Saltwater Bass and Cut Tailed Triple Trouts

Saltwater bass fishing is really similar to freshwater bass fishing.  I’m getting better at using weedless swimbaits, hardbaits, and lead head/big swim jigs to probe the depths.  I have spinnerbaits and jerkbaits in my game.   You rarely fish super shallow, for any period of time, but if you are fishing shallow, you’re likely looking over your shoulder for a wave.  Boiler rocks, crashing waves, beds of kelp—these are where big calico bass live.  

I had the chance to fish some water near the Mexico/US Border with Kevin Mattson.  We took his boat and he got us around fish, and did the heavy lifting.  Great trip.  Here are some highlights and things I’m confident to share: 

Cut Tailed Triple Trout

If I wasn’t so dumb, I would have picked one of these up sooner and committed to it.  The cut tailed Triple Trout floats, which means it can be fished extremely slow.  Much slower with the an awesome waking action you only get when you burn the standard Triple Trout.  You get a great wake at a much slower speed, is the net net.  You can ‘stall’ it around the sweet spots and let the bait dead stick a little to draw a bite.  Very ideal for grass fishing and a little theory of fishing truth I like to call ‘rate of stall’.  You can fish the Cut Tail Triple Trout around grass pockets, laydowns, big shade spots—-and really milk the spot.  You spend a lot of time with your Triple Trout  making killer S Turn surface wakes vs. burning it for 3-5 feet before it gets waking on the surface.  And it fishes much slower and can be twitched/jerked.  I am getting blown up on calico bass in the kelp around Dana Point, and recently smashed some good ones with Kevin: 

The Cut Tailed Triple Trout comes in a few sizes.  I like the 8″ and the 10″ Models. I have a couple of sweet ones Scott has made me.  You can get them at Tackle Warehouse or you can order them directly from Scott’s website:  www.tripletrout.com   They have a similar, yet slightly looser action.  More joints = more clack and more foldability of the bait.  The tail is really lazy and whips around nicely.  

I fished mine on 80# PowerPro and upgraded my hooks to Owner ST-66 Trebles, and Owner Hyper Wire Split rings.  I direct tied my 80# Braid and always use Fitzgerald Braided Line Paint.  I have been fishing the Cut Tail on a Daiwa Lexa HD 300.  I am exploring a bunch of low profile saltwater grade bass reels.  I’ll do a review on them at some point.  The Lexa is good, but I’ve blown it up a couple times.  I have to admit, being a back seater cramps my bigbait lobbing style.   I have the 8:1 which makes it fish fast, but you lose that torque and low end.   If you are good with your rod and have the drop on the fish, you can make it all work, but I wonder if I’m setting myself up for disaster on a really big calico bite or one that gets me out of position.  Too fast of gear ratio and big fish that live around heavy cover can spell disaster.  That is what makes bass fishing fun, a lot of times.  Fishing around visible structure, and literally, yanking them out from their ambush spots.  Calico bass are no different. 

 

We threw the 8″ standard Triple Trouts and caught some fish, but the better quality, and most action was on the Cut Tail. 

 

The ROF 0

Perhaps video is better than words, pictures and blog posts.  I find the STE Rig, matches up with the ROF 0 quite well.   The ROF 0 is really misunderstood.

 

2016 WON BASS US Open Recap

instagram-triple-trout-mead

You have to understand, I haven’t been on Lake Mead since 2002 (ish).  The very last time I fished it as a Non Boater for a BassMaster in the early 2000s!  Crazy.  I used to hit Mead hard with my traveling partner, Dan Frazier, when I was in college from 1996-1999.   Back then, Lake Mead was a largemouth bass only fishery.  Now, smallmouth are the dominant fish, and there is grass.  Great grass, in Lake Mead.  I was super pumped when I heard there was grass.   I love grass fishing and honestly, the US Open was a really good excuse to take a vacation from my software gig, and get my fishing hat back on.

temple-bar-grass

 

