Denny Brauer Drags the Arkansas River

Denny Brauer Wins Arkansas River

Denny Brauer has put together a serious resume, 16 wins, 10 seconds, 10 thirds, 77 top 10’s and 199 top 50 finishes. Career earnings nearing $2.5 million, and that’s just B.A.S.S. events. All this, for the most part, in shallow water with a jig! So, being a fan of a jig myself and having followed Denny Brauer for years, when given the opportunity to talk with Mr. Brauer I was as excited as a cat in house full of mice at midnight.

It’s no surprise that Denny Brauer caught his fish on a jig. What did surprise me was there was no fancy technique, no fancy shake, twitch, pause, lift, drop, shuffle, dance, hold your jaw right, nothing? Just a slow steady drag. Doesn’t sound like much fun, unless you’re getting upwards of 30 bites a day doing it. Denny said that he tried everything in his bag of tricks to draw faster strikes but the trick was to drag the jig over a specific spot at specific angles and to do it slowly. 30 bites a day is plenty, however he only had on average of 2.5 hours of fishing time per day so to get more bites would be better.

“These spots were maybe the size of my boat, 20 feet long and 5 feet wide.” Denny went on to say, “I had specific angles I had to cast in order to get the bites and when I made the right cast I knew I’d get a strike, be off just a small amount and no strike.” Denny described these spots as “rough” he could not say for sure if they were shell beds, gravel, or what; just that he knew they were rough compared to the surrounding bottom.

Water Temperature: 95 degrees in the oxbow he was fishing
Water Color: Not very clear, I thought about using a black and blue jig instead of green pumpkin
Weather: Fair summer weather, nothing that was a factor in the fishing

Mr. Brauer was using a three quarter ounce Strike King Football Jig in green pumpkin with a Green Pumpkin Rage Chunk as a trailer. Since there wasn’t anything fancy about the way he was working his jig I thought maybe it’s in the way he dressed the jig!

UB: Did you dip the tail of your chunk?

Brauer: No, I didn’t do anything to it.

UB: Do you have a special way you trim the skirt of your jig?

Brauer: I trim my skirts the same way for all applications, I cut them right at the hook bend so that the strands don’t interfere with the trailer action. This also helps prevent short strikes. The only exception to this rule is if I’m on BIG fish water and I’m using a much bigger trailer, then I leave the skirt alone for the bigger profile.

UB: What line do you use for this application?

Brauer: 15 lb. Seaguar Tatsu. Yes I know it’s expensive but the impact strength is amazing, it doesn’t have the over-stretch break down that you see in other fluorocarbons. I use it for everything except flipping matted vegetations.

UB: Why did you choose the Green Pumpkin combination?

Brauer: Well, that’s what I had tied on. I was with in just a few more casts of changing to a black and blue and I started getting bites. The water color really had me thinking I should be using a black and blue but I thought I’d give this a few more casts. I have built up a lot of confidence in this particular jig this year with all the fishing I’ve been doing all over the country with the tournaments and the show Brauer Bass Battles and it paid off again.

I found it pretty cool that even the Jig Master himself can hit the water and his first cast is with whatever he has tied on. Sometimes it makes all that guessing and retying we do the night before seem futile, tie on what you have confidence in and go with it. Use the water conditions to make your next move.

UB: What depth were your fish relating too?

Brauer: My shallowest fish came in 5 foot and my deepest came in 16 feet. However the majority came between 6 to 10 feet of water. I was keeping the nose of the boat about 20 foot casting to shallower water. Deeper water close by was a key to their location along with these rough spots.

UB: That seems relatively shallow for such a heavy jig. What was the reasoning behind this particular jig style and weight?

Brauer: I have had some great success in the recent months dragging this jig similar to the way others would a Carolina rig. It kicks up dust and causes a commotion on the bottom and attracts bass. The football head is great for this and being heavier really gets the dust moving. Also the heavier jig allows you to cover water a lot quicker and still keep your bait on the bottom. This was very helpful for me in prefish as I could cover ground looking for the key rough spots that were holding fish.

