Do you launch your boat by yourself?

I’m a freshwater bass and crappie fishing guide in Central Texas and have launched boats by myself for lots of years.  I tried all kinds of launching methods, which all worked, but none were without issues.  So, I decided to try something different and add steps to my trailer at the bow.  I began researching boat trailer step manufacturing companies and found several, but only one stood out…EZEE Step, which is located in Iowa.  What impressed me most was they custom make each set of steps and they looked very sturdy.  So, once taking delivery of my new Lund Pro V Bass XS boat, I ordered their steps.

Unlike other companies which offer model choices, EZEE Step takes a very personal approach.  They actually talk to you directly.  They request photographs of YOUR boat and trailer and instruct, very precisely, how to measure the exact step placement.  Then custom make each set of steps to YOUR specific boat/trailer specifications and needs.  It takes about a month to get the custom made product delivered, but well worth the wait.

EZEE Step affords me the safety of leaving my boat securely positioned on the trailer when launching.  I simply climb the rock solid steps to board on the boat’s bow, start the motor and back off the trailer.  It could not be any safer or easier.

Launching a boat by yourself does not have to be difficult and frustrating.  Let EZEE Step custom make a set of boat trailer steps for your boat.  You will not regret the investment!  Research for yourself at and then call 1-815-252-6771

Barry Dodd - Teach ‘Em to Fish is a very satisfied customer.

Why attend a boat/trade show?

Boat/trade shows continue their effectiveness in connecting buyers and sellers, even though dramatic technological advances have tried to circumvent the process.  Why? Because people buy from people and these events are efficient places for buyers to look, ask questions and learn while sellers listen, answer your questions and help you purchase the boat of your dreams.

The boat show season starts soon so begin assessing and listing your family’s wants, needs and questions.  It will make you more prepared and keep you focused on the important issues and not be swayed by great sales professionals.  You and the dealer will be more satisfied when both buyer and seller accomplish their goals.

The Dallas International Boat Show is February 2–4 & 8–11, 2018.  When you’re there, be sure and stop by Fish and Ski Marine and discuss your desires with Ben or Chris Hicks. Lord willing, I will be there, as well, so be sure to stop and visit, I will introduce you to Ben and Chris.

Fish and Ski Marine sells and services Lund, Bayliner, Sportsman and Heyday boats. 

Baking Crappie Nibbles

Anyone care for baked crappie nibbles? 

Crappie Nibbles Chart

Berkley PowerBait Chroma-Glow Crappie Nibbles are excellent attractants and I use them a lot.  Stick one on the hook of your favorite jig or the hook with a minnow and you will get more bites.  You will discover that they are soft, straight from the jar, and can be picked off easily.  That’s where baking will make them tougher and longer lasting.  The instructions are simple.  But a word of caution, it might be best to bake them wile your wife is gone.  My wife is good with it, but some wives get upset with the slight odor, as reported back by a few.

Turn the oven on and set to 250 degrees. Pour and spread one or more jars into a cooking dish; I use a 9” pyrex pie pan. Once the oven reaches 250 degrees, place in the oven and leave for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, turn the oven off and leave in the oven for another 30 minutes.  Now, remove from the oven and place on the counter until cool. When cool, distribute back into the jar(s).  Suggestion: thoroughly wash the pan and place back where it belongs.

Berkley PowerBait Chroma-Glow Crappie Nibbles come in four colors: white, pink, yellow and chartreuse.  I buy all four colors and mix them together for baking and leave the colors mixed in each jar.  That way,  I don’t have several jars out at one time.  I have never found one color to work better than another but I have noticed that contrasting colors on jigs seems to get more bites.

Crappie Down in the Mud

Sometimes you just have to fish down in the mud!  This phenomenon occurs often in winter when the water temperature drops into the low 50’s and below.  It’s been my belief that crappie will “hug” a muddy bottom for warmth, very similar to the way they hold near warm rocks in cold water.  But, crappie settled down in the mud at 66 degree water temperature was a phenomenon completely foreign to me.  That changed last week (November 2017) on Lake LBJ, while fishing with a client, and found the feeding crappie holding down in mud. Just a couple of weeks prior, the coldest front of the season had dropped the water temperature from 82 degrees to 62 degrees almost overnight.  During the following weeks a couple more modest fronts hit our area causing the water temperature and wind to remain unstable.  Mornings were very cloudy and cool but water temperatures did warm a few degrees by late afternoon before the chilly nights pulled the water temperature lower, again. 

black crappie

Durning that time, fishing was slower that usual, which put me in a searching mode.  Everyday proved to be another struggle finding active crappie.  I varied approaches by fishing shallow water to deep water, breaks to flats, natural cover to artificial brush piles, little cover to lots of cover, live bait to all sorts of artificial baits without finding a consistence pattern.

