Doug Hume is a 'major' contributor to this NEBA of NH site, so it seems only fitting that we give him his own corner. From this location he has the freedom to rant and comment about the many issues that bass anglers are concerned about. We're sure you'll find his articles both informative and entertaining.
1. Wild Goose Chase: Comments on Public Access to Lake Sunapee
5 (NEW for Nov.) So You Can Teach An Old “Doug” a New Trick!
February 15, 2015
A Wild Goose Chase: A Look at The Public Access Issue on Lake Sunapee
First off, I would like to commend Bill Koczarski for the tremendous job he has done in setting up the new NEBA of NH site. Bill is a great guy and a friend of Joe Catalano. If you’re fortunate enough to get Joe’s Granite State Rod and Reel Newsletter, you know the good work Bill does. If you don’t get it, contact Joe at his shop and sign up. It’s a great read. Secondly, permits have been sent out. Some adjustments in tournament sites are needed as NEBA did not get all its first choices. The final schedule will be posted on the website as soon as it is set.
When I volunteered to provide information (tournament results, standings, pictures etc.) for the new site, I did not know Bill would provide me with my own “corner”. I have used this forum to give information on some of our NEBA teams. I will continue this process and if you would like to be one of those teams just let me know. For this entry I decided as long as I had a forum to do so, I would vent a bit on the state of Public Access in NH.
The recent announcement that the Wild Goose Access Site to Sunapee passed its last hurdle in the courts was welcome news. I am not weighing in on whether this is the best site for Sunapee access. I am happy that after 25 years, access approval was finally granted. That’s correct….the approval process for this launch facility started in 1990! The bad news is that the state does not have the money to build the facility at this time. That leaves the same access issues on Sunapee. You can launch at the state park. There you have to deal with restricted hours and pay a fee not only for the boat, but for any additional occupants that may be with you. Also, depending on the size of your boat it may or may not come off the trailer in the shallow stream in which you launch. Other options include launching at Sunapee Harbor where the parking is a good distance away from the launch. In addition, Sunapee Harbor is a very congested area in the summer. There is a launch in Georges Mills but all the parking is restricted to town residents.
As a fisherman in NH it is very difficult to get on many of the state’s “Great Ponds” and rivers. Sunapee is just an example of this. As we know, many of our state’s water bodies have no access or access that is extremely limited. It seems it becomes more difficult to access many of these water bodies, even if there is some access provided. I’ve always carried boards of various lengths and sizes to do some temporary repairs to a ramp to allow my vehicle and boat to survive the treacherous conditions found at many access points. We’ve all pulled into a launch in this state and pondered whether it was worth the potential damage to launch and whether once you get your vehicle and boat in, can you actually get them out. Also, some of the long distances required to get to parking areas are prohibitive for many anglers.
The State of NH, by law, has jurisdiction over some 1000 “Great Ponds” covering 165,000 acres and over 17,000 miles of rivers and streams. I can’t help but think they could do a better job at providing its residents with quality access to these water bodies.
Doug’s Corner: March 17, 2015
Well it’s March and the snow has at least started to melt. It will be interesting to see when the ice starts to come off of the lakes and ponds. I’ve been around long enough not to make predictions. If we get warm weather and spring rains it may be sooner than we all think.
This month’s column will focus on the process of getting a NEBA of NH Trail schedule set for a particular year. If you have not had the experience of trying to get permits for scheduled tournaments you may be surprised at how lucky you have to be to get your lakes and dates.
The NEBA of NH Board of Directors gets together not long after the season concludes to plan out the following season’s schedule. Input is taken from members on their preferences for lakes and/or rivers. Of course some teams would prefer fishing a lake like Winni five times while others would choose to fish the Connecticut River as often as possible.
Consideration is given to all requests, as well as, factoring in the time of year, access and parking, and the ability to hold a weigh in. Some lakes only have facilities available in the spring and fall. Summer tournaments are always difficult to plan which is why a river tournament is often a summer choice. Once all the factors are considered a tentative schedule is set.
