Divan Coetzee

Bassin' with Divan Coetzee of the Fishing Pro Shop article series 2019

Presentation in bass fishing

Presentation in bass fishing by Divan Coetzee

Understanding presentation in bass fishing: In last months issue we covered location, how to locate bass in different seasonal stages. Now we will cover presentation. Presentation has two aspects; what are you presenting? and where are you presenting it to? The “what” refers to bait selection and the “where” refers to structure or cover. Choosing the correct presentation to cover a specific structure type will improve success.
The right presentation will eventually lead to a good pattern, a good pattern allows you to catch lots of fish; it’s a beneficial skill to recognize the subtle hints from fish. The smallest adjustment can make a big difference. Let’s start by looking at structure and cover.

Presentation in bass fishing
Presentation in bass fishing

Bottom structure or contour lines are often the “go to” in the absence of cover. The Presentation will depend on what depth the fish are holding at. Multiple presentations could be effective on any given day. Lots of baits have limitations so always choose the most efficient tool for the job. In the absence of cover, it’s safe to assume that they are deep. Text book deep water presentations include, but are not limited to: dropshot, deep diving cranks, football jigs, Carolina rig, big swimbaits and jigging spoons. All of these presentations have solid reputations. It’s recommend to start with what you have most confidence in, for me, if for arguments sake I’m catching the same quality fish on a Carolina rig, that I am on a crank, I’m choosing the least labour intensive option. Single hooks have better conversion rates, are less inclined to foul, thus the Carolina rig becomes the smarter option. Unless the area is very rocky, getting your weight snagged every second cast, and having to re-tie constantly is an inconvenience, then the crank would be the smarter choice. It’s all about choosing the most correct option, as there are no wrong answers in bass fishing. Remember, fish will respond to multiple presentations on the same piece of structure or cover.

Whenever possible, always fish down hill – it reduces hang up’s. The only thing a fish has to relate to is the bottom, so ensure that’s where your bait spends most of its time.
Onto cover, this is a more diverse topic! Trees, brush, laydowns, jetties, surface grass, submerged grass, grass lines, reeds etc. Once again, numerous presentations will elicit a response from the same piece of cover. In other words, the same bass that ate your frog probably would have eaten a number of presentations due to its aggressiveness, but would you have been able to present another bait as effectively as you would a frog in thick matted grass for instance? Again it boils down to selecting a presentation that would be best suited to get the job done.

The lesson here is to select a bait at falls within the criteria of what the fish are responding to, and along with its unique benefits, maximize results. One has to be mindful of the fact that different class fish could respond to different presentations in the same area. For example in a grassy area, you could be catching a bunch on a weightless presentation, but the moment you start throwing a spinnerbait the quality of the fish improve, but the rate goes down. It’s a trade off for quality vs quantity, it depends on your objective. The same system can be used when selecting cover; if you get the same quality fish inside the grass, and on the rocks – choose the option that suits your style or preference, but not at the expense of results. If you are a tournament angler, you have to separate what you want to do, from what is needed in order to do well. What I throw when I’m out with my wife differs vastly from what I’ll throw when I’m tournament fishing with my regular partner.

Let’s look at how presentation in bass fishing and patterning come together. We recently fished a venue that we had last fished during the summer when the water temp was still in the high 20’s. We found the good ones along a very specific depth corridor; the margin for error being a foot either way in terms of depth. It’s a gradual sloping bank so the band was about 4 to 5 meters wide. As long as we hugged that line we got 2 kg plus fish. Little off to the side would result in undersize fish on both the deeper and shallow end. The bait didn’t seem to matter, the fall rate of a ½ oz tungsten on a Texas rig was the key. They would eat it on the drop before it even hit bottom. If there happened to be n bit of grass, you were pretty much guaranteed a good bite. it’s mid winter now and the water temperature was 14° in the morning. We found the fish again in the same area at the same depth, only this time they wanted a different presentation. The ½ oz was a bit aggressive on the fall, they would only eat it once the bait had sat still for a few seconds. So the pattern was the same, the better fish were still in 10ft relating to isolated grass patches but preferred a different presentation. Same area, same rig, different time of year – slight adjustment did the trick. The moral here is, if you are running a solid pattern; bait and color selection become less critical because all that is needed is to get a bait in the right area.