I worked out a deal with Kevin Mattson from San Diego to join me for practice and the tournament.  Kevin is a really really good fisherman, and the guy you want onboard whether you are fishing for largemouths or tuna fishes.  I spent a lot of time leading up to the tournament getting the boat ready for action.   I needed to get my fishing gear in order too.  That was a really lengthy process I’m still trying to sort out.  I don’t have a garage, so my apartment becomes a tackle shop in a hurry.   Bottom line, I just invested in a bunch of new equipment.  I bought a bunch of Daiwa, Quantum and Lew’s reels….the kind that can handle saltwater.  I feel like it’s wise for me to be buying stuff that will serve salt and fresh purposes for the future.   Reels are now 8:1 or >7:1 anyway.  I realize you trade torque and ability to move big fish with faster gear ratios…..however, there are many more GOOD reasons why faster gear ratios are better.  Especially if you are a power fisherman.  Especially if you like to fish Triple Trouts, buzz baits, spinnerbaits, walkin’ baits….heck, even worm and jig fishing requires fast gear ratios for better line pickup and catching up with fish who run at you.  mattson-mead-grass-lake

 

mattson-triple-trout-meadI’m stuck in an old school world of rods and reels.  I literally have 20+ Shimano Curado 200s.   They are cool, but sorta all 6.3:1 and just sorta blah.  I will use some for cranking, but other than that, my fishing is all around >7:1 gear ratios.  It just works and fishes better.  Lake Mead is a great place to test things like gear ratio, rod length, braided line, casting distance, ability to cover water, ability to hook fish way away from the boat, and ability to power fish.   Besides investing in a bunch of new reels, I’ve been investing in rods too.  Daiwa makes some really inexpensive swimbait rods, so does Okuma.  I like having a quiver of light action 8 footers.  I want to have light action 8 footers and fast reels for the majority of my fishing, I’ve decided.    And on the spinning rod front, more like 7 and a half foot spinning rods, with new, faster pickup gear ratios, saltwater grade spinning reels.

lake-mead-hackstacks-champion-boat

Storage:

I spent a ton of time trying to get my tackle organized.  I have lots of stuff, and it sorta is either big or small.  And soon, will be salt vs. fresh too.   So, trying to get my fishing gear better organized and ready for action was another derivative of the US Open exercise.   I have to say, I’m impressed thus far with the Flambeau boxes.  I’m a big fan of the zerust idea.  Rusty hooks and terminal tackle are the worst.   I bought a bunch of boxes to get organized and containerized.   You have to be able to grab your ‘drop shot box’ or your wacky box or your treble hooks, etc.   The good news continues to be how much space I’m saving by putting stuff into real tackle boxes and getting it out of the OEM packaging and having it in large boxes in closets.   Consolidation and organization.

wrecked-house-us-open

triple-trout-soul-box

The Tournament

Kevin and I won the practice, hands down.  We had a wonderful 5 day practice, a decent hotel (thank you Boulder Station Casino) with excellent security and plug-ins, and great weather.   We fished, we took pictures, we hiked, we swam, we made food, enjoyed icy cold beverages and generally put things together.    The fish were in pockets, grassy pockets.  The kind you can find by driving down the lake and looking for green bushes and trees.  You could literally cover water and get a good feel for the grass and the pockets via the shoreline ‘green’.    We were not the only folks who found these fish, and they got pounded.    Kevin is not a drop shot/slow down sorta fisherman.   So, power fishing it was to be.  Topwater, jerkbaits, and the Triple Trout was our practice.   Over the grass, along the grass, on the deep edges of grass, or all the way in the back of pockets.