This is now where the permitting process comes in. NEBA’s schedule is submitted to NH Fish & Game and is combined with all of the other tournament organizations and bass clubs both in state and out-of-state.
At this point the whole permitting process comes down to a lottery. That is, all applications for permits submitted between October 1st and December 1st are recorded and permits are issued via a computer generated random number drawing. Basically, if you’re lucky you get your lakes and dates and if not, you will probably have to scramble to find open lakes on your scheduled dates or try to find new dates.
This years NEBA of NH schedule is now set after some of this “scrambling’ had to go on. Several changes had to be made as not all of NEBA’s requests were granted. While every attempt is made to avoid conflicts with other organizations and with some of the major events that go on in the state, it is virtually impossible to do so. Check out the list of permits issued for bass tournaments on Fish and Game’s web site and you can see how busy many of the states lakes and rivers are.
Fortunately NEBA of NH ended up with what should be a very competitive schedule. The year will be capped with another two lake TOC. This two-lake/two-river TOC schedule has produced some very tight competition. It challenges the competing teams to be able to adjust to a different fishery, as well as, a different set of fishing conditions. Check out the TOC page on this site to see how teams have faired the past few years.
The schedule for the Trail, TOC, and the Opens are available on this site. Plan now to sign up for the 2015 Trail and increase your TOC payout by supporting the Opens.
A Look at "GO-TO" Baits from the Past!
Well it’s April and fishing season is just around the corner. It’s the time of year when anglers start going through their tackle and prepping for the new season. If you’re like me, some lures go in the “out” pile only to be added back into the boxes later. Of course these lures may not see the water this year even though I know they can catch fish. This process has gotten me thinking about all those once “go to” baits that are no longer in vogue. Here’s my list. I’m sure you could come up with many of your own.
When I started bass fishing, a long time ago, a plastic worm was a primary weapon in catching bass, both in terms of size and quantity. Mann’s Jelly Worm and later the Augertail Worm were staples in any tacklebox. My personal favorite was the Culprit Worm in the red shad color. These worms caught fish and would still be effective today. With the introduction of the Senko and other plastic stick baits these worms have become somewhat obsolete. These worms were certainly a cheaper option for anglers than the present plastic baits.
Back in the days of the 100 boat tournaments on Winni, if you were to check the rods of the teams fishing, I’d bet that 95% of them had a gold Bomber Long A tied on. Whether fished as a topwater bait or ripped as a jerkbait this lure put a lot of fish in the boat. While not obsolete, this lure is found mostly on the rods of the “oldtimers” at tournaments. Being one of these veteran tournament anglers, most likely I will be one of those that have one tied on. They still catch fish.
Curly Tail Grub
When I first started bass fishing, most of my fishing involved either a 4” Mister Twister or 5” Kalins curly tail grub on the line. Most of the time these were fished on a simple ball headed jig. They caught a ton of bass. It’s one of the most natural looking baits to the fish and they could easily fool even the most wary bass. The most popular methods of fishing grubs were to either swim or hop these baits near the bottom. I remember Caroina Rigging a smoke red flake grub for several years in tournaments. It worked well but I have not tried it for years. As an aside, it is interesting how the Carolina Rig has gone out of fashion with the introduction of the dropshot. While not a lure, the Carolina Rig is a fishing technique that has lost popularity. Back in the day, this technique was responsible for many tournament wins in NH mostly with a lizard as the bait of choice.
While the spinnerbait is still a popular lure choice these days, the “Winni Special” seems to be far less popular. Again, back in the day on Winni, Winnisquam, Squam, and other similar lakes most tournament anglers threw the chartreuse bladed, chartreuse skirted “Winni Special” to catch their fish. They were a great choice for catching bass then and there is no reason they would not work today.
This lure never caught on like some of the others. For the youngsters out there
( Under 30 ), the Flying Lure was going to revolutionize dock fishing. It was designed to swim away from the angler on slack line. It got lots of hype when it came out. Anglers bought a bunch of them looking for an edge, and soon realized it was more effective to skip a lure under the dock.
