Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Night Buzzin' for Summer Largemouth

It's pitch black outside and past your normal bed time.  It's really humid and still fairly hot considering that the sun had disappeared over the horizon hours earlier, and you're already drenched with sweat.  You opted to fish the nighttime hours rather than endure extreme daytime temperatures during the latest mid summer heat wave.  You're in an area where you know big bass lurk, but you can't see far enough into the dark well enough to place an accurate cast as you would normally do during the daytime.  Bugs are buggin' you, mosquitos buzz your ears, face, arms and legs seeking kinks in your armor of Deet.  Have you ever noticed that they always wait to bite while your reeling in your lure?  They dive bomb your ears sounding like World War I style planes attacking King Kong on the empire state building.  Tree frogs scream in the distance while a chorus bull frogs, green frogs and leopard frogs sound off around the lake.  The more humid, the more active the frogs seem to be. Bats flit and dart around and above you, sweeping down upon you at the slightest movement of your rod tip.  Katydids and cicadas attempt to drown out the sound of the amphibious choir in the background, chirping their own nighttime chorus.  Unlike the day light hours, night time gives you the impression of a rainforest alive with activity that most people never experience.  Fireflies flash streaks of yellow light everywhere.  You cast your buzzbait, oblivious to possible snags that may lurk in the distance while using only your memory of your honey hole as your guide.  After you cast, your lift your rod tip as the lure hits the water and begin cranking just prior to splashdown.  Your metal bladed buzzer never sinks and produces a constant plop plop sound combined with the high pitch squeaking of metal rubbing metal.  You've covered this area with several casts and are confident that big bass are on the feed here.  Even though the outdoors is alive with frogs and bugs, it seems peaceful yet tranquil.  You are very relaxed yet aware and focused on every sound around you.  You near the end of your retrieve and just as you attempt to lift the lure out of the water there is a massive explosion that nearly causes you to lose control of your bowels.  Your fishing partner jumps two feet in the air while yelling something that I dare not print in text.  With only about six feet of line out, mayhem ensues with a very ticked off largemouth bass on the other end of your line going ballistic, flipping, flopping, leaping and thrashing.  As you try to control the beast it finally dives and takes some drag and suddenly you have control and wear it down somewhat.  As the bass tires, you bring him back to the surface.  You reach down and lip the behemoth and turn to your partner with a smirk on your face while silently demanding that he snaps a photo of your prize.  Prior to you landing the fish, he's had the camera at the ready.  The digital camera's range finder appears image free and pitch black, but as the photo is snapped there's enough light to see you and your fish, a twenty inch, four pound largemouth that you'd love to catch each time out.  That's what hot summer nighttime buzzin' for bass is all about.  There's nothing like having a bass scare the you know what out of you when they annihilate your offering.
Howard Boltz caught this nice largemouth bass
on a Strike King Tri-Wing Buzz King buzzbait.

Yes, it's the dog days of summer.  It's widely known that fishing for largemouth bass through the hottest hours of the summer slows during mid day, but early morning and late evening hours tend to be quite a bit more productive.  Most bass anglers make sure that they're on the water during dusk or dawn, tempting aggressive actively feeding bucketmouths with a variety of lures, especially topwater lures.  Then, during the heat of the day, they probe the depths for lethargic largies, sometimes with success, other times not so much.  But most anglers overlook the time when the bigger bass prefer to feed during the hot summer, and that's during the pitch black hours during the night and wee hours of the morning.  You may or may not have a lot of strikes, but often the ones that you boat are fish that are a cut above those in size that you catch during the day.

Anglers that fish the last few hours of daylight at dusk may decide to stay an extra hour or so and fish and discover a dramatic drop off in the number of bites once the sun drops over the horizon.  In fact, it may stop completely, giving the angler the impression that the fish stopped biting all together.  When you think about it, when you're out in the dark, it takes a while for your eyes to adjust.  I believe it's the same thing with largemouth, needing about an hour or so for their eyes to adjust to key on prey.  Bass have good eyesight in the dark and combined with their sixth sense, the lateral line that senses vibrations under water, they effectively key on noisy prey.  Buzzbaits offer a big profile or silhouette and certainly emit strong enough vibrations to send a bass into attack mode.  So, before packing it in, if you have the time to fish late, stay an hour longer than you normally would before deciding if the buzzbait bite is on or not.

My favorite buzzbait spots are have shorelines with abundant cover but are shallow with deep water nearby.  Combinations of wood and weeds are optimal.  If frogs are abundant, so much the better.  Big bass spend the hot days in deep water sanctuaries but move shallow to feed during the night time hours.  It's my opinion that frogs are the key to night fishing in general.  When they're out, bass know it, and you should too.  Summer time temperatures slow the bass during the day, but the night time cooler temperatures are much more comfortable for bass and allow them to feed heavily on abundant prey while expending the least amount of energy.  When they sense a critter, or your buzzbait, splashing into the water, they hone in on that sound and track further vibrations to the point of the strike.  In other words, they hear it, feel it, find it, see it, and strike it.  Often, they'll follow it quite a ways before exploding on your lure, sometimes right at the bank or boat just a few feet away.  It's as if they strike at the last minute before their prey can escape.  If you're lucky enough to place your cast close to a bass waiting in ambush, the strike could be instantaneous with your lure entry.

This two pounder struck a Strike King triple blade buzzer
leaving yours truly with that deer in the headlights look!
When casting buzzbaits, make sure that after you launch your bait into the dark, that you raise your rod tip and begin cranking prior to your lure hitting the water.  This will prevent your buzzer from dropping below the surface and increase the amount of time the lure is operating properly to give the maximum amount of vibration through the strike zone.  Work it all the way back to the boat or bank because strikes could come at any time.  Bass will follow a potential meal quite a ways in the darkness without fear of being prey themselves. Don't set the hook when you hear or see the strike until you feel the weight of the fish, because if the bass misses then you'll yank the lure away losing a chance at a follow up strike.  Fish make mistakes at night and often miss, but they will keep trying to catch up to it.  So, it's important to maintain the cadence of your retrieve to give the fish the opportunity to strike again.  If you cast and a fish misses, follow up with several casts because sometimes they'll attack it again.  The only time that I've found that didn't work is if you hook the bass and lose it.  They don't seem to strike once you sore mouth them.

