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How I Fish: Doug Hannon

Believe it or not, I caught my first largemouth bass when I was 21 years old. I didn’t know anything when I first started bass fishing, but I studied psychology and behavioral science in college, and that taught me how to ask questions. I became ana-lytical about fishing.

Pursuing big bass became a passion of mine. The first thing I did was hire a guide who guaranteed a 10-pound bass, because I knew I could learn from him. I also called an outdoors columnist and asked him about every bass over 15 pounds that he ever reported on and about the guys who caught them. Then I spoke with those anglers and found out every circumstance around their catches. The biggest thing those fish had in common was that they were all caught in 6 feet or less of water. That blew my mind. Now I knew where to fish, and where not to fish.

In college I made a lot of money playing guitar in a rock ’n’ roll band called the Palace Guard. We opened for the Lovin’ Spoonful and the Animals. I never had to get a job except when I wanted to. That’s how I became a dreamer and an inventor.

So many of us think fishing is about the angler being the one who beats up on the fish. Fishing is about a role reversal. You have to be able to be the submissive, vulnerable thing that gets caught and make the lure pretend it’s scared. Leave the aggression to the fish, and you’ll catch more bass.

I like fishing after the spawn best—in the late spring and early summer. The fish will attack anything, and all of your different lures and presentations work because the fish are so aggressive.

The secret to catching big bass in cover is to fish in and around the heaviest stuff with a large lure, and work the lure so it causes a commotion in the weedbeds and is easy for the fish to find.

I caught my biggest bass in Florida in 1973. It was 17 pounds.

A 15-pound largemouth bass is doing all the right things to get that big. A 5-pound bass is just plain stupid.

I fish out of a maverick skiff. The classic bass boat is too heavy and cumbersome for most of the fishing that I do—like a NASCAR vehicle is ill suited for the streets.

I’m a small-lure guy. I’ve caught 90 percent of my 10-pound bass on a 7-inch straight-tail worm.

I don't think there is a world-record bass in Florida. If it happens, and I think it will, it’ll happen in California, Texas, or Mexico. It’s important to be honest about this catch. George Perry’s record has lasted more than 70 years, and to be quite honest, it isn’t real. The first [certified] 20-plus-pound bass [since Perry’s fish] was Dave Zimmerlee’s 20-pound 15-ounce largemouth caught in California. His fish was 26.75 inches long with a girth of 28 inches. Perry claimed [his 22-pound 4-ounce bass was] 32.5 inches long with a girth of 28.75 inches. It is preposterous to assume that adding almost 6 inches in length and 3⁄4 inch in girth would only add about 1.3 pounds. The fact that no pictures were taken and that no parts of the fish ever survived the fish fry is telling as well. Perry’s fish was probably 13 pounds.

I don't like to just crank a lure back to the boat. I bounce it, stop-and-go jerk it, or slow down my retrieve. Predation is an optimistic instinct. A fish looks for that one reaction from the lure that tells him it’s real. When you can repeatedly change the action in a short span of time if he follows your lure, it’s likely that the fish will interpret one of those changes as a reaction to his presence and strike.

V8 juice is my favorite snack on the boat.
It’s like food, plus it’s refreshing.

A lure doesn't have to look like a fish.
It has to move like one. Take a spinnerbait: It’s like airline food. It doesn’t look like anything you’d eat, but you still eat it—and you’ll eat it in front of strangers. The same goes for bass and spinnerbaits. When a spinnerbait moves in water, it’s a very natural lure, and that’s one reason it’s lasted so long.

The most important thing I've ever learned is to have enough patience and confidence to believe that where you are fishing is where the fish are—and to rely on the fact that when you do get it right, it’ll work.

As far as I know,
I was the first guide to insist on catch-and-release with bass. I realized early on how rare the fish are. I always let my anglers have the experience of owning the fish—that’s why I helped develop the chemicals to keep bass alive in a live well. But if someone is against catch-and-release, then there’s a little bit of them that I’m against.

Niney percent of fish don't bite 90 percent of the time.

