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School-Bus Yellow Is Forgotten Color for Bass 


Chances are good that chartreuse is one of the primary colors in your tackle box. It’s a standard for spinnerbaits. As a dip, it sweetens the tails of soft plastics.  On crankbaits and topwaters, it brightens bellies and sides, as do lime, citrus, parrot, and a palette of other variations that have evolved from chartreuse.

But where’s the color that started it all? Where’s the respect? In other words, where’s the school-bus yellow? Unless you carry some of the retro baits, such as the Heddon Lucky 13 and Arbogast  Hula Popper, it’s probably not in your box.

“Chartreuse is brighter and yellow has been forgotten,” said Stephen Headrick, a lure designer and owner of Punisher Lures and Dale Hollow 1 Stop near Dale Hollow.

“Yellow now is one of the most underfished colors. But it can be a great color year around.”

“Bandit has a Spring Craw crankbait  that’s about 75 percent school-bus yellow,” he added. “It’s a killer in spring around mud flats, when crawfish are starting to come out and move around.

“Crawfish start spawning at about 60 degree, earlier than most believe.”

A little later in the year, floating yellow worms, fished straight with a wire hook, will take both smallmouths and largemouths when worked around grass.

“Using yellow at that time of year has nothing to do with the water temperature, the way it does in winter,” he said. “It works then because yellow is just a good color.”

Especially, though, school-bus yellow can be great during winter, when adorning an aspirin-head hair jig, also known around Dale Hollow as a “hoss fly.”

Those who have discovered its effectiveness on smallmouth bass try to share the wealth from time to time. But they’ve discovered that many just will not believe that a bait that seems designed for crappie will catch big bronzebacks.

“I’ve given seminars on the school-bus yellow jig, and people will just not believe me,” said David Duvall, a part-time guide and Dale Hollow regular.

Aside from the color, the fact that advocates say that the jig usually should not be fished with a trailer makes the technique seem even more a tall tale.

“People think that I must be putting minnows on the jig, but I’m not,” Duvall continued.  “The school-bus yellow jig is just the best wintertime bait that you can have for smallmouth bass, especially on clear-water lakes like Dale Hollow.”

What makes this bait so effective?  The hair that appears dark yellow out of water turns lighter as it sinks below 10 feet or so, explained Headrick, who makes the jigs in a variety of sizes.  When water temperature falls below 55 degrees, crawfish turn a similar shade.

“You pop that lure off the bottom and it looks like a crawfish,” he added. “Smallmouth bass can’t resist it.”

And it’s not just in Dale Hollow that this little appreciated bait is effective. It will work in just about any lake or impoundment that has smallmouths, according to Duvall, who also has used the jig on Tim’s Ford and Center Hill.

The key is to fish it in the right places. “I like flats, humps, and long gravel points,” he revealed.

“Personally, I like black shale rock,” added Headrick. “But any place holding crawfish can be good. Depth will depend on the weather.

“If you have clouds and wind, the fish could be in 10 feet. If it’s slick and sunny, they could be 20 to 30 or even more.”

Headrick’s favorite size is 3/16-ounce, but he will switch to 1/8 for shallower water or ¼ in high winds. Duvall also prefers 3/16.

“I’ll make a long cast, close the bail with my hand, and watch the line as it sinks,” he said. “Many times, you won’t feel the bite. You’ll just see a slight movement of the line.”

Once the jig hits bottom, Headrick advises holding the rod at a 60-degree angle for the retrieve. “Give it two quick, little jerks and let it fall back,” he said. “And watch the line.”

If you can’t provoke a reaction strike, he continued, then try dragging the jig on bottom.

Headrick first learned about the hoss fly from his father, but smallmouth legend Billy Westmoreland is the one who convinced him of its effectiveness nearly 20 years ago. “I was using the float-n-fly and he kicked my butt with the school-bus yellow jig,” he remembered.

“Outside this area, I don’t think that he ever told anyone about it. But he always had lots of yellow jigs with him.”

(A variation of this article was published a few years ago in B.A.S.S. Times.)



'Ecosystem Management' Is Tactic to Restrict Fishing

Passed in 1973, the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) was much needed. Before then, we have given little regard to the damage that we were doing to fish and wildlife through pollution, habitat destruction, and overharvest. The gray wolf, the shortnose sturgeon, the whooping crane, and the American crocodile are but a few of the species brought back from the brink.

But soon environmental activists discovered that they could use the act to impose preservationist agendas, under the guise of saving endangered species. They started suing the federal government to force action.

As a result, the ESA now has become a polarizing force, as examples abound of the federal government abusing its power to seize and/or deny use of privately owned lands and waters. Sadly, some property owners even practice “shoot, shovel, and shut up” as a means of protecting themselves.

And now the environmentalists, financed by Pew Charitable Trusts, want to use the same tactic to restrict fishing by imposing “ecosystem-based fisheries management.” It’s simply the ESA by another name, with the focus on our waters.

The Recreational Fishing Alliance reports this Pew strategy:

“Ecosystem-based fisheries management could ensure the long-term health of our fisheries and the communities that depend on them for recreation, employment, and nutrition," with environmental advocates describing the vague term as a system to "account for the protection of important habitats, consider the critical role of prey, or forage fish, in the food web, and reduce the waste of non-target species through bycatch."