Another technique is to let your buzzer dangle in the water a couple seconds before yanking it out to make another cast.  Bass will sometimes hit with your lure just hanging there.  If you're bank fishing though, please be advised that bullfrogs will also hit your buzzer as it's dangling there in front of them!  Some anglers have found that bass will strike at the boat and miss, and try the figure eight technique that pike and musky anglers employ, they sometimes will draw a follow up strike.  To do that, at the end of your retrieve with the lure still in the water with a few feet of line still out, work your rod tip in a large figure eight motion at the side of the boat a few times.  Sometimes bass will hang out there and strike again.  Personally, I've tried it without success, but have had friends tell me that it's worked for them.  So, I'll keep trying.  It can't hurt, right? 

Vary your retrieve speeds and let bass tell you what they want.  If they want it, believe me, you'll know!  Often the strikes are explosive, but other times they'll just slurp the lure.  If you keep missing fish, try using a trailer hook.  Sometimes they like it burned across the surface, usually when there's some ambient light or moonlight to assist them in tracking the lure.  If it's really dark out, I prefer slowing the bait down to a crawl, just fast enough to keep the blades working.  That gives them time to find your lure.  If you're not getting strikes, make a change to either your presentation, type of buzzbait, or size of buzzbait.  Try different casting angles including a very productive one, casting parallel to shore.  Bass like to hug the shoreline in ambush of frogs, so casting parallel keeps your bait in the strike zone longer.  In fact, if there are multiple bass in the area, your odds are greatly increased because you're covering a lot of strike zones of individual bass.

The top two are in-line buzzbaits, the third row shows a
tradtional buzzbait and a triple wing with a clacker, the
bottom row shows a clacker style buzzbait and a black
traditional model.  All of these have metal blades but you
can also find them with plastic blades for a different sound.
There are many styles of buzzbaits out there and they all pretty much work.  Double bladed buzzbaits provide more chop on the water and more noise.  Buzzbaits with clackers put our more noise and vibration.  Metal blades give you a noisy squeaking sound that helps bass home in on your lure, while plastic blades offer a more subtle plopping sound for less aggressive bass.  In-line buzzers ride higher on the water, are easy to cast, easier to keep on top, and very snag free but they have reduced hooking ability.  Traditional buzzbaits provide more wind resistance on the cast, but have better hooking ability because the hooks ride further under the surface.  There are some with really long shafts too that tempt shy fish into striking.  Different sizes provide different sounds and vibrations.  If the fish seem really active and aggressive, big noisy buzzers can call them in from far away.  If they are less aggressive, more subtle buzzbaits like those with plastic blades or smaller sizes may draw strikes when the large noisy ones don't.

What about colors?  I like chartreuse because, at least in my mind, it suggests frogs.  If a smart guy like me (yeah right) thinks it's a frog, then certainly an animal with the brain the size of a pea will think so too.  White is also visible at night because it reflects light the best, so if there's any ambient light it should be easy to see.  But, probably the most popular color to use is black or another dark color.  Why?  Because it offers a great silhouette and is easy for bass to see especially when there's a fair amount of moonlight.  Of all the qualities of a buzzer though, I think color is the least important when using them at night.  Noise and vibration come first in my opinion.  These are reaction baits, not finesse baits, and the reaction strike is the one that you're going to get.  That's what, after all, makes them the most exciting lure to use.

This is one of my favorite in-line buzzbaits, noisy and
squeaky, and I made it myself!
Make sure that you match your rod, reel, and line to the weights of your lures to get maximum action and performance out of them, including castability and distance.  I prefer baitcasting gear, medium heavy to heavy action, six and a half to seven foot rods to toss buzzbaits 1/4 of an ounce or greater, and at least 14 pound test line.  I like the longer rod simply because you can keep your line off the water and get better action on your lures.  I use a copolymer line because it has less stretch than mono but more than fluorocarbon or braided lines.  That way you're not yanking the lure out of their mouth if they hit at your feet.  The added line stretch gives you some measure of control over the fish during such a chaotic moment.  I feel that braid puts too much pressure on the fish, and when they're thrashing about they can tear open a hole in the mouth of your bass at the hook and possibly increase their chances of pulling free.  For 1/8 ounce buzzers, spinning tackle seems to work best using eight or ten pound test but you may have to go with heavier line depending on the cover that you're fishing.

This one hit a buzzer about ten feet from me.  This fish went
ballistic on me.  What fun!  I'm still shaking from that ordeal!
You can "tune" traditional style buzzbaits to run straight or veer to one direction by bending the wire containing the blade one way or the other.  This is a valuable technique for fishing in daylight hours especially around boat docks.  But for night fishing, I prefer them to run straight simply because most of the time you can't see what cover is around you anyway and at least you can visualize where your lure is at all times if you can't see it.  It could be easier for bass to track your lure as well.

Other night fishing tips, bring a light so you can re-tie, tie on a new lure after losing one, or change baits easily and see what your doing.  Also, when night fishing, things happen.  All it takes is a snag that you've freed to wrap line around your lure impeding it's action or that ties knots around your rod tip that you could never design yourself if you tried, or even picking out the dreaded backlash.  Having some light to remedy such a situation really can save your trip.  Lights that clip to your hat or wear on your head allow you to keep your hands free to do what you need to do.  Try to not shine the light over the water that you're fishing if at all possible.  I'm not sure if it makes a difference, but I'd rather not let the fish know that I'm there, so why take the chance?  It couldn't hurt to be as stealthy as possible.  Try to avoid making a lot of boat noise.  Bring bug spray with a high content of Deet or some other way to keep insects from biting you.  Mosquitos are the primary enemy in my neck of the woods.  Even though it's not the hottest part of the day, I make sure to drink plenty of fluids too.  And, probably the most obvious is to know the water that you're fishing because you can visualize the cover and be reasonably accurate with your casts.  Also, know your water that you're boating on for safety reasons.

Don't forget to read my posts about making your own buzzbaits so that you can increase your buzzer arsenal while saving money.  If you haven't already read them, here are the links:

In summary, largemouth bass are very active at night, especially the big fat females that we all love to catch.  There are many baits or lures that will catch them at night, but there's nothing that is as thrilling or exciting as a big fat bucketmouth exploding on your buzzbait when it's pitch black outside.  And, you can have it all to yourself.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Prospecting New Wading Spots for Smallmouth

When searching for new fishing holes, you may encounter
beautiful and breathtaking scenery along the way.
One of my favorite things to do during the dog days of summer is to get in the water and wade a river or stream to fish for smallmouth bass.  I have some favorite spots to wade on the rivers and streams near me.  But, every now and then my buddies and I will crave something different and venture off to find a new fishing spot.  With today's technology and the ability to use the information super highway, you can save time and energy when scouting for new fishing holes.  Of course, there are scads of fishing forums out there where you can ask questions about where peoples fishing spots are, but good luck with that.  Most folks are pretty tight lipped about giving up there honey holes.  So, what you have to do is go find your own.  Below are some tips that will help you accomplish that.

