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Learn a Lake Before Bass Fishing Day 5: Why Use Aerial Reconnaissance for Bass

Rick Clunn Bassmaster Classic Winner
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Editor’s Note: One of the reasons pro fishermen consistently find and catch more bass than most of us do is because they learn how to fish a lake before they go by studying it.

One of the most-effective techniques for learning how to fish a new lake that has been developed is aerial reconnaissance – both by planes and drones, which is a common practice of tournament pros. Many weekend fishermen believe that aerial reconnaissance will save them hours and dollars in their attempts to learn how to fish a new lake.

Once you’ve gathered the information already discussed this week – where the fish should be, what depth of water they should be in, what type of structure they should be holding on, what kind of weather you should be fishing, what’s the clarity of the water, whether the lake is rising or falling, and which areas of the lake that you should be fishing – then to further ensure success and save time and money, rent an airplane and a pilot, and fly over the lake. While you’re over the lake, keep the lake map in your lap and a pencil in your hand. From the air, you’ll be able to spot the subtle changes in water clarity that will be difficult to define from a boat, while you’re running the lake. You’ll be able to see how far out in the water long points come, which way they turn, and how they drop off. You quickly and easily will be able to observe where the brush areas, the boat docks and all the cover in the lake are. Also noting the GPS coordinates for sites you see that you want to fish later is very important to bass-fishing success on a new lake.

A less-expensive way to get an aerial view is to use a drone to learn current conditions of the water, the water’s level, visible structure and possibly identify difficult places to reach where most anglers won’t go.

“Because of aerial reconnaissance, I’ve been able to win several big tournaments,” Rick Clunn, four-time Bassmaster Classic Winner says. “Once I located an area down the lake where there were cedar trees under the water. The water was so clear that I actually could watch the bass holding in the trees. On the last day of the tournament, I made a big gamble and ran to the area – which was a good distance away – where I’d seen the bass from the air. The fish were still there. I caught them and won the tournament.”

The money to rent a small plane and a pilot seems an expensive expenditure. However, if two anglers split the cost and fly together, usually the trip actually will be much-cheaper than if those same two fishermen put gas in a bass boat and spend a day running up and down the lake trying to learn it. In an hour to 1-1/2 hours above the lake in an airplane, a fisherman often can learn more then he will have learned in a week running a boat.

Have you ever wondered how the bass-fishing professionals can come to a lake and in a tournament find and catch more bass than the local fishermen do? Many times, they’ve located new places to catch bass that the local fishermen haven’t discovered. Often, they’ll be highly successful in a very short time on a new lake, because they do all their homework and gather the information needed before they arrive at the lake. Then once the pros are on the water, they concentrate their fishing time on the water that their research has told them should be the most-productive. You, too, can be much-more successful when you fish a new body of water, if you use these time-tested techniques for learning the lake before you arrive at it.

Expert Guidebooks on Bass Fishing: Best Sellers

If you want to become the best you can be, find someone who’s already become the best at what you want to do and follow his or her instructions. This is what I’ve done in my new book, Bass Pros’ Season by Season Tactics.

In this book, I’ve chosen some of the best bass fishermen to give you advice on how to find and catch bass during each period of a bass fish’s life, including professionals like Kevin VanDam, Denny Brauer, David Fritts, Rick Clunn, Larry Nixon, George Cochran, Mark Davis, Woo Daves, Gary Klein, Davy Hite, Michael Iaconelli, Skeet Reese, Mark Rose, and Shaw Grigsby.

My hope is that this book will help you find and catch more bass at every time of the year and each day you’re on the water. The men included in this book are some of the best mentors I know of for successful bass fishing anywhere in the nation.


How to Bass Fish Like a Pro
If you could sit down and interview some of the best pro bass fishermen in the world, what would you want them to tell you to help you improve your bass fishing skills?

In this book, How to Bass Fish Like a Pro, Kevin VanDam explains how he catches bass consistently, and how he fishes all 12 months of the year. In the bonus chapters, he will tell you how to fish for hot-weather bass.

Denny Brauer will tell you the ways he hates to fish, how he picks the best fishing lures for different water and weather conditions, and will give you his best fishing tips for hot weather. In Brauer’s bonus chapters, he’ll teach you when to flip a jig, a tube, or a creature bait and tell you his three tips for how to be a better fisherman.

