Posts Tagged Chatterbaits

Presque Isle and Pymatuning Lake

Saturday my dad, Dave, and myself went up to Presque Isle Bay because we heard that the smallmouth bass had started to move into the bay. For anyone who hasn’t been to the bay in the spring you have to make the trip. We started by fishing for largemouth straight across from the launch. It didn’t take long and Dave caught one on a tube and I hooked up with a swimbait. I was determined to use the swimbait because I knew the chatterbait would catch a bunch of fish. I managed to catch 3 largemouth on the swimbait through the day. that isn’t impressive, but it is a little confidence builder to keep trying them. throughout the day we caught smallmouth on jerkbaits, tubes, and drop shot worms. We spent most of the day fishing for them. I believe we caught over 20 between the 3 of us and we caught over 25 largemouth. We caught largemouth on brush hogs, swimbaits, chatterbaits, tubes, beavers, and jerkbaits. The water temperature was 58 – 60 degrees. The fish were not spawning, and the males were not making beds yet. I believe in 2 weeks there will be an explosion of fish getting on the beds.

Sunday even though there were bad weather predictions I decided to head to Pymatuning Lake to fish a club tournament. The club I belong to (West Penn Bass Hunters) was launching from Jamestown Marina. With strong winds predicted to come out of the South we were protected from the wind to some degree. I pulled up to my first tree and caught a nice 2.5lb fish. I started throwing rattletraps to my next tree and caught a nice 15 inch largemouth out of a small weed bed. I started work the tree and nothing. I decided to just keeper moving down the shore throwing the rattletrap because I have had some success for smallmouth bass there. It didn’t take long and I had caught 5 more keepers, and lost 2 on the rattletrap. Even though they were keepers I released them all because I feel that stressing 12-14″ bass is unnecessary at that lake. You aren’t going to win with one of them in the well anyways. Jumping spot to spot landed me catching another nice 2.86lb largemouth on a chatterbait. My gut told me to run north, but with building wind and aready high waves I decided to stay in the south. I caught some fish flipping, but decided to try a variety of different tatics with no success. During the last hour I decided to run around the lake and flip every tree I could find. It turned out to be the right move. I culled five bass in the last hour. I won the tournament with 3 fish that weighed 7.45lbs. I also won lunker with the 2.86lb fish. Not a very impressive day, but it was fun none the less.

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April Weekend at Lake Arthur

I fished both days this weekend at Lake Arthur.  On Saturday my Dad and I put in at the 528 launch around 10 am and started fishing up in Shannon’s bay.   We got a few largemouth on chatterbaits and spinnerbaits as well as had a few musky that were following our lures to the boat.  Next, we ran up to the old 422 finger and fished in the bays across from the launch with no luck.  Then we  ran back to fish some laydowns in muddy creek with nothing to show for it.   We only caught one keeper all day on Saturday so my hopes for doing well in my club tournament on Sunday were not very high.

Sunday we put in at bear run at 7 am and I ran straight to Shannon’s bay where we had caught a few fish the day before.  On my first cast I had a musky come up to the boat and bite off my chatterbait.   Then I picked up my spinnerbait, made a few more casts and had another musky hooked up that straightened out my trailer hook.   Still not having caught a bass, I grabbed my Red Eye Shad and within a few cast it was gone.  Something ate it off.  I’m guessing a musky.  I was getting a little pissed at this point, so I moved in close to an isolated weed patch and started pitching a beaver.  After about a dozen flips in a little musky or pike flash on it and bit it off.  That was enough of that so I picked up and ran down to old 422.  I made a few cast with my chatterbait and caught a small largemouth.  A few cast later, I hooked what looked to be a really good largemouth that came straight at me shaking her head but it came unbuttoned.  After loosing that fish, I stuck around for awhile but didn’t get anything else.  For next few hours I ran around trying all kinds of different spots:  weeds, laydowns, piles, ect.  No fish.  Finally, I ran into muddy creek around one o’clock and started pitching a craw into some shallow brush that I have caught fish off of in the past.   I got hit on my first pitch but missed the fish.  I made a few pitches getting hit each time but missing the fish.  After about 15 pitches, I hooked up with a solid 3.69lb largemouth.  I put her in the boat and made a few more pitches and got a 3.5 lb largemouth.  I finished out the day fishing laydowns and managed to get my 3rd keeper, a 15″ largemouth.  My total weight with a three fish limit was 9.01 lbs.  All my keepers came in about three feet of water off wood on a green pumpkin craw.

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Tool for making Skirts for Spinnerbaits, Chatterbaits, or Jigs

Leo Cancilla shows us how to use a ballpoint pen to make it easier to make  spinnerbait, chatterbait, and jig skirts. This trick makes it easy to get the collar over the silicon skirting material.