You will enjoy the entire experience while finding your own new fishing spots especially if you do your homework in advance.  Think of these trips as if you were an explorer on an adventure to find that dream fishing trip close to home.

The first thing to do is to establish a plan.  Identify the body of water that you'd like to fish.  If it's a river, then you need to narrow down your search to find a specific spot that has everything you need to wade safely while still providing fish holding features.  For me, that means public access, water that's shallow enough to wade but deep enough to hold fish, and plenty of structure or cover.  If you want to find a small stream to fish, then for the most part you are looking for public access.  Maps will give you roads and bridge locations, and that's great for finding your way there.  Zooming in on a satelite image might give you clues that will help rule a spot out or perhaps place it higher on your list of spots to try.

Second, establish a back up plan.  You need to plan to check multiple spots.  Maps and satellite images don't tell you everything.  You might find a spot on a satellite map that seems to have all the characteristics that you're looking for and you may have everything in your favor.  But you may be disappointed when you arrive to the spot and there's no place to park, or the body of water doesn't have the qualities that you had hoped for, or access to it is posted.  Therefore, you need to find one or more spots to check out and fish given the amount of time that you have left in the day.  So, make sure you have several locations to check. 

Gravel or rock bars can be seen when you
zoom in on the satellite view of an on-line map.
Google and Mapquest offer on-line road maps along with Satellite imaging that are very effective in locating potential bodies of water to check out.  Not only do they assist you in finding fishable waters, you can also detect fishing structure from the satellite images.  When you zoom in on these satellite images you can sometimes see detail from above that might help you find structure or cover.

If you're looking for good spots to wade a river, look for shallow locations on the satellite image.  This will help you identify rapids or shallow rock or gravel bars.  You can find creek mouths, outside or inside river bends, sometimes deeper river channels, and even see parking lots in some cases.  Not only that, but you can print them out with the road map overlay so you can find your way there.  Or, you can purchase a state, county, or other road map or atlas.

There are many useful tools that are available to assist you in your quest to find a new fishing hole.  Paper or hard copy maps are the simplest form of media.  Of course, the more detail on your map the better.  Road maps that detail all roads and bodies of water are helpful to find bridge crossings and other access points.  Some have state parks, state game lands, parking lots, and other access clearly labeled.  If they have physical relief or topography, so much the better.  Often, topo maps will give you a clue as to what the depth of a river might be.  Usually, underwater contours of bodies of water take on the characteristics of the contour of the surrounding land features.  They come in handy when you're on the road trying to locate and finalize your search, especially if you've lost your ability to use electronic media.  With electronics, whether it's cell data phones, laptop computers, or GPS units, they're only as good as the signal that they receive or the charge on the battery.  When you travel through remote locations it's likely that you may not have the data conneciton or signal that you need.  So, don't rely solely on electronic media when on the road.
Creek mouths are easy to locate using on-line mapping with Satellite layering features.
GPS units will help you find your way and often include map software.  Cell data phones, like Iphones or Droids, are like mini personal computers.  They have internet access or GPS, so you can use them to narrow down your search as long as you have a good data connection.

My buddy Howard is shown with a nice smallie
from a newspot that we found yesterday.  It had
all of the qualities that we were looking for:
public access, easy wading, smallie habitat,  less
fishing pressure, and most of all, plenty
 of smallmouth.
Once you've done your homework then it's time to put your plan into action.  By now you've made a list of spots to check out, mapped your destination to your first spot and others that you want to check, and brought the necessary tools that you'll need to locate your potential hot spot while on the road.  Now, all you have to do is to drive to your spot and check it out.  Hopefully, you'll find that the spot is accessable, has adequate parking, and the features of your spot on the body of water are conducive to wading and make for good smallmouth habitat.

Once you get to your first spot, you need to assess it to make sure that it's suitable to fish.  Once you have parking access, you might have to hike a ways to find how to access the river or creek.  Often, bridges of any kind have paths down to the water.  You might have found a great place, but perhaps it's too overgrown to reach the river.  I'm not into carving a path with a machete, which may be an option for you.  Machete's tend to weigh me down on a wading trip as I like to pack light!  Rather, I prefer to move on to the next spot and not hack through poison ivy, stinging nettles, and the like.

When prospecting, you might find a place where
you can catch good numbers of smallmouth bass
and like we found yesterday, have the place to
You might have some luck at your first stop and find a new fishing honey hole, or you may strike out and have to move on.  Your work to get to this point isn't a waste of time even if none of your spots pan out.  Sometimes you have to rule a few places out to eventually find good spots to fish.  One more final piece of your backup plan is to have a spot in mind as a last resort to salvage your fishing day in case none of your spots pan out.  You need to gauge when you've spent enough time prospecting and save some time to fish.  Having a known spot in mind will help you save your day and catch a few fish.

The methods described above don't solve all of the problems when prospecting for new fishing locales.  There are no guarantees that you'll find a spot worth fishing on any given trip.  However, you will at least increase your odds in finding a fishing hot spot.  The ultimate reward is finding a new spot to fish.  Like anything else, it takes effort, but in the long run it is worth it.  The way that I look at it is, the more fishing spots that I have, the better.  Variety is the spice of life, isn't it?

Edit - Note:  If you aren't sure about a spot being public or not or it's posted, make sure that you get permission from the property owner to access the stream or river.  Check your local laws regarding access to streams too.

To read a story about small stream smallmouth fishing, click on this link that will take you to my story page:

For more info about fishing for river smallmouth bass, click here:

Saturday, July 16, 2011

New Hunting Story Posted

 Click Here to read my July 15th entry titled, "Missed Opportunity and Lesson Learned" for another exciting hunting story (at least it was for me).  It was an experience that I'll never forget and learn from.

