Monday, February 2, 2015

A Bass Plundering Viking!



Millions of fans cheer Brian Robison for terrifying opposing quarterbacks, and at 6-3, 259, there's plenty of cause for that.  But pay attention to his hooksetting sack dance and you'll see that under the purple and gold jersey, number 96 is fisherman just like you and me.

(Root) How long have you been playing football?

(Robison) I've been playing football almost 30 years.

(Root) How has that commitment to the team atmosphere impacted your time on the water?  Do you find yourself off balance when you're competing by yourself against the rest of the field and more at ease when you're competing with a partner?

(Robison) They each have their advantages.  When I fish in team events it's always me and my dad and I love having that connection with him and that time with him on the water.  At the same time, when I fish in tournaments where I'm competing as an individual with a random co-angler I am free to go and do whatever I want, wherever I want.  I do all the preparation, studying, and pregaming.

Pictured:  Brian's dad, Jimmy Robison

(Root) You mention preparation.  Does your experience as an elite defensive end in the National Football League studying tape, game plans, and opponents give you an advantage because you're accustomed to putting in that level of work that maybe other guys aren't or don't have the mindset for?

(Robison) Well for sure I'm no stranger to it.  I can't speak for other guys and how much time they spend studying maps or lake reports or weather forecasts and things like that, but I would say that I am absolutely programmed to be conditioned to that level of preparation where someone else might not be and have to struggle to do it to that level.

(Root) How massive is your wingspan?

(Robison Laughing) I'm not exactly sure...

(Root) Because I gotta tell you man, if I'm standing on the back of your boat, and you're really trying to get some distance on a jerkbait, I might be paying a little bit more attention and hoping I'm not feeling a breeze go by.

(Robison) I have had some close calls, but thankfully I haven't stuck anybody yet!

(Root) Does that encourage your dad to fish off the front with you?

(Robison) Man I actually wish he'd spend more time up front, but he's usually pretty content to sit back and work his Texas Rig off the back.  We complement each other very well.  I have tremendous ADD when I'm fishing.  I want to work fast.


(Root) You're a power-fishermen?

(Robison) I'm working on becoming more versatile, but yeah you could say I feel most confident when I'm power fishing.  Where as my dad, he can sit and pick apart a patch of grass for hours.  I can't.  I gotta go.  I think that dichotomy helps to balance us out and make us a better team.

(Root) Your dad is one of the nicest guys.  When we met a year ago I could not get over how grounded you are, how approachable you are to your fans.  Clearly a lot of credit for that has to go to your parents, was there any additional influence on you that helped instill that in you?

(Robison) My parents are absolutely amazing, no doubt.  My entire family has been tremendous.  My beautiful wife, our kids, her family.  I also had great leaders in the Minnesota organization that stepped up and really showed me how to be an athlete of character in this league, and that's helped me an incredible amount.

(Root) Tell me about the Sack Dance.  A couple guys have tried to duplicate it, but you do it better than anyone.

(Robison) That's my hookset!  Leanin into them big fish.


(Root) What would you say is your favorite sack of all time?

(Robison) My rookie season I sacked Brett Favre when we were playing Green Bay.  I actually get to say that I am the last Minnesota Viking to sack Brett.

(Root) Then a couple seasons later you're playing with him.  What was that like?

(Robison) Brett is amazing.  To this day I would follow him into battle anywhere.  Matt Cassel is another one who has that leader quality, as does Teddy Bridgewater.  I think Teddy's going to be a prolific quarterback in this league.  But no doubt, playing with Brett and seeing what he was able to do on the field was an incredible experience.

(Root) What do you consider to be your home lake?  You live in Minnesota during the season, but then you head back to your home state of Texas.  

(Robison) My home lake would be Lake Conroe.  It's about 21,000 acres of prime Largemouth fishing in Texas.  



(Root) Is there good smallmouth fishing in Texas or is that the sort of thing you have to get your fill of when you're in Minnesota or travelling?

