I was talking to Rob (swimbait) today about how slow this forum has been lately for all the good fishermen that read it. To jump-start the discussion a little bit I came up with the idea of starting a new topic every night for the next 30 days (to start anyway). So, may I present to you #1:
Tell us about the first swimbait fish you hooked, landed, and maybe first over 10 pounds.
What's your story? and if you have pics, even better!
I bought my first swimbait in the late 90s. It was a Castaic trout, the hard head/soft body type. I'd been fishing Stevens Creek reservoir several times a week for trout while on summer vacation. I knew next to nothing about bass fishing, but as Stevens Creek regulars can tell you watching bass attack trout as they are reeled in can be a daily occurance.
We tried plastic worms and other "regular" lures for them without any luck (ok, I admit to one 4 lber on a discarded nightcrawler) before I went out and bought the Castaic bait. I didn't have any bass gear, so I tied it onto a spinning rod and let fly. I got whacked half way in, set the hook, and my line snapped instantly.
That was the end of swimbait fishing for the next 3 years.
The summer of 2000 I was up in the Sierras on a trout fishing trip and stopped at a tackle store near Bridgeport. They had some 5" AC Minnows for sale and I splurged on one. Later that year, Nov 10th to be exact, I was fishing for striper at San Luis Reservoir. The striper fishing was terrible due to high winds. On the way home I stopped at Coyote Reservoir. I'd never been there before but I had a friend working as a ranger at the park who was constantly telling me about huge bass being caught.
Here is the report I filed that night:
"Stopped at Coyote on the way home from San Luis. I fished the dam for about 30-45 minutes with a 5 inch AC Minnow. Caught one fish about 2.5 pounds. The water level is very low and the water was dirty near the dam. There's lots of crawdads crawling around in the rocks at the dam."
Unfortunately, no pic!
I bought a 7 inch MS Slammer that winter at the anual San Mateo fishing show. From that point on I was hooked. I bought a few more swimbaits that year and lucked into my first double digit swimbait fish at night at Coyote in front of a huge oncoming storm. I gave away that AC Minnow a while ago, but here at least is a pic of my second swimbait attached to my first ever slammer fish:
(note the huge saltwater reel on a 7" medium heavy bass rod )
#10816, "RE: #1 - Your first swimbait fish" In response to Reply # 0
Aright, you got me to go through the old shoe boxes in the spare bedroom. I couldn't find the picture of my first swimbait fish and I'm not 100% sure that one exists. Need to check at my parents in my old "big fish" album. I did find a few polaroids from the same roll though. Which brings us back to January, 1998 at Santa Margarita lake. But before we go there...
I used to read Western Outdoor News religiously back in high school. Living in Santa Barbara I was fascinated reading about Alan Cole and others catching huge bass at Casitas on swimbaits. It made total sense to me that bass ate trout, but I was a trout/ocean fisherman at the time and had no clue at all about bass.
When Jamon and I used to fish for bass back then we only used two things. Either a 7" power worm texas rigged with no weight or a 2 and 3/4" floating Rapala in gold/black. The power worm we would deadstick on the bottom without moving it. Looking back it's amazing the bites we would get after letting that worm sit on the bottom for 3-5 minutes on a slack line. The Rapala we fished just like it said on the package. Cast out, wait for the ripples to die, then twitch it under - and repeat. We only used 6lb test with trout rods, and we caught a lot of bass. Sometimes I think I should try those techniques again.
Wound up making a few trips with Dave Jochman to Casitas in his 17' aluminum boat and somewhere in 1996 time frame I bought a 7" AC Plug. We'd tow up there in his Taurus station wagon and fish like hell for bass. Dave was from Illinois and I was just clueless. Neither of us had a good idea how to catch bass in 20 foot visibility water - which was how Casitas was fishing that year.
We went 4 or 5 times and caught one bass. A 3 pound bed fish I caught on a kalins grub. I didn't know what a bed fish was, I just knew that the stupid bass took a swipe at my lure and kept on hitting it when I cast back at it. We had almost drifted past when it finally hit. Boy I thought that bass was stupid. I don't think we ever had a follow on our AC Plugs but we sure tried.
1997 I was going to Cal Poly and decided to go to Santa Margarita lake. Didn't fish much my freshman year, don't know why. I have this recollection of catching a trout on powerbait the first day I went there, then catching a bass on a powerworm. The first reports I posted on calfishing.com were April 1999 so I don't have the report from that day. Someday I'll find my old archives of Jamon and Rob's fishing page on CD and see if I can resurrect them.