My latest hunting story is about a buck much bigger than my biggest one
above.  That deer looked like a massive older brother of the one pictured here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

DIY Buzzbaits

You can make your own buzzbaits comparable to this one
for a fraction of the retail cost.  This buzzbait is a little beat
up because it's my favorite for night fishing rip rap cover.
I'm posting a follow up to my previous post, Spinnerbait and Buzzbait Money Saving Tips.  At the end of my previous post, there is a cost analysis detailing the money that you'd save after making your own spinnerbaits.  I thought that the same information about making your own buzzers would be helpful too.  Below is a cost analysis showing how much you'd save making your own traditional style buzzbaits over the cost of a popular inexpensive retail model.

In my previous post, I displayed a similar cost analysis.  In that analysis, I chose parts to make a spinnerbait comparable to a popular model and chose to use "premium" painted spinnerbait heads.  You can save even more money by making using the cheaper spinnerbait heads.  You won't sacrifice fish catching ability either. They're not quite as fancy but they work just as well.  When I first started making my own, I'd order unpainted ones, throw a skirt on and use them like that...and they still caught plenty of fish. 

You can also save more money by buying in bulk.  Most of these lure making companies will mix and match colors when purchasing in bulk, saving you money when making several different colors.  You can save even more money by molding your own lead spinnerbait heads, buzzbait heads, and by making your own skirts.  I'm not saying that you can't purchase a cool looking spinnerbait or buzzbait that might get you an extra bite or two.  Rather, I'm suggesting a way that you can stock up and increase your selection to add to what you purchase from retail stores.  Also, sometimes I'll purchase one that looks interesting to me with the purpose of using it as a model for making my own version of the same thing.  To reiterate my theme from the last post, after a while, you'll find that you can catch just as many fish making your own lures, get some satisfaction catching fish on stuff you've made, and save some money.

The cost analysis below shows what it would cost for the purchase of parts to make ten standard style buzzbaits.  The cost of one spinnerbait saves $1.11 at a savings of 34%!  So, making 10 buzzers saves you $11.10.

*Assumes hollow metal beads are used from previous purchase of spinnerbait components.
 The last thing that I want to say about this topic is that, at least in my case, spending money on fishing tackle especially in this economy is kind of frowned upon by my wife with the exception of a birthday gift or some special occasion.  However, you could use my persuasive argument showing how you actually are saving money doing it this way.  It's the argument that my wife has used on me for years, "Well, I spent $100 dollars on a dress, but I got it on sale and actually saved $25!"  When I hear that, I know that we're out that $100 that we could use on gas, groceries, or paying bills, and yet I'm supposed to be comforted in knowing that she saved 25 bucks!  Anyway, at least I know she's a good shopper...and you can be too!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Spinnerbait and Buzzbait Money Saving Tips

Spinnerbaits and buzzbaits are very popular with bass anglers and have been around for years and years.  They are a bit more costly, fancier and more polished looking than those of 30 years ago, but one thing that they have in common is that they still catch good fish.  I will get into some "how to" spinnerbait and buzzbait fishing tips later, but my main focus in this post is to discuss some money saving tips that will help you stock up with some spinnerbaits and buzzbaits by customizing or assembling your own.  After that, I'll discuss some options of how to construct them so that you have maximum options while using them on the water.

Making your own spinnerbaits and buzzbaits will save
 you money and get you lots of bass this size and bigger
Most anglers purchase their spinnerbaits and buzzbaits in tackle shops, retail stores, and on-line stores.  Often they range in price from five to ten dollars each or more.  These baits are usually very high quality, flashy, fancy, and are just as good at catching anglers as they are at catching fish.  Don't get me wrong, these lures are very good at catching bass.  Those that buy and use them feel that they're worth every penny because they really do catch fish.  But, you can catch just as many fish on your home made specials while building these lures with just about the same quality and looks too.  What you get out of your final product depends on what you put into it.  I find that purchasing off the shelf products gives me less flexibility in the field unless I want to either stock up with a LOT more spinnerbaits to do what I want them to do or find ways to modify them.  Again, what you choose to do depends on your needs.  Also, I purchase top quality parts and still save money.

First, where can you get parts to build your own spinnerbaits and buzzbaits?  Your local tackle shop may have some lure building supplies.  But if they don't, just about everything you need can be purchased on-line from several vendors.  I've personally ordered stuff from Jann's Netcraft, Barlow's Tackle, Cabelas, and Bass Pro Shops.  I've been quite satisfied with the products that I've ordered and the service that I've received.  I've heard some good things about other vendors that are also worth checking out but if haven't yet ordered from them yet.  I did check out their on-line catalogues and they have good selections.  These vendors include:  Lure Parts, and  I'm sure that there are more if these don't have what you're looking for and a Google search will help you find them.  These companies have just about everything you need to make your own spinnerbaits and buzzbaits, and just about anything else fishing related that you can think of.

The only tool you'll need is a good pair of long nosed pliers. 
Parts pictured are the spinnerbait head, metal beads, clevis,
quality ball bearing snap swivel, blades, and the final touch
of fish attacting action and color - the skirt.
Now, how to build your own:  The easiest way to get started making your own lures is to simply purchase the lure components and assemble them.  For spinnerbaits, you'll need at a minimum to purchase pre-formed spinnerbait heads, metal beads, clevises, spinnerbait blades, skirts, split rings, and swivels or snap swivels.  As far as tools go, a good pair of long nose pliers is sufficient.  I believe strongly in using quality ball bearing snap swivels to get the best action on your blades.  For buzzbaits, you'll need to purchase pre-formed buzzbait heads, metal beads, buzzbait blades, rivet bearings and skirts.  You can also purchase clacking blades and rattles too.  Again, there are many choices.  And, if you really want to save some money, you can mold your own spinnerbait and buzzbait heads or make your own spinnerbait skirts.  The greater quantity of any item that you order, the cheaper the price.  In some cases, as with skirts, some companies let you mix and match colors to achieve your quantity ordered.  Finally, you can purchase them painted or unpainted if you want to paint your own. 

To make the standard buzzbait, you need a good set of long
nose pliers.  Parts include a rivet bearing, metal beads, blade
and skirt.  You can make in-line buzzers from wire, spinner-
bait or buzzbait heads, split rings, metal beads and a skirt. 
A wire bending tool and a pair of split ring pliers will help.
Tools that make the job easier:  There are many tools out there that make life easier when making these lures.  You may find a wire bender, various pliers and wire cutters, a wire straightener, a skirt making tool, or lead molding supplies and tools helpful in achieving your lure making goals.  The wirebender and split ring pliers are a must for making custom in-line buzzers. Also, if you want to customize, you may need to add some stainless steel wire to your supply list.  You can purchase pre-made wire forms, coiled wire, or wire shafts.  Generally, for bass, most spinnerbaits are made with 0.38" diameter wire and buzzbaits are made with 0.41" diameter wire.

