA lure is his favorite? While he uses the entire lineup, there’s no doubt that his namesake Square Bill gets extremely heavy usage in his FeatherFlage Skeeter. While he likes to cover water, he’s careful about where and when he fishes.
“The biggest key in the fall is bait,” he said, echoing Pringle and Dove. “On lakes the shad migrate to the backs of pockets. On rivers, it’s into creeks. I like to look for a place where a channel runs up against a flat. That’s where shad tend to stack up. If there’s no bait, I won’t fish.”
While his retrieve speed may vary from day to day, based on trial and error, he noted that “the Square Bill was really designed for reaction bites. As long as the water temperature is fairly warm, you want to crash it through cover. Then, as it gets colder, you can slow it down to keep it in the strike zone.”
In clear to slightly stained water, he prefers “some type of shad pattern, like Silver Lining or Foiled Bluegill. If the water has a little bit of color in it, he turns to bone. And if the water is downright dirty, he likes something with some chartreuse in the paint job, although he noted that most of the time “in the fall it tends to stay pretty clear, so it’s more of a shad bite.” He throws it on a 7-foot medium-heavy All-Pro cranking rod, first with a 6.4:1 Revo reel, but when the water cools down he’ll go to a slower retrieve ratio, “so I have no ability to work it fast.” Similarly, he varies his line size, starting with 15 lb. fluorocarbon early in the fall, when he’s using a fast and erratic retrieve, then downsizing to 12 lb. later in the year when he needs to slow down.
Fred Roumbanis is another pro who lives by the Square Bill this time of year in his adopted home state of Oklahoma. He’ll mix in his signature Roumba, too, because this time of year “as the water temperatures are falling, the bait is hitting the bank.” Sound familiar?
“Once the water temperature is below 60, it’s hard to beat the Square Bill around here,” Roumbanis said. “I like to fish it on flats with a little bit of a break line or a creek channel nearby. If you can find any little isolated piece of cover, be sure you make multiple casts to it. If you catch a fish from it, you can often come back later and catch another.”
He’s a firm believer in the power of the Square Bill’s deflection abilities. “I like banging bottom with it. It’s not just cast and reel it in. I want to be as erratic as possible.” The two colors he uses the most around home are Chartreuse Shad and Citrus Shad, fishing them on a 7-foot medium-heavy IRod, paired with an Ardent XS1000 and 15 lb. P-Line.
In addition to fishing local events and preparing for February’s Bassmaster Classic on the Red River, Fred also has a special expedition planned for this off-season: He’s headed to South Africa with fellow Elite Series pro to fish for Tigerfish. They’re mean, toothy critters and he’s anxious to put a Big Stik in front of one and put his skills to the test.
Our lone East Coast representative in this edition of the emailer is South Carolina pro Michael Murphy, who spends this time of year working lakes that are loaded with blueback herring. That gives him prey to imitate, but it can also make the fishing tough – even if the bass are feeding heavily they have tons of natural feeding opportunities in front of them.
“Right now the fish are moving off the secondary points into ditches, in two feet or less of water,” he said. “They’ll stay there for about a month. I go after them with the Rock N Vibe.”
While there are lots of other lipless crankbaits to choose from, he said the smaller profile but heavier weight of the Rock N Vibe gives him an advantage. He can cast it longer distances, then burn it while allowing it to stay down in the strike zone, covering water.
Surprisingly, he throws it on 15 lb. monofilament line. “Some people prefer fluorocarbon or braid, but I like the castability of mono. When they’re up shallow sometimes you have to sneak up on them.”
He’s also a stickler for a particular rod action and dotes on his 7 ½ foot Denali cranking rod.
“This time of year the fish are apt to just slap at the bait,” he explained. “They’re not eating. It’s more or less a reaction bite. You’ll end up foul hooking some of them, so that parabolic rod action is a must if you don’t want to lose them.”
He said lure color isn’t terribly important. While he likes to imitate the bluebacks, he noted that there are also threadfin shad mixed in, so any natural baitfish color should work. “It’s more about the action than the color, but keep it in the shad range.” Chartreuse Shad and Chrome Blue Back are staples in his boat.
“Right now the water is in the mid- to upper-60s around here,” he concluded. “This bait will last at least until the water gets below 55. That’s when they get into their winter patterns.”
Maybe then you’ll want to get back to hunting…..or maybe not. Every part of the country may fish a little bit differently right now. Even neighboring waters can have totally different bites during the heavy fall feed, but there’s no better time to be a hard bait fisherman and as our pros make clear, there’s an IMA hard bait for every situation you’ll encounter.
In addition to using IMA products at the end of your line, you can now wear the company logo proudly. After numerous requests from educated anglers, we’re bringing IMA apparel to a tackle dealer near you.
We have short and long sleeve shirts available in both white and navy blue, boat towels and beanies, along with baseball hats. As with IMA hard baits, they’re only the finest quality and will make a splash at your next bass tournament or out on the town.
As always, we’d love to hear about the bass that IMA lures produce for you, whether on your home body of water or on the trip of a lifetime. Please send pictures of your fish, preferably with an IMA bait in its mouth, and a short description of what made the catch memorable.
Each month we’ll pick one winner who will get to choose the apparel item of his or her choice as a thank you for supporting and using IMA products.