You can't have your best day of fishing without having one of your deepest disappointments, in terms of a lost fish, and somehow turn that into something positive.

Comments (25)

Top Rated
All Comments
from samuel wilson wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

i like it

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from churro73 wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

two thumbs up

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from noodle wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

your so right about 90% of the fish dont bite 90% of the time.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Kkeltic wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

Doug's like the American Crocodile Dundee! Hey Doug, what's your go to lure, besides a 7" straight tail worm? Artificial and live bait.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 2Poppa wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

Ahh ... "The Master Basser!"

Proof:Most of the time,the question is far greater than the answer!
If Doug Hannon said it,I believe it!

Two Thumbs Up and A Toe!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from nathan.grell wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

That was a very good blog and i agree with everything, the only part that i questioned in which i very well could be wrong was the fishing in late spring and early summer, i was thinking that would put the fish in post spawn and thought that when they were in post spawn they were finnicky on what they eat and arent that aggressive at all, and that they are just trying to recuperate.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from catfishboy270 wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

I wouldn't question anything Mr Hannon has said in this article. I think it is simplicity of bass fishing people have forgotten. Sometimes it sounds like a broken record to me but, all good bass fishermen have the same philosphy.In the local lakes around here the bass are in a post spawn stage and i am SLAYING them. 90% of the fishermen catch 10% of the fish and 10% of the fishermen catch 90% of the fish. In all fairness this is why Mr. Hannon gets paid to fish and 90% of us don't.....

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Salmon Slayer wrote 4 years 43 weeks ago

I wish his fishing reels weren't made in China. I was disappointed after receiving one as a present that like everything else it was made in China.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from fishon wrote 4 years 43 weeks ago

Here is how not to fish Doug
http://reelretrieval.com/videos/ice-fishing-funny

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from sasquatch75 wrote 4 years 43 weeks ago

It only takes one big fish to catch the fever. It has been over 15 years since I caught my biggest fish, but i still go out like the next on will be even bigger.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Elliott Balthazor wrote 4 years 43 weeks ago

Who doesn't like a big fish I don't always catch much on a 8 hour fishing day, but I still enjoy it.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Silewski11 wrote 4 years 43 weeks ago

Very nice information!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamestowlson wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

Great advice!!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from rudyglove27 wrote 4 years 40 weeks ago

If it happens, and I think it will, it’ll happen in California, Texas, or Mexico. I like to know where exactly I need to go in CA, TX, or Mexico so I could get me the world record for the largemouth bass.....The biggest I caught so far is 9 lbs 7 ounces....Please help!!!!!!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from bigbasser wrote 4 years 40 weeks ago

Come on, Doug ,
There are photo(s) of Perry's catch available. To say that this fish only weighs 13 lbs, well this just pure bitterness on your part because you did'nt catch it. Sorry, I repected your information, up till now.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from fisherdude wrote 4 years 39 weeks ago

i agree completely

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from corzinek wrote 4 years 39 weeks ago

great info, now i just need to find a way to get to texas or mexico, illinois fishing is ok but i think our state record is only 13lbs, and my biggest is only 7.5lbs, well time to go land some smallies, good luck, and good fishing

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from choicekillschance wrote 4 years 38 weeks ago

same for us, in MI, i think our record is like 11'5" or something, som bitch, that sucks. good article. i understand both sides on perry's story.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from doktorvortexx wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

Just started fishing and this advices is priceless! Can't wait to get out there again!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from bkoury wrote 4 years 34 weeks ago

For me, the "6 feet of water" comment rings true. But I like top water in the early evening to fish 6 feet of water. I try to stay over a range of 6 to 12 feet of water. In crystal clear water, maybe 8 to 15 feet. That works well for me.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from bamaoutdoorsman93 wrote 4 years 30 weeks ago

great job doug.thanks for all the advice. whats ur favorite lure beside the 7 inch worm? mines a pro buzz buzz bait in yellow or white and a heddon torpedo.im a topwater guy. as far as worms,i like zoom finnese or trick worms in watermelon seed and i like rhino lizards in watermelon.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Manny33190 wrote 2 years 34 weeks ago