Once you obtain the tools, supplies, parts and are ready to assemble your lures, the only thing left to add is your own creativity.  You can build standard lures or design your own.  I get a certain satisfaction in making my own lures especially when they turn out to be effective fish catching lures.  I am particularly proud of some of the buzzbaits that I've made because they catch fish often when traditional buzzers don't.  I've made several different styles of in-line buzzers and they all work.  Traditional styles of buzzers have their place in your arsenal too.  The skirt and hook ride lower and give you better hook ups than the in-line styles.  In-line buzzers tend to cast better, offer a bigger profile, and if you make weed guards are more snagproof that traditional types.  There are advantages and disadvantages to both types and it's up to you to figure out while on the water which one works best.  Let the bass tell you. 

What can you do to maximize your flexibility and keep your selection to a minimum when using spinnerbaits?  I build the spinnerbaits in a few basic colors.  I purchase spinnerbait pre-formed heads in chartreuse, white, and black in 1/4 oz., 3/8 oz., 1/2 oz., and 3/4 oz.  Of course, if you can find them you can build spinnerbaits in other sizes to suit your needs, but these are the ones that I carry.  I make a selection of single blade, tandem, and double willow spinnerbaits in each size and color.  For tandems and double willows, for each color and size, I make one with an inner blade in the following colors:  nickle, brass, copper, white, and charteuse.  I also build my home made spinnerbaits with a snap swivel instead of a standard swivel because that way I can easily change the blades to any color or size that I want.  I keep a selection of blades and skirts so I can customize and "match the hatch" while on the water.  You can do this at home and carry less with you on the water too assuming that you know ahead of time what will work given the conditions that you're fishing.

Top row - tandem , middle row - double willowleaf,
bottom row - tandem Colorado blades, single spin, and
 short arm spinnerbaits.  This is just a small sample
of the many different combinations of spinnerbait
features that you can assemble yourself.  Note:  some
of these pictured are off the shelf products, but once
you gain experience making these lures then you
 can make any type that you want.
When constructing your spinnerbaits, I use a size 2 or 3 Colorado blade for tandem spinnerbaits, and a size 2 or 3 willow leaf blade for double willows, but you can customize to any size you want.  Try different things and you may discover that one of your creations works better than anything anyone else is using.  You can create unique baits that fish just haven't seen before!

For the outer blades on all types of spinnerbaits, I stock and carry a wide selection including various sizes from 3 through 7, and various styles.  Willow, Colorado, Indiana, French, specialty blades, hammered, smooth, or painted can be used in various combinations to achieve any effect that you want.  The combinations are many and the possibilities are endless.

When on the water, you can make decisions to match the time of year, size of forage, water conditions, and weather conditions simply by choosing the color of the spinnerbait head, color skirt, and blade colors.  Here are some qualities of blades, color, and sizes of baits that can help you decide what to use:
Top row - willow leaf, middle row - Colorado, bottom row-
"musky' willow leaf and Indiana blades.  Carry different
sizes, styles, metal type, and colors for maximum flexibility.

Blade style:  Colorado blades offer the most vibration, followed by Indiana and French, and willowleaf.  Willowleaf blades offer the least amount of vibration.  When it comes to flash that the blades produce, the reverse order is true.  Willowleaf blades create the most flash followed by Indiana and French, and with the Colorado blades producing the least amount of flash.  Vibrations appeal to the sixth sense of bass, the lateral line, which helps bass detect vibrations emitted by prey and allow them to zero in and attack unsuspecting baitfish when visibility is poor.

Blade finish or color:  Metal blades produce the most flash.  Hammered blades and smooth blades produce different flash and vibration patterns, both being productive.  What you offer the fish depends on you.  Flash from a metallic spinnerbait blade mimics the flash of scales that baitfish often display when changing direction.  Bass have excellent eyesight as far as fish go, so appealing to their sense of sight is important for that reaction strike that spinnerbaits are known for.  Bass are also attracted to color.  Chartreuse and white are very effective in murky, stained, and muddy water and allow fish that have detected your lure via the lateral line the ability to visually hone in on your lure for that final strike.  Black is also a nice color for blades.  An all black lure offers a nice silhouette when night fishing and sometimes in clear water provides just enough action to attract strikes without spooking fish.  It works well to imitate a shadow of a prey item in clear water especially when working your lure quickly.  There are many lifelike blade finishes available that give you good options for clear water to tempt finicky bass and match prey items.

Blade and spinnerbait size:  Prey items are larger in the spring because most prey species haven't spawned yet.  Bass are feeding on adult forage for the most part this time of year.  Larger blades and large profile spinnerbaits are good imitations of these larger prey species.  As summer approaches, smaller juvenile prey are abundant.  This doesn't mean that bass focus on smaller prey all the time, but there are times when they'll feed on smaller prey.  Remember, bass are creatures of opportunity, so be willing to adapt and try different sizes to get results.  The old saying that big fish like big baits, and that is also true with spinnerbaits, so they are always worth trying.  I also want to add that if you are planning on using large blades, like sizes 6 and 7, you need to make sure that you match them with heavier weight spinnerbaits so they don't roll over and are sure to run true.  Smaller baits tend to draw more strikes but you may sacrifice bass size in doing so.  Size 7 willowleaf blades effectively imitate large adult forage while the smaller sizes like 3and 4 imitate average minnow and juvenile chubs effectively.  You can see that you can match the hatch by adjusting blade and lure size, so it pays off to learn what forage species are in the body of water that you fish.

Skirt selection depends on you, what you want to present to the fish.  Basic white, chartreuse, and black are always solid fish catching colors.  Also, there are multicolored skirts available to provide different attraction qualities and color combinations.  Just adding a suggestion of something, like red suggesting blood from a wounded baitfish could be enough to tempt bass into striking.  Also, some multicolored skirts are good imitations of forage fish like bluegill or shad.  The most popular spinnerbait skirts are chartreuse, chartreuse/white, white and black.  Colors to imitate baitfish like bluegill and sexy shad are popular big fish catching skirts.