Bait and color selection is a contentious issue. Folks get emotional about it. It took some time for my thick head to come to terms with the fact that one actually fishes pattern by means of presentation, and not a bait persé. This has allowed me to streamline my tackle, which in turn makes bait and color selection easy. In terms of plastics, I have a maximum of 4 variants when it comes to color: black, brown, green and purple… with the odd white models mixed in here and there. These colors cover the entire spectrum. If you feel the need to have an entire box of Green pumpkin baits with so and so glitter then I suggest you reconsider your approach. The same goes for bait styles, no-one needs 7 different types of creature baits. I’ve recently committed to a specific brand and model in 2 different sizes and 4 color variants each. This is my “go to” bait for flipping and pitching, it’s literally the only creature/craw I own. It took me awhile to decide on it, but it came down to simple logic; the 3″ version sits perfectly on my preferred straight shank flipping hook. The shape of the bait allows it to penetrate the grass with ease. The size of the bait allows me to play around with rate of fall without changing the profile too much. The same goes for the 4″ version. My choice had nothing to do with available colors or the fact that it was designed by n prominent U.S. pro. It’s all about the fact that it does what I require it to do within a certain set of circumstances. Horses for courses if you will.
Long story short, if you have determined where they are, and found a presentation they respond to, you effectively have a pattern. Within that pattern, you can then fine tune bait type, size and color selection to maximize your results. I hope that the reader will see the bigger message in this article. No amount of tackle can improve your success unless you understand the basic principles. I’ll leave you with a quote from Gerald Swindle “ if you got 40 rods stacked up on the deck you ain’t versatile, you’re confused!”

See you on the water!

Post written by The Fishing Pro Shop‘s Pro Angler Divan Coetzee.

Post prepped by The Sardine News.

Bassin' with Divan Coetzee of the Fishing Pro Shop article series 2019

Considering colour in fishing

CONSIDERING COLOUR in fishing

Colours in fishing by The Fishing Pro Shop's Divan Coetzee
Colours in fishing by The Fishing Pro Shop’s Divan Coetzee

Considering colour in fishing: I’d like to revisit an article I wrote some time ago, it’s a great topic and evocative for many. Sentiment plays a major role in many cases, going with a particular colour based on previous experience even though the circumstances and conditions are different, or reverting to what you caught your PB on 7 years ago. Most of us are guilty of this in one way or another. The purpose of this article is to help simplify colour selection, especially for beginners or folks who need reassurance.
My tackle box is unexciting, you’ll find Black, Brown, Green & maybe something June bug, Perhaps even a bit of white. I like to keep it simple. I have variations of these base colours but I don’t care much for glitter. The more you fuss over which colour glitter is best the less you focus on what could actually make a difference to your catch rate.
Let me explain my reasoning behind colour selection: colour perception is relative to light penetration. When subjected to the depths, certain colours loose their integrity due to diminished light penetration. Scientists tell us that red is the first colour to be affected followed by orange and yellow. Green is next, followed by blue, purple and black. The latter three maintain their integrity at great depths, and still appear as their natural hue even as deep as 100ft depending on water clarity. At this depth, all other colours appear grey or a variation thereof. So in essence, if you were under the impression that you were fishing a Watermelon bait in 30ft guess again, It would likely be perceived as pale grey. An excellent example of this would be certain ‘red’ saltwater reef species, at depth they appear grey in colour, this is a camouflage mechanism. I’m sure everyone has seen some sort of underwater footage of reef fish.
The three most common scenarios that you’ll face are, clear water, stained water and muddy water. My basic colour selection would be as follows, in clear water up shallow, I would start with Watermelon ( gold, red, purple, blue fleck – whatever) until I can no longer see the bottom, then I would switch over to Green Pumpkin, Black or June bug. For stained water, up shallow, I will start off with Green Pumpkin, and use Black and June bug as I move deeper. During low light conditions, I might consider a colour with good contrast against the dark water.
Muddy water can be challenging so best ensure that your bait remains as visible as possible. It is recommended to use White (or counter shade) and black. It’s also one of the few scenarios where I prefer that my bait has some glitter. Scientists agree that the visibility of your bait is the overriding factor which determines whether a bass will actually commit to eating your presentation, not the shape or hydrodynamic signature of your bait.
You can refine your approach in clear water by matching your bait colour to the immediate surroundings and cover. For example, if the area has lots of weeds then stick to Watermelon. If the area has rocks or timber , try Green Pumpkin perhaps. Keep in mind that any variation of the base colours will also do.
With regards to hardbaits, if you consider what they are imitating, it’s simple. Any form of counter shade will do. If you are limited to only a few baits, I would recommend ones with a White belly and darker back. For stained and muddy water I might consider something with a bit of Yellow, Orange or chartreuse on it. Spinnerbaits are most popular in White in variations thereof. My clear water favourite is golden shiner and for stained water plain old white.
For jigs, it’s just as simple – clean water calls for shades of Green pumpkin, crabs also happen to be brown in colour… for stained and muddy water, black/blue is hard to beat. If I’m swimming a jig, white is a great option. In fact, white is the most fool proof colour for any reaction bait whether it’s a hardbait, softbait or skirted presentation.
Try not to overthink it, stick to the basic colours and be confidant in your choice. See you on the water!