mattson-balisong-smallie-mead

 

kevin-mattson-lake-mead-us-open-2016-deps-balisongmorning-dawn-triple-trout

Sunday, 9/11, was our day off and pre-tournament meeting.  That was when the wind first started blowing.  It blew a good 15-20 MPH on Sunday before the event.  Monday, Day 1 of the event, we had 15-20 MPH winds too.  The upwelling cooled the surface temps.  Things changed badly for me.  My areas were getting directly hit by wind, and the water temps were dropping …..two things that usually re-position fish.  Not good.  Day 2, we had literally 30-40 MPH winds.  I actually had my best day, but it was the worst conditions ever.  No clue why they bit for me on Day 2, but my practice was sorta de-railed by the wind.  I did my best to adjust, but boy, Mead kicked my butt.  Day 3, things calmed down much more, but man, I couldn’t make a good decision or get a bite or anything going.  It was awful.

lews-inshore-reel-triple-trout-quantum-smoke-8-1

quantum-spinning-reel

grass-mead-miners

Lake Mead and the US Open were a proving ground for me.   I have this strange itch to take my fishing into the saltwater.  The freshwater fishing around Southern California, is a bit fickle.  Not lots of water and options. I have bay and calico bass on my mind, honestly.  I feel like all my setups need to be ‘saltwater grade’ so to speak.  All my gear needs to be ‘saltwater’ grade.  If things are saltwater grade, you can take them to the ocean without fear.  There is a an explosion of inshore fishing around me, and its effecting how I approach gear I’ll use in freshwater.   Here were some new setups:

  • Quantum Smoke 100 Inshore PT Casting Reels – Fast 8:1.  I’m all about fast reels lately.  I know some big fishes gonna kick my butt, but yeah, I like fast reels.  Add a small spool, saltwater ready, braid ready reels that performed and fished really well.  Hello Bay Bass.  Hello Calicos. Hello Largies and Smallies.  Burning 5 & 6″ Triple Trouts.  Buzz Baits, Spinner crickets, swim jigs, swim worms,  and a whole bunch of swimbaits.   The Quantum 100s kicked butt.  They aren’t the super casters I found the Lews to be, but man, I really like how smooth and consistent they were.  I fished in the a lot of wind and the did great with braid.  I can see myself fishing lots of Quantum and Lews reels in my fresh and salt approaches.
  • Lew’s Speed Spool Inshore LFS MCS Casting Reels – Not quite 8:1, but a great value reel at $129 and again, saltwater ready.  These Lews are really impressive.  I’m like whoa this things cast a mile.  Very smooth.  Flat out get it done.  Amazing value and functionality for my quiver.
  • Daiwa Tatula Type-HD Casting Reels:  TWS T-Wing System is killer.  Way long casting reels.  Lots of room on the spool.  7.3:1 and definitely geared for inshore fishing.
  • Daiwa Lexa 300 HD Casting Reel – Big ole knob, sweet saltwater grade reel, made for power fishing.  8:1
  • 30-40-50# PowerPro – whatever your braid of choice, just trust me, throw braid, smaller diameters rock for small Triple Trouts
  • KVD Mustad Short Shank Triple Grip Treble Hooks– You can quite simply fish a bigger hook and don’t have to worry about the hook getting fouled around the tail section of the Triple Trout.  Very simple yet effective solution to a pain point we have all experienced with Triple Trouts and fouling.  Braid ready too. Strong little hooks with sharp points and small barbs.  I mean, KVD style.
  • 5″ Triple Trout – I love me some 5″ Triple Trouts.  These things are beautiful.  They match the hatch of smaller baitfish, and when you see it swim on a good grind, you will be impressed.   Scott is selling these things off his website, and I have to say, the Morning Dawn, the Chartreuse Bass, and Bubble Gum Bass look really good on this size bait.  Candy bars.
  • 6″ Heavy Triple Trouts –  Heavy Triple Trouts, that have and “H” or perhaps a 1/8 or some other form of weighting system stamped on the head, are good for burning.  The smaller Triple Trouts will blow out if they aren’t weighted, at super high speeds.  Blowing out or slip/skipping across the face of windy or wakey surfaces, is not usually bueno. You cannot get the bait to swim. The Heavies fix that problem.  You can burn your 8:1 reel and keep the bait in the water, down an inch or two.  You can fish windier, more blown out stuff, you can fish wavey/wakey water that otherwise would be hard to burn a Triple Trout in.  Spinnerbait roughness.   Really impressed with the Heavy 6″ Triple Trouts and the swim.  It’s going to tear up Desert Lake fish for me, and salty bass too.   I am secretly planning a trip to Lake Havasu sometime this Fall/Winter.  Get out to TripleTrout.com and get some 6″ Heavies for your game.  The heavies don’t stall and have the radical kicks, but they are good enough, definitely meant to keep moving and make our pauses be really brief and understated.
  • The Deps Balisong  130 – Kevin will be annoyed I even am mentioning this.  There is this company called Deps.  They make the Slide Swimmer and some really killer & innovative baits.  The Balisong is a jerkbait you need to ‘explore’.  This thing is a 130, so it’s big.  It casts like a bullet at 7/8 oz and brother, let me tell you….this is a deep running, walky walky walk stall bait, if there ever was one.  Definitely a suspending jerkbait.  Very deep runner and very good suspender.  Owner ST36 trebles, and a knocker that well, they haven’t heard.  Clank clank clankity clank as this thing is walking and stalling and dying down 8-12 feeet.  Loud knocker.  Very vocal jerkbait. 12# mono. The only non braid setup we fished.  The Bali Bali Bali—–Song as it became known in the boat, straight wacked fishes of all shapes, colors and sizes.   Mono is good to stretch and give great action to the Balisong.  7 foot Heavy rod.  Jerkbaits, are one of those baits that catches fish in really tough conditions, and triggers strikes in really good conditions, easily.  Great lure for bass.
  • Walking baits – Bone White Super Spooks, duh.  Vixens, duh.   But whatever secret tricky walking baits you have, they eat them good on Mead.  The problem is you catch 10-15 stripers in an area looking for a largie or smallie.  The stripers eat all your lures, but the walking baits are particular favorites.  There are usually bass mixed in or nearby.  But man, we caught the beegeezus out of stripers on Mead.  In practice and tournament days.