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Clear Water

Berkly hollow belly swimbaits are great options when fishing clear water.

If you are fishing clear water for any species of fish you must match the forage of the body of the water.  This is well painted jerkbaits and crankbaits can really do well.  Also, life like swimbaits are a good options.  If you are using spinnerbaits or chatterbaits you should use a more natural looking skirt with the proper blades to match.  The same is true with crawfish.  Depending on what part of the country and type of structure that  you are fishing crawfish take on different color patterns.  Knowing which pattern will lead to a higher success rate.

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Final Tournament of the Year – Lake Arthur

The final bass tournament of the year has come and gone.  The bass club I fish in, West Penn Bass Hunters, had there final tournament of the year on Lake Arthur last Sunday.  I had not pre-fished for this tournament, but Lake Arthur is my home lake so I had a good idea where the fish might be.   After looking through my notes from the past few years, I decided that I would need to fish shallow weedlines and/or wood to get my fish.   We launched from 528 launch at 8am, with clear skies, no wind, warmer than average air temp, and the water temp was 49°.  My first stop of the day was a cove about half way down the lake.  Not knowing exactly where the fish would be I picked up my white chatterbait and started down the bank.  It didn’t take long to get my first hit, maybe 15-20 minutes, but it was just a 13” largemouth.  My next bite, coming just a few minutes later was much better, a solid 4.56lb largemouth.  After getting that big girl so early, I was planning on having a great day of fishing.  I fished around that cove for the next few hours, changing my lures and trying a spinnerbait, jig, jerkbait, and a beaver but was only able to get few more dinks.  I moved down around Bear Run next but didn’t get anything down there so I decided to make the run all the way back up to muddy creek.  I fished around in weeds with a spinnerbait and chatterbait for a few more hours with no success, so I decided to try dragging a beaver.  I was able to get one hit on the beaver, which ended up being my last keeper of the day, a 3lb largie.   My final stop of the day was up in Shannon’s Bay where I got one more dink on a chatterbait.  It was time to take in my fish in and see how everyone else did.  My total weight with my two fish was 7.65lbs and it was just enough to squeak out the win over two other guys that had three fish limits.  It was a great day to be on the water as the weather was nice and even though the fishing wasn’t great the size of the fish I got made up for the low number of fish I caught.

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Potomac River – Regional Championship

Recently I competed in the Bassmaster Weekend Series regional championship at the Potomac River.  The tournament was held on October 16 and 17, but I decided that with a new triton boat on the line and a bid to the nation championship on the line that I would go practice from Monday the 12th thru Thursday the 15th.  I was fortunate enough to room with a great group of guys from Pennsylvania.  I would like to thank Steve Hughes, Gus Glasgow, Ted Glasgow, Steve Allard, Mark Hughes, and my dad, Ron Cancilla, for a very enjoyable trip.  It was nice to be part of a group of guys that acted like a team to help one another develop winning patterns together.  For me it was my first trip down to the Potomac River and the guys gave me important information on dangerous areas and what to look for as far as fish habitat.

Before I left for my trip all I heard was how great a fishery that the Potomac River has become.  I believe that if we would have got better weather I would have seen that.  Unfortunately, with falling water temps all week, the conditions got more difficult as time went on.  Here is my experience.

Monday was my true first day of practice and decided that I should stay close to the launching site of the tournament.  The tournament was launching from Smallwood State Park on the Maryland side of the Potomac River.  Smallwood State Park is a beautiful facility, but has a $10 launching fee per day.  Smallwood State Park is located on Mattawomen Creek and is known for its number of bass.  That was apparent right away as I boated a bunch of small keepers on white spinnnerbaits, chatterbaits, buzzbaits, and a series 1XS strike king crankbait.  A keep largemouth bass during this season at the Potomac River is 12 inches and most of the fish that I found were in the 13-14″ range.  Around mid day I decided that I would try a couple of my lake spots that I wanted to hit with little success.  I did manage to catch a snakehead.  For those who don’t know these are fish are an invasive species that you are supposed to kill when you catch them.  I however did not kill the snakehead that I caught because I didn’t have a picture of the fish with me to determine if that is truly what I caught.  Later that night I confirmed that is what I caught.  After Some main lake spots, I decided to run to Belmont Bay and the creek in the back of it.  The water looked fantastic, but I only managed 3 keepers in there.  The water temperature was 65+ degrees depending on where we were fishing.  The weather was warm 70’s and mostly sunny.

Tuesday I decided to make my longest run of practice.  I decided to fish Aquia Creek, the Arcandale Flats, and Wades Bay.  There is not a lot for me to right about Tuesday because I only managed to catch 4 bass.  The best was on a series 4 strike king crankbait.  It was Tuesday that I finally saw the results of catching the tides wrong.  However, it would take me until the last day of the tournament to learn how to fish the tide change properly.