(Robison) Personally I haven't done any smallmouth fishing in Texas.  I've heard there are a couple of good places.  The problem with fishing in Minnesota is that there's really not much of any time for that.  Between practice, the gym, watching film, studying, there's not much time left to get out on the water.  When I do get a chance, the fishing is spectacular!

(Root) We all get help, whether it's a new body of water or even one we're familiar with but for whatever reason it's like we just can't seem to figure out what the fish are doing.  Who has helped you, and does that same willingness to help translate to your career in football where guys either on your team or that you know from across the league give you tips on a particular QB or offensive lineman?

(Robison) There are absolutely guys like that who I've reached out to for help on the lake.  Cliff Crochet is one of those guys that I can call.  Believe it or not KVD was a huge help to me at a tournament I was fishing in and was just really stumped.  He told me what he was looking for in terms of a particular area of depth and structure that helped me unlock the key to what the fish were doing.  In football it's totally different because you got lots of guys looking over their shoulder, and not wanting to share info that could lead to that guy taking their job.  Our team, our defense, and Vikings lockerroom is 100% committed to the team and guys are always trying to help each other because they understand that the better we do as individuals, the better we do as a team.  But it's funny, you think guys are stingy with their fishing spots, football is whole new level of secrecy!  




(Root) Speaking of guys helping out and being a part of the team, in looking ahead to Hartwell, I'm just gonna go on the record right now and say that Mercer needs to step up, take one for the team, throw on the pads, and get sacked one time.  I know there was a little talk about that last year and it got shut down.  I know you're down.

(Robison Laughing) I'm definitely down, but I don't know if Dave is.  We'll see.  I've been away from the field for a little while now after not making the playoffs and I'm itchin to put a hit on somebody too!

(Root) What's in store for you in 2015?

(Robison) Man I'm gonna be working with some great companies on the water and I've already started to dish the info on that on my twitter account, @Brian_Robison, but basically I'm still drivin my Ranger, pushing my E Happy to announce that I'll be working with@trokarhooks by @eagleclawfish in 2015. The sharpest, strongest hooks allow for more penetration (no pun intended). You'll have to keep up with me on Twitter to hear the rest! #rulethewater #trokar
vinrude, throwin a Dobyns, and runnin Rigid.  I'm wearing STORMR gear now. 





Monday, January 19, 2015

Why Toho could define 2015 and beyond

Big Ish-ues for B.A.S.S., Poche and Monroe to come.

By now I'm sure that most of you have heard about the incident between Keith Poche and Ish Monroe that transpired at the first Bassmaster Southern Open, the opening event for B.A.S.S. in 2015.  Both anglers have recently issued statements (Keith's is here, Ish's is here) and to say that they each offer varying opinions on what transpired there in the lock would be an understatement.  Here's what you can gather from each statement:

  • Keith's boat hit Ish's boat while in a lock, Keith was driving the boat under power of his trolling motor.
  • A verbal argument ensued.
  • Ish left his boat, and entered Keith's boat.
  • Ish admitted that while he didn't strike Keith, he went over the line with an "unwanted touch".
  • Both anglers ended up in the water.

In the wake of these statements, many fans and anglers have began offering opinions on each angler, and what they would do if in they had been in that situation.  Some of those responses have been incredibly disturbing, threatening physical violence and promising to hurt anyone who ever hit them, or entered their boat.  Here are some quotes from the internet:

"Way to go Ish...you just went up a couple places in my book."
"In a way you can't blame ish for jumping in Keith's boat Bc I would have to the same thing."
"Someone hits my boat they're meeting my fists.  Simple."
"DQ me, fine.  You hit my boat, I will F&%$ you up.  Period."

Seriously?

This is fishing, not football, not Ultimate Fighting.  There's no room for physical violence of any kind in our sport.  Kids of all ages are watching us all the time, reading about this, reading the responses of adults (some they know, some they don't) and being influenced by what they are seeing and reading.  It is crucial that this remain an isolated incident, and that each angler involved be held accountable for actions deemed inappropriate.  

