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Jan 23rd, 2013
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Developing A System #13251677 08/18/19 02:23 PM
Joined: Jan 2008
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Donald Harper Offline OP
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Develop A System To Locate More Bass:

We all get out of Bass fishing exactly what we put into it. The more serious of a fisherman you are the harder you work to develop your system for finding more fish, larger fish and bigger stringers of fish. Throw in the tournament scene and it really begins to get technical. From the novice fisherman to the best at what they do, hundreds of questions have to be answered to produce quality fish day in and day out. Each of us will take the time that we have available for fishing and develop some sort of system to follow when we have the time to fish. This ranges from the weekend bank beater just looking for a pattern of the day; to the deep structure guys using the best depth finders to locate feeding fish.

Here are some topics that I cover on building a system. Not everyone will have the time to work all aspects of a system or even be able to follow such a system. It all comes down to the length of time that it takes to develop one that works for you. My goal is to give you the pieces that have worked for me over the 60 years that I have been searching and putting this System together. Even if you choose just one piece to add to your system; hopefully it will help you catch ONE more fish.

Start With Mapping:
- Learn your lake and stick with just one until you master it.
- Use the Corp of Engineers Maps. Learn everything you can before the water was added.
- Use the oldest Lake Maps that you can find. Using a magnifying glass study the contour lines for Irregular Features. Pick your fist 20 areas that you would like to fish.
- Develop a good Ledger to keep up with your daily results. You want to keep going back to the 20 areas until you have run the whole time table on 2 hour intervals such as 6AM, 8, 10, 12, 2, and 4; to develop the feeding patterns.
- It will take many fishing trips to properly cover these 20 areas and that is just a start.
- Now Cross Reverence your findings with Navionics WebApp; eliminating some areas and picking up better areas to round out the field of the best 20.
- Yes this also takes skill of knowing what to look for; but you will get better over time.
- I have found that only one of the areas will be a great producer; that you can call one of the best on the lake.
- Is one enough? NO; I want 3 great producers at 3 different water tables.
- Now this turns into quite a chore of fishing 60 areas to find the best 3.
- 60 areas to find the best 3 Top Water Areas.
- 60 areas to find the best 3 Mid-Range Areas. For me this has been the last brush lines leading to deep water.
- 60 areas to give you the best 3 Deep Water Areas which I like the 20 ft. contour HOT SPOTS like Ledges, steep slopes and Creek Channel Drops. The closer to the creek channel or River Channel the better.

- It has taken me the biggest part of a year to master the best 9 areas on a lake: 3 Best Top Water, 3 Best Mid-Range and 3 Best Deep Water.
- Sometimes this is not as difficult as you would thing to locate the next best area on a different water table.
- Many times you will find that the best Mid-Range area is very close to one of your best Top Water Areas.
- You will find that one of the best Deep Water Areas is on the 20 ft. Contours in that same area as the Top Water and Mid-Range Area.
- This is what I call following fish from Shallow to Deep. Bass are always in an area for a reason and live very close by. Smaller fish do a lot of schooling and moving with the bait. Big Bass stay close to home.

Getting Them To Bite:
Everyone has there best baits. These are the baits that you have the most confidence in. I would be hard pressed to make you change to the baits that I have caught so many Big Bass on. One thing that you must consider as you choose a Top Water, Mid-Range and Deep Water Bait is that it must be as REAL AS POSSIBLE. Each water table calls for different techniques that will be most productive at different times of the year. No matter the technique you choose that bait must be real to catch the big fish.