 

Super Bummed I couldn’t the bite I wanted going, and my fallback positions sucked.  I thought I could fish the narrows and catch easy limits. I caught fish, but man, I struggled to catch 13″ fish.  Sad.   Not much else to reflect on.   Boat ran great.  That is a whole other story. I’m ready to upgrade into a saltwater rig already!  I have a super sick box of Micro Triple Trouts I’m looking forward to getting around some active fishes that will chase a swimbait down.  Bay, Calico or Havasu Smallmouth….one of these days.  San Vicente opened and apparently they are all 50+ feet!?!?!?!  Whatever.  Go West Young Man!

 

 

 

 

Getting the Champion 196 Ready

Look at the size of the head on the Minn Kota Fortrex 112# thrust motor.  Dang torpedo coming thru the water!

Look at the size of the head on the Minn Kota Fortrex 112# thrust motor. Dang torpedo coming thru the water!

It’s been a busy couple weeks of owning a new used boat.   I am a huge fan of the Minn Kota Fortex trollling motor.  I used to be a Motorguide guy….not anymore.  You get into serious grass fishing, like Okeechobee, nobody runs a Motorguide. It’s literally night and day difference in weedlessness.   Also, Motorguide hasn’t exactly been killing it with innovation and R&D.   Minn Kota on the other hand is blowing the doors off innovation and blazing new paths.  Kudos to Johnson Outdoors.  I just put a 112#Thrust, 36v, Minn Kota Fortrex 45″ Shaft on the bow of the Champion 196.  Wow, looks good.