I’m sure there are many more lures that fit in this category. It’s interesting to think that I fished many tournaments, and did well, with four or five rods on the deck. Tied on would be a “Winni Special”, a curly tail grub, a Gold Bomber, and a plastic worm. I might also have a spider jig or Gitzit (tube bait) on a rod. These latter two baits are still popular today.
Time to go find my “old timer “baits and put them back in the tackle box. They worked back in the day and may be the ticket this year!
June 1, 2015
“Should I Stay or Should I Go?”
All tournament fishermen have been there. You know the fish are in the area you are in, but they are either not biting or the fish being caught are not upgrading your weight significantly. Your chances of winning, or placing in the money, may lie in the answer to the above question. Answer wrong and you spend the rest of the week second-guessing your decision. Answer correctly and you’re a hero.
The decision to wait out the fish or leave an area is never an easy one. We’ve all heard the expression “ never leave fish to find fish”. It makes sense but not if you can’t get them in the boat. That’s when the second guessing starts. It’s a particularly difficult time in team tournaments when the partners have differing opinions on what to do. Partners not on the same page, when it comes to decision- making has caused many a team to eventually split. The ability to compromise and to form a plan, both partners can live with, is vital to a team’s success.
Personally, my partner Don Fales and I have benefitted and been burned by how we dealt with the “stay or go” question. We have stayed in an area to the bitter end and done poorly. We could not catch the fish we knew were there. There have been other instances where we have committed to an area and had just enough quality bites to finish well in a tournament. The good thing is we are, as a team, generally on the same page as to what to do. Of course we have had those tournaments where we could not agree on a strategy and had a pretty quiet ride home from the lake. In the over 25 years we have fished together, fortunately we have not had too many of these “quiet rides”.
I’ve watched “Major League Fishing” recently and it’s interesting how the strategy is different given that format. Catching a lot of small fish can be beneficial and leaving an area with numbers of fish does not make sense. In a typical team tournament however, particularly in the spring, it’s all about getting a bigger fish. Leaving an area because you’re catching a number of two-pounders makes sense. It’s a big fish that makes the difference. In the first NEBA trail event all the top finishers had a “kicker” fish. The winners had two big fish. These teams made the right decisions.
There is no magic answer when faced with the ”Should I stay or should I go question?”. The best advice I’ve heard is to go with your instincts. Successful teams, like those at the top of the leaderboard at the Sunapee tournament, generally have good instincts.
November 9, 2015
So You Can Teach An Old “Doug” a New Trick!
There is no doubt about it, late fall fishing is some of the best of the year.
While most anglers have packed it in for the year, those that hang in there
into November, can be rewarded with some great bass fishing. Knowing the
fishing can be great, particularly on some of the areas smaller ponds, I
scheduled a day on the water with everyone’s favorite NEBA of NH weigh
master, Joe Catalano.
Joe and I met up one recent early November morning and headed to one of
New Hampshire’s many small bodies of water. Remember to always check the
NH lake drawdown schedule before heading out to a chosen destination.
More than once I’ve arrived at a ramp this time of year only to find the lake
several feet down and the launch unusable.
Joe and I arrived at the pond and bundled up with several layers of warm clothing.
As most tournament anglers know, when you think you have enough layers on, add
another two! Nothing is worse than being underdressed and spending the day cold.
I had my fall baits ready to go; a jerkbait, a spinnerbait, and a 3/8 oz. jig and trailer.
Joe loves to throw a crankbait in the fall and also had tied on what looked like a tiny
jig. When I asked about it, I found out it was a 1/16 oz. Bitsy Bug with a small trailer.
Joe was amused when I reminded him we were bass fishing and not after crappie or
panfish. I told him he might want to try a bigger jig.