Post by The Fishing Pro Shop‘s very own Pro Angler Divan Coetzee.

Post prepped by…

The Sardine News
The Sardine News
Bassin' with Divan Coetzee of the Fishing Pro Shop article series 2019

Mike Long – a fallen icon – by Divan Coetzee

Mike long: a fallen icon –by FPS Pro Angler  Divan Coetzee

Mike Long – a name synonymous with Big Bass catches, America’s “best” trophy hunter, exposed as a fraud! Wow! I’m still trying to wrap my head around the audacity of this guy. The allegations against him are insane! From snagging trophy fish and claiming false lake records to secret live wells and intimidation.

Mike Long
Mike Long

Kellen Ellis, owner and administrator of SD.FISH.com, come forward with some compelling video evidence and a 40 page article labeled “The dark secret of America’s big bass guru” covering the entire career of this once revered angler. It’s an interesting read, the full article can be viewed on Ellis’ page. I’ve taken out snippets from the original article to give you some perspective on how this guy (Long) operated.

Ellis states: “Back then Long was the undisputed heavyweight champion of big bass fishing. He caught the ninth heaviest bass of all time in 2001, a 20.75-pounder. He owned five local lake records for bass and made claim to having caught several hundred more bass over 10 pounds. “Sowbelly: The Obsessive Quest for the World-Record Largemouth Bass” by Monte Burke had hit bookstores a year prior and Long was prominently featured in the book as the leader of the pack when it came to the chase for the world record. He was the guy that the other players in that quest chased. And he was annihilating San Diego’s other top bass anglers in local team (2-person) tournaments, many times doing it without a partner in the boat.

There was some controversy surrounding his success, particularly with his lake records and the tournament wins while fishing solo — but anyone questioning Long’s prowess at this point was met with resolute resistance from his supporters — myself included. I sincerely regret that.”
Ellis broke ties with Long in 2010 after suspicious and circumstantial evidence presented itself. Ellis was left with the only conclusion; that Long was a fraud! Ellis lacked any concrete proof on the subject. Big Bass legend Bill Murphy, shared Ellis’ sentiment with regards to Long, and would let his true feelings on Long be known before he passed in 2004. Ellis goes on to say: “Murphy absolutely thought he was a cheater. I had breakfast with Bill Murphy a few months before he died, he thought not only was he dangerous, but he was a cheater, and that he was spawning a bad element in bass fishing in San Diego County,” Zieralski told me in a phone interview this May. “He did not respect Long. He feared him. He feared the element that Mike was bringing into the sport.”