Comfortroll recessed trolling motor pedal are a must have

Comfortroll recessed trolling motor pedal are a must have

Comfortroll

Once you’ve had a countersunk foot pedal on the bow of your bass boat, there is no going back.  Ergonomics are key for spending hours and hours out hunting big ones (or small ones).   Thank goodness for products like Comfortroll.  Killer bullet proof aluminum powder coated paint job.  This thing was easy to install and the foot pedal of the Minn Kota Fortrex fits perfectly.  The new trolling motor and countersunk foot pedal were my #1 and #2 projects with the boat.  Check and Check.   Get yourself a  Comfortroll and get comfortable on the deck of your bass boat.

Jig saw cuts out your floor without problem.   Remove some foam, and you're good to go

Jig saw cuts out your floor without problem. Remove some foam, and you’re good to go.  No,  I am no carpenter, but good enough! 

 

New GoodYear Marathons, move the best to spare, etc.  Getting some new shoes on the 196.

New GoodYear Marathons, move the best to spare, etc. Getting some new shoes on the 196.

 

I’m still a few weeks away.  I got it registered, insured, etc but still need to put some TLC into the boat before I get her wet.  Boats are high maintenance, but, I am super stoked to have a boat in my life and enjoy working on her.  She is gonna be badass.

Reconnecting With the Triple Trout

Check out the width of the 14-12-11 respectively....goodness we are talking some bigbaits here boys and girls

Check out the width of the 14-12-11 respectively….goodness we are talking some bigbaits here boys and girls

When I say reconnect with the Triple Trout, I mean, reconnect with Scott Whitmer.  I had a chance to catch up with Scott recently.  He walked me thru his latest baits.   More importantly, we had a chance to sit and talk and get caught up.  It’s funny how tide and time work.   Scott and I are both getting our fishing game faces back on.  Scott has a killer Fisher aluminum rig.  Optimax, 36V Minn Kota….boom.  He’s ready to rock.  I’m getting ready to break my new used Champion in this summer.  Scott has been making his baits bigger and more saltwater grade.  He’s also been making 5″ baits and making the Nezumaa rat in production numbers.  His business is good and he’s got focus and direction.  He wants to make his business more profitable.

You have no idea how awesome this day was. Canoes, bros, brews, thunderstorms, bonfires, swimbait chomping smallies.....good times. The 5" Triple Trout now available at TripleTrout.com

You have no idea how awesome this day was. Canoes, bros, brews, thunderstorms, bonfires, swimbait chomping smallies…..good times. The 5″ Triple Trout now available at TripleTrout.com  7:1 Curado, 964 BBR, and 50# braid is how I roll with the 5″.

Here is the deal, he now has his own website.  www.tripletrout.com  You can buy stuff there you normally cannot buy. I was shocked to see his 5″ bait for sale there!?!?!?!  The couple of 5″ Triple Trout that Scott made me, continue to be some of my most coveted baits.  I had no idea the general public can go buy them for $60!  The same price as a 6″ Triple Trout.  Herring eaters?   I held a 5″ Southern Blue Herring bait, and took a picture. It looks good.  The size and profile.  I’m cough cough cough asking Scott cough cough cough….if he will make me some sardine colored ones and allow me to pillage the Pacific Ocean too.  Easy swimbait for your kids, your wife or girlfriend, or some one new to bigbaits…..you could fish it on a spinning rod even.  It weights an ounce, but shoot, it’s a baby and totally manageable.

Simple, e-commerce enabled, and has some really cool bundled packages and offerings. TripleTrout.com

Simple, e-commerce enabled, and has some really cool bundled packages and offerings. TripleTrout.com

Scott continues to sell and provide baits thru Tackle Warehouse.   Scott and I both enjoy and believe in our partnerships with Tackle WarehouseTackle Warehouse has a set of special colors that Scott’s been fulfilling for years.  Scott (and all bigbait makers) have unique market opportunities.  They can create very special baits, very special colors, special floating editions, fast sink/heavy editions…..the list is endless.  I watch the surfboard shaping industry in awe….swimbait makers are even more hard core and specialized.  Who doesn’t want a specialized bait that very few if any other people will be fishing???