After a while I drug my Lews Float Tube up to Margarita and tried for bass. Started catching them on black/blue jigs with a single tail grub on 12lb test with a 7'10" walleye trolling rod. I remember buying that rod because I liked how the guides were small. Someone must have told me to use a long rod for flipping so I put two and two together - or so I thought. Flipping trash pockets was a good pattern back then though it was hard to pull them out of the junk.
January 1998 I got my head souped up to try my AC Plug some more (the green liar probably did it to me). I tied up my 7 inch bait on a 9'2" Sabre 190-9 glass rod with a Calcutta 400 (the no levelwind edition) with 25lb Triple Fish Camo. That 7" AC Plug felt like casting a 1/4oz speed trap on 15lb with that rod! I don't know how many trips it took (it took quite a few) but one day casting by the ramp I thought I hung a stick but it turned out to be a bass.
It's tough to lip bass with a 9' rod in a float tube but everything worked out. It was a nice fish, probably the biggest I had ever caught. I'd like to say it was a 5 pounder but didn't own a scale back then so that's between me and the Bass Gods now. I caught another one that day which I think is the fish in this photo. Just seeing the photo of those chrome hooks makes me cringe remembering all the strikes I missed with that lure (no, switching to the walleye rod didn't help my bite to land ratio - I tried).
Here's a super sweet bonus photo of me fishing from shore in March that year. Hope it brings you a laugh like it does for me.
#10817, "RE: #1 - Your first swimbait fish" In response to Reply # 1
Four things I'd like to speak to:
#1) First time seeing a guy throw the swimbait. Rob Belloni, from his aluminum rig on Santa Margarita lake, 1997 or so??? Rob and I met at Cal Poly, and talked fishing from day 1. He takes me out to Santa Margarita, and is throwing the AC Minnow. He catches a couple solid 3-4 pound fish doing his milk run. I'm blown away. That was for sure the first experience I had seeing a guy get bit on a bigbait.
#2) My first swimbait fish. I'm not 100% sure, but I believe my first true swimbait fish was a 9" MS Slammer fish caught at Laguna Niguel lake. I was fishing with my dad. This would have been December 1999 right after I graduated Cal Poly. I was fishing it on a flippin rod, and 20 pound line. At the time, I was cranking the thing underwater, not even wake bait style. I caught one about 3 pounds on it. It hit it hard. A picture exists, I just don't have a soft copy.
#3) Eagle and San Vicente: Sometime around mid 2001, I got my first boat. My Ranger 518 DVX that I recently sold. Anyway, I got into throwing the Eagle on San Vicente. It was pretty funny how many bites I would get and how few I would land. I could get 5-7 bites per day, and maybe land one of them. I finally figured out a better rig, better equipment, etc and got better, but still, I was pretty rookie. I got one 7 pounds, and you'd thought I caught a whale. I was super pumped, put in the in the WON, etc. My Dad was with me then too.
#4) MS Slammer and Otay: I had a year on Otay back in the day with the 9" Baby Bass Slammer. Nothing special, just wake bait swimbait fishing. Otay bass were killing the bait. I was getting 5-7 fish per day all of them solid. My best fish was an 8 or so pounder that I got when Rob Belloni was on a SD trip. Otay is the epitome in my mind of you don't have to have trout eaters to catch swimbait fish. That was 2002-2003 I'm pretty sure.
#10818, "RE: #1 - Your first swimbait fish" In response to Reply # 2
My first swimbait was a 7" ac plug. I had a tournament at Lake Morena up in the mountains of San Diego. I have always heard of guys catching huge bass on swimbaits but new nothing about them. I saw a bunch of fish cruising in the shallow water the week before so I decided I would see if they wanted the swimbait. I only gave it a few tosses in the tournament, but looking back at it now, I should have thrown it all day. I just remember getting followed on almost every cast but at the time it seemed like the bass were just making friends with the bait........
The first hot swimbait action I can remember was with the 9" Eagle at San Vicente. I was with Matt Peters and had just got a brand new Loomis BBR965 and Calcutta 400 and a brand new Eagle. We were in the back of the kimble arm and I had one eat it right at the boat. Scared the crap out of both of us. I cant remember if I got that one or not, but that day we like 9 or 10 bites and caught something like 2 or 3 fish in the 4 to 5 pound range. We continued to miss at least 50-75% of the bites until finally brainstorming a trap hook rig that put the hook-up ratio up to at least 75% in the boat!