The only slight pattern noticed was that lingering clouds buffered activity and only when the sun would peek from behind the clouds did activity increase a little.  But, just as soon as the sun tucked back behind the clouds, activity subsided, again.  After learning other guides and fishermen were experiencing the same, I justified the slowness to the sudden major water temperature change. 

However, my natural inclination towards persistence finally paid off with the blessing of discovering feeding crappie just a few yards away from cover and down into the mud.  It was then that I fully believed all those crappie displaying in and over cover on my electronics were mostly inactive and the ones off cover and in the mud were the feeders.  Surprise! Surprise! 

pink marabou jig

I had a single client on that November afternoon who had just moved to the lake and wanted to learn how to fish it.  The day was no different than the past several…struggling to get a limit. Then, after moving to an inside main river bend which had a major break close to the bank and dock, we spot-locked over a small brush pile.  We caught the usual four before the bite stopped.  One under a slip bobber, two a few feet off the bottom and one, mid depth, on a jig.  On a whim, I tossed a pink marabou feather jig, tipped with a Berkley PowerBait Chroma-Glow Crappie Nibble, about 20 feet away from the brush pile and towards a dock post near the break.  The jig was allowed to free-fall to the bottom.  Once on the bottom (about 22 feet deep), it was very deliberately pulled in a super slow motion by  pulling the rod tip up. Causing it to just crawl over the barren muddy bottom.  There was no tap or thump but; rather, just a feeling of extra weight. With a snap of the wrist, bingo, a good size crappie was on.  I did the same again and again.  What do you know…a pattern.  After explaining the technique to my client and lipping a minnow on his jig, he was hooked up, as well.  For the rest of our allotted time, we pulled in one nice big crappie after another.  In fact, we decided to release them all so we could fish just a little longer and cherish that special moment where persistence coupled with experimentation resulted in an new unexpected but successful technique.

Over the years, I have told hundreds of people that I learn far more when the bite is extremely tough than when it’s hot.  It forces me to think outside the box and experiment with unfamiliar techniques.  Learning to fish for crappie in the mud was one of those blessing.

PS: Crappie may get into the mud for warmth, but I now believe that they are feeding on nymphs, small worms and an occasional minnow.

Crappie Jigging - Part 2

Most crappie jigs have varying amounts of lead (the head) poured onto a 90 degree bent hook.  The most popular head shapes are minnow looking, banana shaped, round and long cylinder.  All jigs heads can be used unpainted or painted in any color.  There are a number of other options that will be discussed later.

These are minnow shaped heads. The head shape causes these jigs to have somewhat of an erratic action on free fall. The erratic action can cause the jigs to hang a little more in heavy cover.  These jigs can be customs tied with feathers, man made materials or tipped with soft plastic bodies.

This is a banana shaped head and most of these have a spinner, like the one shown.  These heads are just as effective being cast or vertically jigged.  The bottom spinner give an appealing flash.  Like most jigs, they can be custom tied or used with soft plastic bodies.

These are round shaped heads. Since the head is round, these jigs free fall very straight down and are the type most often used fishing heavy cover.  These jigs are customs tied with feathers, man made materials or tipped with soft plastic bodies.

These are cylinder shaped head and are used with soft plastic tube bodies.  The jig head is pushed inside the tube body and then the hook eye is push up through the plastic.

Jigging for Crappie - Beginning of a Series

Crappie fishing is a wonderfully fun action packed angling sport and the firm white very mild meat is a superior tasting table fare. Whether you are looking for a bag full of filets or just get excited catching and releasing, jigging for crappie is a skill well worth learning.

Jigging is nothing more than tying a small 1/32 to 1/8 oz jig onto your line and dropping it in the water over a school of crappie, teasing them a bit and jerking when they thump the jig.  Honestly, if the crappie below you and actively feeding, the jig is at the correct depth and you jerk at the correct time, you can catch ‘em.

Since crappie fishing is relatively inexpensive and this is the beginning of the good catching season, this series will cover very helpful information and instruction on jig fishing for crappie.

