Odds in Your Favor, How to Make your First Few PWF's a Success - My 25 Things as an Unofficial Guide

Dec 25 2021

Joshua Massoud

Keeper

Member Since :
2021
Number of Posts :
393

Odds in Your Favor, How to Make your First Few PWF's a Success - My 25 Things as an Unofficial Guide

So you just joined PWF and want to make sure you have a good first outing… There are no guarantees in fishing, but there are things we can control and do to make it better on average when first starting out at PWF.  There are plenty of ‘exceptions’ to some of the general guidelines below, but this will at least help get you started/thinking.:

  1. Pick the ‘right’ lake: Try to look for a lake that has had consistent success through the year or recent time frame by reviewing prior reports.  Email PWF for suggestions and talk through it with them. I like to look for ones that show good numbers of decent bass (2-3lbs) if I was starting out.  If taking your kids, shoot for the lakes with high numbers of smaller bass – kids like catching. Shows good water clarity (not too clear, not too dirty) – 2ft +/- 1 ft is a good starting place. Not too deep – deep water reservoirs are much harder to predict than shallower ones. Weeds are under control for that time of year – I like weeds, but until you get in the groove of fishing weeds, might be best to find something without heavy vegetation.  
  2. Find a Buddy!: Look up some of the regulars who fish a lake that you might want to try.  Reach out, don’t be shy, and tag along.  If there is a lake I’ve fished, holler at me – if I can’t join you, I can at least tell you things that might help. 
  3. ‘Pressure’ – Smaller lakes (<15 acres) are more susceptible to pressure than larger lakes (20+ acres). You can look for that month on the number of days it has been blocked off or will be blocked off for an ‘idea’ but it is not definitive.  Sometimes that extra 30 min. drive is well worth it than hitting a lake that has had consistent pressure. If it has been pressured, be prepared to downsize or switch it up till you find what works. ‘Few Reports’ isn’t a bad thing, but might not mean ‘no pressure’ – check the bookings for that month and match to reports. Someone who didn’t review might be trying to keep the success quiet or might not want to divulge a poor outing – you just don’t know.
  4. HARVEST: these lakes are managed and part of that management is culling smaller bass, crappie, catfish, carp, etc, from the lake to achieve the landowner’s goals.  Bring a container to hold smaller bass/etc and make sure you cull them if that is part of the instructions.  God gave us dominion over the fish of the sea, and part of our responsibilty is help manage them.  Bass aren’t the tastiest of fish but a little tabasco and buttermilk  pre-soak goes a long way.  
  5. HELP – if you have an issue, you can call PWF for help. 
  6. Guest – you are guest on someone’s land.  If it is wet, watch where you drive.  If there are gates, make sure you leave them as they were found.  If something is wrong or seems out of place (like a cow), contact PWF for help or to let them know.  If you see otters, large amounts of cormorants, etc, make note of it, take pictures. 
  7. Pictures:  I personally like to take pictures of each class of fish I catch.  I shoot for about 50% coverage so I can show the state of the fish in each class.  Are they beat up? Do they have lice? Are they above or below relative weights?  You may not know, but the picture can go a long way for the landowner/PWF for determining that stuff.  
  8. Write a Report:  The report helps the landowner/PWF make decisions.  Do they need to harvest more? turn harvest off? Add bait? Add cover? More selfishly, you’d be surprised about what getting your own thoughts about your fishing experience down will do for your own fishing.  It also helps other members. If I see you caught 20+ fish on a crank bait last week, I can make decisions to help my own fishing.  Are the fish conditioned to cranks because of last week, do I need to slow down, etc.  Helps all of us and you. 
  9. What do you need – use the ‘Lake Filters’Does the lake have what YOU need or do YOU need to bring stuff?
  10. Do you have a trolling motor?
  11. Do you have a weed guard?
  12. Do you have a battery
  13. Do you have a small oar?
  14. Equipment fails despite our best efforts. Whether the lake has a trolling motor and battery, I suggest buying one (plenty of cost-efficient options out there) and bringing it regardless.   
  15. Do you need a bigger boat (pontoon)?  
  16. Can you lift (not drag) a 12’-14’ Jon boat using a zig zag pattern (one end lift and move to the next position). Does it have bank fishing?
  17. Do you have an anchor or tie off for wood?
  18. Do you have a PFD?
  19. Sunglasses/Insect Repellent/sunblock/etc. 
  20. In summer, the Jon boats can get HOT – I bring covers for the benches/seat and a small blanket to cover the bottom to avoid noise.
  21. Timing/Weather: Bass like stable weather – a few days of stable weather makes for better fishing, generally speaking. Can’t always control this but do what you can!  A ‘chamber of commerce’ day after some weather rolling through isn’t always ideal, a few days of it and fishing the third-fourth day of it can be. 
  22. Winter:  No need to leave at the crack of dawn – fishing is better in the afternoon most typical days.  If there has been a warming trend, then the AM bite can be good.
  23. Summer  Make sure you are out there early, bite can die by 10-11am and not pick up again till after 3:30pm (bonus, lakes that have crappie, making the switch to afternoon crappie fishing can make your day while you wait for the bass).  Rain and Wind are your friend (watch out for lightning!)  ‘Summer’ starts earlier on smaller reservoirs than larger ones.
  24. Spring  Fish will rotate through beds on most private lakes from March-June, there will be a population of pre-spawn, spawn, and post-spawn fish to target throughout the day at different depths). Watch out for cold rains after a period of warm weather – those can be the worst!  Spring starts quicker on smaller lakes than larger ones and the bite can die quicker with weather changes.
  25. Fall: Who knows! They don’t call it junk fishing Fall for nothing!  Stable weather is your friend

There are plenty of other considerations but I thought this was a good starting place to help you think about your first few PWF trips. I’m sure other members have stuff they might add. 