My first Slammer fish was in a night tournament at San V. I had just bought a 12" Slammer thinking they might bite it at night since they liked big spooks. Long story short, it was a 1 fish limit for that tourney and we came in 3rd with a solid 7 pounder. But, that night, I caught 15 fish in the 4-6 pound range on the slammer. The word at the weigh in was "someone was in the back of Kimble throwing something that sounded like a bowling ball when it hit the water, 5 seconds later they were on. It happened like 5 times in a row!"....That someone was me and the bowling ball was my Slammer. It didnt take too long before you had to wear a hard hat to fish the night tourneys from all the big baits beibg thrown!!
So then it expanded to Otay. Matt and I were on the same mission with the swimbaits and I would tell him about all the big bass that would eat the 8" bass I was reeling in. I probably had it happen 4 times when I was a little kid. One of them was probably close to 15 pounds my dad said at the time. It just swam off with my little bass and broke the line when I jerked back...It got the wheels turning for the Slammer and it wasnt long at all before we were whacking them. I didnt roll with the Slammer too long at Otay though because a little bait called the Rago Rat came along. I started waking that thing around the tulies and pretty much completely forgot about the Slammer. The Rat was killing it and did so for about 2 years until the masses caught on and everyone was throwing the rat. Since 2006, Otay has been stocked with trout. Thats a good thing for the bass, but it has hurt the swimbait bite because now everyone throws them. Before all the people thought, no trout, no swimbaits..............
I do have to say my swimbait style is very very limited. I can only catch fish on the surface (ecxept when Rob lets me get one at Pedro, thanks Rob ) Because of this, I have not had very many shots at a 10 plus and I have failed to land any that might have been that big. My biggest swimbait fish is probably 8-9 pounds.
I am a tournament swimbait fisherman, not a trophy swimbait fishierman.
#10819, "RE: #1 - Your first swimbait fish" In response to Reply # 2
I have told this story a million times on this and other forums. Here is what I posted on the calfishing forum on 3-11-02 after I caught my first swimbait fish:
I went to lake Amador on Sat. ready to catch on of the big girls, and hopefully join the 10lber club. I got to the lake around 7:30 and inflated my kick boat and got my rods rigged up. One rod was rigged with a 8' Castaic Swimbait, one with a jig, and one with a Carolina rig. Before I got into the water I wanted to make sure that I could I would be able to throw the big swim bait with out any problums, since I have never used it before. The first cast went nowhere,but after a readjustment on my reel the second cast went flying down the bank with no problem. On my retrieve of that cast WHAM, I get nailed. The fish immediately surfaces and I am thinking "hello ten pounder club". After a short but exciting fight (I had to jump down a steep bank to get into the water to land the big girl)I finally lip her. A boat that was trolling for trout saw the fight and I asked them if they had a scale (The first item I am buying on my next trip to fisherman warehouse)The fish went 10 lbs on the spring scale that they had in there boat.
Now comes the sad part of the story. The big girl COMPLETELY swallowed the swimbait and the Gammie that I put on as a trailer was stuck in her gills. I tried to remove the hooks but they were not coming out and I knew that there was no way that I would be able to release her alive. I have not killed a bass in almost ten years and it made me sick not to release her. After getting back up to my car I drove the fish over to the marina to put it on the scale they have there and get my picture taken.
On the certified scale she went 9.76lbs. and that was with the swimbait still in her, so I guess I will have to wait to join the 10 club. I want to thank all the guys who post here on this site for giving me the confidence to throw the big baits. The information that I have got off this site has been invaluable and I know that I wont be long before I catch my ten pounder. I will post a picture as soon as I get access to a scanner.
Well it has been almost seven years since that fish and I have still not broke the 10 pound mark, and not from lack of trying. This site is still the best fishing site on the Net in my opinion, and it is cool that I was able to look up my old post on the archives.
As I have said every year since I caught that fish, this will be my year to finally catch a 10 +
#10820, "RE: #1 - Your first swimbait fish" In response to Reply # 3
Side note to Cammie's post...Otay. I was on the 9" Baby Bass Slammer tip, and Cammie was just killing it with the Rago Rat (wood, OG style). We fished the Brian Graves Memorial event one year (I'm guessing 2003). I'm pretty sure we won the tournament or were top 3 anyway. What I do know for sure, it was a 7 fish limit between the 2 of us (team tourney). We caught all 7 of our fish on the wood (Slammer and Rat). Pretty cool going down the bank, trading casts with the Slammer and Rat and not really stepping on each other.
Pretty funny that 2003 is like going way way back in time for me on the swimbait thing!
