Bass by the Gallon

Stephen Headrick

About the author

Stephen Headrick

Stephen Headrick

Stephen Headrick is better known to the bass fishing world as the Smallmouth Guru. He lives in Celina, Tenn., and is the owner of Punisher Lures.

Gas prices are out of control. Here in Celina, Tenn., at the Dale Hollow 1-Stop we're selling regular gasoline for $3.95 a gallon ... for now. Who knows? It may be up over $4 per gallon next week.

I know the price of gas very well for a couple of reasons. First of all, my wife and I own a convenience store and sell gas. Secondly, like you I like to pull my boat and go fishing once in a while.

In case you're wondering, I don't make any more money if gas prices are $1 per gallon or $4 per gallon. I make 10 cents per gallon either way, but if it's $1 per gallon, I hear a lot fewer complaints.

And even though I sell gas at the store, the price is hitting me, too ... hard. It's just not as easy to hitch up the boat and go fishing as it used to be. Each time I step on the throttle, I think about how much gas I'm burning and what it's costing me.

So, being the person I am, I decided to think about what the gas crisis can do to make me a better fisherman. It might help you, too.

First of all, I realized that I spend too much time riding around and not nearly enough time actually fishing. Why is it that fishermen want to launch in one place and then run all the way to the other end of the lake to do their fishing? The faster their boat, the further they want to ride.

It may be true that the best fishing in your lake is a long way from where you launch your boat, but did you ever think about all the bass you're driving by to get to it? Well, I'm thinking about that right now, and it's changing the way I fish.

I'm going to spend more time fishing right around the area where I launch. Not only will it save me some gas money, but I'll bet it'll make me a better fisherman, too. I'll be more thorough, more attentive, and I'll fish harder. I know that just because I didn't load the boat doesn't mean there aren't lots of bass all around me. It's high time I got to work at catching them!

I'm going to put my foot down on the control pad of my MotorGuide more than on the throttle of my Evinrude from now on. The MotorGuide doesn't go as fast, but I can't catch fish when I'm running that Evinrude wide open anyway.

Another thing I'm going to do is start exploring new water — right there on the same old lake I always fish. Instead of running around to lots of my old favorite holes, I'm going to do some closer looking right around the ramp. You know the areas I'm talking about, too, because you have them on your favorite lake. I'm talking about places that I usually disregard because they haven't produced in the past, places I've written off.

I haven't fish a lot of those "bad" places in 10 or 20 years! Things change, though. A bad place can get good sometimes. Vegetation might move in. Fishing and boating pressure might affect an area and make it different. A change in baitfish type can also make for a change in fishing.

It's high time I took a closer look at those "bad" areas and find out which ones might be really good now.

While I'm at it, I'll save on gas, catch some smallmouth and maybe even become a better fisherman.

Until next time, if you have any questions or comments, I'd love to hear from you. Please e-mail me atStephen@thesmallmouthguru.com.

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