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Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks


Last updated 8/11/2020 at 7:52pm

“I am hoping they let the kids back in school and at least a few of

these folks have to go home,” said Johnny Hughes.The Toledo Bend

resident added, “I built my first camp up here in 1970 and I cannot ever

recall the lake being this crowded all summer long.”

After acknowledging the possibility that most of those people are simply

trying to avoid Covid 19, he relented and added, “My neighbors’ camps

and docks are in a lot better shape now!”

At the age of 78, you would think the retired pipe fitter would no

longer chase bass as aggressively as he still does.“I read everything I

can on the internet about new techniques because that is the only way I

can learn anything new.I used to share ideas with other fishing

partners, but they have either died or never really liked to fish as

much as they said they did!”

“I’ve kept my old Skeeter boat because it still works okay and doesn’t

draw a second look from weekend bass fishermen that didn’t do their

homework, but there is nothing old about my electronics,” said

Hughes.“The young fishermen that comprehend all the things their

electronics will do are so much better fishermen than we were that it

seems unfair.”

My most recent upgrade is a result of all of this added pressure,”

pointed out Hughes.“Even back when we were young studs and could flip

hydrilla all day long I never caught as many quality bass as I do now

and it is because of two things…….my electronics and fishing in the

hottest part of the day.”

“Some days the heat just won’t let me grind as long as I’d like to

because of diabetes and who knows what else, but I have been doing all

of my catching between ten o’clock in the morning and five in the

afternoon.I am never out more than a couple of hours at a time.The wife

is convinced that I am going to load up our lab one morning and just

cash it in like a Viking, so I keep an eye on my watch.”

“Now don’t go tell the world what I am fishing with because I know that

the lure and color gives me an edge most days,” he instructed.“I don’t

mind, however, you telling other fishermen what I am doing because I

don’t think they are tough enough to fight the heat.”

“For the past two months, and I won’t be surprised if it holds another

two, the best bite has been deep even at daylight.Your old Wacky worm

and topwaters have their moment, but if I was trying to win a tournament

I would be cranking 10 to 14 feet of water early with a deep diving


Hughes then said the remainder of his fishing time would be spent

dragging a Carolina rig in 18 to 26 feet of water even on the windier

days.“Bass at that depth have no idea that you are hanging on in three

foot waves.”

“I have no idea why not that long ago we were afraid the hydrilla was

going to take over like it did on Conroe and now you can’t find any,”

says Hughes.The absence of deep grass is the reason he prefers the

Carolina rig over a drop shot.

“I don’t want to get in a tug of war with the kind of bass I am hunting

with a spinning rod and I don’t like to fish vertically at all.”While he

feels size of the bait is more important than color when fishing that

deep, he is also convinced that not changing the length of your leader

on occasion is a big mistake.“Do not fall in love with one particular

length or you will pay the price some days.

While he added that he fishes with a ¾ ounce sinker all of the time I

was surprised to learn that he does not fish with braided line.“If I was

learning all over again I would use braid,” he stated, “but I guess I’ll

die fishing 20 pound monofilament.”

I started fishing with and against Johnny in 1974 and he is as good as

anybody I ever fished with so his advice is golden with me.That’s why

the pictures on his most recent text were jaw dropping, but not

necessary. I don’t know anyone else that has caught and released six

bass over nine pounds in the past two months!”


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