Although not everyone believes it, an old adage in the fishing world is big baits, big fish. If you are a believer you are going to love Muddy Water Baits. I met up with Muddy Water Baits pro staffer Kevin Jones on a recent tournament trip to Florida. He was in state to fish a Bass Pro Shops Crappie Masters Tournament.
Just like every other tournament crappie angler I’ve met, he lives and breaths crappie fishing. He is a Hillsboro, Missouri boy with over 10 years of tournament fishing under his belt. “I have been doing this a long time,” said Jones. “Now, my association with Muddy Water Baits has gained me more attention in the last 3 years than I had received in 10 years prior.”
One of the main things Jones likes about the Muddy Water baits is their adaptability to different types of fishing. “I love to dock shoot,” said Jones. “Muddy Water Baits are 2 ½ inches long and the body is solid. It skips easily across the water and up under the dock. The baits are also versatile. We go from shooting docks to pulling to pushing and the Muddy Water Baits will work with all of them.”
Jones is particularly fond of spider rigging. “If I had a preference I would rather push than anything else. I feel like I have more control over where my baits are. Back home we fish a lot of structure and target a ditch or a ledge or some small area. I like my baits 14 feet from me instead of 150 feet from me just because I have more control.”
He believes in covering a lot of water and was using the power trolling method a lot in Florida. “Power trolling is pushing fast and covering a lot of water. You want to use bigger weights and stiffer rods when pushing fast,” instructs Jones. His preferred rods are B’n’M Pro Staff rods. He did not have them with him in Florida and he was wishing he did. “Had we know we would want to fish this way we would have brought Pro Staff rods instead of the BGJPs. They work way better for power trolling.”
The Pro Staff rods handle the weight and the speed a little better. “Normally we would go with an ounce and a half weight,” explained Jones. “These poles we have with us are good for about an ounce. We are improvising with what we have. When you are on the road you have to be able to adapt because you can’t bring everything with you.”
Power trolling is all about covering water, but it is not just a practice fishing technique. “The fish are not schooled right now,” explained Jones. “They are scattered. If we power troll and find a school of fish we will slow down and stay with them until the bite stops.”
One of the good spots found in practice was a 400-yard stretch. “We want to cover that water as many times as we can on tournament day. We are no longer interested in covering a lot of water, but in covering previously productive water numerous times. My guess is that we will power troll and long line both days.”
For the Harris Chain of Lakes tournament Jones and his fishing partner Billy Don Surface pushed out the front using heavy sinkers to keep the lines vertical while also pulling out the back. “We have been here all week and I think we have found a pattern in terms of water depth. We are power trolling out the font with 1-ounce weights moving .8 to .9 mph. We are trying to cover as much water as we can. We established a depth level in practice of 7 to 8 feet so we are trying it eliminate as much of that depth as we can so we have productive waters remaining for tournament days.”
Jones and Surface are believers in using scent when crappie fishing. Jones cites the built in smell as one of Muddy Water Baits strong assets. “I like the baits because we use scents all the time and the garlic scent is already in them. It is the only crappie bait I know that has the garlic scent built in.”
Fishing is actually more efficient using tough, scented baits. “Using scented baits eliminates a complete step out of what we have to do when fishing,” explained Jones. “It saves us a lot of time. Also, we don’t have to spend valuable fishing time changing baits. We can fish 3 or 4 days using the same baits. If they don’t get tore up by fish I would say we could catch 100 fish without changing baits. That solid bait is just stronger and it lasts longer. We target big fish and the longer your bait is in the water the better off you are.”
According to Jones, anglers are surprised at the action delivered by the skinny little tail. “The Muddy Water Baits produce some great action whether you are long lining or pushing. Even setting on a brush pile we hold our pole most of the time. If there is any current at all you can feel the action in that tail through the B’n’M pole.”
B’n’M Poles are an important part of Jones’ Crappie fishing equipment. “We use the BGJP most of the time when we are pushing at slower speeds. It is really a jigging pole, but they are very suitable for our way of fishing. They have a sensitive tip and it is amazing what you can feel. If you know what your bait is doing you can be more successful. We tip a lot with live minnows. If that bait is dead, you are wasting your time. You can feel the wiggling bait through that BGJP so you know when your bait is alive. There are not many rods out there that you can do that with.”
Most anglers simply pull up and check to see it the bait is lively. “Anybody can constantly pull up and check,” said Jones, “but I fish with a finger on each pole and I know when that bait quits wiggling. If it ain’t wiggling it ain’t working, so its time to change out. When your rod can tell you what your bait is doing that’s huge to me. Especially, fishing with 8 poles you are keeping more bait in the water longer because you don’t have to pull it up to check.”
Jones and Surface use 14-foot B’n’M rods most of the time. “The action of the minnow just transfers down that rod all the way to the handle and you can feel that bait in there wiggling” clarifies Jones. “When you are fishing in open water your bait needs to be in the water as long as possible and a good rod helps you do that.”
According to Jones, a good pole is also important because it is much better to feel a bite than just see it. “We catch 90 percent of our fish because we feel them hit. Often by the time you see that a fish has hit, it has spit it out. If you have your finger on the rod you will actually feel a fish suck in the bait. That feel is something you learn over time. With enough experience you will figure it out. Once you do, and you feel a fish suck that bait in, you are going to catch that fish every time.”
When a rod is hammered and you see it bouncing it is because the fish has hit it and let go. “These fish down here in Florida will suck it in and spit it out and never move the rod. You can try to watch the line, but feeling the bite is what puts fish in the boat, especially moving fast when power trolling. After you have done it for a while you know if you run into a piece of grass or a stick or if a fish has it or not. B’n’M rods give you the ability to do that.”
If you believe big baits catch big fish Muddy Water Baits are worth a try. Originator Travis Bunting describes the bait as a representation of a 2-½ inch shiner. “Look at Muddy Water Baits from the belly up you will see the profile I put in this bait. Since crappie feed up I wanted them to see the same profile in my bait as they do with a shiner.” Bunting also explained that Muddy Water Baits have a body shape that skips well and eliminates many tail hooks, the kind that often occurs on split-tailed baits.
“So whether you are single pole jigging, pulling or pushing, Muddy Water Baits work for virtually every type of fishing we do,” exclaimed Jones, “and there is a full array of colors to match what the crappie want on any particular day. I have gone from 20 tackle boxes in my boat to 2 and they are full of Muddy Water Baits.”
Jones and Surface are sponsored by American Ethanol, B’n’M Poles, Phoenix Boats, Minn Kota, Mercury Motors, Tite-lok Rod Holders, Power Pole, Quantum, Muddy Water Baits, Engel Coolers, and the Missouri Goldfish Hatchery.