I started Bass fishing 2010. It has been a great start with a 12.12 pounder as my big fish , A 10.6 pounder and about 8 Bass 6 to 8 pounders. Many 5 pounders. You have been a great professor.I have read your book Big Bass Magic and Just orderd the Hannon Field Guide to Bass Fishing.I also purchased your Moon Clock. I have learned so much from your book that I recomend them to all my fishing friends. Next on my list to get are the wave spin spining reel and the fishing snake lures.
Thank you.
OFC. Manny Dominguez
Cutler Bay, Florida

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Thomas Fusco wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

Doug was an inspiration to me when I started to fish seriously decades ago and dreamed of big bass. Big Bass Magic taught me most of what I've used to land those monsters. Is Doug bitter? I'd say yes. I talked to him many years ago while developing my weedless hook design. The impression I got was that he was a victim of his own success. While the Florida locals had fished with wild shiners for a long time, he's the one who really popularized it nationally and brought the tourists down to the "Lunker Zone" around Ocala National Forest that he talked about so often. Of course, the fragile ecosystem that produced all those monsters got raped. He told me he wanted the sale and use of live shiners to be illegalized unless you catch them yourself for your own use. But Doug, you're the one that popularized it! In my opinion, I believe Doug honestly and truly believed in his heart of hearts that if he did all the right things, that he would be the one to catch the world record. It didn't happen. When he came to accept that reality, and witnessed the trophy bass fishery he so loved get trashed, he got bitter. Doug was also a victim of his time. Remember that he began to be known and recognized in the early days of B.A.S.S. As the popularity of tournament fishing steadily rose to the front of the bass fishing world, Doug's fame waned (tournament fishing was not Doug's style). Had Ray Scott not come along, Doug would have at least achieved the stardom I believe he felt he deserved as compensation for not catching the world record. He has since been reduced to little more than a footnote in the modern bass fishing landscape. Even his popular line of lures died when the mfr Burke Lures was forced to sell out to Johnson Fishing, which then chose to discontinue making all signature and private branded baits (Bill Plummer's last Superfrog suffered the same fate). By that time, "run and gun" was all the rage, and no doubt other manufacturers were not interested in these kinds of "old fashioned" slow, methodical plodding presentation lures by a person who was apparently "not good enough" to compete on the tournament circuit with the big name superstar personalities. I'd probably be bitter too. As for the record, as another poster mentioned, a photo surfaced some years ago that in my mind is undoubtedly Perry's bass. Why are the dimensions a little odd? If you study the photos every 18lb+ giant bass in recent years, virtually all have similar anatomy: They are essentially a 12-13lb bass with a huge distended bellies like a overinflated football with head and tail. Now look at Perry's photo; it appears as a 10lb bass times two, or a well-proportioned 10lb bass but just twice the size in almost every anatomical feature. Look particularly at the size of the head and mouth. Perry's bass was a true freakazoid, a genetic mutant, an Andre the Giant among her fellows, not just a 10lb bass growing fat in an artificial environment being spoon-fed a super-rich diet of stupid human-stocked trout in man-made fish ponds outside the natural range of the Florida strain artificially transplanted there (for this reason, I feel Perry's bass should have an asterisk as the only natural fish in the whole lot of them--the rest are all man-made trophies). Yes, Doug's comment about Perry's bass is bitterness, and yes, it hurts his image and reputation. There's more concerning this I could share, but 'nuff said.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from dkrgis wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

Fusco - you are in no position to comment on Big Fish or Doug. Hannon was as a humble person as there ever was. Victim of time? Footnote in a modern fishing landscape? Doug is and was the last greatest soul surfer of Bass Fishing, but you probably don't know what that even means!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Hubert Johnson wrote 49 weeks 4 days ago

catch big bass with large lure around cover, or small lure guy with 7 inch worm which is it? big lure or small lure ? 90 % of 10 # bass on 7 inch worm don't sound like big lure to me. just sayin...