Meanwhile, Long would dominate local tournaments and attain several lake records, the latter being a big deal in the U.S. The incentive to be on top was there, in the form of financial reward. Ellis states: “Mike Long would proceed to DOMINATE the Big Bass Record Club. In 1999, the club’s first year Long would take home $28,400 after taking first, third and 10th in the contest that year with bass weighing 17.95 pounds (Lake Murray), 15.19 (Lake Poway) and 12.44 (Lake Poway)”

In light of Long’s success, the format was charged the next year. There was effectively no way to properly dispute an anglers claim. In 2001, Long came out tops with a fish of 20.75 from lake Dixon. The specimen became known as “dotty”. In hindsight, I think it’s fair to question the legitimacy of the catch. All Long had to do was pass a polygraph test. He failed… he would later be allowed to retake the test.

With all the controversy surrounding the failed polygraph, Long laid low for awhile with regards to submitting catches. Instead, he teamed up with an old school buddy and highly proficient angler by the name of John Kerr. Kerr says the following about Long: “He was catfishing off a point and I was done bass fishing for the day so I went over and started catfishing near him. We got to talking and he told me he was getting into bass fishing,”  This would be the start of Long’s tournament career, he and Kerr did fairly well and managed many respectable finishes including several AOY titles. Kerr being the backbone of the team and Long contributing nothing but his name. In fact, Long on several occasions listed Kerr as his partner for the day, but ended up fishing alone. Long would end up with a winning percentage of 75% when fishing alone, and 25% when fishing with a partner. Kerr became suspicious, Ellis states: “Kerr was sceptical of Long’s success. What he saw from him as a teammate didn’t match the results that Long was generating as a competitor. And he had witnessed Long pull some things with lake record claims that made him question the man’s moral compass. Long’s lake records were especially dubious, and Kerr was far from the only one who doubted their validity.”

Kerr and Long eventually parted ways after an incident in 2008. From there, Long would take even bigger risks in order to stay on top.

Ellis writes: “In Jan. of 2009, Mattson took a call from Long inviting him to go fish Lake Hodges on a day the lake was closed, and told him he had waterdogs that they could use for bait. Waterdogs have been illegal to use as bait in California since March of 2001, but Long, working for a rebar company, had been on a job in Yuma, AZ and was able to purchase them there. Mattson declined, saying he didn’t want anything to do with throwing waterdogs or fishing illegally. He again suggested to Long that he shouldn’t be doing anything illegal given all the scrutiny he was under.

But Long apparently didn’t heed his advice, and left Mattson a voicemail later stating that he had fished Hodges and caught a 13-pounder. “He was super stoked about it, I could tell in his voice that he legitimately caught it, you could tell when he did something legitimately, which was few and far between, but it wasn’t really legit because the lake was closed and the bait was illegal,” Mattson said. “I called Johnny [Kerr] and told him Mike got a 13 out of Hodges, and Kerr said there was an upcoming tournament at Otay, and he thought he would weigh it in during the tournament. I said, ‘you think so?’ He said, ‘he’s going to get a 13 in the tournament, and I bet he says he gets it on a swimbait.’”

“I go, you know what, if that happens, I’m 100% sure that he’s cheating,” Mattson recalled.

On Jan. 24, 2009 Mike Long weighed 25.93 pounds in the WON Bass Tournament at Lower Otay, fishing by himself (though he put John Kerr down on the entry form as his partner). His nearly 26-pound limit was anchored by a… you guessed it, 13.2-pounder. He collected $4,990 in prize money”.

This is truly a fascinating article, I urge you to read all 19 000 words of it. It took Ellis 10 odd years to compile all his data. The video footage that accompanies the article is just as shocking. I urge folks to keep their side clean. There is no place for snaggers and cheats!

Post by Divan Coetzee of The Fishing Pro Shop.

Post prepped by The Sardine News

Social Media and the Bass Fisherman

Social media and the Bass fisherman

FPS’s Kirk with his this year’s best fish so far

Social media and the Bass fisherman

Bass: Fishing Pro Shop’s Divan Coetzee has prepared a series of articles putting bass firmly in the cross hairs, -this being the first one. Every week from now and for 10 weeks, we will publish one bass fishing post from Divan. In amongst other how-to and news articles from all the other fish species our authors are committed to. Johan Wessels is right now representing the Fishing Pro Shop in Nicaragua as he commits to teaching those tarpon a few lessons. We are looking forward to his contributions coming up shortly.

