Bass Pro Anglers Offseason Targets
Becoming a professional bass angler is a dream job for many and those who make it to the top can pursue a fishing passion while earning a living. While it's plenty of fun, it can also be a little stressful when money is on the line every time they compete. To wind down during the offseason, professional anglers Mark Rose, Gerald Spohrer, and Luke Clausen spend plenty of time on the water with different approaches and target species.
They each have reasons for targeting things other than bass when the tournament season wraps up, whether to fill the freezer or give them a much-needed reset as they prepare for the next season.
Seaguar and MLF Pro Mark Rose targets crappies in his off-season
Switching gears to crappie
Bass Pro Tour angler Mark Rose loves bass fishing, but fishing for crappies is a true passion he's had since his teen years. It also offers a nice change of pace and off-season target after the tournaments wrap up.
"I love crappies because I don't compete in tournaments for them – it's my joy," he said. "I take it just as seriously as bass fishing for my preparation. I still get up at 4 a.m., make a thermos of coffee, put on my coveralls, and make sure my gear is ready to go. Plus, I don't think anything in freshwater tastes as good as cold-water crappie."
While he can catch them anytime around his Arkansas home, October and November are when things are about perfect.
"Crappies are like bass as they are always following the baitfish," he said. "When the surface temperatures drop and we get the cooler nights, the shad will migrate to deeper water. That's my favorite time to fish for crappie, and I spend my time searching and hunting for them with my forward-facing sonar. It could be over brush or standing timber, just somewhere over deeper water where the shad are."
His approach is straightforward and he utilizes either a 1/16 or 1/8-ounce Strike King Mr. Crappie Jig Head with either a Strike King Lightning Shad or Shadpole on the back. He uses a 6-foot, 6-inch medium-light spinning rod and size 100 spinning reel spooled with 4 lb Seaguar Tatsu fluorocarbon.
Instead of the normal braid-to-fluorocarbon that he uses for bass fishing, he likes the feel of straight fluorocarbon when targeting crappies.
"The thin line cuts through the water better with small baits and you don't have any draft so that you can get right to the fish quicker," he said. "You also want a little stretch from the fluorocarbon and if you use braid without stretch, you'll pull the hooks from the crappie's mouths. I choose Tatsu because of how manageable it is. You don't get line memory as easily, even on a tiny spinning reel."
Seaguar and MLF Pro Gerald Spohrer likes chasing saltwater fish in the Gulf
Offshore with Spohrer
Just about any time Gerald Spohrer is home from tournaments, off-season or not, he's likely either on his 33-foot Encore catamaran or preparing for a trip. It's a significant part of his life and his location is in the heart of excellent saltwater fishing near Venice, Louisiana.
"We are constantly switching it up and pretty much going after what species is good at the moment," he said. "If we hear tuna fishing is on fire, then we go. We alternate between grouper, snapper, and tuna and go after swordfish. This year, I will spend a lot more time targeting blue marlin because I'd like to start entering tournaments for them."
The marlin bite is something that has captured Spohrer's passion. Similarly to bass fishing, it's a very technical approach, where they either troll surface lures and teasers or use live bait that's a size that would be a great catch for someone.
"We're using live baby tuna that are between 5 and 25-pounds and have specialized 'tuna tubes' on the boat to keep them alive and in moving water," he said. "We fish them on 80 lb Seaguar Threadlock braid with a top shot of monofilament and then crimp it to either 150 or 200 lb Seaguar Fluoro Premier leader for the marlin."
When chasing other species, he also uses the same line combination, just altering the sizes based on the quarry. "That's the theme with all of my saltwater gear: Threadlock and Fluoro Premier," he says. "Threadlock is a hollow-core braid that is great for splicing your leader, but you can also use it with an FG Knot and it's an excellent braid that casts well and goes through the guides easily," he said. "Fluoro Premier is our choice because of how abrasion resistant it is. We use it for everything out there."
Seaguar and MLF Pro Luke Clausen looks forward to caching trophy walleye on his days off
Walleyes when it's cold
Washington's Luke Clausen is blessed to live in the Pacific Northwest, a region with excellent fishing and many different target species. Bass is his primary target during the fall, but it's walleye time as the water continues to cool.
Washington has excellent walleye fishing with both numbers and world-class-sized fish. It can be done all year long and since the Columbia River and other moving waters rarely freeze, it's sometimes the only option for anglers looking to launch their boats in the winter months. The bite heats up every year when the temperatures plunge.
Clausen is a fan of walleye and catches some monsters every year while also filling his freezer with smaller fish. He employs many techniques to catch them on large flats in the river, from small jigs and grubs to metal blade baits.
"A blade bait like a black and gold Jackall Keeburn is my top bait because of how well it works and because you can fish it relatively fast," he said. "It catches them quickly and big ones will bite it, too. I fish it on the same setup I do for drop-shot fishing for bass, with 15 lb Seaguar Smackdown Braid, but I will use a little heavier fluorocarbon leader."
Clausen opts for a 10 to 12-lb Seaguar Red Label fluorocarbon for his leader material for blade baits for one reason: efficiency.
"It's a lot stiffer than the other Seaguar fluorocarbon lines and that makes a big difference with a blade bait," he said. "The baits tend to twirl on the cast and get hung up and the stiffer line prevents a lot of the fouling and you don't have nearly the amount of wasted casts. I will go to Gold Label for other techniques for walleye since they can be line shy and will use it anytime I'm fishing slower and they have longer to look at the bait."
Even though professional bass anglers fish constantly, they still spend their free time fishing for fun. While the target species may be different, their love of fishing keeps them on the water all year long.
Seaguar Tatsu Fluorocarbon mainline is available from 4 to 25 lb test on 200 and 1,000- yard spools
Seaguar Big Game Fluoro Premier is available from 100lb to 200 lb test in 25, 50 and 110-yard coils.
Seaguar Threadlock braid is available in blue and white in 600 and 2500-yard spools with 50 to 200 lb test lines.
Seaguar Smackdown braid is available in high visibility Flash Green and low visibility Stealth Gray. It is available in 150 and new 300-yards spools in sizes ranging from 10 to 65 lb test.
Red Label Fluorocarbon mainline is available from 4 to 20 lb test in 200 and 1,000-yard spools.