Check back often as I delve into this fun angling art style.


How to tie dissimilar lines together - Dodd Knot

Drop-Shot Weight Keeper

Top View

Side View

Most all quality fishing rods are designed with a hook keeper above the handle. However, using the hook keepers on drop-shot rods leaves the weight dangling, which is a nuisance.  I have tried all kinds of add-on gadgets, including rubber bands to hold the weight, but none last and many are just downright awkward. After some frustration, I decided to design an effective, permanent and easy to use weight keeper.  This is how it’s done. 

Begin with hard stainless-steel leader wire about 0.029” diameter and bend the wire to look like the shapes at the right.  Next take a hammer (chasing hammer works best) and an anvil to flatten the two wire ends that will be wrapped.  Then take a file and taper those ends so the wrapping thread will smoothly ride up and lay over the ends. Next wrap the keeper ends to the butt end of your rod and finish with rod wrap epoxy.

The final product should look like the photo on the left. The line just slides under the weight keeper and holds it in place until ready to pull out and use.  Being that it’s easy, effective and permanent, I have found it a great asset and no longer have weights dangling around. Let me know how you like it.

Barry Dodd –Teach ‘Em to Fish Guide Service

Why can’t I feel the bite?

Why can’t I feel the fish bite? Probably because there is slack in you fishing line, which  is a challenge when teaching folks to fish. “Tight line” is what telegraphs feel to the angler and “slack line” is what kills sensitivity. Look at these photos.  You are looking at a chartreuse worm on a hook at the end of an orange line. The chartreuse worm is lying at the bottom of the water. The left photo shows “slack line” and the right photo shows “tight line”. 

All professional anglers understand the importance of feeling everything happening at the end of their line. They also know that every undetected bite could cost them money.  They spend hundreds of dollars for each rod and reel setup, yet, all that money spent on quality equipment is wasted if the fish bite is not detected.In most cases, “slack line” is due to inexperience, inattentiveness and/or conditions.  Line management may be the last thing an inexperienced angler is concerned  about. Learning how to cast, how to work the lure and what a bite feels like dominates their thoughts.  Once those skills become less consuming, constant attentiveness and focus on line management is required on every cast.  If that were not enough to think about, wind, waves, trees, docks, weeds and other obstacles must be considered.  Getting fish to bite is one thing and catching fish is a totally different skill.  I estimate that 40% to 60% of bites are never detected for one reason or another.

Line management differs with different fishing techniques but the principle holds true; having enough contact with the lure to transmit as much feel as possible to the angler.  The more contact there is with the lure, the better you feel subtleties of the bottom, branches, weeds, and bites.  Line management should be your priority after every cast and during the retrieve. “Slack line” is challenging even to the most highly skilled and is only managed by experience and attentiveness. 

All my clients expect to catch fish but the exchange of stress for relaxation, fun and memories, being on the water, enjoying nature and learning how to fish pays the biggest dividends.  

Barry Dodd - Teach ‘Em to Fish Guide Service

Lakes: Canyon, LBJ and Dunlap Fishing Report

Canyon Lake:

IMG 1686

Canyon Lake is still producing some largemouth and smallmouth bass but it takes patience and searching for the right spots.  Anglers experienced with the use of electronics certainly have an advantage.  Fish the drop-offs and ledges along main lake points.  Finding brush, boulders and green vegetation along these ledges will increase your odds.

Crappie fishing has been very slow.  Currently, the Guadalupe River is not flowing into Canyon Lake so the lake lever is dropping more quickly and is approximately 11 feet below normal pool.  I have recorded water temperature in the mid 90’s up the river this summer.

IMG 1698

LBJ and Dunlap:

The bass fishing on Lake LBJ and Dunlap is okay early in the mornings and late evening.  The bite is generally over by 9:30 am and picks up again late evening and night.  So, fish early and late around main lake points with vegetation and shade.  Trees and docks produce shade so look at fishing dock and tree shade near deeper water during the day.  Surface lures, crank baits, soft plastics, spinner baits and swim baits are all working.  It depends on the fish’s mood, location and lure selection.  Experiment until you find what works.

Crappie fishing is slow in just about every lake in Texas.  Most every lake in Texas needs a significant amount of rainfall to raise water levels, lower water temperature, increase oxygen levels and replace the stagnating water with fresh moving water.

(210) 771-0123  © Teach 'Em to Fish - Barry Dodd 2018