On his third cast with the tiny jig, Joe set the hook on a nice two - pound largemouth. Soon to follow, I was treated to the “Joe Cat Bitsy Bug Show.” While I continued to stubbornly toss my larger jig, I was rewarded only with grass and weed on the hook. Meanwhile, Joe’s lesson in fall fishing continued. He continued to boat bass after bass with that tiny lure. Fortunately for me, Joe had an ample supply of Bitsy Bugs and mercifully handed one over. I’m sure you guessed what happened next, I started to catch fish as well.
Since that day I have been fishing several times and have seen first hand that fall fishing day with Joe was not a fluke. That little 1/16 oz. jig is a fish catcher. I saw Joe catch a 4 pounder on it and several in the 3 pound range. I have personally caught several quality bass on it in my recent outings.
I learned my lesson. Small baits catch fish, including big fish. Thank you Joe for my fall fishing lesson. Oh yeah, Joe insists on putting scent on his baits in cold water. You can’t argue with success. Go visit Joe at Granite State Tackle in Nashua. You can pick up all the fall baits you need at his shop and maybe a lesson or two while you are there! He stocks what works so check it out. He says he still has plenty of Bitsy Bugs despite me recently stocking up!
Hold mouse over image for description and click on image to enlarge it.
Doug's Corner: January 2016
Time for those New Year’s Resolutions
Well we ‘ve reached 2016 and it is time to make some fishing related New Year’s Resolutions. Unlike the general resolutions that many of us make, such as eat and drink less, be more positive, exercise, and spend less money, which we never follow through with, I intend to do my best to see these resolutions through.
Support our local tackle shops. We are all starting to think about the upcoming season and what tackle we will need replace or replenish. I am going to make a concerted effort to purchase at least some of my fishing needs at some of our areas small tackle shops. We need to support these businesses in order to keep them vital and have them around for us in the future. I have no problem with the big stores such as BASS Pro and TackleWarehouse. They just don’t give the same experience as stopping in to your local shop. There are too many of these small, local shops to mention but a few include; Granite State Rod and Reel in Nashua, Pinnacle Tackle in Newport, and Morse Sporting Goods in Hillsboro. Granite State is owned and operated by our own Joe Catalano. He has everything an angler needs and a wealth of knowledge to share. Pinnacle Tackle in Newport is also owned by NEBA member, John Hooper II. Pinnacle specializes both in fishing and hunting supplies. If you’re in the area check it out. John has been a very successful tournament angler so you know he stocks what works. Morse Sporting Goods is just down the road from me. Friendly service and “real life” fishing and hunting knowledge are available here. In addition to their fishing supplies, Morse’s has a large hunting department and specializes in custom- made bows. Believe it or not, Jim Morse, the owner, was a student of mine way back in the day.
All are great businesses that deserve our support.
Get rid of old and unused tackle. Not a lot of explanation is needed here. Most fishermen I know have stockpiled enough old tackle to start their own store. I try every year to clean mine out. Unfortunately it starts in the “get rid of” pile but always makes it back on the shelf. I think I’ll use it but never do. My rule this year is, “if I haven’t use it the past two years, it goes!” As I write this, the pile grows of the tackle I am getting rid of. NH BASS Nation has a flea market in March. This might be my opportunity to make a few bucks on it. Then again, as I look at the pile, some of those lures look like they will still catch fish!
Learn a new fishing technique. If you’re like me, you tend to stay with what you like and avoid those fishing techniques that don’t come easy. Even though those avoided techniques may be extremely effective. An example in my case is skipping docks and boats. I just don’t put enough time in practicing this. I know this technique catches good fish. I need to dedicate myself to improving my dock and boat fishing techniques and avoid always going back to what I find comes more easily to me.
Do more “fun” fishing. We all love to tournament fish. Sometimes it becomes too much of an obsession. We will spend days on a lake trying to learn it and struggle through hours of poor fishing. There is a place for this but not to the extreme. I plan to spend more time on a less crowded, productive bodies of water. I got a taste of this this fall. I, and my fishing buddies, caught more quality bass than at any other time in my long fishing career. We spent very enjoyable days on the water catching both numbers of fish along with the occasional lunker. The bottom line is remembering how much of a fun experience fishing can be!