Dec 27 2021

Craig Awtrey

Fingerling

Member Since :
2017
Number of Posts :
87

  1. Download the map cache for the area you are going to. https://support.google.com/maps/answer/6291838?hl=en&co=GENIE.Platform%3DiOS&oco=0
    This will save you time and help you from getting lost in areas with poor/no cell reception. Link above shows how to cache the area.
  2. Put all of this on a checklist. Paying attention to the details will change the course of an outing.

Dec 27 2021

Joshua Massoud

Keeper

Member Since :
2021
Number of Posts :
393

Nice add Craig – now I don’t have to pray I don’t close my map once I lose connectivity...

Dec 28 2021

Merlin Talley

Fry

Member Since :
2021
Number of Posts :
42

I appreciate this list, Joshua! Just joined PWF with a family membership to take my boys fishing and we’re scheduling our first trip soon. I’ll use this list to find a good first lake for us. 

Dec 28 2021

Joshua Massoud

Keeper

Member Since :
2021
Number of Posts :
393

My first couple of trips were rougher than they needed to be (picked a way too windy of day, cold rain in early spring on a lake with crazy amounts of timber, and my motor got bogged down with eel grass for an hour) – hopefully this helps people avoid some of my mistakes! Good Luck and welcome to the club Merlin!  If you need rec’s, reach out to Cole/PWF and they can point you in the right direction. 

Jan 04 2022

Charles McCarble

Fry

Member Since :
2020
Number of Posts :
47

Avoid blue bird skies and no wind. While that seems like the perfect day, it rarely is. I pick days that are partly cloudy to cloudy with 5-10 mph wind (10-15 at the most). This is especially important when fishing clear water!

Don’t be afraid to try something new!!! Just because the last three people posted they caught fish using a certain lure doesn’t mean other lures or techniques won’t work even better. Believe me these fish see the SAME OL STUFF on a regular basis. Show them something differant, you may be surprised at the results. Suggested baits when nothing else is working. Ned Rig, Football Jig with creature  trailer, finesse worms (try downsizing to 5-7”) also try using a drop shot when things are dead slow. In deeper water such as Double A, try a Carolina Rig or a medium or large silver spoon. Be prepared for change, the “same” isn’t always best nor will it work every time.

Jan 05 2022

Joshua Massoud

Keeper

Member Since :
2021
Number of Posts :
393

Good points/considerations Charles

Jan 06 2022

William Butler

Fingerling

Member Since :
2018
Number of Posts :
58

Originally Posted by Charles McCarble

Avoid blue bird skies and no wind. While that seems like the perfect day, it rarely is. I pick days that are partly cloudy to cloudy with 5-10 mph wind (10-15 at the most). This is especially important when fishing clear water!

Don’t be afraid to try something new!!! Just because the last three people posted they caught fish using a certain lure doesn’t mean other lures or techniques won’t work even better. Believe me these fish see the SAME OL STUFF on a regular basis. Show them something differant, you may be surprised at the results. Suggested baits when nothing else is working. Ned Rig, Football Jig with creature  trailer, finesse worms (try downsizing to 5-7”) also try using a drop shot when things are dead slow. In deeper water such as Double A, try a Carolina Rig or a medium or large silver spoon. Be prepared for change, the “same” isn’t always best nor will it work every time.

I generally wouldn’t chime in, but I agree with the “try something different”.  If I read a fishing report and someone is throwing a soft plastic/dropshot/worms, I’m throwing a moving bait.  I’d have some that make noise and silent ones.  It is hard to catch someone else’s fish.  I just came back this year to PWF, but when I read the Bluffs fishing reports, I threw something completely different from what others said worked.  We caught 90 and 40 both times.  That said, using LiveScope on these lakes isn’t fair.

At the end of the day, these are stocked ponds, there is no current, they don’t have a thermocline (unless they are over 20-30 feet and that happens infrequently on small bodies of water) and several have marked brush piles.  If you aren’t catching fish, I’d go to a finesse approach.  Weightless senkos or flukes, drop shot, ned rigs or really small lures.

If the skies are clear and there is no wind, I’d find the deepest water in the lake or throw swimbaits.  A 2.8 Keitech with an 1/8 jig head generally works on these days.  I just try to go small and find cover.  No doubt 10 mph wind and cloudy is epic. 

 

Jan 06 2022

Joshua Massoud

Keeper

Member Since :
2021
Number of Posts :
393

Great points William – I was mostly just trying to help some of the newer folks that are joining with the basics of getting on the water (I had two friends join recently and they both had alot of questions) – there are alot of considerations that can be made to fine tune your PWF experience – some of which can be gleaned from reading through reports, but alot of it just has to be learned on the water.  

I will say from managing ponds and a club lake that fish in small water can be conditioned very quickly to not bite certain things, so your point about ‘not catching someone else’s fish’ is a point well taken.  There are a few studies on quickly adapting fish/angling pressure in small water (which sounds ludicrous when you look at water like Lake Fork). A good example of it was this summer when I fished Bluebonnet 2x in a period of a week.  The first day I was reeling them in on successive casts with a spook, and then the following week my buddy and I had a tough time with a spook, but were crushing it on a  near deadsticked PopR.  Same three acre spot – the same fish just were wary of the action/lure from the prior week.

As for Livescope – if I had it, I’d be using it – I’m not great at fishing yet and somedays I’m just looking to reel them in!

 

Jan 25 2022

Glen Armstrong

Fingerling

Member Since :
2018
Number of Posts :
82

Thanks to everyone for your comments and insight, especially Josh.