- It must have the right color patterns. This color must mimic what the Bass are keyed in on. Even at that we make mistakes. It is the Shad Spawn. Bass are shallow. I am throwing the Shad mimic baits and not getting bit. What is Wrong? Bass are not after the Shad. They can eat Shad anytime. They are after the other species that are killing and eating Shad. Bass do not like any species acting out of the ordinary and will turn against a White or Crappie just because they are acting crazy out of the ordinary.
- It must have the right action. Throw the blades. Swim the Swim bait. Swim a jig. Work the Wacky rig. Float the weightless Fluke and Senko. Run the Chatter bait. Pitch the jig. This can go on and on without a bite. My answer is to become an expert with two or three baits. Learn to fish it in as many different ways as possible. My favorite is the Spook, Fluke and Spinner Bait for the Shallow water bite. This is first light on your 3 best Top Water Areas and following the fish out to the Mid-Range depths as they move out. Living Rubber has always been my skirt of choice for the action it gives off and what it does when it is at rest in the water.
- Your bait must sound right. Sometimes Bass want it loud and some want it silent. Some are looking for the reaction bite and some are looking for the dying and injured floating downward ever so slow.
- Your bait must smell and taste right for it to be as real as possible. Using scent will give you so many advantages in putting the odds in your favor. It mask the human odor, mimics the pray, they hold on longer and will sew the deal up on that larger fish. Double digit fish got big because they eat things that are real. I go to the extremes with the scent on my plastics and living rubber skirts; using the most natural extracts. Minnow on my fast moving baits, Night Crawler on the slow moving plastics and Crayfish on the jigs and creatures plastics. Keep it dripping so there is a trail left in the water. At the end of the day my jigs and spinner baits will go into a Dawn Soap bath to get it off. Living Rubber absorbs the oils which will make them gummy over time. Baby Power after they air dry is a good thing to get them ready to be stored away air tight and separate from other baits. I use individual 4 mil bags and the soft side worm binders for storage so all is air tight.

Consider a Partner:
Having two fisherman in the boat rounds out a good system. It is a three fold system where two different techniques, baits and depths are being fished. We both start this system at first light on the Top Water Areas. This is as shallow as it gets during the day. We use two different techniques. Man up front is throwing a Top Water. Man in the back is searching the area next to my Top Water Cast. He is waiting for the missed strike to back it up with a Fluke. He is working the Heavy Cover that my Spook cannot penetrate. We are determining do they want it loud or silent?? My partner in the back is changing baits every 10 cast to help determine that with a Fluke, Senko, Wacky Worm, Spinner Bait, Buzz Bait, Frog, Chatter Bait and Whopper Plopper. We are all over this area with different sounds and techniques until a pattern is developed. My most productive pattern as been the spook using a dying quiver technique. Cast, let it sit, 180 degree turn, let it sit, another 180, let it sit, and then walk it to a bush. Let it set there also before bringing it in and repeat.

When the Shallow Water bite stops, we move directly to 20 ft. of water and lock on that contour line. Keeping the boat at that depth will help in not disturbing the Bass as well as the bait fish. Work into the wind if at all possible. The mapping work has been done and the GPS Contour Chip has been Imported with the trail to follow. The man up front has the depth finder zoomed in to see the WayPoints that have been dropped coming up. He is casting to the Mid-Range depths looking for those last bushes, Rock Piles, Ledges, Gouges and Protrusions that are Irregular Features next to deep water. These are the HOT SPOTS where Big Bass live. The Man Up Front is using search baits looking for those reaction strikes; but yet he is moving the boat just as slow as possible. His job is to keep the boat off the Irregular Features and the fish that are using them. Slow is the key for the man in the back.

The Man In The Back is dragging a Crig. all day long or until a pattern is developed. As the boat moves out and around small points then into large underwater gouges; his Crig. will be in various depths of water. When coming over the tip of a point with lots of line out the rig may hit the 10 ft depth. Down some of the straight stretches it may drop off to as deep as 30 ft.; as we are as close to the channel as possible when searching the best contours. Most of the time this is a Long Line Technique and is best done with braid line for the long line hook set. It takes some patience and practice as you want the bait to stay in the strike zone for a few seconds before moving it forward as the boat is always moving forward. He moves the bait a couple of feet then strips line. Most of the strikes come on slack line; so each time I pick up a little slack and feel for the weight of the fish. When the boat turns into a Gouge or around a point this will allow the man in the back to take up some line… Keep it in the water as long as possible. I love being in the back to do the drag technique and finding the larger fish during the day staging under all situations. Bass stage before, during and after feeding. They stage to spawn and they return to stage after the spawn. These slopes and the base of them can be your most productive day. I use as light of a weight as the wind will allow. All my weights are pegged for pulling up and into brush, trees and through deep grass. I have 4 rigs for dragging and one weightless.