This is one of my best buzzbaits.  You can tell it gets
some use as it's all beat up.  It still calls the fish in
though.  The blades are counter rotating.
When making buzzbaits, you can create a wide varieity of combinations with different buzzbait styles, skirt and lure colors.  Yet, they don't have the same flexibility as with spinnerbaits when it comes to customizing in the field except by changing skirt colors.  I carry several different types of buzzbaits in a few favorite colors.  You can make traditional buzzbaits or make your own in-line buzzers.  The wire bending tool really comes in handy when making your own in-line buzzbait wire shafts.  The only tool that you'll need to make the traditional buzzbait is a good pair of long nose pliers.  Metal blades squeak more, clackers add more noise, and thicker diameter shafts make more of that squeaking noise than thinner diameter shafts do.  Plastic blades are more subtle and come in handy for a more plop plop type of sound but lack the squeak of metal blades.  Sometimes quiet is better.  The bell shaped blades are a bit heavier but work well for the in-line style of buzzer.  Even though they are heavier, they displace a lot of water and keep the lure up high in the water.  The in-line style also casts like a bullet.

The top two buzzbaits are home made in-line buzzers.  The
next row has a traditional buzzbait and a triple wing one
with a clacker for more noise.  The bottom row shows two
traditional buzzbaits, the one of the left has a clacker.  These
versions all have metal blades, but you can assemble buzzbaits
with plastic blades also.

My selection of spinnerbaits and buzzbaits that I carry on the water depends on the body of water that I'm fishing, the species that I'm fishing for, forage base, and the time of year.  I don't carry everything that I own on every trip.  But, I make sure that I have a selection that helps me adapt on the water to varying conditions.  If I was to compare this to any other strategy, it's like a fly angler carrying a streamside fly tying kit.  You can change blades and skirt combinations on the size lure that you select, almost modifying your tackle on the water to "match the hatch".  What you wind up carrying depends in the confidence you have in your selection which comes from your fishing experience and your ability to carry what you need and still fish effectively.  When I fish from a boat, I bring a little more.  When I fish from shore, I pack a little lighter.  But I always carry a base selection of spinnerbaits and buzzbaits in the sizes and colors that I plan to use, and a selection of blades, skirts and trailers to "match the hatch" while on the water. 
This is a cost analysis showing that if you order the minimum quantity of each lure component to make 10 spinnerbaits, you'd spend $35 and your price per spinnerbait would be 16% cheaper than a comparable store bought model, plus, you'd have some extra hardware that you wouldn't have to purchase next time making your next 10 even cheaper.  If you purchased 10 store bought comparable spinnerbaits then you'd spend $5.40 more than if you made them yourself.

I'll defer discussing "on the water fishing" techniques for fishing spinnerbaits and buzzbaits for a future post.  Hopefully this will help you prepare for your next spinnerbait bite while saving you some money at the same time.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Ever have one of those days?

I guess that I've either been spoiled of late or blessed, because my fishing trips this year have all been pretty productive.  However, I was able to get out for a few hours on the morning of July 4th , and it turned out to be "one of those days", but not in a good way.  My buddy Howard and I arrived at our spot early in the morning, but not at the crack of dawn.  We were the first and only anglers at our fishing location.  The sky was overcast, air warm and muggy, and the scent of recent night time rains permeated the air.  Bull frogs belched and it sounded like they were calling their buddy's name as they bellowed with a deep voice, "Jerome", "Jerome".  Meanwhile, gray tree frogs screamed at each other in the background.  We were on foot today, and after every fifteen steps or so we were scaring frogs, causing them to leap into the water.  The water level was dropping and there was more current than usual.  It had a murky tinge because of the increased current.  The weed growth in July creates new holding areas for largemouth to ambush unsuspecting frogs leaping into their domain.  It was the perfect topwater scenario, or so you would think.

Conditions like these scream for a buzzbait in my brain!
Normally unproductive stretches of water looked extremely bassy because of the emerging weed growth combined with some new blow downs.  I worked my buzzbait thoroughly through the pockets and just above current breaks without a strike in this area.  Since we had limited time we relocated to a traditionally more productive stretch of shoreline.  In cooler months, the bass relate to wood here, but when the weeds get thick, they become the primary cover.  That was my focus.  With all of the frog activity, I just knew that the fish would relate to those weedy shorelines and current breaks and hammer my buzzer.  Big bass were on my brain and the buzzer was the key to getting 'em.

Guess what?  The bass had other ideas and it didn't work.  The fish for some reason were still relating to woody cover.  When I tossed my favorite in-line buzzbait close to the wood along the first productive log jam a bass exploded on the lure.  Rather than getting hooked, it rejected my offering by tossing my buzz bait three feet straight up in the air.  It wasn't the only time that this happened.  I had several more big bass attempt to anihilate the lure only to not get hooked.  I often go to the in-line style (that I assemble myself) because they seem to draw strikes when the traditional ones don't.  And, they are more weedless , more snag free than the other styles, they cast like bullets, they offer a bigger profile that big bass usually can't resist, and they come to the surface quickly.

Normally, when these bass explode on a buzzer you hook them, or they try again.  My mind set is to not set the hook until I feel weight, and that didn't happen.  My first attempt to adjust was to add a trailer hook.  But, since we were only going for a few hours due to family July 4th plans, I packed light this time and left them at home.  So, my next adjustment was to change buzzer styles to a more traditional buzzbait, hoping that the hook and skirt sitting lower in the water would aid in hook ups.  I just had to deal with catching a few weeds in between casts, but if the fish would hit and hold then that's a small price to pay.  But it wasn't to be as two more bass attacked the topwater bait without hooking up.  I varied retrieve speeds, casting angles, bumped the lures off fallen timber, just about everything.  The bass were interested, often seemingly excited to hit my lure, but no hook ups.

Usually, when I miss fish like that and don't hook up, I always follow up with another lure.  Most of the time I follow with a plastic worm rigged weedless Texas style, an unweighted Senko, or a Super Fluke tossed where the blow up occured  and that usually results in those fish being caught.  But today, these fish didn't want anything to do with soft plastics.  That's very unusual for this body of water. 

My next adjustment was to work a Strike King Rage Toad.  I like the look of this bait in the water.  The legs create quite a commotion and it looks like a bass should hit it.  How could a bass resist?  In fact, it looks so good in the water I'd be tempted to jump in after it!  Well, I had two more bass explosions without hook ups.  This bait sinks, so when that happens you have two choices.  One is to continue your retrieve and hope the fish chases it and hits again.  You can stop, then start the retrieve, and often they'll hit too.  Or, you can let the frog sink which works great when dropping off the edge of a patch of weeds.  But the bass didn't follow the plan this time.