UB: Do you feel the heavier jig causes an issue with bass spitting the bait quicker? Meaning do you have to be quicker on the hook set?

Brauer: No, I don’t think so. During practice I had the hook point covered to prevent hooking fish and they would hang on to it 10 to 15 seconds sometimes. I even had a couple come all the way to the top with it, this was great for me as I could see the quality of the fish. So for whatever reason I don’t feel the heavy weight of the jig effects them at all.

UB: I know you’re a jig man but was that the only bait on your deck?

Brauer: Well, I did catch my biggest fish of the tournament on a Strike King 6XD Sexy Blue Back Herring. One fish on it and 19 on the jig.

UB: You locked through two separate locks to your water? Obviously you had some serious confidence in it. Had you been there before?

Brauer: I have fished this stretch of the Arkansas river quite a bit, in various events all the way back into the 80’s. I tried to run up river in prefish but got very frustrated with the quality of fish, only catching one fish over the 15 inch minimum. That and I got stuck on two separate sand bars. I knew about this oxbow and had fished it before, it holds fish year round and with this time of year it was a key area. I went down to check it out and did pretty well so it was easy to commit.

UB: How much fishing time did you have each day?

Brauer: That varied because of lock schedules. I figured it up and in the four days of fishing I had between 9 1/2 and 10 hours of total fishing time.

UB: Several anglers received late penalties on the last day with you being one of them. Can you give our readers the nitty gritty.

Brauer: This was just a bad timing deal. Everyone involved did the best they could to make things happen as fast as they could but we were still late. The Lock Master announce to us that he had a barge pushing rocks coming through that he needed to get through before us. He felt that he could do it fast enough to still get us though the lock on our designated schedule. Timmy Horton was on the phone with the Lock Master working with him to ensure that the time line was going to work. Once the barge was out and all us anglers were in it became obvious that we were not going to make it. Everyone in the lock insisted that I take the lead boat out as I had the most to lose. Our sport has the best sportsman in the business. I’d like to say that without Timmy and the Lock Master working as hard as they did I may not have won, thanks goes to them.

UB: These distances that you ran to find the winning fish, with Prefishing and four tournament days isn’t that a lot of to ask of and outboard?

Brauer: It is! There’s no room for error, you can’t stumble. I’ve been running a Ranger Evinrude package for a long time. You hear about anglers that have problems and they start to hear ghosts in their motors and just don’t trust them to make the long runs. You don’t have that with Evinrude, it’s strong and with the new Heavy Duty lower units it’s unstoppable. Anyone spending time in shallow water or fishing stumps, I highly recommend the new Heavy Duty Lower Unit. Take this tournament for example. I ran up on two different sand bars and then made four days worth of long runs in the heat and not a question, never once did I even think about the dependability of my motor, it’s just that good. Read more about the Heavy Duty Lower Unit on the The Evinrude Blog

Since I had one of my bass fishing idols on the phone I wanted to take a minute and ask him a few questions about some of the changes that bass fishing has seen over the years and what his thoughts were on the effects good or bad. First being social media, with websites, forums, Facebook, blogs I was curious if he thought these things had a positive influence on bass fishing.

“I definitely do. In the beginning we fought for people to come watch us. When you were trying to promote sponsors it was very difficult. Social media gives anglers with the same dream a place to discuss and give/get opinions. I think it’s been a very positive influence”.

I thought I might catch the Jig Master off guard with my final question. Being a just that a jig fisherman and a shallow water fisherman I was really surprised at his answer to this. I asked Mr. Brauer what he thought about today’s technology versus 20 years ago, are we better anglers or are we just becoming better “techies”.

“Equipment is making better anglers. Anglers are making better equipment. Navionics Side Imagining for example helps me learn. I may not have used it to find fish but after I catch one I can circle back around and take a look and see what it was holding to and develop a pattern. This makes you more efficient, makes you a better competitor, makes us all better competitors.”

Mr. Brauer thank you very much for taking the time to speak with me. Good luck in the 2012 Bassmaster Classic on the Red River I know many of our readers will be pulling for you! I will be!

Get the Net it’s a Hawg
Mike Cork

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