John’s Note: If you want to catch more and bigger bass and have more fun doing it, then a tube boat or a belly boat may very well be your answer. Dr. Robert Sheppard of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, is one of the most-serious bass fishermen I ever have met. Whatever he needs to catch bass, Sheppard will buy it, modify it, invent it or figure out a way to borrow it.
Bob is also a loner who doesn’t enjoy a day on the lake, flying across water at 50 to 75 miles an hour and watching others do the same thing. He likes the quiet waters away from the crowds where he won’t see another angler and generally catches more and bigger bass.
“There are plenty of beaver ponds that have large, healthy fish populations.” ~ Dr. Robert Sheppard
Though Dr. Sheppard has found a way to access hard-to-reach waters by using both belly boats and flat-bottomed boats, there are some beaver ponds and cut-off sloughs that aren’t accessible from the water. The only way to reach these areas is to tromp through the woods.
Since Sheppard enjoys hunting as much as he likes fishing and is out in the woods for the majority of hunting season, he has found a way to access hard-to-reach hunting lands. Just as he uses a belly boat to reach cut-off waters, he uses a 3-wheeler ATV to gain access to remote sloughs where he can then duck hunt or fish.
“The 3-wheeler has really opened up some excellent fishing to the belly boat angler,” Sheppard says.
“Using the 3-wheeler, sportsmen can carry their belly boats far back in the woods to remote beaver ponds that are rarely – if ever – fished. Getting a canoe or johnboat into many of these regions is impossible, so the bass in these regions hardly have seen a lure. In recent years, utilizing my 3-wheeler to beaver pond fish has been the most-productive way to catch belly boat bass. There are plenty of beaver ponds that have large, healthy fish populations, but the only time you can reach them is in the winter when the brush is down.
“During the cold months, I recommend wearing some kind of warm undergarment underneath featherweight waders to belly boat for bass. In my opinion, the fishnet underwear or dura-fold underwear works best. I put on a tight-fitting sweat suit over the underwear and then add blue jeans and thermal socks. By dressing this way, I can stay warm, dry and comfortable in my belly boat in even some of the coldest weather.
“One advantage of fishing remote beaver ponds in the winter is I can link two of my favorite sports – duck hunting and fishing. Duck hunting remote beaver ponds is usually best during the first 15-20 minutes of daylight and the last 30-45 minutes before dark. I often can catch a limit of bass and take a limit of ducks in the same beaver pond on the same day.”
For more information about belly and tube boats, go to http://www.basspro.com.
To learn more about bass fishing, get John E. Phillips’ Kindle eBooks and some print books, including “How to Bass Fish Like a Pro,” “How to Win a Bass Tournament,” “Catch the Most and Biggest Bass in Any Lake: 18 Pro Fishermen’s Best Tactics, “How to Become A Tournament Bass Fisherman,” click here.
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About the Author
John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the 2008 Crossbow Communicator of the year and the 2007 Legendary Communicator chosen for induction into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame, is a freelance writer (over 6,000 magazine articles for about 100 magazines and several thousand newspaper columns published), magazine editor, photographer for print media as well as industry catalogues (over 25,000 photos published), lecturer, outdoor consultant, marketing consultant, book author and daily internet content provider with an overview of the outdoors. Click here for more information and a list of all the books available from John E. Phillips.