To that end, I believe that B.A.S.S. needs to show all of us as anglers, and all of you as fans, that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated.  If you leave your boat and/or enter someone else's during tournament hours with the intent to threaten harm or to inflict harm, either verbally or physically, on another person, fan or competitor, you should be forced to sit out a full 12 months of all B.A.S.S. sanctioned events.  If you are found to have done it a second time, you should be banned for life.  People are going to argue that punishments of that level are too severe, but what does it say by not making it severe enough?  I am aware that this is how many people make their living.  I am more concerned with the precedent that is going to set henceforth.  Violent behavior is often not treated with the respect that it deserves, and while this now looks like a situation that is leaving people to debate which of these two possesses a greater level of fault, we are fortunate that neither of them bumped their head or had some other fluke injury that caused serious injury or death.  That would be an outcome that I hope to never witness or read about.


Monday, January 12, 2015

Collaboration with WeatherSTEM

I recently got together with the creative team at WeatherSTEM to create "Fishing and Weather", the first of many educational lessons that integrate the science of weather and bass fishing to make learning more fun!  This was a tremendous experience, and I think that teachers, parents, and school administrators who are all struggling with the common core are going to be really excited about this project!  Check it out for yourself by clicking here or by going to this link:  https://learn.weatherstem.com/modules/learn/lessons/63/index.html


Friday, January 2, 2015

The Science of Barometric Pressure, Part II

In an earlier post I introduced the facts of Barometric Pressure (BP) as they relate to fishing, and offered some tips as to how it may relate to behavior and eating habits for bass in North America. Here in part 2 of that piece I'm going to detail how Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass relate to different BPs and their changes at my favorite body of water and frequent stop on the Bassmaster Elite Series and host to the second Bass Pro Shops Northern Open trail for 2015, the legendary Lake Oneida in Syracuse NY.



A Screenshot of Oneida Lake from Fishidy.com.

Oneida is known for many things. When the weather is cruel it can be a harsh, unforgiving body of water. At roughly 51,000 acres it's not the biggest body of water you'll find on tour, and it has a reputation of fishing even smaller in 200 boat fields. Finding cookie-cutter smallmouth that are 2 pounds is relatively easy, but if you want to win an Open or an Elite event here, you'll need a mixed-bag of smallmouth and largemouth, with an average of 19 pounds for three days. Single day tournaments will often see weights in the lower to middle 20s. But what they all have in common are that they most often have those mixed bags of largemouth and smallmouth. Not because they are fishing deep and shallow, but because they've learned that the bigger of these two species of bass cohabitate in the same areas. Warning, if you're a friend of mine, I would rather you not read this any further, as you might want me dead for things that I've shared in this article...

Location

The lake is often misrepresented as having a north end, and a south end. True, all bodies of water, this one included, have a north and south end, but the lake lies east and west. When people frequently say "the south end" they're actually referring to the east end of the lake, near Sylvan Beach and Verona. The west end is where the Route 81 Bridge and Oneida Shores Boat Launch are located. This is where probably 90% of tournaments launch from. If you're fishing a tournament here, you're most likely going out of that park. For this reason, if there's an east wind of any kind, (E, NE, SE) with any amount of substance (5mph+) you are going to be in for a rough day. Particularly if you plan to fish to the east of the two large islands (Frenchman and Dunham). Understand this, wind and waves are to be expected when you come here. It's almost unavoidable. What is likely to happen is rather unique, in that you will probably have windy conditions at sunrise, and find the lake lying down at noon (in all my life, the only other lake I've ever seen do that repeatedly is Santee Cooper). So I'm going to break the lake down into two parts, east and west, with the dividing line being those two large islands.

In late July, early August, the lake becomes riddled with algae bloom. It can be so thick that you hear people refer to the water as "pea soup". This condition will beat 50% of your competition before 8am on day 1 because they let it get in their head. The fact is, the only things impacted by the bloom are the anglers. The smallmouth love it. If you think about it, green dots wouldn't stop an animal's need for nourishment. The weather is hot, so the fish are digesting food at a high rate, and need to eat at a high rate. If there is wind that's blowing from the east or the west, the direction that it's coming from will have less bloom than the one that is on the receiving end.