And in response, Jim Donofrio, executive director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance, says this:

"Pew Charitable Trusts wants ecosystem protections put into the federal fisheries law. That way they've got a legal argument to sue and settle for increased fisheries restrictions.

"Under such a nebulous ecosystem definition, Pew and their partners would then have a legal challenge to close down any recreational fishery they choose by claiming the need to protect sea lice, spearing, oyster toads, undersea corals, even jellyfish."

In May, Pew will hold a forum for Connecticut anglers in what RFA calls the “Hijacking America” tour.

“The Pew script explains how ecosystem plans should be created and implemented across our coasts to further integrate ecosystem considerations into management, while appealing for support for incorporating ecosystem-based fishery management policies into federal law by way of changes to MSA (Magnuson-Stevens Act). Event organizers are hyping ecosystem-based management as yet another ‘new approach’ to fisheries management in their war on recreational fishing,” RFA says.

Go here to learn more about this and how Pew, according to RFA, is trying to recruit recreational anglers “willing only to speak positively about federal fisheries management policies that have denied anglers access to healthy, rebuilt stocks like summer flounder, black sea bass, and porgy.”


Reel Wisdom From Real Fishermen

Click on the photo to learn more about Why We Fish. Photo by Robert Montgomery

“Angling is extremely time consuming. That’s sort of the whole point.” – Thomas McGuane

Three-fourths of the Earth’s surface is water, and one-fourth is land. It is quite clear that the good Lord intended us to spend triple the amount of time fishing as taking care of the lawn. ~Chuck Clark

Somebody just back of you while you are fishing is as bad as someone looking over your shoulder while you write a letter to your girl. –Ernest Hemingway

Fishing is like sex, everyone thinks there is more than there is, and that everyone is getting more than their share.” – Unknown

There is certainly something in angling that tends to produce a serenity of the mind.  ~Washington Irving

Why We Fish--- Reel Wisdom from Real Fishermen

“I’ve gone fishing thousands of times in my life, and I have never once felt unlucky or poorly paid for those hours on the water.” William Tapply “A Fly-Fishing Life”

“Soon after I embraced the sport of angling I became convinced that I should never be able to enjoy it if I had to rely on the cooperation of the fish.” Sparse Grey Hackle

“Be patient and calm – for no one can catch fish in anger.” – Herbert Hoover

“In every species of fish I’ve angled for, it is the ones that have got away that thrill me the most, the ones that keep fresh in my memory. So I say it is good to lose fish. If we didn’t, much of the thrill of angling would be gone.” Ray Bergman

“It is impossible to grow weary of a sport that is never the same on any two days of the year.” Theodore Gordon

“The best fishermen I know try not to make the same mistakes over and over again; instead they strive to make new and interesting mistakes and to remember what they learned from them.” John Gierach “Fly Fishing the High Country”


The Anglers Lodge Seeks Business Partner(s)

Lake Amistad largemouth.

If you’ve ever dreamed about owning a home or --- even better --- a fishing lodge near one of the world’s best bass lakes, Carl Wengenroth has an offer for you.

Carl owns The Anglers Lodge on Lake Amistad, near Del Rio, Texas, and he’s looking for an investment partner or partners. “I want to get the bank out of the picture,” he said.

To do that, he needs $730,000 within three weeks, and he will negotiate regarding specific terms, such as partnership percentages. For sure, though, the investor would enjoy free fishing, meals, and accommodations as often as he’d like. And Carl added that he can arrange for free hunting as well.

The Anglers Lodge sits on just under 10 acres, with 23 rooms, a café, and tackle store. It’s a 2- to 3-minute drive from four launch sites at Amistad, which is surrounded by federal land. Long-range plans call for acquisition and expansion onto an additional five acres.

With Carl, an investor would be partners with one of the real champions for bass conservation. He teaches fish care to bass clubs across Texas. And he recycles used baits into new ones. Success with that prompted him to create River Slung Custom Baits.

Lake Amistad is a 65,000-acre impoundment on the Rio Grande at its confluence with the Devils River. Here is what has to say about the scenic fishery on the Mexican border.

If you are interested in learning more, you can call Carl at 830 719-9907 or send him an email at


Adjustable Cablz Provide Comfortable Way to Keep Glasses Secure


In summer, you can’t fish without sunglasses--- unless you’re night fishing. And, when you’re out on the lake, miles from the dock or your truck, you don’t want to lose those glasses.

Lots of retainers are on the market to help keep your glasses secure. For years, I’ve stuck with the cloth ones, even though they tend to get damp and grungy over time.

But now Cablz is offering an alternative that I really like: Cablz Zipz, with adjustable strap. The retainer is made of colorful monofilament, which makes it lightweight.

What really sold me on it, though, is that it’s adjustable. Just slip on your glasses with the Cablz attached and zip the mono snug behind your head. It’s so lightweight that you hardly know it’s there, and yet your glasses are secure.

Check out Cablz Zipz (Monoz) here.