- Weightless Swivel only for casting to grass with Flukes and Senkos.
- 1/8 oz short 20 inch rig for Flukes and Senkos. With the weight pegged it can be cast long distances to Hot Spots if need be. The light weight cannot slide up the line.
- 3/8 oz 30 inch rig for the Baby Brush Hog on calm days.
- 1/2 oz 36 inch rig for the Big Brush Hog on windy days.
- 3/4 oz 40 inch rig for dragging deep water on controlled drifts going with ever so slight of a breeze. The lake is almost slick; but not quite. We are usually on rubble piles right next to the river channel where dredging has taken place.

A good System gives you confidence. It guides you through the day; but at the same time allows for changes to be made when things are not working. Learning to fish different depths will help to solve lots of those problems. A good system means you have been there and done that; so you know it works. Keep fine tuning and gaining new knowledge to make your System work for you.


Each person you work with holds some promise to your future success.
www.eletewater.com - Staying Hydrated
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20 Hot Spot Mapping - GPS Contour Chips - Custom Spinner Baits - Jigs -Spooks
Pure Extracts - Minnow-Night Crawler-Crayfish-Craylic


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Re: Developing A System [Re: Donald Harper] #13252032 08/18/19 09:01 PM
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j9sheldon Offline
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Great article, thanks Mr. Harper

Re: Developing A System [Re: Donald Harper] #13252191 08/18/19 11:26 PM
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Feel player vs Technical player.

Re: Developing A System [Re: Donald Harper] #13252296 08/19/19 01:05 AM
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^^^^^^^^^^^^^ cheers

Re: Developing A System [Re: Donald Harper] #13252331 08/19/19 01:42 AM
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wh2004 Online Content
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This is awesome info I think.

Re: Developing A System [Re: Donald Harper] #13252345 08/19/19 02:08 AM
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Wow

Re: Developing A System [Re: Donald Harper] #13252444 08/19/19 05:35 AM
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Curtbass Offline
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Say what you will..... my money would be on Harper to teach anyone the why & why not in Bass fishing.
Great article Donald.


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Re: Developing A System [Re: Donald Harper] #13254415 08/20/19 10:22 PM
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Great insight, been following you advice and while it hasn't put many ten pounders in the boat, it certainly has put a lot more fish on the deck!


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Re: Developing A System [Re: Donald Harper] #13254754 08/21/19 02:58 AM
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River Man Offline
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Thanks Mr. Harper for taking the time to write this post! It will certainly help those who use the system seriously, no doubt. Over 25 years ago, I was using a system developed through a combination of my personal "on the water" time and Rick Clunn's System he wrote about. It is the difference in catching bass 95% of the time for me. Thanks again....

Re: Developing A System [Re: River Man] #13255605 08/21/19 09:55 PM
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Donald Harper Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Grandpa74
Thanks Mr. Harper for taking the time to write this post! It will certainly help those who use the system seriously, no doubt. Over 25 years ago, I was using a system developed through a combination of my personal "on the water" time and Rick Clunn's System he wrote about. It is the difference in catching bass 95% of the time for me. Thanks again....


Thank you for your post. I sure would like to hear about your system in full detail if you have the time. This Old Dog can use some new tricks.


Each person you work with holds some promise to your future success.
www.eletewater.com - Staying Hydrated
www.lakeoviachic.com - Booking Mexico Trips
20 Hot Spot Mapping - GPS Contour Chips - Custom Spinner Baits - Jigs -Spooks
Pure Extracts - Minnow-Night Crawler-Crayfish-Craylic


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