#10821, "RE: #1 - Your first swimbait fish" In response to Reply # 5
My first swimbait fish was in 1994? on the Castaic Hard Head/Soft body. I caught it from a rental boat at Lake Mission Viejo. I was a whopping 4 pounds or so. No pics that I can find at least. That got me hooked and I have been throwing them ever since.
My first 10+ pounder came from an undisclosed location at night while fishing with Mickey Ellis (Owner of 3:16 Lure Company) in 2004. We were testing the 10" Wake Bait and he had been catching fish at this place consistently. We made the run and left around 11pm and arrived around 12:30am. We walked the shore leap frogging down the bank. I made a long cast parallel to the bank right next to this big tree. Within 3 or 4 cranks the water exploded! It looked like a kid jumped in the water. A quick battle brought the fish to my feet and it went 11.2.
I was so excited because I caught this fish on my birthday. It was my first dd bass and it was caught on a swimbait! I remember posting it on this site the following day. Since then I have caught a few more over 10 and not all on swimbaits. It opened my eyes to the world of swimbait and trophy fishing to say the least. In the process I got to meet and fish with people like Rob, Cam, Nico, Matt Peters and many others that are just excellent anglers. I have learned A LOT since that time.
The best part about this story is that I went back to the same spot and used the same bait on the same day the following year and caught a 13-2
#10823, "RE: #1 - Your first swimbait fish" In response to Reply # 2
That 8lber at Otay was a great catch. I remember how many boats there were fishing that day around us. And the way it was just drizzly, with that nice chop on the water that is so good for the slammer. When you stuck that fish I remember being super stoked. Thanks for reminding me of the memory
#10824, "RE: #1 - Your first swimbait fish" In response to Reply # 7 Thu Dec-18-08 08:01 PM by PHISHnutS
My memory is a little foggy to say the least but the first swimbait fish I can remember has to be a couple fish I got tubing at night probably around the late 90's. I had got a few good bites and lost some fish before I finally landed one. All I owned was a couple original Osprey talons that rolled on there side at any speed(before I learned the nail trick ).
I still own this floattube
Then I got hit with the Striper bug and had a good run for awhile on MS Slammers. Sporting the California Calico Extra heavy broom stick.
This my first and only LMB over 10lbs. I caught it in 04'. It was just shortly after the Huddleston Deluxe 8" baits started being massed produced and readily available, I still remember reading Brian's review of the bait after seeing it in the tank at the Fred hall show.
#10826, "RE: #1 - Your first swimbait fish" In response to Reply # 0
Great Idea on the posts! I know this might piss some off, but here is my first Swim bait fish on a 10 inch Stocker Trout and my 3rd fish I ever caught at Lake Casitas
Truth is I was fishing with Rod Thigpin and was such a newby retard that I kept backlashing the reel! He finally got pissed at me and cast for me on a good spot and I ran into her! I really admire those of you who did it on your own. I've been very blessed to have a good friend like Rod to mentor me and help me through the droughts that we all deal with. I'm taking my buddy out this weekend in search of his first swimbait fish.
#10827, "RE: #1 - Your first swimbait fish" In response to Reply # 8
I think I remember my first swimbait fish. I do know there is no picture of it.
Everyone else is giving their back story so why not me
I remember when the Castaic Hardbait Trout came out. I found a "actual size" picture in I believe In-Fisherman. The bait went across the 2 pages and I think had a $50 price tag. I still remember thinking WTF.
Pretty sure the first swimbait I ever threw was a 7 inch Arbogast made AC plug. Only ever got one hit on it and I know it was a striper never caught it though. Still have that bait. Seemed HUGE then. Seems so tiny now.
First on a swimbait came on a 5 inch Optimum. Was throwing off a rocky area next to a flat and as I was pulling the bait out of the water the fish exploded behind it. I just remember seeing that open mouth coming out of the water. Somehow it got stuck on the jig hook on top. Went about 3 pounds. This was in the late 90's.
My first 10+ on a swimbait I can credit to this site. I had read about Rob's 15+ bass taken on a Slammer at San Pablo and bought my first MS Slammer at the San Mateo ISE show in 2002. On Feb 18, 2002 at 8:30 in the morning I was throwing the 9 inch Slammer on an 8 foot flipping stick with a Curado 200 with I believe 17lb line when the toilet flushed. It was my third trip out with the Slammer and my first hit. I started shaking almost immediately. The fish came in with out much of a fight. When I first got it in the boat I had no clue how much it weighed since my biggest to that point was 8 and change. The Berkley digital scale I put it on weighed it at 17.3 lbs.
Still by far my biggest largemouth bass. Hell it's still bigger than my PB striper which is 16lb 6 ounces.