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from noodle wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

your so right about 90% of the fish dont bite 90% of the time.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from samuel wilson wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

i like it

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from nathan.grell wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

That was a very good blog and i agree with everything, the only part that i questioned in which i very well could be wrong was the fishing in late spring and early summer, i was thinking that would put the fish in post spawn and thought that when they were in post spawn they were finnicky on what they eat and arent that aggressive at all, and that they are just trying to recuperate.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from catfishboy270 wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

I wouldn't question anything Mr Hannon has said in this article. I think it is simplicity of bass fishing people have forgotten. Sometimes it sounds like a broken record to me but, all good bass fishermen have the same philosphy.In the local lakes around here the bass are in a post spawn stage and i am SLAYING them. 90% of the fishermen catch 10% of the fish and 10% of the fishermen catch 90% of the fish. In all fairness this is why Mr. Hannon gets paid to fish and 90% of us don't.....

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Elliott Balthazor wrote 4 years 43 weeks ago

Who doesn't like a big fish I don't always catch much on a 8 hour fishing day, but I still enjoy it.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from churro73 wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

two thumbs up

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Kkeltic wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

Doug's like the American Crocodile Dundee! Hey Doug, what's your go to lure, besides a 7" straight tail worm? Artificial and live bait.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 2Poppa wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

Ahh ... "The Master Basser!"

Proof:Most of the time,the question is far greater than the answer!
If Doug Hannon said it,I believe it!

Two Thumbs Up and A Toe!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Salmon Slayer wrote 4 years 43 weeks ago

I wish his fishing reels weren't made in China. I was disappointed after receiving one as a present that like everything else it was made in China.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from fishon wrote 4 years 43 weeks ago

Here is how not to fish Doug
http://reelretrieval.com/videos/ice-fishing-funny

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from sasquatch75 wrote 4 years 43 weeks ago

It only takes one big fish to catch the fever. It has been over 15 years since I caught my biggest fish, but i still go out like the next on will be even bigger.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Silewski11 wrote 4 years 43 weeks ago

Very nice information!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamestowlson wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

Great advice!!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from corzinek wrote 4 years 39 weeks ago

great info, now i just need to find a way to get to texas or mexico, illinois fishing is ok but i think our state record is only 13lbs, and my biggest is only 7.5lbs, well time to go land some smallies, good luck, and good fishing

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from choicekillschance wrote 4 years 38 weeks ago

same for us, in MI, i think our record is like 11'5" or something, som bitch, that sucks. good article. i understand both sides on perry's story.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from rudyglove27 wrote 4 years 40 weeks ago

If it happens, and I think it will, it’ll happen in California, Texas, or Mexico. I like to know where exactly I need to go in CA, TX, or Mexico so I could get me the world record for the largemouth bass.....The biggest I caught so far is 9 lbs 7 ounces....Please help!!!!!!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from bigbasser wrote 4 years 40 weeks ago

Come on, Doug ,
There are photo(s) of Perry's catch available. To say that this fish only weighs 13 lbs, well this just pure bitterness on your part because you did'nt catch it. Sorry, I repected your information, up till now.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from fisherdude wrote 4 years 39 weeks ago

i agree completely

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from doktorvortexx wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

Just started fishing and this advices is priceless! Can't wait to get out there again!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from bkoury wrote 4 years 34 weeks ago

For me, the "6 feet of water" comment rings true. But I like top water in the early evening to fish 6 feet of water. I try to stay over a range of 6 to 12 feet of water. In crystal clear water, maybe 8 to 15 feet. That works well for me.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from bamaoutdoorsman93 wrote 4 years 30 weeks ago

great job doug.thanks for all the advice. whats ur favorite lure beside the 7 inch worm? mines a pro buzz buzz bait in yellow or white and a heddon torpedo.im a topwater guy. as far as worms,i like zoom finnese or trick worms in watermelon seed and i like rhino lizards in watermelon.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Manny33190 wrote 2 years 34 weeks ago