High Pressure Locations


When the sun is high and the pressure is high (30.00 and up) and holding steady you will want to find cover in the shallower areas. By that I mean depths of 7 feet and under. Grass mats, weed beds, and docks with deep water will prime locations. The fish will be slow moving, and your best bet is to flip small profile baits and work slowly and quietly. You're looking at a long day, where you're best bet will deliver you 1 or 2 bites an hour. It's imperative that you stay focused. You can't afford to miss one. The river has some of the best dock fishing on the entire lake, and is often far less congested than the main lake. You'll hear and see guys "chasing the birds". These birds are Turns, small seagull like birds that are often seen crashing the surface, feeding on small shad that being pushed by fish gorging on them. Chase these birds at your own risk. They aren't always eating shad that are being pushed by smallmouth (walleye also chase the shad to the surface) and the smallmouth aren't always big smallmouth either. These fish run together, so if you catch a 2 pounder, that's all you're going to find in that group 90% of the time. Also, those schools of fish move incredibly fast, and by the time you reach them, they could have dashed 60 yards away. On some of the smaller shoals, the fish will be spread out, and rather than chase them, let them come to you. Your best baits will be topwater frogs, spooks, spinnerbaits, wake baits, Rat-L-Traps and medium diving cranks. My two favorites are a black Slop Frog or a Sexy Shad Lucky Craft Sammy.  Your best largemouth locations will be the large bays on the west end and on the south shore to the far east.

Rising Pressure Locations

When the pressure is rising you're going to struggle. This is a great time to throw a finesse bait like a dropshot on one of the shoals or in shallow water where the cover isn't too thick. Get a limit so that you can easy your mind and take off some of the stress. Pancake, Shackleton, Dakin, are all great shoals that are community holes that always hold fish. Be prepared to have people close to you. This can be an issue for people not used to fishing NY lakes. It's not uncommon to have another boat within 40 yards of you here. Rather than stress over it, work together to get the fish going and you'll reap the rewards. Like any other fish, smallmouth can be irritated into biting. It's essential that you understand how to read your electronics and have a good front graph on the bow of your boat. Fish directly over the fish with a half ounce weighted dropshot bait and dangle that lure in front of them until they react. You can also use spider jigs or small tube here as well. Don't give up on them too quickly if you don't get a bite in the first five minutes. Sometimes you just have to get them fired up, but then the whole school will react. A carolina rig is also a great bait for that location and time of year. Fisher Bay has a great area rich with green, luscious grass that I watched Randall Tharp fish for hours.

Dropping Pressure

When the pressure is dropping from 30.00 and down, this is when you're going to find the best fishing this lake has to offer. However, it might also mean the worst weather as well. Stay committed to a place and game plan. If you want to hide, the river on the far west end is a great option and holds some incredible smallmouth and largemouth fishing. You'll be protected from the wind, and it's a short trip (in terms of miles) when it's time to return. However, keep in mind that there is a long no-wake area that will eat up a huge chunk of time. You'll want to practice that run at least once to gauge how long it will take you, but you can probably plan to lose an hour of fishing each way. If you run to the east, look for wind-blown points. Huge smallmouth can be found mingling with largemouth in as little as 4 inches of water. Sexy Shad is a great color. For largemouth, key on areas that have ledges, or that are near deep water as the largemouth will start moving out of their real shallow hiding spots. Weave a spinnerbait or chatterbait in and out of the grass and slow roll it as much as possible, swimbaits or swim a jig. There are many bays that have outside edges like this. Just west of the 81 bridge is a large bay that offers an area that can be highly productive. Look to the places on the south shore in the center of the lake for great locations. There's an unmarked shoal that I will frequently refer to as "mini shackleton" just to the south east of Dunham Island that can be absolutely dynamite! A green pumpkin tube, worked quickly, is also a favorite of mine in this area. Rig it texas, with a 3/8 ounce weight.

Conclusion

Now that I've shown you some areas you should be able to get a feel for where you can start depending on what your forecast is for that particular day. In part III, I will dissect Big Bay, and show you how I would fish that area based on three different types of weather in July/August.