Mark Davis, in Chapter 3 of the book, explains his five secrets to becoming a better bass fisherman, how to turn your bass fishing around to the positive side, and how to catch hot-weather bass. In the bonus chapter, you’ll get six different interviews with Davis, where he tells you: three tips for becoming a better bass fisherman; his three favorite bass lures; and how to keep a big bass on the line and get it to the boat.

James Niggemeyer tells you how to become a bass pro. He also tells you how to catch bass when the weather sizzles. In Niggemeyer’s bonus chapter, he explains how to move from being a bass-club fisherman up to being a pro.

Mark Rose will explain his five favorite go-to bass lures, and how to catch bass in the middle of the summer.

In this book, you’ll hear from top-performing pro fishermen about how they catch big bass consistently, and what they do to win millions of dollars as professional bass fishermen.


Catch the Biggest and Most Bass in Any Lake
If you were having open-heart surgery at the hospital, you’d want the best doctor with the most experience and the latest equipment and techniques that money could buy to do your operation. You’d study these doctors’ credentials to learn who was the best.

This is the same type of research that author John E. Phillips has done with the best bass fishermen in the nation to solve the problem of how to find and catch the biggest and the most bass in any body of water that he fishes.

This is the same type of research that author John E. Phillips has done with the best bass fishermen in the nation to solve the problem of how to find and catch the biggest and the most bass in any body of water that he fishes.

In this book, you’ll hear about the techniques, tips, baits, lures, and tackle that 18 of the nation’s best professional fishermen use to support their families by winning bass tournaments and catching the most and the biggest bass they can in every tournament they fish.

Most of these anglers are Bassmaster Classic winners, Megabucks winners, Angler-of-the-Year and FLW Tour winners – like Rick Clunn, Kevin VanDam, George Cochran, Mark Davis, Paul Elias, Skeet Reese, Larry Nixon, Hank Parker, Ken Cook, Denny Brauer, Alton Jones, and Jay Yelas.

Also, every serious bass fisherman should know Timmy Horton, Mark Rose, Randy Dearman, Harold Allen, Mike Wurm, and Shaw Grigsby, men whose tactics you’ll find in this book. To learn how to fish for bass and change your bass-fishing trips from fishing trips to catching trips, this book is a must-have.


Winning Strategies of the Bass Pros
I learned many years ago if you want to be the best you can be, then you need to learn from the best – particularly when you want to be the best bass fisherman possible. That’s why I’ve written Winning Strategies of the Bass Pros about 11 top bassers.

If you’re wondering at what age you can start learning about bass fishing, you’ll see in the first two chapters about two young men who have come up through the ranks of collegiate bass tournaments – Jordan Lee, who won the Bassmaster Classic in 2017, and Dustin Connell, who won $100,000 in a B.A.S.S. Elite Series tournament in Mississippi in 2017. Top-name pros on both the B.A.S.S. circuit and the FLW circuit are in this book, including Kevin VanDam, Jay Yelas, George Cochran, Rick Clunn, Larry Nixon, Woo Daves, Randy Howell, Scott Canterbury, and Gary Klein.


In How to Bass Fish Like a Pro, Volume II, you’ll learn tips and tactics from 21+ Bassmaster Classic winners, two Major League Fishing champions, and 20+ Bassmaster Anglers of the Year about some of the dramatic changes in bass fishing, like:

Depth Finders: You need the latest and greatest depth finders available, since they’re the brains of a bass boat with maps, GPS, side scanning, down scanning, and forward scanning features that enable you to see underwater structures and fish 100-feet away with a 360-degree view. Today’s competitive bass anglers may have four or five depth finders located on the consoles and the bows of their boats. 

Other Changes in Equipment: Power fishing for bass using heavy line and rods, big baits, and bait-casting reels that resemble winches have given way to finesse fishing and new techniques like fishing the Ned Rig, the Neko Rig, the Chicken Rig, and the Tokyo Rig on spinning tackle and line as small as 6-10 pounds. 

The Growth in Youth and College Competitions for Bass: A young person can begin competition fishing as early as the second grade and continue throughout high school. After that, if the competitor qualifies, he/she may win a scholarship to fish on a college team that eventually may lead them to a professional bass-fishing career. 

Changes in the Ways Anglers Bass Fish: Many of the most-consistent winners never pick-up their rods to fish during pre-fishing. Instead, they’ll idle across the water, dropping waypoints from their electronics in places where they’ve identified schools of bass holding. These contestants will have at least 50-250 locations, where they’ve pinpointed schools of bass before a tournament starts.


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