I also worked a spinnerbait thoroughly with nary a strike.  My thought was that maybe a bit more subsurface the spinnerbait would still give me that reaction strike.  Nope.

Perhaps a popping style plug, a walking bait, or a jerk bait would work if you could deal with the weeds, but, like I said earlier, I packed light.  So those options were out.  Who would think that these bass would snub any soft plastic offering?  I can't think of any time in my history fishing this place that a plastic worm, Senko, Super Fluke, or a tube jig wouldn't get me at least a few keeper sized fish.  Usually, I bring enough tackle with me stuffed in vest pockets, my fanny pack, and pants pockets that make me look like some kind of tackle freak, weighing me down causing me to walk like Frankenstein.  But, not this time...I packed light.

I later found a spot and caught some undersized fish on plastic worms before leaving for the day, avoiding the dreaded "skunk monster".  But, no keepers, so that skunk monster was laughing at me all day long.

My fishin' buddy Howard with a keeper
Independence Day largemouth bass
My buddy Howard made an adjustment that resulted in catching a several keepers today by scaling down his buzzbait to a 1/4 oz. Strike King buzzer.  Maybe that more subtle sound allowed those fish to key on the bait a bit more.  He used it on light line too, so maybe that helped.  Whatever he was doing worked, and what I was doing didn't work.

OK, I know that's why they call it fishing and not catching.  And, I can have some satisfaction that I had some chances at big fish blowing up on my lure like that.  And I know that the odds are in my favor next time that happens.  That said, it's frustrating.  But I still had fun.

Lesson learned, bring the trailer hooks and be prepared.  They could have given me some big bass today.  I can leave certain tackle home.  I don't need to carry a hundred pounds of tackle with me.  But, when it comes to spinnerbaits and buzzbaits, don't go half way.  Bring all that you need.  I learned my lesson.  I know that there always is a certain amount of luck in this sport and usually that's on my side.  But I'm a firm believer that our actions create that luck, and the right combination results in getting more and bigger bass.  Today, I missed out on those adjustments.  Maybe I'll learn from it.

I plan on going again tomorrow evening after work.  I'm seeking revenge.  I will sore mouth some big largemouth!!!!  Well, that's the plan anyway.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Interview with Gene Mueller, Outdoor Writer Celebrity

Gene Mueller with a fat Lower Potomac largemouth bass

Many of you that live in the Washington D.C. area probably are familiar with Gene Mueller.  My fishing buddies and I follow Gene's weekly fishing reports in the Washington Times along with thousands of anglers in our region.  Not only do we rely on his fishing reports so that we can better plan our own fishing trips, but we enjoyed reading his newspaper column for years and years as he shared his experiences and his passion for the outdoors.  For those of you from other areas, I'm going to introduce you to him so that you may also benefit as we have.  He is an outdoor columnist that hails from Southern Maryland.  For 35 years, his columns in the Washington Daily News, Washington Star and Washington Times fed outdoor enthusiasts addictions for fishing and hunting information and reading pleasure while being recognized many times with awards for best columnist, best feature writer, and best photographer.  This is really a treat for all of us, as I've had the opportunity to interview Mr. Mueller so that we could pass on his fascinating view of the outdoor world to you.  Currently, he writes the weekly fishing report for the Washington Times and has his own blog (both linked on the right side of this page and also at the end of this article).  So please, make sure that you check out his blog and also make sure that you add it your favorites so that you can check back periodically.  His blog posts include hunting and fishing news, articles, and political issues that affect our favorite outdoor pastimes.  Make sure that you go through the blog archive because I guarantee that there are several posts that would appeal to you.  His work shares interesting and captivating outdoor stories and often provides us with informative and important information about the sports that we all love.  So, on with the interview.  I hope you enjoy his answers to my questions as much as I did.  
FB:  How did you first become involved in outdoor sports?  How would you describe your initial development as an outdoorsman and who influenced you the most?
Gene Mueller:  I was born and raised in post-war Germany in the state of Bavaria where hunting and fishing among the mountain people is a way of life. My father, grandfather, uncles and cousins all hunted for roe deer, wild pigs, red deer and pheasants; some fished for the famous brown trout, a.k.a. German trout. That's how I got the "bug," and began to actually live a lifelong dream.

FB:  What is your fondest memory of the outdoors while growing up?
Gene Mueller:  Many years ago, I actually observed a deer giving birth to two fawns. I was sitting at the base of a big beech tree in Southern Maryland, planning to take a nap, which I do occasionally. A soft breeze going through the tree tops is the best sleeping "pill" in the world.  Just below me in a dense thicket, I noticed some movement and upon a little better gazing into it, spotted a big doe, dropping her first fawn. She did it standing up, kind of squatting a little. Then came the second one. It was a wonderful miracle of birth and I didn't move for hours, lest that doe became worried and abandoned her young. You never know. Eventually, was able to back out of there. My regret: No camera.

FB:  What outdoor celebrities did you look to as role models that influenced your development as an outdoorsman?
Gene Mueller:  I know of no outdoor celebrities that influenced me greatly, but I read everything the great Homer Circle (who eventually became a friend) wrote. He was fun to read and made me think that writing about fishing, etc., would be great.

FB:  You’ve done what many folks in the outdoors community would love to do, making a living around your interest in the outdoors.  How did you get your start?
Gene Mueller:  My favorite story and it's all true. Back in the mid 1960s I was a young man working for the Washington Daily News. The paper had an outdoors writer who once pulled the ultimate boner when he wrote a squirrel hunting column and actually said that the most beautiful sound in the world is a squirrel falling from a 60-foot oak tree after you made a successful shot. The sports editor was livid, fired the guy for being grossly insensitive, and asked me to write a squirrel hunting column. (I did not know what had happened because I had not opened the paper that day.)
I wrote a how-to column on an old Royal typewriter and along the way mentioned that if you hunt squirrels -- or any other game -- you owe it to your God to dispatch the animal quickly and humanely. In other words, don't try to be an Annie Oakley and go for an impossible shot with a .22 rifle that might only cripple the little animal. If you're not a good shot, use a 12-gauge shotgun and kill the little animal. The word "humanely" did it. I was told I'd be the new outdoors editor of the newspaper the following Monday. Then they told me what happened.