I started Bass fishing 2010. It has been a great start with a 12.12 pounder as my big fish , A 10.6 pounder and about 8 Bass 6 to 8 pounders. Many 5 pounders. You have been a great professor.I have read your book Big Bass Magic and Just orderd the Hannon Field Guide to Bass Fishing.I also purchased your Moon Clock. I have learned so much from your book that I recomend them to all my fishing friends. Next on my list to get are the wave spin spining reel and the fishing snake lures.
Thank you.
OFC. Manny Dominguez
Cutler Bay, Florida

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Thomas Fusco wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

Doug was an inspiration to me when I started to fish seriously decades ago and dreamed of big bass. Big Bass Magic taught me most of what I've used to land those monsters. Is Doug bitter? I'd say yes. I talked to him many years ago while developing my weedless hook design. The impression I got was that he was a victim of his own success. While the Florida locals had fished with wild shiners for a long time, he's the one who really popularized it nationally and brought the tourists down to the "Lunker Zone" around Ocala National Forest that he talked about so often. Of course, the fragile ecosystem that produced all those monsters got raped. He told me he wanted the sale and use of live shiners to be illegalized unless you catch them yourself for your own use. But Doug, you're the one that popularized it! In my opinion, I believe Doug honestly and truly believed in his heart of hearts that if he did all the right things, that he would be the one to catch the world record. It didn't happen. When he came to accept that reality, and witnessed the trophy bass fishery he so loved get trashed, he got bitter. Doug was also a victim of his time. Remember that he began to be known and recognized in the early days of B.A.S.S. As the popularity of tournament fishing steadily rose to the front of the bass fishing world, Doug's fame waned (tournament fishing was not Doug's style). Had Ray Scott not come along, Doug would have at least achieved the stardom I believe he felt he deserved as compensation for not catching the world record. He has since been reduced to little more than a footnote in the modern bass fishing landscape. Even his popular line of lures died when the mfr Burke Lures was forced to sell out to Johnson Fishing, which then chose to discontinue making all signature and private branded baits (Bill Plummer's last Superfrog suffered the same fate). By that time, "run and gun" was all the rage, and no doubt other manufacturers were not interested in these kinds of "old fashioned" slow, methodical plodding presentation lures by a person who was apparently "not good enough" to compete on the tournament circuit with the big name superstar personalities. I'd probably be bitter too. As for the record, as another poster mentioned, a photo surfaced some years ago that in my mind is undoubtedly Perry's bass. Why are the dimensions a little odd? If you study the photos every 18lb+ giant bass in recent years, virtually all have similar anatomy: They are essentially a 12-13lb bass with a huge distended bellies like a overinflated football with head and tail. Now look at Perry's photo; it appears as a 10lb bass times two, or a well-proportioned 10lb bass but just twice the size in almost every anatomical feature. Look particularly at the size of the head and mouth. Perry's bass was a true freakazoid, a genetic mutant, an Andre the Giant among her fellows, not just a 10lb bass growing fat in an artificial environment being spoon-fed a super-rich diet of stupid human-stocked trout in man-made fish ponds outside the natural range of the Florida strain artificially transplanted there (for this reason, I feel Perry's bass should have an asterisk as the only natural fish in the whole lot of them--the rest are all man-made trophies). Yes, Doug's comment about Perry's bass is bitterness, and yes, it hurts his image and reputation. There's more concerning this I could share, but 'nuff said.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from dkrgis wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

Fusco - you are in no position to comment on Big Fish or Doug. Hannon was as a humble person as there ever was. Victim of time? Footnote in a modern fishing landscape? Doug is and was the last greatest soul surfer of Bass Fishing, but you probably don't know what that even means!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Hubert Johnson wrote 49 weeks 4 days ago

catch big bass with large lure around cover, or small lure guy with 7 inch worm which is it? big lure or small lure ? 90 % of 10 # bass on 7 inch worm don't sound like big lure to me. just sayin...

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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