Roger Lee Brown
Location: Lake Champlain, New York
Credentials: Brown is a former pro tournament angler turned operator of a 3-day bass fishing school with national and international cliental from as far off a South Korea, Africa, and New Zealand.
Number of years guiding: 23
Contact: (518) 597-4240; capital.net/rlbrown/
Favorite Spinnerbait: Stanley Wedge
Color: Gold Shiner/Gold Blade
Weight: ¼ oz.
Details: “These baits are very easy to tune right out of a package. This particular lure also caught my all-time biggest bass: a 17.2-pounder. I’ll grab the Colorado blade with needle-nose pliers about a 1/4-inch from the tip. Then I’ll bend the blade at a 45-degree angle away from the cup. This will create a lip and give the lure five times more vibration. It’ll feel like you’re pulling a crankbait.”
Favorite Crankbait: Bill Norman Deep Little N
Color: Smoky Joe
Size: 2 ½ in.
Weight: 3/8 oz.
Details: “This lure has always been a pet bait for me. That color is a shad pattern, which is probably the most versatile for a crankbait anywhere in the country. The Deep Little N is rated to run at six to eight feet. But a fast retrieve will get it as deep as twelve and it also works really well just sub-surface if you slow-crawl it.”
Favorite Soft Plastic: Zoom Li’l Critter Craw
Color: Watermelon Red
Size: 3 in.
Details: “I have more confidence in this soft plastic in this color than any other no matter where I fish in the U.S. I’ve tried many different colors in countless conditions and Watermelon will out-fish all of them. This bait is also the best imitation I’ve found of a soft-shell crawfish, which are candy to bass. When Carolina-rigging I encourage anglers to use enclosed rattle chambers instead of the normal glass or brass beads strung on the line. The click they produce alerts bass that natural forage is near by. But what happens when weeds get wedged between the beads? With enclosed rattles, you don’t have that problem and produce an enticing click on every cast.”
Favorite Topwater: Heddon Zara Spook
Color: Natural Leopard Frog
Size: 4 ½ in.
Details: “Anglers forget that all the bass can see on a big, round, buoyant bait is the belly. So colors on the back don’t make much difference. White is a natural forage color and this frog pattern has a white belly strip. Assuming the bass may catch a glimpse of the sides now and again, I stick with the frog as they are a natural forage everywhere. People put too much into working a walk-the-dog. They try to achieve long strides and they work them all the way back to the boat. I’ve caught more bass on a Zara that was sitting still than during a steady retrieve.”
Location: Lake Casitas/Castaic, California
Credentials: As Mitrany grew up fishing the lakes on which he now guides, his intimate knowledge of these waters help him lead clients to largemouth weighing up to 14 pounds.
Number of years guiding: 13
Contact: (800) 572-6230; ojaiangler.com
Favorite Spinnerbait: Sworming Hornet Fish Head Spin
Color: Pearl White
Weight: ¼ oz.
Details: “I like these lures because they can effectively fish the entire water column. Also, because you can change out the tail, they’re very versatile if you need to match various water conditions. When bass are boiling on the surface, many guys go to topwater, but in my experience the Hornet is the most effective lure in that situation, especially matched with half a Zoom Super Fluke. You can work them just sub-surface and they cast far, so you need not be right on top of the fish.”
Favorite Crankbait:** Bill Norman DD 22
Color: Splatter Bass
Size: 3 in.
Weight: 5/8 oz.
Details: “All big bass eat little bass, but it’s not always out of hunger. Little fish annoy big fish and that holds true everywhere. That’s why a bass pattern crank is my go-to. I always fish a crankbait with a stop-and-go action. Baitfish tend to move this way in schools. They bolt real fast then just hang around, bolt, hang around. I try to match that natural movement.”
Favorite Soft Plastic: Robo Worm Straight Tail
Color: Ox Blood/Red Flake
Size: 6 in.
Details: “Worms produce year-round on Lake Casitas and are probably the most effect lures I use. I stick to this color because it matches the lake’s crayfish, which are a primary forage for our fish all year. We have lots of structure in Casitas. There’s everything from fallen oaks and timber to small brush piles, and that’s where the bigger bass live. Because you need to really get in that cover, fishing a worm on a Texas rig or drop-shot rig is going to out-fish most other methods.”
Favorite Topwater: Zoom Super Fluke
Size: 4 in.