Wednesday I decided that I would spend less time running the big motor and more time trying to catch fish.  I decided to fish Chickamoxen Creek, main river areas, and 1 other small creek.  Up until 2:30 I was having very little success only catching 2 keepers all morning.  I had found some rip rap in about 3 1/2 feet of water at high tide.  Feeling a bit defeated I switch to finesse fishing a shakey head worm on a football shakey head jig.  Wow, did it work!!!  I stuck 4 fish on the 400 yards of water and had many more hits.  I figured that I would have had about 13lbs of fish with my best five fish that day and was confident that I would get those fish to myself in the tournament.  The weather starting changing Wednesday though.  It started sunny, but the wind picked up and overcast move in.  The water temperature had started to drop as well.

Thursday I decided to try to find more rip rap for my shakey jigs.  The weather had turned nasty though.  Cold rainy conditions should have allowed for my pattern to hold up, but it killed the bite.  Around 9:30 I decided I would give Belmont Bay and its creek another try.  I had no success.  Around 11:00 I decided that I was going to start at the Occoquan River mouth and fish the weed line with crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and chattebaits, until I found a spot with some fish or I found a lure that worked.  After about 1/2 mile and 15 lures I found a lure and stretch that was loaded with keepers.  They weren’t big keepers, but I figured it got tough these fish may get me into the top 50.  My lure of choice was a lucky craft flat crankbait that had a less aggressive wobble in about 5-7 feet of water.  The water temperature was now around 58 Degrees and falling.

The first day of the tournament was Friday and I managed to draw 1st flight and boat 25.  That made me feel good since there were 167 boats in the tournament.  The weather was rainy and windy and the air temperature would never get higher than 45 degrees.  I had made my mind up the night before that I would start on the best fish that I found with my shakey head pattern.  From 7:15 – 10:45 I worked these fish hard and only managed to catch 1 keeper that was 12 1/4″.  My rider managed a small limit using a white spinnerbait.  At this point I decided to make the run into the Occoquan River and work the fish I had found the day before.  Over the next 3+ hours I caught 12-15 more keepers on the same lucky craft crankbait working a short stretch of water.  The key to the spot was that at low tide the fish located themselves on the weed edge.  Pulling crankbaits through the weeds was frustrating, but it was producing fish.  At 1:30 I decided to leave the fish and try a couple of spots on the main river that I though could give me a big bite.  Check-in came and I managed no more keepers.  I weighted 5 keeper largemouth bass that weighed 8.34 pounds.  For the Potomac River those are bad numbers, but I was sitting in 37th place.  The game planning started for the next day.

Saturday morning came and I was in 2nd flight and was boat 112.  The wait in the morning about killed me, but the weather was even more brutal.  The air temperature would once again never break 45 degree and it would rain/sleet all day.  Through the course of the night I had decided that I was going to sit on the one school of fish I had located in the Occoquan River all day.  What I hadn’t truly realized yet is how the tide effects where the fish were located in the spot I was fishing.  I ran to my spot right away and started working my fish with the same lucky craft crankbait.  After 2 hours of fishing my stretch I had no keepers on my weed edge.  Then I remembered the words that Steve told me before I left that morning.  “You will be surprised how shallow that the fish will go when it is high tide.”  I pulled out my spinnerbait rod opened my box and picked out a spinnerbait with 2 small nickel willow blades and a pink/white skirt.  Normally, I would only throw this spinnerbait for smallmouth, but I was desperate.  Three casts after I started beating the bank I caught my first keeper.  Then it was back to nothing.  Figuring it was a fluke I decide to work my weed edge with some other lures for another hour.  Once again no luck.  At this point the tide was going out so I decided to work the weeds in between the bank and my weed edge.  I decided that I would also drift to not spook the fish.  Oh my how it work.  In the next 10 minutes I loaded the well with a small limit.  But I had my limit.  As I finished my drift I realized that 10 boats saw me catching fish and swarmed my area.  Knowing that the fish were shallow I knew that many trolling motors and depth finders would kill the bite in a hurry.  And it did!  I never caught another fish shallow.  Slowly the boats disappeared and around 1:00 I was the last boat on my stretch again.  At this point I figured that the tide was such that the fish would have relocated at the weed edge.  Since the water had dropped all the water to 52 degree I made a lure selection that even I didn’t believe I was using.  I went to a lucky craft point 78.  You have to understand that if there is one technique that I feel inferior in using is hard body jerkbaits.  But you want to talk about instant results, my first cast I caught a keeper on a 5 second pause.  It would be the first of about 15 fish that I would catch in the next 1 1/2 hours.  Using a 5 -10 second pause proved to be key in getting strikes.  Looking back I wish I would have used the lure all morning because I think I would have caught more fish, but it was the adjustment I needed to move up the leader board.  Day 2 of the tournament I weighed 5 largemouth bass that weighed 7.81 pounds.