Over to Divan…

Divan Coetzee puts social media and the bass fisherman into perspective
FPS’s Divan Coetzee puts Bass fishing and social networking into perspective.ctive

I’ve wanted to touch on this subject for a while now but, I was not sure what I wanted to say, or whether it will be relevant or help full… there are many aspects I’d like to cover on this topic, but I’ll only end up ranting and spewing rubbish, much like my previous works. Anyway, you’ve all seen those posts, and maybe you’ve even made one before, it normally goes something like this: – “Hi everyone, my buddy and I want to go catch some bass tomorrow. Where is the best spot and with what can I catch them”. Sounds innocent enough doesn’t it? One almost feels compelled to help. Then it got me thinking: what did I do in my early years prior to the ‘information at the touch of a button age’? I’ll tell you what! I shredded any and all information pertaining to bass fishing and fishing in general. If you are passionate enough about fishing, you’ll do the same. If not, then you are that guy that’s always late for class and did not do his homework, hoping he can get enough done in the 5 minutes preceding first period. What I’m saying is: if you are a crappy student, you’ll be a crappy bass fisherman.

Bass fishing has no short answers, just an endless array of variables. If you can’t make peace with this, then you’ll end up over complicating things for yourself. Back to the point! So, said person is perfectly capable of typing his request and submitting it to social media? Right, but why social media and not a more dedicated platform? Something like wired2fish or any Bass magazine out there. Let me tell you why! It takes little to no effort to attain ‘information’ on these sites. Remember this is the same guy who never does his homework, and most other platforms offer extensive solutions to his questions, yet he is unwilling to literally just sit there and listen, never mind having to go through hours of reading material. They like their answers in 3 words or less but, these folks will have a hard time achieving any consistency.

The fact that there are thousands and thousands of lure choices (and opinions) does not make it easy for entry level and beginner anglers either. If you are still consumed by lure selection, rest assured, the solution is not on the shelf. This brings us to the second part of the conversation – the answers! If you’ve ever answered a question like that on social media in 3 words or less, then shame on you! We’ll circle back to this shortly; ever noticed how many experts and specialists we have out there? Thank goodness these guys aren’t tournament fisherman; No wonder folks take to social media for instant advise. Top answers include, but are not limited to: “Bronkhorstspruit! Rusties! Flukes, Senko, Witbank Spinnerbaits, where do you live, I’m going there next week…. Jigs, crankbaits!” The list goes on and on…. What can one possibly hope to learn form these contradictory utterances? Yes sure you can go to above mentioned venue and throw out said baits and catch a fish, but how does that help you long term? Are you seriously going to consult whom ever is quickest on the keyboard every time you consider an outing? Luckily there are no wrong answers in bass fishing but, some answers are more correct than others relatively speaking. So how does one convey the correct info in 3 words or less? Easy, you don’t! Effort equals reward in this case and the onus is on you to up your game and reference framework. You have to put in the hours.

FPS's Kirk with his this year's best fish so far
FPS’s Kirk McVittie with his this year’s best fish so far

Reference framework I hear you ask? Every single outing you’ve had prior to the next one is your reference, ie: location, time of year, weather conditions, dam level, predominant structure, baitfish… all these factors contribute to making informed decisions. The more you fish a specific body of water under specific conditions, the better your reference will be. Our waters are small in comparison to the USA so a bass literally has nowhere to hide; yet finding fish takes a back seat when compared to lure selection locally. We place way too much emphasis on lure selection and pay little attention to the stuff that matters. Do you think the top anglers in this Country have some special bait that they’re unwilling to tell you about? Maybe…. But the reality is that these guys know how to find fish relative to the seasonal stage; that’s the key.

It’s a big pill, swallow it slowly so you don’t forget it! Perhaps we’ll take a deeper look at seasonal staging in future issues. This forms part of the fundamentals to understanding bass behavior and cycles.

In closing, if you put in the effort, you’ll be duly rewarded. Selling people down the river is in poor taste. There are no short cuts – only long days, blistering heat, icy wind, swollen fingers, sunburn, windburn, dehydration, late nights and early mornings… all of it, absolutely worth it!

Thank you Divan for another excellent piece. Looking forward to your next one – Sean

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Post prepped by The Sardine News.