That's an old school Bagley crankbait color that Scott borrowed from. 5" TT

That’s an old school Bagley crankbait color that Scott borrowed from. 5″ TT

 

Carpe Smashem

Carpe Smashem

 

Uhhhhh, the Mouse? OMG another spinning rod-able bigbait offering. I need to explore Mr. Mouse.

Uhhhhh, the Mouse? OMG another spinning rod-able bigbait offering. I need to explore Mr. Mouse.

Hence, it makes a lot of business sense for Scott to sell direct.   He was an anomaly to not have a direct sales website, save eBay which pre-cluded the current tripletrout.com website, by only a couple months.   Scott is such a nice, genuine guy.  When you talk to Scott Whitmer, you are literally getting a history lesson in mid-late 70s, early 80s….crazy ass times of bass fishing. Then you mix in, this was the West where it is even more rare and crazy.  We talked about guys like Larry Hopper, Dee Thomas, and Don Iovino.  Scott’s Dad sounds like he must have been one heck of a guy.  WWII Veteran, drinking and cussing type….Scott clearly has a desire to help perpetuate getting kids into fish.   He loves supporting good causes, good people, youths, etc.  Scott has been one of my finest business partners that I work with.   I am super stoked to reconnect with him and see his latest baits, colors and business.   I really believe in his baits, and I’m glad I can openly talk and share baits that are now generally available.  The Nezumaa Rat was so hard to find for so long….and now you can get fur painted super sick XL 3 piece ones, that make conga drum style noise when clacked…off his website.  He has a 3 pack of 5″ baits for $140  (vs $180…3 X $60).  I would suggest you mosey on over there an invest some 5″ TTs.

The 12" Triple Trout Tail is WAY thicker and more robust than the 10" tail. It must change something about the swim or stall???

The 12″ Triple Trout Tail is WAY thicker and more robust than the 10″ tail. It must change something about the swim or stall???

10-12-11 Inch TT Tails. Big difference between the 10" version and the 11/12 versions.

10-12-11 Inch TT Tails. Big difference between the 10″ version and the 11/12 versions.

 

Big delta between the 10-11-12 inch tails.

Big delta between the 10-11-12 inch tails.

The 10" TT tail is really flimsy and thin. Tends to be very soft and pliable. Not so with the 11/12 baits. The tail is much beefier and thicker.

The 10″ TT tail is really flimsy and thin. Tends to be very soft and pliable. Not so with the 11/12 baits. The tail is much beefier and thicker.

Here is a 10" Tail that is totally smushed and warped on the stall. I don't expect the 11/12 inch tails to do the same thing.

Here is a 10″ Tail that is totally smushed and warped on the stall. I don’t expect the 11/12 inch tails to do the same thing.

Southern Trout Eaters is still is selling consistently, quarter over quarter, I’m pleased to share. I would estimate I’ve sold in the neighborhood of 3500 copies.  June 2016 marks….drumroll please, 5 years since Southern Trout Eaters was released.  Wow.  That is hard to believe from where I sit.    It is about time to do another DVD project.  So me getting together with Whitmer, getting this Champion Boat thing going, getting back on the water…..it’s all full circle and really cool.   I need to get some fishing in to finish up the second DVD, basically.   I plan on fishing the 11 and 12 Inch Triple Trouts a lot.  Not too many guys have these things yet, and they fish really well on the same gear as the SS250.   The tail is bigger, it’s thicker, and they are gonna fish differently than the 10″.

 

I have always liked the 10″.  The bigger the Triple Trout, the easier it can be to wake/stall/burn at the surface.  There’s a really cool S turn torpedo wake the 10″ TT can do….I cannot wait to try the 11 and 12″ flavors. I want to get a 14″ and fish that too.  I need to invest in some more XXXL heavy gear.  >10 oz rods.  You should too.  I have braided line, 7 and 8:1 Gear ratios on my mind, and summer time bigbait fishing.   What are good baits in the summer?  Rats and Triple Trouts!  Boom Shaka boyeeeeeeee.