Gene with a large northern snakehead caught along
 the Lower Potomac River in July 2009
FB:  If you had to summarize your career as an outdoors writer, what would you say were your high points and low points?
Gene Mueller:  High points are the frequent congratulatory comments from readers who enjoy what you're doing and they're kind enough to say so, sometimes even to the boss, which can result in pay raises. Low points are the reverse of what I just wrote; whenever a reader complained that I wrote something that was inaccurate or did something that irked him/her. (It happens and you'd better develop a thick skin if you're going to succeed in the media.)

FB:  You’ve been an advocate vocally in your columns regarding political issues related to our favorite outdoor activities.  What advice would you give your fellow anglers and hunters on how to get involved to maintain our hunting and fishing privileges?
Gene Mueller:  Do what I occasionally do: Write letters of support or complaint to your Congressional, Senatorial, even state or county representatives, voicing your opinion --- but never do it in a threatening way. However, let them know that you and all your friends and family members support this and that issue and you wished that he/she would vote it into law, or whatever the action should be. Let them know that your future votes depend a great deal on how your representative "represents" you and your wishes.

FB:  What obstacles have you encountered during your attempts to enlighten your fellow anglers and hunters on politically sensitive issues relating to outdoor sports?
Gene Mueller:  That's a tricky question to answer. I'm not afraid to let people know that I'm politically conservative, hence have little patience with hare-brained schemes and proposals. That can run counter to the wishes of young liberals who simply cannot get it into their heads that there is no Alice In Wonderland and there are no magic solutions to many of the real problems that face us. 

FB:  As an outdoor columnist, you’ve had the pleasure of fishing and hunting with many local and national celebrities.  What outdoors experience with any of them was the most fun for you?
Gene Mueller:  Yes, I've been fortunate to hunt and fish with local and national celebrities, including Redskins pro football players, major league baseballers, even some huge national entertainment icons, such as the 1980s rock group, the Three Dog Night lead singer Cory Wells, and Nashville super star of the 1960s and 1970s, Ray Price. Among my personal friends are Ray Scott, the founder of the international Bass Angler Sportsman Society; also Brooks Robinson, the Hall of Fame Baltimore Orioles third baseman. Add also having had dinner with the President of Argentina, Jorge Videla, back in the 1970s-'80s. My most memorable experience with an outdoors celebrity was repeatedly fishing with Roland Martin, of the Roland Martin cable TV fishing show and appearing on a nationally televised bass fishing segment featuring the tidal Potomac River.

Gene also goes on to add:  President George H.W. Bush (the elder Bush) invited me to the White House to have breakfast with him and some other national outdoor writers back when he was in charge. He loved the outdoors press. I went and eventually offered to take him fishing. A couple of days later a White House wheeler-dealer called to set up a date for George, Sr., to do just that. We arranged to have him in a boat with a bass fishing guide, while I was in another boat following him around, shooting photos and exchanging pleasantries. He is quite a man. I was very impressed with him. All this happened while Secret Service agents surrounded us on all sides, even on land when we got close to the Alexandria, Va., shoreline. He caught one bass on a very cold day, but he was all man; tough as nails; never complained about the cold --- while we froze our ***** off!

FB:  Is there any one article that you’ve written that you are most proud of and why?
Gene Mueller:  In the late 1970s I wrote an article for the Washington Star (I was the outdoors editor at the time) concerning the plight of Louisiana's huge Atchafalaya Swamp that was in danger of being slowly drained by business interests that wanted to drill more gas and oil wells. It would have put an end to the Cajuns' crawfish industry, the great bass fishing in the swamp and would have affected thousands of small and large wild creatures whose home is the Atchafalaya. I went down there, fished with a Cajun guide, almost got into trouble with some back-woods Cajun swamp moonshiners. What a blast. My article won the top sports story among all the entries received from newspapers in the middle Atlantic states.

FB:  Many anglers and hunters are proud parents that love to take their kids or grandkids fishing.  Would you like to share some fond memories of those experiences?
Gene Mueller:  There are too many to list them all. Let's just say that my grandchildren (2 boys and a girl) are the light of my life and they accompany me whenever their schedules and mine allow it. All three love to fish, the boy, who is 13, will be trained to start hunting this fall.

Gene boats a Southern Maryland slab crappie
FB:  What was your funniest outdoor experience?
Gene Mueller:  A friend of mine who shall remain nameless hunted deer with me one icy winter day when I watched three deer walk straight toward his elaborate, roofed 6'x8' deer stand. I watched helplessly from a distance. He didn't shoot and the deer kept walking right past him. His answer: "I had on so damned much thick clothing, I couldn't lift my gun and bring it to my shoulder." He was right. I actually had to climb up to his deer stand and help him remove some of the goosedown jackets, vests and heaven knows what else, before he could move. He had taken a bag filled with spare clothes early in the morning and simply kept layering on more and more until . . . well, you know what happened.

FB:  What type of fishing do you enjoy most and why?
Gene Mueller:  I enjoy traveling to distant places, and the finest fishing I've experienced again and again were my outings to Brazil's Amazon region and its fabled peacock bass. That, and Argentina's golden dorados in the Parana River in the province of Corrientes. It's a tie between the two.

FB:  What type of hunting do you most enjoy?
Gene Mueller:  Sitting in a hedgerow blind with 60 or 70 Canada goose decoys in front of me, and me calling on an old wooden goose call that actually brings in a bird now and then. That, and sitting camouflaged from head to toe in my woods, scratching my call box, hoping my hen yelps entice a wild turkey gobbler to get within shotgun range.

FB:  Many anglers dream of that trip of a lifetime.  Have you ever been on your trip of a lifetime?  Where did you go and how would you describe that trip?
Gene Mueller:  See my Amazon and Argentina mentions above. If I had to suggest a trip of a lifetime, however, I'd probably urge everyone to book a fall outing to Alaska and fish for silver salmon, Arctic char and grayling. Alaska is America's treasure chest. Visit it before somebody tries to pave it over.

FB:  Looking forward to your outdoors career, what are you goals for the future?
Gene Mueller:  I've written several books. None of them made any real money to speak of. So my goal for the future is to write the great American novel, Hemingway-style, with lots of fighting, loving, fishing, intrigue, maybe a mysterious, voluptuous woman who'll say she will kill herself if I don't make love to her.

FB:  Is there anything else that you’d like to share with our readers?
Gene Mueller:  Yeah, check out and also check my weekly fishing reports in the Washington Times,

Gene, thank you for sharing your time and some of your stories and wisdom with us.