Details: “Flukes are just classic topwaters. There is something about the action as they glide along the surface the bass can’t resist. You can also work them nice and slowly. Many anglers rig Flukes weedless, but I always expose the hook point through the back of the bait. If a fish grabs the lure but doesn’t completely commit to the take, you’ll often miss it if you have to penetrate the soft plastic for a hook set. Keeping the hook exposed really ups the catch ratio.”
Location: Lake Fork, Texas
Credentials: Redington has been hunting trophy largemouth on Lake Fork since 1993, in which time he’s boated his personal best 12 ½-pounder. Since he became a full-time guide, he’s put clients on lunkers topping the 11-pound mark.
Number of years guiding: 6
Contact: (214) 683-9572; lakeforkguidetrips.com
Favorite Crankbait: Cotton Cordell Super Spot
Color: Rayburn Red
Size: 2 in.
Weight: 3/16 oz.
Details: “Super Spots make a lot of noise and you can work them at almost any speed, deep or just under the surface. The heavy rattling really produces a lot of fish for me. I stick with the red color because it’s a good crayfish match.”
Favorite Soft Plastic: LFT Magic Shad
Color: Watermelon Seed/Red Flake
Size: 5 in.
Details: “These shads are very versatile and can be fished a number of ways both weighted or unweighted. Bass will grab one as it falls to the bottom, so you have to remember that you’ll rarely feel a strike. You need to watch your line where it enters the water. Any tick, bounce, or side movement can mean a bass grabbed the bait.”
Favorite Topwater: Original Yellow Magic
Color: Smoke Shad
Size: 2 3/4 in.
Details: “I’ve been a fan of the Yellow Magic for a long time. I think the scoop in the mouth is a little deeper than other poppers, which makes a big difference. You can work one of these lures at any speed, and even a sublte chug will throw enough water to grab the bass’s attention.”
Favorite Spinnerbait: Terminator T-1
Weight: 1/2 oz.
Details: “Terminators can really take a beating. I know people say they’re expensive, but when you consider the cover they bounce off constantly, it makes sense to use a bait that will last rather than constantly buying new ones. I go with white because it’s simply the most versatile color you can fish.”
Location: Lake Okeechobee, Florida
Credentials: Although former golf pro Mike Shellen has only been a full-time guide on Lake Okeechobee for eight years, he’s been fishing it over 30 and has eight 10-plus-pound bass to his credit.
Number of years guiding: 8
Contact: (863) 357-0892; okeechobeebassfishing.com
Favorite Spinnerbait: War Eagle Double Willow
Color: White/Gold Blade
Weight: ½ oz.
Details: “For starters, War Eagles are very cost effective, and I like willow blades because they don’t hang as easily. As for the color, I always say you can throw any color spinner bait as long as it’s white. We’re always fishing in Kissimmee grass beds. So I tell my clients to engage the reel while the spinner is still in the air and start cranking before it hits the water. Spinner baits are only weedless if they’re moving. Let them sink on a slack line and they’ll hang more often than not.”
Favorite Crankbait: Rat-L-Trap
Color: Chrome/Black Back
Weight: ½ oz.
Details: “This is probably my most effective lure in the summer when the bass are schooling up on the shad. They are a perfect bait match and work at all depths. Even when bass are blasting schools of shad, they don’t get stupid. The first day you can reel straight in and catch them. The next day you might have to violently jerk a Rat-L-Trap to get hit. It changes daily, so never assume you’ve got them figured out.”
Favorite Soft Plastic: Zoom Horny Toad
Size: 4 ¼ in.
Weight: 1/64 oz. screw-in weight
Details: “The design of these frogs allows them to easily come right over top of the weeds. The leg design is a plus, too, because they’re always fluttering and adding realism. Horny Toads are big baits, and if you rip the rod back as soon as the fish hits, you’ll pull the lure away almost every time. You want to bow the rod and wait until you feel the fish. It takes practice, but it’s the only way.”
Favorite Topwater: Rebel Pop-R
Color: Tennessee Shad
Size: 2 ½ in.
Weight: ¼ oz.
Details: “Pop-Rs produce lots of sound between the deep mouth and internal rattles. You can get a bass’s attention without imparting too much action.Everyone thinks you have to jerk a popper so it splashes loudly and spits water. A recent pattern I’ve noticed over the last few years is that they often work more effectively during a steady retrieve. It just proves that you can never stop experimenting, even if the action you create isn’t typical of a particular lure.”