As weigh-in concluded I knew that my 10 bass weighing 16.15lbs would be close to the top 20 anglers who would receive a check.  I ended up finishing 21st out of 167 competitors.  I felt very good about my finish because I had never been there, I had a bad practice, and I made the adjustments I needed to.  Like most tournaments I did make a few minor mistakes that cost me probably 2 or 3 lbs and several places in the standing.  Even so, I reached my ultimate goal of going to the national championship at Lake Dardanelle in Arkansas.  Starting November 1st I will be competing against 199 other competitors for $100,000 and a bid to the Bassmaster Classic this February.  Check back in a couple weeks to see how that trip goes.

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Memorial Day Weekend

jess-with-a-3lb-smallieThis year memorial day weekend was a truly special weekend for me.  Not only because I spent an amazing weekend at Chautauqua Lake in New York, but because it was my 1 year aniversery with my wife Jessica.  About 2 months ago I had asked Jess what she wanted to do for our aniversery and she told me she wanted to go somewhere and camp that we had never been to.  Since I am fishing the bassmaster weekend series this year in New York we decided that we should go spend a weekend at one of those lakes.  What guy gets to spend his entire aniversery weekend on the water.  The kind that marries someone that loves the outdoors as much as him. 

It didn’t take us long to find some nice fish morning on saturday.  Since we had never been to the lake we decided to just use the trolling mototank-from-the-dockr in the morning and try to find some kind of pattern.  What we had discovered was there there really was no pattern.  We caught fish in the prespawn, spawn, and post spawn cycles.  If you were going to target the spawning fish the only time your were truly able to do so was before 11 am.  The boat traffic was at a minimum, and the sun was perfect for help you see the fish.  Typically in the middle of the day we were hanging out at the campsite, but we would head back out for the evening and fish for post spawn fish with jerkbaits, soft and hard, and chatterbaits.  Dock fishing did work, but after saturday it was harder to get fish off of the docks because of the boats coming in and out of them. 

Monday morning was the best day for me out there.  Obviously it should have been because I had never been to the lake before this weekend, but my expectation were low because of the fishing and boating pr4lb-smallie-2essure of a holiday weekend.    I decided to start fishing by running to a spot that I had located a couple of spawning smallmouth bass.  The night before I had seen about 3 or 4 nice smallmouth bass on a stretch of water and when I went back the next morning, there were about 30 nice smallies on beds.  You could say that I had hit the jackpot.  I spent all morning working these fish and managed 11 nice smallies and 3 of them broke the 4lb mark and most were over 3lbs.  I lost about 5 more of these monsters, but that is bed fishing for you. 

My recommendations for Chautauqua is that everyone should go there at some point in their life.  It is a beautiful lake and everyone up there is happy and very nice.  The fish are big and the water is awesome.  The boat traffic can be overwelming, but don’t let that discourage you.  I would try fishing green pumpkin lures and baitfish colored lures.  Hard and soft jerkbaits worked well matching the shad color.  Long casts are extremely important in the super clear water.

Overall it was a great weekend and I can’t wait to get back.

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Past Weekend on the Water


I spent another Friday and Saturday at Pymatuning Lake with my dad this past weekend.  Friday was a practice day and man things couldn’t have gone better.  Everything we threw we caught largemouth and smallmouth.  We had a spot where crankbaits were working, another spot where buzzbaits where working, and we even found what we thought was a school of smallmouth on a roadbed.  In about 5 hours of being on the water we had boat about 20 bass in about 10 spots and did not set the hook on the same number of strikes.

In the Keystone Bass Buddy Tournament Saturday things went south.  We decided that we would start by fishing the roadbed for smallies.  Instead we found a school of 13 inch largemouth and about 5 nice crappie.  It gave us a nice limit, but these fish were not going to help us win the tournament.  We decided to go to the crankbait spot next because the size of the fish should have been better.  However, the only thing that we caught in that spot was a 8lb walleye.  After a couple of quick stops we decided to go try our buzzbait spot.  Instead of a buzzbait bite we found a spinnerbait/chatterbait bite that help us call multiple fish.  Unfortunately, we lost 2 fish in that bay that would have help us greatly.  In the end we were very disappointed.

dscf1265Sunday my wife, my friend and I decided to head up to Presque Isle and Lake Erie to try to get some spawning bass.  The wind had another idea.  It was a very rough day, but we still managed a couple nice smallies and a handful of largemouth.

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